The Internet is littered with blogs. There’s probably well in excess of 200 million by now. Old, abandoned blogs that have run out of steam where the writer has run out of ideas. Amongst those millions of blogs are a few that really make money for their owners (maybe as little as 10% of all the blogs on the Internet). With such a high failure rate, it’s worth knowing a few cardinal rules before you start trying to make money from your own blog, to make sure you don’t fail too.
Why do most blogs fail to make money?
Mostly it is because the writer’s approach to blogging is all wrong. To ensure your blog is successful you need to get these 4 things right from the get-go.
- Your Time and Commitment
- It needs to have Original Content
- You need to Invest in your Blog
- Treat it as a Business, not a Pastime
Your Time and Commitment
When most bloggers start, they think they can make some fast easy money by blogging, but nothing could be farther from the truth. They think blogging is a way to make money on the side from their full time job and that this money will be easy to come by. It will just fall into their lap. Magazines have told them that bloggers make $$$$$ from the internet and they can do it too. That’s basically BS.
What that in fact leads to is that the novice blogger doesn’t take their blog seriously enough. They don’t give it the time and commitment that it needs, they just pop in every now and again when they’ve got nothing else to do and write any old junk, just to add content. That doesn’t work if you want to make a living out here.
To be successful in writing a blog to earn money, you need to have commitment to the job (for that’s what it is) and also you need to dedicate time to it. Good posts need to be researched. You should always write with intent and make sure that what you are writing about is actually being searched for in Google. Don’t just write about what you are thinking on any particular day, try to write so you are answering questions or solving people’s problems.
You need to post regularly to your blog too. It builds momentum and attracts traffic as Google realises the blog is a ‘live’ one and ranks you higher because of it. You define what ‘regular‘ means to you, based on your own schedule and time, but as a rule you should be posting twice or three times per week as a very minimum. If you’re posting three times a week you’ll soon see your visitor count rise.
This is what happens to your traffic when you post regularly:
Impressions up from 150 to 750 per day. Clicks up from 2 to 31 per day. This was all due to adding 11 posts in September 2019.
You should aim to have at least 1,000 words in each blog post. Writing 1,000 words might seem a tall order to start with, but you don’t have to do it all in one session. Split it up into smaller chunks and it doesn’t seem such a big deal. This post is about 1,650 words and took me about a couple of hours to write.
Google will see your site pretty quickly, but won’t give it any gravity until you prove that the blog is actually worth something. That means writing quality content. This takes time, so don’t make the mistake of expecting success straight away. Chances are a new blog and associated posts will appear down on page 8 of Google for your target keywords and won’t improve much until relevance and trust is established.
It needs to have Original Content
Google hates copied content (plagiarism). If Google detects that a post you have written is a copy of something else that already exists in it’s index, it will treat it as plagiarism and that post may be ranked a lot lower in the search rankings, and maybe dropped altogether from the index. Your site will suffer a dent to it’s reputation and trust, which may take ages to get back, if you achieve it at all. If you persist in copying, Google might dump your entire website. That would be disastrous for your business.
There’s nothing wrong with researching a subject and using information you’ve found elsewhere, but please don’t copy great chunks of content from other websites and pass it off as your own. Quotes are allowable, but a duplicate article will always be frowned upon and marked down accordingly.
Avoid things like Word Spinners which rewrite existing content. The search engines are wise to that these days too and you’ll get a big black mark by trying to paraphrase other people’s content as your own. Not cool.
If you are writing for a niche (and you should be), try typing questions into Google based around your niche and keywords. See what Google suggests as alternatives to your question. This is what real people are searching for. Take those suggestions and expand them to provide the skeleton to hang your content on. Try to answer your own question. Before you know it you’ll have ideas for another few posts based around the original search query.
You need to Invest in Your Blog
Anyone can start a blog and they can do it for free with WordPress and other blogging platforms. My own thoughts on free are that if you do this, you don’t have ‘skin in the game’. You aren’t truly committed to your blog unless you’ve paid for your domain name and your hosting package. It needn’t be expensive, but investing gives you motivation, like taking a monthly gym subscription.
Watch an investment program like ‘Dragons Den’ or ‘Shark Tank’ and the investors want to know that the pitchers at least have a financial stake in their own fledgeling businesses. Why would an investor throw their money at an unknown business when the owner won’t even invest in it themselves?
Skin in The Game is important and shows a minimum level of commitment by you in your own product.
If you start a blog as a hobby, it’s almost inevitable that you won’t make any money from it. You won’t take it seriously and you won’t invest your time and money in it.
If you are just starting up, please invest in some good training for yourself. Writing a blog sounds very easy on the surface and you might be tempted to just start writing and learn from your mistakes as you go, but it slows you down and can dent your confidence. There are specific techniques to learn to get the most of your blog and how your visitors react to it. By training, you’ll learn best practise and avoid the early pitfalls that could come back to bite you later.
Excellent and spcialised training is available at Wealthy Affiliate. They’ll host your blog for you (you get two free sub-domain type blogs) and also show you how to structure your posts and develop a strategy. This blog started as a result of the free training I took (and continue to take) at Wealthy Affiliate. You can also buy domains from them and they’ll handle all the back up and security aspects of your website. They also issue a free SSL certificate for you making your blog more secure (this will help you with Google too).
You can join Wealthy Affiliate now for free (just click the link to read the detailed review first). Not all the training is free though, but this is one method of investing in your blog that will have a positive psychological effect. You’ll have that ‘skin in the game’ by investing in your training. My advice is to do the free training at Wealthy Affiliate and then once you’re confident in it’s value, move onto the advanced Premium Training. It’s worth every penny and will make a huge difference to your projects. Read my Wealthy Affiliate Review 2019 here.
Treat it as a Business, not a Pastime
Making money is a business. The sooner you treat it as such, the sooner you’ll be successful. If you want to make money online, please don’t treat it as a hobby, approach it as if it is going to be your main job and income source (even if it won’t be to start with).
Having this professional approach will also give you confidence in yourself. You hold your head a little higher and aren’t timid about telling people what you do for a living. Hell, even get some business cards printed if you want to!
Get yourself a brand. This can be done simply by creating a logo that you will be recognised from. You can create your logo yourself using programs such as Canva, or go to Fiverr.com and get someone else to come up with one for you based on your brief. Again, this all counts as investment in your blog. Use the logo on all of your sites, your social media accounts and YouTube channel (if you have one).
If possible, start a separate bank account for your online endeavours, so that you can keep your personal money and your business money apart. This will make it very easy to see whether your blog and online activities are successful and also help prepare for any tax liabilities you may be due to pay from your income (I know, Boooooo, but it’s the only thing certain in life apart from Death, and we don’t want that yet).
There is no real need or advantage to start a Limited Company (in the UK) or an LLC (in the US) at this stage. You can trade quite happily as a sole-trader without worrying about it at the start. If the numbers get scarily big later on (and that’s the object of this after all), you can form a company quite quickly and easily with very little money, probably less than 100 $/£. It’s entirely up to you.
If you act like a Business person, you will become one. Treat it like you are a successful entrepreneur already. Now go smash it!