It wasn’t that long ago I was just like you and looking for creative ways to supplement my income. Ultimately what I ended up doing was figuring out how to start a blog and make money from it over time.
All I can tell you is that it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Aside from investing in tax-deferred retirement accounts and letting my earnings compound, blogging has been one of the best investments I’ve ever made; both with my time and my money.
When I first started blogging, it cost me an initial investment of about $58. Do you want to know how much money I’ve made in the few years since then? Almost $30,000 USD gross! At almost 517 times my initial investment, that’s one heck of a return!!!
The best part – I’m pretty sure I’ve only just begun. The more you get into blogging the more you’ll read about people who are making five-figure months easily. That’s exactly where I’d like to go with my online business venture!
If you’d like to start your owning blogging journey, then I invite you to read my complete and comprehensive tutorial. I’ve tried to include every aspect imaginable on how to start blogging and make some good money from it. So please enjoy as I share with you over three years of blogging experience.
Step 1 – What Do You Want Your Blog to Be About?
This is by far the most important question you need to ask yourself. Please do not even think about writing a post or coming up with a name for your blog until you perform this step first.
You have to understand – If you choose a topic that you’re not truly passionate about, not only will it be painful to run your blog, but your potential for making money will also suffer as well. Your audience will be able to tell your level of enthusiasm.
What Interests You?
If a random stranger were to come up to you and strike up a conversation, what topic do you feel like the two of you could talk about for hours and hours on end?
That’s exactly what it will be like if you start a blog. Basically if I asked you to write me 50 different articles on your selected topic and you were able to do it, then I’d tell you that you’ve got a possible winner for a blogging topic.
For me that decision has always been easy. I LOVE to talk about money. Not only do I like investing and saving, but I also like exploring different ways of making money as well. Hence that’s why I run so many personal finance websites. It’s just simply something that never gets old to me!
What Do You Want Your Niche to Be?
Let me give you some advice: Blogs that focus on a specific subject or problem tend to do better at making money than blogs that are more diverse.
Why is that?
- Because the content answers the question they were looking for an answer to
- The readers find the content more relatable and look forward to new articles
- Search engines like them better because they see them as a better fit and will direct more organic traffic to them
- The audience finds the ads more useful and they tend to click on them more often
By contrast if you write about anything and everything under the sun, it will be really hard to attract new visitors and keep them as regular readers. For example: Don’t start a new blog about just “money”. Make it more specific. Make it about “getting out of debt” or “retirement savings” or something very niche. Not only will your readers spend more time digesting your content, but they will appreciate your message and keep coming back for more.
Targeted traffic like this is exactly what you want to achieve.
What Can the Readers Expect From Your Blog?
Even though this will be your blog and it should be about something that interests you, make no mistake – readers will only come to your blog because they want something! That something might be:
- To solve some problem
- To learn something
- To satisfy a curiosity
- To be entertained
When you’re writing and thinking about different topics you’d like to cover, keep this thought in mind. If your blog doesn’t satisfy one of the basic needs of the reader, that reader is never coming back to your site.
Turning off readers is pretty much blog suicide. If there’s no traffic to your website, there’s no chance of making any money.
So while you’ll want to write about things that you find important, make sure you frame it or present it in a way that other people can get something from it as well. Remember – make your blog a conversation, not a presentation.
Find Blog Hosting and Register Your URL
So now let’s say you did some soul searching and have found a great topic that you’re passionate about. You’re certain that you won’t get bored of the topic and are confident that you’ll be able to talk about it in a way that other people will love it as well.
Now it’s time to make your blog come to life! Here’s how you do that.
Think of a Clever Name
What do you want your new website to be called?
It’s a simple question with not such a simple answer. However before you blurt out an answer there’s a few schools of thought on how to do it:
1) The name should be brand-able. That means picking a name or phrase that’s easy for people to remember. When people hear it or see the name in print, they need to know it’s you.
2) The name should be keyword rich or related. That means picking a name that includes words that are relevant to the overall blog topic you choose. For example – this blog is about making passive income. Hence why it’s called GreatPassiveIncomeIdeas.com.
Something you can try:
1) Make a list of 20 or so words that are relevant to the blog topic.
2) Try arranging them into various two or three word phrases that make sense. Avoid starting your new blog name with “The” in the title.
3) Pick your top three that are the most memorable or have the most stand-out potential.
Once you’ve got your top 3 choices, it’s time to see the Internet has available.
Find Good Hosting for Your Blog and Register Your Domain
Let me make this step really easy for you. In order to start a blog and make money from it, you’ll need two things:
1) A place to register your blog name (this is called your domain name or URL)
2) A place that will host the website (called your hosting service)
Although it’s possible to use two different companies to do this for you, the smart thing to do (especially when you’re a beginner) is to choose a company that does both of these things for you all in one shot!
For that, I recommend the web hosting company Bluehost. Bluehost is an extremely reputable service used by many of the top bloggers out there such as Pat Flynn and other. The thing I love about them is how incredibly inexpensive they are. I’ve been able to buy hosting packages that included my domain registration plus domain privacy, all for much less than what the competitors were offering. Plus once you sign up, getting started is pretty easy. They walk you through all the next steps of registering your URL, setting up WordPress, etc. If you run into any trouble whatsoever they’ve also got 24/7 support you can contact and get things resolved pretty quickly. You can shop around for other hosting providers if you’d like, but I think you’ll have a hard time beating price and helpfulness.
Just a few quick notes on registering your URL:
- Try to pick a blog name ending in a “.com”. Although it’s not necessarily bad to pick a “.org” or “.net”, it will be harder for your readers to remember extensions other than .com. A lot of people falsely assume that every website ends in “.com”. So it is possible that they might accidentally go to a completely different site than yours if they don’t remember your full URL. You don’t want to make someone else famous, do you?
- Again: Don’t start the blog name with the word “the” or use dashes “-“ in your URL. The common reader will forget about these small things and might have trouble finding your site. Shoot for simple.
How to Set Up Your New Blog
Once you’ve registered your URL and are all setup with hosting service, it’s time to build that website. Thanks to a great free website-building service called WordPress, things really couldn’t be any easier!
What exactly is WordPress? Rather than build your own website from scratch by typing hours upon hours of code, WordPress gives you a ready-to-go framework to build upon. All you have to do is make any customizations you want and create all the things that will make your website unique (like the content, logo, etc).
Installing the WordPress application onto you’re newly acquired hosting space (especially from iPage’s control panel) is a snap. All you do is:
1) Log into your hosting account, look for your control panel, and then find the WordPress application to click on.
2) Once it loads onto your domain space, you’ll be given a user name, password, and the login URL for your WordPress-based site.
3) Click the login to the WordPress administrator panel and begin working on your website.
Finding a Great WordPress Theme
A WordPress theme is some extra software you install that customizes how your new website will look and feel. There are literally thousands upon thousands of themes out there!
To start out all new WordPress applications automatically come installed with a free default theme. Even though the default theme works just fine and is 100% functional, let’s face it – that’s boring! Who wants to use the plain-old default? Let’s make your website stand out and be unique!
Fortunately there are thousands of free WordPress themes for your new blog to choose from. All you have to do is go to your control panel, choose Appearance / Themes and then browse for a new one. Within minutes you’ll be presented with dozens of new options that you can try out and see which one you like the best.
When the time comes, you may want to spend a little extra money and get yourself a “premium theme”. Although they charge a small fee, they are definitely worth it. Usually the appearance of your website about 100x more likeable with a premium theme. Plus from the back-end you’ll find yourself presented with far more options and choices for customization than you ever will with a free theme.
My favorite premium theme is Studiopress’s Genesis themes. Genesis is a great compromise of cost and usability. When you shop around, I think you’ll find they have some of the best prices for what you get. Genesis is the theme I’m using here on this blog as well as on several of my other websites.
Customize Your Site with Plugins
Beyond having a unique WordPress theme you can customize your site even further with something called plugins.
Say you want a cool “Recommended Posts” widget or a new menu to change the color of your site. That’s what plugins are for. Plugins are basically extra pieces of codes that latch on to your WordPress theme and expand your menu of options to customize the site.
Similar to themes, there are thousands upon thousands out there. The good news is that most of the best ones are absolutely free. However my one recommendation is to check the rating of a plugin before you install it. Sometimes a programmer will publish a plugin without fully checking it out or updating it as time goes on. Those are the kinds of one’s you’ll want to avoid so they don’t hurt your site.
Here are a few of the must-have plugins we use on this site:
- Akismet – Protects you from comment spam.
- Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin – Also helps prevent comment spam.
- Permalink Finder – Helps to redirect visitors to your site if you have broken links.
- Quick Adsense – Great for customizing where advertising will go on your site.
- WordPress SEO – Helps advise you on improving the SEO (search engine optimization) of your content. Lot’s more on this below!
- W3 Total Cache – Improves the speed and performance of your site.
- WP-Optimize – Cleans up your back-end database and keeps your website running lean.
There are many, many more. Feel free to explore!
Just don’t run too many plugins at once or it will slow down the performance of your blog. Try to stick to no more than 20 at a time.
Writing the Perfect Content for Your Blog
As we’ve already mentioned, when you write for your blog it should satisfy a few important aspects:
- It should be interesting for you
- It should be interesting for others
- It should use good SEO format
If you did a lot of thinking before you started your blog, then you should have plenty of topics to write about. However if you’re in a slump or having writer’s block, then I suggest simply going online and seeing what other people are writing about. Look for subject matter that inspires you.
As you think up or find good topics, it helps to make a list of potential headlines. Keep on adding to that list you keep on getting more and more ideas.
Targeting Specific Keywords
One of the best things you can do for your blog as you write your content is to do what’s called “targeting a keyword”.
A keyword is a single word or phrase that someone would type into Google to find something.
For example: If you were to type in the phrase “passive income ideas” into the Google search engine, this blog would be one of the first 10 results you get.
That’s not an accident! The main blog page was written with the intent of ranking well for that particular keyword.
As a blogger, you’ve got a goal:
To get your content to rank in the Google Top 10 of the search results.
Why? Because that’s how people who use the Google search engines are going to find your posts day after day. That’s called getting “organic traffic” because your readers will come to your site naturally and without any extra effort from you.
In terms of money, you could probably guess:
Getting found in the search engines = More traffic = More clicks on your ads = More potential to make money!
Though there are lots of other variables that will dictate whether or not your posts will make it into the Top-10 in Google, it all starts with finding good keywords to write about.
Smart SEO experts and webmasters will put together lists of very specific keywords to target in an effort to capture that “free” traffic from Google and the other search engines.
When you’re looking for specific keywords for your blog posts, there are a few basic a few things you’ll want to look out for:
- How many searches per month does the keyword get? Do 10 people search for this term every month or 10,000? If I’m strategic about getting visitors to my site, I’m going to want words that attract the most amount of visitors possible.
- Competition. Just because a lot of people search for a particular keyword every month doesn’t make it one that you should go after. Chances are that the higher the search volume the more intense the competition will be to rank well for that keyword. You may find yourself up against mega-popular websites. Let’s be real – do you think Google is going to put your brand new small blog post ahead of a blog post from a mammoth authority website? It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to out-rank the authority of those sites.
- Strike a balance using long-tail keywords. Considering search volume and competition, there is a popular theory called looking for long-tail keywords where you’ll strike a balance between the two. The idea is to look for keywords that are easy to rank for but get a decent amount of traffic.
What would be an example of a long tail keyword? Say you wanted to write a blog post about “stocks”. Since that would be a highly trafficked search term, the competition to rank well for that keyword would be nearly impossible to beat. Basically if you wrote a post targeting the keyword “stocks”, it would never, ever probably rank in the search engines.
So what are you supposed to do? Instead try to find phrases that are related to your keyword but more specific. For example, instead of using “stocks”, why not “penny stocks to buy”. As long as that is a topic that you’d like to write about and fits your blog, then it would make a much better keyword to topic.
How Do I Find Good Keywords?
The free way to find good keywords is to sign up for a thing called the Google Keyword Planner tool. This is a complimentary service offered by Google where you type in a keyword idea and Google will tell you how much search volume it gets every month. It will also give you a ton of suggestions for related keywords.
Although this is very important information, the unfortunate thing is that Keyword Planner does NOT tell you what the competition level is to try to rank well for that search term. Unfortunately that is something you’d have to do by your
self by looking at the top 10 Google results and drawing your own conclusions manually.
Who wants to do all that?
Make your life easy and use a great tool that does it all called Long Tail Pro Platinum. Long Tail Pro Platinum is software that not only helps you find great keywords to go after but also gives you a keyword competitiveness (KC) score for each one. That’s incredibly valuable because it gives you an instant snapshot of how difficult it will be to rank for that given term. Personally I only go after keywords that have a KC of 35 or less and get over 100 or more local searches per month.
Even though it costs money to buy it, Long Tail Pro is worth it because it will help you find the right search terms that will generate traffic. I’d highly recommend buying it.
Writing Content Using Good SEO Format
Another thing that’s going to help get your blog posts into the Google Top 10 search results is writing using good SEO format.
What does that mean? It means writing your blog posts in a specific way that will make it easier or “acceptable” to Google when they index your site.
Google of course has their own set of standards for what they think a “good” blog post should look like. Naturally if you want to do well with the Google rankings, then you’ll have to play by their rules.
Using good SEO format sounds pretty technical, but it really isn’t. As long as you just accept SEO format as a “guide” or “template” for how your blog posts should appear (rather than hard-fast rules), you’ll be alright and actually that you have plenty of lead-way to write just the way you want.
Here are a few things that make up good SEO format:
Use the exact match keyword. Going back to our example up above, “penny stocks to buy” would be considered the exact match keyword. That means you would use that exact phrase with no alterations, dashes, or changes to it throughout a few important places in your content. Usually the best places where your exact match keyword should be used would somewhere in the beginning, middle, end of your content.
If you’ve ever hear people talk about “keyword density” when they’re writing content, they’re asking the question of how many times does that exact match keyword appear on the page. A long time ago people used to make webpages where they would use an exact match keyword a whole lot and that would get the page to rank well. But as you can guess, Google caught on to that kind of nonsense and they now frown upon that practice. That’s called “keyword stuffing” and you’ll get penalized by Google if you do that.
So you have to strike a delicate balance of actually using the exact match keyword without going crazy. Some SEO’s advise keeping the keyword density to around 1% of the total article. Personally I like to go 0.5%.
You only ever try to target one exact match keyword per article. But keep in mind that it is possible for an article to rank for more than one keyword.
Other places you’d want to use your exact match keyword:
- Somewhere in your title,
- In one of your sub-headings
- In the meta description,
- In the URL
- In the alt tag of one of your photos.
Use synonyms of the keywords. What Google loves to see in articles is lots of synonyms of the keywords. For example you might say things like “buying penny stocks” or “I bought this penny stock” or “making money from risky stocks”, etc. Usually these kinds of alterations of the keyword just come naturally as you’re writing because it’s simply good English construction to use a diverse vocabulary.
Authority Links. Another thing Google likes to see when you’re writing content is to have a good mixture of links; especially those to higher authority websites.
Naturally if you’re writing something and you got the information from a reputable website, then you’d probably link to it. Google loves this. Why? Because it shows that you did your homework and are validating these bigger websites. Think of it like when you did a research paper back in college.
Remember to NOT over-do it when it comes to outbound linking. Too many external links will make your blog post appear like “link spam” and Google will penalize it. My general rule of thumb is to include no more than 2-3 external links to authority sites per every 1,000 words.
Notice I said “reputable” sites. If you link to low quality, garbage sites, Google will associate your site as low quality and garbage and could again possibly penalize you. When it comes to linking, you are who you associate with.
Anytime you rank to anything that is considered promotional or where you could make money from it, you have to include a “nofollow” tag in the code of your link. Basically a nofollow tag says that although you are linking to another website, you do not endorse it for SEO reasons. This is okay and exactly what Google wants you to do.
Internal Linking. Another thing you should do often is link internally within your own website. If you’re writing a blog post and you want to reference 2-3 other blog posts you wrote that were similar to this one, then do it!
Internal linking is completely natural and actually helps your search engine rankings more than you think. More on that upcoming.
Website Rankings and Tracking Your Progress
Like it or not, your website will judged!
Every so often your blog will be given certain scores and rankings from well established organizations that other bloggers and (more importantly) marketers will judge you by. If you plan to make any money from your blog, then you’ll want to pay attention!
Don’t worry. The best way to improve your rankings is to understand what they are and periodically check on your progress. This is one thing you’ll want to when you start a blog right from the beginning. I didn’t do this until later and I completely regretted it!
Outside of vanity or monetary return, tracking your progress is really important because it can give you insight as to how readers find your site, what they do when they get there, etc.
Here’s a few of the basics you’ll need to know about and tools you can use to track them.
PageRank is a score between 0 and 10 (where 10 is the best) that Google assigns every webpage they index. It’s supposed to represent the relative importance of that webpage and is one of the many factors that determines where a webpage ranks in the search engines.
These days PageRank is all but dead, at least to those of us that don’t work on Google’s search team! Below are some more common and useful metrics to track.
Domain Authority, Page Authority, and MozRank
Another organization that is constantly indexing and ranking every webpage on the web is a company called Moz (formally SEO Moz). Although their rankings do not necessarily affect your rankings in the search engines, they do indicate the likelihood of where your website may end up in those search engines.
There are two scores to become familiar with:
- Domain Authority (DA) tells how strong the overall root domain of the website is.
- Page Authority (PA) tells how strong the actual webpage of the website is.
Each one is a score from 0 to 100 where 100 is the best.
Moz also publishes a score called MozRank which goes from 0 to 10 and is very similar to PageRank.
Alexa is a ranking system that is designed to measure how much traffic goes to your website every day. The score can go from 1 to +1,000,000 where 1 is the best. Usually a score of 200,000 or lower is pretty good.
The Alexa ranking is usually highly criticized because it only measures those visitors who have the Alexa toolbar installed in their web browser; hence other bloggers. But keep in mind that some marketers still will judge you on this score.
Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools is extremely helpful in telling you how people find your site.
For example, say people are typing in that keyword from above “penny stocks to buy” and finding your blog post. Webmaster Tools would reveal that to you. You could see every keyword your blog is recognized for and where in the search engines you rank. This is an excellent way to see if you’re doing everything you need to rank for your target keywords.
To install Google Webmaster Tools, all you have to do is upload a piece of html to your site when you sign up for the account with Google.
Similar to Webmaster Tools, Analytics is another free service from Google. This program is more commonly used to measure the amount of traffic going to your site and what they do when they get there:
- Who visited your site?
- Where did they come from?
- How long they were there?
- How many pages they looked at?
- What type of device brought them to the site?
To install Google Analytics you have to upload some code to your theme’s header file. Most good themes will have a spot in the main menu where you can do this easily place it without having to modify the actual code.
Attract Readers and Bring Traffic to Your Blog
What fun is writing a blog if no one ever visits it or interacts with you?
The scary truth you have to accept when it comes to blogging is that with all the millions of other blogs out there why should anyone ever visit your website?
Trust me – it’s pretty depressing. The first 6 months I ran my blog I swear my only reader was me. Once I started getting real visitors, that’s when it finally started to become rewarding.
We started to cover the topic of getting readers earlier when we talked about writing great content. Writing great posts will always be first and foremost!
But good content alone won’t get you noticed. To gain the attention of the Internet world, you have to do a little extra leg-work to attract and grow your audience.
Here are a few simple techniques to follow:
Comment on other blogs
Commenting on other blogs is by far one of the easiest ways to get visitors when you’re just starting out. Most of the time when you visit another blog (of similar niche and popularity to yours) and comment on their posts, they will reciprocate the favor by visiting your blog and doing the same. Do this enough and you could end up with lots of like-minded bloggers reading and visiting your site daily.
But before you get too crazy with this strategy, a few quick cautions:
- Don’t expect to go to overly popular blogs and have the owners visit your site right away. Think of all the hundreds of other bloggers do the same thing.
- Also don’t spam other blogs just for the comments. When you leave a comment on another blog, make it count. Otherwise the other blog owners will place your comment in the spam box and it will never see the light of day.
Another thing that the commenting on other blogs strategy does: It puts your name out there! Now every other person that reads that blog post will see your name and could potentially click on the link from your comment. Make sure you say something witty to get some attention!
Use social media
Google Plus. Facebook. Twitter. Pinterest. Reddit. StumbleUpon.
The list goes on and on …
All of these social media sites are places where millions of people browse every day for interesting headlines and websites to check out. Why not use these platforms to your advantage and make sure that every post you write gets promoted through as many of these channels as possible.
Advanced tip: There are lots of ways of automating your social media submissions. SocialADR is one service that does this for very cheap. You can also hire virtual assistants to do all your submissions for a small weekly fee.
Guest post on other blogs
Similar to the blog commenting strategy, why continue to leverage other people’s blogs to your advantage by taking things to the next level and making the whole post something from YOU!
A guest post is when you offer to write a whole post for another website that they will publish on their site. This is great for you because it puts the spotlight completely on you to that blog’s audience. Plus the website owner gets a good, free content as well. For some good insight on what to do and what not to do when you guest post, check out this great post here.
In addition to exposure to new potential readers, guest blogging is also a good way to get great “links” from other high quality and niche related websites. More on the benefits of linking later.
Networking with other bloggers
Though it takes more time, one very effective way to get noticed by other bloggers when you’re starting your blog is to reach out to them. Usually you do this through reaching out to them by email. But things like social media can also help and be just as engaging.
Forming friendships with other bloggers will help get you those guest posts and links to your blog that you definitely want to have. When you reach out to other bloggers, you form friendships with them. People will be more likely to help a friend than a complete stranger.
What’s not as well known is that networking with other bloggers can also help enhance some of your money making business opportunities as well! Lots of other bloggers I email with regularly have forwarded me deals with advertisers that landed me hundreds of dollars in revenues. When it comes to blogging, it absolutely pays to have friends!
Organic traffic using Keyword research
As we talked about in the content section of this article, getting “free” traffic from Google is one of the best passive ways possible to get visitors to your blog. This website is a prime example. I do almost no promotion for this website and it gets over 600 readers per day – all from people just finding it in Google!
So how do you get people to naturally come to your website everyday without any action from you? The answer:
Get your posts to rank in the Google Top 10 search results.
Choosing the right keywords and writing your articles using proper SEO formatting are the best ways to accomplish this. But there are also some other things you need to do to help enhance your chances of ranking on the first page of Google. More on that below on the “Building Your Rankings” section.
How to Make Some Money with Your Blog!
Now for the fun part – making some money with your blog!
There are hundreds of ways to make an income from running a website. But when you’re just starting out, you’ll want to try these basics first.
Google Adsense is a free affiliate program from Google where you put some code on your site in certain places to create dynamic advertisements.
Dynamic advertisements change depending on who the visitor to the site is. The display works with the reader’s cookies and it’s meant to target certain ads towards the niche audience. For example if you visited Chase to check your bank statement and then visited my site, there’s a good chance you’d see some kind of Chase or banking advertisement in one of the Adsense ads.
Adsense ads are great because:
1) They’re easy to put on your site
2) You don’t have to lift a finger to update them or do anything with them
3) They pay out immediately! Once someone clicks on the ad, you get a payment (anywhere from $0.01 to $10). This is called pay per click (PPC) advertising.
Some bloggers have really figured out how to maximize their Adsense revenue into the thousands of dollars per month by creating / purchasing lots of websites and steering traffic to them!
When you’re just starting out, Adsense is really a pretty easy way to make a few bucks per month without hardly any effort on your part. Read more about Google Adsense here.
Amazon Associates is probably the second most popular affiliate program on the Internet.
The way it works is you place links to products that Amazon sells throughout your website content. Every time someone clicks on one of the links to buy that product, you get paid a commission. The service is free and pays sustainably more the more products you sell.
The bonus: Even if that person buys something else other than the thing you were promoting, you still get paid!
Again, lots of niche website builders swear by Amazon Associates because they are very good at building high quality sites that are very persuasive at getting the readers to buy certain products. It’s very common to read about bloggers who make over a thousand dollars per month using this strategy!
Other Affiliate Programs
There are plenty of other affiliate programs beyond Adsense and Amazon. The idea is the same – you promote certain products or services on your site. If someone clicks on it and you make a sale, then you get a commission.
Clickbank is another affiliate program where a lot of bloggers and websites have found success. Clickbank promotes very specific products such as instructional DVD’s, software, ebooks, etc. Lots of bloggers have claimed to do very well promoting these items. Here is how you can find good products to promote.
Sometimes people will simply reach out to you and ask you to promote their products on your website. When that happens and you get paid up front; that is called direct advertising.
Direct advertising can be in the form of a post, review, blog mention, or even a banner in the sidebar of your blog. The beauty here is that you get paid no matter how the advertisement does.
** For each of these monetization strategies, just remember – the right kind of high volume traffic is what gets you paid, not your ads alone. The ads are just a means to an end. All you need to do is adopt one or two of these strategies and then focus the rest of your time on driving quality traffic.
Building Your Rankings
You’ve got your website. You’ve got articles. You want to make money.
But there’s a problem – you’re not making any! Why is that?
As I mentioned before, you need traffic to increase your chances of making money. And the best way to get noticed is for each and every one of your articles to rank well in the search engines; preferably the Top 10.
So how do we do that? First and foremost – picking low competition keywords and writing excellent content is the main thing you have to do. No exceptions there.
But there are a few more things you should look at if you want to help enhance your positions:
Links are the Internet form of currency. When you link to someone, you send them “link juice”. When someone links to your site, they send you “link juice”.
Your goal as a website owner is to try to get as many high-quality links as possible to your work. Why? Because that build your website as an “authority”. Think about it – if no one links to your work, why would anyone trust it or have confidence in it?
Note I said “high-quality”. One link from a high quality site is worth more than thousands of links from low quality, spam sites. You’d be wise to network and work with high quality websites in an effort to gain links from them rather than try to take the easy way out to have some virtual assistant build thousands of terrible spammy links back to your site.
Note that not all links are the same. There are “nofollow” and “dofollow” links. Dofollow links pass on link juice. Nofollow links do not.
Most links within blog content are dofollow. That’s because the webmaster knows that the article he’s linking to is a good one and is basically vouching for it.
Links such as those from blog comments or social media are mostly nofollow. If you were to look at the blog code behind them you’d find a “nofollow” tag within them. A web browser add-on such as SEO Quake will automatically highlight nofollow links so you can see which ones are which.
As you can guess, getting high quality dofollow links is part of the game of getting your website posts to rank better. However getting nofollow links aren’t necessarily bad. When Google analyzes your blog posts, they will consider your whole link portfolio. A natural portfolio will be one with a healthy mixture of dofollow and nofollow links. By contrast if your blog had only dofollow links and no nofollow links, Google would possibly think you were scamming the system and penalize your site. Once you’re penalized, you posts will not show up at all in the Google search results. And that means no money!
Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to linking is to vary your anchor text. Your anchor text is the words you use when you link to something. For example if you were to link to this article, the appropriate anchor text might me “how to start a blog”.
Your anchor text should be very diverse. Do not always use your main keyword as the anchor text; in fact use it sparingly. When getting links to your posts, try to vary the anchor text using:
- Partial matches = “ways to start a blog”
- Synomyms = “building a good website”
- Un-related words = “click here”
- Naked links = greatpassiveincomeideas.com
Links from other blogs aren’t the only place to get link juice. In fact some of the best link juice can come straight from your own website!
When you write new blog posts, link to your own content often where appropriate. Do so within the body of the text or add a related posts section at the end. Again, use varying anchor text for each of the links.
Another way to naturally build-up the authority of your website will be to add more content related to the topic or keyword for your blog. For example: Notice every post on this blog is somehow related to building a passive income.
The more content you create, the more keywords you can target and the more chances there are that people will find your posts and link to your work. Plus the more articles you have the more internal linking you can do.
Blogger carnivals. From time to time bloggers will host these things called carnivals where different blogs from that niche will submit their work to the carnival and the host will create a big compilation of the posts. Think of it like a “best of album”.
The good news is these carnivals are really good for your SEO and usually pretty easy to get accepted into. Search Google for blog carnivals related to your niche or look for other bloggers who host carnivals regularly to find out how you can submit your work.
Link roundups. “If you pat my back, I’ll pat yours” is generally how it goes in the blog-linking world. And in no other place do you see this than in weekly link roundups.
Similar to a carnival, sometimes bloggers like to make their own personal “best of” posts for weekend reading, etc. If you’d like to get some attention from your fellow bloggers, go ahead and start one of these types of posts yourself. Within a few weeks you’ll start to notice that certain ones will return the favor and link back to you when they do the same sort of post.
Ask for links. If nothing else sometimes something as simple as just emailing a fellow blogger and asking for a link will work. Obviously you’ll have to make a compelling case as to why that person should link to your work (i.e. it fits well with their post, you’ve got a post that backs up their claim). But that’s not all that difficult to do. I’ve done this on many occasions and been very surprised at how many bloggers are happy to link to my blog posts.
Outsourcing – Don’t Do Everything Yourself
The #1 reason most people quit their blogs is from burnout.
They think writing a blog is going to be this fun and simple thing where you just write some posts every week and hit publish.
But as you’ll find out it’s a lot more than that. There are emails to read, comments to respond to, networking with other bloggers, planning out what you’re going to do with your blog, and – oh, yeah – the challenge of actually making some money from it all!
I wish I had known the following trick much sooner in my blogging career because it’s a real time saver: Hire people to do these things for you!
Their called virtual assistants (VA’s) and they’re everywhere. You can find good VA’s who are willing to work for $3 per hour doing the things you just simply don’t want to do with blogging – commenting, social media, uploading posts, etc. And for that small fee you get your life back and can enjoy your blog for the passive income it was meant to be.
Odesk and Elance are two places where I find most of my VA’s.
Hire freelance writers
Writing great content is usually the biggest chore when it comes to blogging. If you try to write every article yourself and put a lot of pressure on getting it done in a rush, you’re going to burnout very quickly.
Instead go on Elance and hire writers to do it for you. All you have to do is give them the instructions and topics, and I think you’ll be amazed at how what they produce. And they’ll do it for really cheap too!
Most of the articles I pay to have written cost around $5 each. Some of my blogger friends like to brag they get articles for as low as $2 each. It really just depends on who you find, what they charge, and the quality of what they produce.
Freelance writers have been a life-saver for me and my blogging efforts. I’ve used them to create entire websites with content that (quite frankly) I couldn’t have written better myself. If you’re looking to build your site up fast or just simply don’t have the time to produce so many articles every week, then seriously consider outsourcing it.
Link building is another thing you don’t have to do on your own. Again there are lots of independent VA’s that you can hire to do simple things for you like submit your work to blog carnivals, social media, and do comments.
However tread with caution. If you get a bad one that builds nothing but spammy links to your site, your site could get penalized and it will take you a long time to recover. It is best to interview the candidate or go off a recommendation for a link builder before you just simply hire anyone.
Another way to go about this is to go with a professional agency to build your links. Often these groups own their own blog networks and for a healthy fee will offer to place links to your articles on those websites. Though it can be viewed as a little shady, it certainly does work and is used often by more people than you think.
After all of that, do you finally feel like you now know how to start a blog and make money from it?
I certainly hope you do and completely encourage you to at least try it. Blogging, in my opinion, is one of the most “risk-less” side-business ventures you could ever engage in. The positives are that for less than $100 and your time you could be making five figures in a short amount of time. The negatives are that if you fail you’d be out that initial $100 and quit with no strings attached. Now compare that to owning a rental home or buying stock? Which one do you think has a better risk/reward ratio? I’d take the blogging avenue all day long!
If you have any questions or run into any problems along the way, please feel free to reach out to me. Plus I’d love to hear any feedback anyone has on this tutorial!
Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net, Wikipedia, and MMD
Honestly, I had read lots of tutorials about how to start a blog and I can say that this is such a perfect one tutorial! I’m thinking to start my own website someday and I will definitely use this one as my guide.
Thanks! I hope it proves useful on many levels.
Having just started my own blog on July 4th 2014, your insight was the perfect level of knowledge that I need at this point in time. I look forward to applying some of your suggestions to build traffic. The good news is that I am already writing about something that I am passionate about: building passive income.
Great! I hope these strategies will get you started off on the right foot. Feel free to email me if you have more advanced questions later on.
What a superb resource. Thank you.
Do you have a newlsetter or a subscribe link? I can’t fine one.
Thanks! I hope it works out well for you. I have just added an RSS and Email subscription link to the top of the page on the right.
Great tutorial and something I’ll be referencing as we continue down this journey.
I am totally new to blogging. But I am striving to learn about passive income using my blog. First I think I need to get some visitors. It’s not as easy as people may think!
Thanks for the detailed explanation.
I have seen bloggers publish their monthly income reports, however I didn’t find one on your site.
Do you think publishing monthly income reports helps get attention to your blog?
I just started my own blog on Internet Passive income and I’m unsure about publishing monthly income reports.
Thanks in advance.
I’ve restarted my entire blogging expedition so many times over, (every time going back to basics and starting afresh) that I’ve read countless of articles on the subject. Your tutorial is by far the best.
This time around I’m determined to get my blog up and running for good, and I’d like to use the information in your article as a To Do list, of sorts.
Thanks for sharing!
This is really a detailed article. It needs to be referenced frequently. The message is what all online marketers need to succeed greatly. You have discussed the subject matter systematically and your points are to detail. Good work indeed!
That’s a really comprehensive guide on starting and monetizing your blog. I think at the end of the day, what really matters is the quality of the content and the sincerity in writing. If readers have the impression that the blog’s main aim is just to generate income, it is not a sustainable model.
I’m still thinking of whether to monetize my blog as I started it to share my writing.
Perhaps, I should start exploring.
Great read! I recently a blog, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. My goal is to provide great content that inspires people and to leverage the traffic for marketing products and services. I thought this was a very insightful post, so many things to consider! Thanks for sharing!!!
Thanks for the detailed article! It’s really great and helpful!!
Good article, very thorough and it’s taught me a few things:)
Very helpful insight but it is not that easy to do..