Some people start a WordPress blog with the sole intention of making money from it, while others find that their blog grows in popularity to the point where generating income from the site becomes a very real possibility. Whatever your reasons are for starting a blog, once the traffic starts picking up, it’s a good time to evaluate the different options for monetizing a WordPress blog and deciding which one best fits in with your goals. In this article we will cover some of the popular and not so well known options for those who wish to make money online from a website.
Options for Earning Money from a WordPress Blog
In this article we will take a look at some to of the different ways a WordPress-powered website can used to start generating an income. While many of these approaches can be applied to regular websites, thanks to the wealth of plugins available for WordPress, implementing most of them is very easy and requires very little effort tin the way of setup and on-going maintenance. Whether you want to earn money by displaying advertising, selling products, or promoting your services, there should be an option here which matches you both the type of site you have, and your current audience.
Google AdSense is the most well-known service offering this form of monetisation, but there are other options out there such as Chitika and Adversal. The appeal of displaying this type of advertising is that once you’ve signed up for an account and added the relevant snippet of code to your site, there is very little to do making it a great passive income source. There are many WordPress plugins out there which allow you to manage your ads with even more ease, making this type of monetization very attractive. Once the ad code has been inserted, the service scans the content of your site to determine the topic of each page, and then it displays relevant adverts from its network on your site. When a visitor clicks on one of the adverts, you earn a payment.
This amount, known as cost per click (CPC) can vary from a few cents to a few dollars or even more, depending on the topic of your site. If your site is focussed on a profitable niche, such as fitness or weight loss, then some of those adverts can earn you a good amount per click. However, if your site is on a more obscure topic then you might struggle to earn as much. As Google AdSense can display adverts from many different niches or topics, whatever your site is about, there should be someone already advertising something that will be relevant to your readers, even if it’s not as profitable as some other topics. When using this monetization approach, the adverts displayed on your site can take a few different forms from text links, to links with text, and images created by the advertisers.
Pros: very little work in involved apart from signing up and adding the code to your site, adverts available for almost any site topic.
Cons: not as high paying as promoting the products directly or cutting out the middle man and working with the advertisers directly, can leak visitors from your site who are taken to another site after clicking on an advert.
Affiliate marketing is the process of linking to products from your site, which when a visitors clicks on and then makes a purchase, you get a commission on the deal. This can apply to almost anything from physical products, software, membership sites, courses, downloads, services and much more. As long as the item you are linking to has an affiliate program, which you must sign up to, then you can earn money by sending your visitors to their website to make a purchase. The most well-known example of a website with an affiliate program is Amazon. By sending your visitors to Amazon, you can get a small percentage of the cost of whatever they buy.
So if you have a blog about fitness, why not insert some links to relevant products on Amazon at the end of your post that your readers might be interested in. A starting rate of 5% commission might not sound like much but if you are linking to treadmills, for example, each sale could net you a figure which could quickly add up once the sales start accumulating. There is even a free plugin for WordPress which will turn all the links to Amazon on your site into affiliate links which will earn you a commission if the visitor then goes on to purchase anything from their store. To find sites and stores with affiliate programs, you can either sign up to a network like Commission Junction or ClickBank, or just check the individual sites of products you’d like to promote for an affiliates page, as many online products and services manage their own programs in-house.
Pros: almost an unlimited number of products and services to promote, little work involved in managing the links, process is very hands off once you’ve picked the items to promote.
Cons: rates of commission can vary between networks and programs, unpredictable, has a bit of a bad reputation.
Selling Ad Space
Instead of displaying adverts or links to products that will earn you money when your readers click on them and then buy something, you can also sell advertising space on your site that earns you a flat fee no matter how many clicks they receive. This makes selling ad space more predictable than affiliate marketing and Google AdSense-type services as you usually get paid up front before an advert goes live. However, it also means you aren’t likely to earn a larger amount should your content go viral and you get a large increase in those clicking on the advert; although this could help you negotiate a higher rate next time you sell a space.
There are lots of advertising plugins for WordPress that make the process of selling advertising space on your site very easy. Some connect you up to advert marketplaces which can help put your site in front of those looking to place an advert, while others offer a self-service option visitors to your site can use to place an advert without any effort on your part, making this a great hands-off way to earn money from your WordPress blog. When it comes to determining how much you can charge for adverts, it will depend on a number of factors including how many visitors your site gets, and what topic the blog covers.
Pros: predictable income source, ads can be placed on a self-service basis, relatively hands off, lots of plugins for managing and selling the ad space.
Cons: often a flat fee with extra clicks not resulting in extra income, needs a highly trafficked site to earn good money and attract advertisers.
While implementing the above monetization options might draw calls from your loyal readers of selling out, they are all legitimate ways to earn money online. This next one however isn’t as clean cut and involves charging a fee to a website owner to place a link on your site that links to their site. As links from relevant high-quality sites is still the best way to rank well in search engines like Google, many people are prepared to pay you to post a link on your site to theirs in order to boost their position, and get them more visitors to their site. However, before you get too excited, this practice is outlawed by Google so it’s not a good idea to advertise this service on your site if you do decide to employ this money making tactic. If you get rumbled you could end up with your site penalised or even de-indexed from the Google search engine so if you rely on search engine traffic then this blog monetization method is best avoided – you have been warned!
Pros: little work involved, predictable recurring income.
Cons: not condoned by search engines, could result in being de-indexed from the search engines, requires a lot of traffic or positive site metrics in order to attract clients.
Depending on the topic of your blog, it might be possible to offer a sponsored post service. This option allows you to charge a fee for publishing a post, usually a review, of a product or service on your site. With sponsored posts or reviews, you can either write the review yourself or publish a pre-written review supplied by the product or service owner. The amount you charge will vary depending on how much traffic your website gets, and you can also supplement this income by including an affiliate link to the product or service in order to earn a commission for each customer you refer. Travel and technology blogs are often approached by those with products to market. Depending on how popular your blog is, this could involve an all expenses trip to a resort on behalf of a tour company, or a review copy of a new gadget.
Pros: receiving ‘free’ stuff and experiences, or payment, in exchange for a writing and publishing a review, can sometimes come with terms and conditions to adhere to when writing the review, even small sites can get some interest from smaller organisations.
Cons: requires a popular, well-read blog to really benefit from the big sponsorships deal, can be seen as compromising your objectiveness in exchange for a freebie.
Creating a Product
If your website or blog is growing a nice following and getting regular visitors who appreciate your content, then it might be time to create a product to sell to them. This could be anything such as a digital download like an eBook; a WordPress theme or plugin; graphics templates; developing a software application to solve a common problem amongst your readers; or even a physical product that appeals to your audience. As online store and eCommerce functionality can be easily added to WordPress with a number of free plugins to choose from, selling the product, whether it’s a digital download, or a physical product is probably the easiest part of the process. However, if you do put in the time to create a digital product that there is a genuine need for the passive income earnings potential can be huge.
Pros: digital products can be created once and sold many times over making it a great passive income source after the initial work has been done, WordPress makes selling products largely hands off and easy to manage.
Cons: creating the product can take up a lot of work upfront before knowing if it’s what your audience wants, could require lot of after-sales support.
Promoting your Services
If your content provides value to your readers, then there is good chance some of them will want to pay you for your time. This could include giving advice, one-on-one consulting, carrying out freelance work, or making an appearance as a guest speaker. Whether you blog about website development, starting a business, or health and fitness tips, if your audience gets large enough, its more than likely that someone will want to pay you for your time and expertise. If your popularity grows, and if your area of expertise lends itself to this, then it could be possible to offer your consulting services on a group basis. This could take the form of mastermind group, allowing you to scale up and help (and earn from) multiple clients at the same time.
Pros: can be lucrative, has potential for scale, can lead you down interesting avenues.
Cons: not passive, trading time for money, might require a large readership, not suitable with all blog topics.
Restricting Content and Membership Sites
If your readership grows and you are adding real value to your visitors’ lives then you might be in the position to offer a premium membership site or course and start restricting access to your content and putting it behind a paywall. This could take the form of publishing premium posts amongst your regular content, or annexing part of your site and making it only available to paid-up members. There are countless membership plugins for WordPress, so setting this up isn’t difficult providing you have the content to entice your readersto sign up.
The content you decide to offer to your members or customers can vary considerably. This could include private discussion forums, video courses, access to webinars or Google Hangouts, or just regular blog posts. As you can offer access for a one-off fee or on a recurring basis, there are plenty of options for monetizing your site by creating a membership area.
Pros: recurring income, easy to implement with WordPress, many options for content creation.
Cons: can require regular publishing of premium content, managing user expectations and retention.
Sell your Site
Just like a regular business, if you can build your site up to a respectable a level of success, or even if it can show early signs of potential, the opportunity to sell your site could arise. Many WordPress sites have been sold over the years for large sums. There are plenty of marketplaces for selling websites, so once your site is either already bringing some income, or can display positive traffic reports, you could be in a great position to sell. If you’ve already monetized your site, then knowing that sites can sell for 10-20 times their monthly income might tempt you to list your site for sale. This guide to selling sites on Flippa is a good place to start.
Pros: get a lump sum, reduce your workload by offloading a site, lots of places to market the site and handle the sale,
Cons: no more recurring income from the site, site might not be looked after once sold.
As you can see there are plenty of ways to monetize a WordPress blog or website. Whether you are yet to start your website or already have an established site that is getting regular visitors, there should be a way to start generating an income from that site that will appeal to you and your audience. Alternatively you could cash in on your site’s success and sell it for a one-off payment. Whether you leverage the popularity of your blog by creating a product or offering a service to your readers, or start displaying adverts and affiliate offers, there are many options to choose from and experiment with in order to start making money online. What is your preferred monetization method and would you ever sell your site?