Photo: Austin Distel, Unsplash

Two Proven Strategies To Monetize Your Content

There are typically two ways to monetize content. You can create a product or you can promote other people’s products. Here's a quick look at both methods.

As an entrepreneur, focused on content marketing and lead generation, I am aware of how hard it is to increase online visibility. The average person spends nearly 24 hours per week online, yet it has become harder and harder to reach these people. 

But reaching ideal customers isn’t the crux of the matter I want to discuss. Instead, let’s look at what you should focus on once your content marketing efforts start to produce results. 

Suddenly driving quality traffic to your website isn’t the issue anymore. However, monetization is elusive. Sadly, many entrepreneurs are so focused on building an audience that they fail to earn a profit once their goal is realized.

“Sadly, many entrepreneurs are so focused on building an audience that they fail to earn a profit once their goal is realized.”

I still remember one of my first successful online endeavors because I made this exact mistake. I was told I needed a YouTube channel, so I launched one. After churning out content on my channel (with little success) I uploaded a video that YouTube loved – even adored.

My video was recommended at the top of virtually every search result it could qualify for and views were off the charts – literally thousands every day. However, I soon realized I had made an enormous mistake.


Are you making this content marketing mistake?

I didn’t’ have a way to capture this newfound audience. I didn’t have a call-to-action, nor did I have any plan to monetize all of those views.

Eventually, I realized there are typically two ways to monetize content. You can create a product or service, or you can promote other people’s products and services. It seems obvious, but most people don’t know the latter option even exists. In industry terms, I’m referring to affiliate marketing.

Photo: Austin Distel, Unsplash
Photo: Austin Distel, YFS Magazine


Two proven ways to monetize your content

Let’s talk about both monetization methods.


1. Create a product

The product development world boils down to physical, digital, and time-based products. The development of physical products is pretty straight forward. Instead, I want to focus on digital and time-based products.

Consider why people follow you. For example, when I follow someone online, it’s because they have something I want. It can be a lifestyle, relationship, money, physique, mindset, or any number of reasons. So as you try to figure out how to monetize your following, the next step is to figure out why they follow you and then create a relevant and valuable offering.


Digital courses explained

To further explain this, my audience tends to follow me because they love the idea of working at home, and I have been able to make that happen. Once I realized this was the reason why people followed me, creating a product for them was an easy next step: Teach them how I do what I do, and how they can do the same.

I love digital courses because of the profit potential and simplicity. Creating an online course is as easy as figuring out what you did to get where you are, creating an outline for each video, and then producing the videos. Honestly, the hardest part is just sitting down and doing it.

There are a handful of online platforms that host digital courses like Teachable, Learnworlds, Skillshare, Udemy, etc. (I use Thinkific). When you create online courses and membership sites with the right platform, it removes all of the potential tech headaches (e.g., payments, access, hosting, etc.). It’s as simple as creating the training and uploading it to the platform of your choice. 

As a result, 100 percent of the profits from your digital course go to you (less the cost of a monthly plan for your online course platform).

Create, Market and Sell Your Own Online Courses and Membership Sites with Thinkific. Get one month free


2. Sell other peoples products (affiliate marketing)

When you market and sell other people’s products for a cut of the sale, it’s called affiliate marketing. It is essentially performance-based marketing where one business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate’s (that would be you) marketing efforts.


Affiliate marketing explained

Companies generally offer an affiliate program or a referral program. However, many people don’t know these opportunities exist.

The process is fairly simple. Research products that would benefit your audience. Then, promote those products to them. When people buy, you get a cut of the sale. The company tracks sales by assigning you (the affiliate) a unique trackable link. Anyone who clicks that link, and takes a specific action, is associated with you and you receive a cut.

While the process is simple, most people fail at affiliate marketing because they a) don’t have an audience or b) promote the wrong products.


Find the right affiliate marketing program

If you have an audience and want to make real money, a focus on recurring, as well as high-ticket commissions, puts you in the best position to build a profitable affiliate marketing business.

Finding the right affiliate program that has an exceptional commission structure is critical.

For example, the software platform I use to create, market, sell online courses pays affiliates 30% of what they make off each referred customer for life. And since they use a subscription-based model, affiliates can earn money every single month from a single referral. These types of products/services can net huge commissions. This is called high-ticket affiliate marketing. 

In contrast, Amazon has an affiliate program, the Amazon Associates Program, that offers a commission structure from 1-10% per sale, depending upon the product category. Instead of focusing your efforts on a product like Amazon, where you will need hundreds of daily sales to make a living, focus on high-ticket programs – where a few sales a week can turn into a full-time income.

If you promote quality products, you can make a greater impact on the lives of people who follow you and consume your content. 


How should I monetize my content?

The answer to this question is easy – both! I use both of these methods in my business. I sell a digital product, and I know my audience is interested in plenty of other things that I do not sell or have expertise in.

I firmly believe in my product and every product I promote. I won’t promote something I haven’t vetted, so people trust my recommendation. Using these two methods, I continue to grow my audience, change their lives, and make money – all at the same time.

It’s great to be an entrepreneur.


Spencer Mecham is the founder of Buildapreneur, an online education platform for entrepreneurs. He loves the freedom that being an entrepreneur has brought him and has a goal of sharing that freedom with others. His favorite place to teach is YouTube, where he runs two channels with over 25,000 subscribers.


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