SETsquared Blog

How to Make Money From Websites

It is a question that I often get ask, indeed, one that I often pose to myself. “How can you make money from websites?” Or the rather more general “How do I make money on the internet?” In todays world there are literally billions of people on the internet, just waiting to spend their hard earned cash on everything from everyday items to luxury gifts there must be certain categories of business model that cater for these. There is a market for everything on the internet – so how can you capitalise on it?

Well broadly from all my experience in running an online business for the past five years there are basically 10 ways to make money from running websites on the internet (and to date I have only be successful in one method, in a small niche market). Here is the low down on how to make money from a website;

1. Advertising – literally the answer to every question I ever asked to a student with a business idea when I asked “how are you going to monetise it?”. The truth it unless you are Google or Facebook you are not going to be able to generate a primary income, comparable to your best friends that have just secured corporate jobs in London, from having pay-per-click adversing on your website. Even websites with thousands of hits per day will struggle to make more than a few pounds from their blog – think of similarities in Spotify for musicians. Pay-per-click is great but won’t cut it.

2. Sell Advertising – the second most common answer when people understand the financials behind pay-per-click adversing. This is a tough sell, you will need to approach a company and ask them to redirect X% of their adversing budget to your buy advertising space on your website. My question is to you – have you got the stats to back up your claim that adversing on your website will increase their businesses sales by X% or is X% more efficient than their current adversing? Without the stats why would any company risk the investment in advertising on your website? Still once you have built a brand it can be a great source of income providing that you keep adding value to the paying business.

3. Email Marketing – also known as list building. I have several books on this at home but am yet to read them – the old style internet entrepreneurs swear by them, but for me personally I have little knowledge in creating massive mailing lists & how to monetise them. Therefore I would give this as a neutral idea as I am not qualified to comment on it – read more by Googling “how to create a list building website”.

4. Create a paid board – job websites are a great example of this. Essentially people pay to be connected, whether it is employers paying to access employers (or visa-versa), plumbers and house owners or any other connecting of people. If you generate a good niche website that performs better than any other within that area of the market you can generate a great income – indeed, here at the Innovation Centre Environment Job is an example of this model.

5. Affiliate Marketing – the idea that if an individual goes onto a buy a product advertised on your website, having clicked on that link, then you receive a % of the sale price. Again a great source of passive income, but painfully low in terms of money coming in. Indeed, you are at the mercy of the product being so good people want to buy it. Possible but again a hard sell.

6. Sell Your Own Product – this tends to be the most profitable way of making money on the internet. Having a great product in the first place and using the internet as a marketplace for that product. The website therefore is only the shop, rather that purpose of the entire business. I have known students at the University of Exeter to make a decent secondary income – and at times primary income – from selling great products from their websites (Young Ones, Mammal Swag, Jollie’s Goods).

7. Sell a service – if you don’t have a product then selling a service, yours or someone else’s, will fulfil the same goal. In my instance I originally sold the service of “guitar lessons” before graduating to sell the service of “guitar students” to other teachers across the UK. Done correctly it can be a really lucrative form of income.

8. Paid Content – I have known of a few businesses at UOE that have created a website/app model around people paying for content. Indeed, there was a very interesting medical business that wished to gain students as subscribers for their exam-revision tools that looked promising. If you can explore a niche where (i) quality information is needed promptly and (ii) few other sources provide it for free it can work well. However, I would look at the examples of newspapers that have gone to a paid content model – The Sun for example – that must find it hard to compete against the many media outlets that can generate the same stories and place them online free.

9. Sell the website design – if you have designed the website yourself then sell the design to other people. This is great way of making money and you can continue to run your own website as it normally is, while advertising at the same time that people can buy the template you have designed should they like it!

10. Sell the website – literally the design, domain and content. I have heard of websites being sold for £100,000, if they boast great traffic in a field that a new company wants to get into – essentially they snap up the pre-existing website than take months to build up their own one. Having tried models 6, 7 and 9 I thought I would give model 10 a go this summer! Therefore I have created a website that goes after one thing…website traffic. I have no idea if anyone will ever want to buy it, but with over 44,000 searches per month in a low competition are of the market hopefully with a solid domain name I can get 20,000 hits per month on the website. Imagine being one of the definitive sources of information in this area of the market – I am sure that will be of interest to a company somewhere. However, trying to avoid the “if I build it, they will come” attitude I will try and monetise it in secondary ways with a collection of all the above methods. From this I will be able to feedback over the next three, six and twelve months – what really is the best way to make money from a website.