What Is the Best Online Investing Strategy?

Thus far, we’ve established what passive and residual income is: any money that keeps coming in, without too much effort on your part, after the upfront investments have been taken care of. Basically, this is the type of income you don’t make by working 9-to-5 jobs. In the world of investors, there are plenty of income streams available to achieve this, like stocks, shares, bonds, P2P lending, Forex, options, and other sophisticated financial tools. However, these require some knowledge of banking products and instruments, brokers, online courses in what the best investment firms are—and plenty more.

So, is there any way to invest your money online, without having to whip out your pocket calculator? Without being forced to understand the intricacies of wealth management, or without looking at comparison websites between financial institutions? There certainly is. Investing in online content websites is the type of investment you don’t need Westpac, RBC, US Bank, or Wells Fargo for. You don’t even need to learn too much technical stuff, or to hire an advisor. You can start out small, by creating your own website, even if you’re just a college, or high-school student.

Or you can take some good advice from people who have long been in the 6-figure income earners club, and work with a website broker to invest your money into a content site. The broker will short-list some sites for you to fund, while a full service content agency will make sure there’s fresh content up on your site, on at least a weekly basis. There’s no minimum entry amount to such an investment market and, yes, it works even if you’re living on a student income. How? The many ways in which content websites can be monetized as to yield a steady stream of passive income are no rocket science. To give you an overview of the process, we’ve listed our favorite monetization sources in the following list.

Website Monetization

A simple scheme of website monetization methods.

Image source: RyanMediaWorks.com

5 tested-and-true ways to monetize your online content investment

If you lend your ear to one SEO ‘expert’ or the next, you’ll get into thinking that the web Apocalypse is just around the corner—and it’s all Google’s fault, of course! If only they didn’t change their algorithm that often (according to the company’s own official blog, the algorithm is updated minutely on a daily basis)… If only they were more transparent… If only—insert so-called expert lamentation here.

Actual experts, on the other hand, are far more moderate in their approach; they know that while Google has been constantly improving their algorithm to fine-tune it and make it more sensitive to context and conversational searches (i.e. questions), the end is not nigh. Not by a long shot. On the other hand, though, it’s only normal that the world’s largest online advertising agency, Google, should not give away their trade secrets by revealing the alleged hundreds of factors that influence their algorithm. Their proportions have been shifting and, in tow with those shifts, some website monetization strategies have changed, too. Here’s what no longer works, or works less with less impressive results, in today’s online investing landscape:

  • Selling AdSense screen ‘real estate’ for a profit. While webmasters can still hope to monetize off of low-competition, high-volume long tail key phrase queries, this has become increasingly difficult. If you’re game for this, the same rules apply: identify a good niche, one with significant CPC, and little or no in-title results of your targeted keywords. Keep in mind, though, that even if you do manage to rank at the top of the SERPs for your key phrases of choice, you will still only be making a fraction of the cumulated cost-per-click indicated by the Google keyword tool.
  • Selling paid promotional links on your website. Google has always frowned upon this kind of back linking strategy, but they’ve been seriously targeting those who engage in it since late 2013. In 2015, they keep tooting their own horn, trying to convince brands that the algorithm is intelligent enough to take brand mentions into account. While we remain skeptical about this, time and metrics alone will tell.

So what does work, then, when you’re trying to capitalize on an online content property? Plenty of things! We’ve included our top 5 favorite approaches in the list below. If you’re looking to earn extra income, make some cash on the free market of the Internet, or simply find a more intelligent alternative strategy to investing in penny stocks online, try one or several of the strategies below.

1. Create an emailing list – and use it!

Remember the days when websites were all about getting you to subscribe to their emails? We all fell into that trap and saw our email inboxes slowly fill up with ever more copious amounts of spam. These days, selling email addresses to third-party marketers without informing the website user beforehand is severely frowned upon; all websites are mandated by Google to include the way in which they plan on using such sensitive data in their Privacy Statement and Terms of Service. In the light of recent scandals, such as the AshleyMadison email and password leak, it’s no wonder that webmasters are doing their best to keep both themselves and their subscribers safe.

That being said, emailing lists are as powerful a tool as ever, in the hands of ethical online marketers. They can help build a relationship of trust between you and your audience—once they see you are not spamming them with platitudes, but keeping them updated on promotions, competitions, and great new content. They will encourage audience fidelity and, in the long run, work as one more audience referral channel, alongside organic keyword rankings, and social media. So, how can you create a loyal email following? Check out these two super simple alternative methods:

  1. Create an in-page pop-up. No, not that bad kind of pop-up, which annoyingly opens in a new window, and which savvier users are blocking anyway, but the less intrusive kind, created with a tool like PopUp Domination. One website states they went from some 20 new email subscribers per day to 100, all by adding one of the 30 designs this tool features.
  2. Create a squeeze page. Much like a landing page in a sales funnel, this kind of page will ask for the visitor’s address at a strategically chosen point in time during their session on your site. In a typical scenario, you can hope to collect some 10% of all email addresses in your database by using squeeze pages.

Creating a Squeeze Page - Example

Image source: Photobucket.com

How it works:

  • It’s the single most simple and direct way to promote your content and/or products to your users. A single email can make you thousands of dollars in sales or ad revenue. Personalized emailing campaigns work even better.
  • Email subscriptions remain the top method for consistent monetization, even in the day and age of sophisticated tools like heatmaps, social media insights, and so on.
  • All this strategy takes is some good penmanship skills and an email database solution, like Aweber.

Before monetizing, remember!

  • The success of this monetization strategy entirely depends on the quality of your emailing campaigns. Simply put, if your users are starting to find your emails annoying or “spammy”, they’ll unsubscribe.

2. Sell ad space

Remember what we told you about AdSense; that isn’t bringing in too much revenue these days? That’s entirely true—in 2015, the average Internet user isn’t clicking on AdSense ads much, and some people even have ad blockers installed, to avoid ads altogether. Since this kind of ad generates PPC revenue (pay-per-click), generating any significant income from your sites with this, was difficult to begin with.

We also stand by the concept that Google will instantly slap a penalization on any site caught selling links. Finding such sites is as easy as a login on Ahrefs, followed by typing a website URL into their search bar. If the site you’re auditing has a link profile that’s dominated by “spammy,” or low-authority websites, chances are they’re making a mistake many beginners have been found guilty of. They’re trying to game the algorithm with black hat SEO practices.

With all this in mind, you can go out and find other advertising companies to work with, either on your own, or through an intermediary. The choice between these two latter options is entirely your own, but do know that finding advertisers yourself will go a long way toward earning you more money and building a partnership based on mutual trust.

Selling Ad Space

Ad banner examples and typical sizes.

Image source: RoosterTailMedia.com

How it works:

  • Selling ad space will likely always be a lucrative passive or residual income stream online, irrespective of how the industry evolves.
  • The kind of money you make like this is guaranteed on a regular basis and also comes with a networking perk.

Before monetizing, remember!

  • Careful with the pricing option you choose when first establishing contact with an advertiser. You can receive funds once per month, or per 1,000 visitors. In the case of the first option, you’ll be stuck getting the exact same amount into your accounts month after month, no matter how well you manage to grow your traffic.
  • Advertisers will offer their services one month, only to renegotiate their offer (and even desist the collaboration) some time later. Finding new advertiser business will always be on your plate, no matter which way you look at it.

3. Review products within an affiliate program

Product review blogs can often be a two-edged sword. On one hand, it can be a very lucrative business, if you work with providers or manufacturers who have an Affiliate program set up already. On the other, some companies like startups have great products, very topical and relevant, but cannot afford to pay for affiliation—so that’s time and effort you’re not monetizing on, right there. Furthermore, certain industries, like that of fitness equipment, are also not in the habit of creating affiliation programs.

At the same time, review blogs can often feel “spammy” and contrite. Make it a point of only reviewing products and services you actually use. If you’re not creating a review website per se, steer clear of publishing more than one product review per month, because you run the risk of alienating your audiences. Never underestimate the intelligence of your readers: they can and they will tell when you’re promoting a bad product just for the sake of the money. Strive to be honest and, in keeping with Eleanor Roosevelt’s nugget of wisdom, if you can’t say anything legitimate and nice about a product, it’s probably best to say nothing at all.

Getting Reviews is important too

Yes, you guessed it: affiliates love getting reviews. Not only does this help spread brand awareness via brand mentions (even when the reviews in question are negative), but it also often creates back links to their websites.

Image source: TheCBIGroup.com

How it works:

  • Affiliate product reviews are a great source of monetization, which will rake in a lot more money than ad banners and email marketing.
  • Consistent reviewers often come to be regarded as industry experts, top affiliates, and, ultimately, good business leads. As such, it’s safe to say that this strategy also comes with a networking perk.

Before monetizing, remember!

  • Strive to identify genuinely good products. Not only is this more enjoyable than writing negative reviews, but it will also help keep your site relevant with time. In some industries, products often become irrelevant, especially if they were not that good or remarkable to begin with. You don’t want to waste time investing in content that will be worth nothing a few months on.

4. Review products within an affiliate program

This monetization strategy needs little to no introduction, since it’s probably in the first few chapters of Website Monetization for Dummies—if such a book exists (hey, if it doesn’t, you can always write the eBook version yourself and sell it off your site!). The process is straightforward enough: have a niched website? Great, half your job is already done! Write some good content to get things going, then ask to join one of the many affiliate programs available on the market today: some of the most popular ones are ClickBank and Amazon. Then, find creative, relevant, non-intrusive ways to include those links in your content.

Examples:

  • Adding links to photo cameras after each section of an article on a photography blog, titled The Best Point-and-Shoot Cameras under $100 in 2015
  • Writing a how-to post on ripped six-pack abs and complimenting it with a list of at-home fitness machines (complete with affiliate links) at the end
  • Write content with an affiliate link or banner, then promote it via direct email marketing. This is one strategy that has been basically working since the dawn of internet marketing, and chances are it’s going to be here for many years to come.

Amazon Affiliate Program

See that link at the top? That’s the affiliate link you want, right there.

Image source: ScottNovis.com

How it works:

  • Much like any other type of passive online income does: it simply brings in the cash, as per your agreement with the affiliate in question.
  • Affiliate programs monetize amazingly well, especially if supported with a well-crafted email marketing campaign.

Before monetizing, remember!

  • Affiliate programs cannot guarantee a steady stream of income month after month. Like all e-commerce opportunities, they are seasonally influenced. So, say you make $1,000 during the pre-holidays shopping craze in December—don’t be too surprised if your passive income source drops to a paltry $100 in January.

5. Put up a paywall

Heck, if major publishers like Salon and The New York Times can do it, so can you, right? Well, sort of. You need to be clever and work hard at such a strategy, because, after all, you’re probably not a major publisher, ready to leverage on their brand capital like they are. So always start out by focusing on creating great free content. Once you’ve got your bases covered in that respect, you can make a few tentative attempts at locking some special, premium content behind an aptly priced paywall, to see what happens. You can offer basically any type of content that’s relevant for your niche for money. Here are some good examples:

  • Web design, crafting, and photography websites can fare extremely well with downloadable tutorials, be they in video, e-book, e-course, or podcast format.
  • Webinars work very well as premium for-pay content for business, finance advisors’, accounting, and entrepreneur-targeted websites.
  • You can offer templates, craft patterns, stock photos, stock audio effects, stock music, stock Adobe Premiere or Photoshop actions for money! Basically, you would be selling your expertise in any field in which you can create or curate something in an original format.

In a certain way, Premium Members areas work like exclusive clubs, where you’re offering specialized products and services for a modicum of money. Remember that this only works if there’s some actual added value to what you’re trying to sell.

Premium Members

Image source: Cycling-Inform.com

How it works:

  • This is a great monetizing strategy, especially if you release premium content according to a well-timed calendar that accounts for seasonal traffic fluctuations.
  • Premium content can also be a wonderful source of passive income, in the case of evergreen content.
  • Expect huge earnings, in the upper echelon of five figure amounts, and even six figures.

Before monetizing, remember!

  • Creating actual added value can take a lot of your time and it is usually hard work. Consider leveraging the expertise of other key influencers in your niche, for a more time-efficient process.
  • If you want to keep up your high earnings, you will need to be able to sustain a continual output of quality work.
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