McDonald’s understands the earning power of add-ons (as in supersize it).
Mickey D’s doesn’t just sell you a burger and call it a day. They incrementally drain your wallet with perceived high-value offers with their “meal deals” and “supersizing” efforts.
I suspect when the meal deals and supersizing offers hit the scene, customers were like “really? I can get fries and a coke for only a $1.50 more? Awesome. Load me up. Heck, give me two meal deals cause that’s practically free food.”
Recently I booked a hotel. Immediately after completing the booking I received an email offer to upgrade my room for 50% off what the upgrade would normally cost.
That’s how you need to think about monetizing your site. Supersize and “meal deal” your visitors with incremental income. It adds up.
Most niche websites and blogs have one or two primary revenue sources.
Or, a site may earn exclusively from affiliate commissions or selling products.
In some cases, a site has two big revenue sources… perhaps affiliate commissions and AdSense.
While bread and butter revenue is great, in my experience it’s well worth testing additional revenue opportunities. These I call incremental revenue opportunities.
Although incremental revenue sources may only earn a fraction of bread and butter sources, multiple incremental revenue sources can add up to a meaningful amount of money.
The best part is, in my experience, there are incremental revenue sources that don’t cannibalize your main sources much, if at all.
I’ve tested many ad networks, ad types and revenue opportunities. I still test new stuff weekly. Just last week I implemented a new ad from a native ad network.
At the end of the day, some are worth keeping and some aren’t.
Based on my experience, below is a list of potentially good incremental revenue opportunities for your website.
Note, that I don’t include AdSense regular ad units since those are an obvious display ad option. The point here is to give you some ideas for additional incremental revenue.
My income reports wouldn’t be as high as they are if it weren’t for incremental revenue.
Table of Contents
- Can add up to a lot of revenue
- 1. Residual revenue display ads
- 2. Email Newsletter Ads
- 3. Secondary Ad Networks
- 4. Video Ads
- 5. Widget Ads
- 6. AdSense Matched Units
- 7. AdSense In-Article Ads
- 8. Exit Intent Ads
- 9. In-Image Ads
- 10. Native Ads
- 11. Sell Sponsored Posts
- 12. Skimlinks
- 13. CPA Offers
- 14. Social Media Sponsored Posts
- 15. Custom affiliate banner ads
- 16. Amazon Native Ads
- 17. Amazon Images
- Incremental Revenue Tips
Can add up to a lot of revenue
Over the years I’ve tested everything under the sun. On average, the incremental revenue methods below add approximately $13K to $15K per month in additional revenue. I use many of the methods set out below and while no single method is ultra lucrative, when they’re all added up, it adds up to a decent chunk of change.
1. Residual revenue display ads
This is a great opportunity to monetize your website visitors long after they leave your website. It has nothing to do with collecting email addresses. I’m generating $700 to $900 per month from this currently and it continues to grow monthly.
You can learn all about this here.
2. Email Newsletter Ads
This is only viable if you don’t generate sales of your products and/or affiliate commissions from your email newsletter.
Some niches simply don’t offer all that lucrative of an email newsletter option. I’m in two such niches. I’ve tried everything and I have tens of thousands of subscribers (scrubbed twice a year).
That leaves me with sending readers back to the website (which makes it worthwhile). But I also generate some incremental revenue with in-email display ads. The ad network I use is Powerinbox.
I don’t use the ads in every email. I don’t expect mountains of revenue. However, I use them throughout the month and it does add up. In a good month, it can cover one-half of my server costs.
3. Secondary Ad Networks
I have a unique situation where I earn an equal amount from two main ad networks – Monumetric and AdSense. Monumetric is a very good ad network for me and of course, AdSense can be very good.
However, usually a second ad network such as Media.net or similar serve as excellent secondary ad networks which can result in solid incremental revenue.
While I currently have a situation where my two main ad networks earn equally well, that wasn’t the case for many years. For years Monumetric and Media.net were secondary revenue sources with AdSense being the big earner. It’s definitely worth trying additional ad networks to see how they perform.
4. Video Ads
If you use display ads and you don’t mind a fairly intrusive ad on your site, video ads can be a really great source of incremental revenue. You typically can’t pepper multiple video ads on each URL, so there is a limit. However, one ad can earn very well.
There are a good number of solid video ad opportunities. Monumetric and Media.net offer video ads. You can learn about the video ad platform I use here (requires 500K monthly page views).
Speaking of page views, some video ad platforms require a minimum amount of traffic – keep that in mind.
5. Widget Ads
The only widget ads I use is via poll, quiz and survey software which permits either inputting my ad code or earn a revenue share with the widget provider.
I do this with Opinionstage, which is my main poll, quiz and survey software. I do a revenue share with them, which works well.
There are other widgets options that may have options for either using your ad code and/or splitting ad revenue with the widget software.
6. AdSense Matched Units
I must say I’m impressed with how well AdSense Matched Content ad units perform. I like displaying related posts, which this ad unit does, but a couple or three of the suggested links are ads. This is definitely worth trying.
7. AdSense In-Article Ads
I’m also impressed with how well AdSense in-article ads can perform in content or at the bottom of content. They’re decent looking ad units that can have a good click through rate.
While both Matched Content units and in-article ads aren’t my main AdSense revenue units, together they contribute some decent incremental ad revenue.
8. Exit Intent Ads
I use Spoutable’s exit intent ads on two sites. I like it because it’s a way to monetize visitors leaving the site.
I don’t earn much from it, but it’s still a sliver of revenue that adds up.
9. In-Image Ads
I used to use these and am tempted again, but don’t solely because I already have quite a few ads on my sites.
In-image ads can add up nicely. I don’t recommend putting them on every image, but putting them on one or two images per URL can generate some nice extra revenue.
10. Native Ads
While I never did all that well with Taboola, it’s worth trying a few native ad platforms. They can earn well in some niches.
11. Sell Sponsored Posts
This is my least favorite incremental revenue option. I don’t do it. My problem with it is twofold.
First, it’s not scalable. A true sponsored post is getting paid a lump sum to write an article featuring the advertiser. You and the advertiser agree on a price and you or your writer publish the article.
It’s not scalable because there’s haggling over price and then you have to write the article, for which you get paid one time. Sure, if I were offered $1,000 for a sponsored post, I’d do it, but I’ve never been offered that amount.
My second issue with this is most people who ask to publish a sponsored post really want a dofollow link. In my view, that’s selling links, which is not a risk I’m willing to take with Google.
A true sponsored post includes a link or links to the advertiser, but it’s nofollow per Google’s TOS because it’s a paid link.
However, this is very good for some niches. If interested, check out this course.
If you have links throughout your site to various merchants, put Skimlinks’ code on the site to turn those links into affiliate links. While it may not amount to a fortune, it can contribute something to your bottom line. It’s also easier than applying to every merchant and then using creating umpteen affiliate links every week.
I’m a big Skimlinks fan and use it on most of my sites. It saves me from having to create affiliate links for many different merchants that I link to.
13. CPA Offers
CPA stands for “cost per action”. An example is earning $.60 for sending someone to submit their email as entry for some gift card giveaway.
Another example is sending referrals to fill out a health insurance inquiry form or credit card application. You get paid when referrals fill out the forms.
The nice thing about CPA offers is your referrals don’t necessarily need to buy anything. Many offers pay you for generating the advertiser leads (i.e. supplying contact information).
I’ve never had much success with CPA offers, but they can perform very well in some niches if niches or content are aligned with the offer.
I’ve tested many with no success, but I suggest you give it a shot. You never know. The only CPA network that I’m part of is Peerfly. I wish these types of offers did better for me, but you win some and you lose some.
Some publishers do great with these lead-gen style offers so give it a shot.
14. Social Media Sponsored Posts
I can’t believe what some Instagram accounts can command for sponsored IG posts. Sure, celebs obviously rake it in because it’s akin to an endorsement deal. However, non-celeb IG accounts with an engaged audience can command hundreds or thousands of dollars per post.
While I don’t care for selling sponsored blog posts, I would have no problem selling an Instagram post because they take very little time to create. $1,000 per IG post would be fantastic. I’d sell them all day long. I’d sell them for $100 unless the advertiser’s creative demands were very time-consuming.
One method that works well for me is to create a custom affiliate to top-selling merchants’ “Sale” pages. Many big merchants have a page where they feature current sales. For example, Zappos has a perpetual shoe sales page here.
What I do is create a banner ad with Canva or whatever graphic software you like with text promoting X product line sale.
For example, if you’re in the sneaker page, you could create a good looking, eye-catching banner saying “Killer Sneaker Sale – Up to 50% Off Top Brands”. Test it with and without images.
Place that banner ad somewhere in your content for relevant categories. Obviously you wouldn’t put such a banner ad in a category about astronomy, but if you had a sneaker-oriented category, insert the banner ad there.
Don’t forget to link the banner ad to the merchant sales page with your affiliate link.
FYI, I use AdInserter plugin to insert banner ads into specific categories.
16. Amazon Native Ads
I’ve used Amazon Native Ads on and off over the years. They’re not super effective, but they can earn well on product-oriented posts. I like that they don’t really look like ads and when well-placed, they can enhance content by making decent product suggestions.
IMO every site owner who has an Amazon Associates account should test these units. At the very least put a grid at the bottom of your content.
Generally, it’s good practice to send people to Amazon because let’s face it, many of us buy all kinds of stuff there. You may send visitors there via a link from an ad for a pair of shoes, but instead they buy new tires for their car.
17. Amazon Images
I’m a big user of using Amazon images in my content that actually serves as helpful content. If I need a photo of a cool Christmas tree, I can find one there.
The thing is, you need to embed Amazon images via an API. Since I’m not a coder or developer, I rely on AMZ Images plugin to properly embed via the Amazon API code for me. I’ve used a good number of Amazon embed plugins over the years and AMZ Images is by far my favorite. I can embed almost any image on Amazon in seconds.
The image, when embedded is linked to the product page with my Amazon Associates affiliate link.
TIP: When I want more clicks on the images which links to the product, I put something like “Click image to learn more” in the caption of the image. This works really well.
Incremental Revenue Tips
a. Have realistic expectations
I say this because in the past I’ve been way too optimistic with every new revenue opportunity I deploy.
Over time I’ve come to appreciate that a little bit here and a little bit there can add up nicely. With this mindset, I’m not as disappointed as I used to be with new ad networks.
b. Avoid cannibalization
You want to use incremental revenue options in a way that won’t reduce your bread and butter revenue.
Only use these additional revenue options if it seems to you that it won’t cannibalize your better-earning ads.
That said, you can’t entirely avoid cannibalization either. The goal is that your overall ad revenue grows.
For example, on the surface, it might seem that ads in an email newsletter won’t cannibalize ads on your website, but it does. All people who click an ad in the newsletter are people who will likely not end up on my site, which could be a bigger loss.
However, overall I suspect email ads are a net gain for me.
c. Start slow and move the winners up the food chain
Monumetric wasn’t always a huge earner for me. When I started with them, I put them below the fold just to see how they would perform. It turned out they did very well for the placements I gave them.
That inspired me to test their ads in better spots; sure enough, they earn so well I now put Monumetric ads in several top-earning locations on my sites.
d. Test Test Test
The best way to grow your incremental revenue and overall revenue is to test all kinds of ads and ad placements.
e. Keep user experience in mind
At some point, a website can have too many ads. I’m probably close with a few niche sites. I’m sure some readers believe I’m way past what’s reasonable.
There are limits. We all have our own ideas about this. I can’t tell you how many ads will be too many. One example for me is Forbes.com. I simply cannot abide the interstitial that blocks access. I find it so annoying I will not visit that site.
An example from my niche sites pertains to in-image ads. While I’m tempted to put in-image ads on my sites, I hold off because I believe that would be too much. While the incremental revenue would be nice, I don’t think it’s worth it.
It’s not that I have an issue with in-image ads; I don’t. I think they’re good. It’s just that I have a great mix of ads now and adding those would be too much.
f. Don’t forget to check your site on mobile
Most of us bloggers work on a laptop or desktop. No doubt you check your site’s front end all the time on your desktop or laptop computer.
However, I strongly suggest that any time you make a layout change, design change or add new ads, to check out your sites on your phone. I’ve noticed wonky mistakes more times than I can count. I’ve also forgot to check changes on mobile only to have some pretty bad things happen for several weeks.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes that’s “the best blogging email newsletter around.”
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.