How to Make Money From Your Blog
I've recently posted this article on WriteLit.com, and I'm posting it here too, because as writers living in a developing country, I think we have a great opportunity here to earn big (or at the very least we have an alternative/additional source of income) without slaving for companies or middleman. All we need is a plan and old-fashioned hard work. Read on to learn more...
What a time to be a writer! There are so many opportunities to make money off your main skill – writing, of course – that all you have to do is choose. And one of the hot items on the freelance writing menu right now is blogging. Although it entails a lot of work and patience, earning from blogging is entirely doable. Problogger (professional blogger) Darren Rowse, for example, has paved the way for all of us, having been able to finance his house from earnings from twenty or so blogs. But I think the most inspirational of all the successful bloggers is Steve Pavlina who, with only one blog, is earning as of last reckoning, $9,000 a month! After studying what these two bloggers and all other successful bloggers have done, I have begun to implement in this site what I have learned from them. I am still learning, but in this article I will share with you the basics about blogging for profit so that you can accompany me on this journey and we all can learn from one another. And nothing would fulfill me more than to see you do as well as or even better than I do.
How to Choose Your Blog Topic
There are basically two ways to go about choosing a topic for you blog. At the extreme end, there’s the shotgun approach where you blog about everything under the sun or anything that interests you at the moment. And at the other end, there’s niche blogging or choosing a narrow topic that you can focus on. Steve Pavlina advises that you choose something that is neither too broad nor too narrow. Not too broad that a visitor has a hard time identifying what your blog is all about and will promptly leave as a consequence nor too narrow that your audience will be too small.
But how does one go about identifying these middle-of-the-ground topics? Well, the first thing you should do is to find out the things you are interested in or passionate about. List them all down by order of how intense you feel about these topics. If given the chance, which topics would you write about daily? Which topics won’t lose your interest even if you were to write about them your whole life?
After identifying these topics you are passionate about, the next step is to use certain free tools available on the Internet to find out which is the most promising monetarily speaking. One is the Bidtool by Overture (which is now owned by Yahoo!), and then there’s also Overture’s other tool, the Keyword Selector Tool. The Bidtool will give you an idea of how much advertisers bid for certain keywords while the Keyword Selector Tool will give you an idea of what keywords are popular, that is, how many times a keyword has been searched in a particular month. Both tools can be seen simultaneously in a split window at Pixelfast so you don’t have to type in the phrase separately for each tool.
Although Overture is not Google Adwords, the Google advertising system responsible for the Google ads served on your blog, it will give you a general idea, and specific examples to boot, of the market price of certain keywords out there. This is important because when a visitor to your site clicks on an ad which has employed your chosen keyword, a certain percentage of the cost of that ad goes to you. So the more advertisers there are bidding high prices for your chosen keyword or topic, the greater the probability that you will generate a bigger income from your blog.
Although a little less specific in the data that you will get, you might want to go to the source itself. Recently, Google Adwords has made available to the public its Google Traffic Estimator for advertisers. There you can find out your keyword’s Estimated Average CPC or Cost Per Click. You’ll also get an idea of the volume of the searches from the Estimated Clicks Per Day result. Just enter your keyword(s) or keyword phrase in the Enter Keywords box and click the Continue button at the bottom of the page.
So let’s say that you have identified two keywords to be prospective topics of your blog. One is “freelance writing” and the other is VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol, one of the cutting edge technologies today.
Entering the keyword “freelance writing” (without the quotes) in the Pixelfast page, we get the following results:
Overture (Yahoo) bids:
Overture Keyword Selector Tool results (June 2006):
2819 freelance writing
2088 freelance writing jobs
851 freelance in job online uk writing
470 freelance writing opportunity
217 online freelance writing jobs
The Bidtool results tell us that you might be served ads on your blog which will cost the advertiser anywhere from $0.05 to $1.01. The Keyword Selector Tool results meanwhile tells us that for the month of June 2006, there have been 2819 searches for freelance writing. The other top four search results which I listed here also gives us an idea of how popular other related searches are for our chosen keyword, in this case, “freelance writing.”
Meanwhile, when we use Google Adwords Traffic Estimator, the results are:
Estimated Average CPC:
$0.93 (at a maximum CPC of $2.05)
Estimated Clicks Per Day: 25-32 (at a daily budget of $40.00)
These results confirm the market price results of Overture. Overture’s price range of ($0.05-$1.01) is similar to Google Adwords’ ($0.75-$1.06). Google Adwords Estimated Clicks Per Day also bears out the low volume of searches in Overture.
We then perform similar searches for VoIP.
Overture (Yahoo) bids:
Overture Keyword Selector Tool results (June 2006):
168452 voip service
23150 business voip
21001 voip solution
20203 voip service provider
And then using Google’s Traffic Estimator for the keyword VoIP, we have the following results:
Estimated Average CPC:
$2.47-$3.70 (at a maximum CPC of $13.14)
Average CPC: $3.08
Estimated Clicks Per Day: 1,605-2,013 (at a daily budget of $7,450.00)
It is said that 20,000 searches for a keyword is considered ideal and viable as a blog topic, so definitely VoIP is a frontrunner in our list of potential blog topics. The results also tell us that VoIP is a very popular keyword, at 16,8452 searches (voip service) in Overture, and an Estimated Clicks Per Day of 1,605–2,013 at Google -- and definitely more popular than “freelance writing.” Which brings us to a very important issue when it comes to choosing blog topics.
This particular pair of examples illustrate the usual dilemma of an aspiring problogger. In choosing topics for a blog, we might be torn between two or more topics because the higher paying keyword may not be something that we are too passionate about. So what to do? Well, the decision is, of course, still yours to make. Will you be able to force yourself to write, day in and day out, about something that ranks low in your interest barometer? If you think you can, then go for it. Of course, this is not a simple either-or proposition. You can, of course, decide to blog about all the things that interest you in separate blogs – which decision requires more work, of course -- and find out which blog or blogs will work out best, a case of not putting all your eggs in one basket as Darren Rowse did with his twenty blogs.
Myself, I have decided to focus, in the meantime, on my first love, which is writing. This is, in my case, a sort of an experiment. What if I devote all my energies into what I’m most passionate about (that is, Writing and Literature) like what Steve Pavlina did with Personal Development, then would I be able to make a living out of it? It’s still too early to tell, but the point is, that it’s always a personal decision when it comes to choosing what to blog about. Usually it’s about who you really are. I have always been an idealist and a romantic, and thus the decision.
But if you find out in the end, using the tools that I suggested, that the topics you are passionate about are promising when it comes to income generation then consider yourself one of the lucky ones.
How to Set Up Your Blog
If you’re on a budget, you can set up your blog at free blogging sites like Blogger.com. Although professional bloggers usually advise against hosting your blog on free blog sites, it is still possible to earn even if your blog is hosted on a free site. The downside is you will have a hard time customizing and optimizing your blog for profit. The probloggers’ preferred way of putting up a blog is to pay for its hosting. And with cheap hosting nowadays available at around $5-$9 a month, this is a very attractive alternative. Moreover, most of the blog programs that you can use are for free. The challenge is that you have to learn about the software and how to install it. This may seem to be daunting, but there’s no need to worry since you will be getting a lot of help from online communities. (Update: Blogger.com has made some recent changes which have made it easier to manage your blogs, and thus earn from them. So you might want to test out your ideas first on your Blogger.com blog(s) and then move on to personally owned blogs when you've come upon a hit idea. Alternatively, you may continue using your Blogger.com blog if you are really not that savvy when it comes to blogging technology.)
So what software should you use? Today’s hot blogging software is Wordpress, and the best thing about it is that it's free because it is open-source software. You can download it from here, and you can get support from here. Wordpress is one of the easiest, if not the easiest, blog software products to install. They also have many plug-ins or widgets (additional tools) which will make managing your blog easier.
Finally, there’s one more alternative for you when it comes to blogging if you really want things easy – you can set up your blog here at WriteLit.com. One advantage of this option is that you don’t need to set up your Google ads and optimize your site because it has already been setup and optimized for you. You just need to apply for a Google Adsense publisher account, enter your Adsense publisher ID in your WriteLit.com account and you are good to go. One half of the earnings go to WriteLit.com who will take care of the marketing of your blog and other posts, and the other half goes to you.
How To Earn From Your Blog
There are basically two ways of earning from blogging. The indirect way is to use your blog to market yourself or your services and products, and the direct way is to place ads on your blog. Here are some of the main alternatives of directly earning – or as bloggers would call, it monetizing – your blog.
1. Google Adsense – The number one option is to monetize your site with Google Adsense. Joining is very easy. You simply apply then once your application is approved, you put the ads on ideal positions or “hot spots” of your post. It recommended to put your ads on the left side of the post (or to the left of the fold), just at the start of your post (above the fold), at the middle of your post (especially if it’s a long article), and at the end of your post (below the fold). But the key here is for you to experiment what works best for your blog, that is, which Adsense setup will yield the highest number of clicks from visitors since Adsense is pay-per-click advertising, which means visitors only have to click on the ads for you to get paid. Pay is anywhere from $0.02 to $1.00 depending on the kind of ads that are served on your blog.
2. Affiliate Programs – As an affiliate, you will sell other businesses products or services. Affiliate Programs are pay-per-action advertising. Which means you get paid whenever a visitor buys a product or service after they click on your affiliate links. One of the most popular affiliate networks is Commission Junction.
3. Chitika – Chitika is also a pay-per-click advertising service. The links are placed in interactive banners which you have to install on your site.
4. Text Link Ads – Text Link Ads is an income stream that is getting to be popular nowadays since there’s no action required from the visitor. What is required is from you, the owner. All you need to do is to make your blog attractive. And what can you do to make your blog attractive? Increase your blog’s traffic or the number of visitors to your blog. And how do you do this? That’s explained in the next section about how to generate big traffic for your blog.
How To Generate Traffic for Your Blog (or Content Is Still King)
Whatever topic you choose, what is most important is for your readers to come back, for you to build a loyal fan base, and for them to recommend it to others. You can do this by creating quality articles frequently, that is, write valuable content as often as possible.
Be they long or short entries, what’s important is that they are written with the visitors in mind. You should say something that has value for them. Steve Pavlina, for example writes long quality articles. If you are going to write short entries or are going to comment on other blog entries or news on the Internet, make sure to say something significant about the issue or something that will contribute to the dialogue. While the short entries will, by and large, contribute to planting many “search seeds” for search engines, the long entries are ideally suited for humans who will sense your passion about the subject and will appreciate the worth of your articles. They will then come back for more and will recommend your blog to their friends, usually by linking to your site. And we all know how Google loves link referrals. Moreover, your visitors will also recommend your blog in social networking sites like Digg and Reddit, which are becoming more and more popular nowadays. These social networking sites can also be searched. In other words, by targeting humans, you are indirectly targeting search engines. The moral, therefore, is for you to share generously your knowledge about your chosen topic for it will return ten-fold, and perhaps a thousand-fold, in terms of blog traffic and income.
So that, in a nutshell, is blogging for profit. I hope that this article helped you understand in the quickest way possible how to make money blogging. Do drop me a line when you have become a six-figure blogger like Darren Rowse and Steve Pavlina!