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Category: Income-Earning Ideas

Blogging for Profit – Part 6

For those of you who are just joining us, we’re talking about how you can make money through blogging. I encourage you to go here to read all of the previous installments in this series.

There are many different ways to offer advertising on your blog. We’ve talked about affiliate marketing, today we’re going to cover a well-known and widely-used money-making method, namely, Google Adsense.

Google Adsense is an advertising program which is easy-to-use, easy-to-sign-up-for, and easy-to-implement. Advertisers bid on search terms and how much they want to spend per day on advertising. You choose how you want your ads to look and you add code to your blog where you want the Google ads to show up. Once the code is added in, Google takes care of serving up relevant ads based upon the content of your blog and what advertisers have bid on.

To earn money with this program, your visitors just have to click on ads. Every time someone clicks on an ad, you earn a little money — usually somewhere between $0.05 and $1. It varies depending upon what the advertisers have bid. Obviously, the more traffic you have and the easier you make it for people to see and click on your ads, the more money you will earn.

When you have earned over $100, Google will cut you a check at the end of the month. At first, it can be slow going, but as you build up your traffic, the checks will start rolling in much more rapidly. I’ve been amazed at the potential in earnings just from this simple thing!

As with most advertising programs, while there are some great features, there are also some downsides. I think the biggest downside to Google Adsense is that you cannot control which ads are shown on your blog.

Google automatically pulls up relevant ads based upon your blog’s content. For many blogs, this is not a problem, but if you care about what ads are showing on your sidebar, you may sometimes find the ads Google believes to be relevant to be very non-relevant or even offensive to your audience.

For instance, my previous blog was an overtly conservative Christian blog. When I tested Google Adsense on there, many of the ads which were served up from Google were anti-Christian and ones I would not want to run. However, on this blog, since I mostly talk about saving money, I’ve not had a problem so far with any offensive ads pulling up–most have been quite relevant and helpful.

You can choose to block websites you don’t want advertising on your site, but this requires a lot of policing and a lot of work–something which probably isn’t worth your time. So, depending upon your blog’s content, Google Adsense could be a good thing or a bad thing.

Another downside is that you only get paid when you earn $100. If you have a very small blog, it could take you a year or more to actually get a check–and that could be rather disheartening! I recommend you test run Google Adsense on your blog for a few weeks and see how it goes. You might find you really like it and are earning well from it or you might find you don’t like the ads being shown and it is not really learning much for you.

I also encourage you to try having your AdSense ad blocks in various places on your blog. You can have up to three ad blocks per page, so experiment and learn what works best. I’ve found it very interesting that ad placement can make such a difference in earnings. Keep testing until you determine what works best for your blog and blog audience.

Have any of you had experience with Google Adsense? If so, what do you think of it?

Related: Pro-Blogger has a thorough post up on why you should use AdSense on your blog. It’s well worth your time.

Blogging for Profit – Part 5

There are a variety of methods to making money blogging and I’d advise you to try a number of them and figure out which works best for your market and audience.

Do try a number of methods and do constantly be looking for new ideas, but don’t try everything at once. Slowly experiment with a few at a time to see what your best results come from and always be tweaking things as you go along.

One of the easiest way to make money blogging is through affiliate programs. Affiliate programs are when you sign up to promote a product, get a special affiliate code or link to use when promoting that product, and then use that code to promote it. When someone clicks on a link or graphic on your blog with your special code on it and they place an order, you get a percentage of the sales.

There are literally hundreds of thousands of affiliate programs out there to choose from. Start with things you already have, love, and use. Add affiliate links in your sidebar to helpful books you’ve read which are along the lines of what you blog about. Consider an occasional product or book review. If you are going to link to a product or resource in a blog post, check first to see if the manufacturer’s of that product have an affiliate program so you can earn a little kickback for the free advertising you are giving them.

One thing to take note of though is that most affiliate programs have a pay-out level you need to reach before you actually get paid. For instance, many programs require you to $10 in affiliate sales before you’ll receive a check or Paypal payment. Having a payout level saves the affiliate program manager from spending lots of time sending out $0.50 checks. It also serves as an incentive for you, the affiliate, to produce more sales. This creates a win-win situation. To read more about affiliate programs and how to earn money with them, I check out The Affiliate Master’s Course which you can download here for free!

There are thousands of affiliate programs out there to sign up for. You can start with a place like Commission Junction which has hundreds of affiliate programs for all sorts of markets to choose from. Since all of the programs are through one main site, you don’t have to wait to be paid for each individual program; instead, you’ll be paid when you reach payout collectively.

Another of my favorites is to be an affiliate for Clickbank products. We sell our ebooks through Clickbank so if you have purchased any of them and would like to tell your friends about them, you can earn 66% by doing so! Clickbank has a payout level of $10, and requires you to have a few sales from two different types of payment options in the beginning to start getting paid (this is to reduce fraudulent orders). Read more about their payment rules here.

After you receive your initial payment, they send you a check faithfully every two weeks if you reach the payout level. I’ve used Clickbank for a few years as both an affiliate and selling my products through them and have received thousands of dollars worth of checks from them and been more than pleased with their program.

My best advice for making the most through them is to pick a few ebooks or downloadables that you really like and promote each of them at least once per month. Also, consider putting together your own ebook to promote through them (we’ll talk more about this later) and your earnings will really skyrocket.

A few other affiliate programs I have received checks from include: Logical Media, CashCrate, Cash4Books, Vision Forum, Refund Cents, and Ebates (earn $5 whenever anyone signs up under you–works well for blogs with larger readerships).

There are literally thousands of other affiliate programs. My best advice is to think of some of your favorite products which you’d like to promote on your blog and check their websites to see if they have an affiliate program. If they do have an affiliate program, when you recommend them on your blog, use an affiliate link and if anyone orders on your recommendation, you’ll receive a percentage of the order (usually somewhere between 5-20%).

Let me be quick to say that I think one of the best ways to actually see a good profit earned from affiliate links is to not overdo. A few strategically placed affiliate links (in posts every now and then) and a few on your sidebar (which you can rotate around and change every once in a while to keep things fresh) are much more effective than just throwing up 150 affiliate links all over the place on your blog page. Too many ads just clutter the page and could cause you to
lose readers.

In addition, use discernment and discretion when promoting an affiliate link. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable promoting something without an affiliate link, you likely shouldn’t promote something with an affiliate link. Developing a trust and loyalty from your readers is much more important than making a quick buck.

Those are just a few of my thoughts on affiliate programs. I’d love to hear from those of you who have used them in the past or currently use them. Which programs have worked well for you? Which ones have not worked? Tell us about it in the comments section.

Blogging for Profit – Part 4

Yesterday, I talked about making your blog more visitor-friendly. Today, I want to talk a bit about boosting your blog traffic. If you
want to make more than a few dollars a month blogging, increasing your
blog’s traffic and readership is the best way to do so.
 

1) Read Blog by Hugh Hewitt.
This is my number one recommendation to all bloggers, especially
beginning bloggers. Check your library if you’d rather not buy it.

2) Pick a topic.
The biggest impact Hewitt’s book had upon me was to pick a focus for my
blogs and to try and stay on track with those. When you come to this
blog, you have a good idea what you are going to get. I love blogging
and I love saving money, so meshing the two together into a blog called
MoneySavingMom was perfect for me.

When
you pick a focus for your blog, try to go with something that is broad
enough to encompass what you are passionate about and broad enough to
have a large enough market for it. Also, aim for something which you
think you could write about for years and never tire of. 

3) Write often.
One of the best ways to boost your blog traffic is just to blog. If you
are trying to increase your traffic and readership, I recommend you
spend the bulk of your time improving your blog and adding content to
your blog. Updating your blog at least three times per week helps you
establish a regular readership. When people know you almost always post
everyday or every other day, they are more likely to visit your blog
more frequently. 

4) Write well.
I don’t claim to be a "good writer" but I do try to at least follow
basic grammar rules, avoid repetition, and abstain from typographical
errors (though I do make those regularly if a post is typed somewhat in
haste!).

After you type up a post, read over it before posting it, and
then check it again after you’ve posted it to make sure it posted correctly
(sometimes fonts or layout will be haywire and your audience will
appreciate you for fixing this before they read it). 

How
do you learn to write well? Well, write. 🙂 That’s one of the best ways
to learn. The more you write and have people critique your writing, the
more your writing will improve. In addition, read well-written blogs
and books. Over time, by filling your mind with good writing and constantly
practicing your writing skills, your writing will invariably improve. 

Write
often, write well, and have an eye-pleasing blog and you’ll never have
a problem having some traffic–probably an ever-increasing amount of
traffic.

Not only will you find that writing often and writing well allows viral marketing begins to take effect
(someone finds your blog, likes it, links to it, and then their friend
clicks on the link thus finding your blog, likes it, and links to it
and on and on it goes), but you will also notice that you start getting
picked up in search engines.

Having search engines (i.e. Google) find your blog is one great way to easily drive more traffic to your blog.
In fact, this is where I get probably 30% of my blog visitors from–many of whom find my blogs initially through a search engine search. They like what they see and start regularly visiting my blog. The more
content you have with relevant search terms and the more often you
write, the more readily search engines will turn up your blog in search results.

5) Link frequently and liberally.
If you find another post which you liked or found interesting, link to
it! The blogger will love you for it and just might return the favor
sometime. In addition, link to and promote blogs you like. Not only is
this a great way to show appreciation to a blogger but it will often
land you on their blogroll as well.

Here are a few other ideas – some are things I’ve done, some I’ve heard work well: 

-Join blogging "leagues"–there are thousands of these and I’m sure a few would be a fit for you.

-Put a link to your blog in your email signature.

-Send the link to one of your best posts out to friends and family. Or, be pro-active and send it to some of the widely-read bloggers whom you think might be interested

-Submit posts to Carnivals–Again, there are thousands of these and I’ve heard that participating
really boosts your traffic and introduces your blog to many who have
probably not heard of you before.

-Comment on other blogs–well-written regular comments on blogs can often bring a nice stream of traffic your way. But please, pretty please, do not leave comments just to get people to your blog. Comments which sound like an infomercial for your blog or which serve no purpose other than to try and get people to click over to your blog are not something most bloggers or blog readers appreciate. Join in the discussion, share something helpful and thought-provoking, and you’ll likely find other people will wander over to check out your own blog as a result.

For a more exhaustive list of ideas, check out Super Blogging’s post on 75 Ways To Increase Your Site’s Traffic. 

How do you know where traffic is coming from? Install a Sitemeter or Statcounter on your blog.
It’s free and easy to do, and then you can have real-time visitor
information. I highly recommend you do this from the get-go as it is
not only exciting to watch your traffic count, it also gives you the
ability to figure out what is working and what is not working as you
can track where visitors are coming from.

 For those of you who blog, what are your best tips for boosting your blog traffic? Share them in the comments section.

Blogging for Profit – Part 3

Yesterday, we talked about starting a blog and writing on it –two no-brainers if you ever want to make money blogging! Today
I want to talk about what to write about and how to make your blog more
visitor friendly. Both things are very important if you want to
establish a steady and ever-growing stream of regular visitors.

1. Be yourself.
When you first begin blogging, it might seem daunting to come up with
anything to say. My biggest piece of advice when you first start out is
to be yourself. Share from your own personal experiences and wisdom. Think about what unique perspective you have to bring to the table; do not try to be someone else or to copy someone else’s blogging. Be you!

2. Learn from others, but don’t copy their ideas.
Going hand-in-hand with being yourself, do not start a blog and just
mimic or parrot other people’s blogging ideas. You won’t ever get very
far if you never do anything original.

If you want to be a
better blogger, I highly recommend you spend time hanging around
well-known blogs with large readerships. Observe what they are doing
right and what is working for them. Then, figure out how you might
implement their ideas in your own unique way on your blog. However, as
I said above, do not just copy their ideas on your blog.

It is imperative that you set yourself apart, so don’t be afraid to try original things and find your own voice and niche. It takes perseverance and will likely mean you try and fail on occasion (I’ve certainly been there, done that, got the T-shirt!), but you can’t succeed if you don’t starting by trying.

[And here I must insert a piece of advice to newbie bloggers: Please, PLEASE, PLEASE do not make the mistake of filling up your empty blog by copying and pasting blog posts into your blog from other blogs. You should never, under any circumstance, copy and paste a full blog post into your blog without written permission from the author. Blog posts are copyrighted and copying and pasting them into your blog–even when citing the source–can be infringing on copyright rules.

If you find a post from another blog that is especially helpful to you, you are more than welcome to copy and paste a paragraph or so into your blog, making it clear that you are quoting another blogger, and then encourage your readers–with a direct link–to go and read the rest of the blog post on the original author’s blog.]

3. Use variety.
Variety is the spice of a blog. If you always post the same length of
post in the same way on the same topics, it can get dull very quickly.
A few ideas:

-Write longer posts and shorter posts and freely intermingle the two on your blog.
-Post pictures at least a few times per week.
-Try adding in video or audio every now and then.
-Post about your view of a particular current event.
-Share a quick tip.
-Ask
a question of your readers (wait until you have more than a handful to
do this, though, otherwise it will look a little lonely if there aren’t
any comments!).
-Answer a question from a reader in a post rather than in the comments section.
-Share a funny story about something your child did or said.

Also, don’t
be afraid to stand up on your soap box every now and then. Most of the
best bloggers are those who are not afraid to speak up and speak out on
subjects they are passionate about. And do
join in some of the blogging-themed days (such as Frugal Friday or Works-For-Me Wednesday) on occasion, too. You’ll
usually get a nice amount of traffic as a result, plus it gives you
just another idea to blog about!

4. Use short paragraphs and always leave spaces between paragraphs.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across a blog which was
fairly well-written but a bear to actually read because of these
monstrous paragraphs followed by monstrous paragraphs. Make your blog
easy to read by breaking up paragraphs after every 4-7 sentences or
less and always have a space between paragraphs.

5. Proof-read your posts before and after publishing them.
Need I say more? Read over your post at least once before hitting the
publish button, then read over it again after you hit the publish
button. Don’t know how to spell a word? Look it up on Dictionary.com. Sloppiness in blogging will detract from your
blog and will greatly hamper your blog’s ability for growth.

6. Write your blogging ideas down. If
you come up with a blogging idea as you’re going about your everyday
life, write it down at once. You may think you’ll remember it later,
but if you’re anything like me, there’s a good chance you might not.

I
have a place in my planner where I write down my blogging ideas. I never get to all of them, but the ever-growing list serves to remind me of things I am hoping to write about and when I sit down to blog, I usually have a waiting reservoir of post ideas to cull from.

I’ve
just barely scratched the surface on the subjects of being a better
blogger and coming up with creative blog fodder. What do you think makes a great blog? Why do you visit the blogs you do? What makes you continue to return to a blog or add it to your feedreader? Tell us in the comments section so we can all be enlightened!

Blogging for Profit – Part 2

Yesterday, we started a series on blogging for profit and I talked about how important it was that you begin your blogging venture with a dedication to be in it for the long haul.

Building up a readership which in turn will produce a steady income from blogging takes time. But it is so worth it; I’ve experienced this firsthand.

I used to think that making a decent income from blogging was pretty much impossible or unreachable for most people. Then I started learning more and experimenting more and I found that it really wasn’t hard to make the equivalent of a part-time or even full-time income from blogging. With effort, time, and patience, I’m learning more and more just how much potential is out there–it’s practically limitless!

Did you know there are a number of bloggers making a
six-figure income from blogging? Some are almost making seven figures!
From blogging! Anything is possible nowadays!

To begin earning money blogging you must first start by, well, starting a blog. Blogger is a free and easy way to begin, though I’m not such a big fan of Blogger after my whole spam-block debacle!

After you set up your blog, write! I recommend you set a goal to post something three times per week. You can always blog more often than that, but three times per week is a manageable goal and one that most people can accomplish.

If you want to develop a strong readership (and a strong readership is one of the cornerstones to profitable blogging), it is much better to write less often and write regularly, than to write  and only do it in fits and starts. In other words, posting consistently three times every week for months, will develop a much stronger readership than posting 15 posts once every 3-5 weeks will.

It’s a proven fact that people like to read blogs they know are going to be regularly updated. So, make the commitment to write three times per week, and then get to it!

Blogging for Profit – Part 1

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked in person or by email
how one can make money online. I’m no expert and still have much to
learn but after lots of reading, learning, and trial and error over the
past few years, I have found many ways to make a very decent income
online.

Since one of my passions is helping moms come home so they
can be there for their children, I’m always happy to share what I’ve
learned in hopes that it will encourage those of you considering
"making the plunge" from two incomes to one or that it will help those
of you who are struggling to make it on one income.

Despite what some of the ads might portray, making money online doesn’t just happen; it takes work–lots of work. But if you stick with it, the work eventually can really pay off.

Over
the next few days, I want to share about one of my
favorite ways to make money online–blogging. I believe that blogging
is something anyone can do and anyone can also make money off of it.

As
I said, though, it takes time. You cannot just put up a blog, write a
couple of posts, and expect the money to start rolling in. No, it takes
time, effort, and consistency.

So, my first piece of advice for anyone who would like to make money blogging is to be prepared to be in it for the long-haul. This might seem like a no-brainer but I think sometimes people miss the big picture when it comes to making money online.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about choosing a blog topic and the actual writing of
the blog. These are important facets that you must have in place before
just jumping ahead to making money blogging. Because, as we all know,
if you don’t have traffic, you can blog all day, but you’ll never make
a penny.

Have you made money
through blogging? If so, how? Share with us, we’d love to hear! Once I
lay the foundation here, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite blogging
money-makers and those which haven’t worked for me.

Related: Darren Rowse, the ProBlogger, tackles a related issue on his video post here. It’s worth watching.                                  

Originally published October 2007.