Search for case studies in successful website monetization, and you’re bombarded with sites claiming to have a proprietary system or the ”true secrets” to monetizing your website. While some of these sites may have information of value to those who want to monetize a website, why not look at a few cases where it’s been done well and see what kinds of things these sites have done that bring home the bacon?
Here are three real-life site monetization success stories, each of them with different strategies that ended up being very lucrative.
1. GigaOm: Offering Premium Research Products Created by Experts
Om Malik is a tech blogger who started his website back in 2006. At that time, it was a very simple blog, with a few posts per day, most of which Malik wrote himself. What set him apart from many other tech bloggers was his extensive background in tech journalism (as one of Forbes.com’s original 1997 editorial team) and an encyclopedic knowledge of the tech business and its leaders. GigaOm has grown tremendously over the past seven years, adding sections devoted to cloud computing, broadband, and video. With over 4 million monthly readers, GigaOm has become tremendously influential and runs its own lucrative tech conferences. A slightly unorthodox site monetization method that has worked out well for GigaOm is the sale of premium research products (with a base price of $199 per year) created by a team of over 80 experts.
2. Above the Law: Making Money with Well-Curated Premium Advertising
Above the Law is one of Breaking Media’s four websites (the other three being AltTransport, Deal Breaker, and Fashionista). Above the Law is a very popular site among lawyers and other people connected with the legal profession, and it publishes salary surveys that are extremely popular among readers. This site has taken a simple approach to monetization: attract premium advertising and display it tastefully and in such a way that it doesn’t visually assault (and turn off) readers. While this strategy might not work as well in a more broadly focused site, Above the Law is able to attract lucrative advertisers because of the relatively large, targeted audience the site reaches.
3. Louis CK: A Comedian Removing Friction from the E-Commerce Process
Comedian Louis CK recently tried out a DIY approach to content distribution, and it went over extremely well. He posted a video of a concert performance on his website and charged people $5 to download it. Within two weeks, more than 200,000 people had purchased the download, for $1 million in sales. He did this as an experiment that he described this way: “If I put out a brand new standup special at a drastically low price ($5) and make it as easy as possible to buy, download and enjoy, free of any restrictions, will everyone just go and steal it?” Two hundred thousand people didn’t steal it. Of course, Louis CK already had a devoted following when he posted the video for sale. However, the overwhelming success demonstrated the value of a friction-free, reasonably priced purchase process.
These three examples of successful website monetization illustrate that there is no single monetization strategy that is right for everyone.
Your monetization strategy might combine advertising, custom job listings, and paid subscriptions, or it may be a straightforward e-commerce site. Targeting what you offer to your audience (research reports for tech experts, premium ad space for legal firms, or entertainment products for comedy fans) and then supplementing it with other site monetization methods keeps you from putting all your eggs into a single monetization basket, and may even make your site the go-to site for targeted premium products or services.