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Your business or your personal brand may be focused on creating a popular website or application. The idea here is to generate users or generate interest; you might encourage people to read your blog frequently because you offer fantastic, in-depth posts that are written for your ideal customer and Google for SEO purposes, or you might have an app that makes people’s lives easier in some crucial way. Here is how to start monetizing a popular website or app
In any case, making an app or website popular is a challenging, multi-step process. But translating that popularity into a consistent stream of revenue is even more challenging. How can you take a popular online asset like this and effectively monetize it?
Monetization in a Nutshell
Monetization is a term that refers to the simple process of making money from something that didn’t make money before. If a person walks dogs for fun, then begins to charge money for their services, they’ve essentially “monetized” the service.
This is an ambiguous term, but it’s ambiguous for a reason; there are dozens, if not hundreds, of ways to monetize a popular website, app, or other online service. Generally speaking, if your channel is popular enough, you should be able to monetize it.
How Popular Is Popular Enough?
How popular is popular enough? That’s going to be different for every app and website; it depends on the nature of your audience, the specific appeal of your content, and of course, the monetization strategy you choose. If you’re selling a major service to wealthy clientele, you may be able to make money with just a handful of leads and sales. However, if you’re interested in monetizing the data you collect from your users, you’ll need a base of hundreds of thousands—if not millions of users to do this effectively.
In any case, if you have thousands of regular users, you can definitely count on being able to monetize effectively. You may be able to do it with just hundreds of regular users.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular monetization options available to websites and apps today:
- First, you could consider displaying advertisements on your website or app. You can tap into one of many different advertising networks to do this, with Google Ads being one of the most popular. Generally, you’ll earn a fixed rate for every click your app generates; for example; you might earn $0.50 for each ad clicked by one of your users. Advertising is reliable and relatively consistent, but it also depends on your audience being a match for the ad content. On top of that, poorly placed or “spammy” advertising can weaken the average user’s experience.
- Affiliate linking. Alternatively, you could set up an affiliate linking system. The idea here is to include links to various product pages across the web; if one of your readers clicks an affiliate link and buys the product, you’ll get a share of the revenue—like a commission. This is tricky to pull off with small audiences since the commission tends to be small, but with a large enough fan base, you can make significant income this way.
- Paid access. If your app or website is valuable enough, you may require payment or a paid subscription to access it. This can be a source of steady, significant income, but only if your content is seen as truly “worth it.” This is tricky to pull off since so many modern apps and websites are completely free to access.
- Premium features. You may choose to adopt a “freemium” model, wherein the core content is free, but users have to pay for additional features. For example, they may have the option to pay for an ad-free experience, or may get access to additional tools to use the app more effectively.
- Transactional fees. Though this is mostly for apps, you may be able to impose small transaction fees. For example, if your app functions as an online marketplace, you could take 10 percent of every purchase made on the platform.
- Extra content. If you have a popular blog, your readers may be interested in paying for “premium” content—like an extended eBook. Just make sure you offer plenty of opportunities for conversion throughout your site, and price your premium content fairly.
- Additional services. Depending on how much time you have and the nature of your brand, you may be able to sell additional services as well. For example, if you’re a blogger who’s an expert in a certain field, you may be able to teach, coach, or consult with readers who want a more personalized experience.
- If your blog or app is popular enough, you may be able to make money through merchandising. Selling shirts, mugs, calendars, or other items with your logo on them could function both as a direct revenue stream and as a secondary form of advertising.
- Data monetization. If your audience is large enough, you may be able to monetize the data you gather from them. For example, you may learn about the buying habits of a specific target audience, then sell that cluster of data to an advertising company that wants to learn more about that audience.
Can You Monetize in Multiple Ways?
As you can see, most of these monetization strategies have strengths and weaknesses. You may be interested in using multiple monetization strategies simultaneously, allowing them to compensate for each other’s flaws. There’s generally nothing wrong with this; however, you’ll need to make sure that stacking monetization strategies has no measurable negative impact on your average user’s experience.
Choosing the Right Strategy
Whether you’re investing in one or several monetization strategies, how can you be sure that you’re selecting the right tactics?
- Your target audience. First, you need to think about your target audience. Not all people will be okay with advertising, and not all people will pay $5 for an eBook when they can get blog content for free. Different audiences have different desires.
- The core experience. Next, consider the core experience of your app or website. This is what made your asset popular, so you shouldn’t compromise it. How will your monetization strategy affect the average user experience? Will it make it better, worse, or keep it the same?
- Number of users/scale. Some monetization strategies only work if your audience is sufficiently large. How popular is your app currently, and how far can you scale it in the future?
- Long-term plans. Where will you be taking this app or website in the future? Is the core experience or user base going to transform?
- The competition. What monetization strategies are your competitors using? If your competitors find success with one strategy, you may consider adopting it as your own—or you may try to deviate from them to differentiate your brand.
- Potential profitability. And, of course, you should consider the potential profitability of each strategy. How much money do you stand to make by adopting this?
The Importance of Measurement and Analysis
Additionally, you’ll need to carefully measure and analyze the results you get from your strategy. This is a business, and there’s no guarantee it’s going to be successful. Only by objectively measuring your results will you be able to definitively determine whether your monetization strategy is actually making money.
If the strategy isn’t making money, see if you can figure out why (and correct the error). For example, if people aren’t clicking on advertisements, is it because you’re displaying ads that aren’t relevant? Or is it due to poor positioning? Experimenting with the variables and measuring the differences can help you figure this out.
Monetization strategies can help you make money from any app, website, or other online asset that’s sufficiently popular. Choosing the right strategies can be difficult, but if you invest in the right techniques and consistently improve with the help of ongoing measurement and analysis, you can build something both profitable and sustainable.
Image Credit: mayofi; pexels; pexels
Originally appeared in ReadWrite