One of the questions I frequently receive here on Laptop Entrepreneurship is how to actually make money with a website. A lot of you out there are creating websites, creating blogs, in several different niches and you’re not seeing an immediate return. Here’s what, traditionally, people do to try and monetize and make some money off of their blogs and websites. (i.e. the wrong ways)
Ads Or Google Ads (Wrong)
The classic trap most new website owners fall into. “I just created a new website, let me slap on some Google Ads over it!”. You haven’t even built up an audience yet, you likely receive little to no traffic, and you’re immediately trying to monetize it. Here’s the thing, placing ads on your website cheapens your brand. Additionally, it detracts from the goal of your website. Is your goal really to get people to click those ads? Or is your goal to get people to enjoy your content so that they keep coming back? Which do you ultimately think is the better thing to strive for in the long run?
Secondly, Google Ads require too much traffic for it to be worthwhile. You will make pennies per day, a few dollars if you’re lucky, with even a lot of traffic. To make anything worthwhile or very nice would take Buzzfeed levels of traffic. That is extremely unlikely.
Lastly, Google Ads, or ads in general, are far too unstable. Google can decide to ban your ads account tomorrow without as much as a warning and your main source of income is gone. Don’t put your eggs all in one basket or create content to help sell others people’s products.
Affiliate Links (Kind Of Wrong)
The next thing most new website owners and bloggers will do is attempt to try and embed affiliate links and ads around their website. Sometimes, they’ll create a website entirely focused on affiliate marketing with all the content being a way to drive traffic to affiliate offers, such as with niche sites. This can work, kind of. The first thing most people encounter is that they are not passionate or interested in the niches they are trying to do affiliate marketing for, which means this projects quickly die out.
The next thing, is most people don’t centralize their affiliate marketing efforts. They join every single affiliate program under the sun and never meet the minimum payout requirement since they’ve spread themselves out too thin.
“Okay,” you’re thinking, “I’ll just only promote products from one site, like Clickbank.” Sure, but the problem you might run into there is that you’re just promoting Clickbank products for the sake of them being Clickbank products. Centralizing won’t come across as authentic and most people will see past that. Inauthentic websites look spammy, and usually have really thin content and articles that provide little to no value. There’s no longevity there and no opportunity to build a community or audience.
So, what are the pillars of a awesome website that will actually make money?
Build your personal brand and be authentic, transparent
The first pillar is you need to build your personal brand and be as authentic and transparent on your website as possible. This means including your face on your website. Put your face on the sidebar of your blog and allow people to immediately see and learn about who’s behind the website. If you’re not comfortable putting your face out there immediately, try a caricature or cartoon for now.
Include your real name in your website and be sure to share your story that relates to your niche. Have a “My Story” or “About Me” page, with a link to it in your main navigation, describing yourself with more photos. Talk about how you became passionate or involved in this niche. Will everyone care about your story? No, of course not. However, the small percentage that do, you just allowed them to relate to you. That is how you build a fanbase and a community that supports and likes you.
Why is this important? Not to sound like an evil marketer but when you like and trust someone, you’re more likely to buy from them or do business with them. If you share pieces of your personal life every day with your audience, along with great, relevant content, you will succeed.
Become the authority in that niche
You don’t have to be an expert on your subject to be seen as the authority. If you just know a little bit more than most people, you are the authority. Always strive to add a lot of value to everything you create on your website. Take pride!
Create a lot of helpful and great content that your audience will want to share. I’d rather you attempted to create 1 awesome 1500 word article a week, than 3 decent 500 word articles a week. Quality of quantity.
Build up a fanbase and readership
Going back, you need to build up that fanbase and readership first before you attempt to monetize anything. When you get that traffic, you want them to like you and trust you.
How do you do that?
As cheesy as that sounds, you need to be yourself.
If you’re the biker chick that talks about business, be the biker chick that talks about business. If you’re the skinny nerd that wants to pack on muscle with his fitness blog, be the skinny nerd.
Will everyone like you? Of course not! You can’t please everyone and you shouldn’t try to.
Firstly, simply being yourself with be more authentic. People can see through acts and BS. Most importantly, you will find your own audience. Why should anyone like you more than your competitors? You’re biggest differentiator is simply being yourself. People will choose to visit you and like you because they like your personality or who you are over your competitors.
In the beginning, be sure to engage with everyone. Respond to every email and every comment you receive. Put yourself out there as well and reach out to other bloggers and people in your niche. Be known as the guy or girl that tries to help everyone.
List building, creating a community
Build a list, build a list, build a list. I know, you’ve likely heard it a thousand times but if you’re not doing it already, you’re lagging behind. Instead of trying to get your visitors to click ads, you should be making them subscribe to your list. Most people that visit your website will never visit it again. Why not help combat that by retaining visitors with an email list?
Not only does an email list allow for you to build a community, it allows for you to eventually promote offers of your own products or services to help monetize your website. I’m not saying slam your subscribers with offers every day. Provide them a lot of value and content. That should be your primary objective.
If you don’t see the value in this yet, and are not willing to pay monthly to maintain an email list, try MailChimp. It’s free up to 2000 subscribers (more than enough for you to make a lot of money) and it will get you trying it. I use GetResponse and that’s what I personally recommend.
Don’t forget to also build and create a community for your website on social media as well. Facebook and Twitter are still very relevant to distribute your content as well as engage your audience. Don’t neglect these aspects, they are extremely important.
After all of these pillars, then it is time to monetize it. You have built up the trust, you have built up the community and you can build up the lines to easily reach your trusted audience (social media, email list). You are in an amazing position to make a lot of money with your website.
Here, you can do things such as creating your own information product such as an ebook or online course.
If it makes sense for your niche, maybe some people in your audience would love one-on-one time with you, such as over Skype, for you to share your insight with them and help them. A consulting service for those that need more than just what’s available on your blog and website.
Your blog also opens you up for a lot of opportunities, whether they’re money making opportunities or simply opportunities to build your brand. Landing speaking gigs, becoming the advisor for a product or service in your niche, or getting paid to create content for someone else’s website, are just some of the doors that will begin to open up for you when you put yourself out there, help people and create great content.
Remember, you need to start thinking about your website or blog as business. I don’t care what anyone says, running a blog or website is a business. If you don’t believe me, go to Huffington Post or Buzzfeed. They make money, they fire and hire people, they pay taxes. They are businesses and that’s how you should be treating and projects or venture you get into that you would like to make money with. If you’re trying to make money with something, it’s a business. Businesses exist to make money, so treat your ideas and projects with more respect. Think of them long term, start being more patient and play the long game.
If you do that, it will really pay off for you in the long run. What do you guys think? Where are you struggling or do you agree with me? Comment below and I will respond to you!