For most people, the first things that come to mind when they think of making money from a website are advertising and online stores. However, these techniques don’t work for every site. This is why it’s good to know how to make money on your website without ads or products.
Fortunately, there are many more strategies you can use to make a living online. No matter what type of site you have, you can find a method that fits your brand best in order to maximize your revenue potential.
In this post, we’ll talk about why ads or products might not be the best revenue source for your site.
Then we’ll get into how you can make money on your website without them. Let’s dive in!
The drawbacks to relying on ads and products to make money on your site
There’s no denying that it’s possible to make money on your website using ads and products. Many successful online stores, blogs, and other sites have proven this. However, they’re not the best revenue sources for every website.
For starters, ads are an inefficient way of monetizing your site. In order to make anything close to a substantial amount of money, you need a huge following for your site. Ironically, ads can prevent you from gaining followers.
Ads can distract from your content and lead users off your site, potentially hurting your own conversion rate. They also lower your site’s design quality, and make you seem less reputable. Without trust, you’ll have a hard time maintaining an audience.
Products pose a different set of challenges. The biggest issue is that you need a fair chunk of change to start with. You’ll need to invest in creating your product before you can actually make any money from it.
What’s more, you may not have the cash to get started, particularly if your site is very new. This assumes you already have a unique idea for a product your users will actually want to buy. The process of selling products is a long and potentially costly one.
Five ways to make money on your website (without ads or products)
If you don’t have the money to start a product line and don’t want to risk the negative impacts on your conversion rate ads could bring, there are still ways you can make money online. The key is finding the one best suited to your site and users.
1. Hold in-person events and charge for admission
Online communities are no doubt valuable. However, there’s something about gathering in person that appeals to many people. Holding in-person events related to your site and charging people for admission can help bring in some revenue.
How extensive your event should be will depend on how many people you think will attend. It may be a large conference or as small as a local meetup. Either way, it’s important to consider how much you think people will be willing to pay to get in.
You’ll also need to account for the cost of a venue, food, and any other necessities. If you don’t think you’ll be able to cover the event’s costs and make a profit, this method may not be for you.
Typically, hosting an in-person event will work best if you already have a large online community. People who are really dedicated to your site and its other users are more likely to make an effort to attend, and more likely to be willing to pay for it.
Take WordCamps, for example. Though these events are not-for-profit, the number of people involved shows how engaged the WordPress community is, and their desire to interact face-to-face and not just through a screen:
For some, hosting a large event may seem difficult. However, if you’re able to pull it off, you’ll hopefully take home profit while having also provided an opportunity for your site’s users to engage with one another and become more committed to your community.
2. Buy, flip, and sell websites
If you have the design and development skills for it, you can get into the business of ‘flipping’ websites. The process involves buying sites, making improvements to them, then selling them again for a profit.
While it might seem strange to sell something you’ve put so much effort into, a site with a fairly large following can sell for thousands of dollars. If your site has a decent number of regular users and you no longer want to maintain it, selling isn’t a bad option.
However, if you’re not ready to part with your own site, you can always buy and flip sites on the site. Online marketplaces such as Website Broker and Flippa are popular places to find cheap sites to buy and improve, then to sell again later:
This method is easiest if you have some design and development skills already. If you’re a professional developer looking to expand your portfolio and your income, flipping sites could be an efficient way to do it.
3. Accept donations from users
Accepting donations from users can be a simple way to bring in the money needed to run your site. If you’re putting out quality content, you may be surprised by the number of people willing to chip in and help you keep your site online.
This method works best for sites related to charities or other good causes. While there are blogs that do run on donations, it’s easiest to convince users to provide funds when your site aligns with their values.
Take the Humane Society of the United States, for example. They have multiple call to action (CTA) buttons on their site inviting users to donate, and pair them with high-quality images of animals to get users’ attention:
If you run a nonprofit, adding donation opportunities on your site is a must. You can also give it a go if you provide free content, such as blog posts. While it likely won’t be regular or substantial, you may still bring in some money from appreciative readers.
4. Create exclusive content for paying members
Creating paid content can be one of the simplest ways to make money on your website. Often, you don’t have to put in much extra work. You simply keep creating blog posts, online classes, or whatever content you specialize in, and charge to access some of it.
The only tricky part is creating the right balance between free and paid content. Offering too much content for free might make users feel they don’t need the content you charge for. On the other hand, charging for too much content can turn visitors away.
For this reason, paid content or memberships work best for sites that already have an established following. If your users already know your content is worth paying for, they’re more likely to be willing to do so.
Additionally, educational sites offering online courses or webinars can often use this method effectively. You can provide introductory courses for free, then charge for intermediate and advanced courses. Codecademy is a successful example:
They offer many free courses, knowing that students who want to learn more will pay for memberships and advanced courses later. Codecademy is now a go-to platform for many people looking to start learning code for the first time.
5. Vary and cross-promote your content
Having multiple revenue streams is a smart move. If there’s ever a slow period for your blog, for example, your influencer deals on Instagram may be able to cover you until things pick up again. Cross-promoting your content can help you earn more on all your platforms.
No matter what kind of site you have or what your area of expertise is, you can create more and a wider variety of content by exploring multiple mediums. For example, if you run a fitness blog, you could also make workout videos on YouTube and host a podcast where you interview athletes.
While self-promotion may feel a little awkward at first, cross-promoting is an excellent way to build your brand and authority in your industry. For example, consider BobWP:
Bob Dunn runs an informative WooCommerce blog, as well as a podcast. He receives sponsorships for both, and uses each platform to promote the other. By driving traffic from his podcast to his blog and vice versa, he makes the most of both revenue sources.
Ads and products are usually the go-to methods for making money with a website. However, these strategies aren’t always the best. Ads can cause your users to lose trust in your site, and products require upfront investments you may not have.
The good news is, there are several other ways you can make money on your website, including:
- Hold in-person events and charge for admission.
- Buy, flip, and sell websites.
- Accept donations from users.
- Create exclusive content for paying members.
- Vary and cross-promote your content.
Do you have any questions about how to make money on your website without ads or products? Let us know in the comments section below!