What Is Content Monetization? A Guide for Website Owners

What Is Content Monetization? A Guide for Website Owners

Creating great content for your website can produce more than high SEO rankings. Content monetization allows you to leverage your content so when the user consumes it, you get paid. There are several ways you can use to make your content produce revenue. You can be paid directly by the user or a third party.

In this article, we will cover these methods and break down how you can use them. We’ll also cover the examples of monetization platforms like Facebook and YouTube.

How does Content Monetization Works?

Surely you have heard of content marketing. Content monetization is the other side of content marketing. Content marketing focuses on creating valuable content to acquire more customers, while content monetization, on the other hand, has the goal of profiting from them. It gives publishers and content creators the possibility of earning money from the content they create. So, monetization can give you a way to profit even if you are not selling your content.

How does it work? It will depend on the method you choose. Still, the basic premise is that every time the user or website visitor consumes content, performing an activity, for example, subscribing, clicking on an ad or affiliate link, you get paid.

But before starting to look into monetization methods, you should ask if content monetization is right for you.

Is your content worth monetizing?

Before starting to monetize your content, you should ensure you’re producing the best content for your audience.  After all, all monetization strategies require that you create high-quality content if you want it to work.

High-quality content can help to build the audience you require to generate a revenue stream with monetization. So what are the characteristics of fantastic content?

  1. Is unique: Your content should be original and different from other options available for your audience. The uniqueness will help you rank higher in search engines, give your audience more value and increase their engagement.
  2. Has high quality: The work should be impeccable, well researched, and without grammar or spelling mistakes.
  3. Is consistent: The best content in the world won’t help if it is not consistent. You should regularly engage with your audience. That way, they will know when to expect new content from you. And you’ll build a loyal audience of followers.

 Besides, when you want to start monetizing through a platform or ad network, you will have to meet some requirements to benefit from it. You should consider monetizing your content if you:

  • Are an expert in your niche.
  • Already have a content platform, blog, YouTube channel with a steady flow of followers.
  • Get a lot of engagement from your followers, and you see their numbers grow.
  • Can spend time working on improving your content.

8 ways to Monetize your Content

Whether you have a blog, a podcast, or you publish YouTube videos, you can use most of the following strategies to make money:

1. Sell exclusive rights

In this agreement, you relinquish all rights to the work. That includes copyright and royalties exchanging your content for money.

There are many ways to approach selling your content rights. For instance, freelancers and ghostwriters do it when producing content exclusively for a brand. Another option is producing the content first and then selling it as is (in a marketplace or to a publisher).

Regardless of what option you choose, the core is the same, you exchange your piece of content for money and give away all rights to the buyer.

Selling content is becoming a popular strategy, according to this HubSpot Infographic:

Content Monetization Infographic

2. Limited usage rights

This is also a broad category. Whether you produce the content for a buyer according to specifications or you sell a ready-made piece, you may choose to limit the usage rights to it.

You, as the content creator, may choose to allow the content to be used in print only, for example, or for non-commercial use. To put it simply, you offer a license for using your content. You can also allow your content to be redistributed.

Here you have an example of how an images company, VectorStock, manages the licensing for their illustrations.

License Content

This approach doesn’t work so well for written content because of the lack of originality. But, when you come to visual content, images, illustrations, or videos, there are many places that sell stock content with limited usage rights.

3. Affiliate sales

With this monetization method, you have an audience, a blog, or a website and are willing to promote other people’s products or services. Maybe monetizing your email newsletter by promoting a product via an affiliate link. You can also recommend items via product reviews to your blog readers.

In all cases, you include a trackable link. When a visitor clicks on the link or makes a purchase from it, you get paid.

How do you get into affiliate sales? There are marketplaces for affiliate marketing. You can also work directly with sellers.

There are many platforms and ways for affiliate marketing. If you want to know more about this monetization strategy, check our Monetization Guide for Beginners.

4. Premium content

When you sell premium content your audience can access exclusive content they are not getting elsewhere.

This model has become popular in the last few years. Main publications like the Harvard Business Review and Entrepreneur give readers a limited number of free articles and then the paywall for premium content.

See, for instance, the HBR tiers:

User type   Text
Anonymous   Free articles
Registered user (registration is free-of-charge   articles sample
HBR Subscriber   monetization subscriber

5. Subscriptions

If you have unique knowledge or are an expert in a subject, your audience may pay you to get regular access to that.

This method allows you to get a steady stream of revenue by offering more in-depth content on a subscription basis. Examples may include in-depth or specialized content. You can also offer regular content via a newsletter like e-books or guides that are available only for subscribers.

If you’re going the subscription or membership route, be creative and mix the type of content you offer your subscribers. A premium video series, for instance, or a webinar can be a good idea.

Or you can give members access to a range of content with the subscription. Examples of this are sports program memberships. You might offer a course or a library of assets that people can refer to as long as they are subscribed.

An example of this type of monetization is Medium.com. For $5 a month, you get unlimited access to all the content published on the platform.

medium for monetization

6. Monetize with ads

You can sell your audience to advertisers. That means you display advertisements on your blog or website, and every time a visitor clicks on the ad, you get paid.

monetize with ads

There are different ways to monetize with ads:

  1. You can use a monetization platform like CodeFuel. The platform serves ads based on user intent, ensuring maximum engagement. This has the advantage of simplifying monetization with ads.
  2. You can deal with advertisers yourself by selling ad space. Here you have several options on how to charge. You may charge a fixed rate or a rate per a thousand impressions (CPM)
  3. You can also monetize with an ad network like AdSense. The downside of these large ad networks is that they tend to be very general and not very suitable for niche companies. In addition, the pay is usually low.

Monetizing with ads is a good strategy for website owners, publishers, and bloggers. The catch? Your content needs to be popular and on target for your audience. If not, you may risk spending more in tactics to drive traffic than what you get in ad revenue.

7. Sponsored content

If you are a publisher, you may think that adding sponsored content may impact your own negatively. In fact, the opposite is true. By offering other brands the possibility of getting promoted through sponsored reviews or posts, you can generate revenue and elevate the quality of your own content.

You can also produce sponsored content and publish it in relevant publications. A very popular content monetization strategy is live streaming content. Getting sponsors for your live streaming can also increase your content revenue.

An example of this is sponsoring content on LinkedIn. For instance, investment company Acciona got more exposure after a sponsored campaign on LinkedIn.

Sponsored content monetization

8. Donations

Now, you may argue that donations are not a monetization strategy but hear me out. When you structure your monetization with donations, you give your followers the choice of supporting you but leaving the content open for everybody.

For example, you can use Patreon to ask for a monthly donation from your sponsors. You can also add a Paypal donation button. Bear in mind that when adding a Paypal “Donate” button, you accept Paypal displaying relevant ads on your site.

Content monetization models and strategies for digital publishers

While the above strategies may work for content creators and publishers alike. Still, publishers may benefit from the following strategies.

Paywall

A difference from premium content, publishers can set a paywall, so content is available only to paying customers. Research or specific niche companies usually implement this strategy due to the high quality of the content. That doesn’t mean you cannot put out free content to attract your audience.

Tiered access offerings

As a publisher, you can offer a tiered access approach. Here you have many options, from giving a free trial period. You can also have different levels of access to the content according to the pay. This includes allowing users to pay for a single report or piece of content.

Add a paid tool or API

Adding an app or tool may increase your monetization fronts. A tool gives your users a way to enjoy your content on multiple devices. This gives you the opportunity to have a revenue stream while increasing your exposure and the user’s engagement.

Top content monetization platforms

Facebook

If your Facebook page is popular and you have a good fanbase, you can earn money from it. To monetize your Facebook account, you first need to check if you meet the terms of eligibility. If you meet the criteria, then you can apply some of the following strategies:

  1. Ads: Facebook monetization lets you display ads that appear when the user is scrolling through your page. The algorithm inserts the ad at the natural breaks in the user activity. You get paid according to how many people view the ad.
  2. Subscriptions: Facebook also has a subscription model, where your followers can pay a monthly subscription fee to access exclusive content or other perks.
  3. Brand Collaboration: Eligible companies can connect with brands so online influencers can promote their products on your page.
  4. Stars:  Your followers can buy a form of Facebook currency called “stars” to support your live streaming.
  5. Paid events: You can host webinars, events, and performances via Facebook live and charge for it.

Youtube

Content creators use the YouTube monetization model to earn revenue from their content and traffic. The YouTube partner program, for instance, allows you to attach ads to your video content.

To monetize with ads, your YouTube account needs to meet certain requirements. For instance, you have to have at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 viewing hours.

Other YouTube monetization options include product placement, affiliate marketing, and online courses.

Want to know more about YouTube monetization? Check out How to Make Money on YouTube in 2021

What not to do when monetizing content

Monetizing content may seem easy, but there are rookie mistakes that you should avoid. Here is what not to do when you start monetizing:

Not caring about transparency

In the haste of starting monetizing, you can overlook the need to be transparent about your affiliate links or promotions. For instance, if you endorse a brand, you need to disclose any relationship you may have with the brand. When publishing a review, you are forbidden to review a product you haven’t tried. Learn more about the Federal Trade Commission guidelines here.

Tricky links

If you are monetizing through affiliate marketing, you must disclose that you are using affiliate links from company “x.”  If you don’t do it, you may risk losing your followers. Audiences’ loyalty is volatile, and if you mislead your followers, you risk losing them. Contrarily of what it seems, disclosing that you have a promotional relationship with companies may increase your follower’s trust.

Not measuring enough

Measuring and tracking content metrics is essential to ensure your content monetization strategy. The number of followers, likes and shares don’t really tell you how the content is performing money-wise.

To track how your ads or links performance you should pay attention to click-through rate, conversion rates, and demographics. Especially on social media, content creators sometimes get distracted by the number of likes or followers and don’t pay attention to the demographics.

Related content: Social media demographics you can’t miss in 2021.

Myth or Fact: Is Monetized Content Authentic?

There is a myth about monetized content being untrue or unethical. In reality, when content creators and publishers follow regulations and disclose commercial relationships, monetized content is just like any other online content.

Actually, the best content creators are the ones that strive to give the users an authentic experience. The best content publishers focus on the audience. They deliver content that connects to the audience’s needs. Therefore, the best content creators only promote brands that can deliver value to their followers.

How CodeFuel helps companies monetize content the smart way

To summarize, monetizing your content starts with you producing great quality content. The strategy you choose for monetization will depend on the type of audience and your goals.

When it comes to monetization, you can do the work yourself or use a platform to simplify and optimize monetization.

CodeFuel helps companies monetize their content by working at the basis: giving the audience what they are looking for. The platform leverages the user intent to display search and shopping ads that enrich the user experience while earning revenue for the publisher.

Start optimizing your content monetization with CodeFuel today.

Solving Publisher Pains

Content publishers face various challenges on a daily basis. CodeFuel has learnt from both internal and external studies that they face daily worries concerning social media impact, audience engagement, brand loyalty, bounce rates, traffic and mobile penetration.

It is now considered fact that publishers are not only looking to earn more revenue (obviously that’s always a priority), but a key concern is also to attract relevant users to consume their content.

Relevant Content

Users want to read relevant content. It keeps them on site for longer. The trick is to offer the ultimate experience, to deliver everything possible for an incredible user experience. When traffic comes from a social media network, the publishers needs something in place to secure that traffic and keep them on site for as long as possible.  To achieve this, content publishers need to understand the end user, to create a loyalty, and to use targeted content with slick monetization units.

Moving In The Right Direction

Creating fresh and trending content is all well and good, but publishers need to take the focus away from SEO and put it more on the end use. They need to understanding his / her habits and trends. CodeFuel’s In-Feed, for example, uses intuitive technology to align ads with key habits and trends.

The right technology is essential to capture intent, to target and personalize content so the end user will stay and explore the website environment and all it has to offer. Publishers need to aggregate internal content from the website with external content such as rich video, Wikipedia snippets and knowledge graphs.

Data oriented companies try to use data to deliver the right content to the end user, but they don’t quite hit the mark. Not a lot of companies have the technology needed to address all issues needed in one solution. CodeFuel manages to achieve this in one swoop.  With a simple line of code, it uses Smart Demand to capture certain site and session info to deliver powerfully accurate sponsored content and ads with strong metrics. It also comes with the HUB, a back-end system that allows full campaign control to analyze and optimize performance.

CodeFuel delivers value to the publisher and solves pains – all in one. We essentially offer one provider with multiple solutions which engage the user, monetize content and optimize data. What more could a publisher want? Learn more about CodeFuel here.

Engage Users. Earn From Content. Track Results.

Content publishers are looking for the perfect balance between how their users engage with their site, and how much revenue they can earn from these visitors through ads and sponsored content. This balance between engagement and monetization can be extremely delicate, and it is essential to note that when done right, publishers can have the strongest chances possible to engage and to earn.

Engagement & Revenue

As mentioned above, content publishers are looking for two things- improving engagement with their users, and earning revenue from this engagement on their site pages. It is therefore essential that they have just the right tool in place that can offer both. There has to be a balance, you cannot ignore either one, and too much attention on one can tip the scales in the wrong direction.

CodeFuel delivers a solution which caters to this balance. It recognizes that publishers need to make money from various ad formats and sponsored content but can’t distract the user with irrelevant material that can lead away from the site, or even worse, lead to ad blocking. CodeFuel integrates ads and content that not only match the look and feel of the host site, but uses algorithms to make sure that the ads displayed compliment the content on the page, therefore creating a better UX- it even offers a back end system to track performance and behavior of these tailored ad units – also known as the HUB.

Tracking With Hub

The HUB is a platform that helps content publishers understand user engagement, how the user interacts with the content of the website and how to improve the value of their visit. It exists to be the analytics partner to the CodeFuel solutions, offering real time access to data analysis and giving a full understanding of how to optimize user value & engagement.

The Future Of Online Engagement

CodeFuel not only creates the balance between engagement and monetization, but it also has an incredible way of tracking and editing performance in order to yield the very best results possible. Through tracking with the HUB, content publishers can understand their user data and give themselves a better online position than ever before.

The Balance between Monetization and User Engagement

You want to monetize your site to create an additional revenue stream — or perhaps your only revenue stream if your brand’s only product is your website like bloggers and Internet personalities — but you also need to create a good user experience so that people actually come to your site and click on those ads.

Adding a bunch of pop-ups and other ads isn’t really conducive to the user experience since they become so annoyed with the ads that they just leave your site instead of continuing to explore your content. Some even install ad blockers so they don’t have to worry about this nuisance. So what do you do when you want to maximize your ad revenue but you also want to maximize your user traffic?

Here are a few things to consider about the balance between monetization and user engagement:

Provide Choice

People are much less annoyed by ads when they have been given the choice before they are shown them. One example of this is when you provide an app that is free with advertising. You give users the choice to pay a fee and not be shown the ads or to have the free app with the understanding that ads will be shown. When ads pop up, users are not as annoyed because they feel they had a choice in seeing them or not. Another example is a paywall for content.

Not all blogs or informational sites have to be free. You can provide a subscription model that presents the content with no advertising. You’ll get the revenue you need, and users will have the ad-free experience they want. Finally, if you do include pop-up ads or auto-play videos on your site, you should give users the option to close out of them if they don’t want to see them. Nothing will send your users running faster than ads that force them to watch.

Use More Native Advertising

Readers don’t like to feel like they are being sold something — they come to your site for information that will make their lives better. But what if you offer them both? You can do that with native advertising. You can accept sponsored posts that tell users about products or services that will solve a problem they are having. The posts read just like any other article, and they recommend a useful solution. You can also write reviews of your own.

You charge the company to review their product or service, and then you write an honest review that lets your readers know how that product or service would actually benefit them. The reader gets honest information, and you get revenue that supports your site.

The best part about native advertising is that it doesn’t look like traditional advertising — it looks like content. That means that more users are likely to read the posts, and it means that ad blockers aren’t likely to shield the content. You’ll get more click-throughs and sales, and you’ll preserve your user experience.

Use Content Recommendation

Content recommendation tools help your users discover more of the content on your site, which helps to increase page views and visit times to increase your SEO and search rankings. Content recommendation tools can also be used to recommend content from advertisers on third-party sites.

For example, In-tag from CodeFuel recommends content based on user-intent signals. It automatically inserts text links on your site based on what your user is looking at and what other signals have been gleaned to determine that user’s interests and intentions. The ads that are shown are more likely to encourage the user to click and to purchase.

With the right content recommendation tool, like In-tag, users are going to be happy to see the ads they are shown because the ads will offer real solutions or products that they actually want. The tool preserves the user experience while also helping you to increase your revenue with relevant ads. In-tag also helps you to get around ad blockers, which are on the rise. The ads are text links and native ads, so they are not flagged by these tools. More users will see these ads and click through, which means that you will make more in advertising revenue.

CodeFuel has other advertising solutions that also use complicated algorithms based on user intent to deliver the right ad units to the right customers. Again, since the ads are highly relevant, users are more likely to welcome them than to be annoyed by them. Overall, you need to keep your user experience at the forefront when you are designing your site, developing your content strategy and determining your advertising strategy. Using the right tools can help, as can keeping these other tips in mind. You’ll get the traffic you need while also reaching your revenue goals.

The Best Engagement and Monetization Models for Big Sites

If you have lots of traffic, you need to learn the best engagement and monetization models for big sites.

With the right strategy, high volumes of traffic can earn you high volumes of income. The key to successfully monetizing big, content-rich websites is user engagement.

In this article, we’ll go over the monetization and engagement models that make the most sense for big sites with lots of traffic.

Choosing the Right Monetization and Engagement Model

How do you choose the best engagement and monetization model for your website?

First, you need to look at the essential ingredients required for monetizing a large site:

  • Content – Big websites regularly produce large amounts of content. This keeps them in the spotlight across a mix of marketing channels, from search to social. The content is usually the primary draw and driver for a site – it’s the reason people keep coming back. Content is necessary to keep users engaged. But since content is free, website owners will need to develop another monetization strategy.
  • Traffic – The second key component to any big website’s monetization strategy is traffic. The more you have, the more likely they are to engage with monetization methods, whether it’s advertising, affiliate links, or products.
  • An Engagement Strategy – Since large sites rely on traffic and content, it’s in your best interest to capture that traffic as it flows in. As we’ll cover below, a good engagement strategy will cover the marketing funnel from end to end, from the moment customers discover your content to the time they finish reading it.
  • Monetization Strategies – Elsewhere on this blog, we’ve covered monetization strategies extensively. Certain monetization strategies are ideal for large websites, while others are more suited to low-traffic sites or businesses that don’t focus exclusively on content.

Creating the Right Models for Your Site

Let’s explore best practices when engaging and monetizing audiences on large websites:

Engagement and retention should be the primary focus of your site, with a monetization strategy that operates in the background.

When you build a large website, all of your marketing tactics, web design strategies and content creation should be aimed at user engagement and user retention.

View content as the “sales vehicle” for your website, which then keeps users reading, listening, and watching. This content should not be salesy or pushy. The purpose is to keep users occupied while your monetization model operates in the background.

At some point, however, you will need to push people towards an action. A good approach is to engage people through recommended content or a pop-up, for instance. But it’s best to wait until you have engaged them first: establish a connection before compelling action.

Without an action at the bottom of a sales funnel, you won’t be able to turn traffic into users – a necessary step if you wish to retain those visitors and turn them into repeat “customers.”

Engaging content means striking the right balance between specialization and generalization.

A tech blog would earn more visitors than a blog about mobile apps. And a mobile app blog would earn more visitors than a blog about mobile app development. This blog would, in turn, earn more visitors than a blog about mobile app development for Android.

There are a few things to keep in mind when considering your content topic:

  • Too much specialization will shrink your audience and your site.
  • Topics that are too broad will include content that is irrelevant to many, decreasing engagement.
  • Sites with mass appeal are already entrenched across every vertical, so it will likely be impossible to engage users that are loyal to another brand.

Large audiences are best suited to certain types of monetization models.

If you are an individual or operate a small team, certain monetization strategies will be less realistic than others.

Here are a few monetization methods that work well for large sites:

  • Advertising
  • Content Recommendation and Search Monetization
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Information Products
  • Premium Content and Memberships

Some, however, are more suited to service- and product-driven businesses:

  • Speaking Gigs
  • Services and Products
  • Consulting and Coaching

There can certainly be overlap. But, in general, when your content is the primary sales vehicle for your website, you can’t stray too far outside this mission. Offer too many monetization strategies and you’ll risk straying outside the scope of your mission.

And mission creep will inevitably alienate certain portions of your audience, create confusion, and decrease engagement.

Put usability first and the money will follow.

The user experience has become the focus for huge sites like Facebook. A website that doesn’t help users accomplish goals won’t make money.

On the one hand, this means you should create content that is relevant, implement a user interface that is easy to understand, and give users what they want. On the other, it means your monetization strategy should blend into the background, be non-interruptive, and even add value to the end user.

In today’s world, where many have become deterred by advertising and marketing, it’s imperative to focus on ads that add to the user experience.

Native advertising, on-site search monetization, and content recommendation systems are examples of monetization strategies that work with the user instead of against them.

Site Search vs. Google Search: Why In-Site Search Is the Only Choice

Site search vs. Google search – which is better?

Many website owners feel that these are the same. They may include Google’s on-site search solution, without realizing there are big differences between the two. Those differences can impact the user experience. And they can have a big impact on user engagement, user retention, and the bottom line.

In this article, we’ll explain the differences between in-site search solutions and Google’s on-site search box.

Site Search vs. Google Search

According to the marketing research firm Econsultancy, up to 30% of site visitors will use the site search box. That means that 30% of your visitors could be demonstrating purchase intent. As we’ll see below, this information has big implications for the user experience and the bottom line.

But is there a real difference when it comes to site search vs. Google search?

There is.

Google search operates just like the search engine does when adding the “sitename” operator to a query. Therefore, Google’s in-site search will use the same algorithm and dataset when delivering results.

There are several problems with this:

  • Website owners have no control over the search algorithm.
  • The search algorithm itself may change, which can impact the results that users receive.
  • Website owners can’t prioritize content, products, pages, and so forth.

Although Google’s on-site search tool works, it doesn’t offer the same benefits as an in-site search solution:

  • In-site search tools give you control over the search algorithm.
  • You can prioritize whatever content you wish in the results.
  • Since you can customize the search experience, analytics are even more powerful and can have an even bigger impact on your bottom line.

In-site search can even be monetized. Site search solutions such as SiteFuel and SearchFuel, both offered by CodeFuel, allow website owners to earn revenue with every search.

The first solution, SiteFuel, delivers results inside a visually appealing search grid. Revenue comes from recommended content and ads, which add more value to the user since they are tailored to search queries.

The in-site search solution SearchFuel works similarly, with a traditional search experience. Website owners can easily embed the box into their website, then earn a search revenue share with every query.

Why Site Search Is So Important

Today, in-site searches are becoming more common than ever. In fact, the larger the site, the bigger the role that site search plays in the user experience. Many times, in-site search is itself a go-to navigation tool.

In large websites, the search box is the first go-to navigation method people use to find what they’re looking for. On ecommerce sites, for instance, many customers would rather type in a specific product than delve through countless menus.

Other sites also make heavy use of search boxes:

  • Knowledge bases
  • Support websites
  • Wikis
  • Content-rich websites and blogs
  • Media outlets

The more content you have – whether it comes in the form of products or articles – the more you need an in-site search solution that works.

Here are the major benefits you get when you implement the right in-site search solution:

  • In-site searches indicate search intent. This allows ecommerce sites to find out what products are popular and which aren’t.
  • Searchers are buyers. A study from Econsultancy suggested that visitors who use search can be as much as 50% more likely to buy than those who don’t…all the more reason to have a custom on-site search tool.
  • Search data offers insight into customer needs. The right data will tell you what customers want from your business and your website. With this information in hand, you can turn around and offer it to them.
  • Searches tell you about site usability. Search is critical to your site. But if users are searching at the expense of other navigation tools, you may need to make some changes to your information architecture.
  • The search algorithm and search results can be optimized. When you can promote your own content, products, or services, you can influence customers. This is ideal for any website owner or business.
  • The right search solution increases engagement and retention. The right search tool improves the user experience – the wrong one can increase bounce rates. The longer that users stay on your site to view content, the more they are engaged and the greater the chance they have of becoming long-term customers.
  • A better user experience means a better profit margin. Ultimately, search solutions will have a direct impact on your bottom line. The better the search tool, the better the impact on the user experience and the profit margin.

Every search optimization tool is different. Some are geared towards analytics and some are designed to put money in your pocket.

Regardless of which search tool you choose, it’s important to recognize the benefits of site search vs. Google search. From increased user engagement to increased profit margins, site search offers many benefits that you just can’t get from Google’s tool.