The primary goal of just about any business is to make a profit. Whilst some businesses have ulterior motives, such as wanting to make a genuine difference in the world, to help people, to bring positive change and so on, the bottom line is that the business needs a way to generate consistent revenue When it comes to online marketing and web publishing, there is certainly no shortage of ways to do that.
I come from a content marketing background, which essentially means putting out consistent quality content on a particular topic, building a following and then monetizing that audience to create revenue. Let’s take a look at some common ways to monetize a blog or content-rich website and consider some of the pros and cons of each.
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This is where you refer your audience to a product or service provider external to you and when your audience makes a purchase, you get paid a commission for the referral.
You are just the traffic source. No need for you to manage the sales process, billing, fulfilment or customer support. It’s a very hands-off way to make money.
The main disadvantage to affiliate marketing is actually linked to the benefits – you don’t own the customer. So whilst it’s nice not having to deal with the customer support, fulfilment and so on, the downside is that you also most likely miss out on any upsell or resell opportunities and the ability to build an ongoing relationship with that customer
There are dozens of options here, but the major player here is Google AdSense. Google AdSense allows publishers the ability to display advertisements from Google Adwords
Very hands-off form of monetization. You just place a bit of code on your website and the adverts will display. Google even does a pretty good job of matching the adverts to match the interests of users or align with the content of your website. Each time someone clicks an ad, they are taken to the advertiser’s website, and you receive a payment.
There are three major drawbacks of display advertising
The ads look a little cheap and they certainly impact on the overall look and feel of your website. When using display advertising, you’re trading off a little bit of visual appeal in exchange for an easy form of making money
The ad network, Google in the case of the AdSense program, take a significant portion of ad revenue generated (32% in the case of AdSense).
Selling a Product
You can certainly make the great income by selling physical or digital product, such as ebooks or online courses. I’m going to cover the pros and cons of digital products in this instance. In most instances, a digital product such as a course or informational product will be sold to users using a combination of prominent ads on pages, popups and probably also some email list building with a sales funnel to convert subscribers into paying customers for the given digital product.
You control the product quality; you gain the customer and therefore, ability to upsell, cross-sell and re-sell to them in the future. Having a digital product also adds a certain level of credibility to your brand online and it gives you a great opportunity to position yourself as an expert in your field.
The other obvious benefit is that you get to keep 100% of the revenue because you’re promoting something you have created as opposed to someone else’s product (as in the case of affiliate marketing).
The main issue here is that you need to charge enough for the product for it to be worthwhile creating in the first place. To entice people actually to sign up, the course needs to be loaded with value, which usually means many hours of time to put the class together.
You’re probably not going to bother selling an online course for a few bucks if it’s taken your dozens of hours to create, so cost becomes the barrier to entry there and even though your course might be great value, it takes some selling and repeated exposure for visitors to finally make the decision to buy.
Selling your own digital products is a great way to go, but it’s not something that most people can jump into and succeed at, largely because of the combination of audience trust required to sell a somewhat expensive product, the time it takes to create, and other aspects I’ve not covered which include managing those customers, delivering the product, after-sale support and so on.
But what if there was another way?
Micropayments offered by paywall plugins such as CoinTent are an emerging way for digital publishers to side-step all the negatives of a full-blown course, and start selling low-cost pieces of content for small one-off fees.
Micropayments allow administrators the ability to keep readers and customers on their site, retain the customers (as opposed to shipping them off to another provider as is the case with affiliate marketing), monetize web content without the negative visual appeal of display advertising, and offer digital products without the huge time investment required to launch and provide the more robust digital products such as online courses.
Another benefit of micropayments is it allows online publishers to monetize more followers. A metered paywall will eliminate a significant amount of readers or followers who are not interested in paying for content. However, the use of ad-blockers is also growing, making it difficult for online publishers to monetize their work by selling advertisements. Micropayments offer an alternative solution where publishers can capture viewers who are willing to pay small amounts of money for individual pieces of online content such as a news article or video.
This is an exciting time for online publishers, many of which are looking for creative and improved ways to monetize their audience. Micropayments may well be the weapon of choice for the future. We’ll have to wait and see.