Make Money Blogging – Part 5

In this series of articles I will show you the secrets of how I started making a living blogging online.

Today we will be taking a look at how to keep your readers coming back, creating your own web community, and increasing the overall value of your domain brand name. One thing I didn’t know much about when I started out was the value of a brand name. How much do you think the domain name Amazon.com is worth? We’re not talking about the content of the website, the products, or the company. We’re just talking about “AMAZON.COM”. It’s worth millions of dollars and there are hundreds of domains out there just like it. Huffingtonpost.com recently sold to AOL for $315 million dollars! Huffingtonpost.com is a blog just like you’re building! If you use the correct strategy you can push up the value of your brand name and when the time is right, sell to the best bidder. Some people do this for a living and make millions.

Make Money Blogging – Part 5

 

Increasing the Value of your Blog

Someday soon you will be making money while you sleep, but as you develop your blog you will also be creating an asset that you can sell. Even though making a living from home is a great way to live, someday you will want to retire, travel, and life comfortably. When you sell a website you can usually sell it for about 12 months revenue. So, if your website makes about $2,000 a month, you can sell it for about $24,000. Although this applies only to smaller blogs and websites. For blogs like the Huffington Post which have HUGE followings and a massive group of journalists you can make upwards of 100 million on the sale of a single blog. This doesn’t happen very often though and you will have to fight your way to the top and use extremely creative and well thought out marketing strategies to even come close. I will never lie to you, blogging is not always easy. It is a job and requires time and energy, but if you like the idea of working from home and being your own boss- NOTHING beats it! Making a living is one thing, but retiring when you’re 20 or 30 is a dream which in the world of blogging can actually become reality if you work hard enough in the right direction.

Take a minute now to sit back and close your eyes. Picture what your ideal website or blog would look like when finished. What kind of content are you writing about? How many people are contributing? What do the pictures on your site depict? Do you have a lot of advertisements or do members pay to subscribe? When you think about these things imagine you are selling your website down the road. Who are you selling it to? How much are you asking? How much will you actually receive from someone in this industry? Is your website unique and valuable? You need to think about these things before you build up a blog that looks just like any other and has duplicate content. I see websites all the time that look just like 100 other sites. I rarely ever bookmark and revisit any of them because they all share the same information and thus are a “dime a dozen” so to say. Every once in awhile I happen upon a blog with a particular niche or idea that no one else has. Whenever I find one of these sites I quickly bookmark it and start scouring the website to see how they implemented their idea and how well it’s working. Sometimes it has paid off and they have an enormous fan base, other times they look professional yet have only a handful of fans who are mostly their friends. It’s good to find your competition on the internet as well, but not for what you think. No, you won’t be enemies- in fact just the opposite. You will become friends and share links and perhaps even content. We will touch on this more later this article.

Reinvesting your Money

In “Make Money Blogging – Part 3” we talked about Monetizing your blog. You may already be making money off your Adsense or Affiliate Ads. One of the best things you can do right now is reinvest that money. A lot of bloggers are quite tempted the first time they receive that $500 Google Adsense check, but don’t blow it. It’s very easy to go out and blow the cash on a new iPad or the latest video game system. Instead, reinvest everything you make back into your website. Buy ads on Google Adwords, Facebook, Yahoo, and other well known advertising providers. Buy some fancy plug-ins to spruce up your website and appear more professional. Hire a graphic designer to craft you a nice looking ad or product box for your own special blog series, software project, or what have you. When you put that money back into your blog it will continue to generate more income. When I first started NERD TREK I was very reluctant at first to put more money in since I had already paid money for the domain, hosting, and what have you. When I finally coughed up the cash I suddenly had a spike in visits resulting from Google Adwords promotion which in turn kicked up my Adsense clicks and Affiliate sales. When all was said and done I made the money I spent advertising back and then some! Each time I have invested money in my blogs I always see immediate returns and many times I keep a lot of that traffic coming back which serves to increase my daily numbers. First week 100 people, next week 1,000, the next month over 20,000 visitors, then 40,000, and so on! Before you know it you’ll have over 10,000 visitors or more in a single day! If even 1% of those people are clicking on your Adsense ads you’re already making a killing and probably close to working from home! I’m getting ahead of myself though since most of you are probably still getting the basics set up.

Ways to Reinvest:

  • Hire a graphic designer to craft a high quality advertisement
  • Sign up for Google Adwords or Facebook Ads and create an advertising campaign
  • Buy high quality useful Plug-Ins for WordPress to create a more professional website
  • Purchase a product which fits your niche and run a contest to gather new readers
  • Purchase another domain name and hosting and start another company!

The last on the list may seem intimidating now, but it’s one of the first things I did. The best competition you will find on the net will be yourself. Why settle for only a small piece of the pie when you can have multiple slices. As you can see I run NERDTREK.com a blog for nerds as well as JGNweb.com. In my free time I also am working on a membership/subscription based website that will be launching soon. I already expect the membership website to do extremely well although I cannot divulge anymore about that at this time. All of these websites have been built and run from money I made in the first 2 months after launching NERDTREK.com. I have not had to reach into my personal money once after the initial buy in for NERD TREK. If you are cunning, passionate, and a hard worker you too will make your money back and then some. Before you know it you’ll be working from home and making the kind of money you want. Set aside the time to do things right and work daily towards your goal and it will become a reality. Never give up!

Community: Adding a Form to your Blog

A forum is a place where your subscribers can share ideas and start their own posts. By adding a forum in most cases you will double your revenue and add value to your blog at the same time. A lot of people will tell you to use a paid option, but to be honest there are a couple free options which are easy to use and look great.

The first is called Mingle Forum and is available through WordPress. Just go to Plugins>Add New and search for “Mingle Forum” then Install. After that you can tweak the settings and follow the directions to post your forum on a specific page of your website. This is the quickest, easiest, and best free way to integrate a forum into your WordPress site. I highly recommend using Mingle Forum if you are a beginner.

If you are adept at manipulating small batches of code- html, php, java- that sort of thing than the bbPress forum should be easy enough for you to install. If you already know a bit of code I don’t need to walk you through the install. Simply visit the bbPress website on the net, download the free software and follow the instructions on the website. There is a Plugin for WordPress called bbPress integration and I recommend that for keeping your forum and blog linked together.

Whichever forum you choose you want to make it easy for your users to login and comment and also want to keep them coming back. Facebook can be pretty distracting and is tough competition, try posting some articles of your own and ask a lot of questions. Post links to these articles from your Facebook and Twitter pages and see if anyone bites. It only takes a few people engaging in conversation to generate a buzz. Once the forum takes off you can let it go and just pop in to answer questions or setup new topics whenever one is requested. Keep careful watch over your forum or assign a moderator if you have multiple contributors on your blog (people who help you run your website or contribute in one way or another.) If a user posts something inappropriate or asks a question you want to respond right away or your forum could suffer. Good administrators carefully watch all their websites, forums, facebook , and twitter accounts so they are able to respond ASAP to even the smallest comment, post, or question. (As I was typing this article a fellow contributor for NERD TREK emailed me. I dropped what I was doing to respond because I value their hard work and dedication to my blog. I want to show my respect by responding quickly and accurately in one concise email.)

Keep readers coming back for more

In order for your blog to be successful you need your readers to keep coming back everyday. The best way to do this is by reminding them about your site and any new content you have posted. To do this you will need to utilize two things- a well managed Email List and a RSS Feed.

Email Lists:

As I have stated before AWeber is a company which provides professional email list management for a very affordable price. You can even set up auto mailers to send specific messages a certain number of days after a user has signed up, reminding them of the services or articles you offer on your website. They have some really great tools, and making a professional yet appealing email is so easy. If you have any questions you can contact AWeber customer support and obtain a quick response. There are no free options this great when it comes to email lists and given that this will be the only way to keep in touch with your fan base should you lose your blog or have some kind of emergency, consider it invaluable!

RSS Feeds:

RSS Feeds should always be free. I recommend setting up a RSS Feed with Feedburner. Visit their site which is now owned and operated by Google, fill out all the forms, and then add your new RSS Feed link to your WordPress blog in “Settings”. That’s it, you’re done. People can now add your feed! To setup Google Adsense for your feed look for the option for Google Adsense for Feeds in your Feedburner options and you should be able to easily link the two. This is something I forgot to do early on and missed out on thousands of dollars of revenue that could have been generated through my feeds going out to hundreds or now thousands of readers.

Post Frequently:

If you want to keep your readers coming back you need to have fresh content updated daily. If you’re not a morning person you can write articles in advance and schedule them to auto-post, otherwise you will want to post content bright and early before everyone arrives at work. I have noticed in my niche that I will get a bunch of hits first thing in the morning. I imagine office workers grabbing their morning coffee, arriving groggy to the office, logging onto their computers and checking their favorite blogs for fresh news. If you have yesterday’s posts still on the front page of your site they may stop coming to your site altogether. Keep it fresh and post often, it doesn’t have to be a long article but something fresh and unique with your own personal spin. People like when an author puts some personality behind their posts, so don’t be an automaton- keep it real!

Social Proof:

Make sure your blog looks like an active place. You can put a Twitter widget in your sidebar to post your followers tweets, display your most recent comments, or your Facebook activity. Another way to show your blog is alive and well is to display the amount of RSS Feed subscribers in a counter box near the top of your page. When new users look at your site they will realize that you site is alive and well and thus are more likely to stick around and investigate your content even if they stumbled upon an old article initially. One thing I ran into when I first started out was the dreaded catch-22. My site was new and thus I had no comments, no email list, no RSS list, nothing.

Contests:

This is one of the biggest keys to kick starting your blog. Go out and buy something that relates to your blog, for example if you write about running shoes go out and buy a pair of running shoes you highly recommend to your readers. Write a review about the shoes and post it along with the details of an upcoming contest. Take high resolution pictures of the shoes, post them on your website along with official contest rules and a sign-up for your contest which doubles as an email list sign up. Advertise your contest on Facebook and Twitter for free and if your really want to get crazy pay to advertise your contest on Google Adwords. Before you know if you will have thousands of people coming to your site, generating traffic and ad revenue which help to pay for the contest prize. Then they sign up for your email list and you’ve got them! To keep them subscribed remind them that if they stay on your list they will be automatically entered in all future contests. There you go, you just created instant readers and spent maybe $100? Wasn’t that worth it to kick start your blog and start making hundreds? I would say that’s a BIG yes! What makes me really happy is that NERD TREK is finally to the point where I can run contests for free. I have people from various businesses stop by and offer up goods they would like to promote on my website. I offer to not only sell them ad space, but also to host a contest on my website. They get extra advertising and attention and I don’t have to pay for the contest prize. By hosting the contest my readers increase, traffic increases, I make more money and all I had to do was promote the contest! It’s a WIN-WIN!

Blogroll:

A blogroll is something a lot of blogs don’t use anymore. It’s a place where you post links to other blogs and websites you like and recommend. Most blogs out there have them and although most readers don’t really look at them, they are great for search engine bots locating your website. If you can get your site listed on the blogroll of say TechCrunch or io9 you would start getting thousands of visitors pretty much overnight. How do you do this? Visit your competition, offer to trade links on a blogroll. Post their website on your blogroll in good faith to start and in turn hopefully they will post yours. The more pingbacks (exchanged links) you have the better your site will appear to search engine bots.

Trade Articles:

Another thing you can do is offer to write an article for the competition. At the end of your article mention that you normally write for [your site here] and tell the readers to visit your site. Make sure you do this carefully though and ask your competition what they feel comfortable with you posting. Most blog owners are pretty cool with this and will trade links and articles, if they won’t just move on and try the next blog. Don’t hold any hard feelings, this is business after all! I don’t suggest offering to write half an article on their page and the other half on yours or any other ploys that may offend the competition. It’s best to cultivate good relationships with the competition and turn them into your friends rather than aggravate or alienate them. Remember, you’re going to need friends out there especially when you’re just starting out so be careful what you say and do. Leave politics and religion at home and focus on business for now.

Interviews:

Email people or businesses you enjoy and respect and offer to do an interview. Either type up and email an interview to them or call them on the phone and record the audio (make sure you have permission to do so). Take your time writing a nice article and use good image placement. Hype the interview by posting links on your social networking websites and visiting forums that talk about the person or business and post there as well. You’ll be surprised how fast interviews spread around the net, especially if it’s someone fairly popular being interviewed. Know any celebrities? Call them now and set something up!

Top 10:

This is an old yet effective trick. The top 10 lists gather a huge amount of attention and hits. I don’t know why, but people LOVE THEM. They eat them up! Make sure not to over use them though, post only 1 per week for effectiveness.

Homework

Today your homework is to print out this list and go through these tips one by one, perform each tip once. (You can wait on the contest if you want!) After you have performed each of these wait for a couple days and watch your traffic start to increase! Congrats, it’s working and you’re on your way!

Coming up next article…
In our next article “Make Money Blogging – Part 6” we will be answering all of your technical and legal questions as well as optimizing your blog for search engines.

 

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About Jonathan G. Nelson

Jonathan G. Nelson is the editor-in-chief and owner of NERD TREK. He is also owner/publisher at AAW Games / AdventureAWeek.com, a tabletop gaming company based in Snoqualmie, WA. Connect with Jonathan via Facebook.