If you are looking to make money from your website, you should consider at least one of these three monetization models: affiliate ad networks, paywalls, or donations. Each model has its upsides and downsides, and knowing which one to use depends on the sort of content your website produces.
Paywalls work by forcing a user to pay to access your website. As far as website monetization goes, this technique is the most straightforward. It’s easy to explain and easy to understand.
However, its bluntness and simplicity doesn’t work for every website. What’s more, a hard paywall — where the user can’t even get past the landing page without paying — only works in certain circumstances.
The Times and the Wall Street Journal have both survived behind hard paywalls, but these are huge international newspapers. People are willing to pay for their insight into the news because they know, due to each paper’s respective reputation, that they can’t get this analysis anywhere else.
Soft paywalls work by allowing users a little peek behind the paywall before having to pay. Sometimes, this comes in the form of a handful of free articles, whilst at other times it comes in the form of a free trial. However websites choose to do it, the aim is to turn those trials into paying subscribers.
Best Paywall? Netflix
The rise, fall, and rise again of Netflix is a fascinating story and the business is not credited enough for it. What started off as a somewhat successful film-by-mail service started to move online when it saw the trend approaching.
Not everyone agreed with Netflix’s move, though, with some journalists mocking the decision at the time. David Pogue had this to say about it:
“When the pundits tell you that the death of the DVD is imminent, that we’ll soon get all our movies instantaneously from the Internet, some skepticism is in order.”
Just over ten years later, that comment remains a fascinating time capsule of the doubt surrounding Netflix’s venture into this new market. A decade on, Netflix’s profits have soared and it’s all down to its paywall monetization model.
By hiding exclusive content behind a paywall, such as House of Cards and the many other films and TV shows Netflix hosts and distributes, it makes sure that an equivalent product cannot be found anywhere else.
As well as this, Netflix also uses a soft paywall in the form of a free trial to let people see what they’re missing without it. Data shows that, after a Netflix free trial, one in every three people stay on afterwards.
Voluntary Subscriptions and Donations
Rather than force your users to pay, why not just ask them nicely? Allow them to use as much of your content as they want for free and let them pay if they feel like it. If they don’t, that’s okay. The people who do pay help to fund the content for those who can’t afford to right now.
It sounds crazy, right? It sounds like the kind of wishful thinking that only a child could imagine would work. Yet, it’s really, really not. It’s the driving idea behind the Guardian’s monetization model, as well as the legions of internet creators who use Patreon to fund their various projects.
Best Donation Model? Wikipedia
By far the best example of a donation model working — and working extremely well — comes from the oldest player in this particular game: Wikipedia. Not only has Wikipedia survived under the donation model, it has become the 13th biggest website in the world, according to SimilarWeb, and raises more money with each fundraiser.
Wikipedia has been doing this successfully for a long time as well. The website launched in January 2001 and, by July, it already had 6,000 articles — despite looking like this. By mid-2010, it looked more or less as it does today and had over three million articles in English and millions of others in hundreds of other languages. Today, Wikipedia has over 40 million articles in 293 languages, according to its own data.
Affiliate Ad Networks
Affiliate ad networks work by introducing advertisers to website owners, so that neither party has to do the unwanted legwork. It’s because of this legwork that affiliate ad networks are vital to online marketing and website monetization.
For advertisers, affiliate ad networks use vast amounts of data to place the right advert on the right website at the right time so that it can target the right person. The success of affiliate ad networks is evident in the faith some of the biggest brands in the world place in them.
Even luxury brands such as Agent Provocateur, Barneys New York, Burberry, and Liberty London — once seen as beyond the marketing methods of mass appeal brands — use affiliate marketing to get their message out online.
For website owners, affiliate ad networks are great because they allow people to start making money right away. After you’ve signed up to the network and inputted the code into your website, you can start earning revenue on the ads placed on your website. The best affiliate marketing networks can guarantee you the best quality of ads.
Best Affiliate Ad Network? Adsterra
Offering payments in Bitcoin as well as a range of other methods, Adsterra is the best affiliate ad network out there because of the range of data it uses to deliver the best possible service for both advertisers and website owners. It can guarantee safe ads placed in the correct geo locations. It’s even able to use data such as which smartphone someone is using when they access your website.
All of this culminates in high-quality ads with high click-through rates. That’s good for advertisers, but it’s also good for website owners and users, too. Adsterra became the affiliate ad network with 10 billion ad impressions a month by understanding that the relationship between advertising and business works best when it works for everyone.