I remember that I read somewhere that it would be easy to set up a travel blog and make money from it, which kind of got me started on this whole adventure in the first place.
So over this last year, I've been furiously looking into what it takes to monetise a website or a blog and the different strategies you can employ to create an ongoing stream of revenue.
I was really keen to find out how that’s possible and whether I could do the same thing, so here are the key things I’ve learned this year
Keyword Research Is Key
If you’re going to start a blog or a website then you have to remember that this is a huge investment of your time, so you really need to get an idea of whether this is going to make you any money at all before you head off writing content.
The first thing that you’re going to need to do is to research a niche.
• You’re interested in
• Has low competition and high volume keywords
• Is a broad enough niche that you can potentially expand this into an authority site in the long term
Get any of these things wrong and you’re going to end up with a blog that is going to be nothing but hard work giving you very little in return.
For any website venture that you’re about to start on I would recommend that you invest up to a month in planning the growth of your website.
• Create a keyword matrix and identify long tail keywords that you will target initially and higher volume keywords that you might want to target in the future
• Consider how your site is going to generate revenue. Are you going to be using Adsense, Amazon Affiliates or other affiliate programmes to earn your bucks?
• Check out the competition in your niche and look at how you could potentially improve what they have created
• Think about how much time your website will take to manage in the future and whether this could be outsourced. The worse thing is that if your site becomes really popular and you have set up systems where you need to be involved in all parts of the business, then the more popular it gets, the more of your time it will use
You can’t Take Shortcuts
Unfortunately, there are no real shortcuts that you can take to building up a successful website.
I’ve read a lot about Grey and Black Hat SEO tricks such as using Private Blog Networks, however, whilst these might get you success in the short term, in the longer term you’re likely to get banned from Google, and ruin your business.
If something looks too good to be true like a gig on Fiverr promising 50 top quality links for $5, then you know it’s going to be dodgy so steer clear.
Yes, there is nothing for it, but hard work and putting in the hours initially.
You’re going to need to write a lot of your content to develop your own voice, manage your own website and then most importantly learn how to market your website and generate traffic, all of which can be hugely time-consuming.
On top of this, you can’t expect instant results as your new website will go into Google’s sandbox and won’t start ranking for 3 – 6 months anyway.
Content is King and Links Are the Queen
The days where you could just throw up an article of a few hundred words for niche keywords and expect to rank easily are long gone.
Now you’ll need to put a lot more work and thought into this.
The content that you generate will need to be:
• Unique (Either a fresh idea or a vast improvement on existing content)
• Interesting (Needs to be made shareable)
• In-depth (Minimum of 1000 words per article)
• Answer a question / Solve a problem
The digital landscape is now so crammed full of content for every conceivable subject, you’ll even find in depth 2000+ word reviews of toilet seats, so you have to make sure your content sticks out somehow.
Once you’ve written this killer content, the hardest part is generating links to this content, which seems to be the biggest single factor in 2016 for ranking your content.
There are plenty of strategies all over the internet on how to do this, but once again, this will just consume a lot of your time.
On a positive note I have to say that I achieved a great deal in this sphere over the last year:
• I set up 2 websites, www.mylifestyledream.com and a niche website
• I have learned a good understanding of SEO and different tactics
• I’ve learned a lot about internet marketing
• I’ve learned about affiliate marketing and the different tactics that people use to monetize websites
Overall I’ve got a great foundation now in both my knowledge and my websites to build on over the next year.
I haven’t been able to focus as much of my time as I wanted to on the niche website, but plan to switch focus back on to this next year.
I think I’ve found a great niche with low competition keywords, however, it’s not the most exciting niche and is quite hard to write articles for.
I’ve written about 8 so far, however, have kind of lost heart a little bit, because even though some of the keywords that I am targeting are sub 20 Keyword Competitiveness, I still don’t rank in the top 100 for these keywords, which I find really bizarre.
I think the answer to this problem, is that I just need to put in more work, build out more articles and start my link building activities then the site should start to grow in traffic.
The best thing for me with building out these sites has to be the amount that I have learned about SEO.
I find this dark art really interesting and is definitely something that I want to learn more about and spend more time perfecting in the future.
With a full time job in front of a computer screen, I’ve also needed to research and practice these 3 ways to make money online as well as write about them, all of which takes a huge amount of time.
In reality I’ve needed to just focus on one thing at a time, or free up more time, which I intend to do next year.
A big fat £0
In fact, by the time I take hosting and themes and domain names into account I’ve probably invested about £150 so far.
However, I feel that I’ve put in a lot of the groundwork with which to monetize these sites in the future.
Yes, absolutely. I feel that I’ve started a new path that I’m interested in and could potentially reap rewards in the future.
Out of all the things I’ve looked at this is most likely to be the idea that comes closest to giving me real passive income in the future.