If you are wondering how to make money with a website, you are not alone. Lots of people are searching for ways that they can make some extra cash online.
However, you also have to be careful how you listen to, some actually have experience making money with websites and others don’t. I’ll let you judge for yourself, but I’ve personally built hundreds of websites and I’ve been making a full-time living from those websites since 2011.
When many start-up websites launched (including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and others), they didn’t always have a plan for how they would make money. Their primary goal was focusing on creating something that would attract attention and big traffic.
Once they had the traffic in place, lots of different ways to make money will present themselves. Although, I suspect that none of us will be creating the next huge internet start-up (like Facebook), we would be wise to have a few things in mind when creating a new site.
First, we should make sure there is a market for our site (keyword research is big part of this). Secondly, we should try to create something of value. Finally, we should ideally find a niche that has money being spent in it.
Today, I want to focus on different ways that you can make money from your website.
How to Build a Website From Scratch That Gets Traffic
If you already have a website that is getting a bunch of traffic, congrats! You can skip this section and read all about how to make money from all those visitors coming to your website.
However, if you don’t have a ton of traffic coming to your website right now, I want to spend a little bit of time explaining how you can actually get some of that traffic…so you can then make money from your website or blog.
This article isn’t meant to be a complete step by step guide for building a site, but more of a general overview. If you want a complete tutorial on how to start a blog, go here. Or if you want an in-depth guide for how to build a niche website, go here.
Instead, let’s jump right into how to get traffic to your website. I’ll cover 4 main areas for traffic: search engines, social media, paid traffic, and direct sources.
How to Get Traffic from Search Engines
Did you know that search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo will send traffic to your website for free if you can “rank” in them? If fact, you probably did a search similar to “how to make money with a website” and you found this article that you are reading now. I didn’t pay for my article to be listed; however, it ranked naturally in Google for free.
Ranking in search engines can be done through search engine optimization. If you want to explore that subject, I’ve written an in-depth guide for how to rank in Google right here.
However, there is basically a 3 step process for ranking in search engines that you should consider when trying to make money from your website.
Long Tail Keywords
First, you need to try and rank for keywords that are not too difficult. If you are trying to rank in Google for something that is extremely competitive, even if thousands of people search for it every single month, will lower your chances of getting any traffic at all.
So, I recommend that you target long tail keywords that are much easier to rank for. Then you just target lots of different keywords by writing great articles and you will be more likely to show up.
You can learn more about long tail keywords right here.
Write Great Content
The way that you target keywords is to write an in-depth article on the subject. For example, I wanted to rank for the term “niche websites” and so I wrote a really in-depth article on the subject right here. As of today, I now rank #1 in Google when someone searches for the term “niche websites”.
Depending on your subject, you may need to write an article that is 3,000 to 5,000 words long or even longer. You need to provide true value and depth of content to the people visiting your website. Once you provide value, not only are you more likely to rank in Google, but you are also more likely to make money from your website.
A backlink is simply where one website mentions another website through a link that you can click. These links act as “votes” to show that one website is more valuable than another.
Google crawls the internet to see all the links that are out there pointing to your website and tends to rank your website higher when you have a higher quantity and quality of links.
How to Get Social Media Traffic
Sometimes social media can be easier to attract than search engine traffic (at least in the short term). In fact, many websites rely on social media for the majority of their traffic. So, if you don’t want to worry about ranking in Google for now, there is another way.
You can get website visitors from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Youtube, Reddit, and many other social media platforms. The key to get traffic on many of these social media channels comes down to be active there.
If you have a Facebook or Twitter account, you should be posting regular updates and following others. When it comes to Pinterest you should be regularly adding “pins” to your board and re-pinning others from other boards.
Obviously, this is not meant to be a complete guide for social media traffic, but you can get one strategy that worked really well for me to quickly build a Facebook fanbase here.
How to Get Direct and Referral Traffic
I think it’s important to mention that if you truly work on building up a brand for your website, people will come back directly to your site by typing your domain in the address bar. This is direct traffic.
If you consider how you usually get to Facebook.com, my guess is that you type it into the address bar or you have an app on your phone to go there directly.
In addition, if people are linking to your website and their website gets a lot of traffic, they will be sending some of those people your way through what’s called “referral” traffic.
For example, in the image of my Google Analytics from the past couple of weeks below you can see that I received 7,302 referral visitors and 7,241 direct visitors.
You can also see that I get the bulk of my traffic from search engines (organic search), but I clearly need to do a bit better with social media.
Now, that I’ve shared a quick tutorial of how to actually get people coming to your website, I want to dive into how to make money with a website.
55 Ways to Make Money with a Niche Website
In the past, I’ve primarily focused on Google Adsense for my own niche sites. I did try out a few Adsense alternatives, but I came back to Adsense because it’s the one of the highest paying contextual ad networks out there. It’s easy to implement, pays the most, and just works.
However, as I set out to start my very first public niche site project, I have decided to use something besides Google Adsense to monetize my site.
When I first start a niche website, I’m not usually going to pick a particular monetization strategy until I pick a niche and keyword. Sometimes, I’ll think that I would like to build an email list and monetize that list with affiliate offers or my own products. However, this is not set in stone, and could change as I pick my niche OR as I test different strategies on the same site.
However, as you contemplate how you should make money from your new niche site, I will show how many options are out there. First, I’m going to list the general ways to monetize (categories like CPA, contextual ads, etc) and then I’ll number off the specific networks or options within each of those general categories.
Below I will share the 53 different ways that you can make money from your website.
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Pay Per Click Contextual Ad Networks
Pay per click ad networks literally pay you when someone clicks an ad on your website; whether or not they go and buy anything. This a great way to make money from your website when you are first starting out. Most of these are extremely easy to add to your website as well.
You just sign up and get approved, then copy and paste a short snippet of code onto your website.
These are networks like Google Adsense that have ads displayed based on the content of your site. Typically you will get paid per click from these types of contextual networks. Here are a few (there are likely many many more):
If you want to learn how to apply to Google Adsense and get approved, I have a step by step guide here. This is a personal favorite of mine for it’s ease of implementation and solid earnings for someone just getting started. Here’s an example of a Google Adsense ad:
Media.net handles all the ads for Bing, Yahoo, and many other advertisers. I’ve had a few people claim that they are able to make more money online with Media.net than Google Adsense.
Here’s an example of what Media.net looks like.
6. GumGum (In-image ads)
8. Clicksor.com (both eCPM and pay per click).
CPM Advertising Networks
Rather than paying on a per click basis, these ad networks pay on a per view basis (usually a dollar amount based on 1000 pageviews). Most of these networks require that you have a large visitor base to be approved to their network; therefore most of these won’t work for a smaller niche sites.
10. Tribal Fusion (500,000 unique visitors per month required).
Adbrite (update – Adbrite is shutting its doors on Feb. 1st 2013).
12. Casale Media
15. Advertising.com (part of AOL)
16. Burst Media (25,000 monthly page views)
17. CPX Interactive
18. Technorati Media
There are a TON more CPM ad networks out there, this is just a small sample. You need to find one that fits your niche or works best for your site.
CPA (Cost Per Action) Networks
These types of ads pay a fixed dollar amount based on an action taken (like an email submit form filled out). Many of these ad networks listed below offer both affiliate commissions (% of the actual purchase price) AND CPA opportunities. There are also a LOT more ad networks out there than I could possibly ever list in this category – this is just a few.
19. Neverblue Media
24. Adscend Media
About a thousand others…
An affiliate network pays out a fixed amount or a percentage of the sale amount. You refer someone through your link and get paid if someone actually buys something. As mentioned, some of these networks bleed together; meaning some of these affiliate networks pay out on CPA offers as well.
27. Amazon Associates – Can be a good option because you get paid no matter what the person buys on Amazon within 24 hours (not just what you referred them to). See our full guide to how to make money on Amazon here.
30. SkimLinks (This is actually an in-content ad network, but it pays out based on actual sales made. So its not a per-click basis, but does display ads automatically based on the content of your site. Its a pretty cool option actually that I’ve used and like).
33. eBay Partner Network (Actually pays on a per click basis – but the amount you earn goes up or down based on the history of actual sales you’ve generated. So if lots of people buy through your links, you get more per click.)
35. Google Affiliate Network (different than standard Google Adsense).
Direct Affiliate Programs
Thousands (yes thousands) of companies offer their own affiliate programs that are NOT listed in any network. These can be harder to find, but often pay very well. Here are just 2 examples of companies that run their affiliate program in house:
This is probably the biggest category because you can also contact companies directly and ask to start an affiliate program with them or otherwise work out a deal with them directly.
Sell Ad Space Directly
This is a big market as well with lots of options. You can contact people directly on your own or use an ad manager/network to help. Here’s just one option:
Create Your Own Product
The most profitable way to monetize your site is usually going to be with your own product. Obviously the kinds of products you can create are only limited by your imagination. Here’s just a few common options:
42. Create a video training course
43. Create an eBook
44. Create a membership area or paid forum
44. Create a piece of software
46. Create other tools, services, or information that customers are willing to pay for.
47. Launch and sell a product on Amazon. (My personal favorite)
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Sell Text Links
Obviously this won’t be right for everyone and many consider questionable. But there’s a huge marketplace. Here’s just a few places you can sell links:
51. Warrior Forum
When all else fails, you can ask for money :). Many sites have done this in the past.
52. Ask for donations
Sell Your Site
Even if you never monetize your site, you might be able to sell out for a pretty penny! If you build the traffic of your site or otherwise have an audience, there is value there. If the traffic is high enough, you could sell for a lot (think Twitter kind of traffic…). And of course, people buy brand new sites all the time that have no traffic or audience based on design and niche (but usually for very cheap).
53. Sell Your Site
Overview and Your Thoughts
To be honest, I probably missed several other ways that you can monetize your site, but this is a good start! And most certainly there are thousands of other ad networks or affiliate programs out there that you can use. But for the most part all your options for monetization are going to fit in these main categories covered: Pay Per Click Networks, CPM Ad Networks, CPA Networks, Affiliate Networks, Direct Affiliate Programs, Selling Ad Space, Creating a Product, Sell Text Links, Donations, or selling your site.
You can also find lots of other niche business ideas right here.
Overall, as I begin the process on Thursday evening on the live webinar, I’ll be thinking these different ways to monetize my site. I’ve excluded Adsense as a choice, but I have at least 52 other ways I could make money from my niche site.
I would love to hear your thoughts! Did I miss any major money making networks or methods? Let’s discuss below.