1. Get Your Blog Up and Running
Setting up a blog is easy, and it does not cost you a fortune. Blogging could become your flexible and lucrative business since you can get paid to write about stuff that interests you, whenever you want, wherever you are. Once you get your blog run on autopilot, you may just relax and go on a vacation whenever you feel like it, and knowing money is flowing in. Now, let's look into the profitability of a blog and set up a blog of our own at no cost.
First, we need to get a blog website. Basically, you have two options, – host your blog on your web host service or run your blog on a free service platform. For beginners, you'd better off starting a free blog. The most popular free blog platform is Google Blogger. If you have a Google account, you can setup one or more Blogger sites within your account. Go to Google Blogger and log into your Google account to get your blog started.
2. Add Blog Content
A blog cannot be empty; you must add content to make a life of it. First of all, there is no fixed scope regarding the contents you want to add, which means you can write about whatever you’re interested in. But the critical question is, what type of content is suitable for the blog in order to generate revenue?
You are the master of your blog. You may a personal and casual blog for fun and self-expression, or you can build the blog as a money maker. either way, it's all up to you. The difference between a profitable blog and a non-profitable blog is the way the blog is written and the content you deliver.
Content Tip 1: Light and Easy
What you write on your blog a personal choice, so as what you and others want to read. For example, Just you may prefer to read your university professor’s lecture notes or you'd rather read the latest novel by your favorite author. For me, I'd choose the novel because it appeals more to my interest. I love my professor but his lecture notes are rather mind-numbing. Here comes an important, - people like to read “light” stuff most of the time. When we browse a blog, we are not looking for education or academic lecture; what we want is the information that we can obtain and understand easily in a relaxed manner.
Content Tip 2: Personal Touch
Thus, to draw more visitors to your blog and to keep your current visitors coming back for more, you need to add a human touch to your blog posts. To add a sense of personal touch, you may imagine you are talking about a certain topic with your personal friend in the writing. A great sense of humor is always an advantage, therefore you may try to inject funny comments in your articles where they are suitable.
Content Tip 3: Conversational
Blog posts are not speech scripts but personal conversions. Thus, you should not write as if you’re preparing a speech. Instead, you should write as if you’re having a conversation with a single person. Therefore, an important key point is that you should not address your reader as a plural unit. Your writing should make an individual visitor think of you more as a personal friend rather than a person of higher authority. Besides that, it is also very beneficial to establish your own personality through your words. Human beings are very curious creatures, so naturally, your visitors would want to know as much about you as the information you’re offering them.
Content Tip 4: Personality
Having a distinctive personality on your blog can make your blog stand out from the crowd. For example, you and many others may write about gadgets; your blog about gadgets, because of the added personality, is easily identified and remembered from all the other blogs about gadgets out there. This is a lot like creating your own brand name, where people immediately remember your blog’s name when they need to find out information about gadgets, just like how people immediately think of McDonald’s for fast food or Nike for sportswear.
3. Brainstorm for Sustainable Contents
To keep a blog live, you need to continuously pump into new contents. You must regularly update your blog to maintain its readership. Finding fresh topics to write about is a common challenge to all bloggers.
Brainstorm Tip 1: Find Your Passion and Write about It
An easy approach for fresh content is to write on a topic that you feel passionate and interested in. some people choose to make blogging their career because they want to escape or replace a mundane job. No one should force him or herself to write about something that is not interested at all since this could be as torturous as a hated mundane job.
When you write about something you’re passionate about, you impress your feelings and emotion into the writings. If you feel indifferent to a certain subject but still write about it just for the sake of it, your readers will notice it. Forcing yourself to write will not establish a welcoming style at all.
Once you have decided your main topic, start posting to your blog about it and make it a habit to post once every day, even if it’s only a comment on the newspaper article you read today. Think of yourself as a gigantic train. It takes a lot of effort to get you moving. First, you might just budge an inch and later trudge slowly on until you finally reach your full speed. Then, it’ll take a lot of effort to stop you instead!
Brainstorm Tip 2: Examine Competitive / Relevant Blogs
However, no matter how well you know your topic, your brain is bound to get exhausted over some time. That is why you need more methods to brainstorm for your blog contents. A very effective approach to brainstorm is to investigate what other bloggers are saying about things happening in your area of discussion.
The old timers may advise you to check http://blogsearch.google.com/ or www.technorati.com for related blogs, but nowadays you may just search Google or Bing to find them. There are other decent search tools too, you just have to look around. From other blogs, you can gather more knowledge on your subject and you can also comment on what others have to say on your own blog.
Brainstorm Tip 3: Check the News
Once you’ve established contacts with other bloggers in your field, you’ll have quite an inexhaustible “conversation” ongoing, so you’ll not need to actively search for content to write about. However, if you’re still stuck, search for news articles related to your niche in the local newspaper or online through sites like Google News and Yahoo News.
Brainstorm Tip 4: Talk with Real People
You can also have conversations with people with the same interest as you in the particular niche you choose, so you will eventually build up a bank of questions and answers and interesting discussions to write about in your blog. To do this, join forums related to your niche, but don’t join every forum there is out there. Stick with one or two with the biggest number of members or the one which is most focused on your niche. This will also come in handy much later in gaining traffic and generating profits.
Remember to keep up your momentum of posting about once per day (or more if you have a lot of content to write about) so that the major search engines will know that your blog has fresh content every day. This will attract the search engines to spider your page on a more frequent basis, hence gaining you extra traffic.
4. On-Page Search Engine Optimization
Now, you should have a blog full of content you have passionately written. As you keep posting fresh content, your blog has become a very interesting grapevine for the community of your chosen niche, as opposed to a lifeless fact sheet. However, no matter how delicious your content is, if there is nobody to read it you can’t generate profit from it. Traffic is the lifeblood of your blog. In order to attract people, you must offer attractive information. Simple enough.
To bring traffic onto your site, you must think backward. Where do people go when they look for information? Yes, they use search engines like www.google.com, www.yahoo.com, and www.msn.com, to name a few more popular ones. Thus, to get these people on your blog, your blog needs to rank high on search result pages of these search engines. When these people search for information through the search engines and see your site among the top results, they will naturally click through to your blog.
The art of getting your blog or website onto high rankings on search result pages is called search engine optimization (SEO). It is a complicated subject to handle, but that should not stop you from learning simple yet effective techniques to conquer the search results for certain keywords. You need more complex techniques to fight for highly competitive and overly general keywords such as “weight loss”, but there is a way to overcome it, which will be discussed later.
For now, let’s determine the keywords that you want to optimize your site for. For example, your blog talks about tech gadgets. Now, you’d want to check in Google whether it is a very competitive keyword. At this time of writing, there are 74, 900,000 search results. Think you can beat 74, 900, 000 sites at your first attempt? I don’t think so.
Now, let’s try to narrow down our scope. Let’s look for “technological gadgets” instead. At this time of writing, Google lists 19,100, 000 results. That’s more manageable, but you’d like to search for more focused keywords. However, let’s optimize your blog for “technological gadget” just for the sake of learning.
First, you have to pay attention to the title of your blog. Since you’re optimizing for technological gadgets, you need to have that exact phrase in your blog title. For example, a line like “Your Best Technological Gadget Blog!” would work great. You can change the title of your blog in the Blogger control panel or the Wordpress blog when you’re creating it. If you’re proficient with HTML, you can even do that on other blog engines like Moveable Type. Bottom line? Learn a little HTML!
Other than that, your page heading should also contain the term you’re optimizing for. The page heading is the bit of text in your code that is enclosed within the <h1> and </h1> tags. This is important as it tells the search engines what your page is about (in this case, “technological gadgets”). Since we’re posting a blog, the <h1> </h1> tags are usually the post titles, so remember to include the term there whenever relevant.
One last bit, you should also sprinkle the words “technological gadgets” in your posts whenever possible. The frequent occurrence of that phrase in your blog will inform the search engines that your blog is really relevant to that topic.
However, this is the most important bit of all. Always keep in mind that you’re writing for real life people who read your blog to obtain information, so it is very stupid to spam your blog with keywords! In fact, if you do that, the search engines will end up thinking you’re spamming and drop your ranking further down into oblivion… So keep in mind, Write for humans, not search engines!
5. Off-Page Search Engine Optimization
From the previous step, you should have already optimized your blog, attempting to rank well for search results of certain keywords that you are targeting. However, the sad news is, – it affects your ranking in only very minor ways. On the positive site, every little bit helps when you’re competing for search engine rankings, thus don't skip any of the steps that we are discussing.
In this step, we are focusing on off page search engine optimization. That is, we deal with factors that are not on the blog but still affect the search engine rankings very greatly. There are a lot of off-page factors, but we have to examine them one by one. The first and most obvious one is the number of links to your blog.
As a general rule of thumb, the more links to your blog, the more the search engines think you are an authority in that particular niche and hence the higher they rank you. However, take care to observe the quality of the links. For example, a thousand links from totally irrelevant sites like online dating sites would not help at all because your blog is a technological product blog. In contrast, a single link from a highly authoritative site about technological gadgets will get the search engines crawling about your blog like the Feds storming a crack den…
Anyway, the most cost effective way of getting high-quality links from authoritative sites is simply to ask for it. If your blog contains high-quality content that is original and will provide valuable information to the site’s readers, chances are the webmasters will link to your blog or even write about you!
Let’s talk about how we should ask these webmasters of authority to link to your blog. We’re discussing this based on the presumption that your blog is really content rich and offer high-quality information to anyone in your niche or topic of discussion. The most viable option would be to send an email directly to the webmaster.
First, let’s look for the top sites in your niche. Simply search the major search engines for the term that you’re targeting. In this case, let’s search for “technological gadgets”. The first few results would be commercial sites like Amazon, so don’t bother asking. We’re looking for community-based sites and other blogs that are more accessible to a complete newcomer like you. Seems like www.gizmodo.com would be a good option.
So, compose an email to the webmaster of www.gizmodo.com (whose email address you shall find on the site). Start by stating how you came across their site (i.e. “looking for gadget information”, NOT “looking for link partners!”) and how you think their site provides valuable info. Basically, try to say something really good about their site honestly.
Then, suggest that so-and-so content on your own blog will be a nice complement to their site’s content and vice versa. Put a link on your blog to their site and ask subtly if they might be able to do the same to weld a mutually beneficial relationship between the site and your blog.
Along the way, you might find people who won’t even respond to your email, so forget about them and move on. Remove the links from your blog to their site if they have not responded to your email within two weeks, which is a pretty long wait.
Keep doing this for the first 30 search results that pop up, and before long you should have quite a few good sites all linking to you. In the next step, we shall explore further the more advanced off page factors, and ways to improve them!
6. More Off-page Search Engine Optimization
In the last step, we talked about how getting high-quality links from authoritative websites in your topic can boost your search engine rankings. This time, we’re going to explore further into linking strategies, and how to determine and obtain “high quality” links. We’re also going to talk briefly about Google’s PageRank.
First, let’s examine a regular link. It’s a piece of text (or image, but we’re going for text) that links to your blog, and some of the factors that matter are:
1) The address which it links to
2) The text of the link
3) The PageRank of the page on which the link resides
Let’s analyze this information one by one. First, you’d naturally want the link to link to your blog, but to which page of your blog? To an individual post or to your blog’s home page? Since your blog is a constantly updated website, it is always wise to accumulate all the links to point to your main page instead if individual posts. This is important because individual posts tend to be very time-sensitive, meaning the contents will be out dated.
The text of the link also affects your rankings for a certain keyword. Let’s say your blog is about technological gadgets and another site has a link that says “Barbie dolls” and links to your blog. Doesn’t make much sense, right? If a lot of links that link to your site contain the terms “technological” or “gadget”, it will greatly boost your rankings for those keywords. Hence, it’s essential to put some thoughts when requesting links from other webmasters as you want them to link to your blog with appropriate keywords.
Now, about Google’s PageRank. It’s basically a scale set by Google to measure the popularity of websites. You can read more about it on
Google support pages. What is interesting is that the higher the PageRank of a certain website, the more frequent Google’s robots will visit the website to index it. Of course, the PageRank of a page will also help it to rank higher in Google’s search engine results. In short, having a high PageRank will bring you many benefits SEO-wise.
Your blog will start with no PageRank (which is different to PageRank 0) because Google has not yet indexed your blog. Once Google’s robots find your blog through links on other sites, your blog will show a PageRank of 0 and, depending on the PageRank of the referring page, your blog’s PageRank will also rise eventually.
Getting high-quality links to your blog will help direct targetted visitors who are interested in your niche to your blog, enable search engines to find and index your blog and ultimately rank higher in search engine results.
7. Get More Traffic Sources
Getting links from other websites is not the only way to attract visitors to visit your blog. to empower your blog, you need to open multiple channels for incoming traffic. In this step, you will discover alternative techniques for pulling high-quality traffic with both free and paid methods.
The easiest way to generating traffic is to recycle current contents you have posted on your blog. You can gather and organize your blog posts into little “manuals” or articles that help people solve their problems or offer valuable information, and then submit them to article directories. These article directories are like aggregators that collect articles of similar themes together in one place, so they receive thousands and thousands of qualified visitors every day.
When you submit your articles to these directories, you are exposing your name to the thousands of pairs of eyes visiting them for free! On most article directories, you are also permitted to include a “resource box” where you can include your contact details, a simple biography and so on. This is where you can truly leverage the traffic of the said article directories.
There are a lot of article sites around. One of the big and stable sites is eZineArticles.com. Article sites come and go frequently. For example. some once popular sites like ultimatearticledirectory.com and submityourarticle.com are either closed or re-purposed. Therefore, make sure you choose the active and operative article sites.
Another excellent way to gain traffic is to join internet forums that are based on your niche. To find this kind of forums, you just need to go to any search engine and enter “<your niche> +forum”, without the quotes. You would want the most focused forum with a substantial number of active members, and preferably always bustling with activity. Just check the dates of the threads posted on the forum.
When you join active forums that focus on your field of discussion and post very useful and valuable posts, your peers will start noticing you and paying attention to what you have to say. In most forums, you are also allowed to append a link to your site in the signature line, which is under every post you make on the forums. People will click and visit your blog if they find your posts helpful and informative. This way, your credibility is built even before they land on your blog, so traffic from the forums would be easier to turn into profits if your blog is selling your own products or recommending others’ as an affiliate since they are already convinced you’re an “expert” in the field.
Word of Mouth
The strategy we’ll discuss is word of mouth. Let’s say you already have a daily visitor count of 100. What if you compiled a small report or gift and posted it on your blog, saying that if a certain visitor can refer three of his/her friends to visit your blog the gift will be his/hers for free? If your small report or gift is lucrative enough, it will generate a small buzz among your blog readers and they will surely refer their friends to this blog that they frequent!
Blog and Ping
You can also utilize the “blog and ping” technique that everyone’s talking about. Basically, when you update your blog, you can let blog portals know by pinging them. In the past, portals such as www.technorati.com work well for pinging, but not anymore now. You can still ping a lot of portals at once by using the free www.pingomatic.com.
Besides the techniques described here, there are also paid methods like buying links from high-ranking pages or buying banner advertisement space. A thing to keep in mind when buying paid traffic is to always weigh your profits generated from the paid ads. If your profits do no offset the expense, you will end up losing money, so choose wisely.
8. Monetize Your Blog
You work hard to produce high-quality, original content on your blog and you have attracted a decent amount of traffic by doing so. However, money is not going to appear out of thin air just because you have traffic. You have to turn your traffic into money.
There are several ways to generate profits from the visitors of your blog, and Google’s Adsense program allows you to do so with ultimate ease. First, visit their website at http://adsense.google.com/. You’ll find out more about their advertising program there, but here are some extra bits I’d like to tell you.
First, Google’s Adsense program is a really useful way to monetize your blog because when users finish reading your newest post, chances are they want to leave your blog because they have nothing else to do on your blog. If your Adsense advertisement block is visible on your blog, they might see advertisements relevant to them and click on them to exit your blog. Ka-ching! You’ve just cashed in on your first virtual cents!
But yes, your profits will only be cents if you don’t “do it right”. This involves placing your Google ads in the right places and ensuring they blend into your site so that they appear more like links rather than advertisements to your visitors. Consult Google Adsense Help Center at https://www.google.com/support/adsense to see the heat map of your blog. The “hotter” a certain area, the greater the chances of someone looking at your blog.
Once you get a Google Adsense account, you can change the color of your advertisement text and links. You will want them to match the colors on your blog. If your blog’s text is black and the links are red, do the same for the ad blocks too! It’s that simple.
Another way to earn profits from your blog is to recommend products to your readers. When your visitors buy from the merchants you recommend, you get to keep a little commission too. This is known as affiliate marketing and it is very easy to start because you don’t have to create your own products or services.
Anyway, let’s refer back to our technological gadgets blog example. Let’s say you discover this Gadget X on a merchant’s website, and they offer an affiliate program. What you would do is to create a post in your blog and do a mini-review on this Gadget X. Rip it apart and point out its benefits and bad points, if any, and include a link (which is given by the merchant) for the visitor to purchase the Gadget X online. If your visitor clicks and purchases the gadget, the merchant's system will track from the link that the purchase is referred by you, so they will send you your share of the profits. Imagine if 1 out of every 100 visitors you get purchases this product, and you earn $27.00 commission from each purchase! If you get 10,000 visitors in a month that would be a $2,700.00 pay check for you just for writing about ONE product.
Now, affiliate programs are very nice ways to generate profit, but how do you find affiliate programs that are related to your blog’s theme? Easy, just go to Google and search for <your niche> +” affiliate programs”. Another slightly better way is to go to http://www.associateprograms.com to look for affiliate programs in your niche.
9. Broaden Monetizing Options
We’ve discussed using Google Adsense program and other merchants’ affiliate programs to generate profits from your blog. However, we have a lot of other options to monetize your blog, so we’re going to look into that today.
The first option we’ll be looking at is Chitika ( www.chitika.com). Chitika is a very innovative contextual advertising program because it can serve very detailed advertisements. For example, on your technological gadget blog, Chitika will show advertisements for tech gadgets such as iPods. The way they show it is in different tabs: one for “Best deals”, another for “details”, another for “reviews” and so on. This way, it is more of an informational section for your visitor rather than an advertisement, and naturally, the click-through will be higher. You can apply at https://chitika.com site.
You can also be an affiliate for Amazon.com. Amazon offers a wide range of products but its predominant domain is in books. Whatever your niche is about, you can probably find a book about it on Amazon.com. Join their Associate program here: https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/
Once you join them, you can refer visitors to them and earn up to 10% commission. It’s not a lot but if you can manage to refer big volumes of visitors, Amazon is for you. This program really shines when it comes to the ways you can refer visitors: you can use their predefined templates to pull up recent items that match certain criteria you set, you can target your ad to show a specific item on sale or you can just simply weave your referral links into your blog posts.
Last but definitely not least, you can sell advertising space on your blog if your blog is truly popular. Just take a look at blogs like http://xiaxue.blogspot.com. That blog receives over 10,000 pageviews every day and naturally, merchants will want to strike a deal with the blog’s owner to post their advertisements there. If you manage to pull in huge amounts of traffic like that blog, you can definitely get people to buy ad space on your blog for prices from $150/month upwards, depending on your blog popularity. To gauge how many pageviews and visitors you get every day, just use the free tool available at www.statcounter.com. They have a very detailed setup guide there so I won’t go into it. Hopefully, that will help you maximize earnings and profits from your blog!
10. Interact Between Bloggers
As your blog’s content increase, people in your niche will definitely mention you for intelligent or interesting discussions. This is, in a sense, an initiation of an interaction. When people speak of you, you should thank them for the mention and build up the interaction!
When you use a traffic tracking script such as the free www.statcounter.com, you can see where traffic comes from. If a large number of visitors come from a certain blog, you can be sure they have mentioned you in their latest post or linked to you from their sidebar or links page. What you should do is pay them a visit, leave constructive comments on their posts and build up a conversation!
As you continue doing this, you will start to gather a lot of friends in your niche. This is helpful later on when you decide to do collaborations such as interviews. In fact, when you’re out of ideas for writing on your blog, you can interview other blog owners in your niche! Human beings are curious creatures, so naturally, they would like to know more about a person whose writings they read so often.