A. These are the four ways I have been monetizing my content websites or blogs developed on WordPress CMS:
A.1. Affiliate Marketing & Affiliate Posts
As a publisher, affiliate marketing is promoting products of third parties (advertiser/merchant) on the condition that I will be rewarded for leads/sales generated through affiliate links placed on my websites or shared on social media, email marketing, and other such channels. Neither I am investing in any kind of stocks nor advertiser/merchant paying me upfront (like in display advertising). So, it is free for both publishers and advertisers (or merchants) to start with. As a publisher, I just redirect my website/social media audience to the website/e-store/app of the advertiser. In case of a sale, I will be paid commission (there might be variance like some affiliate programs reward for leads generated, and even at times no. of clicks/impressions generated).
Coming to my experience, in order to be viable, it is affiliate posts (paid upfront by the advertiser for blog posts under affiliate marketing) that contribute a lot. At times, 80 to 100 percent of my monthly revenue from affiliate marketing is from affiliate posts. So content writing is a skill that one needs to hone in order to leverage opportunities in affiliate marketing as a whole. Taking the help of paid content writers will raise costs. In case you want to scale up, definitely working with a team of paid content writers the way. Given negative reviews on Quora and throughout the internet about Fiverr and Freelancer.com, one needs to be cautious. However, since this post is from the buyers’ on Fiverr perspective, you can submit your needs after chat with the freelancers there. Indeed, you can get your job or so-called gig done by spending as low as 10$. Since Fiverr will only release the payment to the freelancer provided you are satisfied and approve, I find Fiverr handy with a low chance of a scam (and in worse case even if there is a scam, on small gigs, the same should be manageable).
A.2. Pay Per View/Pay Per Click
Google AdSense is the most popular one. It is recommended to apply for AdSense approval even if the revenue generated is peanut from this medium. Other things remaining constant, being a Google AdSense approved site commands higher sale value when put for sale in marketplaces like Flippa. From the buyers of a new website perspective, as per Google rules, Adsense account is non-transferable. You need to apply from your own Google account, and there is no guarantee that the same will be approved. Given these days each site is approved after AdSense team go through the site unlike earlier when you just need to have your first website be AdSense approved and you were then free to add the code on any of your other websites, buying AdSense approved website means the site passes the stringent test on a number of parameters including not having thin content.
Found this comment from an expert in AdSense community forum relevant and so reproducing here: Adsense is a big business, and very few sites are accepted nowadays. Google has no idea whether someone has bought a site – it’s irrelevant to them. All they look at is the quality of the content, and the expertise, reliability etc of the site owner, as stated in the ‘about’ page (obviously that needs to have your own credentials if you are taking on a site, with your qualifications that enable you to continue updating and maintaining the site). (https://support.google.com/adsense/thread/125052051/adsense-approval-of-an-existing-approved-website?hl=en)
A.3. Business Consultancy/Developer
Even as I continue blogging, I make sure to have a page like Hire Us. In this way, there is a possibility to get new clients who will contact me through online form/chat/phone/social media and hire for content writing, developing website (usually WordPress CMS), or digital marketing.
A.4. Sale of Website/Domain Name
Initially, I owned just one website (digitalsplendid.net, purchased August 2017) and posted articles (or so-called blog posts, a term which might not go well with many when it comes to marketing) while making money from the first three. In July 2019, I was in need of capital and found that putting together content from diverse niches all in one website is not good when it comes to selling a website.
Relevant Article: Three ways to flip a domain name with connected website
During the time of sale, the website (digitalsplendid.net) had 85 published articles out of which 73 articles written by me over a span of a decade (earlier published on other platforms of mine such as free Blogger website).
However, armed with the above content, I could get an approved AdSense account, which translates into higher sale value while flipping. Also, approved CJ, ShareASale, ImpactRadius, Awin, and PartnerStack affiliate accounts from where approvals from the likes of GoDaddy (under CJ); Liquid Web/Nexcess (under ImpactRadius); OptinMonster, WPForms, Tailwind, Cloudways (under ShareASale).
Some of the advertisers/merchants also pay for affiliate posts/affiliate videos. What I do is to take part in all such opportunities. This helps in five ways:
- Receive payment for affiliate posts/affiliate videos which can be anything from 10$ to above 100$, with most ranging from 25$ to 50$. Even if it is a contest and I do not qualify, I benefit from the remaining four ways.
- Earning commission from any lead or sale generated from attached affiliate links with such affiliate posts/videos.
- More traffic to the website because of fresh content, which means more income from impression/pay per click ads.
- Increased probability of getting new clients. Someone reading an affiliate post or viewing an affiliate video might contact through Hire Us page or phone call for one-on-one service.
- With more content, your site ranks higher on more keywords. All these lead to higher website value in terms of scores like Authority Score on Semrush.
B. Case study with DigitalSplendid.XYZ
B.1. Discounted Domain Name
Domains such as .xyz, .work, .store are heavily discounted for the first year on NameCheap/GoDaddy. So, what you can do is to buy a number of domains based on the niches you intend to promote through affiliate marketing. This is not to deny that .com commands the highest valuation closely followed by TLDs like .net and .org, other things remaining constant.
B.2. Web Hosting: Cost can Vary Depending upon Your Choice of Hosting Provider
DigitalSplendid.XYZ hosted on AWS Lightsail under Plesk Ubuntu 5$ per month plan that allows three WordPress websites (Plesk Hosting Stack on Ubuntu: 3 websites under one instance with plans starting 5$ per month on Amazon Lightsail and a demo of migration with free Migrate Guru plugin). My web hosting cost zero since as a startup founder received 6000$ in credit from AWS. Here is how you too may avail: Cloud technologies and AWS for startups: Tips based on our experience as a startup from India. You might choose a hosting provider of your choice.
You will want fast page load speed. For that, you need a hosting service provider that uses the latest technologies. Instead of shared hosting (out-of-memory errors, 500 errors, the site cannot be found type of things related to low server resources), you will want managed hosting in which I like managed WordPress hosting by WP Engine and Nexcess.
NameCheap that has both shared and managed hosting plans comes in between. For 10 websites or more, I find $22/mo plan of Cloudways unique in which you can choose servers from AWS/DigitalOcean/Google Cloud/Linode/Vultr.
For starter websites like DigitalSplendid.XYZ, the cheapest viable option as per my experience is shared hosting by Hostinger.
B.3. Managing with Free and Paid Themes/Plugins: Depending upon Needs Specific to Website and Budget
For DigitalSplendid.XYZ, I used free plugins. Your cost will be yearly domain name registration, web hosting in case you use a free theme like Astra, and content creation and administering WordPress site done by yourself. I used a premium StudioPress theme priced 99.95$ received as a perk being WP Engine Agency Partner. You can apply for your agency request here.
B.4. Content Creation: Blog Posts/Articles Define a Content Site
Published three original blog posts or articles written by me (under Blog) during the time of sale.
For a content website, it is the quality and quantity of blog posts that will define it. If the content is king, this is all the more for a content website. Now, out of the 3 articles, I am paid 100$ for one article and 25$ for another article (not disclosing the exact source because of privacy clause with advertisers) upfront as paid affiliate posts. Also, in this period, there were numerous sales from placed affiliate links with the posts and website as a whole.
My call to action is to hire content writers who will help replicate the above business of flipping websites on a bigger scale. From choosing your niche to buying a domain name and developing a website (I use WordPress), one of the most time-consuming processes will be coming out with original blog posts (500 – 2000 words each blog post). It is here where one can take the help of freelance content writers.
B.5. Custom Email for Seamless Transfer and Monetizing from Affiliate Links
Created custom email id for the domain name firstname.lastname@example.org. When I sell this domain name connected with the website, the buyer gets a system in place with a free version of Semrush, Hubspot account created through my affiliate links using email id email@example.com.
With Hubspot, the buyer avails subscribers in place which he or she can continue to monetize with activities like email marketing while continuing with the existing Hubspot account created using email firstname.lastname@example.org.
With a ready SEMrush account, there will be motivation to further work on raising Authority Score. It goes without saying that in case the buyer opts for a paid version in the future of Hubspot or SEMrush, I will receive an affiliate commission.
B.6. Adding a Page Similar to Hire Us/Consult Us Page for Lead Generation
WPForms is another option but the free version does not allow storing of records. By including a page similar to Hire Us/Consult Us, you are keeping an option open to book new clients despite your focus on generating content as part of affiliate marketing and raising authority score in quest of getting a better sale price when put for sale (Flippa is my choice).
B.7. AdSense and Google News Approved
Add news received from affiliate partners giving due credit to the source. In this way, you will not be charged for plagiarism/duplicate content. Apply for Google News approval. Google News approved websites (like AdSense approved websites) get a better valuation on Flippa, other things remaining constant.
To be honest, although I have my own approved AdSense account, yet not able to get timely approval for the above websites (except DigitalSplendid.Work, all the above three are sold on Flippa while being approved for Google News program).
Relevant Article: Applying for your own AdSense account through an existing AdSense approved website: A Flippa case study
B.8. Shop Section for Adding Recommended Affiliate Products
B.9. Social Media Handles for More Visibility and Better Bargain during the Sale of the Website
Open a Facebook page, Twitter handle, Instagram, and Pinterest account for each website. In fact, Buy It Now (BIN) option with Flippa allows you to bundle sales and can be updated frequently with a listing. Though I did not get the time to create social media accounts for digitalsplendid.xyz, let me share my experience with other of my websites. During the sale of DigitalSplendid.Host, it was 2 hours left for the auction to complete and 90$ current price. I revised BIN pricing to 150$ with a transfer of one of my existing Facebook business pages and won the auction.
In another instance for HowToSplendid.com, I offered with BIN transfer of my existing Twitter and Facebook handle for 250$ with success.
C. The Way Forward: Executing a Well-Crafted Business Plan with a Team
Once you scale up, in addition to content writing, you can delegate website development, SEO, social media marketing, logo designing, video creation jobs for your websites. For coming out with a business plan, you can use LivePlan.
Relevant Article: Business plan: LivePlan’s free 90-day trial
Savvy businessmen can outsource complete projects including developing websites, content creation, video editing, SEO, and digital marketing tasks as part of executing a well-crafted business plan. With a managed hosting cum client management product like Growth Suite by Flywheel, your buyer of website will have the option to continue with your hosting, in which case you will have a billing system in place. You can enter into an understanding with the buyer of some kind of additional partnerships like you will take care of fresh blog posts and SEO. In fact, each buyer will need a different approach. Some will just transfer domain name and hosting to their existing hosting accounts. Others will want your assistance in applying for them a fresh AdSense account and affiliate marketing programs. In any case, Growth Suite will systematize your services/partnerships with the new buyer and accelerate your business model of flipping websites.
I have shared my experience developing content sites using WordPress CMS centered around affiliate marketing as a way to monetize before selling on Flippa under Starter Website. There are so many other online business models under e-Commerce, Content/Advertising, Apps, SAAS, Services that you get to know once you browse through live Flippa listings. Most of the listings explain elaborately their business models with attached income reports. Zero in the idea that you feel more comfortable working with.