What Are The Best Ways to Monetize Websites?

Making money online is as simple as monetizing your website. However, with so many models out there, knowing the best way to turn your online space into a money-maker is not simple. So, here’s a quick guide to website monetization — from the biggest mistakes to the very best ways to monetize websites.

4. Using a Donation Model

Donation models come in different forms and there’s no surefire way of saying that one type of donation model is best. What is certain is while donation models might sound like pie-in-the-sky thinking, they’ve worked for some of the biggest websites in the world.

The biggest success story to come from the donation model is Wikipedia. The fifth biggest website in the world runs on donations alone and makes more money with each campaign drive. Its donation model consists of annual fundraisers. Users donate to Wikipedia straight through Wikipedia.

The Guardian also uses this model. However, they also run ads alongside their content and they don’t run annual fundraising drives. Then, there’s Radiohead. While it’s not exactly website monetization, the pay-as-you-feel honesty box approach to their album In Rainbows was very much in the spirit of the way the donation model works. Some fans paid for the album; others didn’t. While that sounds like it couldn’t possibly work, Radiohead revealed how the album made them significantly more money than others.

Of course, rather than setting up your own payment system, you could use a pre-existing one. It’s pretty simple to add some kind of PayPal extension to your website, which will take users directly to a PayPal page where they can donate.

As well as that, there’s Patreon. Creators keep 90% of all earnings made through Patreon. However, in exchange for that deal, they are a given a Patreon page. These pages have become extremely popular with bloggers, but also with YouTubers as a way of funding their content.

3. Selling Merchandise

If you are trying to monetize your website, it’s because it’s not an eCommerce website. As such, selling merchandise might feel beside the point. Your website isn’t famous for selling hats and t-shirts, so why should you start doing it now?

The simple answer is because it’s a model that works — at least for some internet creators. DFTBA is an online store which exclusively sells merchandise from internet creators. It’s helped fund countless YouTubers’ online work, but it’s an idea which has also worked for musician Chance The Rapper. As such, there’s no reason why it couldn’t work for any other kind of internet creator.

2. Erecting Paywalls

Way back in 2009, David Simon argued that the best way to monetize the websites of news organisations was to build paywalls. At the time, some criticised his ideas. However, nearly a decade later, several newspapers have heeded the advice of paywall enthusiasts like Simon.

Paywalls come in different forms. Soft paywalls allow users to see some content for free, while hard paywalls require money straight away. The Times and the Wall Street Journal are both examples of hard paywalls, while the Telegraph, the Economist, the Financial Times, the Spectator, the Harvard Business Review and many other news publications all use different kinds of soft paywalls.

Streaming services like Netflix and the WWE Network also use a soft paywall in the form of a month’s free trial. For one month, users can see what life is like behind the wall. After that, they will start being charged for the streaming service unless they cancel their subscription. In the end, one third of users wind up staying on.

1. Advertising — The Best Way to Monetize Websites

It’s the simplest and most popular monetization model, because it’s the best monetization model. Advertising remains the best way to monetize websites because of the way it’s evolved as the internet has. As internet users flocked to social media channels, so too did advertisers. As the internet has moved to mobile, so too have advertisers.

Of course, not all online advertising is the same. This is why affiliate ad networks specifically are the best way to monetize your website through online advertising. Affiliate ad networks can perfectly match the correct ad to the correct user on the correct website using location data, browser history data and even which smartphone the user owns.

They do this by creating a large network of advertisers and pairing them with websites which want to monetize themselves. They then use vast amounts of data to match adverts with users to the highest degree of accuracy.

For websites looking for the best way to monetize themselves, affiliate ad networks are a great option because of their simplicity. All a website owner needs to do is input the code from the ad network into their website. As soon as the ads start, the website owner can start earning money.