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)!