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Five Ways to Monetize Your Content

Content Monetization

Content based sites often struggle with finding a way to introduce monetization. There are plenty of methods out there being deployed by the many sites that depend on income to stay in business, and we list five of them in this article.

Monetization is the 800 lb. gorilla in the room for any small business or individual that produces content for people to view on their website. This isn't just an issue for bloggers, but news and information sites as well. Bandwidth costs money, and every visitor you have is another drop in the bucket to mounting costs of doing business.

Thankfully, there are several methods you can use to earn some extra money for your content. In this article, we will take a look at five of them. Each option has a list of pros and cons, and there is no one perfect solution for everyone.

Advertising Networks

Advertising is the most common form of monetization for content-based sites. If you do not have a product to sell or some other business model already in place, advertising can be an excellent way to offset the costs of keeping the site going.

Advertising platforms like Google AdSense and Yahoo! Bing Network make adding ads to your existing site very easy. You just sign up for an account, give them some information about your primary site and preferred method of payment, and add some code to your pages.

Before you know it, you're ready to start earning money with your content.


  • Free to Sign Up
  • Easy to Implement
  • Most Networks are Good at Targeted Advertising
  • Ads Can Be Non-Intrusive
  • No Cost to the Visitor
  • No Direct Sales
  • Can be Combined with Additional Monetization Models


  • Many Web Users Have Ad Blindness
  • Ads Are Easily Blocked with Browser Extensions
  • Click-Through Rates are in Constant Decline
  • Low Payout Per Click
  • Only the Busiest Sites Make Enough to Support a Business
  • Unreliable / Unpredictable Income
  • Slow Payout Turnaround (30+ Days)


Sponsors, unlike advertisers that work through ad networks, are your direct customers. They are willing to pay you to help spread the word about their product, brand, and/or service. You also have the flexibility of being able to arrange a more targeted approach to introducing them to your customers.

If you can find a good sponsor, you can charge a reasonable amount to make them an important part of your site experience. Maybe this is through sponsored posts in your blog, dedicated ad space on the site, or through mention scattered throughout your content.

Whatever your arrangement is with them, it is a much more personal and flexible relationship than you might find with your average ad network.

It's important not to confuse a sponsor with an affiliate seller. Affiliates only owe you money if you generate proven sales. Sponsors are typically in it for brand and product recognition, and pay a set rate for exposure.

Unfortunately, this isn't a method that offers you a lot of freedom in terms of your content. If you want to make a change to the type or theme of the content you produce, you can lose a sponsor very quickly. Consistency is a must when a sponsor is connecting their reputation with your content.


  • Set Your Own Prices
  • No Cost to Visitor
  • Flexible Integration with Content
  • Personal Relationship with Direct Communication
  • Adds Credibility to Your Content
  • Sponsors Benefit from Targeted Audience Exposure


  • High Demand on Time
  • One Sponsor has a Significant Impact on Income
  • Exclusive Contracts are Commonplace (No Competing Sponsors)
  • Requires Sales Interaction
  • Restricted Content Flexibility

Affiliate Sales

A lot of content-driven sites do product reviews and share news that relate to something people may want to buy. If you can work an affiliate link or two into your content, you might be able to make some money off of any sales you help generate for the company.

Amazon has arguably the larges and most dominating affiliate program on the Web. If you link to a product on Amazon using your assigned affiliate link, you will receive a portion of any sales that result from anyone clicking that link. You can earn up to 10% of the total sale price for not only one item, but any item that person purchases while they're on Amazon during that session.

Other brands have affiliate programs of their own, including RocketTheme. If you have a site that features content that fits well with a business that offers an affiliate program, it can be a very simple and quick way to introduce monetization to your site.


  • Virtually Unlimited Earnings Potential
  • Often Non-Exclusive
  • Targeted Audience Exposure
  • Most Affiliate Programs Offer Detailed Sales Tracking
  • Good Per-Sale Return


  • Results Dependant Income (No Sales = No Money)
  • Slow Payment Turnaround (30+ Days)
  • Income Doesn't Account for Indirect Sales and General Exposure
  • Browser Cookies and Click Tracking Often Required

Turn Your Content into a Product

Plenty of content-driven sites make additional revenue by turning their content into ebooks or by publishing physical copies. This method requires some extra work on the part of the content creator to not only compile this information, but to market the product to readers in a way that encourages them to pay for something that your site generally gives away for free.

Copyblogger, an Online resource for bloggers and content creators, posted an incredible article detailing how a site can turn its free content into a profitable publication. This method has been used not only by Copyblogger, but by many popular content creators to varying success.

Publishing your own book is easier today than it ever was before, but you are also going to be responsible for marketing your own book to your audience. If your existing audience is not large enough, your chances of turning a profit on the effort is dramatically reduced.


  • Most of the Work Writing the Material is Already Done
  • 100% Profit Goes to You
  • Self-Publishing is a Viable Solution
  • Adds Credibility to Your Content
  • Content Quickly Becomes Outdated


  • Success Depends on the Site's Popularity and Reputation
  • Publishing Can be Expensive
  • Marketing Responsibilities Fall on You
  • Small Percentage of Any Audience is Willing to Pay for Otherwise Free Content

Sell Sponsored Posts

Sponsored posts are one of the fastest growing methods of content monetization out there. It's a form of advertising in which the content creator writes or publishes a post that promotes a product or brand and places it within their normal content streams.

This defeats blindness to banner ads and gives the advertiser a more significant ad for the site's audience. They can also go into a lot more detail about a product and/or service than they otherwise could.

Unfortunately, Google has cracked down on sponsored posts and guest bloggers that would use this as a way to gain search ranking through links. In fact, a site that publishes sponsored posts without placing nofollow tags around the sponsored links runs the risk of being downranked and/or delisted from search engines like Google. The same policies are in place for standards ads and other sponsored content.

Unlike a full-fledged sponsor, these arrangements are typically limited to a single post or series of posts and rarely require exclusivity or non-compete clauses.


  • Good Income for a Single Event
  • Can Provide Useful Information for Visitors
  • Defeats Ad Blindness
  • Adds Credibility to the Sponsor


  • Can Appear as a Greedy or Pushy Advertisement Tactic
  • Can Disrupt the Typical Flow of Content
  • Strict Guidelines from FTC and Search Engines
  • Typically a One-Time Deal

Bonus Tip: Forget Monetization

This suggestion applies to the single-person sites out there. Individual bloggers, writers, and journalists that have created their own content-driven site, but haven't quite found the best way to monetize their efforts.

One increasingly popular method for doing this is through indirect monetization. Instead of selling ad space or finding sponsors for your content, think about your content as an open source project that is made freely to everyone. Your visitors will appreciate the lack of advertising, sponsor mentions, and pushy sales tactics.

Meanwhile, you can leverage the reputation and body of work you have created to build your personal brand. That way, when you do come across a project or job that would be a perfect fit for you, you already have a portfolio of work to show for it.

Your site may not make you the fortune you need to travel the world, sipping champagne aboard your luxury yacht. Instead, it could be the stepping stone that gets you there.

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