Sunday, January 20, 2008

Blog for Money

Blogging allows would-be Web masters to create content without the overhead of creating a new site, applying for a Web Domain name, designing and finally writing it. There are many great sites that allow you to create content almost immediately that can start to attract traffic right away. is one such site; WordPress is another. Both of these allow you to easily adjust the look and feel of your site, and they provide you with a domain name that you can use right away. Alternatively, you can use their software to post to your own domain if you prefer to do so. allows you to use AdSense and affiliate links in your posts, where WordPress does not (but you can if you use your own domain).

When blogging it makes the most sense to stick to one single subject per blog. If you have more than one topic you want to write on, then create a new blog with its own domain for each topic. This helps keep the search engines happy, and your domain ranked high.

In fact, there is even more benefit to having multiple blog domains, especially if they are similar but distinct topics. By having links to each of your other domains in every blog, you improve the search engines' estimation of the importance of your site because of incoming links. The fact that they all originate from the same writer does not matter to the search engines. Each blog site will get a boost in the search rankings, which should result in increased traffic.

If you are not familiar with the history of blogging, it originated as a method of keeping and publishing a diary. The term "blog" is simply a shortened form of "Web log", and there have been some famous and infamous blogs in the early days. However, the days of keeping a diary and expecting to get a loyal following are pretty much at an end. If that's what you want to do, then that's fine; just don't expect much from it.

The other factor that adds to the benefits of blogging is that most blogging sites and software allow for visitor feedback. Not only does this increase your interaction with your visitors, but it actually creates new content that search engines can list. More than once I have had new visitors come to a blog site when their search came up with a link to a comment left by a visitor.

As with content driven Web sites, there are many ways to monetize your blog. First and most obvious is to use Google AdSense; another is to post affiliate links. For more information on these, see my previous blog on Content Driven Sites.

So, since you are already on this site, why don't you start your blog right now! But before you do, leave me a nice, long comment with lots of searchable terms in it!

Create a Content Driven Web Site

Search engines reward good content

If you have ever done a search using Google or Yahoo, then you know that the Internet is a great tool for matching people who need information with those who have it. Search engines have become very adept at rewarding Web sites that satisfy this need for information with traffic. The goal of any Web master is to get traffic, especially visitors that are highly interested in the topic of the Web site.

Anyone knows enough to build a good site

Everyone knows enough about at least one topic to be able to build a good content driven Web site. Also, there are probably thousands and thousands of people looking to find exactly that information on the Web.

When the Internet first became popular, you had to be technically savvy to be able to create a Web site, let alone a popular one. Layout, graphics, uploading content to servers all had to be learned, and that was before any research was done on how to make your site rank well in search engines. And if you wanted any sort of interaction with your visitors, then you had to learn that technology, too, or pay someone to manage it.

Even after all that, there was no guarantee of making any income, because you pretty much had to have a product to sell.

There are tools that help with the technical issues

Fortunately, things have changed drastically, and for the better. There are many software tools that will help you design your Web site and upload it to your server. Some tools are better than others, though, and the one I use is Site Build It.

SBI, as it is known, does more than just help you design and build your site. First, there is a research tool that helps you define your chosen niche. For instance, when I first started to investigate building a Web site I had it mind that I wanted to make a site about cooking. The research tool showed me that this was too broad a topic and that I would likely get buried by the giant sites that already dominate this field. Instead, I was able to find a profitable niche in the sub-topic of soup. The result is my site Homemade Soup Recipes.

My site has increased in traffic, as well as Google ranking each and every month. This month my traffic is up over 50% over the previous month, and I am averaging over 300 visits per day, and it is still growing. More importantly, the page views are over a 1,000 per day, and I have not written anything new in a couple of months.

How does this happen? First, SBI makes a constant point of making sure that you have lots of good content, as this is the only thing that will build lasting traffic and good rankings. Second, they have a program that matches you with other Web masters with similar topics to exchange links with. This increases both sites' rankings with Google and other search engines, leading to more traffic. There other tools, such as a forum where you can discuss with other SBI customers on how to increase traffic and ranking, as well as income.

How do you make money at it?

So, once you have your traffic, how do you turn it into income? Fortunately, there are quite a few different ways of accomplishing this, and many sites use more than one.

Google Ads

Google Ads is the ground-breaking money-making tool that has made it possible for even someone new to the world of Web site building to start making money. Once you have a site with good content on a specific topic, you start an account with Google. You then use the code that they give you to put ads on your web pages. These ads will automatically get added on the fly whenever someone visits your page. Also, this ad will match the topic of your page if you have done things correctly.

So who pays for these ads? Google, of course, but they get their money from advertisers who bid to have their ads put onto sites like yours. The higher bidders pay more to have their ads put on higher-ranking sites, and different topics will command higher prices as well. Then, if a visitor to your site clicks on the ad, you get paid for that click, based on how much Google is paid by the advertiser. Again, it pays to have not only a lot of traffic, but traffic that is highly interested in the topic of your site.


Kontera is another company that displays and pays for ads, but they do so by changing some of the words in your content to links that visitors can either preview by hovering the mouse pointer over them. or clicking to actually view the ad. Again, you are paid by click. I generally get fewer clicks with this method, but the price per click is usually higher than with Google.

Affiliate Links

If people are willing to pay to advertise on your site, then they must have something to sell. What if you were to cut out the middle man and sell it yourself? This is what Affiliate programs do. They allow you to advertise a product directly by sending the visitor to a Web page that does the selling of the product. In the link that opens the sales page, you include a tag that tells the selling site that it was your visitor that opened the page. If the visitor buys something, you get a percentage of the sale.

What percentage this is depends on the affiliate program. Physical products tend to have a lower percentage than e-books and other electronic products and services, but their prices can be higher too. Mostly, you want to pay the most attention to matching your visitors' interests with the appropriate products. For instance, on my soup site I have a few links to an affiliate site that sells kitchen equipment. I don't make a ton of money on this link, but on my other site I sell guides for World of Warcraft, and this can be quite profitable.

You can get started on affiliate programs with Clickbank and Commission Junction.

Support current business; get referals

If you already have an off-line business you can drive extra business with a content driven Web site. What this amounts to is a highly-targeted advertising at very low cost. Many businesses can benefit from this kind of advertising, especially if it is a new business. This kind of targeting can be aimed at a local, national or world-wide audience as your business dictates. Several business owners have done this in many different businesses, such as real estate agents, dentists, lawyers, bed and breakfast operators, and many more.

Alternatively, you can offer to promote someone else's business and get referal income in return. This works quite well with businesses that sell high priced products or services and employs a sales staff. Anything that comes in through a different revenue stream is generally quite welcome, especially if the cost is less than their average.


Another type of business that can be built this way is a Multi-Level Marketing business. Companies like Amway and Herbalife market their products through self-employed sales people who are rewarded for both selling the products and recruiting new sales people. This is not to be confused with Pyramid schemes, which involve transfers of money for no products (or "fake" products like useless reports.) MLM companies are mostly honest companies selling good products, but because of the similarity to illegal schemes some people are immediately turned off by them.

Also, MLM can be hard, especially if you don't like rejection, or are not a "people person". But a Web site removes that issue, since there is no direct contact required. The method involved in building traffic to increase MLM business is to create a site whose content is based on the types of products or solutions that the MLM company provides. This is done without actually mentioning the MLM company or its products by name, since this is usually considered unauthorized marketing. Instead, you offer visitors a chance to leave a comment asking for more information. You can then send them a reply with a redirect to a more official site that will allow the visitor to buy a product or sign up to sell it.


As you can see, once you have a large amount of highly-motivated traffic visiting your Web site, there are many ways to monetize that traffic. But it all starts with content, and knowing what content will be profitable. If you would like to see a video describing the steps that this takes, visit Site Build It and watch either the 2 1/2 minute intro video or the 30 minute full tour. Once you do, you will see just how easy it can be to make a profitable Web site.

Make Money Taking Surveys

About 25 years ago I worked for a telephone solicitation company, and the majority of our calls were attempts to sell something, usually magazine subscriptions. However, from time to time we would be calling people to simply do surveys on behalf of a client. I was young at the time, and did not understand why someone would pay us to call people when there was no chance of making a sale.

What I learned later was that our customer was simply trying to learn more about their customers, with the hopes that they would be able to sell to them more easily or profitably. Successful marketing companies understand that this kind of research pays huge dividends, so they are quite willing to spend a lot of money on it.

In the days before the Internet marketing companies would pay people to do surveys over the phone, in malls, and in stores. These surveyors were being paid regardless of whether they were successful in getting valid surveys from the type of customer they were looking for. Imagine paying a survey company $200 dollars a day to call people or stop them in the mall. Further, let's imagine that the average surveyor manages to ten valid surveys in a day (and that would be a lot; rarely can they do better than one an hour). This means they are paying $20 per survey, and that's before they collect the surveys from all the surveyors, enter them into a database and do their reporting.

Imagine now, instead, that thousands of customers sign up with a marketing company, saying that they are not only willing to be surveyed, but are in fact eager. The marketing company can pay the customer to do the survey, rather than a surveyor on the phone or in the mall. The customer prefers to take the survey on their own time without the interruption of a phone call or a stop in their busy shopping schedule. The marketing company cal also target customers based on their demographics, which they fill in when they sign up. Everyone wins!

The problem is that there are lots of marketing companies out there, and none of them sends out a ton of surveys. Fortunately, there are several companies that have compiled lists of such marketing companies. They provide direct links to the survey companies, and some provide some free tools to help enter information into the sign-up forms. The more of these that you fill out, the more surveys will be sent to you, and the more that will match your demographic information, and thus the more you get paid. Here are some links for services that list these marketing companies:

Daily Paid Surveys
Paid Surveys Etc.
Survey Scout
Paid Surveys Online
Expre$$ Paid Surveys
Highest Pay Surveys
Home Survey Workers

All of these will give you lists of marketing companies that offer paid surveys. Some will also have companies that do in store "mystery" shopping, where you go and shop for something and report back your experiences. Others have focus groups, and similar opportunities.
One thing to watch for is the tendency for some marketing companies to "pay" with sweepstakes entries rather than cash. They can lower their costs by doing this, with the promise of a chance to win a large prize in place of a small cash payment. It is better to go for the cash payment, as these add up to more than you can expect from prizes. Others will pay in merchandise, and you can decide if these are worth the effort.

What all of these companies offer is a chance for nearly anyone to make some income online. If you shop for products, or are even considering doing so, then you can do this. You do not need any experience with computers (well, enough to use email and type your answers into forms) or marketing savvy. The perfect candidate for this type of income is a stay-at-home parent who has some free time at home, but cannot count on any particular time of day. the nice thing about these surveys is that they can be done at your leisure, provided you do them within a certain time frame.

You probably won't make a ton of money at this, but there are some people out there who make a full time income from home. However, if you are at home taking care of kids, and cannot get out there to make an income in a job, then any amount you make is a plus!