Many of us are continuing to work from home. Even writers, who are accustomed to working offsite — from home, from a coffee shop, in our parent’s half-finished basement! — are starting to wonder whether those full-time jobs are coming back. So we start to wonder about freelancing and income alternatives, like how to earn money by blogging.
We’ll take a look at blogging for money and how I’ve started to replace my vocation (nonprofit fundraising) and monetize my avocation (writing) to supplement my income.
I expect that by the time my next birthday rolls around on May 17, I will be working full-time from wherever I want to — an ocean’s edge with good surf would be my preference — writing about whatever I want to.
Choosing a focus for your blog
You might have a topic or topics that you are already writing about and which you enjoy writing about. Fantastic. I can show you how to earn money by blogging about almost anything, like travel writing about The Gambia or even small towns in Texas.
But if you hate what you write about or don’t know what to write about, the first task of course is to determine the focus of your blog. To determine your focus, answer one of these questions to your satisfaction:
- What am I knowledgeable about?
- What would I like to learn more about?
But we writers are told, “Write about what you know.” Right?
When it comes to a monetized blog, however, you can research while you write. So even if your answer to the second question is a more compelling one for you, there’s definitely a way to make money with it.
I use a platform called Wealthy Affiliate to set up both my websites, to research article ideas, and earn money by blogging about them. There are a couple platforms like Wealthy Affiliate, but after some poking around and then trying it for free, that’s the one I chose.
(I chose to upgrade to a monthly paid subscription, but for the first two weeks I did it for free and even on a trial basis, they gave me a mentor. I now communicate often with my mentor, and he answers my questions promptly.)
Nevertheless you need a fairly focused subject area
I’ll give you an example.
Let’s say I really wanted to write about food — because I love to eat, and I love to refer people to restaurants that I’ve been to — but don’t know so much about food that I feel able to write about it and sound authoritative.
But if I Googled “food,” in slightly less than a second, that search would return 8.8 billion results. Furthermore:
- An average of 568,392 Google that word each month
- On a monthly basis 96,627 people visit websites among those 9 billiion results, and
- If you were to have your website listed on the first page of results — which is THE GOAL of monetizing a website, there are more than 300 websites competing with yours for those 8-10 spots. Aside from the paid ads appearing at the top, there are typically ten results below that. If you’re not among the ten, you won’t get much traffic, not many clicks, and not earn much money, if any.
How do I know all this? I used a research tool called Jaaxy, which gives me intel on what words people use when searching for a website and how I can choose words or phrases that will put my website on the first page of results.
Below we’ll cover how to get traffic to your blog so you can earn you money from it.
First, let’s further refine your topic to “comfort food” or even “hamburgers.”
Each of those gives us flexibility and breadth while still being specific, establishing ourselves as experts.
Creating the infrastructure for your blog
Once you choose your topic, you’ll need to choose a URL to go with it.
Once again, the blogging platform I use came with tools to set up my URL (“.com” “.org” “.gov” etc.; you want a “.com”), get hosting and start writing to make money.
Don’t worry so much about about the name of your blog, which is what readers see at the top of your website and can be changed once or twice, though not too often or it will hurt your search results.
The URL, though, should reflect closely what you’re writing about, and it cannot be changed. Also, following our “food” idea, don’t worry that you can’t get “www.food.com.” Perhaps you’re writing about hamburgers and you call it “www.wheresthebeef.com.” That’s fun, memorable and relates to your topic.
Keywords are #1 in how to earn money by blogging
Choosing a strong keyword is the most important thing about monetizing a blog. Why?
As I mentioned above, if your blog doesn’t appear on hte first page of search results, your website won’t get traffic and you won’t make money. It’s that simple.
The way to get on the first page of search results is to choose a keyword — typically a phrase of 3 to 5 words — that lots of people type in to find what they’re looking for.
Here’s the problem with a too-broad keyword like, for instance, “restaurant”:
Search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo (the top 3) will retain previous search results and predict what I’m looking for. But even Duck Duck Go, as shown above, will predict certain results. You can see above that this too-broad word gives me results that don’t relate to my article. Unless, of course, I’m writing about “Restland Funeral Home Obituaries.” Then, I’m certain to get a lot of traffic from a very small group of readers.
Making your keyword more specific and, therefore, effective
But if you use the keyword “best burger restaurants” because you want to tell readers where to go for one, here’s what you’d get when readers start to type that phrase in:
Even thought we only started typing “…restaurant,” the search results predicted what we want to steer readers toward.
I live near San Antonio, Texas, so obviously — for better or worse — Google knows this and showed that as the first result. So if “best burger restaurants near me” was my keyword, I wouldn’t have that much competition contrasted against “food”:
Keep in mind that a traffic of “40” per month (as shown in one of the images above) is not bad. All you need is a steady flow of people coming to your site on the specific topic of that article and generating clicks for advertisers.
The keyword of “food” has a huge number of websites competing for that first page of Google results, but using the keyword of “best burger restaurants near me” competes with only 8 others. Assuming even that these 8 are in my geographic area, it still means that my article would be competitive.
I’ve received a lot of traffic on an article I wrote about a specific burger restaurant not far from me using the keyword “Liberty Kitchen Ingram.” It ranked on the first page of Google, which is used for 75% of all searches, and still ranks #4 on Bing and Yahoo, even though I haven’t maintained the article in months.
Produce content frequently and with variety, and interact with your readers
Having strong keywords that drive traffic to your site is, as I said, perhaps the most important thing you can do to earn money online.
But to keep that traffic coming and to help your site get better ranking, you need to do these things:
- Write 3-5 articles per week (this one took about 90 minutes, including the writing and formatting)
- Choose different keywords each time, using your blogging platform’s keyword tool, which for me is Jaaxy.
- Encourage comments — as simply I have below! — and interact with your readers; this too helps site ranking
- Cross-reference your articles within your blog: your SEO (search engine optimization, which is how well your website will compete for site rank) improves with strong internal linking that guides readers around your website and keeps them there until they click on an advertiser.
NEXT: Get affiliate advertisers
In the next article we’ll address how to find affiliate advertisers, which will help you complete your basic knowledge on how to earn money by blogging.
For now, please leave a comment or a question, and I will be happy to comment back or discuss offline.