By CWP October 19, 2017
Although I don't consider myself an expert, I am someone who has been building and monetizing websites for over 4 years and I am fairly well read on the subject. Drawing upon that experience, I have a few pointers for you about how you can monetize your website or blog. I'm also going to point out to you the one big mistake that you should not make when you first start your blog. It's a mistake that I made.
Even if you already have some experience in building and monetizing websites, some of the ideas listed here may be of value to you.
For those of you who may not trust what I have to say because I'm not a self proclaimed industry expert, at the end of the article I'll point out to you some of the proven industry experts who can teach you even more.
Now, lets get onto some of those guidelines about how you can monetize your website.
(Disclosure: This post contains links in which I may receive compensation if something is purchased after clicking on one of those links. Given that this post is all about how to monetize a website, it makes sense to have those right?)
Start A Newsletter For Stable Website Traffic And Monetization
A big mistake that bloggers make when they first start out, including one that I made myself, is that they don't start a newsletter or mailing list immediately upon launching their website. Even if you're not sure about what should be in that newsletter or mailing list, it's very important to start collecting email addresses as soon as you have your website up and running and here is why:
A big reason why you need a mailing list and newsletter, is that those that subscribe to it are often your most profitable and loyal visitors. There are many reasons for this.
Those that have subscribed to your mailing list are interested in what you have to say. They have voluntarily given you their email address, which is not something that everyone likes to do thanks to that lovely thing called spam.
Subscribers to your mailing list should also be people that keep coming back to your website. Getting repeat business and visitors isn't easy to do, so this is very important.
Given that your newsletter subscriber is very interested in what you have to say, and will likely be coming back to your site, they are also more likely to purchase whatever it is you have to market or sell. In fact research indicates that email marketing is often the highest converting audience, even surpassing social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Of course this won't be the same for every single website in existence, but email marketing has proven itself time and time again.
Another important reason to get that subscriber list growing is so that you can have yourself a guaranteed source of web traffic when you need it. You don't want to and can't always rely on organic search engine traffic from the likes of Google and Bing. Search algorithms are always changing which means that one week your website might fair well in search, and a week later it may be kicked down a few notches. Having a newsletter allows you to diversify your traffic and to be less reliant on search engines and referrals from other blogs for traffic.
Once you have your newsletter, besides using it to help you drive conversions through your website, another thing you can do with it is to sell and place ads in it. This gives you another way to monetize your website or blog .
How To Build The Newsletter And Mailing List
To start building your mailing list, you'll need to get a couple of things up and running. One thing you'll need is to find yourself a good opt-in form and template.
You may not know what an opt-in form is, but you've certainly come across them time and time again throughout your internet travels. An opt-in form is simply a form on a website that asks users to perform an action, often to signup for a mailing list or newsletter.
Opt-in forms can be disguised in many different ways. Sometimes you see them appear as a popup that occurs when you first land on a website. Other times you see a popup right before you are about to leave a website.
Opt-in forms can also have a more subtle presentation. The opt-in can be a small form located within the content that you are reading, or you may notice one gradually appear on your screen as you are scrolling down the screen. No matter how you've seen them presented, and no matter if you like them or not, you need to get one.
Of course before you even pick out an opt-in form you may want to first find yourself an email sending service. Unless you know what you are doing, it is generally recommended that you use a third party to send your emails, as trying to do it yourself through your own server may leave you on the internet's naughty list. This is because in order to send mass emails, your server and DNS need to be configured in a very certain way, otherwise your emails will end up in spam folders and never seen by the intended recipients, which of course is the last thing that you want.
Sometime's email sending services provide opt-in forms for you to use as well as several other features. A few popular email sending services as well as some opt-in form providers include Amazon, Mailmunch, Sendy, Mandrill, Mailchimp, Sendgrid, and Aweber.
Now that we've gotten the first step out of the way to growing and monetizing a website, it's on to the next way to monetize your website.
Make Money With Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is something that you are going to want to do if you don't have your own products to sell. Of course, you may not already know what affiliate marketing is to be able to do it, so here's a quick overview.
In essence, affiliate marketing is simply writing about a product or service that you don't sell, but you get paid a commission for when someone clicks a link on your website to go over to the website that sells the product or service. Most often you only get paid if someone makes a purchase on the other website. With some affiliate programs, the act of clicking a link is all that is needed to get you a commission.
Sometimes affiliate marketing is nothing more than making a passing mention of a product or service in a blog.
Now that you know what affiliate marketing is, you need to know how to find a partner to get affiliated with.
One way to do this would be to signup with one or all of the various affiliate networks that are out there such as Impact Radius, Commission Junction, Rakuten or Shareasale to name a few. Once you do signup with the affiliate network, you will have to search for different affiliate programs to join. For instance, if you want to market products from Walmart, you'll have to signup with Rakuten, as Walmart uses Rakuten's affiliate platform to run their affiliate program. Then you have to apply to be in Walmart's affiliate program. Similarly, to market products from Target, you'd have to signup with Impact Radius and apply to Target's affiliate program. If you want to sell products from Newegg you'll have to signup for the Commission Junction affiliate network and then apply with Newegg to be in their program.
As you can see, finding affiliate programs to join can be time consuming and the programs are spread out among many different networks. On top of that, once you join an affiliate network, you will then have to apply to the various affiliate programs that you'd like to join. Applying does not mean you will be accepted. Often times you'll get turned down for being too new to the market or for other reasons which the affiliate program will not tell you.
Of course you could also apply to be an Amazon affiliate, but once again applying doesn't mean acceptance.
Alternatively, the easiest way to signup for affiliate programs in mass is through VigLink or Skimlinks. Viglink and Skimlinks both essentially do the exact same thing and grant you access to tens of thousands of affiliate programs and thousands of products through their respective systems. Most of the time this can be done without ever having to apply to individual affiliate programs. For instance, once you are accepted into either Skimlinks or Viglink, you automatically become an affiliate of Newegg without having to apply to Newegg's individual affiliate program. You may also be granted access to Amazon and eBay's affiliate programs through Viglink and Skimlinks.
Viglink and Skimlinks have both been around for many years and each company works with many businesses and publishers. Since each company has such a large outreach, oftentimes they can negotiate better commission rates for you than you would be able to get on your own.
There is a downside to both programs though, and that is they take a small cut out of your commission sales. Sometimes this is more than offset by their ability to negotiate higher commission rates for you then you could get on your own.
Compare Host Plans is actually using Skimlinks right now, while I have used Viglink on another website.
Now onto a third way to monetize your website or blog.
Monetize Your Website With Display/Banner Advertising
A third way that you could use to monetize your blog or website is through the use of display or banner advertising.
The easiest and most popular way to do this is by signing up for a Google Adsense account. Google's display network is the largest and most successful network in the world, and it's very easy to use. Once your account gets approved by Google, you simply stick their ad code on your website and Google does the rest. Google will automatically match advertisers with your website and display their ads for you. You will then start to earn money with the ads by one of two ways. Most of the time, you'll earn whenever someone clicks on one of the ads. You can also earn simply by having the ads show on your website without your visitors having to click on them.
I don't want to go into great depth and detail about Adsense here as it may be something that you are already familiar with, and there are thousands upon thousands of blogs and websites out there that already discuss it at excruciating length. Instead, I'd like to mention a few perhaps lesser known alternatives to Adsense and a way to potentially make your Adsense ad units earn more money for you.
Let's start with a company called Ezoic. In theory, Ezoic could be the perfect monetization partner for anyone that want's to monetize their website.
Ezoic works by using artificial intelligence to test and display ads to your websites visitors. Instead of guessing what ad sizes to use and where to put them on your website to make you the most money, Ezoic will automatically test different ad sizes and ad locations for you. Not only that, Ezoic gets to know each individual visitor that comes to your website and learns what they like best. That means that ad sizes and placement locations can be tailored to best fit your users individual needs.
Ezoic actually works with Adsense and many other ad networks. In fact, Ezoic is actually a Google Certified Publishing partner. Among many other things, this allows Ezoic to do things to your Adsense ad units that you are not allowed to do on your own, such as refreshing individual ad units with new ads every few seconds.
When you are accepted into Ezoic, you also gain access to Google's Doubleclick For Publisher display network (DFP). DFP is usually only reserved for large websites, so this is a big win for you. The more display network partners you have, the more potential you have to earn money. Ezoic allows you to test different ad networks against each other, which helps you to earn even more money.
Not all may be rosy with the Ezoic platform. I tested it briefly last year but on occasion it seemed to cause my website to slowdown. In fact at times, visitors would see a blank white page for a few seconds before the page loaded. At other times an error would show for the page. Since my testing though, long story short and overly simplified, it came to my attention that one of my server settings was not configured properly. I only figured this out very recently, yet I last used Ezoic about a year ago. This suggests that I should give the Ezoic platform another try as the improper server configuration likely had some impact on how Ezoic performed for me.
From what I recall, when I used Ezoic I did see at least see an increase in revenue from desktop visitors compared to when I used Adsense on my own. However revenue from mobile visitors seemed to be flat or slightly less. Ezoic suggested I try testing out more ad sizes and locations to get a better return, which I was unable to do at that time.
Given the potential revenue benefits that Ezoic can provide you with, the platform is something that you should try even if there are some possible drawbacks. If you find that you have trouble with it, you can easily turn it off.
Another possible ad optimization network that you may not have heard of is one called Sortable. Sortable also uses machine learning to try and help you earn more revenue. Through machine learning Sortable is able to "Dynamically route your ad impressions to the partner who is most likely to fill at the highest CPM."
CPM means Cost Per Mile and it is a metric that measures the amount of money that an advertiser is willing to pay to display an ad. The higher the CPM, the more money you can earn.
Sortable works with many different ad networks to help you get the most out of your ad inventory. You're able to test their network partners against Adsense if you'd like to see which offers you the most value.
When you signup with Sortable you'll be assigned an account manager who will work closely with you to help you optimize your revenue. When I say work closely with you I mean that. Sortable representatives can be very hands on offering you free consultations over the phone and through video chat. At least that is the experience that I had when I tested them out.
Unfortunately for me, Sortable's network earned me slightly less than what I made with Adsense alone, so it was not a perfect fit for me.
Sortable can be combined with Ezoic to create an ad stack to help you maximize revenue. This something that I did not get to try during my testing.
Media.net is an advertising network than many publishers often fall back on if they don't get accepted into the Adsense program or if they get banned from Adsense. Major websites such as Forbes use Media.net.
You've likely noticed Media.net ad units all over the internet. They in large part serve contextual based link text ad units as shown in the picture below.
Besides showing link text ad units, when Media.net doesn't have its own inventory available or when another network is paying higher, Media.net ad units actually display banner ad units from other ad networks including Google's Adsense.
I actually used Media.net myself a couple of years ago with mixed results. To my surprise their units actually did earn very comparably to Adsense for me. However, in one random month, for whatever reason, revenues with their units fell off of a cliff for me in a way that I had never seen before. I should note that at the time I was using Media.net, I was much less experienced than I am now. So your mileage should vary.
The fact that Media.net ad units get used by large websites such as Forbes, Yahoo and Reuters is testament to their earning potential. I don't think those websites would use the Media.net ad network if it didn't pay well, so perhaps Media.net is worth your time.
How The Experts Make Money On Their Websites
As promised here is a small list of the people that many would call website marketing and monetization experts:
And there you have it. Some tips for you to help you to monetize your website. Happy blogging.
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