By Neil on January 23, 2014
Advertising, affiliate marketing, Google Adsense, and more…
If you want to make money online there are many different routes you can take. Maybe the most obvious is selling something, and you can either set up your own website to accept orders and payments, or you can use 3rd party websites such as Ebay. This is actually a great way to get started, but I’ll tell you why it is not something I currently do.
Dealing with physical goods can be hard work, first you need to source the products for cheap or make the products yourself, then you have a promote the products or list them on other people’s websites, and when you make a sale you have to package everything up and organise delivery. There is also the chance of returns. For me this is too time consuming and ultimately harder to scale so that it becomes more and more profitable. This does not mean it cannot work of course, and there are many people/companies who do this successfully. I however prefer to look at more passive ways to make an income…
Promote other peoples products and earn commissions
Better know as affiliate marketing, a great way to earn money without selling your own products is to promote other peoples products. For example you can promote any product or range of products off Amazon, and if someone ends up buying off Amazon after linking through from your website you make a % commission. It really is as simple as that. Amazon is actually a good example for getting started in affiliate marketing because it is super easy to get going and they manage all the affiliate work themselves. It is actually called the Amazon Associates Program. Basically how it works is you get a special unique link for whatever product you want to promote, and if someone clicks on this link their actions will be tracked on Amazon, and therefore Amazon knows where this person came from if they end up purchasing something, and thus give you credit (money) for it. What makes it even better is that they can buy anything so it does not have to be the product they linked through with. Check out their affiliate program here!
A lot of other companies tend to use larger affiliate networks who take care of all the tracking and set up for them. For example, a lot of the products I promote on TurboBikeTrainer.com can be found at companies who use Affiliate Window. There are however lots of affiliate networks out there, with some of the largest being Commission Junction, Webgains, and ShareASale. For us, the process is just the same as it is with Amazon, we get a unique link that sends our site visitors to other companies websites and this link is tracked so if a sale is made we get a commission. Standard commissions on physical products are relatively low, around 5%, whereas commissions on software products are often much higher around 30%-50%. Although there is more to consider than just commission rates, because if you are promoting a physical product that has a RRP of £1000 then you will get £50 commission, whereas if you promote a software product that costs £50 you will get between £17.50 and £25 commission, based on average commission rates.
Advertising revenue – Google Adense
Simply, Google Adsense places adverts on your website for you and pays you a commission every time someone click on them. This click commission can vary from a few pennies to a few pounds (or cents and dollars or whatever currency you use), and this all depends on what the advert is for and how reliable Google thinks that click was. Google has a huge database of clients and it will match as best as it can its clients with your content. This means you need to do no more than place some code on your website and Google will do the rest. It will put ads on your website related to what your content is about, and if someone clicks on one of these ads you will earn a commission. To do well with Google Adsense you need two key components, lots of website visitors and well placed ads. This can be a very good earner with people making a very good living off it, plus is it extremely low maintenance and all you need to do is focus on creating great content to drive traffic to your website.
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Other ways to make money online
Sell advertising space
If you have a very popular website that is in a good niche then companies will want to advertise with you. Instead of using automatic adverts served up by Google and earning commission on visitor clicks, you can instead agree to place a permanent advertisement in a specific part of your website and charge a fixed fee for it. This requires a little more work than Google Adsense but it may be a good option and means you can get a reliable idea of exactly how much you will earn because you will have agreed a price in advance.
Selling digital products
Another option if you wanted to sell something through your website is to create a digital product, such as an ebook or course. You can use companies such as E-Junkie who handle all distribution of your digital product, so all you do is place a button on your website and E-Junkie will handle the rest for you (i.e. sending out the digital product, collecting the payment, and importantly paying you). This is much easier than selling physical goods and has the potential to earn a lot of money if the product is good and you get lots of website visitors.
If you have something great and you do not want to create and sell anything, then you could start a membership program. You could charge a monthly or annual fee with members getting access to a lot of fantastic content or products that non-members cannot access. Since this would be a recurring monthly or annual fee you would be able to approximate how much you are expected to earn for any given month, which helps you budget and even grow your business.
If you have a website and it gets a fair amount of visitors then you can make money off it, of this I am certain. Different websites are better suited to different monetisation methods, or maybe better suited to your particular preferences. If you are someone that wants predictable income you may be better off selling direct adversing space on your website or you should open up a paid membership program. If however you want low maintenance you might opt for Google Adsense or affiliate marketing. There are plenty of options out there and you can even mix and match, which is something I do with some of my sites using both Amazon affiliate links and Google Adsense. If one method seems more profitable that another you can always revisit it and tweak your site to get the most out of it later.