You may have noticed, but there is quite a lot of stuff on the internet. Maybe you’re thinking of adding some more to it. If you have a great idea, it’s not hard to get it out there. But it can be hard to get it seen, and even harder to turn that traffic into cold, hard cash.
The type of content you create will greatly determine how you go about making money from it. Whatever you do, you’ll have to keep an eye on the return on investment (ROI). Basically, if something costs more than it earns, it’s not worth it—unless it does great things for your brand.
Some methods can be a hindrance depending on what you have to offer. One thing to bear in mind is this: people are savvy, and there’s probably someone else out there offering the same things as you. So treat your audience well!
Without any further ado, here are our 8 top tips to help monetize your content.
1. CREATE INCREDIBLE CONTENT
This may seem redundant outright, but it’s the most essential piece of the puzzle when it comes to monetizing content online. It’s no good throwing loads of money at something and getting tens of thousands of visitors, only for them to disappear, never to return.
That’s why your primary concern needs to be about creating engaging, useful, and enjoyable content. You’ll want to create both evergreen and non-evergreen content. The benefit of evergreen content is that it will continue to bring people back to you, and you can continually promote it well into the future. Old content is not dead content!
Non-evergreen content is great because you can churn it out, and it’s simple to make engaging, topical content to keep people involved. However, its value may be very transient, and you may soon find it receiving zero attention. But that’s the nature of the game.
OPTIMISE FOR DESKTOP AND MOBILE
You’ve also got to make sure that your content is optimised for consumption. It may look amazing when you create it on your laptop, but does it still look that good on mobile? Many people, if not most, will be viewing your content on a mobile device, so it must be mobile-friendly, or they will quickly give up. Not only that, but Google takes mobile optimisation very seriously when ranking for SEO, so get it right!
And it gets tough because you’ll need to create this optimised content very regularly. However, visitors aren’t going to stick around if they find themselves sifting through 90% nonsense in an attempt to find the good stuff. So you’ll need to be creating good stuff, at a good pace. No easy task.
That being said, not everything you create needs to be the best post ever, but it does need substance to it. To monetize your content, you’re going to have to think in terms of ROI too. How much are you spending creating your incredible content versus the profit it’s making in return? Ultimately, if your content isn’t generating profit, something needs to change.
Nevertheless, great content is the cornerstone of any content monetization strategy.
2. CHOOSE YOUR CHANNELS
Time and money are limited, and neither is worth wasting. As most of us were taught in school: quality over quantity. The same can be applied to deciding which channels you choose to push your content on. One or two channels that consistently churn out top-quality content to a loyal and engaged audience are going to generate much more profit than eight channels that stutter and have little following.
So, if you’ve already got lots of channels, reckon with yourself. Identify which get you the most money/engagement, and hone in on them. Be brave and scrap the rest. By narrowing down the channels you use, you’ll find you have far more time to create decent content for them, and promote this content in turn. Don’t spread yourself too thin!
In general, around 1–3 channels is probably optimal, unless you have a whole team at your disposal. But we’re assuming it’s just you, a laptop, and a tight budget. If that’s the case, you can’t afford to waste a penny—or a minute!
Another obvious one, but so essential that it has to be mentioned. Short of creating content that is so incredible, so utterly groundbreaking that others will discover it and share it on your behalf, sadly you’re going to have to grind at promotion. This can be tedious at times, but if done well, it will pay off.
There are many ways to do this, and we’ll cover a few of the simplest, most effective ones here.
Again, assuming you’re fairly small-scale and on a budget, social media is your friend when it comes to promotion. After all, it is free. Not only is it free, but almost everyone uses it. That means you have free access to your entire market, right there. Use it! Social media promotion is about engagement and reward. This is where the first point comes in; you need incredible content to promote!
Use competitions, get involved in discussions and share other people’s great content. Get yourself out there and engage your audience. And there’s no reason you can’t cycle your old evergreen content continuously. Keep posting it, as you’ll (hopefully) always get new followers who haven’t seen it yet.
Another great way to promote is to guest post or host a guest post. Find someone else with a following in the same niche as you, and ask if you can post some content on their channels. Likewise, offer to host some on yours. Affiliating yourself with another popular content producer is a great way to gain a larger following and earn respect.
This generates organic growth, and it gets you backlinks too! Not only does this drive up traffic, but the more of them you have, the higher Google will rank you, as it will assume you’re reputable. So get yourself out there.
You can also pay for advertising space. This is not essential, and if you’re on a budget, focus your efforts on the free options available to you. However, if you’ve got some cash to splash and you want to up your clicks, consider paying for some ad space somewhere. Be careful about how you do this, though, as you don’t want to waste money. Consider advertising on the channels you already post on. Also, start small and see what traffic it draws in—and whether that traffic actually engages.
4. DEVISE A WAY TO GENERATE SALES
When people are setting out, this is often overlooked. It can sometimes appear as though just getting traffic and engaging with an audience can generate huge amounts of money. Usually, this is far from the truth.
The exception is with influencers or those who are hunting for sponsorship. In this case, your primary concern should be building and maintaining your audience. Then people will come to you.
Assuming that’s not your goal, though, you’ll need some other way(s) to monetize your traffic.
Also, a twofold tip: People love the environment, and the environment is worth saving. So, if you can sustainably generate money, you can, one, shout about it and make more money, and, two, save the world.
So, you need a way to turn your content into profit. What you choose will depend on the kind of content you are creating, and how you want to engage with your audience. Here are a few options.
SELL A PRODUCT
This is simple and effective. Use your content to draw people toward a product, be it branded merchandise, a book, or something else.
If you’re producing niche content of which people are clearly in need, consider creating a monthly (or maybe one-off) subscription fee to give people access. This could be for all of your content, or you could offer premium content for paying members, for example.
RUN AN ONLINE COURSE
If you’re an expert in a field and have something to offer people, why not design a structured course (perhaps video tutorials) that customers can access for a fee.
Some people give affiliate marketing a bad name, and sometimes with good reason. Before you consider putting ad space on your site, think to yourself, is it going to annoy my audience? If you’re publishing carefully thought-out, meaningful content, then perhaps ads don’t have a place with you. If, however, you’re publishing reviews, then go ahead!
Of course, affiliate marketing can be much more subtle than an obvious advert, but ultimately people are likely to pick up on it nonetheless. Just make sure not to be too aggressive with advertising, as it’s likely to turn people off.
This is just another avenue to sell products or links. And you need to be careful with it. Mailing lists are a highly effective way to turn followers into customers, but you need to treat them well.
Build relationships, share content with them for free, and when you ask them to buy something, do it in a friendly manner. It’s better to get a higher turnover from a few sales emails compared to almost none from constant ones. Be restrained, and build trust.
The type of content you create will greatly determine how you go about making money from it.
For some creators, this may be the most viable option for generating income. If you’re a creative writer, artist, or musician, maybe you don’t want to set up a paywall; maybe you don’t want adverts on your site. People trying to read stories or engage with art are almost definitely going to leave immediately if they find that experience interrupted or disrupted—or if they feel somehow tricked.
So, donations, via the likes of Patreon, are a great option for many. With most models, it is usual to offer something extra in return for a donation—people like to feel rewarded. But there is no need to go down this route. It is very possible to set up your own donation payment system on your website or social media channel, skip a third party, and not give anything extra in return. If your content is good enough, people will donate just to keep it coming, and won’t necessarily need anything extra.
6. SELL YOUR SITE
This one is for down the line. If your site generates a lot of traffic or is deemed profitable in some other way, you may be able to sell it for a lot of cash. This is also known as “flipping”.
This won’t happen overnight, and most of these other strategies need to be employed beforehand to get to this stage. Only well-looked-after websites with an engaged fanbase and a good email list will sell for a lot. However, if they do, they can go for 20–50 times their monthly revenue.
7. PUT YOUR ACCOUNTANT’S HAT ON
It’s very important to keep an eye on the numbers to ensure that the profit you’re making is, first off, actually profit, and second, high enough to be worth it.
Maybe you find you’re generating $2,000 a month, and this seems great. But then, on closer inspection, you find you’re spending 60 hours and $300 a week making this happen. Suddenly, your profit of $800 might not seem like enough.
Of course, things take time to build, and all businesses have to suck it up at the beginning. So don’t expect to get rich overnight. But it is worth keeping an eye on growth, expenditure, and profit to make sure it’s all adding up and growing in the way you want it to.
If your engagement is growing exponentially but your profit is staying stubbornly fixed, what’s going wrong? Why aren’t those readers turning into customers? Employing some simple analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, is a good way to see where traffic is coming from, and what it’s doing when it arrives.
It’s a fine balance between giving people enough that they’ll come to you and engage, but withholding enough that they’ll pay. Ultimately, what you have to offer will dictate the exact balance that this will take.
8. BE ORIGINAL
This one’s a bit of a bonus point, as not everyone can do this. If you can create something truly original, though, be it a product, an idea, or a brand, you’ll find it much easier to generate a good income from your content. You’ll also take yourself out of the SEO rat race.
If you can create things that nobody else is doing, you’ll find it much easier to keep your head above the ever-rising tide of online content. It pays to be original.
MONETIZE YOUR CONTENT: WHERE TO GO FROM HERE?
Regardless of what some articles will tell you, monetizing content isn’t as easy as just following 8 simple steps. You have to consider all of the above, and then some!
Making money online requires the same input as anything else worthwhile in life, be it excelling at a sport or the pursuit of happiness: effort and care. If you’re hoping that a few half-thought-out blog posts and some ad links are going to get you rich, you may be in for some disappointment. But if you grind, and ensure that you’re actually doing what you’re doing well, then there’s money to be made—and plenty of it.