How to Create a News Website That Makes Money

A stick of newspapers.
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Making a news website starts with finding content. But that's only the first step. Chances are, you want to make money. While it can be difficult to generate dollars in addition to traffic, you can boost your chances with four easy steps.

Using a News Website Paywall

It is the easiest decision to make, but also the most dangerous. A paywall requires people to pay you to get your content. But it could also drastically cut your number of visitors. To make your paywall successful, you must have a rationale for why your site is worth money to your visitors. How much of your news content is unique? If the answer is "not much," then your visitors will go where they can get the same information without paying.

If you post content faster than your competitors, you could position yourself as the first source for news. But what you offer has to be so compelling that people won't be willing to wait to get it somewhere else.

There are also complexities in setting up a paywall that you should consider, which can cost money upfront. If you can't recoup that investment easily, you may want to look elsewhere for revenue.

Earn Money by Posting Google Ads

You've likely seen Google ads on many websites. It's easy to set up these advertisements on your media site and customize them to reflect your content.

If you target these ads to your audience, it's much more likely you'll get clicks and compensation. The design of the ad space will not take away from your content or graphics, so readers will still focus on your information.

But realize that the key to making money with Google ads is to have a lot of site visitors. If you have a niche site, you won't make a fortune with these types of ads. You will have to work to get your site as much attention and clicks as possible.

Post Traditional Ads to Boost Website Revenue

Banner ads are nearly as old as the web itself. They are the most traditional way of making money from a news site because they aren't much different than ads you'd find in a newspaper or on the radio or TV.

Ideally, an advertiser would pay you a flat rate to place an ad. That way, you wouldn't have to worry about how many people visit your site or click on the ad to receive payment.

The advertiser will likely want to know your site stats before paying for ad space and will base their payment on how many eyeballs view the ad or click it. Be prepared to offer accurate numbers and accept that the payment will probably be less than what you'd like.

That makes it tempting to put banners, buttons, and other ad links everywhere on your site so that these small amounts of money add up. But you risk turning off your readers. Too many ads diminish the professionalism of your site, so design the areas that you'll reserve for advertisers and save the rest for content.

Also, remember you'll have to design a trafficking and invoice system to organize the ads. You may spend most of your time posting and removing ads and tracking payments instead of on your content.

Beware Adding an Affiliate Program to a News Site

An affiliate program is a popular website revenue generator for many sites but should be approached with caution for any media website. People make money by producing content about a product, then linking to a place where readers can buy it.

For a media pro, this probably sounds like an infomercial. If you're a journalist, that presents a problem for adding an affiliate program to your news site. It could easily appear that the reason you posted a story on this year's most popular political novel was solely to provide a link for people to buy it. The reputation you have built for yourself, and your site isn't worth tarnishing it in this way.

But if your news site is less journalism-oriented, an affiliate program may work well. A radio station could link its list of the week's Top 10 hits to a place where listeners could purchase the music, provided it doesn't break the rules on payola. A magazine could highlight spring fashions and links to stores where the items can be found.

A media website can be a moneymaker. By planning carefully, avoiding overselling, and being patient with the results, you will lay a foundation for revenue. Then you can fine-tune your efforts, possibly to include several methods, to maximize your return.