How to Monetize a Website Without Adsense
There are many ways to monetize a website without Adsense.
In fact, we recommend to all our students to monetize their website without Adsense. It should be a last resort, since the pay is so low, and other monetization strategies can make you much more revenue from your website visitors.
Just take a look at the Google Adsense homepage below. They state nice and clearly they they value your content. What they don’t say is they value it because they make an absolute tonne of money from it! 🤣
Included in This Guide
- Why aren’t I the worlds #1 fan of Adsense?
- Reason 1 – The pay is low
- Reason 2 – Banner ads are lame
- Reason 3 – There are many ways to monetize a website without Adsense
- Reason 4 – Your Googles b*tch.
- Best Ways to Monetize a Website Without Adsense
- Alternative 1 – Display Ads
- Alternative 2 – Sponsored Articles
- Alternative 3 – Other Ad Networks
- Alternative 4 – Sponsored Links
- Alternative 5 – Digital Products
- Alternative 6 – Newsletter Ads
- Alternative 7 – Affiliate Links
- Alternative 8 – Memberships
- Alternative 9 – eCommerce
- What next?
Why aren’t I the worlds #1 fan of Adsense?
Reason #1 – The pay is low.
If you must use programmatic banner ads, other ad networks will earn you a higher CPM (the amount you get paid per 1,000 ad impressions). Just take a look at three months worth of Adsense activity one a website I started a number of months ago, but have since abandoned. From 7,990 page views, I’ve made enough to buy a cup of coffee. The website which I started when I abandoned the idea below gets fewer page views per month, but makes me thousands in income!
Reason #2 – Banner ads are lame.
Taking off my “digital ad sales” hat for a moment, no one really likes banner ads. You accidentally click them, they can take up half the screen, and 99% of the time you don’t want what they are advertising.
So if you must place banner ads on your website, at least ensure you are making good money from them! (Hint: direct sales)
The screenshot below is all too familiar these days. Adobe Creative cloud features in two of the banners, with the same advert, and a local property listing website squeezes in with their 300×250 MREC ad as well.
Reason #3 – There are many ways to monetize a website without Adsense.
Digital products, sponsored posts, sponsored links, memberships, newsletter ads, competitions, paid reviews, banner ads sold directly, video pre-rolls, higher-paying programmatic ad networks, low-value affiliate links, high-value affiliate links. and much much more.
Reason #4 – Your Googles b*tch.
When you use Adsense as the sole method of monetizing your traffic, you are at their mercy. If they ban your account, then your income drops to zero. If you monetize your website without Adsense, say through direct ad sales, then if one customers pulls their advertising from your website, then you might still have dozens or hundreds of others to rely on.
Here are our favorite ways to monetize a website without Adsense:
Best Ways to Monetize a Website Without Adsense
Alternative 1: Display Ads*
*Sold directly. That’s the most important asterisk on this page.
Google Adsense is a middleman. Literally. Advertisers go to Google Ads to purchase adspace, and websites sign up for Google Adsense to place those same ads onto their website.
For arranging this, Google takes a 32% commission, as explained here.
For displaying ads with AdSense for content, publishers receive 68% of the revenue recognized by Google in connection with the service. For AdSense for search, publishers receive 51% of the revenue recognized by Google. These percentages are consistent, regardless of a publisher’s geographic location, and are not in any way averaged between publishers.Google Guidelines: AdSense revenue share article (2020)
This of course means that if you bypass Google, and buy ads directly from the advertiser, your income goes up 32% immediately.
Of course, this comes with a lot of extra work:
- You’ll need a media kit (view our media kit template article here).
- You’ll need to hone your sales skills (and cold outreach).
- You’ll need to negotiate deals.
- You’ll need enough traffic to get brands interested in talking directly.
But if you tick these boxes, it can be well worth it!
Alternative 2 – Sponsored Articles
Sponsored articles are a great way to monetize your website without using Adsense, but you need to use them correctly.
Although subtle, you can see in the image above on The Spinoff, that the article “What happens on Love Island USA does not stay on Love Island USA” is sponsored by NEON, a streaming TV service.
A sponsored article is simply written content for your website, which an advertiser pays for. It will be labelled as a “Sponsored Article”, “Sponsored Content” or perhaps there will be a footnote along the lines of “This article is made possible through our collaboration with brand“.
These are the basic rules I follow:
- I deny all sponsored articles that are of minimal interest to my readers. They always need to be closely related to what my audience would find interesting, or I won’t publish it. Publishing an unrelated article on one of my websites means I care more about the money than my readers, which isn’t the case.
- I reject any submissions which have excessive outbound links, poor grammar, or lacks proper formatting. The advertiser can resubmit the article with improvements if they wish for it to be published. In terms of “excessive outbound links” I typically mean more than two or three to the same website.
- I charge a minimum of $100 for a sponsored article. Publishing an article takes time, and emailing the advertiser to organise the article takes time, so I feel anything less than $100 is not worth my time. Depending on your site, and your income, you may choose to increase or decrease this amount. (Note: sometimes when I buy sponsored articles on other websites I pay as little as USD$30, so clearly not everyone has a minimum price).
- All sponsored articles should be 100$ original content, written specifically for your website. It should also be at least 1,000 words.
I explain how I price sponsored articles on my websites within the Monetization Method course, within one of the free units accessible during the 7 day trial.
Alternative 3 – Other Ad Networks
There are dozens of Adsense alternatives available., some being more popular than others. If you’ve been banned from Adsense, or are struggling to get an account, either check out our Adsense Alternatives article to find our recommendation, or start Googling some of the brands below to do some research on what ad network is best suited for your website.
- Amazon Native Shopping Ads
- SHE Media
- Sovrn //Commerce
- MadAds Media
Alternative 4 – Sponsored Links
Sponsored links are often seen as ‘dirty’, but they are a great way to monetize a website without Adsense. They are often bought and sold by SEO amateurs and experts alike to grow their ranking in the search engine.
In fact, I’d say 90% of the people wanting to buy links on your website are doing it for the SEO benefits, not to get traffic from your website.
How do you know what you can charge?
It is 100% up to you what you charge for a sponsored link. You’ll have to base your decision on:
- How badly you want the sale: If you are not a huge fan of putting links on your website, and don’t really need the extra money, you can charge $300 or more. If someone buys the link, then it is a win-win. But if it is too expensive for most people, then that is no big deal as you weren’t desperate for sales anyway.
- The value of the link to the buyer: This is based on a number of things such as the age of your website, the organic ranking of your website, and the overall domain authority. Large established websites that get a large amount of traffic can obviously charge a lot more than a brand new website.
- Location of the website: I value websites based in United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand higher than websites in other countries.
When I buy links on other websites, I am to pay less than USD$5 per 1,000 organic traffic, as estimated by Ahrefs.com.
Don’t have Ahrefs? Join the Monetization Method community and we’ll let you know what you can charge!
Ideally, I’d pay closer to $2 per 1,000 organic traffic.
This is also the formula used by many other link buyers.
Alternative 5 – Digital Products
Alongside sponsored sections, which I use heavily when consulting with blogs and magazine style websites, I am a fan of digital products.
Over the years I have sold ebooks, photographs, 3D models for architecture firms, marketing plans, contract templates, memberships, and online courses.
My latest digital product is actually the Monetization Method course which you’ll find on this website. It teaches website owners how to earn more from their existing website traffic, no matter how little it may be. My goal is to bust the myth that you need thousands and thousands of monthly visitors to make a living online.
There are a few tricks to making and selling digital products successfully:
- The content needs to be exceptional. Gone are the days of selling a 10,000 word eBook, which is written poorly and just republishes old content. My first eBook I sold in the dieting niche was like this. I wrote it over a weekend (by buying the competitors eBook and rewriting it). Although it made thousands of dollars of passive income from my website, I felt kind of bad about it. In contrast, I started gathering and creating content for the Monetization Method course about 3 years before I even started making the website.
- Once again, provide exceptional value for free. Visitors to your website need to know you are the real deal before trusting you with their credit card number. Provide value for free via in-depth articles, free worksheets, free lessons, and free advice (either via email or social media).
When selling digital products you can either set up the payments and delivery on your own website, or outsource it to a platform like Gumroad or Envato.
Since I personally have a bit of tech know-how, I use a mix of WordPress, Thrivecart, Paypal, Stripe, Wishlist Member, Woocommerce, ActiveCampiagn, Campaign Monitor, Digital Access Pass, and Shopify to manage the fulfilment of digital products (this isn’t all for one site, but multiple sites).
A nice example of a website which offers a digital product is Three Birds Renovations. The website follows the story of three close friends who together quit their jobs and started renovating houses. After flipping a number of properties they built The Reno School – an online course for people who want to begin renovating and flipping their own properties. The course is $799, and they claim “7,500 home renovations and counting”. So if my maths is right….they’re making millions.
Alternative 6 – Newsletter Ads
It’s not seen too often, but ads within newsletters are a great way to declutter your website (yes, there will be an ad within your newsletter, but as long as you follow good UX practice and keep them tidy, then you’ll be fine).
I’ve previously sold up to 8 ads (or “sponsored sections”) within each weekly email I sent. This is what I did:
- Sold long term naming rights to the newsletter. For example, “Sunday Afternoon Baking Tips” could become “Electrolux Sunday Afternoon Baking Tips”
- Sold a banner ad within the newsletter. I personally placed a small skyscraper ad aligned to the right of the opening paragraph.
- Four bits of sponsored content previews. The content would live on my website, but there would be four places for previews to boost that content from within the newsletter (thumbnail, heading, opening blurb).
- I’d always try to have a competition or two that my readers could participate in, with brands paying me to give away some of their product in return for the exposure.
You don’t have to do all of these ideas, you can always start with just one. It could even be a small thumbnail of a brands logo and the text “Content made possible by”. Easy!
Alternative 7 – Affiliate Links
Sites like the Minimalist Baker use product reviews to share their affiliate links. If we take a common baking appliance, such as a blender, you’ll no doubt be able to find reviews of the top blenders on their website. Each time someone reads the review, clicks a link to Amazon, and makes a purchase, the owner of Minimalist Baker will get paid commission.
Alternative 8 – Memberships
The idea for your membership website might not come to you immediately, but there are literally communities for everything. In the screenshot above is Neiru.me, a membership website which teaches you to become a professional nail artist from $29 per month. This site is great as is, but imagine if you launched this site off the back of a beauty blog that already received 10,000 visitors a month interested in learning about nail art.
Alternative 9 – eCommerce
Anyone who has launched an eCommerce store knows how hard it can be to get traffic and sales. You either invest in ads, or play the waiting game until you get some of that sweet free SEO traffic.
But if you have an existing audience on an established audience, you can tack an eCommerce store on the side and you’ll have traffic (and sales) from Day 1.
With products like Shopify, you no longer need to be a web developer or have an enormous budget to launch an online store. There is no harm in adding the Shopify store to a subdomain on your existing domain.
Once launched you can use your established website to funnel as many users as you can to your eCommerce site:
- Write posts on your website, promoting products in your store
- Add links within existing posts, promoting your store.
- Use remnant inventory, to direct users to your store.
- Use your newsletter to announce and promote the store.
- Redirect affiliate links away from other stores, and sell your own products.
Yes, you’ll need a product to sell, but with easy access to international manufactures, drop-shipping, and cost effective fulfilment centres, it’s worth looking into.
My one piece of advice: don’t do a half-arse job. You’ll spend too much time getting too little in return. Do it once, do it right.
Alternative 10 -Sponsored Sections
Sponsored sections are my favourite way to monetize websites. They are non-intrusive, don’t look like banner ads, and creates a deeper connection with the readers of your website.
Some that jump to front of mind are:
- Hyundai sponsoring sections of surf related websites (in some countries Hyundai align themselves with water sports).
- Sony sponsoring “Shot of the Day” sections on many websites which offer this content.
Sponsored sections are typically 2 to 12 month deals, so your readers will get to know the brand well. They come with naming rights, branding, and sometimes sponsored articles, giveaways, and social media activity.
For those of you that have signed up for our Monetization Method classes, you’ll find a Website Monetization Audit worksheet in your dashboard. This cheatsheet is the easiest way to discover what methods you should choose for your site.