This is part two of an article, see part one here
“How Do Bloggers Make Money”
In part one we discussed the three general paths that most bloggers follow in the pursuit of monetizing their sites, and in part two we’re continuing to answer the question of “how do bloggers make money.”
As I outlined, there is one clear path to the fast track and which makes more money in less time than the others, and costs less on top of it all. That may seem counter-intuitive because, well, you have to spend some money to get Forever Affiliate, a good host like HostGator, and the things we outline on our Blogging Tools page. But having tried the free and ‘on my own‘ route, and hearing other bloggers tell their own stories, its clear that you must spend some money or you can forget it. And in the end, the “free” route isn’t free after all because it takes too long to make money (refer to part one) and we all end up spending money on “stuff” anyway (I’ve been there).
Now we’re going to discuss what it takes to succeed at its basic level. You need visitors, you need content that those visitors enjoy or find useful, and you need to offer products or services that inspire clicks and convert.
Visitors (Traffic) – What is a blog without someone to read it? How do bloggers make money without traffic? They don’t. I list this at the top of the priorities list because of two things. 1) As I stated previously, without traffic it doesn’t matter how awesome your blog is. Your family and friends may enjoy it, but that’s all. Traffic is everything for a money blogger [though traffic is a relative term, as you’ll read later]. 2) It takes some time to rank well in the search engines and to generate organic traffic. With that in mind its pointless to spend all of your time building a massive and robust blog and THEN try to optimize for and draw traffic to your “site.” This site is still new and doesn’t have lots of content, but what I put up is ranking pretty quickly.
What am I talking about? Simply create each post or page as it if stands on its own. After all, Google is ranking your pages or posts, not your site. (I’ll clarify below) A site is just an empty bucket, the pages are what fill it. Find any blog out there and analyze the strength of its posts/pages. You’ll find that some are winners and other are wieners. One winner won’t propel your “site” to the top of the list, and one bad post or page won’t kill your site. However, what matters is the individual post… if you write it well and optimize it for search engine rankings then that page will draw the traffic for the keywords you targeted even if there are no other pages on your blog.
Hogwash you say? I have plenty of Squidoo pages ranked #1 – #10 on Google for their keywords, and they are just internal pages of a site. Some of my Squidoo articles have PR 5 or 6. Like this article on paracord bracelet patterns, which has a PR 5 and ranks #1 for several related keywords and sits high on page 2 for the keyword paracord bracelet, a very competitive keyword which draws 27,000 monthly page visits. Some blogs have inner pages which are ranking for targeted keywords better than the home page. Think about it like this, when you search for “paracord bracelet patterns” you see MY PAGE at number 1, not Squidoo.com.
Build pages/posts that rank on their own two feet, not a behemoth site for the site’s sake. Update: since writing this I’ve created a new blog and relocated that article…. within one week I’m back on page 2 of serps for the relatively competitive keyword on my own, brand new )non-aged blog. Each page DOES rank on it’s own merits, period. I lost all my social signals and backlinks, started essentially over and the article once again shot to the top of the rankings. I love SEOPressor!
Some bloggers are tempted to build the perfect blog, so they write post after post, fiddling with SEO, plug-ins, reading, studying, etc… without ever ranking a single page. Set up your blog properly, right away and quickly (see our guide on “How To Start Blogging” and leave the stress behind) and then start to work, one article at a time. Of course my premise is based on organic traffic based blogs; if you’re into spending money for PPC (Pay Per Click) traffic then by all means, build your robust site first (but PPC is silly in my opinion when something like Forever Affiliate exists). When you do too much, worry needlessly on small details, you get overwhelmed, and like Max over at BigVisionBusiness says “You get overwhelmed because you get so focused on everything that’s happening right now that you lose sight of the bigger picture. Have you ALWAYS been ok in the bigger picture? Yes you have. So zoom out for a moment and take a breath.”
When you build solid pages/posts the traffic will come, I promise; and quicker than you might think. After I wrote that Squidoo lens I that referred to earlier it was ranked #1 within 3 months! That one article makes me $100+ each and every month, probably closer to $200 if you include the Amazon Affiliate sales I get from it. I still prefer owning my own blogs because Squidoo can change the rules as they see fit at anytime (and has), without notice, blocking or even deleting articles it doesn’t like. Spending most of your time on a site that you don’t own isn’t the smartest, which I’ve learned recently and which is why I’m a Money Blogger now. I still write at Squidoo on occasion and maintain my Giant Squid and Squid Angel status, but most of my efforts are now on my own web properties.
How Do Bloggers Make Money?
Diversify And Always Write
Content That Matters – The very first thing that needs to be said is that bad content WILL KILL YOUR BLOG, as quick as almost anything. Why? Because 1) Google isn’t stupid and their new algorithms are quite capable of telling when content is just BS and when its relevant. If you’re trying to rank for sweet potato french fries and your content is more about playing golf, well, forget about search rankings. Don’t write crap and never (NEVER) use spun or copied articles. 2) Google and search engines measure something called Bounce Rate, which measures how many visitors leave after only viewing the page they landed on, instead of clicking on through your site. Side note: Google also measures the CTR (or Click Through Rate), which is the measure of visitors who click on one of your links… a good thing compared to just closing the browser and leaving your site, which Google considers a bad sign.
When you have poor content, visitors leave and leave quickly. Google knows and will eventually drop you like a brick in the search rankings, effectively killing your page, and possibly your site. 3) Finally, if you want to survive in this business you better treat your readers right. If they check out your page and realize its crap, not only will they not share your site on social sites, you will NEVER see them again and they may well write badly of you in relevant forums and discussions. After all, if they landed on your site you must have similar interests, and so likely share the same types of blogs you visit.
But here’s the big finale as it relates to content. Why would you even think about ranking for sweet potato french fries when you’re really selling golf clubs? That’s a silly example, but you get the point. Your content needs to be a pinpoint match for your keywords so that you know you’re getting interested visitors. But even more important still, on the matter of content, is that you want to write and rank for keywords that drive traffic which is interested in buying or solving a problem. Would you rather have a visitor who is searching for the history of Spanish rice, or someone looking for affordable organic Spanish rice? Clearly the latter is in a buying mindset. So find keywords for motivated readers and write the content tailored for them. Oh, one last finale, when you write awesome content people WILL share it and others may even write about it on their sites, referring to something you wrote, which gets you added traffic and possibly back-links.
Product Or Service Offerings – What would YOU do if you’re searching for “affordable organic Spanish rice” and landed on a site which talks about the “history of Spanish rice” and has ads for the latest iPhone? You would probably leave and keep searching. So make sure your content and keywords are targeting the same readers who might be interested in what you’re promoting or recommending. The only exception is if you’re strictly an Adsense blogger (they use Google Adsense PPC banners almost exclusively), but seriously, the people who do that are mostly diary writers (love to write their opinions) who consider monetizing their blog more of a hassle than anything. Besides, unless you’re competing for really high PPC keywords that earn $8 per click, (which is a silly and needless fight since Forever Affiliate is now available), you most likely can expect .25 – $1 or so per click on an Adsense ad (with a 1 to 2 % click rate, you do the math).
To me Adsense ads are too much of an enticement to leave my site, an easy to find exit button, which brings me little relative return. I do use Adsense sparingly in some cases, but here on Money Blogger you won’t find it. I would MUCH rather place a generic banner ad like the one you see on the right, advertising Amazon deals and special offers. Everyone shops at Amazon because they simply rock. When a visitor is looking for a quick exit because they aren’t really liking what they see on my site, I’d rather them hop to Amazon where they might go ahead and buy something they’ve been wanting, or place it in their cart, and where I get 8% commission or so on average. People know and trust Amazon so it’s an almost fail-safe exit button when using the Goldbox Deals widget like I do here.
And at the bottom of this blog I just tucked in a CyberChimps banner as another exit button, because most bloggers have seen and heard of CyberChimps and its the themes that I use myself on ALL of my blogs because its SEO gold and is responsive for mobile visitors. My hope is that visitors wanting to leave might just click on it when they reach the bottom and want to leave. See a theme in my recommendations? I use the products myself, and I know price matters… to both of us. I’m no penny pincher but I know there’s a price/performance line and I don’t cross it… at some point you’re spending money needlessly.
Finally, make sure your ads are “directly” relevant to your keyword audience. Ask yourself if the ads solve a problem or need that a majority of your visitors have, and ask yourself how well it solves that problem or need (it’s all relative to cost). And I really find it difficult to recommend something if I haven’t used it myself. Plus, it makes reviewing the product much easier. Take HostGator for example; I truly 100% believe they are the absolute best for every blogger. And I truly do have an active paid hosting account at HostGator, Go Daddy and others. I have used and paid for them so my review and opinion is relevant and matters. That’s not to say you can’t recommend things you haven’t used, I’m just saying, be considerate of what you say and write, and don’t mislead your visitors (your new friends).
This has turned in to a longer post than I anticipated, so I’ll leave the rest for next time. Hopefully between the two parts of this article I’ve given you some new insights and answered the question of how do bloggers make money. I know this isn’t a comprehensive guide, nor the most in-depth; it wasn’t intended to be. We have a whole blog to cover it all. But I believe you get the points I was trying to make. Stay focused on what matters and the rest will work out.