A step by step guide to making money blogging
If I have been asked the question,” how on earth do you make money blogging ?” once, I have been asked it a thousand times. There is an awful lot of misinformation out there about blogging and the problem is that the failures outweigh the successes by about a million to one, so for every successful blogger out there, there are 999,999 people telling you that you cannot make money blogging. What they really mean is they cannot make money blogging.
The other problem is that a good proportion of the people who make money blogging do it by selling crappy advice to the other 999,999 failures. I am not going to do that. I am not selling a damn thing, although if you take my advice and sign up for the tools I use, I will make a couple of dollars in commissions. All I need is 999,999 people to take my advice and I will be set for life, in which case – anyone want to buy a few blogs?
Just kidding, I would never part with them ;). But let’s go back to the question most people really want to ask - “Can I make money blogging ? and if so – how?”
The answer is yes. I am a professional blogger and have been for several years. I do it with a combination of freelance writing, several niche blogs, article writing and, for the last 18 months, writing a business blog for a luxury property portal. This last one – if you are considering blogging for business – requires you to have already developed a reputation in a particular industry, and being able to demonstrate the necessary skills to make it work. Which includes generating traffic, building relationships and incoming links and actually being a successful blogger.
There is more than one way to skin a cat, and for the purposes of this article I am going to show you the steps needed to create your own money making blogs. I say blogs rather than blog because the chances are that you – like me – are going to fail in some instances and be successful in others. This will probably mean more than one domain and/or niche. The trick is to then capitalize on the successful ones. For ease of use, all the links in this article will open in a new window. This is how to go about it:
Step One – Choose a niche and domain name
Yes – this is the first step. Not, “Oh, I have a blogger blog called michelle and johns cats favorite toys.blogspot.com, how do I go about making money from it?” Forget that – you need to identify a niche or subject that could potentially be a profitable one, choose a domain name based on the research you have done, buy it , host it and set up the blog. This is where it gets boring, because you will have to research this. Sorry – now the work begins. You didn’t think it was going to be that easy making money from a blog did you? Don’t worry if buying a domain and hosting it means nothing to you – we will get to that. Of course, having said all that, some one is bound to stop by and tell me that selling toys for cats was the best thing they ever got into and they are now living a life of luxury in the Bahamas off the proceeds.
Researching a potential money making niche or subject.
This is where the work begins. I can promise you from personal experience, that if you are setting up a blog with the sole intention of making money, you need to find a profitable niche. As an example, let us say you have done some research, and settled on hair care products as a potentially profitable niche and decided to make money from your blog by selling hair care products. A possible search term that some one might use to search for a hair care product would be “hair care shampoo,” so an appropriate domain name would be haircareshampoo.com. Whereas you are unlikely to sell many hair care products through, dogtraining.com. The other things to take into consideration are the amount of people searching for a particular term, the amount of money advertisers are paying to advertise using that particular phrase, and how competitive that term is.
This is where the research comes in. Now, this subject is huge, and I do not plan to go into great detail, because there are other people specializing in this area, some of which are excellent. As far as I am concerned, this is by far the most technically demanding part of making money with a blog, and I personally hate doing it – but, it is a necessary step in the process. This is my first recommendation
To learn how to do effective keyword research, go download this piece of free software – Market Samurai
Sign up and follow their video lessons. After 12 days, you need to pay a fee of $97 to continue to use it – trust me – it is well worth the investment and will save you countless hours of time.
Step two – Buying a domain name (your website) and hosting it
Let’s stick with haircareshampoo.com. We have decided that this would be a good name to sell haircare products. Whether we are going to actually sell our own product, use google advertising, sell affiliate products or sell banner ads really makes no difference here. Go to Bluehost or Host Gator or Yahoo! Web Hosting – (Save 25% on your first 3-months of hosting service)and use their search facility to see if that name is available by clicking on the button that says “start domain search” and filling in the word “haircareshampoo,” and seeing if it is available. If it is (which this one is not) you then need to open an account, and buy both the domain and hosting from them. I prefer their unlimited hosting packages, but of you are on a tight budget, get whichever is affordable for you.
Step Three – Setting up your blog and installing it
This is one of the reasons why I like both Bluehost and Host Gator. To do this step – phone their customer service department, tell them you want to install a WordPress blog and ask them to talk you through the process, which they will do. In ten minutes flat, you will have your own WordPress blog set up and ready to storm the blogosphere with. What I will say is – if you have chosen a different hosting company, make sure they have one click installations for WordPress.
There are dozens of other platforms out there, but I heartily recommend WordPress and would not use anything else. Next part is to optimize your WordPress installation, and the easiest, most time effective way of doing so is to go to Semiologic, buy their software and ask them to install it for you. One issue facing a first time blogger is the massive amount of options available to you. Semiologic will take care of most of these – all within one piece of software.
I have wasted countless hours of my time trying to find the perfect look and/or position for one stupid little piece of text or ad placement. With this software – the instructions are simple, easy to follow and they have a pretty good customer service response. I say “pretty good” because this is a three-man band, not a great big corporation. Also – this comes with a fantastic piece of software that allows you to “clone ” a setup. So, once you have one blog that is working well for you – you can buy another domain and clone that one in a few minutes with all the ads in place. This is hands down the best blogging software on the planet.
This is also a brilliant piece of software for setting up a static website rather than a blog. It gets found by the search engines, is very flexible and inexpensive. Once you have it, you can use it on as many websites as you wish and update it with one click as the software evolves. This blog and all my other blogs are semiologic wordpress blogs, and have more than enough custom options to satisfy just about anyone – and you can take it from me that you are far better off spending your time researching, writing and promoting your work than you are pissing around trying to make the “perfect” look.
So, now you have a domain name, software installed and ready to go, and are looking at the metaphorical blank piece of paper that is in your blog – the post editing page.
Step Four- writing something
Back to keyword research again. Now – this next part will, to an extent, depend on your writing abilities. Me? I can turn out witty, informative content at the drop of a hat, and base it around my chosen keywords. But – I know plenty of people who cannot and still manage to make money from it. So – you need to go back to Market Samurai, do some research on search terms surrounding your chosen domain name and start writing. Depending on your writing skills – you may need to farm this out, buy content and edit to suit your requirements.
Either way, you will need some content for your blog and well researched, witty, informative content that does not quite answer the question your search engine traffic asked is the best type of content for contextual advertising click throughs and well researched witty informative product reviews that do fully answer the question and recommend a product you have advertised is the best type of content for affiliate sales. So – yes, you will need to do some more work here. Assuming you have followed the first three steps, you now have a well-researched domain name, search engine optimized software and good quality content. The keywords you have determined you are going to use will need to go in the content of the article, the tags on the post, and be used as anchor text to create incoming links. If you do not know what a tag or anchor text is – don’t worry – you will do by the time you have set up a blog and started. Now the next, and perhaps the most crucial step:
Step Five – promoting your site
This is another one that requires work or money. Or both. Much as I would love to say that if you write informatively, it will automatically get found and picked up by the search engines – this is not always true. Sadly, some of the best content I have ever written has never been read because I failed to research the subject properly or discovered later that the subject was so competitive I could never rank well for it.
Think of the search engines as an “online popularity contest,” and you will be thinking correctly. And the way many of them measure it is incoming links from other web sites. So – you need to get out there and find some incoming links. If your content is good, some of these will grow “organically,” but by far your best approach is to make some of that happen. I use a couple of pieces of software for some basic link building, but I also manually generate links as well.. So – you need to go pay these people for incoming links. Which sux – and I hate it – but, I am a realist also. No incoming links means no winning the popularity contest which means no money….. Link building is vital. I will say that again and in bold – no incoming links from other websites equals no traffic equals no money.
Ways to generate some incoming links:
Edit – I have removed a list of blog networks that have recently been deindexed or devalued. Sadly – the owners did not maintain any quality standards and they left a big footprint. Please contact me for an introduction to a guest blogging network if your ethos is “quality and value” in your link building.
You must also generate some incoming links from other sources.
Generating links from other sources
Making them yourself
There are several blogging and article sites that allow you to set up a free blog or account a post articles with links in to your own sites. These include WordPress.com, Blogger.com, hubpages, ezine articles and numerous others. This is a basic starting list, and if you use just these you will be getting a good start:
- Hubpages. Hubpages is an article posting site/social networking venue. It is not a blogging platform. This site has high visiblity with the search engines and I use it extensively.You can also make money here on the articles you post, as they offer a revenue sharing advertising model.
- WordPress.com. You can set up as many free blogs as you wish here. I have dozens and use them to write brief articles with links to my paying sites. The software looks very like the software you will be running your blogs on and is therefore extremely easy to use.
- Blogger. Once again – as many free blogs as you like and I have several which I use solely to generate incoming links.
- Ezine articles. This is an article directory that ranks well with the search engines also and allows you to link back to your own site. Free to join and use.
There are many other places to do this, but this is an excellent beginning. If you use all of these, combined with the automatic links, you will be well under way to making money blogging.
Other ways of generating links:
- Write really fantastic content that people enjoy reading. They will like it so much, they will link to it. This is actually my preferred way of generating incoming links. But – you need a basis in the first place for people to find you.
- Ask people for a link. You can email other people, tell them you have a great site and ask for links. This is less practical if you do not have great content, or are completely new with no ranking at all. But – it never hurts to ask. If you go this route – ask related sites to link to you. At places like hubpages and the keyword academy, which both have forums, you are going to bump into people who also need links and arrange exchanges.
- Comment on other people’s blogs. Do not make stupid spammy comments like “thx for the article.” If you go this route, make respectful comments that contribute something to the discussion.
- Buy links. I have never done this myself because when I started blogging there was so much stuff in the internet about sites being blocked or punished by google for doing so, that I was unsure whether it works or not. Try this at your own peril. I did try a link exchange program which generated link on one of my outgoing pages in exchange for a bunch of incoming links from other sites. It did not work.
Step Six – Making money from your blog
With this model of blogging (and there are plenty of others) you are going to need to have advertising – which can be of a variety of types. Contextual google ads (or some other provider), which pay based on visitors to your blog clicking on advertising, products for sale which pay a commission based on a percentage of the sale value, or banner ads that pay on the amount of impressions shown. Google adsense is probably the most widely used, and you may well end up using a comination of these.
This is a basic list, but you must open an account (if you do not already have one) with at least one of these type of advertising providers unless you are planning to sell banner advertising directly to a potential advertiser. You may,of course, choose to use a combination of these.
- Google adsense. Contextual ads based on the content of your pages using a pay per click/impression model.
- Clickbank. Affiliate sales model paying a commission based on the value of the sale. Wide range of products and a good reputation.
- DoubleClick. This is google’s affiliate program.
- Commission junction. Affiliate commissions.
- Amazon. Affiliate commissions.
- Pay Dot Com – Probably the best on this list of affiliate products. An awful lot of products many of which are rip offs, but some good ones in there.
Google adsense is by far the most popular advertising model, but depending on your audience, you may want to combine it with one of more of these others. Other possible options include, but are not limited to:
- selling a product. If you are selling a product, then I have to assume that you already know the product you are going to sell. Whether you are making the product yourself or a reseller, you must then determine what search terms are being used by people interested in that product and buy a domain name that is appropriate.
- selling advertising space using banner ads. Same story here.
So to recap, these are the steps needed:
- Research domain name using Market Samurai.
- Arrange hosting and buy domain – Bluehost is here – Best Web Hosting Plan! 300 GB Space, 3,000 GB Bandwidth – only $6.95/mo! and Host Gator is here – Link Directly to Shared Web Hosting Page
- Install basic WordPress and then buy Semiologic WordPress blogging software and have it installed for you
- Research and write content
- Generate incoming links
- Monetize your blog
- Spend the money you are now making on whatever you want to spend your money on. More domains if you are anything like the rest of us.
Next question – What will this cost me to setup?
- Keyword research software – $97
- Domain name and hosting – $8 per month to host as many domains as you wish and your first one is usually free
- WordPress – Free
- Semiologic software to optimize wordpress – $295 (the best $295 I ever spent)
- Joining affiliates – Free
Total cost for one year (one domain only) – $1,052
This will not need to be paid out all in one go – with the exception of Market Samurai and semiologic, these are available as a monthly payment, but these are the basic running costs of setting up money making blogs and of course, if you set up more than one (as you are likely to do) the running costs are split between several blogs.
Next logical question – How much money will I make?
How long is a piece of string? To a certain extent, this depends on how much work you are willing to put in, how well you learn the keyword lessons and that indefinable element – luck. What I have given here is the basics of how to make money blogging. There are other ways of monetizing a blog, and there are other approaches that can be just as profitable. But this is a tried and tested method, and I can promise that if you follow these instructions, you will make a profit.
Do not, unless Lady Luck steps in and gives you a hand, expect to become rich overnight. And do not make the mistake of thinking that there is no work involved. Certainly the tools I have recommended will get you started faster and more profitably than just by setting up a blog and going for it with your eyes closed. It took me three years to learn what I could have learned using Market Samurai three months. And I spent more hours than I care to remember trying to get WordPress to do the things that Semiologic can make it do.
My most successful blog makes around $1,500 per month, and my least successful around $40 a month – discounting the disasters that I don’t want to talk about.
Good luck !
Last Edit date – April 2012