I get this question often, and unfortunately most of the time people do not like the answer.
I have a very strong belief that when you are first launching a new website of almost any type that you shouldn’t be trying to monetize it right away. You should have a monetization strategy in your mind, but I don’t think you should always be adding ads or other ways to monetize right away.
I am a firm believer in growing your audience and getting the name out there first. Often people will get scared away if they see ads, but if your website is already established and you are bringing them in, people will be more forgiving. It’s also about showing value, in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with someone showing an affiliate link as long as they are offering value. However if they are just throwing out affiliate links with no value, then we have a problem.
When you start out, you want to grow your trust as well.
When we talk about actually monetizing, often people try something like adsense or media.net or infolinks. You can certainly make money with these, but you are leaving a ton of money on the table, there are many middlemen and most of them will be making more than you.
Depending on the niche of your website, I often find CPA (cost per action) offers perform much better and will give much more profit than programs such as adsense. You can find these offers on affiliate networks such as Maxbounty and Peerfly. However, keep in mind, it might take some testing and time before you see the success you want. You may need to test different types of offers to see what your audience will respond to.
Another easy way to monetize most sites is to use EPN (ebay partner network) or Amazon, you can list products on your website and if someone purchases through your link you get a percentage of the sale. I unfortunately find the percentage way too low with both EPN and Amazon, but that’s just me.