A few weeks ago I attended a conference where a leading blogger was asked how blogs should make money. His reply was “start with Google Adsense and once you have built up a decent size audience sell display ads and sponsorship”.
It is this blinkered thinking which is stopping many bloggers and content website owners from realising the commercial potential of their sites. There are actually dozens of ways of making money from a good content website. Here are over 30 ways that I have come across. Please add any others in the comments below.
Text Ads – short text ads automatically displayed on a page based on the context of the content. Google AdSense dominates the market.
Display Ads – Banner and button ads displayed at the top or to the side of content
Video Ads – Short video ads embedded into a page. They can be auto-play (annoying!) or be clicked to play. There is usually an example on the Yahoo.com home page
In-Content Ads – Ads that are linked to keywords within articles. Learn more at InLinks.com
Classifieds – User submitted classified ads. Craigslist is the gorilla, but lots of content websites have niche classifieds. Take a look at RockyMountainNews.com Classifieds
Jobs Board – Paid job listings. A good example is SmashingMagazine Jobs
Pre-roll/post-roll video ads – Short ads at the beginning and end of video clips. Being trialled by YouTube
Paid Reviews – charge companies or individuals to review their book, product or service. Learn more at ReviewMe.com
Pay Per Post – offer to write posts mentioning a product, company or service for a fee. Can be unethical if commercial interest not declared. Learn more at PayPerPost.com
Advertorial – Allow customers to publish their own articles promoting their products or services for a fee. Make sure you clearly mark articles as advertorial to maintain your independence and integrity. Example of Rackspace Advertorial
Sponsorship – Charge for sponsorship for all or part of your website. Usually fixed price agreements for a fixed period of time. Example of a Time article sponsored by FedEx
Directory Listings – create a directory and charge suppliers to be listed, or list every supplier and charge for an enhanced listing. Example of an enhanced directory listing on financial advisors website
Commissions for Actions – you get paid every time an action is completed e.g. email newsletter sign up, trial sign-up, survey completed, etc. For example you can get paid a commission every time a free copy of the Firefox browser is downloaded. Sign up for a Google AdSense account
Commissions for Sales – you get paid a fixed commission or percentage share of sales value. Learn from Commission Junction
Lead Generation – generate leads on the website and sell them to prospects. Learn from Approved Index
Commission For Events Promotion – promote events in your industry in exchange for a commission on ticket sales. Approach any event organiser
Digital Product Sales – sell products that can be downloaded over the internet. They can include ebooks, research, software, reports, music, video clips, etc. Go to Clickbank.com to see dozens of downloadable products
Physical Product Sales – stock, sell and ship your own products. For example CannotStopSmoking.com sells electric cigarettes
Dropship Sales – sell products that are stocked and shipped by the manufacturer or wholesaler. To learn more have a read of Wikipedia Dropship entry
Pay Per View – sell one-off access to service. Take a look at The Geological Society for an example
Pay Per Article – sell one-off articles. Example on the RSC Journal website
Auction Sales – auction products or services from your site
Marketplace – match buyers and sellers and facilitate payment.Take a look at EditAvenue.com, a marketplace for editors.
Merchandise – If you have a popular site with a loyal audience you can sell branded merchandise. Try using CafePress.com
Photo and Video Sales – you can sell images and videos direct from your site or through services like FotoMoto (www.fotomoto.com)
Paid Membership Access to Premium Content – subscription for month, quarter or year to get access to member-only content and resources e.g. HerbMentor.com
Premium Membership to Upgrade Free Services – provide an enhanced service to paid members. Can be on a forum, information website, social network, etc. For example DNForum.com has a premium membership
Subscription to a Webservice – enable people to subscribe to a service. Take a look at Ancestory.com to see a service that charges for access to research data.
Subscription to an Online Course – enable people to subscribe to an online course with modules being delivered every week or month e.g. SEOBook.com
Subscription to Archive Material – After a fixed time period archive content, then sell subscriptions to this archived data. MarketingSherpa.com publishes all their articles for free for one week, after which time customers have to subscribe to their archive
Subscription to a Podcast – Create a regular high quality podcast and sell it for a monthly subscription. For a directory of paid-for Podcast go to Premiumcast.com
Webinars – promote and sell webinars
Seminars/Workshops – promote and sell offline seminars and workshops
Mentoring – promote and sell mentoring which can be delivered over the internet, phone or face-to-face
Consultancy – promote and sell consultancy services
Franchise – turn products or services into a franchise opportunity and sell franchise via your site. Take a look at Jack Humphrey’s Directory Network Association
Reseller – Create products that can be re-sold. They can be sold with your branding or you can allow resellers to rebrand