How to monetize a website: 8 ways to drive revenue and build a brand

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A business website doesn’t just exist to advertise your products and services. On the contrary, a well-developed site can actually generate income for your company. But, knowing how to monetize your site is key.

Website monetization refers to the various methods used to convert site traffic into real online revenue. Not all monetization techniques, however, are appropriate for every business. Using the wrong advertising type or failing to take users’ privacy concerns into account can actually result in a reduction of traffic in the long term, so it’s important to know what will and won’t work for your business.

Let’s take a look at how to monetize a site, and figure out which type of monetization is right for you.

8 tips for how to monetize a website

There are a number of monetization strategies you can use, each one with its own pros and cons. Here are eight of the most common methods of monetizing a website, along with tips for deciding which option is best for your business.

1. Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is the process by which a website earns money by promoting the products and services of another business. A good fit for product-centric sites, affiliate marketing affords the host website a commission when a visitor purchases an affiliate’s goods. For example, the Amazon affiliate program is one of the largest of its kind and provides marketers with a commission of up to 10% on product sales.

Although affiliate marketing can be lucrative, it’s important that website managers evaluate whether or not an aspiring affiliate is a good fit for the company. After all, showcasing ads for irrelevant or low-quality products on your website can annoy your visitors and diminish clients’ trust in your business. For these reasons, affiliate marketing is most appropriate for social networks, news sites, and forum sites where customers regularly post product reviews.

2. Banner ads

Banner ads are those rectangular advertisements that appear on webpages to promote another company’s products or services. Depending on the amount of traffic your site gets, banner ads can be a lucrative monetization strategy that brings in a monthly fee from paying sponsors.

High-traffic sites offer invaluable digital real estate for potential advertisers, and they can earn significant revenue from banner ads as a result. On the other hand, newer sites with few page views and those with comparatively low traffic are unlikely to make much money with this technique.

Aspiring advertisers should also note that not all web audiences are created equal. Whereas sites with large, wealthy audiences are typically ideal, smaller advertisers may be able to earn more if they target highly relevant sites. For example, a family-centric blog is far more attractive to a company that sells children’s clothing than a blog that promotes auto parts.

While banner ads can generate helpful revenue for your website, hosts should use their judgment when selecting potential advertisers. In the long run, showing too many irrelevant or intrusive display ads can affect user experience and turn people away from your website. You can only sell ad space on so much of your site, so you want to make sure you’re filling it wisely.

It’s worth noting that you shouldn’t sell pop-up ad space. Pop-up ads already run the risk of annoying site visitors and impacting your site’s Google ranking. If you have a pop-up, it should be focused on your business, not someone else’s.

3. Site sale

While some owners view their websites as passion projects, others are content to spend just a short time developing a page before moving on to the next undertaking. Site flipping involves selling your website to an outside party in order to turn a profit. Many online resources exist for selling websites, including  eBay’s page for website and business sales .

Not all websites are suitable for flipping, and salability tends to depend on overall income. To attract potential buyers, a website must generate a great deal of traffic or successfully earn revenue through other methods of monetization.

4. Pay-per-click (PPC) ads

Referring to “sponsored” ads that appear at the top and side of search engine result pages, pay-per-click ads are a great way to drive qualified traffic to your website. While most people in the e-commerce field are familiar with the concept of PPC advertising, website owners may not realize that these ads can offer an effective method of monetization as well.

Just as Google AdWords places business ads on the Google search page, Google AdSense performs a similar function for publishers such as website owners and bloggers. If your website offers tips for healthy living, for example, Google AdSense may opt to place ads for workout clothes or cleanses.

With PPC advertising, advertisers pay the host site for each click their ads receive. As a result, this monetization method is only lucrative if your site generates significant amounts of traffic on a regular basis. Additionally, the type of site you host can affect the value of your PPC advertising, as higher-cost products tend to pay more for clicks than those with lower value.

5. Email lists

Many websites use mailing lists to keep customers informed about new products and upcoming events. Business owners may not realize, however, that they can also earn money by “renting out” their email lists to other companies.

As the name suggests, email rental involves sending online communication to members of your mailing list on behalf of an outside company. If you have a robust mailing list, email rental can yield significant revenue for your business. In fact, a recent report suggested that the average email-list rental fee is $68 per thousand addresses.

Unfortunately, this monetization technique is not without its drawbacks. When you rent out your email list, you run the risk of annoying clients with irrelevant promotions. In the long run, you may even lose customers who opt to unsubscribe rather than continue receiving unwanted communication. Email marketing is a powerful tool at your disposal, and losing your own dedicated followers to make a quick buck can cost you in the long run.

6. Membership sites

A membership website is exactly what it implies: a site that offers users select content for a price. To succeed with this method, however, website owners must build a team of content creators and find users who are willing to pay for that content. VIP treatment, enhanced networking opportunities, and discounted access to products and services are a few of the perks that companies offer to attract premium members.

While membership sites offer benefits like continuous income, they also pose some challenges for site owners. Not only do these sites require more money to set up and maintain, small businesses may also struggle to produce the extra content needed to keep members engaged. Additionally, websites risk upsetting their regular visitors if they put some of their best content behind a paywall.

Monetizing your website with memberships can be a great source of funding. However, if your content isn’t up to the task, you’re far less likely to see a profit. Take the time to develop high-quality content and generate a solid web following before putting effort into membership-based monetization.

7. Sponsored posts

If you have a blogging space on your company site (which you should), you can accept sponsored posts from other companies. These companies will generally reach out to you with a desire to post on your site in exchange for money or a post on their site.

This can be a great way to get quality content on your site without the effort of writing it. It can also bring in additional money and give your brand more credibility. There is of course a huge but here: The brands you grant a sponsored post to need to align with your own company and audience.

You have your own product to sell, so make sure you’re not accepting sponsored posts from companies that directly compete with you or contradict your efforts. It’s also important to ensure the company posting on your site isn’t involved in any underhanded business dealing and isn’t currently the focus of bad press.

Lastly, if you’re going to link to a company’s site, make sure they have a quality site that isn’t filled with content you disagree with. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a huge component of having your content discovered online, and linking to questionable sites can hurt you.

8. Online courses

As your business grows in its niche and becomes more respected as a thought leader, you naturally have more to offer your audience. Selling online courses allows you to open up an additional revenue channel while further establishing yourself as a thought leader in the industry.

Create quality webinars that break down topics relevant to your business, then offer paid access to these webinars. LinkedIn can be an especially powerful place to promote this type of content, as many of the users are professionals looking to grow their knowledge.

Building your brand and your revenue

Monetizing your site can bring in additional revenue, but more importantly, it can help you establish your brand with different audiences. Experiment, have fun with the process, and don’t be afraid to venture into uncharted waters.

You know your audience better than anyone. Think about what they want and what they need, and find a way to deliver that while making some additional income. Once you’ve found that sweet spot, don’t stop improving your online marketing skills. Your audience and wallet will thank you.


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This article originally appeared on the QuickBooks Resource Center and was syndicated by

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Many of us dream of running our own business and when we act on that dream, the life of joy we envisioned can quickly turn to pain if we fail to adjust to ever-changing tax requirements. Some of the more recent tax changes apply to simple sales tax, which becomes not so simple for those with a sizeable number of online sales or high dollar amount of online sales in multiple states. If this is your business scenario, the following 10 strategies for dealing with sales and other business taxes will help you maintain or bring back the joy of running your own company.


In the past, retailers typically needed to register, calculate, collect, and report sales tax in jurisdictions only where their business had a physical presence. This presence provided the minimum connection, or nexus, needed for a state or local to require tax registration, collection and reporting from retailers. The 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in South Dakota v. Wayfair, 585 U.S. ___ (2018), however, broadened nexus to include economic presence and immediately triggered other states to enact or begin to enforce their own economic nexus laws. For a current list of economic nexus laws, by state, see the Supreme Court Tax Decision – Online Tax Laws by State. In reviewing the article, you may notice that many states base their new economic threshold on the:

  • dollar amount of sales or number of transactions; or
  • dollar amount of sales and number of transactions

To complicate the matter even more, the definition of “sale” is not uniform among the states, and can vary between gross, retail, or taxable sales.

Business license tax

New jurisdictional sales tax responsibilities may also trigger new Business License Tax liabilities, albeit often low dollar. Nonetheless, not understanding your tax requirements can create administrative headaches and detract you from focusing on your true passion, your business. When dealing with a tax agency directly to understand your sales and other business tax obligations it is often best practice to request the agent direct you to the written guidance on the revenue agency website to help avoid any misunderstanding or miss-guidance.


In light of the Wayfair ruling, many states have enacted, or are in the process of enacting, new rules with regard to Marketplace Facilitators. Make sure your facilitator agreements stay compliant with these tax changes.

1099-K impact

Sales via a Marketplace Facilitator may result in the facilitator issuing you a Form 1099-K, reporting gross payments received from the facilitator on qualifying sales. If facilitators are responsible for reporting and paying sales tax on your sales via their online portals then make sure the 1099-K received is not overstating your income by the amount of this tax. If it is, then request an amended 1099-K. Otherwise, you could be stuck with the mess of having to reconcile your 1099-K reported income with a tax agency.


Whether you are the business owner or only deal with the accounting and tax issues for the company, you should always understand what it is the business is selling in relation to the sales tax rules. Sometimes, what you think is exempt might actually be taxable, depending on the jurisdiction. If you provide a service along with the sale of goods, the service may be included in the tax base but may be exempt when provided alone. The key, know what you are selling and check your state(s) taxability rules to avoid any audit assessments down the road.

Sales tax calculator

Even if you sell standard taxable goods, for multi-state sellers it can be overwhelming to keep up with sales tax rate changes that are constantly happening throughout the US. To ease this burden, consider using a reputable sales tax calculator (including our sales tax calculator), which provides current sales tax rates for all of the more than 10,500 US state and local taxing jurisdictions.




Not all sales that qualify for an exemption are exempt on their face. Often, exemptions apply based on the buyer (e.g. non-profit) or the intended use of the goods sold (e.g. resale). To support an exemption in these instances, a seller must obtain a properly completed exemption certificate from the buyer. Trouble arises when something about the certificate is wrong or the exemption period listed on the certificate has expired. If you have exempt sales based on receipt of a properly completed exemption certificate, you must create a process for storing the certificates and, prior to exempting any sales based on a certificate, make sure the certificate provided is one the applicable state will accept. Otherwise, you could be stuck paying for uncollected tax, plus any penalties and interest imposed by the state.


Sometimes small businesses purchase goods for use in their business without paying any tax. If this is you, remember that there might be an obligation to self-assess use tax on the purchase. Continued failure to report use tax by small businesses may trigger an audit. The key to avoid mishap is to set-up a process to catch and report applicable use tax on purchases.

Personal property tax

Align the process for use tax accrual with any state/local Personal Property Tax compliance, if applicable, to help with tax abatement and filing deadlines.




When a business registers to collect and report sales and use tax, the tax authority provides a notice to the business of the proper filing frequency and will issue notices per tax type if a jurisdiction treats tax types differently (IE: sales or use tax).

Filing frequency

The filing frequency defines when tax must be reported and paid to the tax authority. It is usually based on revenue and typically set to monthly, with tax due on or before the 20th of the month following the period reported. For example, an October monthly return may be due on or before November 20. 24 States have worked to unify their filing rules under the Streamlined Sales Tax (SST) and require monthly filing, but those filing rules only apply to certain sellers. The key here is to remember that every tax jurisdiction has its own filing frequency thresholds and your initially assigned frequency can change.

Tax type considerations

Many states, like Massachusetts, administer tax on sales the same way regardless of where the sale originated. Further, if a business needs to self-assess use tax on purchases, that tax is often also reported on the sales tax return. Some states, however, differentiate tax administration by tax types:

  • Sales tax – intra-state sales; occurring within a state;
  • Seller’s use or vendor’s use tax – inter-state sales; occurring between states;
  • Consumer’s use tax – on purchases for which tax was not properly paid.

Jurisdictions with tax type distinctions typically require separate registration and reporting, per tax type. Even when businesses report different tax types on the same return, they must make sure to report each tax type on a separate line. Reporting for the correct tax types every month, in every state always helps small businesses minimize out-of-pocket tax expenses.


More and more states are moving from paper to an electronic process for reporting and paying sales tax. Make sure to follow these e-requirements or states may assess penalties, even on zero-dollar returns.

Also, remember that states can make mistakes or have technical “glitches.” Save your online confirmations, as well as proofs of mailing and cancelled checks related to paper submissions, so that if there is a mistake, you can use that proof to eliminate penalty or interest assessed for late submissions.


GaudiLab / istockphoto


Many states offer a collection allowance or timely-file discount, regardless of whether filing returns electronically or by paper. When a discount is available, claim it. There is no point in leaving money on the table. When claiming discounts, however, be careful that your business is reporting under the correct tax type because not all jurisdictions allow a discount for every tax type.


How can small businesses keep track of filing frequency and due dates in every jurisdiction where they are required to report, especially as that number grows? One way is to set calendar reminders, including special rules for payments. If filing by mail, it is important to note which jurisdictions treat the return and payment timely if postmarked on or before the due date or measure timeliness based on the receipt date, an issue common for Alaska locals, for example.


Small businesses never want to miss a DOR notice or fail to timely act on a notice as required, especially an audit notice. If you have an online DOR sales/use tax account, make sure your business name, address, phone and email are current. If you authorize the DOR to send notices via the online account, set-up a process to also receive hard copies, by mail. Once you get a notice, read it and respond in accordance with the instructions and timelines contained in the notice.


As your business grows in the e-commerce market, things can get very complicated and hard to keep track of for small businesses. Consider these 10 strategies for dealing with sales tax and a few other business taxes. It will help you retain or bring back the joy of running your own company. You can also consider the use of an automated sales tax solution such as QuickBooks Sales Tax to help manage the nuances of sales tax laws, reduce the risk of error, and minimize the likelihood of a sales tax audit.

This article originally appeared on the Quickbooks Resource Center and was syndicated by




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