How do business owners in Kenya earn money from their websites (2020)


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An extra income is never a bad idea. I don’t know about you, but I’m mostly on the grind for some extra cash.

When I first had an interest in starting a website, I thought I would be a millionaire in a year. I thought people were paid for just having sites. I have never been sillier. 

I have purchased over five web domains since 2016 and watched some of them expire without earning me a dime. I only spent money on domain names and hosting, and spending time designing websites, but the money never came back.

I learned the hard way that websites only generate money when they are forced to do so. I use the word force because as a business owner, you get to decide whether a website will add value to you or not.

Although I initially had read articles and watched videos on YouTube on how to earn money from websites, I had ignored an important fact. A large chunk of online guides is intended for Americans and Europeans audience.

Those pieces of advice can work literally everywhere. However, you have to understand your market first before deciding on the optimal strategies to earn money from the market.

Having learned my lessons, I have studied a number of strategies that work best when you are looking to earn from a website, not just in Kenya but also in most African countries.

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular ways of making money online. However, it is not really developed in Kenya and Africa.

Luckily, e-commerce, which is the underscoring power for affiliate marketing, has been swiftly growing in Kenya. This makes it easier to launch your affiliate marketing services for the products you love.

To launch your affiliate marketing, you just need to follow a number of steps.

First, identify the product you would like to recommend. It is essential to pick a product that can sell faster. To make things more transparent, we wrote an article here explaining more about choosing an affiliate marketing product.

Second, you configure an affiliate marketing system on your website. This could be a plugin in you already have a website running on WordPress or a completely new website if you intend to make affiliate marketing a full-time gig.

When you have a system and product, you are free to start running your campaign. However, it is advisable to ensure you pick a product that has good margins. You do not want to be making more money to someone when you are making pennies.

Selling online courses

Selling online courses in Kenya is not a substantially developed field as it has in the developed countries. This does not mean that you cannot make money selling online courses in Kenya.

From what I have seen with my clients, entrepreneurs need to determine first the courses that will add significant value to their target audience. This is a better way of ensuring that your work in preparing course content will not go in vain.

The high rate of unemployment should give you enough hints about what to sell to an audience without exploiting them.

Here is our guide on what you need to start selling your online courses and what you need.

Job boards

This is not complicated. It is more or less the same as launching an e-commerce website, as explained later in this article.

People have earned some good money through job boards. This could be creating a subscription board where you charge employers for posting a job through you like Brighter Monday, and LinkedIn does.

You could also provide a free platform and seek to earn money by monetizing your traffic in ways such as advertisements.

While some entrepreneurs decide to launch a fully-fledged jobs website, you may choose to start just a jobs functionality on your website. This functionality would help you gather jobs from your industry, depending on the industry in which you serve.

As such, you would be gaining from both your usual content and a job board.

You can follow this guide on how to launch a job board on your website

Selling your website

Personally, I always build businesses for the long-term. I have learned that a company would be nothing more unless you make it a business. Growing web traffic is too much for me to focus on short-term gains.

However, if you are interested in starting our companies or you have been pressed in operating your website, it is never too late to turn it into cash.

There are many reasons why you can decide to flip your website and sell it out. Perhaps you are getting busy to manage your business. You may also get an offer that is too ridiculous for you to turn down.

However, before you decide to sell your website, it is always essential to make sure it has a value for which you will be proud to quote to some investor out there.

Selling digital products

You have a host of digital products out there that you could sell through your website. This could be stock photos, website templates, graphic design templates, motion graphics templates, articles, academic stuff, apps, and coded scripts.

The best thing with digital products is that they do not expire, although they can be outdated. Selling these products gives an entrepreneur the potential to make loads of money based on each sale.

However, this approach is not as easy as it may sound. Whether you will be making your own digital products or you will be getting them from other people for a commission, it involves much work. The investment here will be quite massive in terms of capital and labour if you choose to make the products by yourself.

You have to make sure you have a non-mediocre website with which to start. By that, I mean a website that does not just bring you traffic but also converts that traffic into customers.

The best market for digital products in Kenya is businesses. It is about researching the best digital products that companies in Kenya need and focusing on those.

You would be wasting time and energy without defining the marketing and audience you seek to serve.

Sponsored posts and articles

This strategy works best for blogs and news websites. It entails accepting articles from a promoter concerning a given product. Most of such articles come as reviews masqueraded as a standard post with a goal of creating awareness.

Unlike ad spaces sold directly to promoters, sponsored posts are paid for once.

Attracting sponsored posts from promoters requires a business to have adequate traffic that guarantees the promoter that the effort put in the post will be rewarding.

This works best for sites that are oriented towards an industry or specific products. For instance, it would easy for a Betting Website to review a new football kit or a betting product or a pediatric website reviewing a babies-oriented product. A mobile review website can quickly get a mobile maker to review a new smartphone product like is the case with Tech-ish and Techweezy.

This model does not have many requirements. It only needs a website with consistent traffic and most importantly, passion for technology -hardware or software. Do not let that one fool you. Growing traffic is as challenging as you ever want it to be.

Selling ad spaces on a blog

Ad spaces are a way through which you earn through advertisements places on your website. In this approach, you approach a company requesting them to place their adverts on your website at a given monthly or weekly rate.

An entrepreneur has to have the numbers that will convince a company to place ads on your website and not someone else’s. A good example of websites that earn through this system is Tuko News. Not once have they sold their ad spaces to telecommunication companies, betting companies, and beverage companies.

The best thing with this stream is that there is no intermediary. You get money directly from the advertiser without involving an agency that will take a commission.

Reaping the best benefits through this stream requires getting the best possible cost per impression (CPM). For instance, you could agree with an advertiser to pay you KES 350 per every 1000 people. From there, your cap will be the number of people who visit your website. If you have a million monthly visitors, then you rake in KES 350,000 in a month.

Alternatively, you could sell a space at a fixed price, especially if the CPM approach would mean the advertiser parts with too much money than the company would gain in leads or branding. This guarantees you a certain amount of money at the beginning of an agreed period.

It sounds a great deal because it is. Earning money by just selling ad space to a company like Safaricom cannot be anything less. However, you have to put in much work in building your website and content that puts you in the path of such amount of money.

But before then, you need a blog

Advertisement through Google AdSense

I do not have the stats, but I can bet you most of the websites in Kenya get income through agency advertisements, mostly from Google, Taboola, and Facebook’s Audience Network. This approach allows you to tap into the deep pockets of advertising giants.

It allows other advertisers to place ads on your website using Google as the intermediary.

Although some people demean this income focus, it can be an excellent way to keep your business afloat, especially if you are able to generate some reliable traffic.

Google provides some guidelines about the type of websites that are eligible to sign up for the AdSense services or even Google Ads Network.

The best thing about this approach to income is that all you need is consistent traffic.

This approach works best for blogs and news websites where people can visit severally.

This income stream is relatively reliable for a country like Kenya or developing economies partly because the purchasing power of the people is slightly low. As such, you have to put some significant effort to have them part with their money when they are not getting something tangible in return.

Luckily, you can easily lead them to your site for free content and easily earn from them through Google Ads or Facebook Ads.

If you are starting out and you are eyeing Google AdSense, here is a comprehensive guide that will get you through to AdSense integration and how to get the best from it.

An e-commerce website

If you are reading this, you perhaps already know what an e-commerce website is. If you not yet conversant, it is a way of centring your website on products that you could sell on a physical store but decide to sell it online.

How do you earn from an e-commerce website? The same way you could earn from your store in the neighbourhood. There are two ways of benefits from e-commerce.

First, you can establish a replica of Jumia, where you only provide products to your visitors. You can get nothing more from the likes of Jumia, Kilimall, Masok0o, Naivas, and Tuskys beyond products. To take this direction, you need a website that is primarily powered for e-commerce and a catalogue of products to sell. 

I find most entrepreneurs recently taking this route. They have been borrowing their motivation from the success of Jumia and Kilimall. However, this has created some problem. Tens of websites have been developed to sell products that a typical person can get from Jumia more reliably.

To break this barrier, you have ensured that your e-commerce website has some advantage over competitors. This is the kind of advantage to motivate a buyer to purchase from you over an established online store.

Another way to reap the e-commerce benefits is through adding the functionality to your existing website. All you need to do is look for products that align with the kind of content you share on your sites.

For instance, assuming you already have a website that gives expectant women tips on how to take care of their babies, you could add an e-commerce feature on your website to sell them some products that align with the kind of content you provide on your website.

This strategy could be applied to websites of any nature. If you do book reviews, then add an e-commerce feature to sell books to your audience.

This option is more comfortable if you have a WordPress powered website. It would be just a plugin and some modifications, besides adding a payment gateway for your prepayment sales. Modifying a WordPress would take a good developer a week to give you not just a functionality but also something you can easily automate.

Take away

Ways to earn from your website in Kenya are numerous but a few items are worth noting.

First, define the nature of their business and choose its optimal income stream. For instance, it would not make sense for a company to expect to earn from Google Ads through its portfolio website.

Similarly, it may be unreasonable for a news website such as Citizen to start selling courses in the midst of news articles. As such, defining the nature of your business is essential in determining the ways you want to earn income.

Second, define your target audience. This will help you deliver the best content to the audience to grow your traffic quickly. When you have the traffic, it is easier to monetize it than when you do not.

Do not also forget to identify the potential promoters within the industry in which you are serving. For instance, in our line of service, we have the likes of Microsoft, Liquid Telecom, Alibaba Cloud, and Google.

Lastly, choose a strategy that will sustain you for the long run. Simply because Safaricom will be ready to pay hundreds of thousands does not mean that you should pivot your business towards its related products. If you are not into it, you’ll wear out along the way.

All the same, making money is not as easy on the web as most people make it seem. However, the strategy you adopt brings you closer to achieving the goal.

For the most part, money earned online is mostly dependent on the traffic you’ll attract to your website. Depending on your model, you can look at the traffic in terms of the numbers or from the quality of that traffic.

At Convenience Designs, we specialize in providing web and software development alongside necessary integrations that can help businesses make money from their website.

Do you need a new website, a redesign, or a component integration? Learn more about our website development services


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