You’ve probably contemplated ways you could use it to earn a little bit of income on the side. Luckily, depending on the amount of effort you want to expend and how many monthly visitors you have, you have the potential to earn thousands of dollars per month in side revenue.
So how do I build up my visitor count?
Understand Your Audience
The first thing that you need to do is understand your audience. It’s one thing to have a lot of views, but if they’re not the right kind of views, you have little chance of turning their time into profit. The questions you need to ask yourself are:
- Who are they?
- What do they want?
- What are their interests?
- What kind of keywords are they searching?
- What is their education, marital status, demographic?
You can go about getting this information by surveying your repeat viewers via email or pop-up, or you could include a short survey in your call-to-action in return for a free product. Going the survey route can help you get precise answers regarding your clientele, but it can also get a little dicey if you ask questions that are too personal.
If you don’t want to go the survey route, you can always use Google Analytics to gather up some information for you. Granted, the information that program gathers is going to be more generic, but it can still give you a better idea of who is frequenting your site.
Once you have a good grasp on who is looking into your products or services, you can start to tailor your educational material to meet their needs. The more value you can offer your target audience, the more shares, likes, and conversions you’ll get.
Search Engine Optimization (“SEO”) is a whole can of worms in and of itself, but there are some pretty key aspects that you can focus on to increase your website traffic.
Quality content is your number one piece of the puzzle to focus on. You will not build up a steady fan base by writing fluffy, 400-word essays that lack personality. Incorporate humor, a little bit of sass (as appropriate to your company’s mantras), and eye-opening information as you write meaningful posts that are specifically geared toward your target audience.
Include high-quality images, videos, infographics, and other interactive elements to add value and keep your audience’s attention, but make sure that your load times stay low. These quality graphics will not only get you more shares and likes (great for SEO), but they can also encourage one-time customers to become repeats, get you more links from outside sources, and boost your Google rankings. Throwing some specific keywords into the mix (but not too many) will also help those Google bots crawl your site.
Now what do I do?
Once you have optimized your site by taking the time to get to know your audience, you are ready to take some steps to start making money. Once again, it’s important to stay purposeful and have a plan as you start on this journey, but most of these options aren’t terribly difficult to put into action.
Paypal offers a website extension that lets your clientele donate money to your cause. This method is a less reliable source of income, but it works well if you have a consistent, repeat customer base. It is also a good choice for you if you don’t want to get into the world of ads.
Offer Your Services
If you have something great to offer, consider becoming a consultant. This lets you work on your own schedule and set your own prices for the service that you offer.
Sell Something Digital
Whether it be an e-book featuring personal recipes, parenting tips, or self-published sheet music, offering quality digital products is a good way to earn a little bit of cash. This method takes significantly more time to do well because your customers expect to have a product worth their money. You can entice more people to buy your digital products if you offer some of the quality products free of charge and then require payment for others.
Create a Paywall
This one works really well if you already have a significant following. Patreaonis a popular solution, which allows you to monetize your content on your own terms.
By keeping some of your standard features free, you can continue to gain more popularity, and it shows your customers that you are working to educate and share your knowledge. Once you have a lot of followers, create a subscription paywall that offers even more quality content to premium, paid members. Continue to generate some free content, but spend more time creating paid content to increase your revenue. You can even offer one-time access, one-time payment, monthly subscriptions, and varying levels of membership if you want to appeal to a greater audience.
Selling ad space is probably the first thing you thought of when you started looking into monetizing your site, but it varies widely. You can go the laissez-faire approach and have Google AdSense generate random (though relevant) ads, but you have to be extra careful to follow their ever-changing rules; otherwise, they’ll kick you out of their club.
You could also present a portfolio of your target audience to specific advertisers and try to convince them to run ads on your page. Whenever someone clicks, you get a pre-determined cut of the profit. If you choose this option, you can even be picky on how much you’ll charge per particular ad location on your website (ex: top banner vs. side banner).
Audio and video ads are starting to become popular, and there are always pop-up ads, though you should use those sparingly.
This may seem like the easiest route to go to make a quick buck, but it’s also the fastest way to annoy your customers. Too many ads, ads that aren’t relevant, or ads that constantly interrupt their browsing can be a huge turn-off and even lose you customers in the long run.
At its most basic, affiliate marketing means that you endorse a product, and if your readers end up buying said product, you get a portion of the profits. Legally, you have to have a disclaimer stating that you’re an affiliate which, depending on your customer base and the product you’re endorsing, could be a very good or a very bad thing.
One last thought
Before you move forward with monetizing your website, make sure that you have nailed down your business goals. Choosing the right kind of monetization strategy for your business can mean the difference between annoying your customers and building up a thriving side-business.