How to Start a Blog That Makes Money
Here’s how to have a blog that makes money. As with virtually everything else in Internet marketing having a blog that makes you money is a combination of the two main Internet marketing ingredients; targeted traffic and a good, compelling offer. You can start your blog for free using blogger or one of the other free blogging platforms out there, but I don’t recommend it for two main reasons.
The first reason that I would eschew free blogging platforms, such as Blogger, is that when your blog is hosted on Blogger, the domain, traffic and content is theirs, not yours. Google, who owns Blogger, really doesn’t need any more free hands up, do they?
The second reason that you should steer clear of free blog hosting platforms when you’re building your blog empire business is that, because of the first reason, you’re not building your business, you’re actually helping to build someone else’s.
The first thing you should do when starting a blog that you hope will bring in a healthy income for you one day is actually plan things out. That’s right; you should actually sit down for a few hours and make a business plan. That will help make sure you don’t miss any of the details you’ll need to be successful. Be sure you include everything, such as what the main theme of your blog will be, the monetization strategies you’ll use, a financial plan, a growth plan, and an oft forgotten part of many business plans, the exit strategy.
Most highly successful blogs are tightly themed. That means they focus closely on a certain subject or niche, such as local residential real estate, working from home income techniques, ’60’s muscle cars, or needlepoint. This focus will help you build a core base of loyal readers and subscribers. These are very important for the immediate and long term success of your blog. In addition, having a large, vibrant subscriber list adds a large amount of value to your blog should you want to sell it. If you’re having trouble choosing a theme, look for one with a large profit potential. There will be more on this later.
Decide on what you’ll call your blog and get your own domain name. These are very affordable, and will help you sidestep the problems of using a free hosting platform. You will own the domain and will be free to do with it as you please. You blog will actually be an asset that you control.
The next decision you’ll have to make is what blogging platform you’ll use. The two largest are Movable Type and WordPress. WordPress is open source, meaning basically it’s free. Because it’s open source, many developers freely create things for WordPress, so there are a huge number of add-ons, widgets, templates, and plugins available for it. You can even publish your WordPress blog from your iPhone now!
Movable type is not open source, but you may still be able to get it free, as many web hosting companies offer it as part of the hosting package. It too has many different things available to enhance the functionality and appearance of blogs published with it. I’ve used both frequently. You can have many fantastic, and profitable blogs with either publishing system.
So you’ve got your blog up and you’re posting to it with reckless abandon. How can you make some money for your efforts? That’s sort of a balancing act. You want to blog about a topic that interests you, or keeping up an aggressive posting schedule will become very difficult. You also want to blog about a topic that is profitable, or you won’t make any money.
To help find what blog subjects can earn you some decent profits, head to Google and see what keywords are going for these days. Use the free Google keyword tool in Google Adwords. You can type in keywords and keyword phrases and the tool will show an estimate of cost per click that advertisers are willing to pay for ads targeting a given keyword or phrase, and an idea of the number of advertisers that are advertising using them.
Keywords that are relatively expensive and have substantial competition mean that many advertisers are willing to pay fairly large amounts of money for those keywords. In theory that means that there is profit to be made by creating content that features those keyword phrases.
Remember that it is only an idea, and there are two schools of thought on earning money from your blog. You can try to find a narrow niche with little competition, and dominate it. The other approach is to head to a very large, but profitable niche and try to get enough traffic to skim some profit from the niche. Basically you’ll either a small fish in an ocean, or a large fish in a pond. There are successful bloggers using both strategies.
Next you’ll want to decide on a monetization strategy for your blog. In most cases you’ll use a combination of them to bring home the bacon. The three main strategies are:
1) Sales of your own products or services
2) Affiliate marketing
3) Advertising. This is usually contextual advertising, but some bloggers are successful with other forms, such as banner ads.
With affiliate marketing you’ll be paid a commission for referring a visitor to a company’s site. If the person you referred does the desired action you’ll earn your commission. In the majority of cases the desired action means the visitor buys something, or fills out a lead form.
Contextual advertising automatically places ads on your site that are targeted to your site by the context of your site. The ad publishers have algorithms that look at your blog and decide which of their advertiser’s ads would best go with your blog’s content. In most cases, you’re then paid a percentage of the advertising fee when one of your visitors clicks on the link in the ad. This is known as pay per click advertising. The leader is this is Google, with their AdWords / AdSense program.
To have a blog that makes money, you need to have targeted traffic, the more the better. That is largely a function of the content. A large amount of good, original content (not content scraped form other blogger’s RSS feeds). Some on page search engine optimization techniques won’t hurt either, but good, high quality content will get you both search engine visitors, and repeat traffic from people that just want to read your stuff.
Make sure you target the proper keywords in your posts and post titles. You’re looking for profitable keywords that have relatively low competition. By optimizing for words and phrases people are actively searching for, you’ll do better in the search engine rankings, and you’ll be giving your readers exactly what they were looking for. That double whammy is a true recipe for blog money making success.