There are many different ways that you can monetize a website or blog. This article will serve as a resource guide that will help you to find the best options that you can implement with your own sites and blogs (or for client projects).
The resources are categorized to make it easier to find what you’re looking for.
One of the most popular ways to make money with a website or blog is to use display ads. This is also one of the easiest ways to get started with monetization. The options listed in this section all have some differences, but in some cases you can simply sign up, ad a piece of code to your website, and start making some money.
Of course, the amount of money that you’ll make with ads is going to be highly dependent on the volume of traffic that you have.
1. AdSense – Google’s contextual advertising solution is one of the easiest ways to monetize a website or blog.
2. BuySellAds – A popular network that manages advertising for publishers and advertisers. Vandelay Design has been using BuySellAds for years.
3. Monumetric – If your site has at least 10,000 pageviews per month, you can apply to this ad network. Once you’re approved, they’ll set up the ads on your site and all you need to do is keep the traffic coming.
4. Mediavine – Mediavine is similar to Monumetric, but you’ll need at least 50,000 sessions per month in order to apply. Mediavine has a great reputation for earning high CPMs for publishers.
5. AdThrive – AdThrive is an elite platform that can help high-traffic websites to maximize ad revenue. You’ll need at least 100,000 pageviews per month in order to apply to AdThrive.
6. Ezoic – Ezoic uses technology to maximize ad revenue through the placement and other details of ads.
7. Media.net – Media.net is a leader in native ads, which attempt to blend in with your site more naturally than some other types of display ads.
8. PropellerAds – PropellerAds offers several different types of ads including interstitials, push notifications, on-click ads, widgets, and smart links.
9. Outbrain – Outbrain allows you to monetize your site or blog with native ads. The ads link to sponsored content through Outbrain’s Smartfeed.
10. MGID – MGID is another leader in native advertising, placing sponsored content or recommended products to create higher engagement.
11. Adcash – Adcash offers several ad formats including native, interstitials, push notifications, pop-unders, and banners.
12. Revcontent -Revcontent is another native ads platform that allows publishers to make money through content recommendations.
13. Taboola – Taboola is a native ads or content discovery platform. It basically ads a scrolling newsfeed to your site and allows you to make money from it.
14. Infolinks – Infolinks is a popular option for in-text ads.
15. LockerDome – LockerDome uses machine learning to maximize your revenue with specific placements and ad formats.
16. AdSanity – AdSanity is a WordPress plugin that allows you to insert self-hosted and network ads on your website or blog.
17. Carbon – An invite-only ad network owned by BuySellAds that focuses on the design and development industries.
Affiliate programs can be extremely lucrative to top earners, and one of the great perks is that there are affiliate programs available in just about any industry or niche you can imagine. You can sign up to promote specific products by joining the affiliate program of particular companies or websites, but large networks also represent a huge number of companies and products. Affiliate networks make it a little bit easier to manage because you can get all of your links and stats in one place, plus payouts for all programs within the network will be combined.
You don’t need a high-traffic website or blog in order to make money with affiliate programs. Even newer sites with small and growing audiences can start making money by recommending relevant products and services as an affiliate.
18. CJ Affiliate – A huge network (formerly known as Commission Junction) with options to promote products in just about any industry.
19. Amazon Associates – While it’s not really a network, Amazon sells so many different products that their affiliate program can be used by just about any website or blog.
20. Clickbank – Most of the products sold through Clickbank are digital (like ebooks, for example) but there are some tangible products as well. Once you sign up for a Clickbank account, you’ll be able to browse their huge collection of offers and promote whatever is relevant.
21. ShareASale – Another large affiliate network with many products to promote on your site.
22. Pepperjam – A popular affiliate network that provides a lot of detailed reporting.
23. MaxBounty – This affiliate network focuses on cost-per-action (CPA) offers that don’t always involve a sale. It could be an email signup or some other action.
24. Peerfly – Another CPA network with over 2,000 offers available.
25. FlexOffers – More than 12,000 affiliate programs are available through FlexOffers.
26. Rakuten Marketing – A major affiliate network that represents many leading brands.
27. Awin – A popular affiliate network with more than 16,000 advertisers.
Selling products at your own website is one of the best ways to take your monetization to the next level, regardless of whether you’re selling digital (downloadable) products or physical products. Here are some great resources for getting your own shop setup.
28. Shopify – A super-popular and feature-rich hosted e-commerce platform.
29. BigCommerce – Another popular and feature-rich e-commerce option.
30. Volusion – A hosted e-commerce platform with plenty of features like a design customizer.
31. Magento – A longstanding e-commerce platform now owned by Adobe.
32. WooCommerce – The leading WordPress plugin for e-commerce. You can purchase optional add-ons from their store to add specific functionality.
33. ThriveCart – This relatively new shopping cart has loads of features to increase conversions.
34. 3dcart – A hosted e-commerce platform with very reasonable price and a nice set of features.
35. SendOwl – A simple (yet powerful) shopping that allows you to sell digital products from your existing website or blog.
36. DPD – A simple e-commerce system with features that are similar to SendOwl. This is another excellent and easy option to start selling from your existing site or blog.
37. Sellfy – Another hosted shopping cart like SendOwl or DPD that makes it easy to start selling your own products.
38. E-Junkie – E-Junkie has been a popular shopping cart for many years. Like SendOwl, DPD, and Sellfy, it allows you to sell digital products from any website or blog.
39. Gumroad – Gumroad is a shopping cart focused on simplicity.
40. Easy Digital Downloads – A free WordPress plugin for selling digital products.
Launch Your Own Affiliate Program
If you sell your own products, adding an affiliate program is an effective way to increase sales exponentially. You’ll allow others to promote your products in exchange for a commission on any sales that they refer. You’ll be able to track everything from your admin dashboard and affiliates will be able to sign up and get access to their affiliate dashboard. From the affiliate dashboard, they’ll be able to create links to promote your products, get banners and other resources, and track their earnings.
Most affiliate software options offer many of the same features, so I won’t list details, but here are several options. Some of the shopping carts listed above (including ThriveCart, SendOwl, DPD, and E-Junkie) have built-in affiliate program capabilities, so you won’t need a third-party affiliate program.
47. OSI Affiliate
WordPress Affiliate Plugins
If you use WordPress for your website, there are a few plugins that can help for setting up your affiliate program.
49. Affiliates (free)
50. Affiliates Manager (free)
51. AffiliateWP (starting at $99)
52. Ultimate Affiliate Pro ($59)
53. Affiliate Royale (starting at $85)
Selling memberships is another excellent monetization option. You can generate recurring revenue by offering members access to exclusive content or resources. There are several different ways to make money with membership websites in the design and development industries.
A well-recognized example is Elegant Themes, one of the leaders in the premium WordPress theme market. While most WordPress theme shops sell themes individually, Elegant Themes offers its themes through a membership format, and they’ve had well over 600,000 customers.
Here at Vandelay Design, we also have a membership component through our shop. Members can get access to download a huge collection of design resources and files.
54. ClickFunnels – ClickFunnels has a huge collection of features, including the ability to set up membership access and protect content (starts at $97 per month).
55. Kajabi – Kajabi is another powerful tool that allows you to do many things. You can sell memberships and protect content on your site, as well as much more (starts at $119 per month).
56. Podia – Podia makes it easy to sell memberships, online courses, and even simple digital downloads all from the same platform (starts at $39 per month).
57. Wishlist Member – Probably the most popular WordPress plugin (starting at $147) for managing a membership website.
58. MemberPress – Another popular WordPress plugin that allows you to manage all aspects of a membership site (starting at $149).
59. Memberful – Another popular membership platform that can be used with WordPress (starting at $0 with 10% transaction fees).
60. Restrict Content Pro – A solid membership plugin for WordPress (starting at $99) that doesn’t include extensive features but is very user-friendly.
61. Member Mouse – A robust membership plugin for WordPress (starts at $19.95 per month).
Create and Sell Access to Online Courses
Online training and education is a huge industry. You can leverage the expertise and reputation that you’ve developed by creating and selling your own courses.
There is plenty of demand for online training related to design and development. Sites like Udemy allow you to sell your own course to a large, established audience. Alternatively, you could set up the course on your own site and sell access to it.
Creating an online course will require some time and effort, and you’ll obviously need some expertise on the subject at hand, but huge potential is there. With so many sites offering online education in the industry, there is plenty of competition, but there are also plenty of people looking for this type of training and education.
Another effective way to make money from your blog is to publish sponsored content. Many brands are actively looking for bloggers and influencers to help spread awareness about their products or services. As a blogger, you may be able to make money by publishing a sponsored post that either mentions the sponsor or is dedicated to the sponsor (such as a review).
While you can definitely find sponsors on your own, the easiest way to get started with sponsored content is to sign up with a few networks. The networks listed in this section all offer similar services for matching brands with influencers. In some cases, you may be paid to publish a post on your blog. Or you may be paid to create a sponsored video on a YouTube channel or post something to one of your social profiles.
If you’re publishing sponsored content, be sure that you’re following the FTC guidelines to provide sufficient disclosure and transparency. Paid links on your blog or website should include “nofollow” tags or “sponsored” tags if you want to avoid a penalty from Google.
70. Blog Meets Brand
Offering a Service
Promoting a service can be another great way to make money from your website or blog and, of course, there are countless different services that you could offer. Regardless of whether you are a consultant, a freelancer, or you run a local business (like a salon or spa), your website or blog can be an excellent promotional tool to get more exposure for your service and ultimately land more clients.
73. Acuity Scheduling – Allow clients to schedule appointments from your website and collect payments when they book.
74. OnceHub – Schedule appointments from your website, collect payment, and integrate with Zoom, GoToMeeting, and more.
75. Bookeo – Online booking system and scheduling software that also handles payments.
76. FlexBooker – Online appointment scheduling software.
77. SuperSaas – Another option for scheduling/booking and collecting payment.
78. Yondo – Yondo can do a lot of different things, but it’s great for consultants. It will handle scheduling, payments, and supports video consultations.
79. Sqaurespace – This website builder/CMS includes functionality for scheduling appointments and payment processing, so it has everything you need to run a service-based business.
Growing an email list is easily one of the best ways for bloggers and website owners to make money. With a responsive audience, you can make money by selling your own products and services, promoting products and services as an affiliate, or by sending sponsored emails.
80. AWeber – AWeber is a popular and powerful resource for email marketing. You can use AWeber to manage your list of subscribers and send email.
81. ConvertKit – ConverKit is another popular option for email marketing with a lot of features related to automation.
82. GetResponse – GetResponse also has a lot of automation features and is capable of doing everything you need to manage and monetize your email list.
83. ActiveCampaign – ActiveCampaign has more powerful automation features than any of the other options listed above.
84. OptinMonster – OptinMonster will help you to grow your email list by adding different types of optin forms to your site. It integrates with all of the major email marketing platforms like the ones listed above.
85. Thrive Leads – Thrive Leads is similar to OptinMonster.
86. LeadPages – Create beautiful landing pages and gather leads from your website or blog.
87. Unbounce – Another option for creating awesome landing pages.
WordPress Plugins for Monetizing Your Site
For those of you who are using WordPress, there are a number of plugins that don’t fit perfectly into any of the categories before. Each of these plugins has it’s own unique functionality that helps you to make money in some way.
88. Lasso – Lasso helps your affiliate promotions to stand out, get noticed, and get more clicks through nice callout boxes and buttons.
89. Pretty Links Lite – A free plugin (premium version also available) that is great for shortening your affiliate links.
90. ThirstyAffiliates – Another free plugin for redirecting and managing affiliate links.
91. AAWP – AAWP is the most advanced plugin for Amazon affiliates. You can create comparison tables, product lists, and feature specific products in an attractive and effective way.
92. EasyAzon – EasyAzon gives you the fastest way to create Amazon affiliate links from your WordPress dashboard.
93. Wp-Insert – A free plugin that will insert ads into specific locations within your content.
94. Ad Inserter – Another free plugin for inserting ads into your content.
95. Ads for WP – Insert and manage ads from AdSense and many other popular ad networks.
96. Site Reviews – Allow visitors to leave reviews with ratings on a 1-5 star scale.
97. WP Review – Write and publish reviews of products and services. WP Review gives you handy tools to make the review look great and to provide all the right information for visitors.
98. FooBar – Add a notification bar with this plugin ($17) to get more attention for an affiliate link or a link to one of your own products.
99. WPFront Notification Bar – A free notification bar plugin that you can use to promote something important.
100. HelloBar – One of the more popular notification bar plugins.
101. Announcement Bar – Create an attractive, customized notification bar with this plugin.
When it comes to working as a designer or developer the options that come to mind are typically:
- Work as an employee for a design studio or agency
- Was employee as an in-house designer or developer
- Work as freelancer
Let’s look at some other options for designers and developers
Designing and Selling Stock Graphics
A common approach to making money as a designer is to sell stock graphics (PSD files, logo templates, Photoshop brushes, vectors, icons, etc). Marketplaces like GraphicRiver, Creative Market, and major stock photo sites like iStock allow designers to sell their own creations to a large existing audience. The downside of selling at these types of marketplace sites is that you will need to share the revenue with the marketplace, and in many cases you’ll also face restrictions related to pricing, the types of products you can sell, and exclusivity.
Of the major marketplaces, Creative Market provides the most flexibility and fewest restrictions for designers. They don’t require exclusivity (you can sell your products at your own site or at other sites), you can set your own prices, and they offer 60% of each sale to the designer.
Designing and Selling Website Templates and WordPress Themes
If you design websites for clients a possible alternative source of income would be to create and sell website templates. You could sell static HTML/CSS templates, or templates for a specific content management system. The WordPress theme market has been huge for several years now, and it shows no sign of slowing down.
The process of selling templates is a lot like selling stock graphics. You can either sell at your own site (using the resources listed above in the e-commerce section), or sell at large existing marketplaces. The most popular marketplaces are ThemeForest and Creative Market.
Create Plugins or Addons
If you’re more of a coder than a designer, you may prefer to create and sell plugins or addons as opposed to templates or stock graphics. The market for WordPress plugins is huge, and there are countless opportunities for possible plugins that could be created. Aside from WordPress plugins, some platforms like Shopify include a shop where developers can sell their own addons.
Your plugins could be sold at your own site, or you could sell at a popular marketplace like CodeCanyon.
Designers can never have too many fonts. That means that there is an on-going opportunity to design and sell fonts. The approach is pretty similar to selling other types of stock resources or templates. You can set up a shop on your own website, or sell at marketplaces like GraphicRiver and Creative Market.
Although there is no shortage of fonts already available, and many of them for free, there is plenty of demand for high-quality fonts.