Website Ideas to Kickstart Your Main or Side Hustle

Talk to WordPress.com website owners about the reasons they created a website, and you hear sentences like the following:

  • “I want to share my ideas with the world.”
  • “I’d like to sell my products online.”
  • “My service business needs to tap the online marketplace.”

While these ideas might seem dissimilar at first glance, they all have at least one thing in common, the ability to generate revenue. And almost everyone thinking of starting a site will wonder, “How can I make some money from my [blog, ideas, services]?” This is only logical when you consider that whatever the WordPress.com site owners are offering, there are likely people on the Web willing to pay for it. 

If you’re a site owner looking to earn revenue from your ideas, services or products, but are unsure where to start on this journey, this post is for you. After you’re done reading this article, you’ll see clearly that you can make money from your site. Most important, though, you’ll know how to do so.

As a content strategy and brand consultant for more than 15 years, I have vast experience helping bloggers and business owners earn money from their websites. I’ve helped bloggers package their ideas as e-books, tutorials, courses, and guides; service providers, including pool companies and restaurants, deliver classes and instruction (online, in-person, and via video); and product makers create and sell physical products for a wide range of markets.  

What they all had in common was a website and the desire to make money from their passions.

How to make money with your website

Repeat after me: “You can make money from your website.” The first step is to develop a unique voice, one that helps you draw in and grow an audience. This takes time, but you start by writing about the things you’re passionate and knowledgeable about, in a thoughtful way, and that shares a perspective visitors won’t find elsewhere on the Web. 

Next, once your voice is developed, make sure you’re sharing your thoughts on social media, where you can interact with folks who also share an interest in your information, but, most importantly, they are likely to follow links back to your website, increasing your website’s traffic in the process.

How much traffic do you need to sell items on your site?

During your site’s infancy, growing traffic will be a lot like waiting for water to boil: It can’t happen fast enough. But assuming you’ve followed the steps above to grow your audience, traffic will begin to trickle in. 

(SOURCE)

A good benchmark is between 4,000 to 5,000 pageviews per month, or about 45,000 pageviews annually. These numbers make it more feasible for you to earn money from your blog through the various means we discuss in detail below. Why do you need this many pageviews? As a general rule, only a small percentage of any audience purchases products or services from the brands whose content they enjoy online. They are there just to read and hopefully share your information.

Therefore, you need a sizable piece of pie (pageviews in the thousands typically) to realistically make an appreciable amount of revenue. Again, there is no magic number for audience size, but it’s safe to assume that the more, the better.

Start with adding WooCommerce to your site

Your eyes are open to the value of selling items on your website. That’s great news. Lucky for you, the WooCommerce plugin makes sales a breeze from your website. The free, easy-to-setup plugin makes creating and running a store online painless by allowing you to manage everything from product listings to shipping rates, and payment in one place. Better still, as your business grows and your needs expand, WooCommerce’s numerous extensions can handle anything you or your customers might need, including bookings, deposits for products, and subscriptions.

1. Ask for donations

The easiest way to earn money from your blog is to ask for it

Sure, it’s unlikely that the dough will come rolling in, but frequent visitors to your site who’ve come to appreciate your content are at least likely to consider hitting the donate button. There are several WordPress.com plugins to choose from, including Ko-fi, Stripe, and  PayPal. From there, all you need are several succinct, strong calls to action (CTAs) placed throughout the site. As the saying goes, “It never hurts to ask.”

2. Freelance blogging

First, if you enjoy blogging, have time to do it with some degree of frequency, and have earned a bit of traffic, you can very easily leverage your blog to become a freelance blogger. No matter the topics you cover, you can find brands who are willing to pay you to write content for their sites, including their blogs, web pages, and product pages. All you have to do to get started is include a Hire Me page on your website to make companies aware that you’re interested in writing for them.

Adam Connell, owner of the Bloggingwizard website, is a staunch proponent of blogging for money, calling it the best way to make money in your spare time.

Better still, if there are brands you’d like to write for, find a point of contact on LinkedIn and inquire about providing your writing services.

3. Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is one of the easiest and most popular ways to make money from your blog. 

It allows you to make money from the people who click on a link from your site that takes them to a product or service page of another site, whose owner you have an agreement with to secure a percentage of each sale that originates from your site. The links, often listed—[“Affiliate Link”]—have a code appended to the URL that allows the link to be tracked back to the originator’s site.

What items can you offer on your site?

Website owners often limit themselves when it comes to affiliate marketing by thinking they need to offer specific products—often those they have seen listed on other sites. The best place to start is with your interests. No matter what category of items are services you’re interested in and familiar with, there are sure to be vendors offering affiliate sales opportunities.

Tim Ferris is a super-popular blogger who has amassed a fortune with affiliate marketing

Are you an exercise aficionado? You can include links to exercise, fitness, and nutrition products or services on your site. You can do the same for books, household items, apparel, shoewear, etc. 

There are more than 1,600 free plugins in the WordPress.com repository to help you manage affiliates on your site. Though they all likely differ to a small degree, any of the more popular plugins, including Amazon Auto Links, Pretty Links, Affiliates Manager can get the job done.

4. Display advertising

Even if you’re not familiar with Google AdSense ads, you have no doubt seen them. They are the dynamically rendered ads that show up on a web page you’re visiting, and display both text and an image of a product or service you might be interested in. The ads appear based on visitors and the content of your site—not the visitors’ interests. 

The benefits of these ads are that you can get paid for both clicks and views or visibility. That is, Google pays you for someone either seeing the ad or clicking on the ad. All you have to do is sign up for AdSense, then add the code they provide to your website. 

There are several other options for display ads as well, including Media.net, Adsterra, and Revcontent, among others.

Want the best mix of all advertising options? You don’t have to settle for just one choice. WordPress.com users can run WordAds, which delivers ads from more than 50 Internet advertising agencies, including Adsense, Amazon A9 and more.

5. Product reviews

You’ve read book, television, movie, and product reviews. Have you ever thought of getting paid to write them? Well, it’s not as hard as you might think.  

All you have to do is send an informative (e.g., details about you, your site, and your interest in reviewing their product, etc.) note to the company for which you’d like to review their products. Be sure to include details about your rates, website traffic, and your audience so they can accurately gauge whether a review on your site is a good fit.

Tackle Tour is a very popular site that offers reviews for sportfishing tackle, which is part of a $30 billion dollar industry.

Also, make certain to disclose that the review is sponsored, as both Google and the Federal Trade Commission frown upon paid reviews that are not clearly disclosed as such. 

6. Sponsored blog posts

Just as companies will pay you to review their products and services, they’ll also pay you to crow positively about their business as well. For example, a local hardware store might pay a local blogger to write about their business. Same for a pool company, clothing retailer, and on and on. Whatever it is you have an interest in, there is a high likelihood of finding a business that’ll pay you to write about it. 

But, as in the case of product reviews, be certain to disclose that the blog post is sponsored to prevent penalties from either Google or the Federal Trade Commission.

7. Create and sell websites

If you’re proficient in building websites, you can quite possibly start selling them, or creating them for others from the outset. There are always people looking to purchase a ready-to-go website. 

If you’ve created the site with selling it in mind from the outset, you’re probably already marketing it on forums and discussion boards, including Reddit, Facebook Marketplace, and the like. And if you didn’t create it to sell but have that in mind now, you can choose a similar path. 

8. Members-only content

Membership sites are fun and interesting, providing a unique experience for people who are interested in a similar topic. And people are willing to pay to be members of a worthwhile community that gathers on your site. 

By adding a payment option on your site, you can allow members to access portions that non-paying members cannot access. Also, you can provide contests, special offers, exclusive content, or prizes for those members who meet a certain threshold of contribution to the group.

My local police department’s fundraising branch has a members-only section on their site.

You don’t have to make the entire site members-only, either; you can keep specific areas off limits for non-subscribers. In my experience, members-only sites are a great way for niche-specific WordPress.com blog owners to earn revenue while simultaneously building a community around their brand. 

9. Turn your website into a forum

Those of us who were around for the early days of the Web in the early aughts, around 2000, can remember how a lot of the most valuable content being shared was on private forums, discussion boards, and members-only sections of websites. One of my favorites was the forum of MensHealth.com. It was a great place to ask questions, share ideas and get tips on nutrition and fitness.

This was well before blogs became popular, but I remember it being somewhat freeing to be a part of a private discussion group sharing ideas and providing support to other members of the club.

WordPress.com makes it easy for you to turn your blog into a discussion board. There are a host of plugins available for creating discussion boards on WordPress.com, but my favorite is the P2 plugin, which creates rich, visually appealing pages that are easy to navigate and provide a great experience for ongoing conversations on the platform.

WordPress.com P2 is an excellent forum option.

10. Create a business directory or job board

Job boards and business directories are becoming more common each year, many times on smaller sites, which allows businesses listing jobs to reach small, often niche, audiences, while providing a more affordable option for businesses looking to list their services. 

Superpath is a popular job board created by blogger and marketer Jimmy Daly and his business partner Walter Chen.

Your WordPress.com website makes it easier to go down either path. There are a plethora of plugins for job listings and for building a business directory available on the plugins page.

11. E-books and how-to guides

Content marketers are always looking for the latest tips and information on how to be successful in the marketplace. By creating how-to guides and e-books, you could position yourself to garner revenue and increased traffic to your website, as both products are middle-of-the-funnel content that web searchers are always looking for online.

Copyblogger offers a wide array how-to information, including e-books and guides, on their site. 

The books and guides can be created by packaging a number of blog posts to cover the topic thoroughly and then listing and selling them via WooCommerce from your site. Years ago, I packaged 12 blog posts to create a branding guide and an e-book, which I sold via WooCommerce on my WordPress.com website. By offering the pairing, I was able to increase my web traffic by 43% while generating an average of $280 per month. Not bad for about 20 hours of work to create the guides and set up the store online.

12. Visuals, including infographics, images

If you’re a photographer or designer, using your WordPress.com website to sell your visual creations is a natural step. Businesses and other bloggers are always on the lookout for design elements to use for their brands or websites. Also, by listing items for sale on your site, customers are likely to inquire about having you create specific visuals for them as well. 

13. Online courses, videos, webinars

Thanks in no small part to the 2020 pandemic, there has been an explosion of interest in online courses and training, much of which formerly happened in person. Savvy website owners are filling this void by creating and selling webinars, training videos, and courses on topics ranging from health and fitness to human resources (HR), finance and accounting, home repair, and just about anything else you can think of.

Popular blogger Ryan Holiday offers a number of courses and videos on his blog.

In the past, such courses were often created in-house by companies and small businesses delivering professional services. But since 2020, the growth of these services being provided by small, independent website owners has been massive. It’s not uncommon to visit social media and see bloggers selling personal training or cooking videos, or webinars highlighting HR best practices. 

My friend and former personal training coach creates and posts snippets of his training videos and manuals on his blog, where he also sells the products using WooCommerce.

If you offer a product that can be delivered online, there is no reason you can’t jump into the fray, too.

14. Online services

I got my start in content marketing by using my WordPress website to market and sell a membership subscription for exclusive content for subscribers only. That business grew into me offering freelance content marketing writing, then content strategy coaching and consulting, both of which I still provide to this day.

Many of my digital marketing friends, in fact, got their start by showcasing their content, social media, or search engine optimization (SEO) knowledge on their sites before offering it as a paid service online.

15. Physical products

As mentioned earlier, the initial desire for most website owners is to share their ideas and passions with the world. But, upon realizing the potential for using the Web to hawk their wares of services, they jump in headfirst. No different than with online products, physical products are commonly sold on the web, often through WooCommerce on WordPress.com websites. 

So whether you make pottery or apparel, or handmade household items, your website can be the gateway to showcasing your wares to the world.

Conclusion

Hopefully, the biggest takeaway from this blog post is this: “You can sell nearly anything from your WordPress.com website.” It’s impossible to list all of the items or services you can use to generate revenue from your site, but hopefully, you’ve come to see that monetizing it is a reality. Whether your goal is to earn some extra cash or to generate income sufficient to become a full-time job, your WordPress blog can help you get there.


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You’re In Good Company

Brand new bloggers, small businesses, and major brands like TIME, TED, and Spotify all call WordPress.com home.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ronell Smith

Ronell Smith is a digital marketing strategist helping brands do amazing things with content, including grow their audience, increase qualified web traffic to their websites and outwit the competition. He has extensive experience with enterprise and small business content strategy, having worked with household names, including ESPN, HubSpot, Moz, WordPress, CMXHub, and numerous others. Currently, his mission is to grow brands who recognize the value of creating a best-in-class content experience, one that creates trust, authority, customer love and, of course, revenue. When he’s not writing or coaching clients, he can usually be found reading, exercising or annoying his two beautiful daughters.

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