There are a lot of different ways to make money online, and it can be hard to know what methods to choose for your specific blog or website.

Some say products. Others say ads. Still others insist on affiliate marketing. Is there a right and a wrong, or do all of these models work? More importantly, what’s right for you?

At the end of the day, you can go about this in a number of different ways, so here are four different approaches that can help you choose your specific focus.

  1. The Viability Approach

If you’re a numbers kind of guy or gal, then you might want to consider what monetization models have worked best for others.

There’s an older article on Blog Marketing Academy called Top 10 Blog Monetization Strategies, Ranked In Order.

From it, we can see which of the three strategies have proven to be the most reliable for other bloggers out there. In order, they are:

  1. Products
  2. Affiliate programs
  3. Advertising

This may seem like a fairly sensible and even scientific approach to determining your monetization strategy, but we do have to keep in mind that what works for others may not always work for you.

If you sell your own products, you get to keep most of the money. With affiliate programs, you only get a percentage. With advertising, it largely depends on the model, but you usually make significantly less per click and/or impression. If you’re selling ad space to sponsors, that can change things up a bit.

But it shouldn’t come as a surprise that products are ranked high, since the $97 product deal is so pervasive across the web. Just remember that, unless you find a deal that converts, it doesn’t really matter how many products you have out there; you won’t make any money.

  1. The Case-By-Case Approach

Let’s say that you do something really well, and you have a lot of people asking you how you they can get the same results. All they really want to do is download information from your brain into theirs.

In that case, there’s already a demand for a product. You just need to spend some time talking to these people to figure out what their challenges are, and listen to the language they’re using. By incorporating those elements into your product, you can ensure that it will reach more people later.

Now let’s say that your website visitors really want to know what tools you’re using in your trade or online business. They’re interested in tapping the same resources you are.

If that’s what you’re finding, then affiliate marketing could be your cash cow. You could write reviews for individual products and show people how to use them. You could create a resource page where people go to learn about the various tools and click through to buy them. If you like writing reviews, this can be a really lucrative way to go.

Now imagine having a site that gets boatloads of traffic. The visitors aren’t always quality, but you consistently see a high number of people visiting your site. They don’t appear to be coming for anything besides your content.

This is where advertising can be a good fit. Even if you have a high bounce rate, that’s not a bad thing if your site is primarily monetized with ads. Of course, even within ads, you have a lot of different options, whether it’s clicks, impressions, or sponsors. Regardless, a large amount of traffic helps.

So that might be one way to figure out which way to go with your site.

  1. The Experts-Know-Best Approach

We can look at a post like 26 Expert Bloggers Share Their Favorite Blog Monetization Strategies to figure out what the experts out there are saying, and then determine what they think the best monetization methods are.

We have to be somewhat careful in doing that, because sometimes even what the experts say is just opinion, but for now we’ll give more weight to what they’re saying.

If you look at the previously mentioned post, you’ll see that most experts are actually talking about one of the three methods we’ve been talking about here: products, ads, and affiliate programs.

The good thing about this approach is this; if you resonate with a particular expert, and you find that you’re somewhat of a similar personality, then what works for them probably has a better chance of working for you.

It isn’t so much that their thoughts are always right, but it’s more that if you could see yourself doing what they did to get to where they are, and follow their advice, you’ll have a real chance at reproducing their results. If you’re teachable, then you can make a lot of things happen that other people might not even try.

  1. The Combined Approach

At the end of the day, there’s nothing saying you can’t explore all rabbit holes to find out which one holds the golden egg. Figuring out what works for you might be a matter of experimentation.

The tough part is that this makes it hard to keep your website focused. You could end up with a lot of different call to actions in different spots. If you’re too unfocused, you’ll have a hard time converting your visitors with any one offer.

Spreading out your income is not bad, and combining different monetization methods can be effective. It’s just that you’re going to have to give some thought to how you’re going to pull it off. It’ll take a bit of planning.

One thought might be to launch three different sites simultaneously to test different niches and monetization models. This would be pretty work-intensive though, so don’t do it unless you have the resources, a team, or the resources to hire a team.

Final Thoughts

What we can see from successful bloggers and marketers out there is that any monetization model can work. It really depends on the situation.

There might be those who are vehemently opposed to ads. Others might say affiliate marketing is a waste of time.

That stuff doesn’t really matter, because others can’t tell you “it doesn’t work” when you’re holding a big paycheck right in front of their face. Don’t be too swayed by what others say, because you as a website owner always have the best information to act on.

By Jeremy Schoemaker

Jeremy "ShoeMoney" Schoemaker is the founder & CEO of ShoeMoney Media Group, and to date has sold 6 companies and done over 10 million in affiliate revenue. In 2013 Jeremy released his #1 International Best selling Autobiography titled "Nothing's Changed But My Change" - The ShoeMoney Story. You can read more about Jeremy on his wikipedia page here.

11 thoughts on “Should You Sell Products, Use Ads, Or Be An Affiliate?”
  1. Yeah, I have a problem with narrowing down my audience. It doesn’t help that my own blog feels a bit disjointed. Maybe others don’ think so, especially since my site isn’t even finished, but I can definitely relate to the focus bit. I definitely like the combined approach (although I haven’t worked with ads since my first niche blog), but it really seems to take different mental approaches to get each model working.

  2. I’m a firm believer in making use of whatever I can to make money online, buy as I tell my readers, make sure that you stay as high quality and as legitimate as possible. There’s enough example of poor quality black-hat promoted content on the internet for everyone to know that spamming your referral link 20 times throughout the same blog-post that’s only 300 words long is bad practice, and frankly it scares people away for life.

    I think that the “mix” of how you use your monetising tools is really dependant on your niche, for example if you’re an affiliate that’s selling Rolexs or luxury goods, the chances are, you don’t want your rich potential customers to click-through on a Google AdSense ad that earns you $0.03 for a click, when you could be bagging 10% of a $10,000 sale.

    1. That’s smart thinking. definitely ,couldn’t agree more. But i also think it depends with the internet marketing level you at…’ll find that beginners are most likely to go for adsense where as established internet marketer will go for higher options like big ticket products or programs

  3. It’s very hard to hit the right point when you’re gonna to make money online. I think, you should try everything out, and check in what you’re best.

    Then, you have to focus on this, to get value and get valued by the users.

    I think for ads you have to work everyday, for other stuff like affiliate you can make a really good project, and benefit from it years without work on it daily.

  4. That a smart approach to the idea. But, I think choosing the right model ads to monetize a blog it depends on the audience that the blogger is cibling. The most important of all is the trafic, trafic play a great deal in the our choice.

  5. Hi Jeremy,
    I remember your big check from big G and followed your advise many time since there. All of them work for me, but affiliate.
    I would’t say it does’t work at all, but I found it’s bored. However, I got my own way to make money online by… making mistakes, which I think is experience.
    What I use now in my case is combined approach and not putting all eggs in one basket.
    Thanks again for helpful tips

  6. main thing is how to find the product or build a product? any recommendation how to think about ideas of building our own product

  7. I believe when we have our own products then it is best to put them online for sale, other than this affiliate marketing also do wonder to make good money. thank you for sharing these details.

  8. I love affiliate programs, in my personal evolution I change my thinking way; some years ago I prefer pay per lead programs, actually i love pay per sale instead, due to a more high commissions

Comments are closed.