While learning web development skills you can make money making websites. In fact, as a student of web development, you have the added benefit that any time you spend making websites not only provides you with monetization opportunities but also adds websites to your portfolio.
My Path To Monetizing My Work
When I first changed careers, my goal was to sell apps on the App Store and Google Play. In fact, the first app I published was making around $50 a month, so my plan was to keep adding apps until I had enough to make a living. Well, my second app was a flop, and had almost no sales. My third app was also a flop. I obviously had to change gears.
So, instead of making apps for the App Stores, I started to make apps for other businesses. Eventually, I started making more websites than apps, and I now I make primarily websites. When I was learning how to make websites and building up a client base, I monetized some of my own websites with advertising and affiliate sales.
Five Ways to Make Money Making Websites
There are five ways to make money making websites:
- Working for an organization, corporation or web development agency
- Making websites for clients as a freelancer
- Creating an eCommerce website to directly sell to customers
- Placing ads on your website as a content producer (i.e. a blogger)
- Putting affiliate links on your website by recommending specific products
I primarily make my living with #2, as a freelancer, and also by teaching. I also have websites that I create and manage that have Google Ads (#4) and Affiliate Links (#5).
Let’s look at each of these 5 options in more detail.
1. Work for an organization, corporation, or agency
Most large corporations and organizations run large websites that they use for a variety of reasons. Parts of the websites may be functional and core to running the business, and these will be managed in the IT department. Other parts of the website maybe more informational, and those may be managed by the Communications department.
You may also be able to work for an agency that specializes in making websites for their clients.
This option will only be available to you after you have experience making websites. You will likely also need very strong communication skills in addition to web development skills. If you are working on the front-end of the website, you will most likely be working in WordPress.
2. Make websites for clients as a freelancer
Another option is to work as a freelance web developer. You don’t need a degree in order to start your freelancing business. However, you do need to find clients, and in order to compete on price you may need to sell your first websites for a low flat rate. As you build skills, you will be able to charge more for your work.
3. Create an eCommerce Website to sell directly to customers
If you have a product or service to sell, one way to monetize is to sell it on an eCommerce website. I specialize in making eCommerce websites and make them primarily on WordPress/WooCommerce. It isn’t difficult to make an eCommerce website with the WooCommerce, and, in fact, in the Web Design course I teach at Saint Paul College students create an eCommerce website. Here are some articles on eCommerce:
- WooCommerce vs Shopify: This describes the pros and cons of the two most popular ways to make eCommerce websites. A third easy way to make any website into an eCommerce website is to simply place a PayPal button on the website.
- eCommerce Considerations: This page on WhiteBuffaloWebsites.com describes some considerations in making an eCommerce website, including alternatives (like selling on Amazon or Etsy) as well as how to prepare your product information for sale.
In short, to make an eCommerce website, start by creating a WordPress website, and then install the WooCommerce plugin. WooCommerce has a wizard that will help you navigate the process.
4. Place Ads on your Website as a Content Producer
If you have a special interest on a topic, one way to make money is as a content producer, like a blogger. You can set up advertisements on your website with Google Adsense. Simply set up an account, and Adsense will provide instructions about how to place their ads on your website.
Sounds easy, right? Well, now the real work begins. To make money you need to get traffic to come to your website. To do that, you need a high quality website with a lot of content and some marketing effort.
While you won’t get rich quickly, this is a way to learn while making a bit of money on the side. The reason why this is a desirable way to make money is because you are working for yourself, not for a client. You gain experience and reputation by creating and managing a website. (Make sure you add your website(s) to your LinkedIn page and to your resume.)
5. Place Affiliate Links on your Website
If you have specific products to recommend, you can sign up to be an affiliate. When one of your website visitors clicks on a link to a product you recommend and they make a purchase, you receive a commission. I am an Amazon Affiliate, a Flywheel Hosting affiliate, and a Siteground hosting affiliate.
After you sign up as an affiliate, now you need to recommend some products. Say, for example, you love drawing and have certain pens you prefer to use. What you would do on your website is recommend the pens that you use and link your website visitors to Amazon.com. If anyone goes to Amazon following your link and makes a purchase, you will receive 4% of the purchase.
Frequently Asked Questions
Well, you will not make a lot of money until you have significant traffic to your website. To make a living as a blogger, it will likely take about a year of nearly full-time work. You will probably need at least 200-300 quality posts. Even so, it can be a way to monetize your work while you are learning how to make websites. For students, you are also gaining experience and developing a portfolio that you will use to land a job.
This path to making money is a slow one, but it also has a long tail. For example, say you write one blog post per week for a year, and you have 52 blog posts. You keep adding on to your blog and eventually you get your blog to produce $3000 per month. A few years later you decide to stop working on the blog. The blog will continue to generate revenue, even though you aren’t adding to it. When you start a blog you will make very little money at first, but your initial work is an investment into ongoing revenue. Unless you continue adding to the blog, the $3000 per month won’t continue indefinitely. It will gradually tail off as other bloggers move into your space. You can also sell a blog.