5 step Guide to Making Money with Your Content and Website

Do a Google search for "how to make money with your website" and you'll get a slew of listicle results - "7 Easy Ways to Make Money on Your Website," "30 Ways to Monetize Your Website," and more headlines that oversimplify the path to actually making money online.

"Sign up for affiliate programs!"

"Put Adsense on Your Site!" - "they" say.

If your reach is massive and your pageviews are huge, these might work for you. But in reality, most small and medium-sized publishers will struggle to make meaningful income with these tactics.

This guide is going to assume that you've already got an audience base on your website and social media. If you're still trying to build your readership and following, please check out some of our other guides on audience building.

For those with a following, let's go ahead and dive in.

So, how can content creators and digital publishers actually make money on their website?

By creating value for brand partners and advertisers and establishing lasting relationships.

It's not the quick or easy way...it is the sustainable way.

Here is our 5 Step Guide:

Step 1: Understand Your Audience

Who is visiting your website, liking your Facebook page, subscribing to your e-newsletter and following you on Instagram? You've probably already got a clear view on who these people are - their demographics, behaviors, the content on your site they visit most and more. In fact, you use this info to make more relevant content for them, right?

Actually write out the customer persona for your audience. Start with the demographics - age, gender, income, etc. Take it a step further by envisioning what this "person" thinks, what their hobbies are, what they care about.

This exercise will help you

a. develop content for your audience

b. determine what types of brands and advertisers would align with your audience

Step 2: Consider Your Content Formats

What types of content do you excel at creating efficiently? Do your Facebook videos go over well with your audience? Do you have excellent readership of your blog posts? Is your Instagram account on fire (in a good way)?

Write them out! Give yourself a visual of all of the different formats that you have the capability to create.

Step 3: Take an inventory of your assets

What are all of the ways that you communicate with your audience?

  • Website
  • E-newsletter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • Pinterest
  • Content
  • Podcast
  • Buyers (have you sold products online before?)
  • Mailing List
  • More

Again, create a comprehensive list to reference.

Step 4: Prospect

What brands and businesses would want to reach your audience?

We know...it's not like you can go out and get a meeting with Nike if, for example, you're a small fitness blogger. But, you could seek out a small online sporting goods retailer or even a startup fitness apparel or equipment brand.

You can start local too! Your very own local or regional community may have businesses with a broader target market that aligns with the audience you reach. For example, if you have a foodie blog, you probably have businesses in your city or state that make spices or other types of ingredients that they sell online. Because of your shared location, these types of connections can be easier to make.

Seek out brands you would be proud to support, of course. The goal is to provide value all the way around, for your readers as well as your brand partner.

If you do score a meeting (remember this can always be scheduled over video chat or phone), take a consultative approach. Let the prospect talk about their business. Ask them about their goals (not just marketing goals, let it be broader than that). Find out what marketing strategies have worked for them so far. Through this conversation, you can also get some idea of the kinds of campaign budgets they are comfortable with.

Put together a list of brands and businesses that align with your audience. Now, how can you get their attention - phone calls, emails, LinkedIn, Twitter? This, you'll have to determine by researching your prospects and determining a message and medium that aligns with their preferences and demonstrates who you are and what your website is all about.

Step 5: Pull It All Together

Online publishers and content creators offer

Audience + Creative (Content) + Distribution

You have all of the necessary pieces to put together attractive offerings for brand partners.

Yes, they can spend money on Google and Facebook ads themselves. But, the smartest online publishers know how to create compelling, multi-faceted campaigns that provide value for their partners and lasting relationships and revenue for you!

Pull together a multi-channel, multi-format, long-term campaign

Using the information you gathered from your meeting, develop a content plan for your potential brand partner.

The content should address their goals and be framed to appeal to your audience.

And you should make use of a combination of your formats and assets.

Perhaps you start out with a video that's sponsored by the brand or where you are showing off their product. And then later, you incorporate the brand into a series of blog posts.

And all of this gets posted to your social media and sent to your email subscribers.

Further into the campaign, once your audience is very familiar with this brand that you've been working with, you could even offer a special coupon code to your audience for the brand's product to encourage conversions.

Unless you are working with a brand that your audience is already familiar with, you wouldn't want to do this on the front end of the campaign. You want them to be "warmed up" to the brand before making an ask for a purchase.

If you have space for banner ads on your site, by all means, include that for the duration of their campaign with you.

You can also build in some budget that allows you to ensure the content gets adequate reach. So you might consider boosting the post for that sponsored content on your Facebook page to encourage clickthroughs to the content.

Think through the marketing funnel and then think about how you can create content for your brand partner at each phase.

It can take 7 "touch points" with a brand before a person is ready to take an action with that brand.

If you can create a long-term strategy for your brand partner, it's more likely to be effective for their goals in the long run and that will make them more likely to continue working with you too!

This may not be as "easy" as plopping in affiliate links and Adsense on your website, but, in the long-run you'll have lasting relationships that will benefit you, your brand partners, and your audience! You'll likely make more money too!

ProTip: If you're reading this and thinking "I spend all my time managing my own content, how am I going to create all of this content for my brand partners?," remember that you can build in budget to help you hire freelance content creators to assist you where needed.

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