Guest Post by Oliver Roup, CEO of VigLink
Website publishers feel like they face a difficult trade-off: cater to their readers or cater to their revenue. But, as any publisher or affiliate marketer knows, it’s a false trade-off. The two are intimately related. Without strong readership and traffic, monetization is an impossibility. Without monetization, a site is tough to sustain.
So, how can you earn revenue without scaring off your readers? Or, better yet, how can you earn revenue while actually enhancing your readers’ experience on your site?
Publishers that don’t think through these questions may find themselves adopting a rather crude monetization strategy, plastering banners on every spare inch of their pages, or implementing the dreaded paywall. And while there is certainly a time and a place for both banner ads and paywalls, both overlook what should be a critical component of a site’s monetization strategy: the content.
Content is where your readers dedicate the majority of their time and attention on your site. Why not leverage it? By doing so, you’ll secure an important additional revenue stream for your site that is both unobtrusive and user-friendly. Here are a few of the best ways to get started monetizing your site’s content.
Most reading this are already leveraging affiliate marketing in some capacity to earn revenue. However, it’s important to be strategic when affiliating links. To do so, closely monitor where your outbound traffic goes (using a tool like Google Analytics), in order to replicate successes. And if you aren’t already, consider leveraging a tool like VigLink (disclosure: I am the CEO) to augment what you are doing by hand and monetize links you may have missed.
Add Additional Monetizable Links
Done right, weaving additional–sensible–links into your content can enhance both a reader’s experience on your site AND your revenue.
When readers want to learn more about a product, brand, or merchant your content references, it’s tedious to start a search elsewhere. Similarly, it’s tedious for you to comb through content searching for each and every product reference and inserting an appropriate monetizable link (particularly if you are combing through comments or other user-generated content). So, bring in help to do the heavy lifting. Vibrant Media, Konetera, VigLink, and Infolinks all offer link insertion solutions with varying degrees of intrusiveness.
Sponsored posts, done right, unite an advertiser’s interest in spreading their message with a reader’s interest in great content. But readers won’t read through or act-on content that is a pure product pitch. A few angles that will avoid this:
- Sponsored product reviews (that you write): Allowing relevant advertisers to commission a product review on your site–that you write–helps them get their message out while also buffering content from overt bias.
- Sponsored series (3-4 articles on a single theme or topic): A single sponsored post provides little benefit to an advertiser, and isn’t always in the best interest of readers either. Advertisers will often feel compelled to package their entire marketing message in a single post and the quality of the content will suffer. However, allowing an advertiser to author a series of blog posts around a specific topic will lessen the pressure around communicating their value proposition in a single article, while also increasing the overall volume of impressions they see on your site.
In all likelihood, every page of content on your site includes one or more images. But few online publishers are earning revenue from the images they include within their content. Often, they even cost the publisher money if purchased via sites like iStockphoto.
A Better Experience for ReadersReaders understand the need for revenue. But, that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to be vocal when they see something they don’t like. Monetizing content can serve as a way to alleviate the downward pressure on banner advertising and other obtrusive monetization methods while still increasing your overall revenue stream.
What content monetization tools did I leave out? Share your favorites in the comments section.
About Oliver Roup
Oliver is the Founder and CEO of VigLink, a content monetization company. He has over 15 years of software experience and has previously served as a Director at Microsoft in charge of product for various media properties including XBOX Live Video Marketplace, Zune Marketplace and MSN Entertainment. Oliver was also an early employee at Internet Radio pioneer Echo Networks and has worked for Paul Allen at Vulcan, for iPlayer at the BBC and for the Founders Fund. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science from MIT and his MBA from the Harvard Business School.*Advertising Disclosure Policy*