Over the last few months, we've been testing multiple different types of revenue sources on our website. From affiliate revenue to Google AdSense, we've been testing nearly everything. Today, we're sharing what we've learned and break down how to make money from a website.
Before we start, it's important to mention that some of these methods do require our websites to have SSL set up. A few years ago, getting SSL set up on a website was an insanely complicated task. Now, though, most web hosts include a basic SSL Certificate for free when signing up. If you're looking to start a website or get free SSL protection, check out Bluehost.
For only $3.95/month, you're able to set up a WordPress website with Bluehost to make managing a website easy and simple!
For now, though, let's talk about some of the best ways to make money from a website. We recommend using multiple methods that we discuss here. This has opened our business up to many different opportunities and income streams that we didn't see before. We recommend starting with at least two of these methods.
Also, while some of the methods do work well together, some do not. For example, most websites that sell products don't feature AdSense ads placed throughout the website. This instills distrust in visitors. Typically, when someone goes to a website to buy a product, that's what they want to do. They don't want to be intruded with ads redirecting them to different websites.
With that out of the way, let's jump into making money with a website.
One of the most popular ways to make money with a website is to start implementing advertisements. Ads are commonly seen on nearly every website around now. In fact, it's been a very beneficial aspect to our website since adding them. The downside, however, is that you will need a decent amount of traffic in order to generate income from ads.
We have a full tutorial going through setting up Google AdSense, which is one of the more popular ad networks. Click here to view our AdSense Set Up tutorial.
Ads have been around for years, but luckily, the quality has improved over time. Most ad networks (especially Google AdSense) require advertisers and websites to meet certain criteria. This ensures that your audience is seeing relevant ads as well as ads that are not suspicious.
Likewise, there are ad networks out there that have reputations for placing ads on any website. While I would recommend staying away from these ad networks, there is a place for them on certain websites. For blogs and more content-focused websites, I would recommend Google AdSense, though.
Another important point to make that is Ads do not perform very well on e-commerce websites. If, for example, our website focused on selling products, placing Google AdSense style ads on the site would instill distrust in visitors. More often than not, visitors would assume that the website isn't very successful since it is running ads away from the website. Additionally, in an e-commerce environment, it doesn't make sense to advertise products in which you receive nothing if purchased on another website.
However, as most things go, we're simply presenting options here.
With AdSense, we generate only around $200 for every 100,000 views we see on the site. With ad blocker plugins and even built-in features in browsers, ad revenue has severely dropped since 2014. So while it is a great extra boost every month, it's hard to depend on ad revenue as the only source of income from a website.
It is, however, imperative to note that all of this is based on our experience. This can easily change with ad placements, advertiser budgets, quality of ads, etc.
Brand Deals & Sponsorships
AdSense is a fantastic option for websites that receive a few hundred thousand views a month or more. It's a great way to increase revenue a bit, but it's hard to rely on it for the only revenue source. To supplement, though, another option for us could be to find direct advertisers. This is more commonly known as brand deals or sponsored posts. By doing a sponsored post, we're able to receive our revenue up-front without having to worry about fluctuating ad rates day-to-day.
By doing brand deals, we're also able to ensure that the content is better suited for the audience. For example, it's hard to say that it would be a good idea to post about women's jewelry and makeup on a website focused on automotive content. Sure, we could come across one or two viewers who would be interested. The majority of the audience, however, wouldn't be targeted by that.
Sponsored posts allow us to target what we're placing our website. This helps viewers have a better understanding of what to expect when they visit our website.
Let's take an example from the video above. Let's say that Coca-Cola wants to run a sponsored post on BuzzFeed. BuzzFeed could then turn around and do a post about “5 Great Dishes You Can Make for the Super Bowl with Coke!”
Most of the time, we wouldn't just post an article that says “Coca-Cola is the best drink ever. You should drink it.” That wouldn't fit the audience whatsoever. Instead, we'd implement the product into a post that would actually appeal to people on our website. Legally, it's required that we disclose sponsorships, so this isn't about hiding a brand deal. This is about creating content catered (no pun intended) to our audience.
Affiliate marketing has been one of our biggest income sources for the last few years. From Bluehost to Apex to GameServers, affiliate marketing has literally kept the lights on at some points. When ad revenue and sales have dipped in the past, affiliate sales have always picked up the slack. Affiliate marketing can truly be one of the biggest income sources for blogs and content creators now.
Long gone are the days of merely relying on ad revenue to keep things going. Now, with affiliate marketing, we're all able to kill two birds with one stone. Not only are we able to use affiliate marketing to create VALUABLE and high-quality content, but we're also able to provide a true service to people who are looking for the product/service.
Similar to sponsored posts, we have tons of creativity with affiliate marketing. The biggest difference is that normally sponsored content is paid for up front. Affiliate marketing, on the other hand, is usually commission based.
For example, when we sell a GameServers server for Minecraft, we receive the first month's payment as our commission. That's not the only option you have, though. Bluehost, for instance, pays affiliates a set amount for each sale they make – usually $60-$100 depending on the size of your affiliate.
Amazon Associate/Affiliate is also a fantastic option that is easy to set up. With that, there are tons of creative options available. From setting up a list of the gear you use for your podcast to an article all about the best gadgets for 2018. The beauty in affiliate marketing is that there is so much creative expression available for us to use.
Companies are very competitive for business, and after a while, it's easy to gain some pull to be able to upgrade your commission plan to continue promoting a service. It should be added, though, that you should only do this if you truly believe in the product you are trying to sell to your audience. Otherwise, the audience will quickly lose trust in the brand and future affiliate marketing deals.
The “marketing” part of Affiliate Marketing is truly one of the most important aspects, though. The companies we work with are in control of maintaining the product/service, converting leads, and customer service. We're here to market the product/service. We don't have to worry about chargebacks, returns, technical errors, etc. Our job is to market and gain exposure for the service. If the viewer thinks it fits them, they'll go from there.
This is a fantastic method for generating recurring revenue as well as large one-time commissions. Affiliate marketing is by far our favorite method, and some companies are even willing to work out a more creative deal. It's not uncommon for a company to approach a website with a sponsored post idea combined with an affiliate deal. With this, the company would pay out a flat fee for the content PLUS a commission for sales that are brought through your unique link.
While affiliate marketing is a great option, there are times it makes more sense to sell the product directly. For example, if you have an Amazon Affiliate link and sell 75 gaming keyboards each month, it's likely going to be more profitable to sell them directly or drop ship them.
Now, there's a lot of “talk” around the word dropship. Often times, it's associated with low quality and poor customer service. If pulled off correctly, though, most people never know the difference. Selling products direct to consumer or even drop shipping them is going to require more work than most people expect when starting.
If, for example, we decided we wanted to start selling a keyboard and not drop ship it, we'd need to look into research & development costs, consumer testing, marketing costs, shipping costs, customer support, a secure website for checkout, etc. It's not always as simple as setting up a Shopify website, adding some cheaply sourced products, and making millions. To do it right requires work most aren't prepared for, which is why we highly recommend affiliate marketing.
On the flip side, this may be something you're ready for. In that case, the increased margins can be well worth it over affiliate marketing. We're just here to say that it's not always going to be as simple as drop shipping a product you find on Ali Express and marking it up 250%. Consumers have become aware of drop shipping, and most aren't willing to pay the huge up-charge for little to no services rendered to them.
There's also the option of t-shirts and other merchandise. While you can do this in-house, it usually makes more sense to start with using a supplier who prints and ships the shirts. The biggest downside is usually quality control, but it's fairly simple to manage once you've ordered samples and sold a few. Larger companies like Printful have a fantastic option for this.
Technically, this is very similar to drop shipping, but your designs, brand story/image, and customer care come into play much more here. Once the merch line is tested and proven it can sell well, it's much easier to bring it in-house.
Depending on the website and content, donations can be a great supplement for bringing in revenue. Often times, they can even be marketed as “Members” and have access to exclusive content. Doing so can often split a pre-existing audience, so it's important to implement it in a way that is fully transparent.
Setting up a donation system with PayPal is incredibly simple. We have a full guide showing how to accept donations with PayPal. Another great option, though, is Patreon. Patreon gives the content creator more control over what perks patrons receive for donating every month, and it's much easier to control what goes where with their system.
It's a great option for getting your audience involved in your content and getting access to behind the scenes work. People want to support creators and bloggers they are fans of, so it's a great option to look into.
Our last option for making money with a website is actually a bit different and little more creative. Let's say that we have AdSense and Affiliate Marketing running on our website, but we think we can do more to add value. That's where consulting comes in. If you're blogging or creating any form of content for an extended period of time, odds are you've become an expert in your field. People are willing to pay for that expertise in order to help solve their problems, which makes consulting a great option to utilize.
Let's say that we owned a shop for 10 years, and after that time, we decided to sell it to another company for our exit strategy. During those ten years and throughout the sale of the company, we've gathered large amounts of knowledge about the industry and the sale of a company.
This is a marketable skill that can be sold as a service to other companies. Once you've been through it, it's easy to replicate and share that knowledge. It's a great way to help other people while also charging $100/hr to $500/hr depending on the circumstances. It's well worth it to them because you're able to solve their problems before they even start.