OK, so there are a million and one different resources out there explaining how to make money online. Many of them are vague and repeat some mantra similar to “Follow your passion.” That’s all well and good, but that’s not very specific. I know the real trick, and I’m willing to share it with you. I’m going to break it down into 10 easy steps. Here they are:
1. Pick a niche that you’re knowledgeable about.
Some people might say this is your passion, but I say it’s just something you know a lot about. If you like it – that’s a bonus. If you know a lot about accounting, but want to be a pro pool player, you can blog about both. If you suck at pool, blog about accounting until you get better at pool.
2. Build content for that niche.
I find that this formula works really well:
- Write ten (well written) articles that focus on that niche. Make insightful posts (especially ones that are controversial). Controversial posts get a lot of readers and inbound links.
- Write two articles about your self and why you’re an expert in that niche. This will connect your readers to you. I find that if you put a photo of yourself on those posts, the traffic is much higher too.
- Write four guest posts similar to the original ten articles you wrote for the niche. It really helps if you ‘sum up’ the original ten articles across the four guest posts and link back to them.
3. Make a space online to publish that content.
This space can come in many forms (Facebook fan pages, Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress, etc). I prefer WordPress, but you aren’t limited to just that platform. If you don’t know anything about making websites, just start a website at WordPress.com and start publishing content. When you build that space, please, please, please change the default theme to something your readers will enjoy.
4. Schedule content for release.
The twelve articles you already wrote should be scheduled to come out on a regular basis: 3 a week for four weeks. It’s important to remember that these will not be your only posts, but they will make up the meat of your content. You can always post what you had for dinner last night, or some breaking news. Those ad-hoc posts are what give your blog a personality.
5. Drive traffic to your blog from related niche sites and blogs.
You should send you guest posts out to everyone in your niche once a week, so you have one guest post each week for four weeks. Those guest posts will be INSTRUMENTAL in generating traffic to your website. Make sure you also regularly comment on those peoples’ blogs as well. If they have a top commentators widget for their blog that doesn’t have “nofollow” attached to it, try to make it onto that list.
6. Use social media to build a following.
Use the following social media sites to drive traffic and build a following.
- I recommend you start a twitter account specifically for the blog. This will allow you to monitor that blog’s specific following as opposed to mixing them in with your main account. Use your main account to promote the blog if you have enough followers. You want to build your twitter followers as much as possible so that when you release new content on your blog, they’re getting it in their twitter feed.
- Start a Facebook fan page and promote the site to all of your friends. Use the same principles as you did with Twitter. Facebook’s traffic is much higher quality that Twitter, but a much lower volume. It’s harder to get fans, but when you do, they convert well.
- Submit every article that you write to Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon. Be sure to try and get them dugg as many times as possible, so ask all of your friends to digg/redd/stumble it.
7. Interact with your users.
Be sure to comment on your blog and respond to every @reply on twitter. Engaging users keeps them interested and makes them feel important (because they are!). Whenever someone comments on your blog, respond to them immediately – especially if they have something insightful to say.
Most people want to monetize their blog right away, but that’s a really bad idea. Ads tend to drive people away when they’re right there in their faces. My number one rule about monetization is: keep advertising off the site until 1000 unique hits a day. While you’re working your way up to 1000 uniques a day, try some LIGHT contextual advertising with affiliate links to products you talk about. Definitely do not do more than one affiliate link per post. That may even be too much, depending on your audience. Don’t do step 9 until you reach this point.
9. Get sponsors and have a contest.
Why did I say “don’t do step 9 until you reach [1000 uniques a day]”? Because you’ll have almost no chance of getting sponsors until you reach this point anyways. You can also host your own contests and eat the cost, but if you do, your investment and risk increases significantly. Do contests for other blog posts about your blog, comment contests, twitter contests, etc.
10. Repeat steps 2-10 once a month until you can move on to your true passion.
Using this method, you can usually spend about 2-3 days at the beginning of each month writing your posts that really build the meat of your blog. You can the slow release that content over time to give you a little more freedom. Be sure to fill in some of your posts with bleeding edge current news throughout the week.
This guide is a really basic way to make money from a blog, starting at concept, all the way through success. Many of these steps are expounded upon on my blog. There are definitely some great advanced concepts for driving traffic and building incredible blog posts. Write what you know about, give value, and be responsive. Notice that I didn’t even mention making money until step 8. If you jump the gun, you’ll piss off your readers, and your site will never take off. Have any questions? Put them in the comments or email me.
This has been a guest post by James Thompson of jtGraphic.