Finding a path to building a profitable site is not as straightforward as it might seem. This website monetization roadmap contains the ten steps you should follow to succeed in doing so.
Many of you have been asking us for years how to launch a travel blog, a niche page, or simply a website for your businesses. Friends, family, fellow entrepreneurs, and followers of social networks among others, you often ask us or leave messages like this:
After explaining what we knew to many of you individually, we have finally decided to compile all those talks and recommendations in this article with ten steps that will kickstart your success when launching a profitable website or community. Being perfectly aware that there are thousands of experts in the field who are way more knowledgeable than us, after all these years we also know what works and what does not, in addition to a lot of tools and resources that will help everyone in this process.
But before continuing, let’s quickly go over what you do and don’t need to create a successful website.
Things you don’t need to start a website:
- A degree
- Previous experience creating websites and advanced tech skills
- Being a coder or an engineer
- The ability to do things perfectly
- Lots of money
- Support from your loved ones
Things you definitely need to create and launch a profitable site:
- Enough interest to keep at it
- Willingness to learn and try new things
- A laptop
- A suitable place to work
- The courage to just go out there and work to make it happen
And now, without further ado, let’s get this started:
1. Choose a market you like
Having a personal motivation will definitely help you speed up the process, brainstorm topic ideas and overall start creating content in the beginning. So be smart and pick something you like and you would not mind working on for quite a while. Or you could want to get rid of it after a few months.
2. Assess its growth potential
Google Trends is a great tool for this. It allows you to compare the volume search of up to five different keywords in a specific country and time period. Used wisely, it’s gold!
3. Make sure it has immediate monetization possibilities
What’s the point otherwise? Having a guarantee your idea has the capability of going viral is an added bonus. Run a survey, do some market research, talk to some people, whatever you want but ensure you will be able to profit from it in the near future.
4. Figure out the market’s audience
Try to create at least three different personas that could potentially be your ideal audience. You could be right or wrong, but at least it will be a good start and this can be adjusted as you go.
5. Identify the best media for your market and audience
Where do the people you want to reach hang out online? Check these three scenarios to give you an idea:
- If your stuff falls in the visual category, social media networks like Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook should definitely be considered.
- On the other hand, if you want to reach professionals or your business model falls in the B2B – business to business – category, Linkedin is a must.
- Whereas if you are planning to get practical advice out there and tons of ‘how to’ posts, you definitely want to figure out SEO – search engine optimization – and how to rank well in search engines such as Google and Bing from the beginning.
6. Create your site and get your social media networks in order
Chances are you will want to get started on a powerful platform such as WordPress. This site was built using it, and so the vast majority of blogs and niche sites these days.
Spend some time figuring out what’s the image you want for your website, and choose a suitable – light and fast – theme to match it. The best you do this, the fewer widgets and plugins you will need to supplement it.
Still, chances are you will need some. For instance, a plugin like Google Fonts Typography for adding custom fonts on your WordPress site and standing out from the crowd. Have a look: WordPress font plugin.
Don’t forget to reserve all your chosen social media handles right after. You don’t want to risk someone doing that faster than you!
7. Start creating content
Make it as relevant, fresh, and simple as you can. Its commonly said – and you will find this all over the internet – that the more niche you go, the better. So you might as well try to narrow down as much as possible.
When starting out, ranking in the first positions for a 1-3 word keyword is almost impossible. However, if you figure out which are the relevant long-tail keywords you would like to start ranking for, the possibilities of climbing to google’s coveted first-page increase dramatically.
8. Define your growth strategy
As soon as you can, get familiar with tools such as SocialBlade (if social media networks are your main channel) or Semrush, Ahrefs, Majestic, Keysearch, BuzzSumo, and the like if building a site is your priority. As the latter can get quite expensive, our suggestion is to have a look at Ubersuggest and SimilarWeb. Both offer excellent free tools for getting started.
If you want to speed up the process, get familiar with the concept of growth hacking. Tons of excellent online – and gratis – resources and throughout articles are being published daily about all this. Backlinko and Neil Patel will set you on the right path.
Related: Best tips, tools, and resources for digital nomads
9. Start monetizing your traffic
Without a doubt, one of the key points of all this is how to take advantage of all this work. Because, let’s not kid ourselves, launching, growing, and running a profitable website is not an easy task at first. Here are some of the most common ways content creators, publishers, and website owners profit from their hard work.
Such as banners, pop-up windows (which, by the way, are just as annoying to you as they are to other people), and social media ads.
Like Awin and Trade Doubler. To make them work, it is important to create content for the right stage of the customer journey (the latter one in case you were wondering!). Start searching for user intent info online to figure this one out.
Other than those, one of the largest affiliate networks in the world today is Amazon Associates Program. It could be worth having a look if they sell products you could talk about.
A word of caution though, the best way of dealing with affiliates is direct and without any intermediaries. It is also the only way to have some control over the most basic things such as commission rates. Something that recently drove mad to every Amazon affiliate partner out there as they saw their commissions cut in half out of a sudden.
Google’s AdSense (not recommended, unless you have insane traffic you won’t make other than pennies).
Ezoic, Monumetric, Mediavine, and other ad networks not run by Google. They all have different requirements you should fulfill before submitting your site for approval. Check them out.
Youtube Google Adsense: If you have a significant following on Youtube, and your videos get viewed, have a look into it. Be aware, though, they are known to have lowered commissions drastically over the past few years.
Selling services is one of the easiest ways of benefiting from your platform these days. Marketing and PR, virtual assistant work, writing, editing, and translating are just some of the endless services you can sell online. As cliche as it sounds, the only limit here is your imagination.
Ecommerce / Selling your own products
From digital products such as ebooks and templates to physical ones such as T-shirts and pretty much anything and everything people would be willing to buy, our only advice here is to keep it ethical.
10. Keep working hard, and learning every day
Passive income and getting paid while you sleep aren’t as straight forward as they seem. Websites and communities take time to launch, grow, maintain, and keep growing. Google updates mostly favor those that keep doing things right in the long run. Still, algorithm changes can be ruthless and bring traffic to the ground in a couple of days.
The online world, still in its beginnings, is a sort of wild west full of other competitor sites trying to tear you down on a daily basis to steal your keywords, scrap your content, hotlink your images, and whatnot.
Don’t get us wrong, there are also great site owners and this world will bring you a myriad of possibilities to network, collaborate with interesting people, and work on amazing projects but it won’t be the easy walk in the park many preach.
So be wary of anyone trying to sell you courses. After over twenty years of improving our skills and learning most of the things we know online for free, we can tell you the best information is available at no cost. You just need to learn how to find it and remove all the distractions that will prevent you from doing so in the meantime. That does not mean there could be great – paid – courses out there, just saying be very careful of getting rich quick schemes, empty promises, and smoke selling.
We are lucky to be living in the best era that has ever existed to learn. Seize it.