Blog Content Monetization: Perfect Rules and Method in 2018

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The opportunity for content monetization has never been greater.Individuals around the globe have built their content empires by publishing the unique details of their personal experiences for the world to see, and it’s all thanks to the internet. From foodies to entrepreneurs, fitness instructors to political figures, there’s droves of new content publishers across social media, video platforms, web hosted blogs, and email newsletters. Where there’s a dedicated audience, there’s a content creator ripe for monetization. And in today’s industry, these moguls are most commonly referred to as “influencers.”

Although there’s a definite cool factor associated with being an influencer, it’s important to debunk the myth that influencer is synonymous with the elite. Everyone and anyone is qualified to create content, publish it to their social media accounts, website, webinar, or email list, and monetize it by working with brands who value their message and target audience.
The term influencer is commonly associated with massive readerships and social media followings. But that’s a narrow point of view. In fact, brands are discovering more and more that large followings don’t necessarily equate to high quality, and the reverse is often true.
Small, dedicated audiences with a higher propensity for engagement, are more qualified to become potential customers than large, inactive followings. However a content creator chooses to define her or himself; whether it be as an influencer, an affiliate marketer, a brand advocate, or ambassador, their job is to inspire, inform, educate, and empower their unique audience.
"A content creator chooses to define her or himself; whether it be as an influencer, an affiliate marketer, a brand advocate, or ambassador, their job is to inspire, inform, educate, and empower their unique audience."
In this article, I’ll demonstrate the key ways in which creators monetize their content, and why one often overlooked model can outperform the other. I’ll also debunk the myth that influencer marketing is inherently different than other types of content creation/marketing, and highlight the importance of partnership in order to advance your earning potential.
You might also like: What is Affiliate Marketing? The Myth vs. Reality.

How is content monetized?

Content publishers — i.e. anyone who shares their content on the internet, including influencers — can monetize their messages by partnering with brands. Brands are hungry to understand ways in which they can work with content creators, but it’s not always a clear path to success for either party.
"Brands are hungry to understand ways in which they can work with content creators."
In fact, the term “influencer” eludes the majority. What do they actually do, and how can brands initiate a relationship with them? How are they compensated? Well, the answer to these questions varies significantly, and in fact, there are multiple layers of content creators.
The most common monetization model is sponsored posts, where the content publisher is compensated with a flat fee for posting on behalf of the brand. This model is most closely aligned with content creators who refer to themselves as influencers. The trouble with limiting oneself to sponsored posts is that, just like billboard ads or TV commercials, there’s no way to know how effective the ad will perform.
Unlike sponsored posts, performance models are built on a commissionable compensation framework, where the content publisher is paid a percentage of sales, or a bounty for desired actions — like email signups, subscriptions, or app downloads. This monetization model is most closely associated with affiliate marketing.
There’s a number of reasons the latter is preferable to brands. Primarily, it allows them to invest in a content publisher without risk of losing money. But there’s also a strong business case for content publishers to use a performance model. Performance-based compensation allows content publishers to advance their business in a number of ways. Here are the top benefits to performance models for publishers:
  1. Win more business. Being open to commissions will create more opportunity for new partnerships, by posing less risk to the advertiser.
  2. Long term earnings. Long term earnings can outpace the earning potential of a one time fee.
  3. Return customers. Brands will continue to invest in profitable partnerships, allowing publishers to develop long term partnerships.
  4. Tracking. Working on commissionable earnings means there will be a tracking link involved in the post, which helps both the advertiser and the publisher to monitor performance, and gain deep analysis of what works and what doesn’t.
  5. Optimization. Working on a performance basis allows the publisher and the advertiser to analyze the content performance, allowing both the ability to test new ways of appealing to the publisher's audience, and ultimately, improve both parties’ goals.
Content monetization can take many forms, but the two most common are through flat fees and commissions. With that in mind, both monetization models are a point of contention. Content monetization is a hot topic, especially as more publishers discover its benefits, and the market catches on.

The great debate: Is monetized content authentic?

It’s always been a marketers mission to be where their target customers are. And with the age of the internet, the voice of the customer is heard, and their appetite for transparency is clear.
They want to discover a brand from people like them, or people they admire, and are interested in their opinion of the brand. This is in contrast with how brands used to market, where advertising was a matter of how they wanted to be perceived by the market.
Now, brands are flocking to individual content creators in the hope that they’ll provide potential customers with information about their brand, to help a creator’s audience make informed purchasing decisions. Content creators are becoming the most coveted marketing channel for advertisers to tap into.
So why has this powerful marketing solution become a subject of contention?
One of the greatest assets of brands working with content creators is the transparency consumers gain from receiving unbiased opinions, reviews, and information about the brand. But that practice is put into question when money is in the mix.
The topic of content monetization has become more pronounced with new regulations that require disclosure of partnership. For the sake of transparency, the practice of disclosure is critical. But that doesn’t mean the concept of monetization is unethical.
"Despite popular opinion, content monetization does not indicate inauthenticity. In fact, the best content creators are incredibly dedicated to delivering an authentic experience."
Despite popular opinion, content monetization does not indicate inauthenticity. In fact, the best content creators are incredibly dedicated to delivering an authentic experience. The myth that monetized content is disingenuous, fraudulent, untrue, or unethical, needs to be dispelled.
At PatreCon 2017, Jack Conte, the CEO of Patreon, shared his journey with content creation in the form of his music. He described his fear of being pegged as a sell-out when Hyundai approached his band to sponsor their music video. Yet, the partnership not only helped them earn some money that they could reinvest back into the band, but it also gave their music a bigger platform.
They leveraged the opportunity and in the long-run were able to deliver an even higher quality of music to their fans. And that decision was made in the interest of their audience.
Content publishers share the same dilemma. The two key priorities of successful content creators are:
  1. Serving the audience well. For long term success, content creators must deliver a value in the messages they share, which means they will only partner with brands that deliver value to their unique audience. They think about what their audience wants to know, what interests them, and what they can do to help solve a problem. Today’s content creator pros never risk promoting a brand that won’t appeal to their followers. Just like successful businesses, publishers need to deliver strong user experience, which means they must put the needs of their customers/readers first.
  2. Figuring out how best to monetize their content. Just as Jack did with his music, content creators need to assess what type of monetization works best for their long-term goals, and what feels authenticate to their business.
You might also like: 7 Tips to Help Cultivate Authenticity for your Affiliate Marketing Business.

The new age of content monetization

If you can recall the world before social media, you might remember flipping through the pages of a magazine, which often include traditional advertisements.
This advertising exists in two key ways. The first is in a traditional display format, like a full-page Rolex spread. The second is native advertising. You have to read between the lines to discover it, because it’s contextual, inconspicuous, and organic in nature. If you’ve ever read a “Who Wore it Better” article, you’d have seen suggestions from the editor on how you can achieve the look, nail the beauty regime, or find an outfit at a cheaper price.
That content represents an additional way for the magazine to monetize their publication. The advertiser allocates spend to the magazine in order to be included in their message to a relevant audience. This represents an integral revenue stream for the magazine, and when done well, it’s of high value to its reader. In fact, the majority of publications lean on their editorial team to decide on which brands to mention in their content.
Today, digital influencers have taken on the challenge of monetizing their content through native advertising, too, and make all the decision when selecting the brands, products, and experiences they wish to share with their audience.
"Back in the day, the only logical way to pay for advertising, whether a celebrity endorsement or a native advertisement published in a magazine, was to negotiate a flat fee. But that was before the world of digital tools, where marketing performance is easily measurable."
Back in the day, the only logical way to pay for advertising, whether a celebrity endorsement or a native advertisement published in a magazine, was to negotiate a flat fee. But that was before the world of digital tools, where marketing performance is easily measurable. With digital media, content publishers and advertisers alike can determine exactly how effective their media is, right down to the level of which customer came from what source, on which day, and at what time.
With data, an advertiser is empowered to make decisions that will make their marketing spend go further. They can identify the publisher that referred the most customers, the highest sales revenue, and the most loyal customers who returned to the brand again. They’re able to select the referral source, based on what will drive the highest return on their ad spend. That’s why publishers need to be armed with their own performance data, prepared to explore multiple monetization formats, and able to clearly describe their value to the advertiser.
"That’s why publishers need to be armed with their own performance data, prepared to explore multiple monetization formats, and able to clearly describe their value to the advertiser."
With digital media, publishers have more than one choice when it comes to monetizing their content, and advertisers have the capability to measure their value. There’s many ways to take advantage of that to advance the interests of the content creator, the advertiser, AND the customer.

The top three monetization mistakes influencers make

To be an industry pro, you need to know how to set yourself apart. With more people monetizing their content, the competition for a brand's attention will continue to heat up. To win the hearts and media dollars of brands, here are three of the most common mistakes to avoid.

1. Media kits and vanity metrics

Many content creators, specifically those who refer to themselves as influencers, will have what’s called a media kit. But the majority of media kits seriously miss the mark.
A media kit is a snapshot of what the creator has to offer the brand. Media kits are supposed to help the advertiser understand the opportunity of partnering, but the majority don’t include the information advertisers really need to understand in order to invest in the partnership.
A typical media kit will include metrics that paint a picture of the publishers value. The problem is, these metrics focus on what digital marketers call vanity metrics.
Vanity metrics are things like average likes on a post, average engagement levels, number of followers, readers, or blog impressions, and page hits. Although that data can help a publisher understand their position in the industry, an advertiser only needs to know how well their media spend will perform based on qualitative and quantitative data.
When a content creator doesn’t clearly articulate qualifiers that the advertiser needs to know in order to estimate the measures of their investment, the publisher limits the potential of his or her business.
Advertisers want to see data like:
  • Average click through rate
  • Average conversion rate
  • Audience demographics
  • Behavioral data, such as audience interests and other brand affinities
It’s also important to understand an audience’s needs, pain points, challenges, and the solutions that would better their life; whether it’s their day-to-day, business, career, or their next vacation. Advertisers want to see information about the type of brands and businesses that an audience will respond best to. That level of analysis helps them understand an audience, their synergy with the brand, and whether there’s a strong alignment for partnership.
"Ultimately, the advertiser is looking for one key metric: Return On Ad Spend."
Ultimately, the advertiser is looking for one key metric: Return On Ad Spend. This is not something content creators can discern without an open line of communication with the advertiser they partner with. But it will help the publisher be competitive among those who don’t have this level of data.
Partnerships are built on a give and take framework, and it’s important that both parties are accountable to performance. With that in mind, sharing pre and post campaign insights will lead to better performance.
Having an understanding of what the advertiser can expect to gain from the exchange will move mountains in developing a lucrative long term partnership. There are other goals beyond sales that brands have, and content creators can deliver value in more ways than one. Publishers can tap into metrics that help articulate the value the brand will get from the partnership, like how many followers on average become a follower of the brand as a result of the promotion, how many times the branded content was shared, and how many people signed up for the brand’s newsletter.
Understanding how an audience interacts with the brand is critical to not only building long term partnerships, but in winning over the next client. Including this level of data in a media kit will change the game. Focus less on vanity metrics, and more on the benefits the brand can expect to gain.
You might also like: 4 Tips to Help You Create a Profitable Blog Affiliate Blog Post.

2. Defining yourself as an “influencer”

The second mistake content creators make is defining themselves as an “influencer,” “affiliate marketer,” or anything in-between. True, an “influencer” has a cooler sound to it than “content creator that has a large audience and monetizes content published on behalf of brands.” But an influencer carries a connotation that the publisher is only open to one particular monetization model, and that can be incredibly limiting to brands, deterring them from engaging in a partnership at all.
In contrast, an “affiliate marketer” has a stigma attached to the word that many just can’t shake. It doesn’t pack the same punch, and it implies the affiliate is less focused on content delivery and more focused on promotional methods, like paid media marketing.
Now, affiliate marketing as a marketing channel is highly sought after, lucrative, and impactful for a brand. But that wasn’t always the case, and unfortunately the title packs some negative connotation in the minds of those who don’t understand it’s full nature. For that reason, referring to yourself as an affiliate may indicate to advertisers that your content isn’t as valuable as that from an influencer.

The difference between influencer and affiliate

To set the record straight, an influencer more commonly charges a flat fee for their content, and is typically engaged by an advertiser for the goal of building brand awareness. This makes the type of content more “upper funnel” in nature, and less accountable to the business outcome.
Similar to celebrity endorsements, endorsements aren’t intended to lead to direct incremental sales, but it’s purpose instead is to build brand awareness and positive sentiment over the long run.
By contrast, an affiliate marketer typically monetizes their content through a performance model, which means they’re compensated on an agreed upon commission rate for the sales, leads, or downloads they refer to an advertiser. This tends to focus more on “lower funnel” marketing, where the publisher is encouraged to close the deal. The beauty of this model is that their unique tracking link helps advertisers determine their precise value, and over time, the relationship between the two parties can develop into a highly profitable one.
"Brands don’t care whether you’re an influencer, an affiliate marketer, a brand ambassador, or something in-between. The bottom line is, if you inform, educate, empower, or inspire an audience, you’re valuable to a brand."
Here’s the big secret: nobody cares which you are. How you define yourself is up to you. But what both of these models represent is simply a method of content monetization. Brands don’t care whether you’re an influencer, an affiliate marketer, a brand ambassador, or something in-between. The bottom line is, if you inform, educate, empower, or inspire an audience, you’re valuable to a brand, and they’re likely to invest in you if you arm yourself with the right data to show them what their return on ad spend will look like.
Which leads us to the biggest mistake of all.

3. Limiting yourself to a single content monetization model

Regardless of how you choose to define your profession, there are various different models in which brand partnerships can come to fruition. All an advertiser really wants to know is whether they will achieve their goals with their investment in a content creator. Will it deliver against their defined marketing goals? Will they receive new customers, increased sales, new subscriptions, or app downloads? And ultimately, whether in the short or long term, will sales outpace the cost of the creator’s content?
With a performance marketing model, advertisers only pay for the direct value they receive in return. With sponsored posts, advertisers pay for content creation without knowing what the return value will be. Furthermore, it’s much more difficult for a brand to monitor the value from sponsored posts because typically they don’t include links directing to the brands product page.
Brands are beginning to ask more of influencers. Although the industry remains in a phase where flat fees are common compensation practice, advertisers are increasingly turning to affiliate models where publishers are compensated only when the brands desired action is achieved. The accountability and low risk of a performance model can be a win-win for both parties.
So why are the majority of influencers shy to adopt a performance-based commission model?
  1. Sponsored posts remain the norm, particularly on platforms that are difficult to include links (like Instagram).
  2. Flat fees are predictable and more comfortable for publishers who are unfamiliar with other models. What an influencer will earn is laid out in front of them.
  3. They don’t know how much they’ll earn in commission from the post, because they don’t know their performance metrics or audience data.
  4. Content development requires time, and in many cases money. It’s easier to justify the development of high quality content when earning expectations are abundantly clear.
So how should you monetize?

The power of partnership

Working with brands as if they’re a partner rather than a transaction will pay dividends. Identify what you both need out of the relationship, and come to a pricing model that will yield the highest degree of success possible for both of you.
It’s not necessarily a matter of choosing one monetization model or the other, but being open to both, or considering the advantages of a hybrid model. Hybrid models will allow for an upfront investment from the brand, where your efforts are compensated upfront.
This upfront investment will be less than the total quantity a typical flat fee sponsored post would be, because the remaining compensation will be in the form of a commission. That means you can also reap the rewards of long term content monetization, where the sky's the limit for how much your content earns. The decision lays in your data, the brands goals, and the strength of your partnership.

If you are publishing content, you can earn money

As a content creator, you can better monetize your content by understanding your metrics. Don’t pay so much attention to vanity metrics (follower count, likes, impressions, etc.), but rather, understand how you offer value to the brand you promote. If you don’t have hard metrics to tout yet, hone in on the qualitative benefits of your audience reach, their characteristics, their propensity to visit the brands you share with them, and the type of content they like to see.
Many view the monetized website as a method for escaping the rat race. They long for an opportunity to work from home, be their own boss, create their own schedule.
A website that brings in money could provide a crucial first step, or be the entirety of the solution if it is successful enough.
Others are serial entrepreneurs. To these individuals, there is little other reason to having a site than turning it into a successful business.
They might be acquiring a site that they will “flip” into a money making venture. They may be building it from the ground up to bring in the cash.
Either way, they see business as the primary goal and the website as a tool for achieving that aim.
Can you monetize any website? The short answer is “yes.” It’s important to remember that the site isn’t what makes money. The website is a tool to promote your business model. Your business idea is what will attract people and earn your money.
Can you monetize websites without ads? It is possible, but it takes some dedication. There will be an even greater focus on creating loyal visitors, as they will become your primary supporters.
Some schools of thought even see ads as detrimental to a monetization mindset, especially if the focus of the site is blogging. More on that later.
Can you make money by selling sites? Yes. There’s a whole website trade, complete with brokers, centered around this concept. If you have lots of ideas for businesses, this method may be ideal for you. We’ll touch on how to use the website trade to generate income in this guide.
How does site traffic play a role? No matter how you want to monetize your site, you’re going to need traffic. With no visitors to “convert,” your business model, whatever it is, will be stuck in the water.
We’ll go into some specific strategies for generating traffic. Generally speaking, though, it involves engaging your audience and adding a personal touch to the site (along with a generous helping of self-promotion).
What about web content? Content is essential. You’ll also need to make sure any content you have on the site is good enough to keep visitors coming back. Learning strategies for trimming the fat, keeping your ideas straightforward, and connecting with visitors is a must.

Part 1: Building Content & Generating Traffic

As we mentioned, these elements are the foundation of properly monetized sites.
Your content will vary based on your specific business interests. No matter what the enterprise, though, no one will care if the meat of your site is boring.
There’s not shortage of guides on creating great content. Some for blogs, some for video, others for podcasts and the like. In all of these mediums, the core component is caring about what you’re doing.
Passion, you will find, is the top motivator for creating content that captivates. Without it, you will experience setbacks and quit. With it, you will falter, learn, then grow.
Make sure that your content is of a high standard of quality. Make sure that the subject matter is something that will interest viewers/readers/listeners. Make sure that visitors can easily digest and share the content, and hold yourself to a regular schedule for releasing it.
Once you’ve built a solid foundation, you will need to lead people to it. You will need to employ careful analysis, marketing, and networking.
For example, using word of mouth to extend your reach. People come to your site, see the great content, then tell their friends to visit as well. You speed this process along by giving out free content that is easy to share. A newsletter, free e-book, tip-of-the-day, etc.
You might try getting your site mentioned by other sites in your wheelhouse. Do some guest posts. Trade with another site for links. Establish an expert presence on newsgroups and forums so that people will want to check you out.
You’ll also want to take advantage of the “tried-and-true” methods of traffic generation. These include:
Email Marketing — Reaching out to potential visitors directly through email. It isn’t as fashionable as some other methods, but it works. A successful email campaign should be simple, engaging, and include a strong call-to-action.
Social Media Marketing — Email marketing’s sexier cousin. By building a following on popular social sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you create an audience that you can then get to visit your main site. Social is highly valued because it allows for users to share popular content quickly.
Search Engine Optimization — The proverbial “pink elephant.” A concept so all-encompassing that every website takes heed. This is the practice of tailoring your site and content so that it will produce a higher ranking in search engine results.
There’s no one way to approach it, but finding what works for your site will go a long way in earning you traffic.
A word to the wise: No one strategy will secure you steady traffic. The takeaway here should be that you need a base of great content and a combination of strategies to get visitors to your site.
It may take some trial and error, but with perseverance, you can build a consistent user base that you can then use to aid your monetization efforts.

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 amount 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 amount 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 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, Similar Web, or Smart Viper. 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 behavior 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 advertisingto generate a 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.
Popular affiliate marketing programs include ClickBank, Commission Junction, Share-A-Sale, and Amazon.
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.
You might also try checking out specialists on the matter like Nativo and Sharethrough. They have “native ad boards” that can put interested publisher sites in touch with potential advertisers.

Part 2-B: How To Monetize A Website Without Ads

You might find the concept of making money through ads distasteful or counterproductive. You aren’t alone in that respect. There are several drawbacks to ads that detractors readily point out.
  • Searching for advertisers eats up time
  • Ads don’t always pay that much
  • The income stream is unreliable
  • Sometimes advertisers will refuse to pay you
  • Ads can be creepy and intrusive
  • They also slow down site performance
  • You’ll have to forfeit some control to please your sponsors
To make money from your site without giving in to “the man” you have to build value and an audience. Once you’ve established your value, you have several methods of turning that into cash.

Start Selling Something

We touched on this earlier. You might have a product or merchandise of your own that you can market. A book, T-shirts, or something else physical in nature.
You might be offering a skill or consulting services. You could use your site build yourself up as an authority on a topic. Then you charge for people to hire you for your expertise. You could even start doing classes and charge others to learn your unique talents.
As an expert, you can parlay a massive online following into an offline one. Set up a speaking tour, seminars, or day-long lectures. If your followers like what you do, they’re likely to attend.
If you’re an entertainer, the website becomes a similar means for getting people interested in your art. Then you direct them to your live shows, where you earn money from people that want to see you perform.

Set Up A Paywall

Somewhat related to the earlier concept of “selling something” is the paywall. In this case, you’ll be selling your content rather than a physical product.
You can block off segments of your site to “members” who pay a fee to access it. You could deliver individual portions of content as “drip” with each content block costing a small fee. You might even try a subscription service so that users pay a monthly fee to access your content.
Portions of your site can remain free to all, to entice new visitors. The “premium content,” however, is only available to your “premium membership.” If your content is that compelling, you can gain a fair number of members who will gladly pay.
There are several approaches to setting this up. Quicksprout has an awesome guide that lays it all out in plain terms. The short of it, though, is making sure that you are providing value to your visitors, and they feel that the value is enhanced by paying extra.

Value For Value

The third option involves you creating the incredible content, then leaving it all free to access.
Politely ask your audience to donate to the cause, reminding them that their patronage will allow you to continue bringing them what they love about your site.
You provide value in the form of your content. The audience reciprocates, offering value in the form of monetary compensation.
You won’t get everybody to donate. You might not even get half of your audience to donate. If you have a good amount of traffic and strong content, though, you’ll receive enough support from contributing visitors to finance your operations quite nicely.
You could set up a donation button on your page to allow users to contribute directly through options like PayPal. You might even try setting up a page on a service like Patreon. It allows audiences to browse content creators and finance the ones they like best.

Part 3: How To Monetize Your Site By Selling It

how to monetize my websiteYou could also try building up your site and selling it to someone else for a lump sum. Plenty of entrepreneurs are looking for sites with steady streams of visitors that they can “leverage” for their own ends.
There are also tons of resources for selling a site. In particular, website brokers who can get your site in front of interested buyers and handle all the tedious paperwork.
To sell a site right, though, you can’t simply slap WordPress onto an existing domain, bill it as “having potential,” and then call it a day. You have to turn it into a worthwhile investment.
This means going back to the two fundamentals that we’ve harped on this entire guide. Create good content, then build up your site traffic.


Those two building blocks are the foundation from which all website monetization strategies grow. If you remember nothing else, remember this: get your site in order first. The money will follow shortly after. Once your site has great content and lots of visitors, it doesn’t matter whether you want to sell ads, sell T-shirts, or sell the content itself. You’ll be able to do it because you have the audience in place to support your efforts.
You may also do well by employing more than one monetization strategy at a time. Different audiences will react to different approaches. A thorough analysis of your audience (along with some trial-and-error) will reveal what methods will work best for turning your web presence into a steady source of extra income. However you choose to define yourself, whether it’s as an influencer, an affiliate, or a content creator, if you are publishing content, you can earn money. Great partnerships are built on delivering a strong experience. That means considering the value you’re creating for your audience, while understanding how you can meet the goals of the brand you’re promoting. It’s up to you and the brand to define how best to monetize, and the only way to do this well is to understand your audience with ready-to-share performance and behavioural data.
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Quick Guides to Choose Small Business Hosting Plans from Server Providers

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Does your small business have a website? If not, it's time to build one. Companies without an online presence face an incredibly difficult uphill climb because we live in a connected world where people discover products and services by searching on the internet—you don't want to miss that potentially lucrative boat. Sure, creating a business website may take months of painstaking planning, debating, and compromise, but setting up a decent website doesn't have to be painful, provided you have the proper tools. And the most important tool is the right web hosting service.

Photo: Shazida Khatun

The Small Business Hosting Basics

If you aren't familiar with web hosting, here's a simple explanation. A web host is a company that has servers that you'll use to store and deliver the audio, video, documents, and other files that make up your website and its content. These servers can be of the shared, dedicated, or virtual varieties. If you want to learn more about those hosting types, please visit the highlighted links that are sprinkled throughout this article for primers on each of them. And if you want to launch your own web hosting company without many of the associated hardware headaches, you should look into reseller hosting.

There are dozens upon dozens of web hosting services clamoring for your dollar, including super-popular services (such as GoDaddy) and the lesser-known offerings (such as SiteGround). Large businesses can spend hundreds and (sometimes thousands!) of dollars each year on dedicated hosting or virtual private server (VPS) hosting, the two categories we're focusing on for small businesses with website needs.

One thing we learned while reviewing web hosting services is that reading the fine print is a must, especially if you are concerned about keeping prices low. Many web hosts have several increasingly expensive tiers, with introductory features in starter packages and more robust offerings in higher-priced plans. We recommend a healthy course of comparison-shopping before pulling out a credit card; you'll want to sign up with a service that has the features that best align with your website-building goals.

Small Business Hosting Prices

If you're a small business owner, you're going to want to run with either dedicated or VPS hosting. A dedicated server will likely cost you more than $100 per month; it's definitely not cheap web hosting. The benefit? Your website lives on a server all by its lonesome, so it takes advantage of the server's full resources. You'll probably need to handle firewalls and maintenance yourself, however, unless you opt for a managed server, which costs even more money.

If you want to save some cash, VPS hosting is generally a sufficient—and more wallet-friendly—option. VPS hosting falls midway between shared and dedicated hosting. By building your website in a VPS environment, you won't share resources with the other sites that live on the same server, the way you would with shared hosting. In fact, your site lives in a partitioned server area that has its own operating system, storage, RAM, and monthly data transfers so you can expect smoother, more-stable site performance. You can get solid VPS hosting for approximately $20 to $30 per month.

Don't be swayed by the big fonts touting the monthly fee: Make sure that a particular pricing tier actually offers what you need. Some hosts charge extra for access to website builders that can help you design your site. Other hosts require you to commit to a three-year hosting agreement in order to get that low per-month price. Or the price is an introductory one, and after a month, you will revert to a higher price. Until you know what features you need and how quickly you plan to grow, you might not want to commit to annual plans.

The Features You Need

When you begin shopping for a site, it's good to have a list of the features you need. For example, you'll want a web host that offers unlimited monthly data transfers and email, a choice of solid-state or traditional hard drive storage, and 24/7 customer support. Even the server's operating system selection is important; Windows-based servers offer an environment to run scripts written in a Microsoft-centric framework, though Linux-based servers are also available (and more commonplace).

Please note that if you're planning on selling a product, look for a web host that offers a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate, because it encrypts the data between the customer's browser and web host to safeguard purchasing information. You're probably familiar with SSL; it's the green padlock that appears in your web browser's address bar as you visit an online financial institution or retail outlet. A few companies toss in an SSL certificate free of charge; others may charge you $100 for that extra layer of security.

How do we decide if a web host is good? 

Do bandwidth and disk storage features still matter these days? Which type of hosting service should you go with? In this article, we will get these questions answered with the following walk-through and a 15-point checklist. 
How to choose a web hosting service?

In brief –
  1. Know your hosting needs.
  2. Investigate on host reliability and uptime guarantees.
  3. Study web host upgrading options.
  4. Check all hosting features (such as a number of addon domains allowed) based on your needs.
  5. Check prices for both sign up and renewal.
  6. Check hosting control panel.
  7. Read hosting company’s ToS to find out more about account suspension and server usage policy.
  8. Other supporting features (ie. site backup, environmental friendliness, etc)

Knowing Your Hosting Needs

You can never get the right web host without knowing what you need. So before you go any further – put everything aside (including this guide you are reading) and think thoroughly on your own needs.
  1. What kind of website are you building?
  2. Do you want something common (a WordPress blog, for example)?
  3. Do you need Windows applications?
  4. Do you need a special version of the software (ie. PHP)?
  5. Does your website need special software?
  6. How big (or small) can the web traffic volume go?

The Importance of Uptime

All the aforementioned features are valuable parts of the web hosting experience, but none matches the importance of site uptime. If your site is down, clients or customers will be unable to find you or access your products or services.
wpengine sept uptime - site has not down for 1757 hours

To test this important aspect of hosting, we include uptime monitoring as part of our review process, and the results show that most web hosts do an excellent job of keeping sites up and running. Sites with uptime problems aren't eligible for high scores. All services suffer ups and downs, sometimes for reasons beyond their control. Those sites that fail to quickly address the problem are penalized accordingly.

web hosting upgrades

Are You Ready to Get Started?

PBT understands that no two businesses have the same web hosting requirements, so we've rounded up our best-reviewed web hosting companies for small businesses and detailed their offerings in the table above so that you can get a jump-start on picking a service. If an offering catches your eye, make sure to click the appropriate link from the capsules below to read the in-depth review of the service in question. Whatever options you choose for your small business, a good web hosting provider will play a big part in your success. Whether through support, uptime, or a killer design template you found on their site builder, your web host will help you put your best online foot forward. As your company grows, you’ll want to expand your hosting plan. Cloud or VPS hosting gives you more power, reliability, and flexibility as your business starts to take over the market. When you’re ready to scale, check out our recommended business cloud hosting options.

auto installer

I am always surprise that some web hosts out there still do not offer these basic hosting features nowadays. You need Cron for day-in-day-out operations, Auto Script Installer (like Fantastico, Simple Scripts, Quick Installer, Softaculous, Installatron, and so on) for easy web apps installations and updates, .htaccess access for security/page redirects/etc purposes, Server Side Include (SSI) for easier site maintenance (especially when you are building a static site), and FTP access for easy file transfer.

Unless you are signing up on a specialty web host like WP Engine and Pressidium, else these basic features are must-have. You SHOULD NOT settle with hosting providers that do not supply them.
Ignore Disk Space and Data Transfer Capacity (for now)

Disk space and data transfers are hardly a meaningful comparison factor for shoppers – especially if you are new – these days.

One, if you check, almost all shared hosting providers are offering “unlimited” storage and data transfers. While the term “unlimited” is nothing but a marketing gimmick; web hosting users get more than enough capacity in storage and data transfer. (In most cases, it is RAM and processor power that limit the usage of an unlimited hosting account.)

Two, if you think about it, disk storage and bandwidth hardly matter to an average website owners these days. Images can be stored on Flickr; files and documents on Google Doc, videos on YouTube and Vimeo, large data files on cloud storage.

So in conclusion – you don’t need to care that much on your hosting storage or bandwidth for now.
 e-Commerce Features
  • Are you running an e-commerce website?
  • Are you using any specific shopping cart software?
  • Do you need to process business transactions on your website?
  • Do you need special technical support (ie. PrestaShop guide, or so on)?

If yes, then it is important for you to pick a web host with sufficient e-commerce features support. SSL certification, dedicated IP, and one-click shopping cart software installation are some of the essential features/supports you will need.
8. An Easy-to-use Hosting Control Panel

A user-friendly and functional hosting control panel is very, very important.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a cPanel or a Plesk or a third party control panels (like what we have at GoDaddy) – we are okay as long as it is user-friendly and come with all the necessary functions. Without an adequate control panel, you will be left at the mercy of the hosting tech support staff – even if all you need is some basic server changes.

Account Suspension: What are the limitations?

Here’s a money tip that most hosting review sites will not tell you: Hosting companies will pull the plug and suspend your account if you are using too much CPU power (yes, unlimited hosting is limited) or violating the rules. So before you sign up on a web host, it is important that you read the rules.

Sounds too simple? You bet.

Truth is – You do not need a lot of choices to make the right call. What you need instead, is a trustable source (that’s us!) to tell you which hosting company to go with (and which to ignore). Our hosting comparison table is built based on our real usage experience and it is one of the most useful guides available online.
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