Part 2-A: How To Monetize A Website With Ads
Now to answer the question, “how to monetize my website?” The first set of strategies involves using advertising to bring in the dollars. It’s a straightforward collection of methods that you can find plenty of examples of all over the net.
Selling Ad Space Directly
One of the oldest methods for generating money. You have the site, you have the traffic, and you have all that free space to subtly insert ads from sponsors.
These could take the form of a sidebar banner, small pop-ins, or the occasional link at the bottom of the page. Pricing for each can vary.
The direct approach is time-consuming, but it allows you to cut out the middle man and maximize the number of ad dollars you can earn.
You might charge a flat fee for a month of running an ad. It’s direct, and you’ll know what you’re getting every month. You might be limiting your potential, however.
The alternative is a pay-per-visitor or pay-per-click model. Here, you get paid based on the number of people that come to the site and see/click the ads. You have the chance to strike big with lots of traffic but could get very little if your number of visitors starts to trail off.
These figures are often measured as something called “CPM,” the revenue generated from 1,000 impressions. It’s difficult to calculate an across-the-board average, but for display ads, you should try to shoot for $2-3 for best results.
Next, you’ll have to let advertisers know that you’re looking to sell space. You’ll need a media kit, a summary of your site designed to entice potential advertisers.
Within your kit, you’ll need to present upfront information on your website’s audience. This means the total number of visitors, their ages, and a gender breakdown.
You’ll want to include detailed info, like their marital status, number of children, etc. If you have a niche site, then information showing that your audience fits the niche is also vital.
To obtain this information, you can use online tools like Quantcast, Alexa, or Similar Web. These tools analyze who is coming to your site and will provide basic details about who they are. The drawback is that you don’t have much customization over the information you get.
For that, you’ll have to ask your users to self-identify through surveys. You can put these on your site or email them directly to your visitors. You should try to keep the questions simple and make them fun so that visitors are more likely to respond.
The problem is that it can take a while to get a “statistically significant” number of respondents. There’s also no way of knowing if respondents are answering your questions truthfully.
You may want to experiment with both methods to see which gets you the best data. When you’ve made a determination, the information you gain will be a large part of the pitch that you make to potential advertisers.
Now that you can prove that your site has the numbers to make it a worthwhile, you have to show off your real estate. These are the spots on your site that are prime for advertisements. They should be prominent and convey to advertisers that their product or service will get noticed.
When the media kit is complete, you’ll then need to identify potential sponsors, find the appropriate contact, and send your package off with a solid proposal explaining why they should pay attention to you.
If you don’t already have direct relationships with companies, this could be a tricky step. You can get a leg up by checking out who is advertising with your competitors. You can also make use of resources like LinkedIn and SellerCrowd to find out who to contact.
Once you’ve tracked down your targets, be direct, be upfront, and back up your claims with the data you gained while doing research on your site.
Selling Ads With Google AdSense
The process above might seem overly-complicated for some people. Those that want something less involved can make use of Google AdSense as an alternative.
This method allows brands to make use of Google to display ads on “publisher sites” like yours. You get a code from Google, then place it on your site in the location you want ads to go.
Google handles the rest. They find relevant ads. They run an auction so that the highest paying ones get to your site. They’ll even take care of the “money stuff” behind the scenes. You get paid whenever someone clicks on an ad.
It’s a straightforward procedure, but you have to give Google a piece of the action. If you’re willing to take that trade, though, you stand to make hundreds or even thousands of extra dollars a month with a large enough audience.
Just make sure you review the Terms Of Service carefully. They’re sticklers about what they allow, so you’ll have to stay on your best behaviour to remain in their good graces.
Affiliate Marketing, Paid Posts, And Native Advertising
If neither of those options grabs you, you can try affiliate marketing, paid posts, or native advertising to generate cash flow.
When you become an affiliate, you find products and services that you enjoy. You promote these products/services on your website or blog, slipping an “affiliate link” into posts where you talk about them. When visitors click the affiliate link and make a purchase, you get a kickback.
Paid posts and “native advertising” usually take the form of “sponsored content” that an advertiser has paid you to feature on your site. Often, these will be akin advertorials plugging their products or services.
Done properly, this method can supplement your normal content with a little “extra” that falls in line with what you’re already doing. For example, a positive review of a product that you already that was worth getting.
Done poorly, native ads can come across as cheap, insulting, and tarnish the reputation that you worked hard to obtain. This could range from content written in whole by the advertiser that you allow on the site unchallenged, to blatant “shill posts” promoting something that is widely panned by your audience.
By law, you’ll have to disclose which posts are bought-and-paid-for. If you’re upfront with your audience, they may see it as a way to enhance the site (rather than you selling out for cash).
If you’re looking to get started with the native ad method, you can try the direct route. This would involve reaching out to your contacts at advertisers you already know.
I trust you are gaining from the series? Share your experience by leaving your comments below. Expect more tips in my next edition.