Building Your Income with Blogs
Blogs are a fantastic way to make money. They perform well in search engines, they’re easy to promote, and they can offer very sticky content. If you blog often, and you’re good at what you do, you could develop a pretty large following of readers who subscribe to your RSS feed and read your content on a daily basis.
One of the biggest keys to success with blogs is posting in them regularly. If you don’t post regularly, you probably won’t get much traffic, and people won’t return. Posting frequently also keeps your content fresh, and search engines love fresh content.
The more often you post, the more often the spiders will visit your site. And every time you post, you can ping your site at the various ping locations. This can also bring in more traffic.
Another major key to blog success is creating sticky content. This means you have to write posts that people will actually be interested in reading.
Readers probably don’t care what you had for dinner, unless you’re John Chow or you’re running a food blog. They want to read about stuff related to your niche. If you’re running a blog about golfing, at least 75% of your posts should be related to golf. Preferably 100%.
You should talk about golf courses you’ve recently played on, tournaments you’ve watched, and clubs you’ve tried. You might occasionally post about family matters, or your dog, or your favorite restaurant as a way to connect on a more personal level with your readers, but most of your posts should be on target with your niche.
Blogs are great for people who sell services. If you’re a graphics designer or writer, having a blog is a good way to keep in touch with your clients. You can offer updates on your schedule and availability, current prices and special offers, and when you’ll be taking some time off.
You can also post samples of your latest work. If you have a number of clients subscribe to your RSS feed, you’ll be able to keep in contact with them so they’ll order from you more often.
People also tend to follow blogs more carefully than websites.
Don’t start a blog with the intention of letting it sit dormant and earn money. It probably won’t work. If you’re going to start a blog, you need to be prepared to commit yourself to growing the blog, posting often, keeping it updated, and not giving up on it.
They offer multiple selling opportunities – from text links woven throughout the content to image ads like banners you strategically place in between blog posts. The sidebar can also be utilized as affiliate or direct sales revenue space.
Make sure you take the time to transfer your blog over to your own domain instead of hosting it within the blogging community. This makes it more professional to the person who lands on your website and lends credibility to your efforts as the go-to person in your niche.
Moving a Blog to Your Own URL
Many people start their blogs on hosted platforms. Hosted blogging solutions can be a good way to start, because they’re free and they’re generally trusted in the search engines. But there are perils associated with hosting a blog on someone else’s server.
For one thing, you’re at the mercy of the owner of the platform. Blogger has been known to delete blogs without warning, simply because they felt the blog was too much like spam or too commercial.
WordPress doesn’t allow affiliate links to be used on their blogs, so making money by hosting a blog on their servers is difficult. Ideally, you should start your blog on your own server, preferably in the root of the domain.
Some people have their blog in a subdirectory, such as yourdomain.com/blog. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but putting your blog on its own domain can have special benefits.
For one thing, a root domain often ranks better in the search engines than a subdirectory.
Putting your blog on the main domain (just yourdomain.com) can help it rank better, and might even give it a little more credibility in the eyes of your visitors. For another thing, people generally prefer a blog over a content site.
If you have some sort of content site on the root domain, then you have a blog in a subdirectory, people may come to your domain specifically to read your blog. If your blog isn’t easy to find, they may leave and never come back.
Most people who host a blog on their own server use WordPress. If you host the software on your own server, you’re free to have affiliate links if you wish. WordPress also has a lot of support in the form of themed templates and plugins.
If you’re going to host your blog in the root of your domain, you’ll upload all of the files and folder directly to the root instead of a subdirectory. If you had your blog previously in a subfolder or another domain, you’ll need to do a 301 redirect to tell search engines and visitors that the files have moved, and where they’ve moved to.
If you don’t know how to do this, you can search Google for “301 redirect” to learn how to set this up. If you move your blog from a hosted solution, you’ll need to provide a link to your new blog in a post on the old location.
Simply create a new post on the old blog, and say something like, “We’ve moved! This blog has been relocated to a new domain. Click here to visit the new blog, and be sure to update your bookmarks!”
By linking to the new location, you’ll not only be telling your visitors where to find you, but you’ll also be telling search engines where to find your new blog. They’ll follow that link to your blog’s new location, and you’ll probably get the new domain indexed faster than if you didn’t link to it from the old one.
You can save yourself from having to do this later by starting your blogs on your own domain from the beginning. A domain name is generally under $10, and hosting can be found for as little as $5 per month.
Some people may not even have that much money available when they’re just starting out, and that’s understandable. But as soon as you can possibly afford it, you should probably invest in a domain and hosting.
If you get a new domain, log into your cpanel and click the Fantastico button (it’s a little smiley face). On the left sidebar, under Blogs, click WordPress. Then click New Installation. From the drop down directory, choose the domain you want it to reside on.
If you want it to be located on yourdomain.com, leave the next field blank. If you prefer it to be on yourdomain.com/blog, then put the word blog in the next field. Then you’ll just enter all of your administrative login information and click Install WordPress and your blog will be live! You can find plenty of free themed templates to alter your blog with online.
Guest Blog to Build a Bigger Base
Some people panicked when Google spam expert Matt Cutts announced on his blog that there was a decay and fall of guest blogging. So all of a sudden, everyone decided to steer clear of guest blogging – and they didn’t even read the fine print.
So let’s cover guest blogging, because there’s a big difference between valuable guest blogging and guest blogging for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) purposes, which is what he said is now viewed as spammy.
Your goal isn’t just to spam blogs for backlinks. That is a problem. Guest blogging should be done as one part of a multi-part list building effort – and in moderation.
You want to be particular about where you guest blog, and how often. But the way you’ll be learning it here will prevent you from churning out low-quality guest posts anyway, so you’ll be safe.
Matt even posted some spammy guest blogging requests he’d recently gotten – and these are what you do not want to be doing. This is when you send out random, impersonal requests to stick content on someone else’s blog for the sole purpose of getting a backlink from their site.
You’re not going to be asking for “do follow” links like the spammers do. That’s because they want link juice, and your goal is to connect with the audience and get them to click through to your squeeze page.
Matt even says you can accept guest blogs from those you know and trust. And that is where you should be positioning your guest blog posts – with bloggers you know and respect after you’ve allowed them to get to know you and respect you as well!
He even states specifically in the guest blogging article, that the good reasons to continue guest blogging are for “exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.” Yes! That’s what you’re looking to do, and the Google expert himself has okay’d it for you.
So now that that’s laid to rest, let’s look at how to properly approach guest blogging in a way that you can use it to help you build a loyal following and increased subscriber base.
What Is Guest Blogging?
Guest blogging is a great concept when done right. Basically, you’re developing a blog post – just as you would for your own blog – and allowing someone else to post it on his or her blog.
This is unique, original content that you created. It’s not something you use elsewhere. The blogger posts the blog on his or her site and then either gives you an introduction as the guest blogger, or simply allows you to create a “bio box” just as they do in magazines – with your name, a blurb about yourself and a link back to your site.
Find Blogs You Want to Guest Blog For
Before you get started with a guest blog post, you have to find a blog that you want to write for. This is not a one day event where you log online, do a quick keyword search, find a blog and pump out content for it.
You want to choose the right blog and the right audience. In order for you to craft the best guest blog post and get it accepted, it will take a little time for you to observe and find the right content to create.
You want to find a blog with an active audience – one that has active posts that are current, not from 3 months or three years ago. Check the dates of the blog. If, per chance the blogger hasn’t allowed dates on their blog, then sign up and observe and see if they post frequently.
Is the audience active in the comments section? You don’t want to be talking to a blog that doesn’t have a thriving audience. Check to see what the comments are, not just the numbers.
Some poor bloggers don’t know the difference between spam comments and real ones, so look at the comments and see who is commenting, what they’re saying (could be great ideas for a guest blog post or opt in offer here), and how many are in discussions.
You want to choose a blog with the same target audience as the opt in freebie you’re driving them to. You might need to swap out your opt in freebie if you find a blog willing to let you guest blog, but your offer is slightly off-target.
Fill a gap for someone on a topic that you know more about than they do! It should always be something relevant for their blog, but as long as it all ties in, see if you can fill a gap for them.
For example, let’s say you’re in the Internet Marketing niche and you go to a great blog that’s thriving and current. But the blog owner has nothing on SMS Marketing (text marketing).
You would be doing them a favor by helping them have a whole rounded blog with another relevant IM topic. Make sure you check with them first if this is your approach, though.
You don’t want them to balk and say, “I don’t want to cover SMS Marketing.” See if they would appreciate your filling the gap and if not, look for a topic they do need.
Approaching Bloggers with an Offer
Ideally, you will have formed a relationship with this other blogger before you start asking if you can guest blog for them. They need to know you’re not just some spammy backlink builder.
So spend some time on the blog as a participant, get to know the blogger and interact with him or her, and then later approach them with an offer if the time is right.
You can approach it content-wise in one of two ways. One way is to ask them if you can guest blog for them and if they have any topics they need help with, as mentioned previously.
The other way is to have ready made content available for them. If this is the approach you take, then go ahead and prepare the blog post and when you email them asking if they’d like to use it, send the post as an attachment for their review.
Let them know that if you don’t hear back by a set date, you’ll assume they’re passing and you’ll go ahead and use the content elsewhere (said politely, of course).
Of course you can also do an exchange request. This works well sometimes if the other blogger has enjoyed your blog as well. The two of you can cross promote to each others’ audiences by writing a guest blog post for each other.
You want to know what the terms are of the guest blog opportunity. For example, will the link be live or un-clickable? It doesn’t need to be a “follow” link, but it does need to be clickable so the reader doesn’t have to copy and paste it into their browser.
As a side note, when the blog post goes live, check to make sure the link is actually clickable and has no typo errors in it. There have been a few cases where the blogger underlined the link, colored it blue and bold, but it was only formatted that way and not an actual hyperlink.
What will happen once the blog post goes live? Will the blogger email out about it, and put it on their social networking accounts? Most will want to do this anyway, but you want to make sure you have the details spelled out.
And the bio box is very important, too. Where will it be located? Some bloggers put it before the content, as a way of introducing you. Others put it at the bottom. You might request an introduction by the blogger and a bio box at the bottom.
Crafting the Perfect Guest Blog Post
What kind of blog post will make blog owners want to host your content so that you can build your own list? The first thing you want to do is make sure it’s uniform for the site.
That means creating a blog post with a similar length, style and tone as the original blogger to some degree. You don’t want to provide a 250-word blog post if the blogger usually has 1,500-word posts.
Likewise, you don’t want to submit a blog post laden with four-letter words and crass humor if the blogger is more professional and vice versa – if the blog is less professional, and your content is too stiff, that won’t go over well with their audience.
You do want your content to be entertaining, informative and cutting edge. Your blog post as a guest has to be some of the best you’ve ever written. It should be something you wish you could put on your own blog because it’s just that good.
In addition to creating the blog post itself, you’ll want to create an author’s bio box that helps drive traffic from their blog to your squeeze page. In this case, you might even point them back to one of your blog posts if it has an opt in form in the sidebar and below the blog post.
You could write a part 2 on your blog and publish the part 1 on their blog. Or, you could just link them directly to the squeeze page freebie so that they could download something and get on your list immediately.
Notice specific blog layouts for your blog host. For example, do they use long paragraphs or very short ones? Do they use lots of subtitles? You want the posts to look like they fit in nicely with what’s already there.
Writing and delivering it this way will also make the blog owner instantly feel more at ease with your content and more likely to say yes to whatever you’ve produced.
Post Guest Blog Promotion Strategy
Once you submit the guest blog post and the blog owner has accepted the offer, you’re not finished with this list building effort. You have more work to do! Just as you want the blog host to promote your content, you need to do the same.
Even though you already have some people on your list, you still want to drive your list to the blog post. The more activity it gets and the more social shares it gets, the more your list will grow.
Once the post is live, go to it and use the social sharing buttons to share it on all of the main sites, including:
* Google Plus
* Pinterest (if applicable, which is a good reason to include a picture in the post)
Some other sites might work well too, like Tumblr. It all depends on the niche and target audience.
On these social networking sites, you want to share the link with some of your own commentary posted along with it. You might say something like, “Appreciate the opportunity to teach John Doe’s blog readers about SMS Messaging!”
Blog on your blog to complement the other blog post. Even if it’s not a part 1 and part 2 post, you can put a new post on your blog for a topic that complements the other one, and drive traffic to the other blog.
You’ll already have them on your blog, but let’s say they haven’t opted in and you want them to go straight to your squeeze page. Send them to the other blog and make that link go straight to your freebie opt in offer.
Guest blogging is just one of many ways you can help build your list. You want a well-rounded approach, not one where you put all your eggs in one basket. Use it effectively and you’ll see results.
That means spending plenty of time researching the best blogs, forming relationships with those bloggers, and crafting content so amazing that you wow their audience enough to click off their blog and come sign up with you!