How to Monetise your Online Audience 2nd May, 2018

If you have built a large audience, whether it’s on your blog, YouTube channel, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, you have the opportunity to monetise that online platform. This applies whether you’re a team of 50 working in a city centre office, or a one-man band producing content from your bedroom in your parents’ house.

And you don’t need to have an audience of millions to monetise your online presence. Brands are increasingly keen to work with “micro influencers”, people with a small but strongly engaged following.

But what is the best way to monetise your online audience? For many influencers, particularly those who started out as a hobby with no thought for making money from their content, turning their online platform and audience into a business can be a scary prospect. You need to be careful not to let brands take advantage of you. And, crucially, make sure you don’t compromise the quality of your content and your relationship with your audience just to make a quick buck.

But handle monetisation right and you can build some fantastic relationships with brands that benefit both you and your audience. These relationships can help give you the time and money to produce better content for your audience than ever before. They can give you access to things that your audience want to see. They can help strengthen the relationship with your existing audience and expand your reach to help grow your audience further.

What are the most common ways to monetise your online platform?
  1. Sponsored posts
    This can be in the form of a blog post or YouTube video, or even just a social post in partnership with the brand. It’s normally a good idea to go beyond an ‘advertorial’ vibe where you just rave about how good the product is for 4,000 words. The brand will likely have one or two key points they want to get across, but beyond that, it’s down to you to tell your audience about your experience with the product, how you use it and how it fits into your life.
  2. Affiliate marketing
    Let’s say you’re a beauty blogger and you write an article about your ‘top five makeup bag must-haves’. You include a link to each of the products. But here’s the nifty part. Every time someone clicks on one of the links and makes a purchase, you earn a percentage of the product price. The user doesn’t pay any extra, it’s simply a reward from the brand for you helping generate a sale.
  3. Pay per click
    This works in a similar way to affiliate marketing, but you receive a fee for every click on a link you use. This can work well as your job is done when a user clicks the link. If they end up deciding not to make a purchase, you’ve still done your bit and earnt your money.
  4. Selling display ad space
    This is the oldest and most traditional form of online monetisation. Quite simply, adverts will run alongside your content. The technical side of the adverts being displayed will often be handled automatically, so don’t worry about having to spend hours dealing with coding or digital artwork!
Our advice

Starting to work with brands and monetising your platform can be very exciting, and so it should be. You’ve worked hard to build an audience and there’s no reason you shouldn’t benefit from it. Just be careful not to forget why you started producing content in the first place.

Choose brands you love

We’d recommend only doing paid promotional work with brands that you actually respect and like. Your audience won’t appreciate it if you start trying to hard sell them products that are clearly not things you would normally use. Doing this can quickly damage the trust you have built up with your audience.

The brand will get better results if the work you do with them is genuine and driven by passion, not just money.

Don’t give what you don’t want to give

Be careful not to agree things you’re not comfortable with. When you’re organising your first brand deals, it can be easy to let the brand dictate things that you later regret. If the brand asks for exclusivity, for instance, find out exactly which other brands this would preclude you from working with, and for what time period. Make sure you’re not blocking future opportunities for yourself.

Build long-lasting relationships

A good scenario is to have long-term brand partners, rather than just a series of short-term, one-off deals. That way your audience gets used to the idea that you love Product X, rather than chopping and changing from month-to-month.

Make it a two-way street

Don’t be afraid to talk about how the brand can help you. If you’re doing a partnership with a brand that has a large social media following, find out whether they’d be happy to share the content you create. They get free content to use on their social channels, and you get exposure to a much wider audience, helping you grow your fanbase. It’s a win-win.

Don’t forget why you started

Keep enjoying what you do and remember that you didn’t start your platform with the goal or serving brands. If a certain brand partnership doesn’t feel right to you, you’re free to politely decline.

Need more help? Read our article: ‘How to Get Sponsors as an Influencer’