Making money online is possible, but what can seem impossible is figuring out the best way to do it. With so many options out there, it’s easy to get misdirected by some “get rich quick” scheme. To help you separate the wheat from the chaff, here are five of the best ways to monetize websites.
1. Open a Merchandise Shop
T-shirts can go a long way towards monetizing an online presence. This remains the logic behind DFTBA.com, a website started by online personality Hank Green, which helps YouTubers and other online creators to monetize websites and their activity online.
Of course, you don’t need to go through a shop. Rather, you can open up a shop on your own website and sell the thing which likely made your website famous in the first place using an eBook. If it’s a photography website, for example, sell an exclusive photography collection through an eBook.
If you’ve built enough of a following, you’ve got nothing to lose by finding out how much they’d pay if you were able to spend more time or effort on something. You’ve already been producing content on your website for free. So, even if no-one buys your eBook, you’ve lost nothing. By contrast, if people do buy the book, you’ve earned money where you weren’t earning money before.
2. Use a Donation Model
The internet is a much more generous place than people often imagine. As such, the fifth biggest website in the world is able to run on donations alone. Wikipedia’s fundraiser drives raise more each year and its success through the donation model shows no sign of slowing down.
The donation model remains the best ways to monetize websites like Wikipedia because of how it can help cement a website’s independence and non-profit status. So, while this model won’t work for every website, it is repeatable for some websites.
The Guardian is the second most popular news website in the UK, according to page views per month, and it too uses a donation model to raise money. If setting up a donation function on your website or running a fundraising drive sounds too complicated, you can use Patreon. The service allows you to set up fundraising pages instantly for your internet activity to make the whole thing simpler. In return, though, Patreon takes a cut of your donations.
3. Build the Wall
The paywalls debate has been raging for a long time. Way back in 2009, David Simon — a long-time journalist for the Baltimore Sun and the creator of The Wire — wrote an impassioned piece arguing that news websites needed to put up paywalls in order to survive. As of 2017, some news websites have listened to Simon’s advice, but some have not. After all, a paywall doesn’t work for every website.
The websites which are able to operate with paywalls are the ones which are sincerely able to offer unique content. Every website likes to believe that this is the case, but if people aren’t paying to see the other side of your paywall, it’s because people can find similar content elsewhere.
Websites like The Wall Street Journal and Netflix can survive behind paywalls because there is no other way of reading up-to-the-minute insight on Wall Street or watching House of Cards without paying them. Of course, you need to give potential customers a peek behind the paywall every now and then. After all, if you’ve never seen House of Cards, why would you care that you can’t watch it?
This is precisely why Netflix — and other streaming websites — offer month-long free trials. The data shows how well these trials work, with a third of people choosing to stay on after these trials end.
4. And the Best Way to Monetize Websites…?
Online advertising is the best way to monetize websites and its staying power and popularity are evidence of this. Since the dawn of the internet, online advertising has been how the vast majority of websites monetize themselves. What’s more, unlike other monetization models, online advertising has evolved the most.
What used to be a free-for-all of mismatched banner ads popping up on irrelevant places has been tamed by data and online advertising networks who are able to better pair adverts and the websites on which they appear. It remains the best way to monetize websites the vast majority of the time because of its versatility. After all, no matter what kind of audience you have, chances are they will expect and accept web advertising on the websites they visit.