How Much Traffic Does a Website Need to Make Money?By Jamie Toyne
In the world of blogs and online business, we are all hungry for traffic. But while everyone knows that more page views = more money, surprisingly few people fully understand the ins and outs of turning traffic into cash.
One question that comes up time and again is: How much traffic does a website actually need to start making money? Better yet a full-time income or side income?
For people wanting a quick fix, I’m sorry to tell you that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to how much traffic a website needs to be profitable. 100 visits to your website do not equal 100 sales or ad clicks. In fact, the average conversion rate on a website is only 2.35%.
Therefore, it can take time to build up your traffic to start seeing the monetary returns you want. The amount of traffic you need can also depend on a variety of factors from niche, monetization method, conversion rates, goals, etc.
But don’t worry. Whether you are the owner of an established website or are a total newbie, if you are confused about traffic, this guide will teach you everything you need to know. Let’s dive in and determine how much traffic your website or blog needs to make money.
How do websites make money?
So before we get into numbers, it is important to understand how websites actually make money with traffic. There are many different monetization methods that blogs, affiliate sites, e-commerce sites etc. can use to make money from their traffic. Sites may use one or a number of these methods at the same time depending on what they are. This can make calculating how much revenue is generated from traffic a little more complicated.
Advertising is one of the main methods of monetizing a site and is typical across all types of websites. Especially ones that offer free content or services to the audience such as blogs or forums. There are different types of advertising and these make money in slightly different ways. The most common are:
- Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising
- Selling advertising space
- Sponsored posts
PPC advertising is one of the most common and easiest-to-set-up monetization methods for a website. Website owners can easily sign up with a PPC program such as Google Adsense, which will display relevant ads to your audience and pay you a commission every time someone clicks on them. This is an easy and passive way to bring in cash, and although Adsense’s commissions aren’t very high, there are many different programs out there.
Selling advertising space is another way to monetize a site, selling banner or sidebar space directly to companies who want to advertise relevant products for your audience. You may charge a flat monthly fee, or calculate payments per 1000 clicks (CPM). You can sell ad space through a variety of platforms such as BuySellAds. Both PPC and selling ad space naturally make more money as traffic increases as there are more people to interact with ads.
Sponsored posts are when you collaborate with a brand to blog about or promote their products. These collaborations may be paid via a flat fee or perhaps a number of views or interactions. The higher traffic and wider audience you have, the more you can charge for sponsored posts.
Affiliate marketing is another common way to monetize a website. This involves promoting third-party products on your site and earning a commission each time a site visitor clicks through your link and makes a purchase. It makes sense to promote products that fit in with your web niche as the traffic will highly targeted and more likely to purchase products.
For example, a yoga and wellness blog might choose to post affiliate links to yoga mats and mindset guides. The more traffic that makes its way to your site, the more chances you have of people clicking the link. Possibly the most popular affiliate program is Amazon Associates which allows you to promote Amazon products and earn a commission.
While you get the benefits of Amazon’s trustworthy reputation, the downside is that earning percentages are low— from about 1% to 10% of the sale price. There are also many other programs out there, some with commissions up to 80% but you may need higher numbers of page views to use these.
Selling products or services
Of course, like a more traditional brick-and-mortar business, many websites like eCommerce or SaaS sites typically make money through selling goods and services. These can range from physical products to ebooks to software. These products may be sold directly through a sales page or promoted throughout the site and its content.
Although this can be similar in some ways to affiliate marketing, directly selling products means the site owner will have to take care of product production, logistics and customer service too. The revenue here relies on visitors buying or subscribing to products. Therefore the more traffic the site receives, the more revenue it can generate.
Key metrics to track
For traffic data, Google Analytics is your best friend. This free tool tracks important data about the traffic on your site from how many daily or monthly visitors you get to where the traffic comes from and how long visitors spend on your site.
If you want to dive even deeper, there are plenty of other analytics tools that measure traffic and evaluate conversions, page performance etc. such as:
- HubSpot Marketing Analytics
- Piwik PRO Analytics Suite (PPAS)
You will also need to calculate your site’s revenue.
One of the easiest and most common ways to measure your revenue is using RPM or Revenue per Mille. This is a unit of measurement that refers to the revenue made per 1000 impressions (or page views). How do you calculate RPM? Use the formula below:
RPM of one page = (Estimation of earnings / Number of impressions) x 1000
If you earned an estimated $0.50 per 50 pageviews then your RPM would be the following: ($0.50/50) x 1000 = $10.
Clickthrough rate (CTR)
If monetizing through ads, CTR refers to how many clicks an ad or link gets vs how many times people see it. It can be calculated with the following formula:
CTR = (Clicks/ impressions) x 100
For example, if you received 5 clicks from 100 impressions, then your CTR would be 5%.
Earnings per click (EPC)
Again when monetizing with ads, the EPC refers to how much money or commission you earn every time someone clicks on the ad. This is usually set by the company that runs the ads through the PPC advertising program like Google Adsense.
You can calculate it like this.
EPC = total earnings from commissions / total clicks
If you earned $50 from 100 clicks your EPC would be $50/100 = $0.50
How much traffic does your website need to make money?
So, as we have established, how much traffic a site needs to make money can vary drastically. However, to get a basic idea, many people tend to work towards a goal of $100 per day, or $3000 per month. The amount of traffic to reach this can vary greatly, but as an average, you may be looking at 75,000 to 200,000 monthly visitors.
Earnings vs traffic
A good place to start is to compare the traffic your site gets to the revenue that your site generates. While this can give a good indication, traffic vs revenue will vary a lot from site to site.
A site with 200,000 monthly page views could still earn less than a site with 10,000. It can depend on things like having a tight nit community with high conversion rates, how lucrative/competitive the niche is, and how many revenue/traffic sources the site has.
Check out your competitors
Checking out similar sites is a great way to get an idea of the kind of money you could be making. As there is so much variation between sites, doing research into what similar-sized sites in your niche are making will help you get a more accurate picture. It will help you identify the areas you need to improve.
Researching different sites you can often identify the monetization methods they use. You can also search for income reports of sites in your niche, which will help you determine what others earn. Aim to work out the RPM of similar sites to make a comprehensive comparison.
Traffic for Adsense sites
Adsense is a good choice for beginners as it is easy to get started. You might average at around $0.01 to $0.05 per page view, meaning 1000 views could be worth $10 to $50. If you have a site monetized by Adsense or a similar PPC Advertising program, you can use the formula below to calculate how much traffic you need to generate your desired revenue.
Desired income / earnings per click (EPC)
For example $100 per day / $1 EPC = 100 clicks if you earn $1 a click.
Then divide the number of clicks by your click-through rate (CTR).
For example 100 clicks / 0.02 CTR = 5000 page views (this is based on a 2% CTR which is averagely between 1% and 3%). Therefore, in this case, you would need around 5000 page views per day to average $100.
In general, if you don’t get at least 50 page views per day, it is unlikely you will generate revenue from PPC advertising. Across common niches, an average RPM for an Adsense site might be between $5 and $10. This can be much higher in more lucrative niches.
If you don’t want to use Google Adsense advertising network, there are many alternatives. These may offer higher earning potential per click than Adsense, but tend to require much higher levels of traffic to be accepted.
- BuySellAds requires 100,000 page views per month
- Monumetric requires 10,000 page views per month
- Adversal requires 50,000 page views per month
Traffic for Affiliate sites
Affiliate marketing is very versatile and people can make anywhere from $0.01 to $5000+ per day. While this can differ drastically from site to site, if your site is primarily monetized through an affiliate program let’s look at what you can expect to make from your traffic.
If the site is monetized using Amazon’s affiliate program, average conversion rates sit at around 0.5% to 1%. Therefore if your conversion rate was 0.5%, for every 1000 visitors, you could expect around 5 sales. If you were promoting a product worth $20 with a 5% commission ($1), for every 1000 visitors you could expect to make $5. If your aim is to make $50 per day, you would need 10,000 visits per day and so on.
To calculate your conversion rate use the formula:
Number of completed purchases/website visits
While many different factors can impact the revenue you generate, this is only a rough guideline. It is however a good place to start to calculate the levels of traffic you need to make money with Amazon Affiliate.
Of course, Amazon’s affiliate program has much lower commissions than some other affiliate programs. If you can retain similar conversion rates, but earn higher commissions, then you will be able to make more money from less traffic.
- ClickBank offers mainly digital products with commissions from 1% to 75%
- CJ affiliate is an affiliate program with lucrative offers for bigger players but it is harder to get accepted
Boosting conversion rates can also earn you more from your traffic. How do you boost your conversion rates? Think about improving in the following areas:
- Improving sales copy on your products page
- Have you got the right market price? What do others charge?
- Where does your traffic come from? Are some sources higher converting?
- Do visitors trust and like you?
Traffic for e-commerce sites
The more traffic that comes to your e-commerce store, the more sales and revenue you will make. Typical e-commerce sites have conversion rates of 1% – 2%. To make as much revenue as possible from your traffic, aim to boost your conversions to 2%+.
To calculate the conversion rate of your e-commerce site, use the same formula as above:
Number of completed purchases/website visits
If you have 20 purchases / 1000 website visits, your conversion rate is 0.02 aka 2%.
If you own a store you may likely sell various products, not just one. Therefore, you will need to work out the average order value (AOV) of all the products. If 2% of 1000 visitors convert, and your AOV is $40, then you are looking at revenue of $800.
(Traffic x conversion rate) x AOV = estimated monthly revenue
How to improve your conversion rates?
- Identify where on your site/ in your sales funnel you are losing visitors
- Improve your ad copy and calls to action
- Capture email addresses so that you can build an email list and continue marketing for free
How to increase your traffic?
So if you are not getting as much traffic as you might like, there are several ways you can boost the traffic to your website in general
A good place to start is to work on optimizing your site and content. Make sure that you are targeting keywords within your niche. Do keyword research to see the types of keywords that your competitors are targeting, and create content around these to help them rank on search engines and boost organic traffic. Get specific and target long-tail keywords to have less competition to rank highly.
New traffic sources
Another option is to add more traffic sources. This means you will have traffic coming in from different places which will not just increase pageviews and sales, but also keep your revenue protected if one source dries up in future. It is also a good idea to analyze your different traffic streams. Warm traffic (aka an email list of qualified leads) is likely to bring you higher quality traffic than cold traffic from banner ads. Work on nurturing your best quality traffic streams.
How to diversify your traffic?
- Try promoting your content on social media
- Build an email list and use email marketing
- Write or commission guest posts
- Use paid traffic to direct people to your site
Diversify monetization methods
If it is possible to make money from Adsense and affiliate marketing, why not do both? There is no reason you can’t use PPC ads on your site as well as add affiliate links to your content. In fact, to try and make money from your website using ONLY ads, for example, you will need a heck of a lot of traffic.
So whether you already have a blog that isn’t bringing in enough money or you are just starting out on a new website adventure, it is important to get your head around traffic. Use the methods above to determine how much traffic you have vs how much you need and how to reach your revenue goals.
While you will need to build up traffic to make money from any of the monetization methods discussed, there are ways to be smart about it. Remember, the blogs with the highest RPM are the ones with several different revenue streams, such as affiliate marketing, ads, and their own products.
Overall, making consistent revenue through a website or blog is definitely within reach. With the right tactics, it can go from side hustle to full-time income without adding more hours to your week.