The world of WordPress blogging is quite big. Actually, these days it’s no longer only about blogging. WordPress is used to run a variety of sites, for many different purposes, and blogs are just one of those purposes.
As a matter of fact, WordPress becomes the go-to solution when it comes to website management platforms in general. And this is nothing strange because, let’s face it, WordPress is great.
Of course, you could probably imagine some scenarios where WordPress is of no use, but they will be ultra specific. If it’s just a “website” you want to launch then WordPress will surely do a great job at it.
Now, when you’re building a WordPress site there are two possible paths you might want to take. You can either launch the site as a personal project and not care about anything related to money, or you can launch the site to earn you some dollars (or your clients).
When it comes to clients, they usually (not always, though) have an idea regarding how they want to make money with their new site, usually by offering a product, but when you’re building a site for yourself then you have literally hundreds of possibilities.
Of course, in this post I’m not going to list hundreds of possibilities … instead, I’m just going to focus on a handful of methods that seem to be the most sensible for WordPress sites.
This is the most common way of monetizing any site. If you’re a product owner, or you’re having one created right now, then it will probably become the central element of your site.
(As you’ve surely noticed, products is how we make our money – through our premium themes.)
Creating a product is only the first part of the process, though. You also have to set a way of delivering it to the customers and, most importantly, of billing them for it.
Thankfully, there are some shopping cart solutions available. You can sign up to PayPal or Google Checkout. And when it comes to the actual delivery you can go with one of the downloadable-media plugins (read about them in one of my previous posts: How to Make Your WordPress Downloadable-Media Friendly.)
Of course, there’s always one more issue to take care of when building your monetization structure – the issue of marketing and driving traffic. But this isn’t the topic here, so let’s just stick to the raw methods.
Now, here’s a set of the most popular types of products sold through a WordPress site:
- graphics (icons, photos, etc.),
- WordPress resources (themes, plugins, etc.),
- apps (iOS, Android, etc.),
- other digital products,
- access to web apps or web services,
- all kinds of physical products.
The only difficult part about physical products is that they need to be delivered via the traditional way, so what you’re doing is essentially running a traditional business, with a WordPress site being only one of the sales methods.
2. Subscriptions and memberships
We’ve talked about membership sites just a while ago so I’m not going to go into that detail here (feel free to read my previous post to get more info: How to Create a Membership Site on WordPress).
However, let me just say that memberships are getting more and more popular these days. One reason for this is that, in some cases, memberships are more profitable than products.
Membership is essentially a product, but it’s not delivered via one-time download. Instead, the content is divided into smaller parts and delivered gradually over time.
For example, when you have a package of tutorials on a given topic you can deliver it as an e-book. But if you divide the content into smaller parts and deliver it over time, you will make it more digestible (if you follow a specific delivery schedule), and you can also ask for more money (an e-book might be $47 one-time payment, while the membership might be $19 a month, where it takes three months to deliver the whole content).
Of course, this isn’t any clever way of tricking people into paying more. This is just a marketing method, and you never know if someone is going to stick for long enough to pay you the whole amount.
In the end, WordPress makes launching a membership site very easy as there are three great plugins that will help you with that. (All three described in my previous post.)
You’re probably surprised to see advertising this late.
Advertising often seems like the holy grail of making money online for many people, where in reality it’s not the best approach for all sites.
Don’t get me wrong, advertising works. It works brilliantly … given that you have a popular site with a fair amount of traffic. For most new blogs, however, seeing any significant advertising income will take a long time.
But let’s not be all that pessimistic.
If you still want to monetize your WordPress site with some ads you can do it in a number of different ways:
- Sell ad space directly. This is where you create a page and list all available ad spots on your site, your prices, and the number of estimated visitors who will see the ads. For most new sites, this isn’t a good solution.
- Sell ad space semi-directly. You can use a service like BuySellAds for this. BuySellAds lets you list your site and your ad inventory in an accessible directory at BuySellAds.com. Whenever someone is interested in advertising on your site they can do business with you through BuySellAds.
- Contextual advertising. The most popular way of doing this is to sign up to Google AdSense. I’m sure you know how this works. You get a piece of code, place it on your site, and almost immediately ads start displaying inside the areas you’ve selected.
No one said that you can only monetize a blog directly … there’s also the other way.
In this approach you simply use a WordPress site as a way of notifying people about the services you have to offer. This works great for designers, consultants, writers, and other freelancers.
You don’t even need any additional plugins to make this work. You just create a basic WordPress page and place some information about your services there (not forgetting about the info on how to get hold of you).
5. Affiliate marketing
Just to define affiliate marketing a bit: it’s a way of making money in which you promote a given product and then get commissions for referred sales.
In some aspects, affiliate marketing is quite similar to advertising. The simplest form of it is to display some banners or text ads on your site. Then if someone clicks such ad and makes a purchase, you get a commission.
In a more developed form of affiliate marketing you can start publishing product reviews or run additional promotions focusing on the affiliate products you promote. This should give you an additional increase in sales.
Affiliate marketing is often a better solution than advertising for some less popular, new, or niche websites as you don’t need that much traffic to make a healthy income.
6. Sponsored posts/articles
This method of monetization works best for established sites. But it doesn’t mean you have to own a relatively big site. It only has to be established within a given niche.
Niche audiences are usually valuable to content publishers because they are highly targeted. That’s why various companies like to pay for the possibility of either publishing a guest post on such a site, or paying the site owner for writing a sponsored post themselves.
The best way of letting people know that there’s a possibility to sponsor an article on your site is very similar to offering services – you just need a standard WordPress page and some information about the rules and your price. You can also place additional info in the sidebar (just one sentence or two, something like “Click here to sponsor a post”).
This sums up my 6 main methods of monetization for a WordPress blog. Do you know of any other that would look good on this list?