Platform building gurus recommend monetizing our author websites – that is, to sell ads and place affiliate links. They also say to start sooner rather than later. They suggest this for two reasons.
First, selling ads will generate some revenue. Maybe it’s only enough to pay for hosting, but every bit helps. Second, at some point we will want to sell our books or services on our site. It is better to get people use to the promotional aspect now, so they are not shocked (or critical) later. If we start when our traffic is small, there are fewer people to react negatively. No one wants to build a huge audience and then upset everyone by introducing advertising.
Though I don’t presently have ads on this site, I do accept advertising on many of my other ones. It’s on my “to do” list to add them here, too.
Sell Ads: The first thing we can do is sell ads directly to businesses, organizations, and individuals whose message will resonate with our visitors. Unfortunately, we need to have about 10,000 unique visitors before we can get anyone to actually pay us. However, we can put an “advertise here” box where the ad will go. We can also do an ad swap with a friend to cross-promote each other.
Ad Servers: Another solution is to sign up with an ad server, such as Google AdSense. They will generate code, which we add to our site. The code will automatically place ads there, and we earn money every time someone clicks on the ad. This is pay-per-click advertising. Usually the amount is only pennies, but it can add up.
The one warning is to carefully select the types of ads we will accept. Otherwise our site will show ads whose message we might not agree with or that will offend visitors. We don’t want that. (The better paying ads are usually the ones we don’t want.) In addition to broad categories, most services allow us to block certain domain names, such as to a competing book.
Affiliate Links: Affiliate links are links to products and services we endorse. Whenever someone clicks on one of those links and buys the offer, we get a commission. Again, it is important to carefully select who we will promote. If their offer is questionable or lacks value, people may blame us. Also, even though it doesn’t cost the buyer anything, it is ethical to note when a link is an affiliate link.
Taking steps to monetize our website or blog will not generate much money, if any, until our traffic is higher. It may also seem like it’s more bother than it’s worth, but it does prepare people to respond positively when they see our ad for our book or service on our website. Isn’t that the goal?