You don’t need to invest years of labor to create blogs that make money, but you do need to follow a plan. If you can learn by other peoples mistakes, you can monetize a website or blog and earn money while you sleep very quickly.
Happily, it’s a very simple plan which doesn’t require some of the strange SEO techniques you often hear about.
Step 1: Setup Your Blog
This step doesn’t require much discussion—there are thousands of articles, tutorials, and videos which show you how to setup a blog on one of the major blogging platforms, such as WordPress. This site also has a number of great tutorials about how to build a WordPress website from scratch with videos included.
I do encourage you to avoid spending too much time tweaking the technical settings in your blog. Internet readers see dozens or hundreds of different blogs every day, from low-quality homebrew sites to amazing professional sites, but the only thing they tend to remember in the long term is how informative the site was. Good sites always have good content, and little else matters.
Step 2: Blogs That Make Money Publish Often
Almost all blogs that make money make their money from content—that is, blog posts. The more blog posts you have, the more opportunity you have to make money.
That doesn’t mean you should publish low-quality junk. The goal should be to publish useful information as frequently as possible.
Note that once you have an established readership, they’re going to expect new posts on a regular schedule, so it’s no good for you to burn yourself out writing post after post in the first few weeks or months after establishing your blog—but you should make your best effort to publish as often as you can.
A great way to publish extra articles to your blog without creating an expectation of frequent publishing is the submarine post—this is a lower quality post you publish without promoting to the front page or main RSS feed, so the search engines can pick it up but your regular readers don’t see it.
Again, I don’t recommend that you deliberately write or buy lower quality posts, but I also know from personal experience that not every post will turn out as interesting as you initially hoped it would.
You can use submarine posts to make a brand new blog look authoritative—just back date the initial set of posts to make it look like your blog has been active for a few weeks or months. I suggest every new blog launch with about 10 posts already published. I also do the opposite on an old blog by revamping old posts and re-publishing them as new. This works a treat and ensures you make the most out of your posts and evergreen content.
Step 3: Choose Your Business Model
All blogs that make money have a business model. Some early for-profit bloggers may have been lucky and stumbled upon a working business model, but in today’s competitive online industry, you need a solid plan to make money before you start investing your valuable time.
The solid plan doesn’t need to be complicated.
Here are the three most common types of blogs that make money:
1. Blogs that make money through advertisements are probably the most common but least profitable. They’re super-easy to set up, but you need a lot of traffic to make them profitable.
2. Blogs that make money through affiliate commission are probably the next most common, and there’s potential for significant income, but you need to find an audience which buys either high-price/low-margin items (such as high-end technology from Amazon.com) or high-margin items (such as independent ebooks).
3. Blogs that make money from list marketing are less common but can make the most money. The challenge for a blog is to get random visitors to sign up for your mailing list, Twitter feed, or Facebook page so you can market products to them.
If you are creating an authority website then all of the above can be put to good use.
Step 4: Find Your Partners
It’s possible to rank for long-tail keywords on Google and other search engines today simply by publishing keyword-optimized blog posts relevant to those long-tail keywords—but it’s easier and better for your blogs that make money if you start collecting incoming links as early as possible.
Although there are hundreds of somewhat-scammy techniques for link building and at least a dozen or so legitimate link building techniques, such as guest posting, the easiest and best way to get links is to actually talk to other bloggers and people in your niche.
You don’t have to talk in person—something quite rare in the blogosphere—but you should start posting informative comments on their blogs and maybe sending them news and other useful information by email.
Don’t spam them, of course, but do try to build up goodwill gradually and hint at the fact that you have a blog. If they appreciate your help and they enjoy your blog, they will almost certainly link to your blog not just once but repeatedly over the course of several months.
Just remember to return the favor and link back to them whenever you get the chance.
Step 5: Try One New Technique A Month
Many blogs that fail to make money follow a sad progression: they launch, they publish a few posts, they try a bunch of SEO techniques, and then they fade away with less and less frequent posts. I have seen them come and go over the years, believe me. Some blogs I noticed and admired as a true competitor in my niche, but sadly not many still stand.
The problem here is the focus on SEO techniques. Search Engine Optimization is a good thing for your blog, but you should be very careful using any technique you haven’t mastered. Think about it: would you want your doctor practicing a new surgery technique on you? If not, why should you do virtual surgery on your blog without mastering the procedure first?
This is why I have SEOPressor (a WordPress plugin) watching over me. This is my expert on the side telling me if I am implementing the right mix of SEO into my content.
This is also why I recommend that you limit major changes to your blog to once a month. Not only does this give you time to learn the new technique, but it also helps you focus on the number one way to get more traffic—writing more blog posts.
There’s another benefit too—if you can only implement one major change to your blog each month, you’ll probably focus on the most effective technique and you’ll spend the month mastering that highly-effective technique and getting the most out of it before moving on to a less effective technique.
The Final Step: Learn About Your Customers
Depending on which business model you use, your customers could be people who click on ads, people who buy commissioned products, or people who sign up for your mailing list. But whoever your customers are, it’s critical to building blogs that make money that you learn more about them.
The more you know about your customers, the better you can serve them—and the better you can serve them, the more they and people like them will visit your site.
There are many ways to learn more about your customers:
• For advertising-based sites: put up an advertisement on your own site to a survey. (You can increase the survey response rate by entering respondents into a drawing for a prize.)
• For affiliate-based sites, you can offer a free ebook or other product to anyone who emails you a copy of their receipt from buying a product through your site’s affiliate link. When you reply to the email, ask them to answer a few questions about themselves. (Warning: you probably don’t want to use a contest to collect affiliate information—some countries such as the U.S. have anti-gambling laws which complicate contests involving sales.)
• For newsletter based sites, learning more about your customers is easy—run a search on their email addresses or send them a personal email asking them to fill out a quick survey. (Again, you probably want to attract more responses by offering some sort of freebie in exchange for filling out the survey.)
Although the whole survey process may seem complicated and unnecessary, just think of how you can use that additional and definitive information about your customers to build more blogs that make money.
I have been making money online with WordPress websites for years now but I always look back with regret about how long it took me to actually start making a full time income online. The problem was, I thought there was some big secret about creating money making blogs. I was always searching for the best way and unfortunately ignored the basic simple knowledge I already possessed.