I started blogging back around the time the term “blog” was coined, but for the first ten years or so, my blogs were all personal. Before that I had had a couple of personal web pages which served the same purpose as a personal blog (a place to post photos and stories I wanted to share with friends), but like the blogs that came after them, I would always lose interest over time. As the years passed I became aware of the notion of “monetization,” though for better than half a decade I thought it was a load of horse puckey. I’d put AdSense on blogs, I’d even set up affiliate links to books I talked about, but nothing ever really happened. I think I made less than two dollars in my first five years of monetization.
The problem is, while I had the original content creation part down pat, I knew squat about drawing visitors. More importantly, I knew nothing about writing the kind of content visitors would search for. Sure, my tales of adventure in Norway, or my trials on the Appalachian trail might be interesting to people who knew me, but the average person had better things to do with their time. So how did I finally manage to make the leap from personal blogger to professional one? Easy:
I NEEDED MONEY
I had a great motivator when I was laid off from a job a couple of years ago. I already had a blog, so I decided to make a go of making money with it. At the time, I had no idea of the notion of niche saturation, so of course my blog was in a well-saturated niche (couponing, if you’re curious). And even though I was making a concerted effort, buying my own domain & branding it, learning about how to write keyword-centric content, and even beginning to build backlinks, it still wasn’t enough. So even though I was doing everything the experts said was right – participating in the community, getting links to my site, writing great posts that were carefully optimized for keywords, and of course creating affiliate links every chance I got – I was getting nowhere. I was frustrated, grumpy, and could hardly bring myself to write another sparkly, upbeat post extolling the virtues of this that or the other coupon or freebie. I was making pennies per week (if that), and just about ready to give up.
Then my mother died.
They say that tragedy breeds triumph, and in my case that certainly is true. Shortly after my mother passed away, I was pondering her death, considering the factors that had led to her sudden and tragic demise. Suddenly, one factor jumped out at me as being a major contributor, and I decided to get personal on my blog. I wrote a post about this health issue, and lo and behold it drew a massive amount of traffic – at least massive compared to the tiny trickle I was used to. My discovery of a new niche was almost complete. All I had to do was have the bright idea to create a separate domain (and back then, since I wasn’t yet thinking like an internet marketer, this took a while), and then get to work building a site around this theme.
MY FIRST TASTE OF SUCCESS
I built the site, and it was, naturally, a total flop, at least at first. But it was around this time that I learned about something called article marketing. So I gave it a shot. I wrote a great piece for EzineArticles, got it published, and…outranked my purpose-built site for my chosen keyword. Still, it passed more link juice than the crappy blog and profile comments I had built, and eventually people were finding my site on their own, as I added more content and wrote more keyworded articles. Pretty soon, I had my first $5 day (you may laugh, but it was a big deal back then), and began to believe this was a viable business model.
WHAT I’M DOING TODAY
Oddly enough, every time I write about a health issue on my couponing blog, it draws far more views than any of my posts about couponing or freebies ever have. That oughtta tell you something about the value of being in at least one health niche. It should also help you understand the value of building and keeping a flagship blog. I was seriously considering selling my couponing blog for a while, but I fortunately wised up, and realized that the hassle of updating it was far outweighed by the link juice and traffic it could pass to whichever of my new projects I wanted to use it toward. I used just such a post a couple of weeks ago, and the traffic to one of my brand-new sites has since risen more than fivefold – from just 26 visitors a day when I made the post on June 5th, to over 130 visitors as of yesterday (screenshot below). Ironically, just as eZine once outranked my niche site, my flagship blog did outrank my new niche site for the desired term as well. But this only lasted a couple of days, and unlike eZine, the traffic actually clicked through to my new site.
Oh, and see that sudden rise in traffic a couple of days ago? I’ll tell you how I managed that in another post…so stick around. And no, it wasn’t junk or paid traffic. It’s real, targeted, FREE traffic, who click my links and make me money all day and all night. Remember, as I mentioned in my first post, I don’t do PPC. Granted, 100+ daily visitors isn’t going to give the Yahoo home page a run for its money. But for a domain registered just under two months ago, with only seven pages of real content, and a whopping seven backlinks, it’s a pretty good start.
So, how did I arrive at blogging as a business model? The long, hard, painful way. But I’m not sure I’d trade it for the world. I’d love to hear how you wound up with blogging as your business model, or (if you use some other method besides blogging) how you made your choice.