A few days ago I wrote a post here on HellBound Bloggers about not getting bogged down when blogging, it was my first post here and I was overwhelmed with the great response I received in the comments, there are clearly some keen bloggers amongst us – excellent. Quite a few questions were asked and one in particular was about making money blogging so I felt I’d blog about that today as it’s something I’ve made a great success with and it’s something that I know a lot about.
Let’s start with a few questions:
- Is it easy to make money blogging? No.
- Does it take time to make money blogging? Yes.
- Does a lot of it have to do with traffic? Yes.
If there’s one thing I’m going to do here, it’s to be honest and frank about things because I see so many bloggers acting like making money online is easy and so many websites that promise to teach you how to make money quickly – it’s not the truth, or not for 98% of bloggers at least, so I don’t want to cloud your vision like they do, but rather give you some real facts.
Should I blog to make money?
I mentioned last time that I’d been blogging since 1996 and that’s the honest truth. Did I start blogging to make money? Absolutely not! I started blogging because I was passionate about the Internet and I loved sharing my stories with people. Because of this, my passion was in place and I was able to grow my blog to an Internationally recognised one. If I had started out with the aim of making money, like so many people do, I probably would have failed – this is the first thing you need to recognise.. don’t start blogging to make money, that’s as bad as trying to blog about something you dislike, you’ll burn out and get bored. I’m not saying don’t go into it completely ignorant to the fact that you can make money, just make sure your interests and passions are in place first, because you won’t make money for quite some time and that’s very off putting. How long did it take me to start making decent money on my blog? Probably 2 years!
How do I get traffic?
This is a huge topic, one which has been blogged about and written about for years and years, and it’s not something I can quickly rattle off, so instead, let me give you some of the things I’ve done to increase my blog’s traffic over the years:
- Make sure your website is search engine optimized – Websites such as SEOmoz, Search Engine Land, SEO Round Table and KISSmetrics are some of the leading resources for tips, tricks, strategies and case studies when it comes to optimizing your website. It’s a learning curve, but one that every blogger who wants traffic should learn. I cannot stress this enough. You can also opt for link building strategies, like the most popular one – to buy backlinks.
- Create a social presence – When I started blogging there weren’t things like Facebook and Twitter, if there were, things would have honestly been easier! Facebook and Twitter are excellent platforms for you to share your content, engage with readers and attract traffic to your website. Explore possibilities around creating a Facebook Page where you can import your posts to, look at applications such as Graffiti RSS, which automatically pulls your blog posts into your stream, this will potentially expose your content to all your friends. The same applies for Twitter, create an account, engage with others who are interested in what you are and share your content with them. If you’re using WordPress to blog, make sure you use a Twitter plugin that automatically tweets blog posts to your Twitter account when you publish them. Using Facebook and Twitter as part of your traffic attraction strategy will result in a lot of good traffic. There are other platforms such as FourSquare, Digg, Reddit, Stumble and so forth that you can explore too, but Facebook and Twitter are definitely the two I’d advise.
- RSS Feeds – So many people say that RSS (what is RSS?) is dead, but I can tell you right now that it isn’t, RSS is a really powerful way to keeping users engaged with your blog posts. In my opinion, anyone serious about blogging needs to have an RSS feed and the RSS feed needs to be created through Google’s FeedBurner. An awesome addition with FeedBurner is that they offer RSS via Email, which is a service you can activate through your account and I’d recommend using it. You’ll need to spend some time inside FeedBurner exploring before you get the hang of it, it’s fairly overwhelming the first time you log in.
- Write interesting and unique content – Although I’ve put this at number 4 on the list, it’s probably the most important. Writing interesting content attracts people, writing interesting content makes people want to share it and writing interesting content gets you on the map – I cannot stress how important it is to write interesting content. As far as writing unique content goes.. this is crucial, Search Engines hate duplicate content and if you steal content or copy it from somewhere else, Google will know and you’ll be penalized. If you get on the wrong side of Google, you’re going to struggle to get traffic and in turn struggle to make money. A blog is all about what you write.. don’t forget that, ever!
- Engage with other bloggers – One thing that made a huge difference in my traffic was that of interacting and engaging with other bloggers. I take the time to guest posts on other websites, like this one, I take the time to comment on posts on blogs which blog about similar things to me and I just take time in general to get to know other bloggers who blog about the topics I blog about – creating a community is crucial, you want to achieve a following and you want to make friends.
So, how do I make money?
- Google Adsense – If you’re interested in making money online, you’ll have heard of Google Adsense, Google’s advertising platform for publishers (that’s you!). The premise is simple, you sign up for an account, you create advert blocks and you paste them on your website – each time a person click an advert, you earn a little money. Google Adsense isn’t a platform that will make you millions, not unless you have a massive website with huge amounts of traffic, but it can assist in making you some money. With Google Adsense, be sure to do some investigation around what colors work best, what advert sizes perform well and how many blocks you can put on your website. There are a large number of resources available that explain all of this to you, so take your time, search carefully and you’ll find a guide that will assist you.
- Affiliate Marketing – Affiliate marketing is the process whereby you advertise a product or service online from another company and each time someone clicks a link on your site and goes to purchase the product or service, you get a referral fee. This is a massive topic in the world of blogging, one which has earned people millions of dollars. It pays to take the time to under what affiliate marketing is and it pays to take the time to look at affiliate marketing options. One of the biggest affiliate marketing websites is Click Bank, it’s worth going there and having a read, it’ll definitely give you a great idea of what it’s all about and you might even end up using their services. Many large retail websites, such as Amazon, offer affiliate programs, so if you’ve got a blog about gadgets or books, be sure to look at the big retail websites and see if they have an affiliate program: remember, you want to advertise products which relate to what you blog about. No point having a blog on cars and then advertising women’s lipstick!
- Direct Advertising – This is definitely the best way to make money and involves you having a direct relationship with the company who wants to advertise. So what I mean here is that you would have a direct relationship with a brand, for example, you might approach Nike and say to them that you want $100 per month and in return you’ll advertise their products. This is more about being a business man/woman than anything else, you need to contact people, prove that you have traffic, show that it’ll be worth their while to advertise on your site and so forth. It’s also the hardest one to master and you’ll need excellent traffic on your website, because that’s what will sell them ultimately. Don’t be scared to email companies that operate in your niche, pop them an email, tell them about your website and the traffic you have and see if they would like to advertise. I’m not saying run off now and email hundreds of companies, but perhaps one or two that you feel might be interested. A great way of telling who might be interested is looking into whether they advertise anywhere online, if they do, chances are they’ll have someone at their company who understands banner adverts and so forth, making life a lot easier for you to make a deal.
For me, one of the biggest secrets for making money online is by having a large number of income streams. By this I mean, not just the 3 I’ve mentioned about, but rather 7. Think of this: Making $500 a month from each of 7 different streams is going to be a lot easier than making $3500 from one stream!
Making money online isn’t easy, here are some final tips
- Be careful what niche you operate in, if you choose a niche that’s hugely popular you’ll struggle to get traffic because of other sites that are already established.
- Create an “advertise on my blog” link somewhere on the site so people can see that you offer advertising.
- Take your time writing content, research interesting topics and write as best as you can.
- Start with one advertising stream and then build your list up, don’t try create all 7 immediately, you’ll struggle.
- Concentrate on your blog and audience first, then concentrate on making the money. If you prioritize the making money part, you won’t succeed.
If you have any questions, please do leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to assist you. If you read this post more than once, you’re serious about making money online. 😉
This article is written by Chris. He is an multiple award winning technology blogger and search engine specialist in Cape Town, South Africa.