For too many months now, I've been hearing too many people say that you can't make money blogging. That it's futile. That only a-listers can make money blogging. It's frustrating for me to hear that because people have a big opportunity to make some real money here. This is the beginning of an e-book about making money via blogging. I will enumerate the 10 steps that'll lead you to blogging success.
Let me start by telling you this isn't gonna make you a millionaire, nor is it a get rich quick scheme of any sort. This book describes a process, which if followed, makes it easy to pocket a little money doing something fun. How much can you make from blogging? That's entirely up to you. I suggest starting off by blogging one half hour per day. Then as you see money coming in through your blog, slowly increase the amount of time you spend blogging. I'm currently blogging several hours per day, even on weekends.
Here are the steps to professional blogging:
The next 10 sections of this document describe the steps you should take to become a professional blogger like me. The steps proceed in an important order because some steps build upon work done in the previous step. You don't have to read the book sequentially, but if you are just starting out, sequential reading will help you understand the bigger picture.
Here and there I will address advanced topics. A topic is advanced if I append (advanced topic) to the topic header. Feel free to skip those topics. You can always come back and review the advanced topics after your first read.
Who should read this step: Everybody. Even if you've already picked your blog topic, read this anyway to reinforce your decision.
Choosing your topic is the most important step in blogging. If you get this step wrong, then steps 4, 5, 6, 7, 9 and 10 will become very difficult. You have to pick a subject that you feel passionate about. Something that interests you. Something in which you can become a subject matter expert.
For instance, I once started a blog on health [http://www.kbcafe.com/health/]. I did it because I saw that there was a gap in the demand and supply of blogs about health. Unfortunately, it's not a topic I'm all that interested in blogging about and if you read the blog, you'll see that I don't actually blog all that often on the subject. I simply didn't know what to write. That's why it's so important to blog about something you like. Remember, for the first few months, you will have nobody reading your blog and leaving comments. It takes time to build up a readership. If you pick a subject of little interest to you, then you'll likely find it difficult to write an unread blog. On the other hand, if you write on a subject of interest, then you'll likely gain some amusement simply in the blogging process and the first few readerless months will pass a little more easily.
I blog on a lot of subjects and maintain a separate blog for each. Hopefully, a discussion of why I chose each of my blogs will help your make similar good decisions when picking your own blog topics.
I do have lots of other blogs, but I'm not gonna bore you further. There are plenty of great blogging ideas. In every case where I have more than a handful of readers, I picked a topic that I was interested in, either as a user or a as subject matter expert. I don't force myself to blog on any one blog more than others. I simply post each of my thoughts to the blog that best fits the content.
Who should read this step: Everybody. Even if you think you know how to setup a blog, you never know what obscure tidbits of information are hiding in the most inane paragraphs.
Now that you've picked a topic for your blog, let's move to the second step, creating the blog. There are many adequate blogging platforms. I've listed a few in the grid below.
The Free column should be pretty obvious. Hosted means they will host your blog on their server and you won't have to worry about paying for a hosting service. Widgets means they allow HTML widgets to be embedded in the page. AdSense means they allow blog publishers to include AdSense code to display ads from Google.
As you can see, Blogger [http://www.blogger.com/] seems to be the only adequate blogging platform for the newbie blogger.
This grid will change in time and that might change my recommendation, but for the purpose of writing this article I'm gonna stick with Blogger. I personally don't use Blogger, because I wrote my own blogging platform. I also only recommend Blogger as a starting point and don't recommend it for non-newbies. If you know how to host your own blog and already pay for hosting, then you might want to use Movable Type or WordPress software (non-hosted edition). The problem with Blogger is that it has been spam infested for the last few years and many potential readers will mistake you for a splogger and ignore you. That said, the rest of this article will refer to Blogger and you can still follow along if you use other types of blogging software.
Let's start by navigating your browser to Blogger [http://www.blogger.com/] and creating a blog.
Move slightly down the screen and you'll see a button titled Create Your Blog Now. Click that button and you'll be presented with the next screen.
Choose a username, password and display name. You might have to try several times before you find a username that isn't already taken.
Next you'll be asked for your blog title and address. This is an important step.
You can always change these later, but make certain you settle on something early because changing the title or address later on can cause you to lose your readers and Google juice (the rank that Google assigns to your site based on links from other sites).
In choosing a title for your blog, it's great to be cute or relevant, but it's often difficult to be both. For example, my blog title iBLOGthere4iM is cute, but doesn't tell anybody what the blog is about, whereas The RSS Blog is not cute, but you know what to expect (news about RSS and related stuff). Either approach will work, but a combination is even better.
The address should ideally match your blog's title, but does not necessarily have to. One thing to remember: after the first few days you should never change your blog address, because you’ll break all inbound links to your content. Changing your blog title, although not advisable, can be done without too many problems.
Next you'll be given a choice of templates.
Choose a template that fits the topic of your blog and your own personal style. Don't worry, this can change at any time and we'll be doing that over and over as you read this article.
Guess what? We're finished creating your blog.
Now we have to change a couple of settings that simply are not correct by default. Move to the Settings tab and Publishing sub-tab. Change Notify Weblogs.com to Yes and click the Save Settings button. This tells a community server when your blog changes.
Switch to the Formatting sub-tab and change Show Title field to Yes and click the Save Settings button. Titles are very important in blog posting. Your title is included in your webpage title and search engines will use the keywords in this title to index your posts.
Switch to the Comments sub-tab and change Backlinks to Show and change Comment Notification Address to your email address and click the Save Settings button. The backlinks option will encourage other posters to link to you. When other people link to you, they will send you new users and give you more Google juice. The comment notification means you'll get an email every time somebody leaves a comment on one of your blog posts.
Who should read this step: Everybody. Even if you think you know how to setup a feed, you never know what a crazy RSS expert like me might be able to teach you.
The next step is to create an RSS feed for your blog. You may not know what an RSS feed is -- that's OK. RSS is the technology that made blogs very popular. Don't worry about knowing much more than that and simply try to follow the instructions given.
FeedBurner creates the best RSS feed. They'll provide stats about how many people are reading your blog, what software people are using to read your blog and they provide lots of widgets that you can use to help publicize your blog.
Let's start by going to FeedBurner [http://www.feedburner.com/fb/a/home] and creating an account.
Simply enter the address of your newly created blog. FeedBurner will try to find your RSS feed from your blog address.
When FeedBurner asks you if you want to use the Atom or RSS feed, select the RSS feed and continue.
Once more step. Create a username, password and enter your email address. Your feed is now active. After you activate your feed, click Skip directly to feed management to configure the feed.
Switch to the Publicize tab and select PingShot. FeedBurner limits you to eight selections, so check PubSub, Ping-o-matic, Newsgator and add Feedster, IceRocket, Weblogs.com, Blogdigger and Syndic8. Finally activate the PingShot tool by clicking the Activate button. PingShot informs these servers when your blog has been updated and they'll in turn look for changes to your blog and add them to their indexes.
Next, click FeedCount and activate this tool by clicking the Activate button. You'll be presented with some HTML in a textarea titled Copy this HTML. Highlight the HTML and copy it to the clipboard. Now, we have to return to Blogger to add this HTML to your blog. This part will be quite difficult, so you might want to invite your favorite geek to help you to get your template correct. I won't give the steps, because they would be error prone and I'll provide a tool in later setups to fixup your template. If you aren't comfortable adding this HTML to your template, then simply don't do it. At least you've created your RSS feed.
Besides adding the FeedBurner chicklet, you might also want to add autodiscovery. I found that Amit Agarwal had great instructions on making your FeedBurner feed your Blogspot autodiscoverable feed. But again, don't worry about this step if you are not comfortable with it. Later, I'll provide a small utility that'll help you create your Blogger template.
Once you've setup your RSS feed properly, you can then track how many people are reading your blog via your RSS feed.
Here you can see a simple graph of the subscribers to the iBLOGthere4iM blog over the past 30 days.
Who should read this step: Everybody.
This is the most important step in blogging. Allocate 15 minutes per day to writing at least one blog entry. I suggest you do it in the morning because blog entries posted in the morning tend to get more action (other bloggers reading and linking to them) than blog entries posted later in the day. After a month, you should have a minimum of 30 blog entries. You might miss a few days here and there, but those should be more than compensated for by the days you simply can't stop blogging and write more than one blog entry. Thirty blog entries per month makes 360 in a full year. That'll mean 360 webpages indexed by Google and Technorati, just waiting for random encounters. Random encounters are partly what this blogosphere is all about. Occasionally, blog readers stumble onto new blogs that they think are interesting and add that blog to their blog reading routine. That's the primary method of building up your readership.
One way to increase the chance of getting blog readers to randomly stumble upon your blog is to include relevant tags with each and every blog entry. Tags are one or more word phrases that you associate with each blog entry. Now, if a user wanted to find posts on a particular subject, he can use a tag search engine like IceRocket to find the latest blog entries with this tag.
Creating tags unfortunately involves writing a bit of HTML. HTML is for geeks and I'm writing this tutorial for non-geeks, so I'll leave the HTML discussions out. HTML can be a little difficult, so I've created a tag code generator to help you here.
When you are finished creating the tag code, then simply copy this code to the end of your blog entry.
Sometimes, you just don't feel creative enough to write your own content. At these times, I suggest posting something very light on your blog. Blogthings [http://www.blogthings.com/] can help you here. You simply fill out a short questionnaire and they spit back some HTML that you can paste onto your blog.
For example, there's a great starter blog thing called What Color Should Your Blog Be? [http://www.blogthings.com/whatcolorshouldyourblogorjournalbequiz/]. That's a pretty good starting point for a newbie blogger. Answer six questions and viola, you get presented with some HTML that you can copy into a new blog entry.
|Your Blog Should Be Green|
You enjoy a good discussion, especially if it involves picking apart ideas.
However, you tend to get easily annoyed by any thoughtless comments in your blog.
Interestingly enough my personal blog, RVDad [http://www.kbcafe.com/rvdad/], is green. There are hundreds of blogthings with which to fill up your blog. Now, don't get carried away -- save Blogthings for those days when your brain is in a fog (been drinking) and you can't be creative. You should have at least 5 real posts for every blogthing you post, unless, of course, you've decided that blogthings are part of the make-up of your blog -- in which case, go crazy.
The hardest part of writing one blog entry per day is finding enough topics to write about. We used to call this problem writer's block. Writer's block doesn't have to exist anymore, because there's so much content being generated that it's pretty hard not to find something to write about. The best way to stimulate your blogging is to read other blogs like yours.
The traditional way to read content online is to bookmark your favorite websites and visit them when you are looking for something to read or trying to find inspiration. This tedious process has been replaced by a technology called RSS. You don't have to know what RSS is, except that it enables websites to be pushed to you. The simple explanation of RSS: it's a text file that describes your blog in a machine readable fashion.
Listing: Sample RSS File
<description>A sample RSS file</description>
RSS is just a list of items. The RSS for your blog is a list of the blog entries you've been writing. The advantage of RSS is that is enables a technique called subscribing. When a website (or blog) is updated and you have subscribed to its RSS feed, instead of having to visit the website to see the changes, the changes can be sent to you via RSS. An RSS client polls the RSS feed, sees the changes, and brings them to your attention.
In the next three sections, I'll introduce you to three RSS clients that can help you read blogs like yours; Rmail, Google Reader and GreatNews.
The simplest way to read other blogs like yours is to get updates on those blogs in your email inbox. Rmail translates the RSS feed of a blog into emails.
GreatNews (advanced topic)
A very popular practice among bloggers is tagging interesting links. The most popular bookmarking tool is called del.icio.us. I bookmark about a dozen links per day. You might be wondering how bookmarking leads to better blogging, or for that matter why it is important in order to be a professional blogger. The answer is quite simple. It's about creating more content and linking to people. I import my bookmarks into my many feeds and post them on my link blog [http://randymorin.wordpress.com/].
What you do with your links depends on a lot of factors, but I encourage beginners and almost everyone else to re-post their del.icio.us bookmarks back into their primary blog. Steve Rubel does this better than anyone on his Micropersuasion blog. Re-posting your links is quite trivial. Let's setup a del.icio.us account, bookmark a couple of links and setup del.icio.us to re-post those links to your blog.
If you already have a del.icio.us account, then move onto the next section, otherwise read on. To create a del.icio.us account, simply navigate your Web browser to the del.icio.us homepage [http://del.icio.us/].
You can see that on the homepage, they have a little frame for signing up new members. Fill-in your desired username, password and email address. Once you hit the register button, you might be given a CAPTCHA, which is a simple validation question to protect del.icio.us against robots. Following the CAPTCHA, you might also be asked to download a browser toolbar and given a short tutorial. I won't discuss any of that here, but you might be well advised to follow through.
If you know how to bookmark with del.icio.us, then move on to the next section, otherwise read on. The next instructions are for somebody using Internet Explorer. If you are using another browser, then you'll have to wing it yourself. Sorry! The best way to bookmark using del.icio.us is to install the del.icio.us link bar buttons. This can be done my running a simple installer. Click the following link to launch the installer [http://del.icio.us/static/app/delicious.exe].
You may be presented with one or two Security Warning dialogs. Simply click Run to bypass them and move on to the next step.
Eventually, a simple wizard will appear. Click on the Add buttons button to install the link bar buttons.
A second wizard page may appear telling you that the installation was successful. Click the Close button and you are done.
Now that you have the link bar buttons installed, we can begin bookmarking webpages. Let's start by bookmarking this tutorial [http://www.kbcafe.com/adwords/makemoney.html]. Navigate your browser to the homepage of this tutorial. There are two ways you can bookmark a page in your web browser. You can either click the post to del.icio.us link bar button (shown below) or you can select Favorites | Links | post to del.icio.us from the menu bar..
Once you've clicked the post to del.icio.us button or chosen the menu option, you'll navigate to the del.icio.us post form (shown below)
Note that the URL and description should already be populated from the page you were just visiting. Now all that you have to do is fill-in the notes and tags. Both the notes and tags are optional, so don't feel obligated to fill them in, but filling them in will give you more content later on when we re-post it to your blog. For now, fill-in the notes with something like How to make money blogging and add two tags: blogging money. A second screenshot of the same page follows with the notes and tags filled-in.
Note there are two tags separated by a space. You can have any number of tags; simply separate each one by a space. If you are happy with the notes and tags, click on the save button to save the bookmark. You can view your latest bookmarks by click on the your bookmarks link in del.icio.us, click the my del.icio.us button in your link bar, or select Favorites | Links | my del.icio.us from the menu bar.
There's actually a point to all this bookmarking, and hopefully it'll all come together in this section. Now that you are bookmarking links, you want to post those links onto your blog site, so that your readers can also enjoy your links. But there's a secondary purpose here. The people that you link to will see that you are linking to them and they will come to read your blog. And there's even a tertiary (big word, I'm proud of myself) purpose here. The daily blog post will ad one more webpage to your blog every day you bookmark links. The more web pages you have, the more webpages you have indexed in Google and Yahoo! Keep following that thought forward to more money in your pocket.
Now, there's one problem with del.icio.us blog posting. It doesn't actually work with Blogger and I just finished recommending Blogger for beginners. The problem is political and you don't want to know about it, so I'll leave a little sidebar note for those that are interested.
If you are not using Blogger, then you can setup daily blog posting quite simply. While logged into del.icio.us, click on the link settings (top right), then click on the link daily blog posting (right sidebar). Finally, click on the link add a new thingy (very technical lingo).
The job_name can be anything. The out_name and out_pass is your blog host username and password. The out_url is the MetaWeblogAPI entry point for your blog. Finding your MetaWeblogAPI entry point is not trivial and your best bet is to find a geek friend to find it for you. Since this doesn't apply to Blogger, I won't go into much detail. The out_time is the GMT hour that your links will be posted. The out_blog_id is another MetaWeblogAPI detail that you might require the assistance of a geek to find. I don't even know what the out_cat_id is and you can safely ignore it. Once you've filled-in all the proper parameters, click the Submit Query button and your daily blog posting thingy will be saved.
Scott Kingery has created a technique that uses del.icio.us, FeedBurner, Rmail and Blogger's email gateway to post your daily blog posting to a blogger blog [http://www.techlifeweb.com/2005/10/how-i-create-thos-delicious-link-posts.html]. It requires a bit of know-how, but can be done by the average user.
Another great feature of del.icio.us is that you can have links sent directly to another del.icio.us user or even yourself. As a semi-popular blogger, I have tons of friends that feed me links on a daily basis. At first, that almost always took place via IM and after awhile it got to be very distracting. I eventually decided that I needed a new technique and this is where I use the del.icio.us for tag [http://del.icio.us/help/for]. You can post to del.icio.us with the for:randymorin tag and be sure that I'll read it. Maybe not immediately, but within a day or two. Even better, I give away one book from Amazon every month in a game I call Play Tag With Me.
I also use the for:randymorin tag when I want to blog about a webpage, but don't have the time to do it now. Since I read this links inbox every day, it's a great place to store links that I don't want to forget about.
The best way to get people to read your blog and link to your blog is to leave comments on blogs similar to yours. Start with one blog and leave a comment on that blog from time to time. Don't forget to include your signature with a link back to your blog. That's how the author and other readers will find your blog. As you get more comfortable in commenting, increase the number of blogs that you follow on a daily basis and comment occasionally on each one. This step pretty much follows with step 5 where you should be increasing the number of blogs that you are reading for inspiration.
Eventually, you should get to the point where you are leaving at least one comment on a blog every day. Most days you should be leaving more than one and some days, you should be leaving a dozen comments.
In order to leave as many comments as possible, you may have to get in the habit of leaving mundane comments in addition to quality commentscomments (unless you’re a witty, creative genius like Sterling Camden).
Now there are plenty of ways to make money from a blog, but the one that I believe works the best is Google's AdSense. Before applying for an AdSense account make certain you've been actively blogging for at least two weeks. You don't want to apply for your AdSense account and get refused because your blog is empty.
There are two ways to sign up for AdSense. If you have a Blogger blog, then go to your Dashboard and there should be a link New easy signup.
If you don't use a Blogger blog, then go to the AdSense homepage [https://www.google.com/adsense/]. Click on the Click Here to Apply button.
I won't step you through the process of applying for an AdSense account. It's trivial enough. It might take you several hours, several days or even several weeks to get your AdSense account approved.
Let's start this section with a little story. The story about me blogging and using AdSense. Success was not immediate. This is no get rich quit scheme. As much as I'll tell you that it's easy, it'is not trivial. You have to apply constant effort over time to make this technique succeed. I wrote blog entries for two years before I saw more than a few dollars. But after two years, I started making a dollar here and there. The dollar turned into $2, and $2 into $3, and eventually I started making serious money each and every day just by blogging.
OK, so I've convinced you to blog and stick with it over time. Now let's move onto some more advanced topics that will help you ensure that your blog is getting read. The first thing to do is to familiarize yourself with the tools required to find out where your blog might be lacking. Then you need to use even more tools to make certain you close the gaps where you've found yourself lacking.
Getting indexed by the major Web and blogosphere search engines is crucial. If you aren't being indexed by the search engines, then it becomes difficult for new readers to find your blog. For myself, my two biggest referrers by a long shot have always been Google and Yahoo!. But beyond the raw numbers, referrers from both Google and Yahoo! have a larger goal rate than average. That is, users that come to my site via Google or Yahoo! are much more likely to click on a revenue-generating ad than the average visitor. This makes Google and Yahoo! referrers very valuable. Not only are you acquiring new users, but those users are more likely to generate income than other users.
I've found one tool that best informs me as to how well I'm being indexed. That tool is called Eh List [http://ehlist.ca/] and was developed by a friend Chris Nolan. This tool tracks the number of pages you have indexed in Google and Yahoo! over time. The site tends to be a bit slow because it's non-commercial, but the data Chris is compiling is enormously valuable. You don't want to write down your indexation stats on a daily basis and with Eh List you don't have to. Here's a sample of the data.
Eh List provides five graphs that I'm primarily interested in; the number of webpages indexed in Google, the number of links from webpages indexed in Google, the number of links from webpages indexed in Google blogsearch, the number of webpages indexed in Yahoo! and the number of links from webpages indexed in Yahoo!. On occasion, I've found Eh List doesn't always report the correct stats and that's why you see the wild movement especially in the number of inboudn links from Google graph. Nobody's perfect and Eh List is about as close as I've found.
The best part about Eh List is that you can subscribe to your stats. If you are partial to Rmail, then you can subscribe to your Eh List stats by entering the URL of your Eh List RSS feed and email address into the following form.
You can either copy the URL of your Eh List URL into the RSS input box above or simply copy the URL of the webpage that contains your Eh List stats. Either should initiate a subscription that'll email you your Eh List stats on a daily basis. You can do this for each and every one of your blogs.
Once you've analyzed the graphs at Eh List and found that your blog is a little under indexed on the Google site, you might be asking yourself how to become better indexed. Google actually provides a very concrete method for submitting URLs to their indexes. For Google Web search, use a web service provided by Google called Sitemaps [https://www.google.com/webmasters/sitemaps/].
I found great instructions for enable sitemaps with Blogger on a blog called Hakuna Matata. I'll repeat the slightly modified instruction here. If you already have a Google account, skip to the next paragraph. If not, then you need to create a Google Account. Go to the following URL and apply for one, it shouldn't take more than a couple minute [https://www.google.com/accounts/NewAccount].
Once you have a Google account, you should be able to login to Google Sitemaps [https://www.google.com/webmasters/sitemaps]. Once, logged-in you'll be at the Sitemaps overview webpage.
In the Add Site text box, type the homepage of your weblog and click OK. The website should be added to your list of sites.
Before you can submit a sitemap, Google makes you verify that the website actually belongs to you. Click on the link Try out new meta tag verification method. On the next screen, change the drop down combo box to Add a META Tag.
You'll now see HTML code which you can past into your Blogger template to validate your site. You likely want to open another browser window to do this, so you can cut from one window and paste into the other. As instructed paste the code in between your HEAD tags; <head> and </head>. If you are not sure what you are doing, paste it immediately after your <head> tag (see screenshot).
When finished, click Save Template Changes button near the button of the Blogger window.
Now, click the Republish button. This may take a few seconds to a few minutes. But when the Publishing is complete, then return to the Google Sitemap window and click on the Verify button.
Now, click the Submit a Sitemap link.
From the Add Sitemap webpage, select Add General Web Sitemap in the drop down combo box. Next, type the URL of your blogs RSS feed. This should be similar to the URL show in the screenshot above, but the domain prefix (realgeek), should be changed to match your weblog domain name. Finally, click the Add Web Sitemap button.
Congrats, you just submitted a Google sitemap. Google will use the sitemap to better index you weblog.
Yahoo! also provides a very specific format for submitting sitemaps to their indexer. Unfortunately, Yahoo!'s sitemap is not in the standard XML format and they don't provide any reporting tools once you've submitted the maps. This makes it extremely difficult to tell if your sitemaps submission worked and you'll require addition tools to help you with Yahoo! indexing.