It is possible to make money online, even in the 2020 decade!
There are so many people out there making money with their blog and monetizing their website.
It is not a myth, and it indeed does work!
I discovered that it was still possible to make money online a few years ago.
I was listening to a podcast, and the interviewee was a guy making money with niche sites.
He built about 5 niche sites, one after another, and was monetizing them through various strategies.
I just loved the idea and decided to jump right into it.
As I come from an agency background, working with brands like Nike, Disney, Tiffany, Fendi, BMW, Audi, Porsche... and I have built hundreds of websites and digital campaigns throughout my career, I decided to use my skills to built niche websites.
If you are like me, you got tired of working for other people, and you are looking for a degree of independence.
Having passive sources of income is a smart way to earn money.
I call this “Working Smart.”
Nothing is easy, and it requires efforts in time and energy.
A lot of blogs tell you ways to monetize, but they do not show you HOW TO MONETIZE.
We decided to introduce you to different ideas on how you can monetize your website and earn money.
We also provide you with examples and tell you how you can monetize your website.
After reading this article, you will know:
- plenty of monetization ideas
- how each idea works
- how to implement the monetization
- pros and cons of each monetization strategy
OK let's get to it. This is a long article, it is worth the read, I guarantee you will not regret it.
How to Monetize Your Website or your blog
There are many ways to monetize your blog and your website.
But there is a set of rules you should respect to ensure your success.
Rule number 1: monetization should be part of the DNA of the website from the beginning, even if you only start monetizing a few months after launch
Rule number 2: have multiple monetization streams, diversify between independent types of monetization (avoid dependencies, just like alpha investing in the stock market)
Rule number 3: do not rely solely on 3rd party platforms (e.g., affiliates, ads), build an audience, and develop your own products and courses…
Selecting multiple ways to monetize is clever for 2 reasons:
- a more extensive range of opportunities: have a diverse offering that allows you to target different prospects at different price tags (also allowing you to offer upsells and cross-sells)
- play safe: you never know when the conditions of the market, a manufacturer or a 3rd party platforms will change, you could lose everything tomorrow
For example, selling eBooks, ads, affiliates, access to a private community, providing consulting services, as well as your product.
If one goes down because of reasons out of your control, then the other ways to monetize will still be valid. Plus, you can offer a course to people who bought your eBook, while providing access to a private community to someone who bought your course.
I am sure you get the picture.
Think about the pros and cons of each monetization type and choose carefully. Some require more time, some more content, some upfront monetary investment…
In other words, don’t put all your eggs into one basket.
Of course, all streams cannot be built within a short period, but you could start with 1 or 2 ways to monetize and add as time goes by.
When to Monetize a Website
It depends on the model and the type of niche you cover.
If you acquire traffic by paying for ads, then right from the beginning, this is true in the case where you sell software, dropshipping, courses, affiliates, etc.
If you build an audience with organic traffic, then you should start preparations when you hit about 20,000 to 25,000 visitors per month.
Website monetization should be implemented when you reach about 30,000 to 40,000 visitors per month. This is especially true in the case of monetization with ads as you need a certain amount of traffic before being allowed to monetize.
Consultants, coaches, eBooks, and such activities take time to build to have a practical monetization impact.
1. Monetize Website with Ads
When it comes to making money with a website or a blog, monetizing with ads is probably the first thing that comes to mind. Ads are automatically displayed on specific areas of your website. You only need a one-time effort to make passive money!
However, you need to be aware of that you need A LOT of traffic to be making money with ads.
You do not have the power to control which ads are displayed as the process is automated. The ads shown are based on the behavior and interests of the visitor.
For example, if you looked for “baby diapers” online in the past week, and you are now looking at a blog post, “5 Reasons why babies cry at night” you will be seeing ads about the diapers you were looking at. It could even happen on other websites, for example, if you are looking at a movie review online… diapers ads may appear.
- Publisher: the person or company publishing ads on their own website
- Ads Networks: the platforms that provide the ads to you, they are the middlemen between companies and publishers
- CPC: cost-per-click, how much money you earn per click
- CTM: cost-per-thousand, “M” stands for “Mille” I believe (common on Youtube for example)
- CTR: click-through-rate, how many visitors click on an ad
How much ads pays
- Ads are suitable for websites with 50,000 monthly visitors and above.
- Now you will ask how much does it pay?
- Short answer: it depends on the industry and the product/service.
- In the beginning, you will be making a few dollars per month.
- After a year or two, you may be able to make a few hundred dollars per month.
Google Adsense is a cost-per-click platform (also called “CPC”.)
The money you make depends on many different factors, but for the sake of simplicity, we can say that as a rule of thumb, you can expect to make from 5 cents up to 10 dollars per click.
Why such a significant discrepancy? Well, it depends on how much the industry is ready to pay for a lead.
For example, imagine that you sell a pair of headphones for 25$; how much would you be willing to pay for a lead that purchases the headphones? Now imagine that you are a real estate agent selling a house for 1,500,000$, how much would you be for a lead?
For example, of all your visitors, if 1 out of 100 clicks (1% click-through-rate or “CTR”) and you get 25 cents per click, 10,000 visitors will bring you 25$.
You need a lot of visitors to make reasonable amounts of money with ads only.
We usually suggest that business owners use 2-3 other ways to monetize along with ads.
Using online ads is like giving space and providing attention to a 3rd party in your living room you have no control over. Depending on the type of website you operate, monetizing with ads may or may not be a good idea.
If your business depends on the perception of the brand, monetizing may not be a great way to monetize. For example, if your website is a personal brand, then you should avoid using ads to monetize as it will make your brand look… cheap.
How it works: Setting up ads
- Get an account at an ad publisher (for example, Google Ads)
- Customize your account
- Install a tracking snippet on your website (a short piece of code)
- et voilà!
- Ads will be displayed on your website depending on what the user’s interests
- Get paid every month
There are a few Ads Network out there, and each have their advantages and flaws:
- Google Adsense
- You can find a more detailed ad networks list
- Passive! Just install a snippet, and that’s it
- Easy money if you have a lot of traffic
- Fantastic for websites that have +10,000 visitors/day
- Great for informational websites
- Requires a lot of traffic to make money
- Commissions are not very high (in 2020 they went down with the “event”)
- No control over the content displayed, may affect your brand
- Not so great for personal brand websites
- When the economy gets into a recession, ads spend goes down
2. Monetize Blog with Affiliates
Affiliate marketing is on everybody’s lips. It is a hot topic.
It is probably one of the most popular ways of making money online.
I am sure that you have seen Affiliate Marketing gurus advertising on Youtube.
What is nice about affiliate marketing is that you are the middle person between the buyer and the seller.
You will often hear people talking about “Niche sites.” A lot of niche websites are monetized with affiliates.
Some people made millions of dollars doing affiliate marketing. People who are successful in the affiliate business are very talented when it comes to growth marketing, boosting traffic, and making people click on their affiliate links in hope for a commission.
The concept of affiliate marketing is simple: you use your website as a platform to promote other people’s products or services, and you are paid a commission each time the product or service is purchased.
The way it works is quite simple: after registering for the affiliate program, you get a link that identifies you. You put that link on your website.
Visitors see the product (or let’s say a review,) when they click on the link to buy the product, the company selling the product will know that the lead came from you… and pay you a commission if the person buys within X timeframe.
There is also another option: if you have a product or a service, you can also sell your own affiliate programs for your personal service or product.
In my opinion, the best affiliate marketing is with software and courses, but a lot of folks made a lot of money doing affiliates for products.
Affiliate Marketing Niches
Affiliate marketing is great for plenty of different websites, depending on your niche, there are probably 10,000 niches out there, if not 20,000:
- Education: courses, teaching, coding, languages, skills, etc.
- Marketing: software, audits, etc.
- Hobbies: fashion, photography, motorcycling, traveling, auto parts, etc.
- Health: baby products, kids education, vitamins, etc.
- Sports: hiking, golf, etc.
- Finance: investing, saving money courses, real estate, etc.
- Software: email software, social proof software, etc.
- Business: consulting, coaching, productivity tips, etc.
With affiliates, you can help sell plenty of different products and services:
- Pretty much any product you can find, Amazon is a great example
- Plenty of various services: real estate, consulting, courses, subscriptions, etc.
Affiliate Marketing Terminology
- Affiliate program: an affiliate program partnership with a specific company that provides you with a commission each time you bring traffic, and a sale happens
- Affiliate Network: a group of different affiliates programs where you can select the affiliates that fit your blog and website
- Affiliate partner/associate: you, the person/company promoting the service or product on behalf of a 3rd party company
- Commission and commission rate: a commission percentage (%) of a sale, for example, if the rate is 10% and the product is sold 100$, your commission is 10$
- CPS: Cost-per-Sale which is the commission you get every time your lead purchases something
- CPA: Cost-per-Action which is the commission you get every time your lead takes action (e.g., click, follow, impressions, sign up for the newsletter, etc.)
- CAC: Cost-of-Acquisition-of-Customer, this term comes directly from the Saas software lingo, but long-story-short, it is the cost of bringing a visitor to click “Buy”
How much affiliates marketing pays
- It depends on the product or service. The company usually sets the commission rate.
- As a rule of thumb, for a product, you can expect a 4-10% commission.
- For a service, you can expect a commission between 5-40%.
- Some online courses offer up to 50% commission.
- Some affiliate programs have a flat fee, for example, 65$ for each lead that ends up purchasing a yearly plan.
Keep in mind that the profit you make from the affiliates commission should be higher than what it costs you to acquire prospects and convert him or her into a buyer. If your cost to earn a commission is 5$, your commission should be at least 10-15$, if not 20-25$! You need to keep in mind all the overhead. So you CAC should always be more significant than the “profit + overhead.”
Not all commissions are created equal.
For example, within competitors in the same industry having almost the same pricing structure, the
affiliates commission can range from 5% to 40%.
As you can see, it is case-by-case.
If I give you a choice to sell 1 T-shirt 100$ or 10 T-shirts 10$, which option would you choose?
So the higher the selling price and the higher the commission, the more money you make. Following this logic, you should avoid low priced items that have a low demand, and it may not be worth the effort.
Amazon did an update to their Affiliates program Terms in April 2020, and some people got decimated. So make sure that you diversify! If you got his by Amazon’s update, see our post Amazon Affiliates: Alternatives and What to Do Now
How it works: Setting up Affiliates
If you intend to register and promote the product or service of a specific company, you can either register directly on their website or send them an email to inquire about their affiliates program.
You can register on Affiliates Network websites as well. They are sometimes called “Affiliate Banks.”
Check the products you want to promote, put the products (or reviews) on your website, and use the affiliates link.
Get paid monthly or every two weeks.
Some affiliates, especially in the software industry where credit card payment is standard, will only pay you after a 60 day period (as the user could cancel the subscription to the software.)
Affiliates Programs and Affiliates Network Banks
There are ways you can get an affiliate commission:
- Affiliate Program of the company selling the service or software (e.g., Amazon.com)
- Affiliate Network Banks (also called “Networks”) that gather different product, service, and affiliate programs on the market and provide you with a vast array of affiliates based on the interests of users, industry, product, etc.
Some Affiliates Networks:
Great list of affiliate networks
- Potential to generate a lot of revenue
- Great way to make money passively
- Lots of money with expensive high commission products/services
- It can be fun to replicate the system and build multiple niche sites
- Cost of acquisition of traffic to your website needs to be lower than sales you earn
- Competitive environment
- Pretty much anyone can sell the same affiliates that you sell
- Affiliates terms and conditions of some company may change anytime
- Avoid if product is low price low demand
3. Dropshipping Website
If you watch videos about online businesses on Youtube, I am sure that you have seen ads about marketers telling you that they have made millions of dollars doing dropshipping.
The concept of dropshipping is simple:
- You set up a website or an eCommerce store (like on Shopify)
- You find products on Aliexpress, get the images, the product cost, the information… add the information on your website and a selling price (which includes markup)
- People purchase the product, for let’s say, 20$
- You send the order to the seller or manufacturer, and you pay them, let’s say, 10$
- They ship the product directly to your customer
- You made 10$
More often than not, the product is shipped directly from China.
In some cases, some hot products may be waiting in a warehouse in the US to cut shipping time
Dropshipper: the middleman creating the website, getting the leads, selling the product to the consumer, and ordering the product from the manufacturer. We could say that dropshippers are resellers.
Aliexpress: a Chinese platform owned by Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group (it is the same company behind the famous Amazon of China called Taobao, plus TMall and Alipay) where manufacturers list their products and where dropshippers get their cost price, the images, the product descriptions, etc.
Plenty of websites give you inspiration about dropshipping products. You can find the newly released hot products and even download media assets that you simply add to your website.
How much dropshipping pays
Before we can answer how much it pays, let’s see how much it costs. Your costs are:
- setting up the website and hosting the website
- spending time to find products
- bringing traffic, most of the time, is achieved with paid ads on Facebook, Google, etc.
How much it pays depends on how much bringing the traffic costs you.
In general, you should focus on products that are priced relatively high.
It does not make sense to sell products with a 5$ price tag.
If the product costs you 20$, you can resell at 40-60$.
Even if you sell the same product for more money than other stores selling the exact same product, you would be surprised to see that some people do not shop around, especially if you can create trust, create scarcity and urgency.
Tips to be successful doing dropshipping
- Sell high-value and rare products
- create your own OEM brand or Private Label (buy a product and add your logo on it)
- create your own custom-made unique product
- focus on niches where people buy many things in the same category (e.g., photographer buy tons of stuff like camera lenses, lights, batteries, etc.)
- avoid selling products of different types on the same website (e .g., camping stuff along with baby products)
- understand that most drop-shipper use ads to drive traffic, which means that you need to consider the cost of the ads as part of the markup if you want to make money.
The only way to know if a product will be successful is to… research, implement, measure, test, adjust, and repeat.
- good entry-level monetization strategy
- no need to build an audience to generate sales (as opposed to organic traffic that may take 1-2 years to kick in)
- fast to setup
- (almost) hassle-free
- advanced knowledge of digital marketing is not required
- Fast way to generate traffic means you need to spend money on advertising (risk of the product not selling over advertising cost)
- Competitive environment
- No control over branding (packaging, appearance, brand, etc.)
- No control over the quality of the product (some manufacturer will ship high-quality products and then replace them with lower quality products without telling you)
- May imply providing post-purchase customer service
- Handling returns may be a headache
- Possibility of legal liabilities like lawsuits (it does happen)
4. Monetize your blog or website with Online Courses
Selling online courses is another popular way to generate income online. We often say that “knowledge is power.” As time is money, people will pay to get a shortcut and get knowledge about a topic in a fast and efficient manner. People love spending for insights delivered by experts!
The concept of selling courses online is simple: you make a course, record it, and put it on a platform where users will pay to access the said course. You can also make masterclasses where people pay for a bundle of courses about a variety of topics on a given subject.
I am sure you know something that other people do not know. Take me, for example, when I consult with entrepreneurs and businesses, and I often find out that they do not even know the basics of digital marketing.
The lesson is: assess your knowledge, passion, and experience, find a gap of knowledge in a niche, and provide the missing parts.
Still with us?
I think one of the most crucial ingredients to success is: let your personal brand, your voice, your style, your humor, shine in the promotional videos!
Be confident, and I am 100% there is something you know that people will pay for!
We all have different life experiences, and we often assume that what we know is a given, when it is not.
Of course, selling online courses implies that you have a type of knowledge that can be sold and that you have basic communication skills to teach the course content.
Hot Online Courses Topics
- Learning: SAT test, memory techniques, languages, gym training, woodwork
- Business: dropshipping, affiliates, building websites, creating Sales Funnels
- Creativity: DJ, Photoshop, video editing, designing websites
- Professionals: cooking like a real chef, real estate, CFA…
- And the list goes on and on.
Tips to Sell Courses Successfully
Present yourself as:
- An expert (how you dress, talk, knowledge, and experience about the topic)
- Be authoritative
- Deliver unique value (not information that people can find on Google)
- Be clear and straightforward
- Show passion
- Build a visually appealing presentation
- Test with a smaller audience
- …extra tip: work on your brand.
Styles of courses:
- shot like a vlog, camera in hand, walking around
- recorded like a presentation, you talk over slides
- shot in a homemade studio, office or professional studio
- a mix of the above
Find a need in a niche. Provide the knowledge to fill the gap.
There are so many subjects that people are willing to pay for, and you have no idea how topics that seem like niche could end up being best-sellers.
So before doing a full course, you should do basic market research and talk to your potential audience.
Talking to them will help you identify what they are interested in terms of content, what they lack in terms of knowledge, and how much they are willing to invest.
Selling courses implies that you need to make, host, and promote the course.
If you use a 3rd party platform to host your course, part of the promotion will be done by the platform, and your course will be “findable,” among others.
Another way of proceeding is to build your own platform and integrate tools to host your courses.
One way or the other, you will need to promote your course to your targeted markets. This means that you will also add promotion to your plan.
How To Make Online Courses
- Research and make the course’s plan
- Make the presentation documents (PowerPoint, images, videos, etc.)
- Record the course with your phone, computer or a camera (find a beautiful looking background)
- Edit the presentation
- Upload the course to the platform (3rd party platform or your own platform)
- Promote, promote, and promote, either build an audience or pay for ads on Youtube, Facebook, etc.
You can use platforms like Thinkific, Kartra, Teachable, Clickfunnels… that allow you to record, distribute and bill for your course (Kartra does it all)
We recommend WordPress with Thrive Architect (to build the website’s design) and Thrive Apprentice (for the community) and SendOwl (for payments and memberships). You will need email automation on top of this.
Do not over-design the course. A lot of people make the mistake of spending more time on the visual aspect (I am guilty myself) people pay for the knowledge and the insights.
Done is better than perfect.
One significant advantage of putting your courses on teaching platforms is that the payment, hosting, and course templates are provided. Your course will be available (and sometimes even promoted) under specific topics (e.g., web development, pricing strategy.) Of course, you pay a monthly fee for this, but it has advantages.
Platforms to Host and Sell Courses
There are 3 ways to approach courses hosting:
- build a website and host your videos behind a paywall
- subscribe to a course hosting platform, either create a sales page or your website or use their system to develop the sales page, send traffic over there
- record your course and simply put it on a website specialized in courses, where your course will be among other courses in a database
WordPress website, with a “paid wall” and the videos: your own platform with website, payment option, and the videos.
3rd party platforms: Teachable, Udemy, Thinkific, Kajabi
Webinars: a lot of Sales Funnels include a webinar (a web-based seminar). A webinar can be a good (free) intro to your course to bring people to want to know more and eventually purchase the course. Another advantage of the webinar is that you can gather people’s email addresses. Webinars are great to get people to buy your course, NOT to host the course itself.
How much Selling Courses pays
Courses can sell from 5$ up to 1,000$ (even 3,000$ if the course is hot.)
There are costs associated with hosting courses, commissions paid to 3rd party platform, promoting the course… so the pricing should reflect your infrastructure cost and the value of the insights your give.
- Once the course is made, you can scale and grow your audience indefinitely
- You can build a following, an audience that may demand extra courses from you
- Possibility to offer cross-sells and upsells
- Ability to reach a lot of people and make a difference in people’s lives
- Making the course takes time
- Course is not guaranteed to sell
- Discounting the course could be illegal in some jurisdictions
5. Make money with an Online Community
Building an online community is quite popular with online marketers, hobby enthusiasts, and even pick-up artists.
Online communities are places where people exchange about their passion or topics they enjoy talking about. Social Media did take part in the online community space that existed before Facebook, but some people still value the insights they get from communities built around niches online.
My opinion is that online communities should be an ADD-ON sold as part of a course unless you are in a niche where you can provide fresh content every week (for example, online entrepreneurs, SEO, pick-up artists, psychological support, productivity, etc.)
Tips to Build an Online Community Successfully
Present yourself as:
- An adviser that brings people together
- Bring unique value
- Build a strong brand with a unique tone, value, and visual identity
- Collaborative, keen on partnerships
- You can also provide 1-on-1 consulting (where you charge a higher fee)
- Use other channels to bring people to your community (conferences, podcasts, interviews, social media…)
- Write a book or start a podcast to draw in people
Good example: Ryan Holiday with his online Stoics Community, there are plenty of other cases in the marketing niche too.
Platforms to host your Online Community:
The best setup is to have a WordPress website and a system to host your online community. Most of the time, you will also need a 3rd plugin to host the database of members and the login function. This is called a Membership plugin.
Do not forget that you will need to integrate with a payment gateway that allows paying members to access content hidden behind a “paywall” (as opposed to your public content like blog posts.) And, of course, email automation.
The Website is to host your public content, your sales pages, your blog, your posts, your contact page, etc.
- The Platform is to host your Community.
- The payment plugin is to get the payments.
- Email automation to send automated emails like login information, news, etc.
There are a few options on the market; each have their advantages and disadvantages, but here are some.
- Excellent source of recurring income
- You can build an army of faithful followers
- Has the potential to grow, other members may invite their friends
- Reliable way to develop a network of contacts
- Ideal if you develop and sell other types of monetization, you can use the community as a channel to sell
- Your community will promote your new products and services for you every time you release something new
- Hands-on content curation, content production and monitoring of the community (requires dedicated work)
- A bit challenging to build with all the different options on the market
- Jumpstarting: Takes time to build a community, especially if you have 0 members at the beginning
- You will need an excellent personal brand to bring people to follow you, and you need to bring value to have people join and keep paying on a monthly or yearly basis
6. Make Money with Consulting
A lot of people want to offer consulting as it sounds “cool,” hip, and easy.
The thing with consulting is that you need to be perceived as an expert, and you need to have high communication skills.
You also need to deliver and truly add value to what I call the “real economy.”
The best consultant I have seen are the ones who work in industries where consulting is valued and in niches. Consultants are people who have experience, expertise, connections, and know the right solutions to either solve a problem or improve a situation.
I once got on a call with the Managing Director of a German company who consulted with 20 different agencies before reaching me.
He started the call by saying, “Mr.X told me that you are THE person that will be able to provide me with the right solution to my problem.”
The man had issues with a platform, developed in Germany, that was hosted in China. I asked about 10 questions to probe here and there, listened carefully. 5 minutes later, he had the solution he was looking for.
The story is true, no BS.
You would be surprised how much people are ready to pay for a consultant. Imagine the Managing Director I talked to. Let’s say that his hourly rate is about 250$. He searched for agencies for a few hours, and he spoke for 30 minutes to each agency… so let’s say about 1 hour multiplied by 20 agencies at 250$/hour. That is 5,000$ gone.
Time is money, and every successful person knows this. A lot of people would rather pay and get the answer than lose 5 hours and miss the opportunity to spend their time more productively.
3 types of consultants:
I believe there are 3 types of consultants.
1-Professionals with diplomas and certifications: I call those consulting skills “hard skills.” They are almost like engineering, and it requires a high level of expertise.
2-Connected: I call those “soft skills.” For example, someone who has a good connection who can hook you up with an investor or the data scientist that knows how to handle big data.
3-General: Entry-barrier is lower than professionals, but general consultants in specific niches still have knowledge that Mr.Everybody does not have.
Great consulting topics:
- someone with in-depth knowledge of a hot subject like Cryptocurrencies, big data, AI, Machine Learning, etc.
- lawyers providing tax consultancy services for people who are high-earners
- consulting in the field of real estate, where there is a lot of money, whether it is in sales training, prospecting potential clients, seeking investment opportunities, repackaging debts
- well-connected investor, or in some cases, just someone who has great connections that have money.
- financier specialized in Mergers & Acquisitions, repackaging debts, seeking investment for startups and new inventions, etc.
- setting up a business in China and doing digital campaigns (e.g., few people know that a license is needed to get a web server in China! and it takes 90 days before being able to use the web server!)
I think consultants like Sam Ovens of consulting.com are competent to teach you how to operate and run the business, and I assume, how to find leads and convert them, but I believe that you need strong skills and expertise no matter what
Tips to be successful as a consultant:
- Build a brand
- Sell phone calls, they are almost effortless and help you connect with people.
- Sell reports and onsite events. I have a friend who is a futurologist, and he made tons of money selling reports and doing face-to-face events.
- Develop skills and nurture an expertise that is either high in demand or value
- Position yourself as an expert
- Leverage the power of connections and testimonials
- Learn the art of communication and persuasion
- Develop a Business Development Pipelines that gives you Leads
- Have a system in place that is partly automated for reaching out to prospects, billings, ads, accounting, contracts, etc.
- Consulting can be easy as it can be done over the phone (e.g., bill per hour) or in written form (document or email, easily replicable)
- Consulting is an excellent add-on to an existing business; for example, someone offering a service like content production, web development, branding, OEM products China sourcing, business consulting, etc.
- Consulting is fun. I did tons of consulting for foreign companies who want to come to China and do business online. I built sturdy connections with people that brought me ever more business.
- If you are in a hot niche, let’s say Machine Learning, you can charge a lot of money.
- Usually, one-shot contract, unless you can get the client to sign a retainer
- You need to be perceived as an expert, emphasis on the word perceived (you could be an expert, but if people do not perceive you like one… good luck trying to get them as clients)
- Business development cycle is continuous
- Difficult to scale, primarily if you built the consulting business around yourself
If you have great examples of consultants who are successful, let us know in the comments.
7. Monetize Website with Coaching
In our digitalized world where people believe that interacting with pixels on a screen is like interacting with a real human being, coaching is a great way to fill a gap.
Generally speaking, coaches are people who, just like consultants, have a specific expertise that they communicate with other people. Coaches can be both in the physical world (face-to-face) and in the digital world (via Zoom, Skype, phone, email, Facebook, etc.)
Differences between coaching and consulting:
- Coaches are usual personal brands; Consulting can either be a personal brand or a house-name
- Consulting is either a one-time event or project-based
- Coaching can also be project-based, but it can also be a long-term endeavor
- Consulting has a problem-solving approach providing insights that the client will implement
- Coaching has an improvement approach, assisting the person being coached
- Coaching is personalized, it has a human touch that consulting may not have. Coaches are like a teacher, and they grow with the person they are coaching
Examples of coaching categories:
There is an excellent list of coaching websites examples here. One of my favorite coaching-looking website is Russell Brunson.
- Coaching is really fulfilling on the personal level
- Coaching can help you build an online community and get free exposure when you publish books
- Coaching is an attractive way to diversify your offering and monetize your business along with other means of monetizing
- You need to be a “people-person,” charming, good-looking, positive, and a fantastic communicator. So make sure your personality fits the mold
- Building a reputation takes time and a lot of effort and patience
- Coaching requires a lot of promotion
- People are more price-sensitive than companies; coaches cannot bill as high as a consultant unless you can persuade people that you solve a problem worth paying X amount of money for
- Streams of revenue should not come from coaching only, so you need to invest time producing content like blog posts, podcasts, videos, and books… without necessarily seeing the money come in, directly from those activities
8. Sell eBooks on or via your Website
In our modern times, there are a few things that are a sign of achievement in life: buying an expensive car, having your own business, being a successful content creator on Youtube, or Instagram… and publishing a book.
I do not know why publishing a book is seen as such a great achievement in life. Don’t get me wrong; I am not degrading people who publish books, I am a bookworm and a content producer myself!
I mean, even people like Gary Vaynerchuk and Peter Thiel published books. The best example of someone who has been successful publishing his books is Russell Brunson from ClickFunnels with DotCom Secrets, Expert Secrets, Traffic Secrets, Unlock the Secrets, and Network Marketing Secrets.
How to make eBooks
eBooks are a hot commodity. They can be sold as such or given as part of a Lead Magnet (you exchange the eBook for visitors’ personal information like name and email address.)
If you already have the content, there are plenty of cool tools out there to create, design, and even publish your eBooks. I like Canva to design books. A lot of people use freelancers on Fiverr to get help designing, correcting, editing, and even publishing the books.
Some people like to write in GoogleDocs, especially if they work with remote teams.
My favorite, and I think this is THE best text editor on the planet, is Scrivener. I used about a dozen text editors in my life, and nothing beats Scrivener especially if you do research and need to organize content, split-screen, see content in index cards, split the contents into smaller parts, etc.
One advantage of eBooks is that the concept of having written a book gives the author an aura of legitimacy over other people who may not have published anything.
I even saw some writers on Fiverr who offer to ghostwrite books.
- Publishing a book gives you legitimacy
- You can aim to be an “Amazon Bestseller,” shameless promotion tactic, but if it works with your targeted audience, why not!?!
- Even Booklets, User Guides and “Ultimate Secrets” can be a great Lead Magnets
- Books can be used to sell other services like software, consulting, etc.
- Writing is an investment in time, and you need to be able to produce relevant and quality content (some people are not good at organizing their thoughts and putting them together)
- A lot of people are doing it, so best is to be really relevant otherwise the book will look like shameless self-promotion
- Books are easy to copy, so make sure that you sell other services
- You need to sell quantity to make good money
9. Monetize your Blog with Paid Newsletters
Just like anything else in life, when a newsletter is paid, it makes it more legit.
What is cool with paid newsletters is that you do not necessarily have to create all the content by yourself, you could simply aggregate the content. Depending on the jurisdiction, in some countries, news are not copyrighted, so as long as you attribute the source, you can use the content.
Let me tell you a story.
I am following someone on Twitter, an American man fluent in Mandarin, who has both free and paid newsletters. The newsletter is a China-related news digest sent daily. So he basically aggregates content from Chinese and US news (all related to China,) makes a short 4-5 lines summary of each article, quotes passages directly from the articles, and once in a while gives a one-line comment. He send the digest to its followers daily.
He makes big bucks selling the paid version as a lot of diplomats, professors, researchers, consultants… want to have direct access to the most relevant Chinese media without spending time going through everything by themselves.
On top of that, the short summary is in English, so even if people do not read Chinese, they can still have access to high-quality translation. I assume that he is using an assistant to parse through a set of sources.
How to make paid newsletter
Successful newsletters are super deep in a niche. You can use MailChimp to send bulk emails, and a WordPress website to gather the email addresses and a 3rd party plugin to get payments.
People are usually eager to pay for insights in 3 categories, and I believe this is universal:
THE best type of content for paid newsletters, consists of content that is short-lived. Why? Because even if it is stolen and copied, it will not be relevant anymore. A great example of this is newsletters related to stock investing.
You can make a monthly or yearly subscription. Fees go from 5$/month up to 200$/month, and even more if you offer serious investment advice. I assume there are regulations for certain industries like finance, medicine and law.
Great example of paid newsletters:
- financial and investing, for example, the Gloom and Doom Report of Dr.Marc Faber, a Swiss investor based in Thailand
- Tech, news and, media: Ben Thompson (based in Taiwan,) behind Stratechery
- Sports, basketball insights and statistics with CleaningTheGlass
- Entrepreneurship with EarlyToRise
- Scalable, whether you sell to 100 people or 100,000 it is roughly the same amount of work
- Helps you build a brand and position yourself as an expert in the field
- Research and editing part can even be outsourced to an assistant
- You can leverage the newsletter to promote your other services and activities
- Takes time to build a following, years
- Finding a niche that people are really interested in, and ready to pay for, may be challenging in some cases
- Time-consuming to produce both free and paid content
- Risk of having content stolen or shared freely among people
10. Sell your own Product, OEM or Private Label
I like to say that it always starts with the brand.
Everything is a brand. And the Brand is everything.
You can either:
- buy a product already made, add your logo
- design a product and have it custom-made
If you do affiliate marketing, you should unquestionably consider selling your own products.
We never know what the conditions of affiliates marketing will be in the future, but if you sell your product, then you do not have to worry about the terms and conditions of a 3rd part platform.
I believe that it is the safest way to sell online, whether you sell on your website or on a platform like Shopify.
If you are capable and have the energy to do so, build your own branded product.
You can do OEM or have a fully custom-made product for your market.
Private Label is a great option.
Best is to find a product that is sold for at least 20$ (and why not 200$,) otherwise, it is not worth the trouble.
OEM Products and Private Label categories
- fashion (e.g., caps, hats, gloves, etc.)
- sports (e.g., fishing, running, hunting, camping, etc.)
- hobbies (e.g., photography, animals, cooking, etc.)
- food (e.g., snacks, cookies, candies, cereals, etc.)
- and so on.
Ideally you want to select a product that fits with your niche. If you have a cooking-related website, then it makes sense to have products related to cooking. If baking, then products should be associated with baking.
You can cover any hobby or product.
Let’s takes the product category knives, for example:
knives for fruit
knives for fish
knives for meat
knives for bones
knives for hunting
knives for carving wood, etc.
Then let’s take a hobby approach, something like outdoors:
knives for fishing
knives for hunting
knives for survival
in each category, there are subcategories: knives for fruit cutting, fruit carving, hard-skinned fruit, soft skin fruit, etc.
How to manufacture, ship and warehouse
- Aliexpress for mass consumption items sourced from China
- locally or nationally for products that have a craftsman touch (e.g., handmade knives for fishing)
- get samples
- make sure you can export, import and do not end up paying hefty shipping fees and taxes
- keep in mind the warehouse fees
- do not forget to register your trademark!
Some companies offer the sourcing, shipping, and warehousing parts. You should do some research in you are interested in OEM and private label.
- it is a safer alternative to standard affiliates marketing, you control the product
- it is your brand
- if you find a good distributor, you can reach a lot of consumers off-line
- possibility to make great contacts in the manufacturing and distributing areas
- you control the margins
- already have an audience or spend money on ads
- time-consuming and requires an effort in energy and creativity
- lots patience needed
- upfront cost
- requires warehousing
- issues with customs, warehouse, liabilities, shipping, etc.
11. Sell your own Software (Saas Software)
I am a big believer in software.
Building software is getting cheaper and more accessible than ever before.
Software is excellent on its own (and sold via ads and affiliates) as well as part of an offering (e.g., photography niche websites offering software to add special effects to images.)
What I truly enjoy building software, and I am talking about my own software here, is that it is fully scalable. Not only that, you can even reuse the same technology and simply design a new skin for the software, rebrand it, and sell it at a different price tag to different prospects.
- Examples of monetization with Software
- Niche websites about online business content creation selling a Keywords Research tool
- SEO freelancer selling its SEO software
- Automation tools to contacts prospects on social media platforms (be careful, some automation tools may be against terms and conditions of the platform)
- email marketing, designing, chatbots, etc.
How to build software
The best way to build software is to work with a partner that can do both frontend and backend, often called “fullstack developers”
Another option is to work with an agency in Ukraine (I tend to avoid India)
On the technological part, there are plenty of technologies out there. Of course, they take years to master, so the best is to work with professionals. If you are young, it may be an attractive investment to learn how to code.
You can go to IndieHackers and ProductHunt to get some inspiration.
I read a book called Make by Pieter Levels, a young serial entrepreneur. In his book, he said that pretty much anyone can build companies online (maybe not a software per se, but at least a company) by using readily available tools like Google Drive, Zapier, ActiveCampaign, etc. You would be surprised what you can do with a tool like Zapier, which let you integrate hundreds of tools together.
- It’s fun, very fun
- You can get investment once you have a MVP (Minimal Viable Product)
- Potential to make a lot of money (as I said earlier, companies are less price-sensitive than people, so whenever possible, target companies)
- You can use your own software for your own business!
- Possible to scale exponentially
- Software is an upfront cost, then you start making money
- Entry-point is relatively expensive
- Promotion means that you need to invest in ads
- Maintenance cost and post-launch tweaks may eat part of your budget
- Business model implies that Long Term Value (aka the “LTV,” money you get from the customer over 3 years) need to be 3 times the Customer-Acquisition Cost (aka the “CAC,” the cost of sales and ads and marketing and effort required to get the new customer)
12. Make Money while Live-Streaming
With platforms like Twitch and Youtube, content producers and consumers now see live-streaming almost as part of their daily lives. A few years ago, live-streaming was not such a big thing.
The advantage of having your website and blog is that you can use platforms like Zoom and Webinarjam and Youtube to live stream to your audience.
Live-streaming is an excellent way to:
- build an audience
- connect with your audience one-on-one
- answer questions live
- show your personality and your style
- promote your content, books, products, and services
- interview people
- review products (that you can see on your live stream via a link, whether it is an affiliate product or your product)
Best verticals for live streaming:
- finance, investment, and money strategies
- product review
- communities like PUAs, personal development, philosophy, entrepreneurship, growth, psychology
How to monetize live streaming:
- get donations
- sell a product (e.g., books, eBooks, affiliates, etc.)
- promote a service (e.g., 3rd party like Udemy, Clickfunnels, etc.)
- provide coaching
Tips to be successful live-streaming
- Create an inner circle of a segmented part of your audience, that you invite to an exclusive invite-only VIP streaming
- Sell time-limited offer or even better, products that are limited in stock
- Sell merchandise that people will wear, they will get used to your brand even more
- I think that live-streaming will become more and more critical to connect to audiences
- Live-Streaming is the best way to repeat a message and put it in the minds of the people watching
- You can create urgency by sending an email announcing the live stream in advance
- You can segment your market and make closed webinars or live streams to an “elite audience,” giving people the sense that they are essential and part of an inner circle
- Not everybody has the power to improvise a 2-hour long stream (if that is your case, go for a shorter stream and plan ahead)
- Need to have moderation, so if you do both the talking and the moderation, it may get overwhelming
13. Make money doing Gigs like Writing, Development, etc.
Owning a website or a blog is a great way to offer services on the side.
Any website can become a platform to promote your skills. You would be surprised to see the amount of emails we get here at the Art of Growth Marketing.
Each one of those emails, maybe not all, but a lot of them are potential opportunities to sell something, whether it is content production, keyword research, copywriting, etc.
If you can:
- build a website
- create a brand
- write content
- convert your audience into subscribers or buyers
- SEO and Keywords Research
You already have 5 skills that are in demand.
- Side money is great, no?
- if you operate a niche website, people may come to you to request work for the same industry you are specialized in, work for complementary clients, and not for your competitors
- It can open the door to collaborations
- Get testimonials and referrals, ask, ask and ask
- focus is the key to success, so make sure that you do not drift away from the Mission and the Vision of your website
- be careful not to work for your competitors
14. Make Money by Bringing Traffic to Local Businesses
Bringing traffic to local businesses has been advertised on Youtube quite a lot.
The concept is simple: you advertise local businesses and take a cut for each lead you bring the local business.
To be successful at bringing traffic and leads to local businesses, you need to learn how SEO and ads work.
Generally speaking, SEO can be split into 2 categories:
There are specific actions that need to be taken to localize the search engine results on Google. Also, the clients your work with, in most of the cases, need to have a local presence for this monetization strategy to work.
The service provided should be high-value services; the best example would be roof repair. If someone has a hole in their rooftop and water is leaking in, how much do you think that person will be ready to pay for to fix the problem?
The higher the fee billed by the local business, the higher you can charge for your commission.
Examples of bringing traffic to local Businesses:
- car repair
- roof repair
- a lot of opportunities out there (how many cities are there in the world? and how many local businesses in those cities?)
- the system can be semi-automated
- no need for a big team
- no need for big monetary investment
- company can ditch you after a while, make sure you keep them satisfied by sending them high quality qualified leads
- you need to pitch a lot of companies to get contracts
- revenue is unstable, sometimes up, sometimes down
- competition is ferocious
- money is paid after a few weeks after the sale, this can create cashflow issues if you are cash hungry
Conclusion: How to Monetize your Website
As you saw, there are many ways to monetize a website.
What has worked for you?
What would be other ways to monetize a blog or a website.
If you have any questions, please feel free to let me know in the comments below.