How to Make Money with a Blog
This is a summary of the points raised in Mark’s interview with Dave Taylor conducted during the World Internet Summit. Dave has been involved in the internet since 1980 (that's over 30 years!). He’s been a research scientist for Hewlett-Packard, involved in four start-ups, written 20 books and he’s been speaking publicly for well over a third of his years on the internet.
Dave´s main blogs are:
www.AskDaveTaylor.com (which receives between 250,000 and 300,000 visitors per month!)
www.Intuitive.com/blog (directed more at businesses).
What is a blog?
A lot of people have an idea of what is or isn’t a "blog", but essentially " blogs" are just nice content management tools that allow you to add content to your site really easily. Actually, it’s just about as easy as sending an email -- you just fire up your blogging tool, write your content and submit it, and it will appear on your site. Your posts will be automatically linked to your other pages, and pretty search engine friendly.
The key thing that distinguishes a blog from a "regular" site is that regular sites are just built and then left alone. They remain static. Blogs, on the other hand, are constantly updated.
Dave opinion is that blogs are more likely to help "quality" affiliates as opposed to "quantity" affiliates. That is -- affiliates who are affiliated with just a few carefully selected products that they honestly regard as being good value, as opposed to affiliates who affiliate with everything and hope something happens. Blogs are useful for developing an authentic dialogue with your community, which is something this first group is interested in.
Blogging to help your SEO
Search engines are looking for fresh, original content that is updated frequently. Blogging lets you create original content and update it frequently, so a lot of bloggers find they get pretty good search engine listings. With a blog you’re also able to separate your content from your blog "shell", so to speak. So if you want to tweak your "shell" for SEO purposes, the changes you make will apply to all the blog entries you’ve made, and all the ones you make in future, which is pretty convenient!
Dave himself doesn’t take too many pains with his search engine optimization, aside from utilizing what he calls "best practice" techniques.
Visit Google.com and find their webmaster resource section. In there, Google give you some pretty good pointers as to what you should and should not be doing with your website to get it ranking well in Google. They don’t spell it out... they just hint. (http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35769)
Building your blog
Dave himself uses Movable Type (http://www.movabletype.org), but this is quite a complex solution that you have to install on your own server. TypePad (http://www.sixapart.com/typepad/) is a more user- friendly version that you don’t have to host yourself. Both of these are products you need to pay for, but if you purchase a TypePad subscription and enter the promotional code "taylor " you receive a lifetime 10% discount!
Another useful blog tool is WordPress (http://www.wordpress.org) which is open source and free. The WordPress from www.wordpress.org is one that you need to install on your server yourself, while the WordPress from www.wordpress.com is an easier, "instant" version, but lacks some of the customization features of the server version.
How does Dave make money on his blog?
One interesting thing that Dave does is write blog posts around long-tail search terms. It may take a little while, but eventually he will start coming up the top of the search engines for these search terms. With thousands of visitors per day coming to his site by these search terms, he’s in a good position to be earning money from AdSense ads.
For a closer look, visit www.AskDaveTaylor.com
Dave's tips for blogging
- Spent 30 minutes per day on your blog, five days per week. Spend two of those days writing and posting new blog posts, and spend the other three days commenting on other people’s blogs.
- Write all your blog posts for the week in one sitting. Then you can schedule these to be posted at a later date. By doing this it looks like you’re posting every day of the week and it lends your blog more credibility.
- Don’t have every single blog post be a sales pitch. Very quickly your readers will get annoyed at being constantly hit with a marketing message, and they will tune out. Talk about other things of interest to your market.
- Make friends with the popular kids. Spend a lot of time reading and commenting on other people’s blogs, particularly if these people are important or popular people in your chosen market. You don’t even need to be saying anything particularly revolutionary. A simple " Another great post, really useful" will frequently suffice. If you spend enough time doing this you will attract attention. Don’t wait for these people to come to you -- go to them!
- When you’re posting replies on other people’s blogs, use a signature. Don’t make it a spammy, salesy signature -- include a link to your own blog. That way if people are interested in you, or in the things you have to say, they’ll click the link. Remember to maintain your own credibility!
- Work out a policy for receiving comments on your own blog. Will you allow all comments? Or will you approve comments before you allow them to be posted? Will you allow links? And if you allow links, will you allow affiliate links? Under what conditions will you ever delete a comment? These are good things to know from the outset.
- Try not to get involved with "bad neighborhoods". Tools like Blogger are easy to get started and use, but there are so many poor quality blogs created through Blogger that this might reflect poorly on your site. Try to find the most "reputable" tools and communities you can find.
- Have an opt-in mailing list for your blog. Send out summaries of your weekly activity, or blast your list when you post a new entry. A lot of people don’t bother with this for a blog, but it’s a really good way to keep people coming back to your blog. (Summarize when you’re posting frequently, blast when you’re posting less frequently. You don’t want to annoy your subscribers by flooding their inboxes!)
- Don’t just be thinking about the money. Don’t go about everything on your blog from a "how can I monetize this?" perspective, because it will come across to your readers. Instead think "How can I become an authority on this subject?". Interviews, articles, lessons, -- all these things are excellent blog fodder. Make it more of a "I’m here to help you" kind of tone, rather than simply "Buy! Buy! Buy!" all the time. Keep it low-key.
- Have patience. Stick to it. A blog is a long-term thing, you’re not likely to see instant results in 24 hours. Give it a few months to build momentum and you should start seeing some positive effects.
BlogSmart is Dave Taylor’s "insiders guide to blogging" site. You can sign up to Dave’s BlogSmart free mailing list and receive weekly inspirational tips on blogging. Dave goes "behind the scenes" in the blog scene and shows you how to get some really good results with some surprising tricks. Dave has also teamed up with SEO expert Brad Fallon and put together a ten week course called "Exploding Your Business With Blogging" which has been receiving excellent reviews lately. That’s also available from www.BlogSmart.com.