Ecommerce is booming but not everyone is cut out to sell physical products online. Some of us are more comfortable with a semi-passive approach than actively buying and selling products on the internet.
So, how do you make money with a website without selling anything?
This article will teach you how to build your own website, drive traffic, and the different ways on how you can make money without selling anything yourself.
Table of Contents
First off, You Should Have a Website
Building the website is the easy part, driving traffic… hmm… it’s sold differently.
Yes, driving traffic to your online business, is actually the difficult part!
Traffic is the lifeblood of an online business, well, any business in fact. Without traffic, there’s no conversion. Hence, there’s no business.
There are many ways to get traffic such as blogging, social media marketing, search engine optimization, or media buying. How you go about acquiring this vital resource differs from one online business owner to the next and it REALLY depends on what industry you’re in.
If your website is about gourmet cupcakes, for example, then blogging for content marketing, SEO, and social media marketing might be the best way for you to get a consistent source of traffic of people who are actively searching for information around your niche. These people then may click on ads or affiliate offers on your website or even sign up for your mailing list, all of these activities will generate revenues without directly selling your visitors.
Media buying, on the other hand, may give you the highest ROI if you’re promoting weight loss and or dating offers since people searching for solutions in these niches are usually in a ready-to-buy mindset.
Whatever your niche, there are different ways on how you can make money with a website without selling products. You can make money through advertising, affiliate links, content syndication (i.e., paid guest posting), and even paid links or mentions on your website; this list isn’t exhaustive but these four methods should cover most of your bases when it comes to building an online business without selling products yourself.
Generally, there are two ways on how you can drive traffic to your website. You can either drive traffic through search engine optimization (SEO) or by paying for advertising.
Search Engine Optimization is just a fancy way of saying that you’re going to focus on organically ranking your website pages so they show up on top of search engine results. Whatever your niche, there are different ways on how you can make money with a website without selling products. You can make money through advertising, affiliate links, content syndication (i.e., guest posting), and even paid links or mentions on your website; this list isn’t exhaustive but these four methods should cover most of your bases when it comes to building an online business without selling products yourself.
Both methods are important and should be considered when building an online business with a website, though SEO provides some significant advantages over paid ads: for starters, it doesn’t require any upfront cost whereas if you want to run paid ads, there’s always going to be advertising costs involved.
Paid ads are a bit tricky, and you could actually lose money with paid ads if you don’t know what you’re doing, and you don’t take the time to master your traffic sources such as Facebook ads, Google Adwords, or Native Ads. Each has its own learning curve and does require testing and mastery, so you should be willing to lose money at the start.
SEO and content marketing don’t require a lot of capital to get started, as it’s technically free, well, you still pay with your time and energy by publishing content or pay writers to write articles for you.
I haven’t really found success with outsourcing article writing but building a virtual self-sustaining real estate (a website that drives traffic organically) is a smarter way to go.
It does take time and effort but it will give you the highest ROI as it pays you over and over for work you did once.
Steps to Building a Website that Makes Money without Selling Stuff
Research Your Niche
The first thing that you should do, even before registering your domain name is to research and decide on a niche or the overall topic of your website.
This is the most important step as it will dictate what kind of content you’ll be publishing.
For example, if your niche is about backyard vegetable gardening, you should have either a genuine interest in the topic or you should already have a backyard vegetable garden yourself.
A lot of experts will tell you to build a website around your passion, while some will tell you to follow the money. I suggest you focus on a passion that has the most income potential.
The reason why many experts suggest that you focus on your passion when it comes to building a profitable online business is the fact that passion will keep you going when the going gets tough which isn’t unusual for an online website publishing business.
Unlike most businesses, content sites or blogs, will not make you money right away, and depending on how competitive your niche is, it may take a year or a couple of years before your site starts earning you a full-time income.
There are several ways on how you can research your niche, you can use free tools like Google Keyword planner or you can use paid tools like Biq, Semrush, or even just the Keywords Everywhere keyword research tool.
Start by typing general keywords based on your interest or passion. It helps if you can start with a list of potential niches that you may have an interest in, are considered an expert at, or passionate about.
These keyword research tools will help you generate keywords that may be related to your main topic and each keyword is potential content for an article or blog post – which can then bring in traffic from people searching these terms.
You then hand-pick long-tail keywords and save them on a list either in an excel or Google sheet for later use when you are ready to start writing your articles.
Register Your Domain
Once you have a list of around 100 keywords, the next step is to register your domain name.
I buy all my domain names through Namecheap, there are a lot of options, of course, but I find they are affordable and have a great domain search that makes finding available domains easy. In fact, just by being here right now, researching how you can make money with a website, you can get a .com domain for as low as $3.98! Claim this offer here.
When registering your site’s domain name, it’s a good idea to register something that represents your niche, preferably, something short and brandable as well.
To help you generate some ideas, I’ll give some examples below:
A great blog or website domain name helps you communicate your message. It’s technically your website’s brand. It should let your potential visitors know what your website is about when they find one of your article titles on the search results.
If you couldn’t come up with a catchy or brandable domain name, don’t get hung up on it. If an exact match domain is available, grab it, otherwise, anything related to your main site niche is fine.
In reality, you can name your website whatever you want, I personally won’t pick a domain name that’s too far out from my website’s niche but I’ve seen some websites with completely out-of-this-world domain names and they seem to be doing just fine.
Sign-up for a Hosting Account
Siteground has a 99% uptime (for real), I know, most Webhosting companies claim the same but based on my experience, Siteground stays true to this commitment. They also have excellent customer support on top of that.
Another thing that I like about Siteground is how easy it is to install WordPress, once you’re signed up for an account, which by the way, is the next step of the process of building a website.
Point Your Domain Name to Your Webhosting Account
This goes without saying that you have to link your domain name with your Webhosting account so your visitors can access your content when they type in your domain name but I would assume that you’re completely new to this so I’ll add this as one of the steps.
Pointing your domain name to your Webhosting account is quite straightforward:
- Login to Namecheap.com
- Click on “Domain List”
- Click on “Manage”
- Under the “Domain” tab, scroll down to “Name Servers”, then choose “Custom DNS” on the drop-down menu.
- Enter your web host’s name servers. For Siteground, they are as follows:
It usually takes around 24-hours to propagate.
In the meantime, take the time to install WordPress on your Webhosting account. If you’re using Siteground, this is a one-click installation through their WordPress App Installer.
To do this, login to Siteground.com,
- Go to your Site Tools > Dev > App Installer:
- Select the WordPress application from the drop-down menu:
- Then, enter the required fields for your site – administrative username and password, administrative e-mail, etc. and click on Install. Use a strong password for your admin area to make sure it is secure from brute-forcing attacks.
The automated installation process will proceed and once done you will see a page informing you of the successful completion of the installation.
That’s it! Installing WordPress with Siteground is that easy. Your new WordPress website is live!
Dress-up Your Website with a Nice Theme
Next, you need a WordPress theme. Your WordPress install does come with a free theme, but there are many others that you can use for a more professional look.
You can select from a bunch of free WordPress themes but they often come with links promoting the theme, and well, most of them look “free”, so if you’re serious about building a business around your website, I suggest you invest $65 in a professionally-made WordPress theme.
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all theme installation procedure, so I suggest you watch or read tutorials that are specific to your WordPress theme.
Publish Your Website's Main Pages
Most Niche sites have the following basic pages:
- Category Pages
These can be the menu of your new website. The articles can be written either through WordPress’s page or blog composers.
You can publish static pages using the page composer, then use the blog composer for all your other posts.
Create and Publish Content
As I’ve mentioned up top, there are two general ways on how you can attract traffic to your website:
- Paid advertising
- Organic Content Marketing
Building a website that will make money without selling anything will need a lot of traffic.
When I was just getting started publishing websites. I was at a loss as to how I can increase my website traffic. Most videos and articles on the topic focus more on “building the website”.
As I said, building the website is the easy part. When you’ve built it, they (visitors) won’t come.
It’s like the story of a guy negotiating with fire, he said:
“Give me more fire, then I’ll give you more wood”.
Most new niche bloggers or website publishers have this exact mindset. We expect thousands of traffic after publishing 10 or so articles, then we get frustrated and stop publishing altogether.
Traffic isn’t free. Either you pay with money, or you pay with energy.
Money is energy, so if you’re starting off with not a lot of money. Invest a lot of energy. It’s just the cost of doing business online. You have to be willing to work hard.
The one thing about an online website publishing business that I’ve learned and know to be true is this: the more people who visit your site or blog, the better chance you have of making money.
Now that I’m doubling up on writing and publishing more articles for my niche websites, I’ve found that the two-hour-a-day myth false.
Yes, you can work on your online business on a part-time basis, working just two hours a day, but it may take a couple of two-hour days to craft a quality article.
If you have the budget starting out, you can just build single to two-page landing pages, advertise on Native ad platforms or on Facebook.
Paid traffic is the easiest way to drive traffic to your website but then again, this is the fastest way to lose your shirt if you don’t know what you’re doing.
So, if you’re looking to build a solid business around a website that doesn’t actually sell anything, you have to focus on content marketing. With that said, expect to publish articles consistently, and long-term.
Now’s the time to go back to your keyword list. Yep, remember the keywords you’ve researched using the Google Keyword Planner, BIQ, or Semrush. Your keyword list will keep you busy in the next 12 to 24 months.
It’s tempting to tweak around with your site pages, menus, design, or apply to various affiliate marketing offers but really, the most productive use of your time will be with content production.
How much time and effort that you put into producing content for your business determines the level of income you’ll achieve in the long term.
Again, be willing to put in the work upfront even when you’re not making any money yet from your website. Most people quit too early in the game. Understand that this is a long-term process, and just keep ongoing. Expecting to make money quickly will challenge your will. Most would-be successful online publishers quit too early in their journey because of the get-rich-quick mindset.
As a content creator, you have to keep on publishing content even when your website grows into a humongous virtual real estate.
Ways to Make Money Online Without Selling Anything
There are many different ways on how you could make money from your website without actually selling products yourself, and they are as follows:
The first, and most obvious way is by using affiliate marketing and earning commissions for referring your site visitors to products or services that may help solve their problems or concerns.
Affiliate marketing means that you promote other people’s products and services in a commission-based setup.
For example, if someone signed up for an Amazon Prime Subscription service using your referral link then you would get the commission from their purchase – this works with just about all major affiliate merchants.
Your job as an affiliate marketer is to connect people who are searching for solutions to their problems or needs to products or services that address their needs.
Content websites are perfect affiliate marketing platforms because by creating and publishing articles related to your visitor’s concerns, you’re already helping them solve their problems. You then refer them to solutions you think fit their needs.
Affiliate marketing is one of the oldest forms of commerce on the internet. It’s like being an agent for a product or group of products online, you’re only doing it by using internet technology.
Banner Ads or Text Link Ads
The second way that you could make money with your website is through advertising revenue generated when other businesses buy banner space or link-ads on your site.
This will allow you to profit from banner ads, text links, pop-up windows, or even in-page video advertisements. The more traffic (visitors) you get, the higher percentage of income generated by advertising through these channels becomes profitable.
You can place pay-per-click ads on your website or you can sell ad space to advertisers directly. Of course, this goes without saying that your website should have a lot of traffic to make money selling ad-space or placing pay-per-click ads.
Reader Donations or Tips
Thirdly, visitor donations: this method doesn’t work well for most websites but if you can make it work for your niche, this can be a lucrative source of income without selling anything.
If you’re accepting donations, you need to provide your content free, without ads, and most likely, without affiliate offers.
It’s somewhat similar to a not-for-profit approach, like the one which is successfully utilized by Wikipedia.
They (users) provide content on their platform, and they don’t monetize it in any other way but from time to time, they solicit donations from readers.
Instead of soliciting donations from time to time, why not place a small donation link on top of your website, after each post, or on the sidebar of your blog. This way, every visitor that visits your site actually sees your donation link.
Create a Marketplace
Now that your website has traffic, you can create a marketplace around your niche where people can buy and sell products or services.
As the platform owner, you’re still not directly selling anything to your audience but you take a percentage on each transaction that happens from within your platform.
What you’re offering is software as a service, so technically, you’re marking technology work on your behalf.
You can create a marketplace by using apps like WooCommerce and Shopify or if you’re looking to build a service marketplace, you can take a look at Sharetribe and Arcadier as your marketplace solution.
Once you have the traffic, you can monetize your site any way you want. Other business owners loves exposure, and if you have the audience, they are more than willing to pay you for your site’s eyeballs.
You take care of the blog writing, image sourcing, and social media promotion. This means that you’re free to post unbiased editorial content on the company’s product or services even if they’re paying for the post.
Wait a minute! I thought I’m not going to sell anything? Why do I see the “sell” word on the header?
Well, hear me out first, will ya?
Selling Merch, doesn’t mean you’re going to sell physical products like when you’re operating an e-commerce store. You can set up your merch fulfillment process automatically.
Companies like Printful and Printify will handle the order processing and shipping to your customers for you. All you have to do is upload designs, heck you don’t even have to do the designs, this part you can outsource to graphic artists. You just deliver the eyeballs!
Once you build your site traffic and brand, and your visitors resonate as part of your tribe, they’re more than willing to buy and wear your brand.
If you want to make money with a website without selling anything, the first thing that you have to do is to build your website.
I suggest starting with choosing a niche or topic that your site will focus on. You will then research and make a list of around 100 keywords. These will be the initial 100 pages/posts on your website.
Once your platform is up and running, focus on publishing a lot of content that delivers value to your audience. If you’re looking to build a platform that attracts consistent, organic traffic, you have to focus on building a huge content website. Yes, you need lots and lots of keyword-targeted articles to serve your audience.
Now that your platform is self-sufficient, and with a lot of traffic, there are many different ways of monetizing your site including affiliate marketing, banner advertising, or reader donations. You can also create an online marketplace where people can buy products or services from sellers on your site.
Yet another way of earning money with your website without selling is to sell merch. Unlike selling physical products, selling merch doesn’t require a lot of time from you because you can automate the fulfillment process, and even outsource customer service when the need arises. You can just focus on uploading designs, and if you’re not skilled with graphic design, you can pay artists to come up with designs for you.