Quite a stir.
That’s what occurred when guest author Kimsea Sok guest posted about the impossibility of starting a profitable blog.
Have you ever had a reader so inspired by a post they wanted to write a guest post responding to it?
Kimsea’s post, “Want to Start a Blog? 7 Important Reasons You Should Not,” generated such a strong reaction from readers, a commenter actually asked if perhaps he was being sarcastic and didn’t mean what he wrote at all.
Alas, Kimsea was being quite serious when he elaborated on the difficulties of blogging including, and especially, monetization.
Another commenter inspired (riled?) by Kimsea’s post is today’s guest author Peter Niyiri.
In contrast to Kimsea, Peter maintains starting a profitable blog is absolutely possible.
This post will explain 90 steps you need to take in order to successfully make money blogging.
90 Crucial Steps For Starting A Profitable Blog
by Peter Niyiri
There was a post published recently on the 7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Start A Blog. The main point was that blogging is a lot of work; most blogs don’t make money and you need to take this into consideration in your expectations when you start a new blog.
But why is that? The earnings potential is definitely there, as there are about 2 trillion dollars spent a year in online sales, so why couldn’t you make a relatively tiny $5,000 per month?
I may have an answer for you in this post.
You probably don’t realize this and therefore I would like to show you a number of steps and points it takes to start a website/blog that is profitable. If you are not making money, compare your blog and what you do to these points. That could give you an idea of what you need to do to fix it.
Starting a website is a lot of work and, honestly, it is a high-IQ activity. You are not going to figure it out all by yourself. In order to be successful, you need the combined experience of others, good and bad.
If someone says you can set up a blog in 30 minutes and work on it 4 hours a week and make money with affiliate marketing, that person is lying through their teeth. I have spent my last two months writing content for my site and previously several more weeks on researching and analyzing data, selecting themes, plugins, affiliate programs, how to get traffic, social media, etc.
I have my own personal challenge: I want to get my WordPress site to make $5K per month within 6 months of its launch. Why $5K? This is a significant enough money, for most people it is equivalent or more than a monthly paycheck, making it $60,000 a year.
An Example Of Selecting A Profitable Niche
The very first, most important step that determines your blog’s profitability (or lack of) is selecting your niche. I am going to walk you through how I selected my niche and what points I took into consideration for profitability.
My site concentrates on two things, I could say it has two main products: Helping others to get to $5K/month, which is the blog part, and analyzing/selling expired domain names.
I know some people will throw a strange look on the expired domains part; therefore, I will explain this a bit more. It will help you pick your own niche…
Every single day people register an average of 100,000 domains. If I just roughly calculate $10 per domain (some domains cost more, some cost less), then we are talking about a $1M industry every single day. There is a definite demand.
Obviously, a new blog cannot compete directly with the big guys, GoDaddy, NameJet, etc. on registering domains. I would never have a chance to beat them in Google and compete against their credibility. They are heavy-weight websites with high DA and many backlinks. Therefore common internet marketing instructions would say to stay away, as it is an extremely high competition niche.
Wrong! This is the first point where you lose your potential income when you are about to start your site.
The idea of expired domains came from my earlier experience of buying a couple of expired domains from GoDaddy Auctions, just based on their age. Both of these attempts ended up being a complete failure. But I kept my eyes open and I kept collecting data and analyzing the subject thoroughly, which you also need to do if you want to build a $5K website.
I realized that most people have no clue how to pick a domain name for their website, whether it’s expired or brand new domains. (Did you have a clue when you started yours?) Most people just look at the monthly searches in a keyword tool. They have no idea how to tell if a domain is high quality or not if it is going to help them create their online business. The different domain auctions don’t give you a lot of guidance either.
I also saw that on the different auctions, domains are being sold at ridiculously high prices that individual people trying to start a blog are not going to pay for. And the only current use for expired domains is building PBNs [Private Blog Networks] which is a risky strategy; it’s based on trying to avoid Google discovering and de-indexing your site.
Problems Equal Opportunity
This was my analysis of the subject. In my mind problems equal opportunity. If I had such a problem, there are plenty of others who also do.
Therefore I spent an entire week in my room researching domains, backlinks, DA, trust flow, citation flow, hundreds of websites, products, services, spam links, ranking in Google, Panda, Penguin, penalties. I analyzed literally HUNDREDS of domains, both live and dead, how many links it takes to rank in Google, keywords.
I saw that there are tons of deleted domains in the “trash” that have a really nice domain name, have a great backlink structure and literally are there waiting to be picked up and could be greatly beneficial to their new owner. I actually picked the domain for my own website from a pool of deleted domains. It was still indexed in Google, its history goes back to 2006 and had about 50 backlinks.
When someone registers a new domain in the search box, they don’t see this, the service they get from the domain registration websites is extremely bare-bone.
The Unique Selling Position
Then the bright idea was born, which became my unique selling position – to help people who are about to start a new website figure out what domain name to register so that it is memorable, not spammed, has some backlinks and all this with a service that is affordable.
Even though it is termed “expired domain”, it’s only a question of correct marketing. Potentially a large percentage of the 100,000 domain registrations that happen every single day could greatly benefit from such a service.
On top of that, people registering a domain will also need web hosting, traffic, monetization… plenty of products to market to these people.
This kind of niche selection is the very first step to building a profitable website. You don’t just open a keyword tool, find a keyword that has “10,000 searches per month and low competition” and then “register a domain with your keyword”. No. it actually takes familiarity and inventiveness (high IQ).
The lack of a selection process like above is the first point where you shut your profits off forever. The above is not even everything, there is a lot more you can read about niche selection that is vital.
If I stopped with this post at this point, I am sure that you would be totally happy and felt you got something unique. But no, this was just a few of the 90 points I will share and a similar post could be written on every single point.
The List Of Vital Tips On Starting A Profitable Website
- Selecting a profitable niche
This was covered in the above text.
- Niche: Availability of products
Your niche needs to have products that you can sell profitably yourself or offer as an affiliate.
- Niche: Are other people making money?
This can best be judged from Google Adwords listings over $1 per click and also from the presence of multiple Google shopping listings, Amazon, eBay or Google Trends.
- Niche: Determining how others make money in your niche
This is another very important point of success: Don’t try to invent the wheel yourself. Check the top sites in Google and see what they offer for sale, what ads, affiliate links they post, how they do it. Then follow their methods.
- Niche: Determining your audience
Figure out exactly what kind of people would benefit from your product. Some even recommend creating a “persona” of the sample individual – activity, age, etc.
- Niche: Determining your unique selling position
I covered this above in the introduction.
- Planning: The main steps to create an authority site
These days you need to develop your niche site into an authority site to get somewhere on the internet. The overall plan you make would include all the steps of this post.
- What are the key topics for your site?
The key topics are really your sub-niches and connecting niches. You need to be familiar with them. Find anything that you can lead over to your product. E. g. the subject of building an e-commerce store or using a backlink checker can lead over to a domain name and hosting sales. This is the idea of connecting two unrelated subjects and it helps you to write more content and get traffic from other niches.
- Establish where your target audience hangs out
You need to find the actual forums, Facebook groups.
- Hosting: Affordable with minimum downtime
You need to face it that pretty much all hosts have downtime. If you want no downtime, you need cloud hosting, but that will always be more expensive.
- Hosting: Fast and secure server
Most servers have security features to block brute force attacks. Server speed can be wildly different and 1 second of delay in your site loading can cause a 7 percent increase in your bounce rate.
- Hosting: Good customer service
Since you are not a tech person, you need to have a fast turnaround to get your hosting issues resolved.
- Hosting: Enough resources (RAM, CPU)
Hosting companies don’t put this data on their front page; therefore, you need to dig it out. I had cheap hosting where having 300 visitors a day resulted in reaching my CPU limits and my site was getting limited out and going offline 25 times a day…
- Hosting: Server location US or EU
If your target audience is in the US, your data center is in the UK, you may have a 1s page-load time in Europe, however in the US you will have a minimum of 7s loading time. Big difference.
- Setting up FTP
This is simple – you will need it to upload files. Make sure you know your password…
- Exploring your niche and related niche keywords
When you write a new post, you don’t just add a random title. The title needs to contain a long-tail keyword in addition to being punchy. Usually your only way for a new site to rank in Google is by pages that contain long-tail keywords, not by the main domain.
- Domain: Brandable, memorable, and keyword rich
Your domain is the first manifestation of your online presence. Which domain name do you like better: “howtoturnexpireddomainnamesintomilliondollarwebsites.com” or “ExpiredDomainIncome.com”? I didn’t make this up, these are both actual domain names that were registered at one point.
- Domain: Backlinks and internet presence
Having a few hundred non-spam backlinks to your domain will boost its SEO performance and having a history going back several years will help you avoid the “sandbox” that is reported as being around six months. My website was ranking for long-tail keywords on page 2 in as little as 4 weeks after I registered my domain.
- Branding: Figuring out your site’s tag line
After the domain name, it is the tag-line that sets the actual niche of the website.
- Branding: Creating your logo and colors
It is a personal choice if you put a logo on your site or not. However all the big brands have logos and eventually, you will need one.
- Branding: Setting up your site e-mail account
Obviously, you cannot use a Gmail address for your site. In addition to decreasing credibility, your emails will automatically end up in the spam folder.
- Installing WordPress
Fortunately installing WordPress is a one-minute affair.
- Theme: Fast loading
What was said under UK and US data centers also apply here: slow themes with too many whistles drive customers away.
- Theme: Mobile and tablet-friendly
The world is becoming increasingly mobile and tablet (over 40 percent). Your theme not loading on these platforms will lose you customers.
- Theme: Does it have the items you need?
If you look at different themes, you will see that they have different sections, different menus, font sizes, download buttons, etc. You need one that fits your needs.
- Theme: Adding photos
You will inevitably have to find and add photos to your home page. Large photos increase loading time, therefore I use a software called Riot to sample down these images.
- Theme: Setting up menus
Especially if you are using WordPress, your best posts tend to be buried. This can be handled through your menus.
- Organizing your page structure
Having the correct page structure will make your site more visitor- and search engine- friendly.
- Plugins: SEO
In its basic state WordPress is not search-engine friendly. You need an SEO plugin to make the URLs optimized. Such plugin also helps you to set the meta tags for title and description which directly show up in the search results and is therefore vital for your click-through rate.
- Plugins: Cache
Caching your website content speeds up the loading of your pages and therefore decreases your bounce rate.
- Plugins: Contact form
WordPress doesn’t have a built-in feature for this and you need a plug-in that provides this service.
- Plugins: Anti-spam
You don’t want to spend hours deleting comments that people leave just to get a link.
- Plugins: Mailing list and opt-in form
These are vital tools for all online businesses. Without repeated traffic and sales coming from your mailing list, you are doing hit and run marketing and spending much more time on traffic generation.
- Plugins: Affiliate links
If you want to make money with your site, this is fundamental. It stores all your affiliate links and makes them visually pleasing.
- Plugins: Social buttons
Getting your visitors to share your posts can greatly increase your website’s traffic. Especially during the time when your site doesn’t rank in Google, social media is your main source of traffic.
- Plugins: Make sure you don’t have too many
While plugins are a blessing, too many of them will slow down your site. My rule of thumb is to not have more than 10 plugins on my blog.
- Permalink structure
Make your site search engine-friendly with a correct permalink structure.
- Setting up Google Search Console
Add your site to Google Search Console (previously called Webmaster Tools) for vital search information for your site.
- Setting up Google Analytics
Vital for getting data about where your visitors come from and how they behave on your site, such as bounce rate.
- Setting up SSL
I know this is technically challenging, but in this cyber hacking age, you need to do it.
- Pages: Landing page/opt-in page
This is a whole science in itself. For your own sake, you need to learn how to build a landing page with the correct copy.
- Pages: About Me
The main function of this page is to build trust. You need to sell yourself before you can sell anything.
- Pages: Privacy
This is required by law. I mention here also the EU cookie law notice.
- Pages: Disclaimer
Any earnings, affiliate, etc disclaimers, terms of service are vital to keeping you covered legally.
- Post a contact form, real address, (phone number, e-mail address)
Your contact details are a proven way to increase your conversion, as it gives trustworthiness.
- Content creation: Learn to write epic posts
This is another subject where we could fill books. If you can’t learn how to write pages after pages of engaging content, you have no chance to make a penny online.
- Content creation: Writing aggressive headlines
Writing great content is not enough, you need to get people to click on the title before they read it.
- Content creation: Images and videos
This has two parts: Having great images and optimizing them for size so that they load fast.
- Setting up CDN
This ties into images and is another vital tool to improve site speed. Most web hosts provide free access to a basic CloudFlare plan.
- Content creation: Enough posts so that your site doesn’t look bare
I wouldn’t start a website without having at least 15 pages of content, otherwise, it will look ridiculous.
- Content creation: Correct SEO (long-tail keyword, title tag, description)
This is very important. If you want to rank in and get traffic from Google, you need many pages optimized for long-tail keywords. You need to do this as you go, as after the fact it’s difficult to fix your messed-up SEO. The title tags and description I already mentioned under SEO plugins.
- Content creation: Long enough posts to rank
Per statistics, a great majority of website pages ranking in the top ten of Google have at least 2,000 words of content.
- Content creation: Write reviews, tutorials, list posts
In-depth reviews, detailed tutorials, comparisons and compiled lists are the best kind of posts to write as both your visitors and the search engines love these kinds of posts.
- A/B testing
Setting up your site is not a one-time action. You continuously need to split-test your headlines, call-to-action buttons, etc. Changing a button from green to red could improve your conversion by several percent.
- Monetizing your site
To make money, you need to monetize. Your own products, affiliate links, services and educative copy that does effective pre-sell.
- Sales funnel
Many people are completely unaware of sales funnels and this costs them the majority of their earnings being left on the table.
- Irresistible opt-in freebie/lead magnet
The stress here is on irresistible. Your first lead magnet will probably be horrible and you will need to rewrite it several times. You don’t need a long one, but the used need to be able to act on it and get a benefit.
- Opt-in forms strategically located on your site
You may have the best freebie if people are not going to stumble into your opt-in form. Popups, even though they are hateful, are the best way to capture your visitors.
Everyone has their own preferences in terms of price and functions. One thing is sure, you can’t live without an autoresponder.
- Front-end products
Front-end products are part of your sales funnel and need to be low-priced, under $35 to trigger an impulse buying.
- Backend products
More expensive backend products are the best monetization. You need to sell a smaller amount to make the same level of profits.
- List building
You hear about list building over and over. Your list is the best way to recycle your traffic.
- Email marketing
This is a complex subject that you need to learn as you go. There is so much to getting your emails opened, conversion rates, etc.
- Welcome email series
As soon as you have an autoresponder, you need to write a welcome email series where you establish a relationship with your subscribers. This is the basis for future profits.
- Creating a Facebook account
Facebook provides 25 percent of all web traffic. You need a business page.
- Creating a Twitter account
Everyone is on Twitter these days. It’s a vital way of sharing and getting others to share.
- Creating a Pinterest account
Pinterest is a picture-based platform that is very useful if you know how to use it.
- Creating a Linked-in account
This is another popular platform for business owners.
- Creating a sitemap
Once you have a handful of posts and are ready to go online, you need a sitemap.
- Submitting your site to Google, Bing, and Yahoo
Submitting your sitemap to these search engines is the best way to get your site indexed.
- Getting your site indexed
This goes together with the previous point. It takes a few days, a week maximum.
- Traffic generation
This one word is equivalent to several books’ worth of texts. This will make or break your business.
- Is your hosting ready for traffic or is it going to reach a limit?
What happens if you do get floods of traffic? If you are not sure, you could buy some cheap visitors to test it.
- Social media marketing
Once you created your accounts, you need to keep them updated, get friends and followers, get them to share your content.
- Building relationships
Your followers are not just a number on a page. You need to socialize with them, make friends. It is magical.
- Make a list of sites/blogs/forums for promoting your site
In order to promote your site, you need to have an overall plan. As you do your research make sure you save bookmarks of sites that will be useful in promoting your site.
- Write guest posts
Everyone knows what guest posting is, but how to do it correctly is another story.
By now you may be wondering why I am giving away a post like this and why I don’t post it on my own website. The answer is twofold.
One, every piece of content you write needs to be the same high quality, no matter where it gets posted. As a blogger, it’s your job to write high-quality content only. I wasn’t born this way either, in fact, my native language is not even English. I learned how to write by reading a lot of blog posts and I studied how to investigate a subject and put the pieces of a puzzle together. This way I uncover things that others don’t, which results in unique content.
Two, as a starting blogger, you can have 500 high-quality posts on your site and no one reading them. Then what’s the point? It’s like giving a lecture to your family versus giving it to a whole stadium. Guest posting takes you to the stadium.
- Forum/blog commenting
This is similar to guest posting. Leave valuable comments that the people who read will actually get value from. Don’t leave such a comment:
“Great post. I found this post really interesting. Keep up the great work!”
- SEO keyword research
Do a two-minute keyword research before you write your posts. Include a long-tail keyword in your title. Type the keyword you found in Google. If the answers are unrelated garbage, it will be easy to rank for the keyword. It doesn’t matter if only 20 searches per month. As your site grows, your post will start ranking for more competitive related keywords.
- Link building, if you want to do any
You can do your own link building if you have time… Or you can just write such great content and promote it so well that people will want to link to it.
- Keeping track of your backlinks, DA, TF, CF, visitors
Check your website stats once a week. See where your referrals are coming form, what your bounce rate is, how much time people spend on your site, how many pages they visit. Please note that backlink numbers are prone to errors and show a wild variation depending on what service you use. Per Moz, my site has 3 backlinks and a resulting DA=11. Per SEO Spyglass it has 60 backlinks. Per Majestic, it has 1300. Per SEMRush it is 51.
- Monetizing your blog
Don’t forget to monetize your blog, otherwise, you will make no money… This is a continuous process.
- Selecting your main products
Any website, any blog needs to have a main product or product group. If you don’t have this clearly defined, don’t expect to make money.
- Creating your own products
Sooner or later you will need to do this. The profit margins are much higher even if it takes a lot more work to create them originally.
- Determining product pricing
Having the right price has an obvious effect on your bottom line. It needs to be realistic.
- Selecting affiliate marketing products
Even if you sell your own products, you should still promote related affiliate products. The more the better. I did e-commerce on eBay and the rough calculation we used was that every day 1 percent of our listed products sold. If I had $6,000 listed, $60 a day sold. Now I can’t tell you a definite number for affiliate marketing, but one thing is clear: If you have 100 high-quality posts with affiliate products, you will sell more than if you only have 5.
- Setting up your own affiliate management and payment system
If you sell your own product, this is a very obvious way to increase your sales.
- Increasing your conversion rate
People put a lot of attention on traffic, but not enough on conversion. If you better your conversion rate, the same number of visitors will bring you more money.
- Mailing your customers regularly
You need to keep your list, your Twitter followers, your Facebook fans warm. Keep sending them interesting stuff, even if it is not from your own website… I make a point to tweet all great articles I encounter to my followers.
- Don’t get stuck in your own blog
When you set up your blog with basic content, autoresponder, squeeze page, products, you need to turn outside and start promoting, making friends.
I collected the above 90 items just by going through my website, just from the articles I already had written, without any extra research. I am pretty sure that more could be listed. It’s a lot, right?
Running a blog could be compared in the physical world to running a paper magazine. How many people does the editorial team of an average magazine consist of? And you are probably trying to blog all by yourself…
What would happen if you had an editorial team? It would be more organized but you would need to share your profits.
If you want to start a $5K blog, you need to be able to do all the above actions (and more) correctly.
This should shed a light on why so many blogs fail…
Host blogger’s comments:
Bloggers report their two biggest struggles are starting a profitable blog and finding the time to try. Hopefully, Peter’s tips provided you with insights about how realistic the idea of starting a profitable blog can be.
Readers, are you monetizing? As Peter indicated, more ideas can be listed. I look forward to reading your tips in the comments section.
Please share this post so other bloggers wishing to monetize know these ideas for starting a profitable blog.