Client: WordPress.com (Automattic)
Creating and managing your own website is a big commitment. Even if you start with a free website, you’re still investing time, energy, and creativity into sharing your art, ideas, or professional insights.
The work is rewarding. You’ve built an audience and connected with new people. But wouldn’t it be nice if you had something else to show for it? What if you could start earning money with a WordPress website or blog?
Thanks to some unique WordPress.com solutions, more bloggers and DIY website owners are doing just that. They realize that the things they make have value and that their audience is willing to pay for more content.
How? Let’s look at how one hypothetical amateur magician monetizes his site.
How Max the Magician made money with WordPress.com
Max has been passionate about the art of magic since he was a little kid and saw David Blaine on television. He’s been practicing for years, developing his own mind-bending tricks and illusions.
A couple of years ago, Max launched a YouTube channel to post videos of his street magic and built a personal website on WordPress.com where he’s been blogging about his quest to become a professional magician.
So, how does Max go from amateur to pro using his website?
Step 1: Earn attention and build trust
Max is already doing the first step: His videos and blog posts attracted both fans and other up-and-coming magicians. By consistently creating new content, day after day, week after week, Max earned his audience’s attention and built a rapport with like-minded people.
Before you start selling content on your website, you’ll need to put in the same effort. Unless you’re already well-known and have a following, you need to give people a reason to open their wallets. Be generous with what you publish on your website early on, while saving your best stuff for later.
Get people to pay attention first. Then ask them to pay for content.
Step 2: Create premium content
As you’d expect, the question Magic Max is most often asked is “How’d you do that?” People want to know his secrets, but only his biggest fans and other magicians are willing to pay to find out more.
Max decides to create an eBook full of tips for aspiring magicians. He calls it Secrets of Street Magic and wants to sell it on his website for $13, but he still needs a way to collect payment and deliver the content to customers.
Since Max upgraded his Personal WordPress.com plan to Premium, he has access to a straightforward solution for website monetization: the simple but powerful WordPress.com Payments block, which is an exclusive way to collect money from visitors and connect to a popular payment gateway.
Max adds buttons and an image of his eBook’s cover to a few key spots on his website. His fans can use PayPal to buy and download Secrets of Street Magic while money almost magically starts showing up in Max’s bank account. All he needed was a Stripe account an image of his product, now he can promote his book practically anywhere on his site.
Any kind of content that provides extra value can be sold with the Payments block — books, an online course, music downloads, digital photos, and more. WordPress.com Payments is also useful for collecting donations and selling physical products, making it ideal for building a basic online store. It’s also great for collecting payments for services; Max could use Payments’ features to let people pre-pay when they book him as an entertainer for events.
Step 3: Charge for exclusive access
At first, Max’s eBook sells extremely well, but after a few months sales slow down. His existing audience decided to buy (or not) and new downloads trickle in as his following grows, but now he needs to sell something else.
Max decides to try publishing premium content, giving his biggest fans exclusive access to behind-the-scenes videos, advanced tutorials, and his interviews with professional magicians for a monthly fee. Max’s followers transform from fans to subscribers with another powerful WordPress.com feature: the Premium Content block which works in combination with the recurring payments option in the Payments block.
Max’s fans subscribe to get the exclusive content and their subscription is automatically renewed either monthly or yearly — whatever interval Max sees fit. This means he doesn’t have to bother subscribers for payments, and his fans never lose access to the members-only material.
The Premium Content block gives Max a way to restrict access to his exclusive content. His subscribers are able to log in and view the content, while non-members only see a notice encouraging them to become members.
Max strategically chooses what content he should put behind his paywall. He’s still publishing blog posts and videos for the general audience. But he’s always thinking about new exclusive content he can offer subscribers and how he can entice potential members with a preview of what’s in store for them.
Money-making solutions for WordPress websites
Every website and audience is different, so WordPress.com has a range of options for helping your diligence and dedication pay off. If you’re looking to build a full-fledged online store, you should check out the WordPress.com eCommerce plan. And if you already have a self-hosted WordPress website, these same monetization features are available with Jetpack’s Premium and Professional plans.
There’s no magic spell for making money with a blog or website. But with some hard work, creativity, and support from WordPress.com, nearly anything is possible.
Want to go deeper? Get advice on getting started from WordPress experts. Check out upcoming webinars on website monetization and eCommerce.