One of my more popular posts from 2010 was about How to Integrate Advertising into Your Blog. In this post, I’m going to expand on that from a strategic point of view and talk about ways to add revenue streams into your website or blog.
Affiliate Marketing – Hopefully before you decided to build a website or blog, you built it around one or more key affiliate programs. It is possible to build a website around a specific brand or product with an affiliate program, but I recommend sticking with general concepts as opposed to specific programs. If a merchant goes out of business or changes their affiliate program, you don’t want to be locked into one program for monetization: you want the ability to change. Additionally, you want as many programs as possible. Run a travel website–it’s a no-brainer to work with hotel, airline, and rental car bookings from numerous merchants. But what about travel insurance, passport, and visa affiliate programs, travel books from Amazon, luggage from specialty retailers, photography equipment and so on? Don’t limit yourself. Look for related programs in related industries wherever possible.
Direct Advertising – A lot of industries have other businesses that are interested in buying advertising, and you can make good money with this strategy. Use a third party service like Quantcast to deliver reliable traffic stats to potential advertisers. Integrate ads into your blog, come up with a rate sheet, and put the information on a page on your blog. Make it as easy as possible for people who are interested to contact you. Respond to them quickly.
Contextual Advertising – Adsense is the 800 lb gorilla of contextual advertising. While I do recommend Adsense, I don’t recommend building a website whose only means of monetization is Adsense. It’s way too dangerous. Intelletext and Chitika are two other alternatives.
Subscriptions – Can you put out premium content or research that is good enough that people are willing to pay a monthly/quarterly/yearly fee to get it? If you can set up a premium monthly newsletter with high quality information that is educational or that saves people time or money, then you are sitting on a gold mine.
eBook – Similar to a subscription, but this is more of a “one-of” purchase. If you can write or have written a white paper or educational manual that people are willing to buy, you have another revenue stream for your website. Or take your best content and aggregate it all in one PDF. If it saves people time/money/effort, chances are good that you could sell it.
Sponsored Posts – Some advertisers are willing to pay a premium to get their message/content in front of an audience. If you go this route, have a style guide or recommendations for advertisers. Also try to find a frequency that works: doesn’t alienate your primary audience.
Events Calendar – If you maintain a listing of industry-related events that no one else does or that can’t be easily replicated, advertisers will pay to be listed in a premium section or have a banner displayed in a prime location.
Industry Directory – The key here is not to charge to be included, but to charge for the service of being reviewed and premium placement. You’ll have to add some people for free to get the list started, and you will have to reject the low quality submissions, but this can be viable if you are willing to put in the work.
eCommerce – If you have a lot of products, you will need a sophisticated eCommerce package. If you don’t, there are lots of simple shopping carts that are extremely easy to use.
While this isn’t every method you could use to add different revenue streams, they are some of the easiest to implement and quickest to start working. Hopefully this has given you an idea or two to add to your website. I’d also recommend reading Is Your Blog Advertiser Friendly and Adsense why Bloggers Don’t Get it from my archives.