Information and Resources for Solopreneurs

Why And How I Use These 6 Ways to Monetize My Website

Written By: Susan Gast in CTPM | August 10, 2015


by Susan Gast,

Thoughts are turning into words and words into pages – your site is rapidly gaining traffic momentum via the search engines. Now what do you do? It’s time to monetize your most-visited pages in a way that won’t offend folk!

I currently have 6 monetizing methods (I’m sure there are more out there!) but at least I have many different income streams (rivulets at the moment).

  1.       AdSense (on website)
  2.       Affiliate Marketing
  3.       YouTube Videos (AdSense)
  4.       eBooks
  5.       Paperbacks
  6.       Udemy Video Course(s)

Most of us start out with AdSense. I did. Through help via the SBI forums and a few emails back and forth with SiteSell Support, I managed to set it up. Google was probably the last place I went to for “advice” – funny really. I think it’s a case of being fearful of not being able to understand their AdSense instructions. It’s too complicated. I must admit that over the years they have simplified their “how-to” pages.

1. AdSense Ads (on Website)

At first, I started out creating an AdSense ad unit specifically for a page, and I titled it as such: “300×325 Dehydrating Bananas” so as to give bidders more direct information. I honestly don’t know if that was beneficial or not. With the advent of Google wanting us to use their “Responsive” ads, I decided to place a “generic” AutoResponsive ad on a “site-wide dot” then go to those pages where you don’t want Google ads to appear, (such as Privacy Policy, Sitemap, Disclaimer etc.) and “turn off” the ad on the site-wide dot.

Editor’s Note:

In SBI!’s site building tool, BB2, you use “sitewide dots” to place content on all pages of your site, in the same location. They are ideal for things like ads, a search box, social sharing buttons or your newsletter opt-in form. They are the equivalent to the “includes” that are used by people who upload their own HTML files.

I was honestly expecting to see a rise in my AdSense income but the opposite happened. I can only assume that it was a case of there being other ads from Amazon on the same pages (as I’m an Amazon Affiliate, more on that coming up). I was moving over from an interim SBI template to a “fully responsive SBI template” and decided to revamp the whole site and put back in the “lost” Amazon ads that had resided in the right-hand column that “disappeared” when I went to a single column format/template.

I now wonder if Google’s algorithm takes into consideration the fact that Amazon ads are also there in the one and only center column, and that somehow affects my rating-potential to prospective advertisers – Google vs Amazon? My traffic hadn’t dropped. Something to ponder.

AdSense is by far the easiest monetizing method and you can control which ads are shown on your website. For the most part though, viewers will no doubt see ads related to their browser viewing habits (leaving them to think you are a mind reader!). You can also block your competitor’s ads.

2. Affiliate Marketing

Next, I ventured into affiliate sales. My site is aimed at food preservationists and preppers et al, so I signed up to become an Affiliate with “Solutions from Science” that sold Survival Seed Banks and solar generator stuff etc.

I also signed up with Amazon to earn a small commission from sales when someone clicks on the Amazon ad/link. That ad click will take them directly to Amazon and obviously if they purchase the item, I receive a small commission. The commission rate grows as more overall purchases are made (from 3% to 6% in my product category).

A friend released an eBook (Andrew Perlot’s Raw Food Health & Vitality) so I became one of his affiliates and placed ads I created myself on my fruit and veggie pages (makes sense). This Affiliate program runs through E-Junkie.

The first affiliate setup is always the hardest, so after you get a few affiliate sign-ups under your belt you’ll breeze through subsequent ones.

3. YouTube Videos and AdSense

I must admit, I was a bit late to the starting gate. I didn’t know a thing about making videos! I ended up subscribing to Animoto and made a bunch of short, cute videos on dehydrating 14 fruits and 16 vegetables. They didn’t “say” a lot, but at least it got Easy Food Dehydrating’s name out there.

I applied AdSense to the videos but not long after I ran into copyright trouble. The owner of the music claimed their rights, and I didn’t know what to do! These were the Animoto videos, so I thought I was covered (I later found out I was). Long story short: Just a few weeks ago I discovered on the Animoto website that there was a “copyright dispute” paragraph you simply copy and paste into the “dispute copyright” field on YouTube letting the claimant and YouTube know, in effect, that you have a license to use their music in your videos. You live and learn. The videos are now earning a few dollars from ad clicks (at last!)

Also, I just recently discovered that YouTube has video editing capabilities with tons of royalty-free music – and some spectacular transition effects for use between frames. All free to use! I do own TechSmith’s Camtasia Studio software which is pretty easy to use, but is limited in its special effects. Camtasia’s “claim to fame” is the ability to “record your PC screen.”  This is a great feature when you want to record a screen presentation that requires you moving your mouse and changing browser tabs etc. and you want viewers to see all that action.

But back to the videos.

Just the other day I went back into those 14 fruits and 16 veggie videos and gave them a uniform “thumbnail” picture that is (now) shown in the YouTube search results listing. I did this to make my videos look uniform and more professional-looking. Branding at work! The ability to create your own thumbnails is made active when you have been a “member in good standing” for a while at YouTube.

I also added a keyword that fits all the videos’ theme (“easy food dehydrating vids1”). This is something else that I just learned. There’s this great guy on Udemy named Alun Hill. He’s put out some dynamite video courses and I learned a lot from him and I’ll share a bit with you.

He told me that having that identical keyword in all of my food dehydrating-related videos means that when a viewer has seen one of my videos, in time, all my videos with that unique keyword will “rise to the top of the list” (like cream in old-fashioned milk bottles).

When a viewer has finished watching my video, the “suggested videos to view next” – over in the right-hand column – will show my related videos at the top of the list, instead of my competitor’s videos. They’ll be farther down the list. The use of that special keyword will group all my dehydrating videos together by uniting them with the “easy food dehydrating vids1” keyword I added. Thanks Alun Hill!

Also, an important thing that we overlook is not taking advantage of the “description” field in YouTube. Feel free to add a ton of information about your video AND provide appropriate links to your website. Before making the video “public,” copy and paste that description into the field directly below where you select Public/Private/Unlisted.

Doing this, your current subscribers will be notified of your new video and the copy you pasted into this box will be made available to them. Once you’ve made a video “Public” you can’t add that information there. I know, I’ve tried! It’s a good thing too, otherwise you’d be spamming your subscribers every time you updated your video settings/information/what-have-you.

4. Ebooks – Your Website is Already an Ebook!

A fellow SBIer has a website that teaches you how to be a better writer (Harvey from When he posted on the forums at SBI about “making your website into an eBook,” I’d already come to that conclusion a month or two prior. It was great to have someone else validate the idea.

So it was another case of learning something new. Amazon’s eBook setup is quite detailed but they do a great job of providing pretty-easy-to-follow instructions. And just like everything in life: Once you’ve done it, it’s always easier the second time around!

When you’ve successfully formatted and uploaded your eBook, do a “save as” and use it as a template.

A Not-So-Funny Story: I’d just uploaded my first ever eBook, feeling pretty proud of myself. Basically, I’d scraped the words literally off the PC screen’s Easy Food Dehydrating web pages and made them into chapters that made sense. I added color photos with my copyright on the photos (© Easy Food Dehydrating). I even created my own cover using PaintShop Pro (a much cheaper program than PhotoShop which I wish I had).

Anyway, a few days later, I received a horrifying email from Amazon stating something along the lines of “copyright infringement – you are not allowed to do this.”  After I’d calmed down and read it through a couple more times, I realized that Amazon simply needed to know if I was the copyright owner. I assured them I was and provided a link to my website and my “About” page, and crossed my fingers that that would do the job. It did.

5. Paperbacks

Also along the same lines as eBooks, I used Amazon’s other company called “CreateSpace” to create a paperback book – taken directly from the eBook. I used CreateSpace’s own template then I wouldn’t have to worry about the “gutter” spacing (the center of the book where all pages join at the spine and therefore needs a tad more white space to make the border appear even while reading).

CreateSpace also provide a free “cover-creation service” – a built-in option to create your cover with them, aptly named “Cover Creator.”  You can change template colors, even add stock photos (check the copyright on them first!) or add a photo you took. To me, it’s the way to go then you don’t have the worry of figuring out “spine” thickness/width and page bleeds. They figure it all out for you in Cover Creator.

6. Udemy Video Courses

My latest “thing” is getting involved with more videos. About two years ago, I needed to know how to navigate Amazon’s huge sister site called “Goodreads” as I wanted to promote my eBook and paperback. I did a search on Google for Goodreads and up came a course on Udemy.

The Udemy video platform at that time was about three years old (and growing) and I was pleasantly surprised at how good it felt to learn something “at home” at your own pace, (and cheap too!) versus traipsing off to town to the local Community College or spending hours down at the local library.

So, after learning how to properly use Goodreads via the Udemy course, I had no idea at that time that I’d end up becoming an Instructor on their platform!  A lady by the name of Charity Cason re-introduced me to Udemy about six months ago. I took a few of her courses – one of which teaches you how to create your own Udemy course and how to become an instructor.

A couple of months later, I proudly produced my own 3-hour video course (on food dehydrating) and then added a more-conveniently-condensed 1-hour video (on food dehydrating) and then inspiration hit that I should show others how to make a Udemy course from their own website’s contents like I did!

After getting over the shock of seeing and hearing yourself on video, it was actually a lot of fun to do! The hardest thing while video recording is to “act normal” and “smile.”  We tend to stiffen up and talk like a robot, afraid of there being a two-second pregnant pause – or coughing or sneezing!

My advice is to talk a little slower than you usually do and enunciate well – I have to with my northern English accent!

Note: I have used YouTube’s free editing tools to add Closed Captioning to my newly created/released “Easy Food Dehydrating Video Newsletter” videos! Just  another way to get a better ranking (and to help those better understand what I’m saying in the video!). Hey – the Closed Captioning is fun to do too!

If something goes wrong while recording, you can always edit it out later (in Camtasia Studio, or even in YouTube’s video editor itself). They make great outtakes.

And then there’s guest blogging …

That is, being asked to write posts for a website other than your own. I never did think it would happen to me, but it did! Five years it took. As stated throughout this article, I’m dedicated to food dehydrating and long-term food storage for those “what if” scenarios (hurricanes, Ebola, emergency situations).

When world-famous Mother Earth News contacted me recently and asked if I’d care to write for them, I balked at first. Why? Well, I have a slightly different political viewpoint to theirs. In the end I realized we had a lot in common (downsizing, not being wasteful, etc.) and I’m not “that daft”  (which means “silly/stupid” in the UK).

The opportunity to get my name out there was huge. I’m starting to see an upswing in traffic already!

I hope you enjoyed my take on monetizing your site; I wish I’d been a bit more “gung ho,” from the “get-go” but for some reason I shied away from marketing. It’s a necessary evil. My advice is to get good at one monetizing method, and then move on to the next. Trying to do everything at once is a recipe for mental disaster. I’m still in recovery (just kidding – not).

Over to you now… how do you monetize your website and blog? I would love to hear about your experiences. Please share them in a comment.

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Susan Gast
Susan was born in northern England but left the UK with her family in 1980 for warmer climes and less taxes. She lives in Central Florida with her husband, along with an adopted Miniature Pinscher who pretty much runs the household. You will find Susan glued to her office chair pretty much 24-7, pecking away on the keyboard in total bliss. From there she runs her Easy Food Dehydrating site and creates eBooks and video courses for the Udemy platform.
Susan Gast

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