When I first started building my brand and my business, I did what most people do. I started creating content and worked on getting as much traffic as I possibly could.
I made a common mistake.
I associated “more traffic” with “more revenue.”
At the time, I thought the only way to make real money from an online business was to create content that went viral and got as much traffic as possible. I needed more traffic because I needed to draw attention to my advertisers.
I needed to get advertisers because selling ad space is the best way to monetize your website. Right?
I have since learned that there are much better ways. I know now that I was using the wrong tactics.
If you want to make real money through an online business or brand (my definition of “real” money is $100,000 a year or more) then you will need to provide something of value. You need to speak to a specific group of people. You need to solve a problem for people.
If you can solve a problem that people need solved, you can make substantially more income then if you were selling ad space on a website.
Stop trying to monetize your business through ads. I’m here to show you a better way.
First, let’s look at an example.
I’ll use my own website as an example. TimStodz.com gets about 4000 hits of traffic a month. You can see my overall traffic numbers for the month of August below.
Most of that traffic comes from one blog post that I wrote. The blog post is entitled How to Set Up Product Tags on Instagram. This one particular blog post accounts for almost half of my organic traffic.
Last month, I decided to do a little experiment.
I wanted to see how much money I could make in ad revenue by putting ads on this page. The results will shock you.
For the first 30 days in August (8/1 – 8/30), that one blog post got 2131 hits of organic traffic from Google. So that’s 2131 people that saw the ads I put on that blog post.
The amount of money I made from selling ad space on that one blog totals in a whopping…. 4 bucks. I can’t even buy a kombucha with that.
Why selling ad space is such a terrible idea
There are two main reasons why selling advertising is a terrible business model. I believe that both reasons are just as important as the other.
Reason #1 – It makes the internet a worse place. I call this the “buzzfeed effect.” One of the unfortunate consequences of advertisement is that as revenue is generated by getting more people to see the ads on your site. As a result, sites that monetize through ads need to get as many views and as many clicks as possible.
The result is a huge influx of sensationalized content. This content serves very little purpose other than to create controversy and buzz around arguments so that people share the content and more people see the ads.
There is very little value in this type of content. The only real benefit is mild entertainment. There is very little value in this kind of content and as the business owner, you will never be able to scale because you will always need to be chasing more traffic.
Reason #2 – You are sacrificing your art to make money for someone else. The only way the advertising model works is if the advertisers have a return on investment. If an advertiser is not getting what they want out of you, they will put their advertising budget somewhere else.
Let’s say you have a passion for drones. You create a blog about drones and drone photography. You want to monetize it by selling ads.
Your advertisers don’t care about drones. They have no interest in helping you on your mission to show people the wonderful benefits of drones or the amazing aerial photography footage that drones can capture.
The only thing they care about is clicks on their ads and the subsequent sales those clicks produced.
So if you want to make more money, you will need to sacrifice your art and the work that you care about in exchange for “more traffic.”
All of your hard work is turning into money in someone else’s pocket.
It’s not a fair deal.
Luckily, there is a better way.
If you want to make real money with your online business, you need to sell something of value. You need to provide a service or provide a product that people really want.
This is a better option because you don’t need to worry about getting “more and more” traffic. You only need to worry about getting the right traffic.
Let’s use Stodzy Media as an example.
Typically, if I were to sign a client for online marketing services, that would bring in $4000 a month in revenue. At the very minimum, a client under Stodzy Media will bill for $2500 a month.
Let’s also imagine that I didn’t have ads on that one web page and that I was selling my own services instead. If I were able to sign one deal through a lead that came in off that web page, that would be at minimum $2500 in revenue.
Now let’s imagine that client stays a client for 12 months (the average client stay for Stodzy is 2 years) that would be $30,000 in revenue over the course of the year.
Let’s not forget, that’s only 1 client.
That looks a lot better than $4 a month in ad revenue doesn’t it?
Now, I own an online marketing agency so in my case, it’s always about selling services. But there are many other ways to do it. You can sell online courses on a particular subject that you care about. You can sell physical products. You can sell leads or maybe create a business directory. The options are endless.
If you are struggling to find an idea you love, reach out to me and I’ll help you brainstorm.
But no matter what route you take, be sure to always invest in yourself. Invest in a brand and a message that you care about and focus on building an audience and a community that believes in the same things you believe in.
The goal shouldn’t be to reach as many people as possible. The goal should be to reach the right people. Find the people who you can help. Find people that have the problem that you can solve.
If you do that, then your traffic numbers will irrelevant. The only numbers you will be focused on are the number of people you can serve and the numbers in your bank account.