It seems simple, right? Sell your products and services. Put up ads and links to affiliates. If you are on WordPress.com, it’s possible, but also you need to know when and how to do this. And that also depends on whether you are on a free account or you have one of their paid subscriptions.
Selling and Monetizing on Your WordPress.com Site
Before we dive in, let’s look at what you can do with free accounts and personal plans.
Of course, you can sell your services on any site. But if you want your clients to pay for your services on your site, you cannot add payment gateways such as PayPal or Stripe on WordPress.com.
So you will need to use the site primarily to sell your services, collecting money elsewhere. For example, if you still want it online, I suggest using the invoices with Stripe and PayPal Business Accounts.
You can add affiliate links to your free site, but they pay attention to how you are using it as an affiliate marketing site. I will touch more on this later in the post.
Also, you cannot insert ads and there is a chance that if you are running a free account on WordPress, they will place some ads on your site, because it’s the way they keep the free sites free.
But if you have a personal account, you can remove these ads.
Lastly, if you want to take any kind of donations, there isn’t any easy way to do this directly. So you may consider sending them to your PayPal.me as an option.
Selling Services and Products. Running Ads. Affiliate Marketing, Sponsored Content and Donations
We will now take a look at the Premium and Business plans you can get on WordPress.com and how they can help you monetize to your site.
Selling Services and Products on WordPress.com
If you are selling services, you can do this with the Premium plan by using Simple Payments. And it’s just that: adding a simple payment option where people can purchase your service through PayPal.
Here is a post on how customers can make a payment on your WordPress site using the payment button in the Jetpack plugin.
You could also use this to sell products, but it would not include downloading, shipping and other options you might need.
If you really want to sell products, you will want to get a Business plan. This lets you add plugins to your site. For example, you could add WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads and create an online store. You could even use either one of those, as well as other available plugins for eCommerce sites. You could also use those plugins to sell services.
Running Ads on Your WordPress.com Site
If you want to run ads on your site, the Premium and Business plans will run the built-in WordAds that come with WordPress. This is the official advertising program for WordPress.com and it features ads from external ad networks such as Google AdSense and others.
These ads are pulled in based on your content and visitors. As you can see, once you sign up, you have some placement options. If you choose to go this route, I suggest testing it and and finding if and where the ads work on your site.
If you would prefer to manage your own ads through third-party networks like Google AdSense or BuySellAds, you can do that using the Business plan.
Affiliate Marketing on WordPress.com
I talk about affiliate marketing a lot here on our blog. There are a lot of things to consider when diving into this, no matter how deep you plan to go. But if you have a good strategy, they can work. You can add affiliate links to any plan, including the free plan. But if you are doing this on WordPress.com, be aware that they have restrictions. This is pulled directly from WordPress.com:
There are a few restrictions in what affiliate programs are allowed. We do not allow affiliate links for gambling, get-rich-quick schemes, multi-level marketing programs, disreputable merchants, pornography, malware, or phishing-type scams. We also do not allow sites that exist primarily to drive traffic to affiliate links.
They also note, as we do here, that the most successful affiliate links are the ones that are placed in the kind of content that educates people. So if you choose to go this route, just keep this in mind.
The only advantage to using the Business plan when you do affiliate marketing is the ability to add plugins, which means you can add a plugin to manage all of your affiliate links. If you do a lot of it, that can be a deciding factor.
Sponsored Content on WordPress.com
Though you can have sponsored content on any plan, you might want to check out the WordPress.com terms of service as they do not allow sites where the majority is sponsored content and you need to make sure the content does not violate their terms.
Tips and Donations on WordPress.com
You might want to ask for donations for a cause you are supporting, or it might be just a chance for readers to give you a tip or gift in appreciation for the content you provide.
This is something to tread lightly on. The success of getting even a few bucks is based on so many variables. From experience, don’t play your next big purchase around this. Your option for this would be the Simple Payments that comes with the Premium and Business plans.
If you want to get into more serious fundraising, whether it’s for a crowdsourcing project or a non-profit, a Simple Payment button might not be the most effective. If you are set to do this on your WordPress.com site, your best option is the Business plan where you can install a plugin like Give to set up a more effective fundraising effort. Of course, your other option is to do it offsite with something like GoFundMe.
Monetizing Your WordPress Site Takes Planning and Time
If you are just looking to make a few extra bucks, play with the different options and find what works for you. But if you are seriously looking to monetize your WordPress.com site, I would consider choosing either the Premium or the Business plan.