Monetization models: 21 methods

You should have a clear monetization vision, even before you begin constructing your Website, Let’s review some of the possible ways to generate income online. The rule of diversification in investing so as not to have all your eggs in one basket also applies to producing online income. Try to make your site generate as many income streams as possible. The list below will give you some ideas. Use as many of them as you can. You don’t have to do them all at once of course, but introduce them as appropriate over time.

1. AdSense Ads

AdSense Ads are easy to implement and free. Just go to and fill out the application. This is a no-brainer and usually a win/win/win situation. However, be careful that the ads do not compete with the product or service you are offering or you could be shooting yourself in the foot.

2. AdSense Search

Produce revenue when people use the Google search bar and click on paid advertisements in the results pane. It’s an easy way to generate some extra jingle in your jeans, and it doesn’t usually compete with your offerings.

3. Affiliate Marketing

If you do not have your own product to sell, this is an excellent way to get into business by selling other people’s products and earning a nice commission for yourself. Try to pick something with a good commission structure. Some digital products offer commissions as high as 75%. The problem is that the high-paying products can be popular and therefore have lots of competition.

4. Create an Affiliate Program

The other site of the affiliate coin is to create your own products and your own affiliate program. This is the best of all monetization worlds in which you have an army of recruits advertising your products and selling them for you for which you will gladly pay a commission. I will write a separate article on how to do this in the Automation section.

5. Referrals

People often overlook the concept of referrals as a monetization proposition. It can go both ways of course. You could pay people for referrals for your product or service. Or, you could establish a relationship to be paid for referring customers to other businesses. Suppose you had a tourist oriented site. You could refer customers to hotels, tours, car rentals, realtors, and restaurants for which you could negotiate a commission.

6. Multi Level Marketing

Personally I hate the whole concept of MLM as a monetization scheme in which you are expected to sell junk to your friends and relatives—junk that you warehouse in your garage and hope to sell eventually. Actually, with the Internet, you have a huge reservoir of potential customers and recruits. Normally, I would avoid anything to do with MLM like a plague, but if you can find a nice little program that will coast along on autopilot in the background, go for it. One that I’m doing that way is ZenZuu. Check it out.

7. Hard Goods

Generally speaking, I don’t recommend selling hard goods. If you manufacture them yourself or get a good deal with a great markup, then it may be worth doing. But, you still have to pay for the goods, warehouse them, and ship them, all of which is a bother and expense. Recently I returned from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and was all excited about a really cool new kind of mouse called the WowMousePen. I put up a Website and begin to sell them, which is a slow process tying up a lot of capital in inventory. If you want one, I’m selling them at a huge discount to get rid of them. Help me out, go get yourself a really cool Mousepen. When they’re gone, that will be my last hard goods venture.

8. Drop Shipping

Perhaps a better way to sell hard goods is to sell someone else’s goods and have them ship for you. This is called drop shipping and saves you having to purchase a product before you sell it and then having to warehouse it and ship it. Of course you may not make as much profit, but it’s a good way to go if you don’t have a lot of capital.

9. Digital Products

This category gets the gold star in my book. Digital products can be easily replicated and cost little or nothing to produce. They don’t occupy any physical space, so you don’t have to worry about storage costs. They can be shipped electronically, so there is no shipping cost. Included in this category are eBooks, MP3s, and videos. Of course, if you decide to create a course or a seminar and put it on DVD with printed material you are going to get into the production, storage, shipping problem, which I would just as soon avoid. However, the more stuff you give, the more you can charge, so it does make sense on a certain level.

10. CafePress

Here’s another way to monetize your site by having an online CafePress store. CafePress has become hugely successful by allowing others to open their own store with mirror sites. They sell T-Shirts, cards, posters, and much more. Consumers can design their own custom imprinted items. Check it out at


Probably was the originator of the whole affiliate marketing concept. Now they allow you to have your own virtual store where you can sell your products and piggyback off Amazon’s marketing power—if you don’t mind sharing a large portion of your profits with Amazon.

12. eBay/Net auctions

Some people have achieved great success selling on eBay, but it’s a lot of work and it tries my patience. Not only that, I kind of resent all the little fees eBay tacks on so that they make money no matter what. Then they think they own your customers and don’t appreciate your having any personal contact with them. If you do use eBay, try to capture your customers and drive them to your Website. Include special offers when you ship a package. Mail them invitations with enticements. Phooey on eBay. They are your customers.

13. Services

If you sell your services, you may be limited to a local market depending on your service. For instance, if you are a realtor, exterminator, or restaurant, you would want to attract local customers. However, if you are a computer programmer, Web designer, or accountant, you could have customers from anywhere and conduct your business successfully online. In either case, a Web presence rich in content with useful information will attract business for sure.

14. Local business

If you are a local brick and mortar merchant, you too should have a Website to establish your credibility and increase sales. Make it fun and useful with helpful content. Use it to drive traffic through your door by advertising specials, sales, and promotions. Get a good list capture going and keep in touch with your clientele to establish loyalty. Send a newsletter. Have contests. Send them coupons via email or cell phone. Use mobile marketing to its fullest advantage.

15. Membership

Membership sites are becoming more popular because they attempt to establish a steady stream of residual income every month. Each sale is not a one shot deal. However, to be realistic, they are a lot of work, and if you don’t have strong incentives, people will drop out. I will offer a more detailed discussion on this topic with programs for automation in the content section. Actually, membership sites could very well be the most powerful monetization tool of all.

16. Text-Link Ads

I debated on whether or not to include this one, but decided that if you don’t know about it, you probably should as another monetization tool. You’ve probably visited sites with text link ads installed. I find them to be extremely annoying, and I would never ever buy anything from people who advertise this way. You can hardly move your mouse without it hitting a hot spot, and up pops a bloody ad, which is distracting and infuriating when you are concentrating and trying to digest content. I’m not going to recommend any particular company because I don’t like any of them, but you can easily Google them. Speaking of Google, one thing in favor of text-links is that they can help improve your search engine placement. But, if you install text links, you may do so to the detriment of your site. Annoyed visitors will leave your site in a huff.

17. Donations

If you give away something of value, you might ask for donations so that you can continue to give away more products. Just install a Donate button from If you are a non-profit organization, and you are looking for contributions, by all means install a donate button and plead your best case for support. If you want to establish a sustainable, residual cash flow, I highly recommend you check out this program. Sign up your non-profit and/or become an affiliate.

18. Sell ad space

Of course, if you have some extra real estate on your site, you can always sell ad space, but you may be able to do better using that space to promote your own products or highly productive affiliate programs.

19. Ezine/Newsletter

Ezine of course is cybertalk for electronic magazine, which may be a bit pretentious for your first online publishing efforts. Calling your regular publication a newsletter may be more fitting. Whatever you call it, publish on a regular basis--but no more than once a week. Pack it full of useful information. Make it entertaining. By all means have something to promote, but don’t make the whole thing a sales letter; you’ll have people opting out and reducing the size of your list. A newsletter can be a valuable tool for monetization; use it wisely.

20. Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketing involves the ability to broadcast coupons, specials, promotions, surveys, contest, sales, and requested information to a database of opt-in cell phone users who have requested your information. It is cutting edge and the most powerful way imaginable to monetize your site. It should be part of every online entrepreneur’s monetization strategy. To use the application the most effectively, you should have a mobile site optimized for small screen viewing. See the section on Mobile Marketing for more details.

21. Joint Ventures

I’ve saved my favorite and the best until last. All the self-proclaimed “gurus” out there tell you that the money is in the list. While that may be true ultimately, it can take years to build a decent list, and you may not be around long enough for that to happen if you don’t get some immediate cash flow. The best way to do that is to have a product, preferably your own, and a sales campaign all set up and then do a joint venture using someone else’s list. It can be difficult to find a partner. Let it be known that I probably have one of the biggest lists out there, and I am always interested in an equitable joint venture. So, please let me hear from you and send me your proposal. See the application form in the Joint Venture section of this site.

There. I’ve given you 21 Website monetization methods. Surely there are more, and more will become available every day as online marketing continues to develop. Some cost money and some don’t. But, if you are in business, you should be prepared to invest in your business. Remember the old adage that it takes money to make money. Well, fortunately, on the Web, there are many ways to make money without it costing an arm and a leg. It’s always best to start off and build up instead of blowing all your money and failing right out of the chute.

One area of monetization that is missing in this discussion has to do more with automation, so I will defer discussing things like shopping carts, membership sites, affiliate programs, and autoresponder software. You will find these areas and more covered in detail under the topic of Automation.

Please note that there is a difference between marketing and monetization. The two are certainly intimately related. Marketing involves driving traffic to your site for sales purposes. For information about Internet marketing, please visit the Internet Marketing section of this site.

This section will grow as I add new monetization articles, reviews, and recommendations on a regular basis. You are invited to come back often and to check the sub links. Please feel free to contribute any ideas or discoveries of your own you wish to share. Of course the best solution is to subscribe to the RSS feed so you will be automatically alerted when new content has been added.

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