A lot of people thinking of getting into blogging may wonder whether it is really possible to make money off it. Are all these stories of thousands of dollars a month income working online just a fantasy?
The short answer is that while it isn’t easy, making money online from setting up your own blogs and niche sites is definitely possible, though it takes hard work and requires following a certain strategy and ticking certain boxes. Not all people are successful trying to make money online because they don’t take the right approach, but when done properly, successful blogs can earn several thousand dollars a month.
In this sense it can be helpful for us to differentiate what is commonly called “blogging” from creating niche sites. Blogging arguably carries with it the connotation that someone is setting up a website just to air their opinions about certain topics. These kind of sites often won’t be successful if the aim of the creator is just to state their own opinions about things.
To make money setting up WordPress websites, there has to be a specific approach to the entire process, such as picking the right niche, targeting the right keywords, and creating high quality and tactfully monetized content that helps people to solve a problem or question that is being asked online in the form of Google searches.
This is very different from just writing what you want to say, which is a trap so many bloggers fall into and wonder why their sites don’t make money. You have to actually be answering questions people are asking and filling in gaps in the market for information.
In this sense the online market of information is no different from the physical market of real shops we go to every day. You have to actually be delivering what the customer wants and not just doing whatever you want to do. You need to answer what people are actually searching for and not what you think they need to know.
This is what we mean by the broader term of creating niche sites, and when done properly these sites can most definitely make good money if you pick the right niche and put the work in. See the video just below from the guys at Income School on the excellent income their niche sites have generated over the years because they took the right approach to building them.
So is is more about the approach and mindset which a person takes to setting up a website that determines whether or not it will be successful. It is about finding a right balance between being commercial enough that you are actually providing information and resources people are looking for, but also not overly monetizing your site so it comes across as spammy and never ranks.
Income School on how much nice sites can make when approached in the right way
The Pessimism Around Blogging
It can be difficult to be taken seriously when you say you blog or build niche sites for a living. So many people still do not believe it is a viable way to make a living and will ask you what you actually do for a job. They think you are joking!
This article for example is on the whole a little pessimistic about the prospects of blogging, producing research to show that in their sample, only 13% of bloggers made $1000 a month or more off their sites. 63% of those surveyed by contrast made $100 per month or less. 17% or just under one fifth made 100-500 dollars per month blogging.
However, we maintain that if you dig into the more successful cases a little more, you will find a certain strategy and approach to building websites that will likely have been absent from the lesser successful cases. There is a certain formula you need to follow and bases you need to cover to make a blog or niche site successful. Some of these are:
- Picking a topic you are actually interested in and are motivated to write content on.
- Picking a good niche or topic that isn’t overly competitive so your content has a chance of ranking.
- Researching keywords in your niche with low quality search results and responding to these searches by providing useful resources.
- Creating high quality, lengthy content which provides excellent information and/or helps people to solve a problem.
- Creating a large amount of this content; 10 articles or less will not do, you need several dozen at least and most often a lot more to start driving traffic.
- Monetize your content in moderation will affiliate links, ads and eBooks, but not excessively.
- Being prepared to be very patient and wait 6-9 months for serious traffic to start building.
- Continuing to regularly add and update content to keep it fresh and relevant.
- In summary, if you can get eyeballs on your content, you can make money off it, in one way or another.
In order to make money online, there does have to be a specific strategy that is followed. People who are using online blogs to just air their opinions about the world are not going to make much money off it. You have to actually provide resources that people are looking for and answers to questions people are asking on Google.
Therefore if you are hoping to make serious money off setting up a website, you may need to look at it as more of a niche site than a blog, in that there is real commercial intent there to drive traffic to the site and carefully monetize that traffic. These kind of sites are more likely to succeed than a blog where people are just getting things off their chest.
Let’s run through some of the most important factors in creating profitable websites one by one in a little more detail. The Income School guys provide fantastic information and motivation for people thinking of starting out in this field and we will link to their videos throughout the article.
Picking the Right Niche
The first thing you need to do is pick the right niche, preferably a sweet spot between something you are interested in, something which you can actually make money off and something that isn’t too competitive.
The competition part is especially important, since it is not a good idea to launch a website about a topic already dominated by big, authoritative sites which have been around a long time and get a lot of traffic. It is going to be difficult to outrank these sites no matter what you do so it is best to avoid these super competitive niches. Health, finances and fitness are often cited as the three niches to avoid.
It is also important that you are interested in the niche yourself, since this will provide you with the motivation needed to produce the content and be patient when the results are slow to come in the early days. Writing about a topic you are knowledgeable and passionate about makes the process a lot easier.
Admittedly the competitiveness and interest principles can clash sometimes, with a topic you are really into and want to write about being a highly competitive one. In these cases it may be about really drilling down into a certain niche or subset of that topic and building the website around that eg. drill down from vintage cars and make your site about vintage ford cars if that is less competitive.
The topic should also be something that is monetizable in the sense of having products from Amazon and other retailers you can recommend in your content and collect affiliate commission on for referrals. Most niches will have some products which are monetizable in this way.
You also need to make a judgement as to whether a customer will buy off Amazon or just go down to the local store, and also whether the affiliate commission will be good enough to generate a decent income. For cheaper products with lower commissions you will need a lot of content to drive the traffic required to earn a a decent amount of commissions.
Doing The Right Keyword Research
Once you have decided on a niche you think you can monetize, it is about researching keywords within that niche to find openings where you can produce content to fill gaps in the market for information online and help people solve a problem.
Following the approach of Income School, you are firstly looking for search phrases already completed by the Google Auto-suggest feature, which implies that other people are already searching that term, hence why Google is suggesting it for you.
You then need to drill down into these search terms within your niche and find phrases that are currently being under-served in the search results. In other words, the results are of poor quality or not directly answering the question, and you think you can do a better job with your knowledge of the topic.
Forum post answers, short articles and older posts are a couple of key results you can target here. If these are showing up top of the results, there is a great chance for you to produce a longer, better, more helpful resource and top the rankings for that search term.
The idea is to run through all the potential search phrases related to your niche and analyze the search results for each phrase. From there, you can draw up a hit-list of at least 30 articles (hopefully more) that you can write detailed content on and do a better job than the content that currently ranks for that term.
If done properly this method can give you a strong base of articles on your site which can rank well on Google and thereby drive traffic to your site, which can then be monetized on the form of affiliate links, ads and eBooks. When given time, this is how niche sites can make money.
Writing Great Content
Once you have drawn up your hit list of articles you can write around your niche, it is simply a case of producing great content on each search term that is a more detailed and definitive resource than anything else currently out there.
Here are some quick pointers on how to write good content which can rank well on Google:
- Aim to produce long articles or 1500 words or more. Length is a crucial factor in ranking. As a caveat to this, having some quick short 1000 word posts can help get your site ranking in the early days. Longer term though long content tends to rank better.
- If you can answer the main question in a few sentences, then anticipate and answer follow up questions the readers may have, plus caveats and exceptions to rules, to get the length of the article up.
- Format the content well, with short paragraphs, H3 subheadings, images, videos, bulleted lists, comparison tables and so on where relevant.
- Go the extra mile to make your content the best, most thorough and detailed resource for that search phrase that covers the most bases.
- Add affiliate links to your content where appropriate but keep monetization moderate and have some articles which have no affiliate links at all and are purely informational.
- See our article on producing content for your blog for more on this.
If you follow this process for all of the keyword phrases you want to target, and create a better resources than the competition, then in time this content will rank on Google and start to drawn traffic in to your site.
If you do a good job on keyword research and write enough quality content, then you can make some decent money off this traffic and this is pretty much the formula that the more successful internet marketers have followed.
Once you have produced the content though, you need to be prepared to be very patient for the content to rank on Google, since it takes a long time for Google to really trust content from a brand new site.
Income School looked into this and found that it takes an average of 35 weeks or 9 months for content on a brand new site to reach close to the peak of it’s traffic on Google.
However, if you are willing to do the right research beforehand, put the work in to produce a batch of solid content and then be patient, building “blogs” and niche sites can be great way to earn some extra money and in the more successful cases a very good full time income.
Despite the pessimism some people have about blogging, there are most definitely people who have made it work and it is about following the formula they have followed if you want to make serious money online. They are producing content which answers something being demanded by people online.
The people who have failed have most likely not approached the subject right, either picking the wrong niche, not producing enough content, targeting search terms which are too competitive or over-monetizing their site. See this video for some other common mistakes new bloggers can fall into.
To go back to our original question then, you can most definitely make money with blogging if you approach it the right way. If you match the cliched stereotype of the “blogger” who just wants to write their own opinions on everything then you will likely struggle. We should add that this cliche definitely does not apply to all bloggers.
If you approach your website more like a niche site though and just provide a great, useful resource for people searching questions in that niche, then you can definitely make money. If you tailor the way you create your website and content to provide information and products people are looking for, then with hard work your site can be successful given time.
Full Tutorial on Getting Started
Their consultation program is now Project 24.
For beginners who are thinking of starting websites to make money, we also recommend Income School’s Project 24 program. We use their videos so much because we simply think they are the best resource out there with the best approach for non technical people that want to start making money online.
Too many people offering advice in this field are teaching about flashy SEO tricks like backlinking, keyword research tools and social media. Income School keep it simple and down to earth and have a proven process which has worked for them many times.
If you would like to get started with blogging, then click here for our page on getting a domain name, and then click here for our page on getting a good host and installing WordPress. From there it is about getting a good theme and then producing great content.