s technology advances, owning a website is becoming more affordable and simple than ever before. Every year, millions of people make the decision to start blogs, eCommerce stores, forums, and more. But, unless you are looking to provide your value for free, you will need an effective way to monetize your website. And, ideally, turn a profit. This article will cover four of the most popular ways to monetize your website. We will cover how each method works, the pros and cons of each option, and we will end by helping you determine which method is best suited for your specific circumstances.
#1 - Monetize Your Website with Affiliate Marketing
The first way to monetize your website is through affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is a form of marketing where you leverage your web traffic to create sales for another organization, who will offer you a percentage of the revenue that your traffic generates. As an exercise, look over your favorite blogs and Youtube channels. You will likely see products being advertised, either with a discount code or a link that the author wants you to click. These are examples of affiliate marketing in use.
You need to embed personalized affiliate links in your blog or content, and when clicked, your user will then be directed to the product on another storefront. If the user then purchases the product within the cookie period (the period within which the affiliate sale is valid), then the person who referred the user receives a cut of the revenue generated.
Amazon is currently one of the most popular affiliate networks because of the wide selection of products that they offer. After setting up your profile you can search through their entire catalog. When you see products that you would like to feature on your website, you can then generate an affiliate link that will direct your user to the product and recognize you as the referral source. You can embed this link in your website in a way that provides value to the user, like a review of the best shoes for longboarding. After the user clicks the link, they receive a cookie on their web browser. If the user purchases anything on amazon while the cookie is active, you receive a percentage of the revenue (which varies from 1-10% depending on the category of product).
For Amazon, the cookie period is 24 hours, meaning that even if the user closes the Amazon page or their browser, your referral remains active for 24 hours from the initial click. If they decide to come back to Amazon over the next 24 hours and purchase this product or something else, you will still receive your cut. Due to Amazon's popularity, there is a chance that the user was already looking at purchasing from Amazon during your time frame before they encountered your cookie. This allows you to slide in and collect a commission from a sale that was going to happen anyways. Amazon will send your earnings directly to your bank account every month.
Clickbank is another popular affiliate network, but one that focuses on digital products. The chances that a user was going to purchase something from Clickbank without your involvement are quite low, which means that you will notice a lower conversion rate than on Amazon. However, Clickbank makes up for this with their commission structure, with rates that can extend as high as 90% based on the product category. But, overly high commission rates can be indicative of an inferior product, so we highly recommend that you do your own research on the products you are thinking about promoting.
You can also decide to approach a business that is related to your industry but isn’t related to a larger affiliate network, and you can negotiate an arrangement between the two of you. Many brands have their own affiliate networks tucked away in the menus of their website.
Affiliate Marketing Pros:
- Doesn’t require any investment in inventory on your part. All you do is drive traffic to your website and through your links.
- Provides you with a largely passive source of income. Once you produce the content and embed the link, and then you don’t have to do anything besides drive traffic and collect your cut. You won't have to do much to maintain your affiliate links.
- You can generally use whatever type of web software you want. Wordpress, Wix, Shopify, or any other web client will do.
Affiliate Marketing Cons:
- Highly reliant on external affiliate networks, which can change their product offerings or commission structures without much notice.
- Affiliate marketing can harm your brand’s authority if the integration is not properly executed. Promoting bad products for your personal gain will lower your credibility.
- Your success will depend on your ability to drive qualified traffic to your website and create interesting content that they want to click on.
#2 - Monetize Your Website with Print-on-Demand
The second way to monetize your website is by designing and selling print-on-demand merchandise. Print-on-demand (POD) is a business model where you advertise merchandise that is designed to be a reflection of your brand. When a customer makes a purchase, the order is then sent to your fulfillment partner. They print your design on a shirt, mug, hoodie, etc., and ship it to the customer. The products are stocked in your partner's warehouse without any designs. They are only customized once the customer places the order. Therefore, it is printed-on-demand. This model allows POD suppliers to power hundreds or thousands of businesses without any merchants holding inventory.
There are generally two ways to offer POD merchandise on your website:
Option 1: Your Own Store
The first way to monetize your website with POD is to set up a store and integrate a POD partner like Printful, Printify, or Gooten. In order to do this, you will need to power your website with Shopify. Or, you can research POD suppliers that are compatible with the software that powers your website. These programs make POD very easy. All you need to do is set up your designs on some products you like, set your prices, and set up the products in your store. Once a customer selects a design and orders it, the POD supplier automatically receives the order and fulfills it from one of their warehouses spread across the world. It is simple, quick, and profitable.
Option 2: A Partner Website
The second way to monetize your website through POD is to set up your designs on a third-party website like Teespring or Redbubble. These are marketplaces that have thousands of designs, and they pay you each time a customer purchases one. This is different from the first POD option since you don’t require a Shopify/Ecommerce store. You can integrate the products with nearly any type of website or social media. This option works best if you have an established source of online traffic. If you have a Youtube channel, you can even create a merchandise 'shelf' through Teespring. You can integrate this shelf directly with your Youtube page, as seen below.
- You never need to hold any inventory.
- Customers will receive their products very fast, averaging 3 business days for processing and 3-7 days for shipping.
- You have no set-up costs, and your designs will likely be protected by copyright. This makes it illegal for your competitors to copy them exactly.
- You will need to come up with your own designs, or source them from a reliable source.
- You have little control over the fulfillment process or quality of the products.
- Your POD supplier can run out of stock or stop carrying products that you offer. This can impact your sales if you aren't watching.
#3 - Monetize Your Website with Dropshipping
The third way to monetize your website is to create a dropshipping business. Dropshipping is a model that allows merchants to sell products without buying inventory. You, the merchant, market and sell the product on your website. When the customer places an order, the products are shipped directly from the supplier to your customer. You then pockets the margin between your sale price and the product's cost.
You can populate your online store with products that fit your category or niche, and once a customer places an order for the product with you, you then order the product from the supplier and have them ship it directly to your customer. Some dropshipping services, like Dropcommerce, even make fulfilling the order with the manufacturers as simply as clicking a button. This allows you to offer a wide catalog of products without ever holding any physical inventory or fulfilling the orders yourself. You can focus entirely on sales and marketing, knowing that your suppliers will take care of the fulfillment.
Dropshipping has taken the world by storm over the last twenty years. Dropshipping is used by many organizations, big and small. It is also the main fulfillment method for products sold on marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy. However, in recent years, many dropshippers have chosen to source their products from Aliexpress and other low-quality suppliers. While these suppliers offer attractive margins for dropshipping merchants, they come with many downsides. The suppliers are often unreliable, have poor communication, and generally offer low-quality generic products. Some of those orders take much longer than advertised or are low quality/broken when they arrive. Since the merchants and Aliexpress are overseas, individual merchants have little-to-no recourse. While this can lead to some short-term profits, your customers are unlikely to make repeat orders. This does not create a stable foundation for growing your business.
Our company, DropCommerce, was born out of this exact problem. We set out to create a high-quality dropshipping network because we saw that store owners had few options beyond sourcing cheap products from overseas. We have set up our network so that all of our suppliers are located in North America, and we believe this is reflected in the quality of our products and shipping times. Our merchants enjoy minimum gross profit margins of >30%, high-quality products, and comparatively lightning-quick fulfillment speeds. Best of all, you are free to use our products in conjunction with other dropshipping networks, giving you the best of both worlds.
To get set up on DropCommerce, you will need to add our application to your Shopify store, and select some products to import to your store. You can edit the pictures and ad copy set your prices, and begin driving traffic to your store. Once you sell something, you will have a chance to review the order and can send the order out to all related suppliers with the click of a button. The customer will be sent their tracking number automatically once the order is shipped. It's that simple.
Dropshipping Business Pros:
- Super easy to get set up on your online store, and you can set your own prices and profit margins.
- You can offer a wide variety of products without ever holding any physical inventory.
- Very low start-up costs compared to a brick-and-mortar business.
Dropshipping Business Cons:
- Little control over the product quality, fulfillment process, or shipping times.
- Lower profit margins since you are not buying in bulk, and need to ship items one-by-one.
- You will rely on your suppliers who may run out of inventory or discontinue products without notice.
If you want to learn more about Dropshipping, check out our overview article here!
#4 - Monetize Your Website by Selling Informational Products
The fourth way to monetize your website is by selling informational products. Informational products are products such as courses, eBooks, guides, and other digital products that usually contain some sort of knowledge. Since all of these products are digital, they do not come with much expenses beyond their initial creation. Once you write an eBook, you can sell it to a thousand (or million) customers without making any changes to it. While some topics will require updates to stay relevant over time, most of them can be left completely as they are, making them a cash cow if marketed correctly.
Once you have created an informational product, you can easily integrate it into your website as a product, either through Shopify or another website software. If you set up your store correctly, your customers will receive the product automatically after their purchase. You can have it automatically sent to them by email, allow them to download it in the post-purchase screen, or make them return to your website to access it. And, because there is no need to ship anything, you can offer a very strong refund policy or satisfaction guarantee without exposing yourself to the liability of having to pay for return shipping if the customer is unhappy.
Informational Product Pros:
- Once you create the product, each sale is basically 100% profit.
- You can automate fulfillment and sell as many as you like without spending any money on inventory or fulfillment.
- Digital products never expire. You can sell for as long as you want, or as long as customers see value in the product.
Informational Product Cons:
- You still need to do all of the marketing and convince people of your product's value. This can be harder with digital products.
- Depending on what you are offering, there are likely a large number of substitutes available, and there are no barriers for new competitors to enter the market.
- Developing products can be very ambiguous and time-consuming, especially if you are not already an expert in the field.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, there are many different ways to monetize your website or blog. But, not all of these options will be a good fit for your goals, your resources, or your expertise.
Affiliate marketing is a great way for you to monetize your website if you are able to get engaged traffic to your site inexpensively. This makes it a good option for content creators and SEO specialists.
Print-on-Demand merchandise is a good option for those who already have a brand or strong creative instincts. Having some basic graphic design and SEO skills won't hurt either.
Dropshipping is a great way to monetize your website if you want to scale to high levels of profit. You will need to put in some work in terms of market research and marketing. However, when you execute it properly, dropshipping is easily one of the most profitable options on this list.
Informational products are a highly profitable option for those who have some professional expertise to leverage, but creating the product can be difficult and your success will largely depend on your marketing capabilities.
Regardless of which method you select, you will still need to drive traffic to your website and engage in some marketing efforts. While this can be challenging, there are an unlimited amount of tools, partners, and mentors available, and your success will largely depend on your resourcefulness.
Not sure which one to try? Try them all! If you build your website on a flexible platform like Shopify or Wordpress, you will be able to test each of these methods. You can then pick the one that is best aligned with your business, your goals, and your lifestyle.