How many visitors or subscribers do you need to monetize your website?

Hey guys! Welcome back to Lifestyle Business Weekly. Today we have a great question to cover about how many visitors or subscribers you need before you can monetize your website.

Listen to today’s episode via iTunes or right here (or read the transcript below):

Episode Transcript

Today’s question comes from Kelly Herren who asks:

“How do you know when is the best time to monetize your site? Is there a magic number of visitors or subscribers you need? And, how can you do it without losing readers or subscribers.”

Thanks for the question Kelly!

We really have three questions here:

So first, when is the best time to monetize your site?

Let’s assume that Kelly is building a website, with a blog, on a specific topic - something he’s teaching — and that Kelly intends to sell a course or ebook to his audience.

In that case, there are a couple of things to think about when planning how you’ll earn an income.

First, there is a difference between size and strength of an audience. Your goal is for your audience to know, like and trust you, and for them to look to you for a solution to a specific problem or need they face.

I’ve seen people with huge audiences have trouble making any sales at all, because the connections were weak. Size matters, but the depth of your relationships and the urgency of the problem matter just as much.

Second, email really is so important for both growing an audience and for selling things. When someone gives you an email address, you have an opportunity to build trust over time, which makes it more likely people will buy something from you when you offer it.

When thinking about the best time to offer something for sale to your audience, I tend to recommend doing it sooner than later. If you wait too long, there’s a risk that you’re building an audience that isn’t going to buy from you for one reason or another. If you try to sell something earlier, you’ll start to get critical feedback which will help you shape both your product, as well as the things you create for free.

Then Kelly asked, is there a magic number of visitors or subscribers you need?

Here’s another way to think about it: how many sales do you want to make from your first product launch? Any product will have a conversion rate, where a certain percentage of visitors or subscribers will buy from you. It could be 5% or 1% or 1/10th of a percent.

It will vary from site to site. But let’s assume you’ll have a 1% conversion rate from email subscriber to buyer. For an ebook or online course in the mid- or low- price range, that should be doable. That means you’d need 100 email subscribers for every sale you want to make. To make 100 sales you’d need 10,000 email subscribers.

If you sell too few, you might be bummed about the progress you’ve made, and it might impact your motivation.

But if you wait too long, you run the risk of burning out without ever creating a product.

I encourage people to look at the first launch as a learning experience. Your goal is feedback and experience, not sales. Build something small and do it quick, and put it out there to feel what it’s like to earn your first dollar. Then build on that experience and make your next launch better.

It’s hard to put a number on it, but if you have 500 people on an email list, you should be thinking about what your first product will be.

Finally, Kelly wanted to know how can you monetize your site without losing readers or subscribers?

Here’s the thing: the longer you wait, the more surprised people will be by your first sales pitch. But that doesn’t really matter. You’re building a business after all, and some people won’t like that, you should expect some people to leave.

How you craft your sales pitch will have an impact on how many people are turned off and how many unsubscribe. The pushier and more selfish you are about your new product, the more people will unsubscribe.

There are ways to sell a product that can still drive great results without being over the top or too pushy. Try to deliver value to people in the content you create around the product launch, that’s useful whether they buy or not. Also be sure to let people know that they don’t have to purchase, it’s OK for them to stick around for your free content. It also helps to be transparent about your need and desire to support yourself from the work you’ve been putting into the website.

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Hi, I’m Corbett Barr. I’ve been writing here since 2009. Join my email list for new articles about supporting yourself doing something you love: