I was talking last night to a guy I haven’t seen in months. Around the same time I did he stopped focusing on SEO and affiliate sites and started developing a blog. When I was just about to say how cool that was he said he was giving up on blogs and was going to go back to creating mini sites to generate adsense and affiliate income. His decision was based on his conclusion that “blogs are not profitable” and he asserted that I should give up on this blogging lark and “make some real money”.
When I asked him what had made him think this way, he sent me a link to a forum thread containing two huge Adsense cheques. I have to say I have never received a cheque with that many digits before. For a split second I thought I might agree with him. Then I remembered why I left doing the sort of thing he was going back into, I never felt good about the sleazy snake oil part of the internet marketing business, I want to produce something of lasting value. I told him so but he was set on his path, had already bought the domains and his plans were in motion. Good luck to him. Did get me thinking though.
Masses of people get into blogging because they want to get rich, while we have said over and over that blogging is not a magic wand for generating instant riches there is no harm in wanting to earn an income providing your expectations are realistic. That is you might not become a millionaire but it’s very doable to earn a couple to few hundred dollars a month from a moderately popular blog. Enough to pay for your time and buy you some toys, help pay off loans or assist with the mortgage.
Before I get into the approach I suggest for creating a profitable blog let me just emphasise that even though it might reduce your chances of earning larger sums I maintain you should stick to producing good useful content. Spam and auto-generated or scraped content might seem like a short-cut but those types of sites are only short term performers as well as being junk for the rest of us.
Here are ten steps to producing your profitable blog, I will expand after the list.
- Select a list of profitable niches and choose a niche with the most potential
- Find all the products and services your blog can sell through affiliate channels
- Discover the high-paying adsense phrases and focus your content around them
- Build a template that emphasises your adsense and affiliate products
- Build loyal RSS and email subscriptions
- Build authority and trust through regular useful content. Post at least one new article every day, more if you can manage it
- Generate traffic through good post titles, email subject lines and linkbait
- Monitor your metrics, see which content brings in the most traffic and clicks and produce more of it
- When you hit on a good conversion rate, pay for advertising
- Diversify, start more blogs. Find an overlapping niche, rinse and repeat
The first item is to find a profitable niche, one that you will be able to write for and maintain for the long haul. You need to follow the money trail. Step 1 and 2 are closely related, topic areas with good high paying affiliate schemes show there is money to be made but on the other hand you don’t want to face too much competition. Read the linked posts for more information.
While many bloggers focus on the traffic element, which is indeed critical, lots of people forget that the content is as important. Not just the quality but what you write about and what you say. It is no good writing about non-commercial topics and wondering why nobody clicks your adsense. If your adsense ads are all about starting a free blog then you will have either chosen a non-profitable niche or fallen into this trap. Your posts have to have some link to a commercially viable market. To give you an example you could have a blog about a tourist destination but if you only show your holiday snaps there will be no money to be made, rather you should focus on hotels, resorts, days out … all the stuff people want to research before spending money. Good page titles will attract clicks but also tell adsense what ads to show. Try tweaking and experiment.
As well as tuning content for adsense if you want to push affiliate products then you need to do more than just show the links in your sidebar. Small ticket items can be sold just by putting enough traffic through landing pages, for some affiliate marketers that is all they do. More considered purchases with a higher value need a softer approach. Review the products, tell your readers about the good points and bad points, what benefits you get and other products that compete. Reputation and trust are very important, you need to gain this trust by producing an authoritative blog and you do not want to lose your trust by pushing dodgy products. Who’s recommendation for a blogging ebook would you trust more, Darren Rowse or “Mad Mikes Man-Made Money Mountain Machine”? Most people would take the advice of someone they have got to know and trust, that is what you need to develop. To get long term readers you will need to get them to subscribe through prominent RSS and email subscription buttons and give them long term value. The more incentives you give for signing up the more subscribers you will get, give them a reason to sign up, preferably with their real email account.
You also have to balance how commercial it comes across with how much
you want to push the profitability, there is a sweet spot for each
niche for how much your audience will stand. Some audiences will accept more than others, some times it is based on your niche, others cultural, sometimes it is down to approach. You will need to tweak for your audience.
You will notice how much of this we have covered before and how much of it is common sense. It isn’t really rocket surgery, anyone can do it. The reason why many people don’t or won’t is more to do with the fact it is hard work and time consuming. For months you see nothing coming back for all your hard work, it might take a while to get your first links or comments. The key is to stick at it.