One of the first things many webmasters are interested to do once they have built their website is to learn how to make money online. If you've put a lot of effort into building a quality website and you're receiving visitors from all over the world, there are always opportunities to make money with a website.
Before you get started
It's important to note right up front that making money online from your websites is not going to make you rich overnight. You have to very careful to avoid the many scams that will try to convince you their program or system will make you tens of thousands at the push of a button.
The best education you can get is to simply build your website, get an audience who enjoy your content and then try to make money whilst continuing to grow your site. There is no magic formula, just hard work and a bit of experimenting.
Make money with website advertising
One of the easiest ways to get started is to accept advertisers on your website. This works if you have an audience and are getting visitors each day, as an advertiser in your market may be interested to attract those visitors to their own product or service.
You can find advertisers for your website in a number of ways:
- Look at advertising on similar sites to yours and approach those companies directly.
- Ask fellow webmasters to introduce you to their advertising contacts.
- Use an advertising network such as Google Adsense.
Another consideration to make is the type of payment you'll get for your website advertising. Different advertisers offer different terms, or sometimes more than one for you to choose from. A few of the most popular ones are:
- Cost per impression (CPM). This type of advertising is where you agree to sell an advert to your advertiser based on the number of times the ad will be seen. CPM means cost per 1000 (M being the roman symbol for 1000). This is a good form of advertising for a large site with a lot of page views and can be especially good if your traffic is growing fast – as your earnings will increase with your traffic. Typical prices for this might be anything from $1-3 per 1,000 impressions. On a site with 100,000 page views this would amount to $1,000 to $3,000 a month.
- Cost per click (CPC). With cost per click, it doesn't matter how many times the ad is seen on your site. You get paid whenever somebody clicks on that advert. The payment per click is usually higher than the payment per 1,000 impressions. To ensure a good click through rate (CTR) on the advert, you'll need to consider the actual banner ad and how appealing it is, the location of it on your site, and that the offer in the ad is compelling to your site visitors. This works well on both low- and high-traffic sites and is used by Google Adsense.
- Cost per action (CPA). In this advertising method, you get paid not when somebody sees the ad, nor when they click on it, but when they actually purchase whatever product or service is being sold. The payment rates for this are very high, but obviously fewer people will purchase that would click the ad. Carefully selecting your advertisers and the banner advert itself is very important to get the right message to the right people and increase your conversion rates.
Choose an advertising network
It is preferable to contact advertisers directly to cut out the middle man, but if you are unable to get in touch with them, using a good advertising network is the next best option. Here are a few of the more popular ones:
Make money with affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is quite similar to CPA (cost-per-action) advertising. You place a banner or link on your website to a product or service with a special link URL. This link sets a cookie in your visitors browser and if they then go on to purchase the product, you will be paid a commission.
The cookie is what makes it slightly different to a banner advert because if the visitors doesn't purchase right away after clicking on a banner, it is sometimes not tracked when they go back and do purchase later.
Making money with affiliate marketing is an excellent option because of the sheer volume of products and offers available for you to promote. If you're a very small, niche site, you might find it hard to secure an advertiser but it is likely there is an affiliate program available for you to sell the very specific products your audience are interested in.
Examples of where you could use affiliate program links and marketing to make money include:
- A review of products your audience is interested in
- A how-to tutorial which requires a certain product or service to be completed
- A blog post talking about something you purchased yourself and enjoyed
Choosing an affiliate program
There are some affiliates who will join every single affiliate program available to try and make money. For beginners this can be overwhelming and you might not even remember where to go to check your earnings. It's better to choose very specific affiliate networks with the products and services your audience are interested in.
Once you are making money online using these, you can slowly expand as your skills in affiliate marketing grow.
Here are a few good affiliate programs:
That last one, Skimlinks, is very interesting because it searches through your site and code to find links or words that match the advertisers in their network and automatically replaces them with an affiliate link.
It's like Google Adsense for affiliate links and is very useful on large sites with lots of content that would otherwise take you a long time to add affiliate links to.
Other ways to make money online
Website advertising are two of the easiest ways to get started making money from your website, which is why they are recommended for beginners looking to monetize their site.
There are other ways in which you can make money on the internet as well, once you have a little more experience:
- Sell products in an online store/shopping cart. You can buy products at wholesale and ship them yourself, or dropship them directly to the manufacturer. For this you'll need shopping cart software on your website and you'll need to accept payment through credit card as well.
- Sell a service (such as consulting). With services, you might not need a shopping cart, but you may still need to accept Paypal payments or credit card payments for this as well.
- Build a membership site. You can provide exclusive content only to users who subscribe and pay a monthly or annual fee to have access. For this you'll need membership site software, which will often include the ability to accept payments via credit card.
My article on profitable website ideas has some examples of the type of websites you can build to make money online.