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Want to start making your own money and be your own boss? The pandemic has made it glaringly obvious that being able to make your own money is vitally important, and creating a website for your own brand or company is one of the best and potentially most lucrative way of doing so. But how can you make money from a website — something seemingly intangible?
There are loads of different ways to monetize a website. However, we’ll tell you the ones that actually work and the pros and cons of each.
Ready to make your website, but not sure where to start? See our website builder comparison table to learn which services we’ve rated best for creating a website.
In general, there are eight main ways that websites make money:
A successful website can, of course, make money from more than one of these avenues. However, not all of these methods of monetization are going to be the best choice for every business.
You’ll need to find one, or multiple, methods of monetization that will suit your business’ aims and identity. It’s important to ensure these aren’t contradictory – for example, selling products on a site covered with adverts that lead to other sites isn’t a good plan.
You can find out more about identifying and constructing a site based around core aims, identities and audience understanding in our What Makes a Good Website guide
In this guide:
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Arguably the best way to make money from your website is to sell products on it. Also known as ecommerce, this method can be surprisingly easy and provide a substantial payout, as long as you have some good tools to do it right.
Ecommerce simply refers to the electronic purchasing of goods and/or services on the internet. To do this, you have to set up an online store that can handle everything from payment and shipping to customer service and security.
The best place to start is with an ecommerce website builder. These tools are aimed at providing all the infrastructure you need to sell products easily and securely, without worrying about all the payment and shipping madness. Just put your products on there, and ship them when they get sold, and you’ll be on your way to establishing an ecommerce store in no time.
We’ve done some extensive research on ecommerce website builders and found that Wix and Shopify are your two best options. Wix is perfect for small businesses, as it offers a comprehensive experience that isn’t too complicated, but still provides plenty of features to get the job done. Shopify, on the other hand, is best for larger businesses, as it provides unlimited customizability and diverse multi-channel sales integrations, but can be a bit too robust for your small stores.
That’s up to you and your business! Depending on what you’re selling, how many customers you have, and what your overhead costs are, you could make a substantial amount as long as you’re reaching your customers in a meaningful way. Plus, ecommerce website builders offer low costs and little overhead, so you can keep most of your profits without dipping into your budget.
It’s worth noting that you’ll need more than just a website to make money. Ecommerce websites rely on traffic to make money, and generating traffic take marketing and sales efforts that your business is hopefully already undertaking.
At first glance, putting ads on your website might sound like a lengthy undertaking. However, the Google AdSense service will make displaying ads on your site completely painless.
Most website builders will offer apps or plugins for AdSense. Once you’ve signed up to an AdSense account, these apps will apply the little ad boxes you commonly see across the internet.
You’re free to put these wherever you want on your site, as well as change the general layout. When someone views the ad, or clicks on it, you’ll get money – it really couldn’t be easier.
Just to contain your expectations, AdSense isn’t particularly lucrative unless you’re using it at a large scale – at least hundreds of thousands of unique viewers per month. It’s even trickier to monetize via ads these days, as so many people use ad blockers.
Also, ads will slow down your website’s loading speed, meaning that you might lose out on users coming to your site, and, even if they get there, the ads might put them off. It’s worth thinking long and hard about whether this is the right revenue stream for you.
Find out what makes a good website
If your website is already getting a lot of traffic and you want to capitalize on that somehow, hosting sponsored content on your page can be a great way of making a bit of money on the side. In most cases, brands and businesses are looking for collaboration opportunities with prominent websites, and you can offer guest posts or articles for a price.
You will want to dig into the specifics of this process before diving in though. The difference between sponsored content and, say, native ads, for example, is that you’ll actually be writing the sponsored content yourself, but it will have an ulterior motive of promoting another brand, whereas native ads are specifically created by the brand.
Additionally, you need to realize that this only works if your website is driving a lot of natural traffic. No one is going to want to pay for sponsored content on a website that only gets a few views a day, so this avenue of website monetization will require you to be well-established ahead of time.
As we said, this all depends on the size of your audience and the amount of traffic you drive to your website. Simply put, the more people that are checking out your website on a daily basis, the more you’ll be able to charge per sponsored post/article.
That being said, you typically get to set the price for this kind of advertising. If you believe your website thrives on authenticity and wouldn’t sully that for a few bucks, that’s your prerogative. Still, setting a reasonable price is the best way to keep yourself competitive when it comes to making money.
Most website builders will let you wall off certain sections of your site that only registered members can access.
Creating a members-only section of your site is a great way to make your content feel more exclusive and valuable. This means that people are more likely to become paying members, as they can perceive the extra value they’ll get when they donate or subscribe to your site.
However, there’s a real risk and reward to going after this revenue stream. You need to be mindful of the number of return visitors your site gets, and it’s better to build up a free following first, before monetizing that audience through paying memberships. It’s also absolutely crucial that if you start free and offer paying options later you do not put the core content behind a paywall. People don’t like having something for free, then having to pay for it.
Of course, you don’t necessarily need a website to produce this kind of revenue stream. There are services designed to create paying memberships, such as Patreon.
Patreon is a service that lets an audience give money to their favorite content creators, or access premium content on an otherwise free website.
Think of it this way – your favorite podcast gives away one free episode every week to all listeners; but, it also gives another episode to its dedicated Patreon donors, as well as some behind-the-scenes video footage and a monthly Reddit AMA.
Donations are paid on a monthly basis, which gives creators a dependable, month-to-month income stream, helping them run their businesses efficiently.
Unlike a lot of the above monetization methods, having a workable income stream from Patreon doesn’t require an enormous audience. Instead, it relies more on engagement.
For example, Zach Weinersmith, who writes his own comics, has 3,401 Patreon donors, but earns nearly $7,000 per month from their donations.
Learn more about Patreon here
Affiliate marketing, as we mentioned above, is just a fancy term for sending users onto other sites to buy stuff, while you get a kickback from the purchase.
It used to be considered a somewhat shady practice, with sites recommending products that were of dubious quality just to get more money, although the practice has been cleaned up slightly and consumers have grown wise to dodgy reviews and recommendations. To be clear, at Tech.co, we sometimes use affiliate marketing to help generate revenue ourselves. However, we’ll never recommend a product that we don’t truly believe in, and you won’t have to pay a cent more to get the product when buying through one of our links.
If your site is attracting a lot of traffic, affiliate marketing can be a great way to monetize your site. However, if your site isn’t bringing in big visitor numbers, we’d steer clear of affiliate marketing — it works best at scale.
So how much money can you make? Let’s take a look at the Amazon affiliate scheme as an example.
Creating an entire website only with the intention of selling it might seem strange, after all, why would you invest all that time into creating a site just to hand it over. However, if you think about it like real estate development, it makes complete sense.
If you want to get started in the world of flipping, you’ll need to create a website. You’ll need to start with creating a domain. Try and find a domain that has the potential to attract a lot of traffic, something simple that people will remember and look for a strong top-level domain: .com, .org, .co for example. A memorable keyword and a good top-level domain can fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find one that isn’t owned already.
Then you’ll need to start building your site. You could do this through a website builder, although it’s likely that people looking to buy a site would look to buy one based on a more universal platform — WordPress would be a good fit, as one-third of the internet uses its CMS.
Once you’ve bought your domain and built your site, you can sell it on a domain auction site. GoDaddy or Sedo are two good domain auction sites.
Then, you can reinvest that domain sale money into another site, or simply pocket it.
Drop shipping is not the most popular means of making money from a website, but if you can figure out an effective way of doing so, it could add to your financial independence.
Simply put, drop shipping is a retail fulfillment strategy in which the seller does not have the given product in stock. Rather, the seller will sell the product on their website, then order it from a third-party seller and then ship the product in question directly to the customer. This allows for an easier process, as it doesn’t require storage or other product handling measures.
It can get a bit complicated though. Between the minimal quality control and the high shipping costs, profit margins can be low when it comes to drop shipping. However, if you can find the right process for you, along with reliable vendors, drop shipping might be a good fit, particularly if you don’t have the space or budget for product storage.
Luckily, if you’re interested in this type of revenue, our top-rated ecommerce website builders — Wix and Shopify — both offer drop shipping functionality. And considering that, according to one study, Wix stores who add drop shipping products increase AOV (Average Order Value) by 40% and sales revenues by 79% within the first 4 months, it’s worth looking into for the sake of your business.
Ok, we’ll level with you, this isn’t exactly making money from a website. But it is making money, because of a website.
Nowadays, if your business doesn’t have a website, you’ll be losing out on money. People are looking online first to find businesses, brands, shops, products, artists and more. And, if whatever you’re doing doesn’t have a website, you’ll be losing out.
Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to get a website up and running, even for small business. Just take advantage of some of our best website builders for small business research so you can get the best option for your company.
Websites are the new shop windows and first impressions are crucial when it comes to websites. If it loads too slowly, or is too tricky to use, your visitors and potential customers aren’t going to stick around to find out about the great services you have to offer.
Using a website builder can really take the pain out of creating a great website, with simple, aesthetically-pleasing templates, dedicated help and support and easy-to-use tools to change and edit your site.
When you’re starting out making sure you follow these top tips so you can make money from your website.
Check out Wix, our highest ranked provider from independent research
Affiliate marketing, however, can work well with fewer visitors, as long as you can convince people that the products your selling are worth their cash.
Instead, you should be thinking about whether your business has a unique and enticing offering. Peddling the same old trash as every other website isn’t a recipe for online economic success.
But if the only reason you want to become a blogger is to make money, we would advise against that career path. If you’re passionate about the things you cover and produce good quality content, then money will come eventually.
If you can’t promise all of those things, then no. Look elsewhere.
If you don’t, AdSense won’t make you that much money. It’ll also make your site look less professional and will slow down page loading times, which will make users leave your site and harm your Google rankings.
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Tom Fogden is a writer for Tech.co with a range of experience in the world of tech publishing. Tom covers everything from cybersecurity, to social media, website builders, and point of sale software when he’s not reviewing the latest phones.
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