Will My New Website Make Money? (2021 Update)

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Back in 2017, Ezoic’s CMO, Tyler Bishop, posted a blog on the fundamental question all bloggers ask themselves when they’re starting out: Will my blog make money… or not? 

Four years later, his tips and findings still ring true. But as the years go on, technology (and especially the internet) keep evolving, and we do our best to keep up.

So, we present to you: the 2021 edition of: Will your new website make money or not? 

The most basic answer we can give you to this question is “I dunno, maybe.” Why? Because your ability to get money from your site is not based on one factor; it’s based on countless factors. 

We also published a blog recently on why website revenue goes up or down, and many of those factors are applicable here, too.

To chip away at this one enormous topic, here are a few more digestible questions we can peek at first:

  1. Can I make money in the ______ niche?
  2. Can I monetize my site? 
  3. Who are my visitors?

1. Can I make money in the ______ niche?

Oftentimes, the questions we get about if new sites will be successful is related to the site’s specific “niche.”

Publishers often come to us wanting to know if super specific topics have been successful before. Some include indoor gardening techniques, or cooking with eggs, for example. 

It’s hard for anyone to answer this question because so much more goes into it. I can liken it to trying to figure out how much money a certain college major might expect to make. You can easily search “How much do engineers make?” and come up with some kind of range, but that answer probably won’t really be accurate for every person. 

To get a better answer, you should ask yourself: How long have you been working? What work experience do you have? In what market are you hoping to work? Do you want to work for a large corporation or a small one?

To translate the same concept to websites, it’s really hard for someone to make an educated guess about how much money you might make without first examining other factors about your site and its audience. No “ranking” exists, because even within a specific “niche,” no site is created equal. 

In fact, even within a certain niche, the variance of blog earnings is a whopping 87% according to findings in an earlier Ezoic blog from this year. 

Later on in this article, we’ll look into what exactly makes sites so different from each other and what you should keep your eyes on. 

The takeaway for this first question I want to leave you with is this: Deciding whether a blog will make money or not based on just its niche is impossible, especially before the site is even live. Build the site first, figure out the money later.

2. Can I monetize my site? 

Generally, people who want to know if they can monetize their site want to know if they can make money by a) running ads or b) affiliate links.

Let’s break it down even further. What you really need to ask is:

  1. Will my website be approved to run ads?
  2. If I have pages with restricted content, can I still earn money?
  3. How can I find affiliate links to earn money for my site?

So, let’s answer these questions. 

Will my website be approved to run ads?

This is relatively simple for us to answer. First, you need to meet all the quality standards that Google sets forth. Any legitimate platform that would allow you to show ads on your site will likely follow similar policies that Google does.

A screenshot of the requirements by Google for showing ads from their ad network, which are the same as Ezoic’s requirements.

Second, you are probably also wanting to know about your ability to monetize your site based on your site’s traffic. 

Luckily, Ezoic removed any page view limit requirements, which now allows anyone to monetize their site, so long as their site is legitimate and passes our platform quality check (as shown above). 

So, this check is really a pretty easy one. If your site is above ground and gets legitimate traffic, you can show ads on it. Nice!

If I have pages with restricted content, can I still earn money?

One note — many people who ask this question are also wondering about the effect that a few pages with restricted content will have on their site’s earnings.

Google used to ban whole sites from showing ads if they found objectionable content on one page. Now, only that one page gets banned. 

The short answer is that a few pages of restricted content (so long as your whole category is not banned) will not affect what advertisers are bidding on ads on your pages, but it could affect your overall revenue. 

This is because if one visitor is viewing three pages on your site on a visit, but only two of them have ads, it brings your average EPMV down. This content will not hurt your other pages.

Okay, so what about affiliate links? 

Affiliate marketing works pretty simply. Read more about it and how you can make money with affiliate marketing in a recent guest post. You promote a product on your website with a link, a visitor clicks that link and buys something, you get a slice of the pie. 

How Affiliate Links Work – source: Taboola

To be appealing to brands that offer affiliate link options for publishers, you’ll want to have a site that looks legitimate and well-established. Likely, if you’re in a specific niche, say, on baking, you might look for affiliate links for brands that have products for baking or cooking. 

This question is a bit harder for us to answer because it really depends on how many people follow through on purchases through your links and what affiliate deals you find for yourself. 

3. Who are my visitors?

Let’s return to our analogy about finding a job in a certain industry. We’ve established that you might be able to get a job, but that it’s just going to depend on a multitude of factors.

Similarly, so far, we’ve established that if you meet certain criteria, you can likely monetize your site. But how successful will it be? That’s where these factors come in.

We can break this down into a few questions, but they will only scratch the surface. In all reality, the aspects that make sites successful really depend. For example, a site identical in quality to another site might earn less because one site attracts desktop users, but another attracts mobile. 

The amount that advertisers will bid for a spot on your site depends on countless elements. For instance, a new visitor to your site is generally worth more than a returning visitor. 

Next, you need to figure out where exactly your visitors are coming from. 

As the graphic above shows, the way your visitors are accessing your site makes a big difference. For instance, you might make more money than average if your visitor is coming from Google Chrome, or far less than average if your visitor is coming from DuckDuckGo. An advertiser bids more for a user visiting on a desktop than on mobile or on a tablet, in general.

However, even these factors can be subject to change. For the example of a new user being more valuable than a returning visitor, there are situations where that is not the case. If you are a rental property site, an ad for a return visitor would be far more valuable. 

So, what should you take away from this?

Overall, one of the most important points here is that it is pointless to compare your site to another site based on one element, and especially based on its “niche.” Look to community members in your niche for content ideas or inspiration for engagement, but do not look to them for EPMV comparison. 

Second, it’s more than likely that you can monetize your site if you focus on the right goals. (Our blog has plenty of content on SEO, monetization and more.) 

Third, and finally, the complexity of this question is exactly why you need a tool like Ezoic. All the information about where your traffic is coming from, what content and layout your visitors like, what times of the day your revenue spikes, and even more, are virtually impossible to sort through for each visitor on your own. 

A machine learning technology, however, can sort through it all. Our Big Data Analytics tool can figure out which articles are performing better so you can create content similar to it. Our Ad Tester will always show the best placement for user experience to each visitor. 

You get the idea — each product we have takes the guesswork out of “will my site make money or not?” and gives you the answers on what exactly will make you money and what won’t. 

What experiences have you had with starting websites and getting them to a valuable point to monetize them? Let us know in the comments!

By Linden O'Brien Williams

Linden is a former journalism graduate of the University of Missouri turned social media and content marketer. She speaks fluent English, Spanish, and French and is responsible for Ezoic social marketing strategies.