“What do you mean it’s your full-time job?”
It is incredible how often I get asked how One Page Love makes money, often from a very puzzled face. I’m grateful the website generates enough income for me to live in Cape Town and form my full-time job. I hope this break down of current, failed and future income channels helps you find new areas to monetize your side project and take the leap like I did ?
- What is One Page Love?
- Understanding Income Streams
- Service: Private Video Feedback
- Service: Feedback For Coffee
- Service: Website Submissions
- Service: Template Submissions
- Digital Product: eBook
- Digital Product: License Removals
- Affiliate Income: Overview
- Affiliate: WooCommerce
- Affiliate: Bluehost
- Affiliate: Shopify
- Affiliate: ThemeForest
- Upcoming Income Layers
- Discontinued Income Layers
- FAQ: What do I use to handle orders?
- FAQ: How much money does One Page Love make?
- Closing thoughts on monetizing your website
What is One Page Love?
Broadly put, One Page Love is a blog about website design.
One Page Love is actually a collection of One Page website references – for inspiration to build your own. These are very niche Single Page websites with no second “About”, “Services” or “Contact” pages. I got obsessed with this niche in 2008 and have been collecting references ever since.
I like to think of income streams as layers of a cake ?
Our cake (total income) has several layers, each representing an income channel. Unlike a good cake, some layers are thinner than others. Consider when adding new layers (experiments on your website) that they have different flavors. Not all will compliment the cake (consumed by your readers) so you either need to improve the flavor or remove it (a failed experiment).
Almost daily I try think of new ways to add layers to the current cake. I try see how fast I can get the idea out and if there is traction I officially add the layer. Every month the One Page Love cake looks different – some months creamy chocolate cake, other months vegan cupcakes. It is an emotional rollercoaster having an Internet business.
Let’s get going…
$29 Service: Private Video Critique ?
When you’ve been hustling within your niche for long enough, naturally you get to know it quite well. Along with being able to build a decent website, I feel I know enough about Landing Page design to justify charging for private feedback.
The Private Video Critique is a 10 minute video analysis of your One Pager or Landing Page covering first impressions, design, code and performance. I record my interactions with your website while making commentary.
Takeaway: Clearly put your name behind the content you publish and over time you become an authority within your niche.
Takeaway: Understand what your readers are struggling with. Offer your time as a service. To work out the price try understand the value exchange. Is $29 worth the value they get – yes. Would you give advice for 10 mins for $29 – yes.
Takeaway: I originally launched this service in written format. It took hours and was not worth the time taken. Consider all media for your potential services.
$5 Service: Feedback For Coffee ☕️
Now $29 is a lot of cake (see what I did there) but I still get people emailing with tight budgets asking for pointers. I struggle to turn people away and land up writing long email replies. This sparked off the idea to give a quicker feedback in an easier format to record, Audio.
The Feedback For Coffee service is a short but sweet 5 minute Audio Critique of your One Pager or Landing Page covering first impressions, design and code.
If I feel I can add way more value than the 5-mins – I try upsell the 10-min video service.
Takeaway: Try think of ways to upsell your premium services with smaller, quicker services. Consider utilizing different forms of media other than writing: audio and video saves tons of time.
Takeaway: When upselling, use fun coupons to discount the more premium product. The user will feel like you appreciate their business… which of course you dp.
Takeaway: Some could call this a loss-leader but there are many variables to growing an Internet business. I make a coffee, inspect a Landing Page, hit record and give my opinion. Every single user is grateful for the feedback and I’m grateful they asked my advice. You can’t really put a price on mutual gratitude and this is often what motivates us in low times building online.
$20 Service: A feature on the One Page Love website aka Website Submission ?
I started One Page Love back in 2008. Since then I’ve almost collected 7000 references to Single Page websites. In the early days I would scour the Internet for references. If I found one, I would add it to the collection and literally email the owner (after finding their email in the footer) mentioning the feature. If they re-shared it with their following it was a massive win. Additionally if they had a Twitter account, I’d include their handle in a Tweet hoping for a RT. This is how I hustled and organically grew One Page Love to 10k users per day.
The One Page website trend grew and first time visitors became returning visitors. In came the first submissions and I’d add them all. Stoked. As time went by the need for better quality inspiration become clear and curation began.
Fast forward a few years, I was getting around 50 submissions per day. This was consuming a lot of my time and frustrating as many were poor quality and often multiple-page websites (not One Page). After much debate I put a roadblock on submissions with a $5 fee.
The submission amount immediately dropped but this freed up so much time and to my delight, the quality of the submissions went up. Win Win.
Fast forward to present day, submissions are now $20. I only get a handful each day and give a 100% refund if I don’t feature your website. This $20 mark has again freed up so much time and the quality of submissions are excellent.
It’s incredible to reflect that the time I was previously taking to curate is now spent adding value to each feature. I add tags for search, a retina-optimized long scrolling screenshot and now add a micro-review on what I think it noteworthy in the website. Some features I even make interactive videos to share on social media.
Takeaway: If you are not sure what to charge, raise your price to a point where sales stop, then bring it back a touch. Secondly, if you raise your price to free up your time, resulting in adding more value – this is never a bad decision.
Takeaway: When last did you step back and evaluate if you’re still adding value to your business?
$49 Service: A template listing aka Template Submission ?
With the rise of One Page websites, organically came the rise of One Page templates. I used to list these for free but they actually take a lot of time to inspect and review. It also became obvious Authors were making a ton of sales ($100+) via One Page Love – the sign to add a submission fee. This started at $9 and currently sits at $49 including a video review too.
After 1 year if the Author wants to stay in the collection of templates, they must renew at $49 but this also boosts their template to the home page, front of template archives and also gets re-promoted on social media.
Takeaway: I never intended this at all but One Page Love’s templates category somehow became a directory of niche templates. This also became a big source of traffic from Google.
Takeaway: I try space out template reviews with original website reviews and never post two template reviews in a row. Balance is key to keep a quality browsing experience for all readers.
$5 Digital Product: eBook ?
PDF eBook’s are funny things. I’m convinced very few people read them but the thought of missing what’s inside still lures us in. I’d even argue eBooks are Donations 2.0 – readers appreciate the work you’ve done within your community and want to say thanks.
As an experiment I took all the eBook content and published a mobile friendly article (unlike a PDF) – and at the bottom asked if they wanted all the same content but in eBook format including 2 bonus chapters:
The 10 Quick Tips to tighten your Landing Page design eBook forms the most common feedback I give users to help improve their Landing Page design (collected from the email, audio and video feedback I give).
The eBook took me absolutely ages, especially if you go down the windy road of formatting for ePub etc. But sitting working in a coffee shop and randomly getting $5 is not shit I promise. No user support on an eBook is also a sweet bit of passive income. The eBook layer is a thin but sweet layer within our cake.
Takeaway: Give away a free preview of the eBook and make sure these chapters are tasty.
Takeaway: I also use the eBook as a pull for the newsletter. I’m not totally convinced this is worth it for the long term but I get a couple dozen subscribers a day.
$5 Digital Product: License Removals
I build simple One Page HTML templates I give them away for free on One Page Love. These are two examples:
Each template has a CCA 3.0 license meaning you can do whatever you want with it but need to keep the footer link back to One Page Love. If a user wants to remove the credit they are prompted to remove the license for only $5 after they click download:
Takeaway: Spend a bit of time on your modals. Note how the screenshot is the same template and it uses the template name in the paragraph. This improves conversions more than you think.
Takeaway: My opinion on modals is they are allowed if you’ve traded enough value. This being the give-away of a freebie… not when they move their cursor off-screen.
Takeaway: Don’t underestimate the power of giving something away for free linking back to your website. This is the oldest trick in the SEO book.
That covers One Page Love’s digital services and products. Last but definitely not least is earnings from recommending other companies digital products or services.
Affiliate Income aka Icing Layer ?
Affiliate Income (aka referrals) can be a murky part of the Internet but can also create sweet semi-passive income if done right. I like to think of this as the icing layer on the cake.
You basically explore and test new products and services trying to find the perfect fit with your readers. These are One Page Love’s main Affiliate earners:
WordPress eCommerce Plugin: WooCommerce
A great example of quality Affiliate income is an article I did on WooCommerce’s One Page Checkout plugin.
Not only is WooCommerce a great company I trust with One Page Love readers but this is a seriously fitting product, keeping checkout within a One Pager, solving a real problem readers have.
At the time One Page Love Sponsored Post rate was $300 but I asked for an Affiliate account. We agreed on a 20% referral fee. Today the article has made 6x the Sponsored Post rate and ranks organically page one on Google when searching the product name. Beeu-tee-ful.
More importantly One Page Love readers are happy – it solved their problem, WooCommerce is happy – for every $1 I get they get $4 and of course I’m happy:
Takeaway: Affiliate income is never true passive income (as you do work upfront and keep promoting the content within your site) but this article has made $1835 in total over 15 months. “$122 per month recurring for a days work” is what those sleazy Affiliate income guru’s will pitch at you. Truth is, it took 9 years to earn this much. Never forget that.
Further down you’ll read how I discontinued 3rd party Advertising and replaced this space with in-house ads linking to winning articles and One Page Love services. This article gets promoted like this on review pages:
Takeaway: Find products and services your readers would like. Use them, make sure you like them too. Write about them in your own tone. Don’t try make Sponsored Content look like your own. I’ve been here and it doesn’t convert.
Website Hosting: Bluehost
Bluehost have treated me very well and I’m stoked to be promoting them. The Affiliate team also arranged a great exclusive deal ($2.95/month) for One Page Love readers with a dedicated Landing Page on their side.
When you sign up for an Affiliate account there you start at $65 and work your way up to $110 per successful referral.
Because website hosting is so relevant to website development, I promote Bluehost in 6 places on the site:
- Home page – right under intro blurb
- A dedicated hosting recommendation page (where I send readers when they ask on email)
- Under the Launch Website button on reviews and under the Launch Demo button on template reviews
- In a “Do you need hosting” modal (demo – then click the download button) when they download free templates (not built by One Page Love)
- The 12th thumbnail on all pages within the site
- Under null search results
All I consider non-intrusive to the browsing experience except the 12th thumbnail. This thumbnail is something I honestly struggled with for a while but went with it. My justification other than the thumbnail clearly saying promotion is it’s actually more out the way than the header Ad area I previously had in 2015:
Takeaway: When you find a good fitting product or service with your readers, try promote it in more than one place. Bluehost came to the party and gave One Page Love readers a killer discount so I want to promote them more. Look after Affiliates who look after you.
eCommerce platform: Shopify
Shopify have a solid eCommerce platform which quite a few One Pagers are built on. I simply mention them in the review text – using the Affiliate link. They pay 200% of what the user’s first paying month is. So their entry-level Shopify Basic package gets you $58 per conversion.
Template Marketplace: ThemeForest
ThemeForest is no question too saturated (with existing signed up users) for Affiliates to make good money anymore. The way earnings work is you get 30% of the deposit paid of first time user signups. Meaning a user can spend $1000 at ThemeForest (who you introduced them too) but if they signed up and they deposited $30 credit, you get $9.
I did however start promoting them years ago and want to give respect where it’s due – ThemeForest sparked the belief I could quit freelance and work on One Page Love full-time. So thank you Collis and team. I think my best months back-in-the-day were around $1200 earnings but in June 2017 One Page Love sent 14k readers wanting templates to ThemeForest and got $330 earnings from (first time sign up) referrals.
Affiliate Takeaway: As sweet as this layer is try not make it the majority of your income. You are reliant on payment from others and these are rarely on time. Lastly these companies can stop the referral program at anytime removing a massive layer of the cake. It has happened to me and I’ve learnt the hard way. My personal reminder is a good cake can’t be all icing.
Affiliate Takeaway: I use the Linker WordPress Plugin to handle all affiliate links. The plugin tracks click count and keeps links clean eg. https://onepagelove.com/go/shopify – another big bonus is when your content gets re-shared by others and you need to update a changed affiliate link, you simply update in your WordPress dashboard.
Upcoming Layers ??
- Custom Development Referrals – Readers email me needing custom development but I’m no longer freelancing. I’ve curated a handful of freelancers and agencies I want to recommend on a dedicated page on the site. Earning a referral fee on these jobs isn’t easy as tracking is tricky. To launch this light it will just be a trust system. At the end of the day if I’m pairing the community building beautiful One Pagers it’s a huge win for our niche.
- Template Boosts – I’ve just rolled this out to a handful of quality template authors. They can pay to boost their template listing to the home page (the highest traffic area) and this also boosts them to the front of template archives too. What I love about this idea is when I do the boost I update the screenshots, info and prices. It’s like being paid for quality control. I’m also keeping Boosts for a template restricted to once every 6 months so it keeps things fair for everyone.
- One Page Love Club – You’ll notice other than template renewals, none of the above income is recurring. When done right it’s truly the golden honey of the Internet. Remember without a recurring model, every month I start again with no income on day one, yup zero. I will only launch a subscription or Club once I feel the value is way more than the amount readers are getting. Right now, as you’ve read, I’m still building up the products and services.
- Commission based selling or marketplace – I’ve got a BETA system running where template transactions happen on One Page Love (see example) opposed to linking out to ThemeForest or other template author websites. The template author clears 80% and One Page Love gets the rest after Stripe/PayPal fees. It’s not great cash but helping smaller authors always feels good. If executed properly this can become great semi-passive income with multiple sales per day from a fleet of One Page templates.
Stale Layers ?
These layers are discontinued but could work for your readers…
- Google Adsense – Back in 2010 (end of year two) I embedded a cheeky Adsense block above the site list. It felt so wrong and I honestly couldn’t sleep that night. There is no question it works for some sites, especially word heavy blogs – but for browsing design inspiration it’s an eyesore.
- Sponsored Newsletter – I used to include a little Ad at the bottom saying the newsletter was brought to you by X but the Ad click rate was never great. I’m sure a lot of readers saw the brand but it didn’t feel right. My personal thought on newsletters (in 2017) is the value of a readers attention is more than what I could charge. You need to get permission to email them and then treat this with utmost respect. Each send must also give upfront value and not just sell.
- Screenshot Service – this one is more on ice and will add more info on it soon.
- Job Board – To be honest there just wasn’t much traction so I closed it. In hindsight filtering in the One Page development jobs from bigger job boards would be smarter – earning affiliate income there too.
- Advertising with a 3rd-Party Ad Network – Mad love to Carbon Ads and BuySellAds for trying to improve the Advertising process for both Advertiser and Publisher. I would simply add a tiny bit of code into the website template and they generate the ad. Each month you get paid based on a mix of impressions (views) and engagement (clicks). It started decent but over time decreased month-on-month – perhaps due to the rise of Ad Blockers. Personally I struggled with not having control of what the ads looked like, sometimes bad, so I decided to code up my own Ad area. This all sounds harsh but I’d actually recommend them both if you don’t want to deal with any admin – they do a great job.
- Advertising In-House – Lots of time is spent on communication (sending stats, availability) and also perfecting the Ad image – cutting into the profits for this income layer. In a short time I realized these ads pointing to Sponsored Posts (within the site) was a stronger package (Ad + Sponsored Post combo) to sell on One Page Love vs a simple click out.
- Sponsored Posts – Touched on above but I want to add: An Advertiser wants to earn more than they spend on the Sponsored Post. They normally pay a decent amount upfront because they will likely win this exchange in the long run. An Affiliate deal where you and them get a little, per conversion, is always a better end game for you. You also have full control over editing or removing the content.
I want to end with a few common questions I get asked about monetizing:
FAQ: What do I use to handle orders?
It took a little time setting it all up (especially those email templates) but SendOwl does a great job handling everything on One Page Love. It costs $9/month and they take zero cut of sales – which are handled by Stripe or PayPal. Here is some of the products currently handled:
FAQ: How much money does One Page Love make?
Enough to create a little freedom.
Because I live in Africa my living expenses are generally less than the rest of the world but I’m still earning USD.
I could easily make more money by freelancing for half the day but my freedom to do what I want, when I want, is more valuable than money.
Remember every second you are working on someone else’s product is a second not building yours.
Closing thoughts on monetizing your website or side project
All very well Rob but my site is different to yours, how do I monetize my website?
Start with focusing on your readers.
What is their demographic? One Page Love readers are designers, developers, business owners and entrepreneurs.
Why are they visiting your website? What else could they want? One Page Love readers are building websites and want inspiration. They could want products and services relating to designing, coding, launching or maintaining websites.
When friends email me asking if they should integrate Advertising on a new website I simply say no. Online Advertising is in such a strange place. With the rise of Ad Blockers along with attention spans crumbling to dust – there are desperate stunts being pulled online. Furthermore, without massive traffic, these Ads earn pennies.
I would strongly recommend creating and promoting your own products and services.
Start small and add a couple thin layers to your cake. Get a tiny bit of income trickling in. This will also help motivation.
Keep interacting with your readers and continuously try to understand their problems. Position these solutions organically within your content, keep adding value to your website and you will win.
Remember everything explained above took 9 years to get right so monetizing is no overnight success.
Mad love if you got this far. I really hope the breakdown helps you find new areas to monetize your website.
- P4 - How I negotiated the $5k domain
- P3 - The game plan
- P2 - Greenlighting the idea
- P1 - Announcement