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How to Make Money with a Website

For some people, making money with a website is “the dream” career that offers freedom from schedules and location independence. Instead of punching a clock or commuting to an office, when you’re a money-making webmaster, your office is wherever you are. While most business websites are designed to direct customers to real-world locations or services, there are also a variety of ways to make money using a website alone.

E-Commerce

E-commerce is web-speak for selling things online and is one of the most straightforward ways to make money with a website. E-commerce sites are a great way for those already selling physical goods from a retail location to reach more customers and make more sales. If you’re looking to turn your WordPress website into a sales-optimized e-commerce site, you’ll want to add the WooCommerce plugin and upload your catalog of products.

Benefits of E-commerce:

  • Ideal for existing businesses: You’ve got the inventory, selling through your website is a great way to reach more people. E-commerce can also often fit in seamlessly with existing order fulfillment processes.
  • Always open and available: Unlike a traditional retail shop, customers can shop 24/7 from anywhere they are and without costing more in staffing of overhead.
  • Reach more customers: Online shopping allows stores to reach a much larger customer pool. Customers can come from anywhere in the world and SEO makes sure they find you first.

Disadvantages of E-commerce:

  • Inventory Storage: If you’re planning to start a new e-commerce business (not just add an e-commerce division to an existing retail business), you’ll need to acquire products. You’ll then need someplace to put them while you’re waiting for them to sell. This can be a minor disadvantage if selling something like trading cards, but may be a huge undertaking if you’re trying to sell something large like washing machines.
  • Shipping and Handling: To really leverage the power of e-commerce, you’ll want to be able to send your products safely and securely to any location your customer is. This will mean an investment in proper packaging and finding shipping solutions that won’t kill your profits.

Arbitrage

Arbitrage is a form of e-commerce where you sell new or used goods online, but instead of getting them directly from the manufacturer, you purchase them from a distributor or other third-party before reselling them to the final customer. This works by filling gaps in supply-and-demand or by solving supply chain issues while selling items for a profit. Small scale, this can be thought of like a yard sale. For example, Kate buys a shirt from the store for $20, but then decides she doesn’t like it so she sells it at her yard sale. Grace then buys it at the sale for $10 and sells it online for $15. This is arbitrage.

Advantages of Arbitrage:

  • Treasure hunt: Finding great deals for arbitrage can feel like a treasure hunt because you never know when or where you’ll find your next big score.
  • Benefits of e-commerce: As a sub-type of e-commerce, arbitrage shares the benefits.
  • Supplemental income: Arbitrage is a great way to add additional revenue streams into your existing e-commerce site. While most arbitraged items are sold on popular shopping sites like Amazon or Ebay, if you’ve already got your site set up to sell, you can easily add your arbitraged merchandise.

Disadvantages of Arbitrage:

  • E-commerce Disadvantages: Again, all the same e-commerce disadvantages apply here.
  • Portal Instability: While you can sell your arbitrage items on your own site, most people find that selling portals help them sell more. Unfortunately, this also means that you’re subject to any rules, fees, and changes implemented by these portals which can wipe out your business in a blink.

Affiliate Links

Affiliate links are tracked website links, typically to an e-commerce site, from which a sale can be traced. Many companies use affiliate programs to gain more marketing exposure at a lower cost to them. For example, if Ben posts on his blog about a new camera lens he got and adds an affiliate link so that his followers can purchase the same one, he’ll get paid by the camera company for any purchases made as a result of a person coming from that link on his site.

Advantages of Affiliate Links:

  • No inventory, little overhead: Being an affiliate for a company means that you promote the product or service without having to deal with any of the fulfillment process. There’s no shipping or customer service to handle, simply refer your users over to the affiliate business and let them take it from there.
  • Variety of products & services: Everyone from digital B2B companies like Hubspot to yogurt companies to platforms like Amazon have affiliate services and you can often promote more than one at a time.
  • Low risk: Unless you’ve got a ton of followers, it’s likely your affiliate commission may not be that high, but there’s also no financial risk of purchasing or housing products making this an easy-entry, low-risk way to make money with your website.

Disadvantages of Affiliate Links:

  • Compensation May Be Small: Unless you’ve got a huge and engaged website following, you may find that it’s difficult to make a lot of money as an affiliate.
  • Reliant on outside forces: As an affiliate, you’re reliant on the companies you represent. This could mean that they change their pay structure or cancel the program and there’s nothing you can do about it. It also means that you should choose the companies you work with wisely or risk potential PR fallout from a less-than-reputable company.

Ads

There are two main ways to make money from ads on your site. You can sell ad space directly or join an ad exchange. Direct sales are great because you can choose your partners directly and negotiate rates and ad run length, while ad exchanges allow you to have an almost entirely hands-off approach. Ad space sold directly to the advertiser is typically charged at a flat rate for a length of time while ad exchanges will pay for site visitor impressions and clicks.

Benefits of Ads:

  • Leverage Your Site: If you’ve got an informational or entertaining site, this can be a great way to leverage your website to make money without adding in products or services.
  • Low risk: Much like affiliate links, ads have very little financial risk for the site owner in terms of initial cost, but ads have the added benefit of paying the site owner even if the ads aren’t clicked and regardless if a purchase is made.
  • Control: When selling ads directly, you’re in total control of which ads are on your site, but even ad exchanges allow you to customize which ads can and can’t appear on your site making sure you aren’t showcasing a competitor or promoting something you find offensive.

Disadvantages of Ads:

  • Reduced User Experience: Ads can cause web visitors to lose focus, bounce to another site, or interrupt the users experience in a negative way.
  • Low Pay for Low Traffic:  Ads are a great way to collect passive income on webpages, but unless your website gets a lot of eyes, don’t expect to strike it rich. Most ad exchanges pay just cents for impressions and clicks and require a certain level of site traffic to sign up.

Ready to get started making money with your website? Contact us to learn more about our custom WordPress web design services or check out our services to add selling functionality and optimizations to your WordPress website.

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