Intelligently Monetize Your Website (Step 8)
The eighth of the 10 Steps to Freedom will start you on your journey towards financial freedom by showing you how to monetize your website so you earn as much as possible from it and, at the same time, provide valuable content for visitors.
In case you want to start at the beginning, here are the steps covered so far:
1. Freedom Starts in the Mind
2. 5 Reasons to Follow Your Passion Instead of Money
3. How to Make Money Online and Enjoy Freedom
4. Ken Evoy and Site Build It
5. How to Write Content That Attracts Visitors And Natural Links
6. On-page Search Engine Optimization
7. Make Your Site Known – Link-Building Strategies
When to Monetize
You need to consider two factors when thinking about monetizing your website:
1. What is your link popularity?
When your website is young and you want to add links to it, you’ll have a much better chance of getting a good quality link if there are no ads or affiliate links on your site.
Even better, if your website shows some pagerank and has no or very few ads, you’ll be able to get more links than you would if your website was full of ads.
Why this is so may be the subject of another article, but for now just trust me — this is the way the Internet and link-building work.
So as long as you don’t have many good-quality incoming links, refrain from monetizing. This strategy will be well worth the wait.
2. How many daily visitors do you have?
For some people, earning the first dollar online is a big thing. At least it was for me.
So I understand the difficulty of restraining yourself from putting AdSense or other types of ads on your website when you see your first few visitors.
Even if you get 100 visitors per day, you’ll typically get around 10 clicks per day on your ads and, in an average niche, the payout will be around $1.
So earning $1 per day is a practically neglible amount compared to your normal daily expenditure, but it can be quite difficult to get good links that could significantly improve your rankings.
How to Monetize
Remember that your strategy of becoming financially independent and finding time to work on your website would mean creating one with a large enough content that makes money almost on autopilot.
The best way to achieve such freedom would be to monetize the website with either contextual ads, affiliate links, or possibly by selling your own digital products.
Let’s see the most effective strategies for each method.
1. How to Make The Most Of Contextual Advertising
Contextual advertising works by automatically identifying your content and serving matching ads to it.
a) Google AdSense
The most popular contextual advertising network is Google AdSense.
Here are five tips for maximizing your AdSense revenue:
1. Blend the colors of the ads and match them with the colors of your links and titles.
2. Place the ads above the fold. The most effective position is the top left block in your content, typically under the title. 300×250 and 336×228 are the most effective ad sizes.
3. Place no more than two ads per page with possibly one link unit and one search field. The more ads you have, the less you will get per click from the ads that are positioned lower on your page.
Don’t lose visitors for those low-paying ads, but instead redirect them with a link to a new article on a new page where they will start reading again from the top and possibly click on a higher paying ad.
4. Improve AdSense targeting with section targeting.
5. Use channels to track and test, test, test.
Chitika is best used on product-oriented websites and blogs.
What’s really cool about Chitika is that they allow contextual and keyword-targeted ads (which means you can select products or a range of products based on a keyword).
Here are five tips on making the best of Chitika:
1. Place one unit (typically 468 x 60 banner) above the fold based on keyword targeting.
2. Use Chitika eMiniMalls throughout your article everytime you mention or review a certain product. 300 x 250 and 250 x 250 single-product units work well.
3. Use Chitika Multi Product Units (MPU) at the end of the article to give your visitors more choices after reading your review.
4. Include Chitika Linx (which underlines keywords) with up to three links per page. I get around 4% CTR, which is excellent.
5. Use Chitika Related Products links at the bottom or at the side of the article. They can blend really well with the related articles section.
Chitika ads can also be used in conjuction with Google AdSense. You can download a free ebook from Chitika which includes five tips from expert publishers (one of them is me) and check my article about AdSense and Chitika combos that will skyrocket your CTR.
There are more contextual advertising networks like Yahoo Publisher, Adbrite and others, but I haven’t used them so far.
Masternewmedia has published a great list of AdSense alternatives which can give you many more options on how to best monetize your website with contextual ads.
2. How to maximize your affiliate links revenue
Earning money through affiliate marketing gives you freedom and the luxury of not having to deal with customer support and everything else which comes with selling a product.
You can find products and services that you want to promote on your website through:
Among many others…
Here are five tips on how to make the best of your affiliate commissions:
a) Blend your affiliate links into the content. Banners are typically not effective since visitors have seen so many during their Internet surfing that they have become blind to them.
Your affiliate links need to look the same as your other links in your content.
b) Hide the affiliate links code. There is this human emotion called envy — it’s very strong and causes a lot of misery in our world.
Internet-savvy users know exactly what an affiliate link looks like and they may just copy the code to the product you are promoting without your affiliate code at the end, which gives you commission from the sale.
If you suspect such activity, you can hide the affiliate link so the visitor cannot see the code of the link in the bottom left-hand corner of their browser.
The simplest option is to use the following code:
<A href=”http://www.myaffiliateprogram.com?xxxx” onMouseOver= “window.status=’Your message’; return true” onMouseOut= “window.status=”; return true”>Click here</a>
This will hide your affiliate code and display »Your message« that you used in the above code.
You can find other ways of hiding your affiliate links by simply searching for »hide affiliate links« in Google.
c) Use »nofollow« on your affiliate links. Nofollow will prevent any loss of pagerank from your page. The purpose of your link is to make money and not to count as a vote of confidence to the other websites you are linked to.
3. Creating your own digital products
If you create (or buy and resell) digital products, you’ll get the full revenue of the product instead of just a few percent from the sale.
The critical process in selling your own digital products are sales letters. Writing an effective sales letter is an art and takes a lot of time to master.
There are of course some guidelines on how to write a perfect sales letter which can help you get started.
Another key selling factor for digital products are cover graphics. They will entice the visitor to click on the sales letter and make them believe how good the product is once they have read it.
My tennis products graphics and headers were designed by Thomas Breher from Ecoverdesign.com and I am very pleased with them.
Another great resource for ebook covers and headers is Killercovers.com. You won’t be dissapointed with any of those experts on ebooks and graphics design.
Selling your own digital products is the most profitable way to earn money online, especially if you have other affiliates promoting your product.
There are, for example, 351 affiliates promoting my How to Play Tennis videos, and according to Clickbank stats, affiliate sales account for 43% of my income from it.
Creating your own digital product takes the most effort and time, but it’s also very rewarding. I am getting sales almost every day from the ebooks I wrote in 2005 and videos I created earlier this year.
How I did it
I’ve already given you many examples of what I did to jumpstart my journey towards financial freedom and here’s one more:
I have a pagerank 4 website (a year old) which I intent to monetize with AdSense, but I still haven’t put any ads on it. It’s in a very competitive conferencing field and I am still working on getting quality link partners for it.
It doesn’t receive much traffic (around 100 visitors per day) though it has many pages of good quality content. The reason is, of course, the competition in this field.
So, I have been building content and links to this site and I can include AdSense with only one upload of AdSense code to the Includes file, which I used in the HTML code.
Eventually, the age of the domain and slow but steady link-building will bring higher search-engine rankings and more traffic. I can wait. 😉