Make Money Online Free?

I keep getting at least one email query every other week along this topic (How can I make money online for free and fast?). Most of the times the question goes like this:

Mr.X told me (or I read it at ‘some site’) that anyone can make money fast if I create a blog and put AdSense on it. I now have a blog and how long before I can start making money?

(Some other questions are related to the dummy blogs provided those famous cash key tool kits that may not be really converting for the buyers)

Well, with Google tightening the screening process for AdSense approval, the number of such emails is coming down. But the fact remains that a lot of people still believe that they can make money fast without any effort if they take the blogging & Google AdSense route.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch!

The most important lesson that I learned from MMO blogging is that, it takes a lot of initial hardwork to achieve even $100 a month from blogging and even more focused effort to sustain that. It took me as long as 15 months to have a month that earned me $300 online and roughly 18 months to cross the $500 barrier. The first real income from blogging came in after three months of blogging! Of course, there are many people who claim to have made it big within six months of blogging but they had to put even more hard work and sleepless nights to get there.

For the rest of this post, let me try to summarize what it takes to make money online from your blog

I created my blog, what next?

Wait… Where did you create your blog? Was it on a free blogging site such as WordPress.com or Blogger? Do you even know that if you have a blog on WordPress.com, you cannot monetize it by their policy? (Compare WordPress.com and Blogger)

Please note that it is always better to set up a self hosted professional blog based on the WordPress.org blogging platform, your own domain name, and on a good quality shared hosting (at the least) service such as HostGator in order to lay foundation to your professional blogging life.

If you cannot spend money for hosting or domain registration but would like to make money online blogging, then you should opt for a free blogging platform like blogger (blogspot) where you can still put your advertisements.

Fine, I am on WordPress…now?

In order to bind your content together and give your blog a very good professional appearance you need a very good theme. A lot of people recommend the thesis theme though one can Google out good quality free WordPress themes as well (or build a custom theme if you are a decent web designer/programmer)

Done with the theme, enough with the looks?

Probably a professionally done logo (and associated branding such as gravatar images, ad banners) would add to the looks and branding of your blog. I am not a big fan of this part (probably because I do my logos myself with my limited artistic skills) as it is far less important to what comes next.

I am adding my content

Great, now that you are all set, you have to add quality content. It is okay to have inspired content or pure news driven posts once in a while but you have to complement your blog brand with your own writing style and unique content. Another important point is to write things that naturally match the niche of your blog. As our blogger friend Mitch once said ‘It may be easy to write 5 pages about what you did the whole day, in the beach, with your family and dog but it takes some pains to write unique niche content’.

Another important thing is to maintain your post frequency so that you can do expectation management with your regular readers and improve search engine visibility.

Still no hits and no visitors :(

Unfortunately, just by writing great content, you don’t get visitors. For that, you have to make your blog visible to search engines. In addition, you have to really market your blog (to humans as well as search engines, RSS aggregators etc) by doing the following steps:

  • Make sure that your blog is structurally good (have robot.txt settings, a good sitemap, relevant robot meta tags, title, keywords, description etc)
  • You can get help from WordPress plugins such as All-in-one-SEO, Robots Meta, Google XML sitemap etc
  • Submit your blog to search engines and directories
  • Network with other bloggers who write about similar things as your content (do link exchanges or blogroll additions wherever applicable)
  • Comment on such blogs and add value each time you comment
  • Be part of the social media (digg.com, stumbleupon.com, mixx.com etc) and be active on social networks (twitter, facebook) in order to get bookmarked and recommended by others
  • If none of the above works, you may have to use some kind of advertising (PPC advertising such as Google AdWords, or banner advertisement) to help market your blog
All done! What about the money part?

Unfortunately, money is the byproduct of blogging and just having a blog doesn’t mean that money starts flowing immediately. Once you keep adding good content at a good frequency and you get a lot of organic traffic (search traffic) your blog has the potential of converting that traffic into money. You may read the make money page to learn about a few options to make money online and offline.

And don’t forget the fact that unless you have ever-improving traffic to your blog, it is hard to sustain the blog income. Otherwise you have to take the route of multi-level, lifetime-valid referral/affiliate schemes (which are rare commodities of late) to have recurring free income without doing any work!

And is there anything free at all? Of course, the AdSense subscription program is free, WordPress blogging platform and blogspot are free… but no money comes for free without real hardwork!

Happy Blogging (and Money Making)!

Comments

  1. Raju :

    I have seen people starting off with “How to make money online” blogs!! I seriously wish those guys read your post :)

  2. Good post Ajit.. Just what I needed. :o) I have to put more effort in my blog too to start earning, haven’t been able to keep up with it for a while. But As you said, no such thing as free money.

  3. Rightly said! Many start with the aim of only making money fast but finally land up making nothing.

    Even I got my first income after nearly 10 months. Well then these 10 months were months of learning new things and new strategies.

    And I must say that I learned some cool things here too. My niche is not abt MMO or Blogging tips but applying what i learn all way long has help a lot and now there a recurring income.

    The best is to start blogging as a hobby and not to simply start to make money. Money will come later on.

  4. Very good information.

    I have been battling for a few years to establish a online business until I met a guy that trained me with step by step tutorials. I have learnt more in 1 month than in the past years buying all sorts of promises and nothing happens.

  5. Tyrant :

    Worth reading. Every blogging newbie should read this article.

  6. @Raju, thanks buddy… You are right. The trend is to start a ‘Make Money’ blog as if they have to offer a turnkey solution to all money related problems :)

    @Sumee, there are a few more things like optimizing for search engines, using the right titles for posts, categories/labels on top of writing. Basically, you need to get a lot of search visitors (much more than direct readers and friends) in order to get ad click income.

    @Kurt, yep… start blogging as a hobby if you like writing that is. You don’t need to really worry about the money part as it will just follow. Once you have readers and traffic just pick the right monetization instruments that’s right for your niche. That’s it!

    @Bucks4U, Thanks for your comment… Great to know that you have had your learning the hard way. Regardless of the time taken, if you finally know that you can make it happen, you are already successful.

    @Nimil, thanks for your comment. Yes, it was mainly meant for newbies :)

  7. In less traffic, Create account in poluar forums, Update Account Info fill the ” Website/Home Page “, use Home URL as Signature, Start Posting (Digital Point Forums is a good example for this).

    Comment on other blogs.

    Never Spam. Submit to Search engines and directories, Submit RSS feed to Feed readers.

    Never Spam.

  8. Nihar :

    Nice post ajith!

    the initial period is the toughest period and more than 50% – 60% of bloggers drop from there.

  9. Ray :

    Great post! I just found your blog by way of your comment on my blog.

    I went through a similar experience when I started blogging a few years ago. It took a lot of time and energy to get to the point where I was able to make money online.

    One thing to remember also is that you’ll have to keep putting some effort into your blog or that income level will start to drop after a while. I’m working on building my blog (and income) back up now.

  10. @Nihar, I agree… A lot of people dream to make it as soon as the blog is launched. There are freak marketers who drag them into that mindset as well. Once they see that it’s hard to make even a dollar per day, they drop out.

    @Ray, Thanks for your comment Ray. You are right, one has to keep putting efforts to sustain traffic and income.

  11. Hey Ajith!
    The couple of things I personally found really commendable are:
    1. Back links to relevant posts
    2. Step-by-step approach
    3. Accuracy & effectiveness
    4. Choice of topic & title
    Great!

  12. What great advice, I don’t think I could’ve put it better myself.

    Making money online.. especially more than just a couple bucks a day takes time. If more people would realize this, the world would be a happier place! Too many people want to make a million over night and then get mad when they are scammed, but most sites that promise alot of money in a short period of time are just that.. scams!!!

    Keep up the great work..

    TriNi

  13. GUC :

    Ajith, very nice posting for those who are behind easy internet money.. :)

    Keep up the good work..

    Thanks!

  14. Koos :

    Hi Ajith
    I am a total novice when it comes to blogging, but I absolutely love it.
    Do you have any advice on tarket marketing as my blog is about supprt for Long distance Running.

    I think you have a great thing going.
    Koos

    • @Koos, thanks for your comment. If you have a niche blog that deals with long distance running, then the best way is to go for marketing some affiliate products in that specific domain via your blog.

  15. Simple Ways To Make Money Online Not Involving Surveys?: Under 18 and need a job and have applied for many jobs wi

  16. Aswin :

    good information.I have read many articles of making money online through adsense,but none of them had made this much impact…..nice work..

    Please visit my blog and give me some simple instructions to make my blog better.

  17. Dear Ajith

    Please visit my website and guide me how to go ahead. I have studied astrology and also have consulting practice. I wish to go on internet for more clients.

    • Dear Deshmukh,
      I took a look at your site. Looks like you have got really some services to offer to your potential cliens and that means you can be successful in your business – both online and offline.

      To increase the reach, you may do the following:

      1) Organize your website
      – You need to focus on marketing your key strengths/services on the home page itself. Perhaps some ‘tag line information’ on the header that gives you a quick idea about your service. And a prominent ‘Contact NOW’ image link or something like that would work better (just giving you hints).
      – You need to avoid too much of descriptive text in the home page – but explain things in just about two paras
      – If I were you, I will have just five prominent links on your home page (About, Services, Contact Us, Our Blog, Testimonials – preferably as links on top)
      – Your blog is a bit cluttered, you need to organize its content in a readable way. The content is good, it’s just the appearance etc

      2) Search Engine Optimization
      – You may have to consult some SEO people on what type of keywords, you would want to make your site appear on search engines.

      3) Marketing & Monetization
      You can use the following methodology to market your blog
      – Start a facebook fan page for your site and start building connections, your type of services would work best via facebook. It takes time but would do wonders. Will also help you to get a lot of references. This can be done free of cost.
      – You may try facebook ads to get people land on your fan page
      – Google AdWords is the best option. Create a beautiful landing page and send your potential customers to your landing page that explains “What you sell, real testimonials from real customers, how they benefitted etc, Your price list and at the end “Contact information”. Just check out this one that’s live on AdWords now -> premiumastrology.com/process2/landing_pages/aweber/index.php

      (You have to decide how many rupees you want to spend for getting a client for a 500 rupee service. Perhaps, 100 rupees ad expense per 500 return is not a bad idea)

      4) Remove Amazon ads or other ads from your site

      I am sure there are a few things that are going to work for you but everything should start with a good site design, landing page (for google ads) with organized information. Then Search optimization – facebook fan page etc, then comes ads.

      Good luck..

      Best regards,
      Ajith

  18. Dear Ajith
    As indicated in your guidance, I could make some changes in my site. I request you to visit my site and suggest if any change is required. I am trying to find out how to prepare a facebook fan page. About Landing page : Where it is to be created and where to use it.?

    • Dear Deshmukh,
      I guess you need to get some professional design done to make your content and services interesting. Your services, your background, FREE horoscope etc need major highlighting on the front page itself. This can be done only by some professional designers.

      As I mentioned earlier, the content and services that you can offer will have a lot of value for sure. It just need to be presented better and marketted well.

      Good luck,
      Ajith

  19. Akhilesh :

    Hi Ajith,

    I’m planning to have a blog on wordpress.org platform with bluehost.
    Since I’m a legal professional, it would be a legal tips and tricks blog for non-legal people.

    Categories such as:
    for lawyers and legal professionals,
    Non-legal people.
    and many others under a single blog.

    Setup is free. but after that I require an expert care for my blog for few months or so.
    My eyeside is week, so colour combination, looks of the site, and things like that.

    Please advise about your expert advise. Please mail me off list.

  20. BilonUK :

    First – great blog, lots of topics, very good look and content….. etc

    I wanted to come back to the topic of making money. Yea maybe I had an advantage as I was on the computers before windows, internet etc., but I don’t think its so hard.

    First thing I tried was articles like Squidoo, hub pages etc. I just wanted to try them, I write one article. I choose good topic, do some SEO and put 3 affiliate programs. My first sell was after about a month. About 60$ but since I made article I did nothing. I never updated and never even leave more than first 10 backlinks. After a year I had abut 600$ from it, but remember I spend maybe 8h all together making it.
    My advice, mot important thing – BELIEVE IN WHAT YOU TRYING TO DO :)

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