Is it really possible to make money off a website without actually selling anything? The short answer is YES, you don’t need to sell a product or service in order to make money from your website.
How is this possible? By utilizing your expertise and experience about a topic. Continue reading and you will understand how….
What you will read below is ‘common sense’ for experienced digital marketers but for beginners, making money online is a topic that generates a lot of questions.
How can you make money off a website without selling anything, how is this possible?
Take a moment and think about what the Internet actually is.
Besides being the largest market in the World and the biggest community of connected people, it is also a huge library of information serving users through search engines, websites, blogs, social media networks, email lists, and various other digital mediums.
People around the world use the Internet to learn something, find an answer to their question, interact with other people, and of course, buy products or services either online or find information about local stores.
If you take out the ‘selling part’, you are left with the huge amount of people that use Google and other search engines on a daily basis to find out information.
How can you utilize this behavior and make money from a website? By providing users with high-quality information and making money through advertising.
When talking about this model of making money online, 2 things come immediately to mind: the first is Google Adsense and the second one is affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing is a technique where you don’t actually sell something on your website but you refer people to other websites and when they buy something, you get a commission.
Regardless of which method you choose to monetize your content, the recipe for making a website that will actually make you profit is the same.
How do you build a profitable website?
To get started let me throw a few words for further discussion: website, content, traffic, monetization options, and profit.
Let’s see in more detail how these can work together and give you a profitable result.
You cannot expect to make any serious money online without having your own website. By website, I mean to have your own hosted domain and a modern website design, like the one you are reading now 🙂
A great website these days needs to have a number of characteristics:
Clean and fresh design – Things have changed since the ’90s. Websites are no longer based on pure HTML code but there are modern CMS (content management systems) like WordPress that enable you to create good-looking websites with added functionality for both the administrators and end-users.
Mobile-Friendly – Everyone that is into Digital Marketing can understand the importance of having a mobile-friendly website.
It’s a fact that today more people are searching the Internet through their mobiles than desktop which means that if your website is not optimized for mobile, you already lost half your potential traffic.
Fast – Faster websites generate more profit. If you are website is slow, you are losing traffic and potential customers.
Clear navigational structure – Site structure is important. Users should be able to find what they want fast and in less than 3 clicks.
User friendly – A good SEO friendly website, it is also user-friendly.
Resources to Learn More
So, you have a nice website hosted on your own domain, what’s next?
Perhaps the most difficult part of the whole process in making a profitable website is to have the right type of content.
What do I mean by the right type of content?
You need to have content that:
- Search engines will love (not like but love – you will read below why).
- Users will trust – gaining user trust will make you more money in different ways. Even if you are not actually selling anything on your website, the core inbound marketing techniques still apply.
- It can potentially attract advertisers (very important, keep reading for the details).
Let’s take the first part, how do you create content that search engines will love and why this is of great importance?
While there are various sources of traffic, the one that performs better when it comes to affiliate marketing, Adsense (or other alternatives), is organic traffic i.e. traffic coming from search engines.
So, if you want to create a profitable website you need to have a constant (and large) flow of search traffic coming to your website every day.
What is high-quality content?
- It’s relevant regardless of when someone reads it (this is called evergreen content)
- It’s long enough to get the attention of search engines and readers
- It’s fresh with up-to-date information
- And of course, is useful for the user.
How can content establish user trust and why does it matter?
Besides the above characteristics, your content needs to be useful and interesting for the user.
This will not only help your SEO and social media efforts but will also keep users longer on your website (reducing the bounce rate), which increases the likelihood of clicking your ads.
You need to understand that regardless of the method you choose to monetize your content, one of your objectives is to create a loyal audience that will regularly visit your website to get your content.
This means more views, more ad clicks, more email subscribers, and more conversions (whatever conversion is for you).
What type of content attracts more advertisers?
When it comes to content monetization, not all content is the same. Different types of content will generate different earnings.
Let’s take for example the case where you use AdSense to make money from your content.
Adsense works by crawling your website’s content, understanding what the content is about, and then finding Adwords advertisers that have selected to place their ads on websites that have that particular type of content.
This is a very simplified version of how Adsense works but the general idea is that your content is analyzed and is ‘grouped’ according to the keywords that make up your content.
If you are familiar with the Google keywords tool (a tool that is also used by Adwords advertisers), you know that each keyword has a different CPC (cost per click).
In other words, advertisers will pay a different amount for each click on their ads and this also depends on the keyword cost (there are many other factors that play a role in calculating the cost per click).
Since advertisers pay a different amount for each click, this means that you as a publisher will get paid differently for ad clicks, depending on the content of the page the ad is running.
In case this gets confusing, let’s demonstrate this with a real example:
If you are an advertiser and want to show your ads when people search for weight loss related topics you can expect to pay Google from $0.20 – $1.00 every time someone clicks on your ads.
If you are an advertiser that sells products related to ‘making money‘, you will pay from $2 to $14 per click (depending on the actual terms).
Although the above statistics are for setting up Adwords campaigns on the Google Search Network (and not the display network that includes Adsense), it still shows that the keyword cost is not the same for all topics.
A website that has content with a high cost per click will make more money than websites that have content with a low cost per click.
To avoid any criticism from experienced publishers, I am oversimplifying things to make it easier for beginners to understand the basic concepts.
In general, keywords that have clear intent i..e ‘I need to make money now’ generate more earnings per click than general type keywords.
To sum up this section, you don’t only need good content on your website that will gain the respect of users and search engines, but you also need content that can make you money.
Traffic and Monetization
For any monetization method to work (including selling goods or services from your website), you need to have traffic and in the case of Adsense or affiliate marketing, you need to have a lot of traffic.
The best way to increase your traffic is through SEO and our SEO Course will show you step-by-step how to increase your traffic in 60 days or less!
How much traffic do you need to make money from a website?
It depends on how much money you want to make from your website or to say it otherwise, your traffic levels will determine the amount of money you can make.
Let me demonstrate this with an example for a website using Adsense.
Assume that you have an informational website that is running Adsense and that you have followed all guidelines required by Adsense and especially the part that talks about the number, type, and position of your ads.
In a best-case scenario, you can expect to have a 2% CTR (click-through rate), this means that 2% of the people that will view your ads, they will click on one of them.
Let’s also assume that you get paid on average $0.40 per click. This means that if your ads are shown 1000 times (views per day), you will earn approximately – 1000 x 2% x $0.40 = $8 per day.
Now, if you want to make $100 from your website per day and according to the simplified example above, you need to have at least 13,000 views (instead of 1000).
Making a Profit
Profit is, of course, different from earnings. What I just described above is the potential earnings you can get from your website if you have 13,000 visits per day in a niche that pays approximately $0.40 per click.
Your actual profit per day is different simply because you have to account for the expenses into the equation (profit = earnings – expenses).
What are the expenses of running a website?
They are some obvious running expenses like hosting, ongoing SEO, social media advertising, and promotion but the real cost comes down to the content.
Good content that can give you good organic rankings and traffic from search engines and at the same time is likable from users (or the other way around) costs either money (if you outsource the content) or time (if you produce the content yourself).
For the sake of continuing the example above, and to demonstrate how you can make a profitable website, let’s say that you outsource the content to professional writers who are experts about the topics you are publishing.
The least you can expect to pay for a 1500 word article is $200 (I know that this may sound a lot but we are talking about really good content which depending on the niche may cost much more).
So, let’s do some calculations:
In a month you will publish 12 posts i.e. $2400 and earn $3000 ($100 x 30)from advertising so you have a profit of $600 (without accounting for the running expenses and the time that you have to spend doing various tasks to keep the website running).
So it’s possible to make a profile without selling anything right?
The reason I have used the above example is to raise 2 important points:
1st – Making a profitable website is hard work, whatever you may read about ‘easy ways to make money’ or other ‘too good to be true’ promises is simply a way for them to make money by selling you a product and not the way for you to use the Internet to make money.
2nd – You really need a lot of traffic to make a profit from your content even in the cases that you produce the content.
In order to write a good article or create a nice infographic, you may have to spend a number of hours that are taken away from your overall productive time.
From the example above I deliberately left out one important calculation.
How long and how many articles do you have to publish in order to get to 13,000 visits per day?
I left it out because if you do the calculations correctly, many beginners will get disappointed.
Try to figure out how much it will cost you to publish 150 articles and how long you will have to wait to get to those levels of traffic.
Also, don’t forget that rankings and traffic are not a matter of how many articles you have published but it depends on many other factors.
On the bright side of things, if you work hard and consistently for a number of months (or years) it is possible to get to the levels of traffic that will cover all your expenses and leave you a good monthly profit.
I am an Adsense publisher for almost 15 years now and have made a good amount of money (5 figures) through content publishing.
If you followed this blog since the beginning you may have read my case study of how I grew the traffic of one of my websites to 400K organic visits per month in a considerably short period of time and this, of course, translates to having a profitable website.
Good things come to those who wait
The takeaway from this post is that, yes it is possible to make a profit on the Internet without selling anything but it requires hard work, patience, knowledge, and a long-term plan to follow.
Being a content publisher means caring for your users and once you manage to win your users, everything else will gradually follow.
Start with creating a great website, focus on your content, build your traffic patiently, and sooner or later you will reach a point where the earnings will cover your expenses and the investment you have made until to reach that point.
It’s not going to happen overnight but once it happens it will constantly generate profit for months or even years to come.