The first lesson aspiring website entrepreneurs must learn is how to generate revenue from a site. The mind-bending aspect of the topic is in figuring out what monetization strategies or combination of tactics fit best your business model and personal work style. Here are some ideas to begin considering:
Subscriptions: There are two primary sources of revenue from your website: your audience, or a third party. Developing an audience is a requirement to be of any value to a third party. The key to building an audience is having information relevant to their interests or needs. Once you build a successful content strategy, you can begin to think about monetizing it. You may give a certain amount of content freely on your site, and then charge a subscription for more access. Building a revenue-generating subscription base takes time, but it is worth it, the selling price for websites is directly related to income generated by them.
We recommend: Recurly
Display Advertising: Display advertising is the most common monetization tactic. Display ads include banner and text ads that you see all over the Internet. Display ads are bought and sold in several ways. Some ads are sold on a cost per thousand (CPM) scale, which means sites receive a set figure for every 1,000 ads delivered to viewers.
We recommend: Google AdSense
E commerce: Many websites operate as online stores, selling goods and services like physical stores do. Ecommerce sites can have either an extremely broad set of things sold (like Amazon or eBay) or a highly curated one. If you are a person who makes art, or crafts or clothing it is far less costly to start an online store than it is to invest in a brick and mortar establishment. The more niche your product offering is to begin with, the simpler it may be to build an audience. One strategy is to start with something you know a lot about and have a genuine passion for. This will help to sustain you through the sometimes-lengthy process of building a solid base of users.
We recommend: Shopify
Affiliate Marketing: This tactic involves making agreements with third parties to assist in the sale of products or services to your users. In exchange for referring traffic to their sites, third parties will give you a percentage of revenue they generate from your users. Amazon is the biggest user of this strategy and creates buttons you can place on your site to direct visitors their way. I once worked with an affiliate marketing firm that was generating over a million dollars a month in fees from Amazon sales alone.
We recommend: Amazon Associates
Lead Generation: Using your site to capture data that third parties have interest in buying or renting. How do you acquire such information? By requesting users to provide contact information where to connect with them. This strategy requires having enough traffic to collect sufficient data from. It also works best if your site has a specific theme, so that the relevance of your user base to a third party is clear and accurate.
We recommend: Leadpages
Each website must develop its own business model. The ideal monetization strategy for your site depends on your content, audience and the amount of time you are willing to devote to building your business. For most website owners a combination of the strategies noted here (and others) will be the right mix for you. The challenge to sort through monetization strategies and figure out the approach that’s right for your site is not an overnight phenomenon. Remember that the investment made in building out content and audience strategies directly benefits you in the end.