With plenty of bloggers making a steady part-time income from their sites and some even earning a full-time income, I thought I would share the strategies I employed to turn my blogs into a significant source of extra income each month.
No, Money Under 30 is not a “make money online” blog, but it is a financial blog – with an emphasis on helping twentysomethings overcome the increasing gap between low earnings and high debts and expenses. One way I have been successful doing just that is by turning blogging into a profitable hobby.
In this series of four posts, I’ll show you how to launch and a blog that has the potential to make you anywhere from a few hundred to over one thousand dollars per month. And who knows, depending on your skill, motivation, and a little bit of luck, you never know where you can go from there. Ready to get started? Let’s look at strategically choosing your blog’s topic.
I admit, when I started Money Under 30, I didn’t have a plan, much less a well-thought out strategy.
What I did have was financial writing experience, the need to get my own finances into shape (still a work in progress), and a hunch that under-30 finances would be an appealing and potentially profitable niche.
As I launch other blogs today, I’m a bit more careful, and I lay out strategic blog plan. Interestingly enough, I start my blog plan by asking the very same questions that led me to start this site.
- What experiences do I have that could be valuable to readers?
- Or, what interests do I have that will keep me motivated to keep blogging?
- What niches are under-served in the blogosphere, and the Web in general?
- Can you make money from your niche?
Let’s look at each of these points in a bit of detail.
What experiences do I have that could be valuable to readers?
At the core of any successful blog is valuable content. In order to create content that delivers value to readers, a blogger has to have either direct experience in a subject area, or the ability to research and write clearly on particular subject. Some bloggers have a high level of credibility in the blog’s subject area. For example:
- A doctor blogging about health care
- A mechanic blogging about auto repair
- An HR manager blogging about the hiring process
If this is you, blogging about what you know may not only turn into a profitable hobby; blogging can be a boon to your career, netting you new contacts, public recognition, even allowing you to promote yourself as a consultant.
If you’re not an expert in a particular field — or don’t feel like blogging about it — not to worry: you can be just as successful blogging about something that deeply interests you.
What interests do I have that will keep me motivated to keep blogging?
For bloggers who are not experts in their subject areas, finding a topic that is personally interesting is critical to your success, because it will give you the motivation you need to persevere when your creativity is running low or the traffic just isn’t coming.
If you choose a blog topic based on your interests rather than your professional experience, you’ll also need to possess the same attributes that enable good reporters to write articles and books on virtually any topic:
- An ability to research thoroughly
- Clear, engaging writing style
Working as a reporter and editor gave me this edge when I started writing about personal finance, but tens of thousands of successful blogs have proven you don’t need to be a professional writer to find success on the Web.
If the choice for your blog’s subject isn’t clear, make a list of about five or six things you really enjoy. For example: Cooking, cars, kayaking, movies, fashion, and running. As you answer the next two questions, you’ll be able to whittle away and focus this list until, hopefully, you have a topic.
What niches are under-served in the blogosphere, and the Web in general?
You could write a killer blog on a topic you know or love, but since our goal is to build a blog that actually earns money, our work isn’t done yet. There are millions of blogs out there, and thousands more pop up every day. It’s unlikely you can think of a broad topic that doesn’t have at least a dozen blogs already — and possibly oodles more. That means it’s time to do our homework to both eliminate topics that are over saturated, and then narrow topics to find an unserved or under-served niche. For each of your proposed topics, you’ll want to find out:
- How many blogs are there on this topic?
- Who are the top one or two blogs on the subject?
- How established are the top blogs on the subject?
While it may not be possible to determine exactly how many blogs exist on your topic, you can get an idea by doing a search at Technorati. For example, a recent search revealed there are 7,001 blogs about “cooking”. In actuality, there are probably many more, as Technorati doesn’t index every blog.
Next, it’s a good idea to do some searching and try to feel out the top blogs in your categories of interest. You can do this by simply searching for “[Your Topic] Blog” on Google. Chances are, the most credible blogs will appear in the first couple of pages of search results. If not, you may see links to top blogs from many other blogs on the subject.
Finally, take a close look at the blogs you have identified as being tops on your topics. When were they launched? How many posts do they have? How many backlinks do they have? (To check, head to Google or Yahoo! and search for link:www.blogdomainname.com). The results you see only represent a fraction of the actual inbound links to the blog, but they give you an idea. Using Google, a blog with more than 1,000 backlinks is well-established. More than 5,000, and they are a huge site.
If your topic of interest has several top blogs with lots of backlinks, don’t fret, it may still be workable; just realize that you’re facing some stiffer competition as you get started. If, however, one of your topics reveals only one or two blogs that have substantial content and backlinks, you may have found the perfect topic!
But, there’s one more test.
Can you make money from your niche?
Some topics make money, others don’t. For example, blogs about products, like computers, cars, or coffee, are excellent money makers, while blogs about politics and religion struggle with bringing in advertising dollars.
It doesn’t matter whether you sell your own advertising space, use Google AdSense, or use affiliate offers (all of which I will discuss in part four), blogs about topics that encompass relevant products and services will attract more advertiser dollars every time. Take a look at your remaining list of topics (assuming you ruled a couple out for being too broad or too competetive), and ask yourself which topic has the most related products or services? Assuming everything else is equal, there’s your topic!
Now that you have your blog topic, tomorrow check back for Blogging for Profit Part Two: Starting Your Blog. I’ll provide all the resources you need to get your blog off the ground and on the Web for less than $20, or even free!
Finally, I was inspired to write this post after reading Darren Rowse’s new book ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income. Darren, through his site ProBlogger, has been such an inspiration to me along my blogging journey, and his new book is an awesome resource for newbie bloggers and established bloggers alike.