Make Money Online With A Blog
A frequently asked question these days – is how did I come to create IncomeDiary.com? With this post I hope to answer that question, let you in on some of my secrets and also hopefully inspire you.
Both sites earned me good money, but nothing impressive. My ambition was to have a website that could earn me at least a 6 Figure income.
With my other sites I had become very knowledgeable about blogging, about content generation and about getting heaps of quality traffic to my websites. I was also increasingly being asked by visitors to my websites about how to build a website like WebDesignDev.com. or RetireAt21.com
Looking back now at an amazing last 7 months or so I am in particular struck by something that I read in a survey about entrepreneurs recently:
Entrepreneurship is about solving the problems of society, not starting a business for one’s own sake
Now it would be a bit over the top to suggest that I started IncomeDiary.com to solve the problems of society – but it would be true to say that I started it because I wanted to solve a ‘problem’ – the problem of being constantly asked questions about how to create a blog or how to make money online?
It was out of solving this ‘problem’ that IncomeDiary.com was born – the original idea being to share my experiences with blogging and making money online while at the same time inspiring others with features about other bloggers who had done amazing things online.
It has actually been quite therapeutic writing up this post. It really is amazing what can be achieved in a few short months when you put your mind to it. If there is one lesson in particular I would like to share it is:
That in order to RECEIVE, you must first GIVE
So many bloggers get excited about setting up a blog, but cannot for whatever reason get over that hurdle that exists when you first start out – of writing content, researching posts, building relationships etc (The GIVING bit) with very little in the way of income coming back in return.
So often I visit a Blog and see that in the first month of operation there are plenty of posts but come the second or third month the posts have become less frequent.
I wish I could say Blogging is an easy way to make money – but I can’t. I can however say it is an excellent way to make money and frankly it does eventually become quite easy, but not until you have first gave of yourself and created something of value that other people will follow.
I started out small, and I even remember getting excited when I started to make $10 a day with Google Adsense a few years ago – fortunately these days the numbers are quite a bit higher and I am even starting to experience some $1000 Days of earnings.
I hope you enjoy My Story and I hope it Inspires you.
To all our Successes
The Story behind the Creation of IncomeDiary
Back in March of 2009 I had decided I wanted to create an eCourse of some type, perhaps teaching people how to create their own site just like Retireat21. Every day I would have several people emailing me, asking “How do I create a blog” and I would simply reply sending them a link to my create a blog page on Retireat21 but I knew I could be doing something much better.
Later in the month I attended Yanik Silvers Underground Online Seminar and Ryan Allis was speaking on stage about iContact.com when he brought up a screen shot of his website that featured an opt-in for a 7 Day free eCourse on email marketing. People often ask me where I get my ideas – I always say ideas are all around us, if we open ourselves up to the possibility. When I was sitting in Yanik Silver’s Underground Seminar I was looking for ideas – Fortunately for me Ryan Allis was sharing his experience and insight and that was I suppose the initial germ of an idea for what has become my biggest money earner to date.
From that single idea I went on to create my own 7 day free eCourse to making money blogging and have an opt-in box open up on IncomeDiary.com like iContact did.
Later that day I was sitting with David Leggett, Marshall Haas and Alex Maroko in the lobby of the seminar hotel. David and I were helping some people set up their own blogs, getting hosting, buying themes etc. Each of these people bought their hosting, themes etc via my affiliate links, earning me something like $200. It is strange looking back – but I just knew I was on to something if I could create a System (an eCourse) that would teach other would be bloggers how to blog.
I was pumped about my ideas (I even had trouble sleeping that night with excitement) and frankly for the first time ever on a trip to the USA excited about getting back home to England and putting my ideas into practice.
On the final day before we departed for the airport we had quite a bit of time to spare as the flight was not until late evening, so I was hanging around in the hotel Lobby catching up on some emails whenAlex Jeffreys came up to me asking me when I was heading for the airport – it turns out we have the same flight so Alex sits down beside me and we chat.
Alex and I talked each other’s blogs and sharing ideas, eventually heading over the Hotel Starbucks to grab a coffee. I may be young but one thing I have worked out is that SUCCESS comes to those who actively seek it, those who actively FOCUS on it. Alex Jeffreys is that kind of guy and so am I and while in Starbucks we met another success seeker – James Schramko. Alex, James and I all sat down together with our Laptops, started to brainstorm, share ideas etc and began to experience now what I refer to as “The Starbucks Effect”.
I had told Alex and James that I had done over 100 interviews with top internet entrepreneurs and I had around 100,000 visitors coming to Retireat21.com website every single month. They seemed impressed that I could drive a lot of traffic but when I saw that they were getting a fraction of the traffic I had but earning a good deal more than me, I was intrigued and just a little miffed as well.
It is not often that you get the chance to sit down with Internet Marketers of the quality of James and Alex so for the next few hours I made it my mission to find out what Alex and James knew that I didn’t. This is what I discovered:
The No Leakage Rule
It seemed a bit of a risk when James told me to try promoting only affiliate products and not sell advertising spaces as I knew I had $2000 coming in every month without any issue. He told me that if the only place they could go is through an affiliate link or leave my website, I was more likely to make money. He also told me that if 10 of my advertisers are promoting affiliate links themselves then it must be working for them. Basically the no leakage rule means, don’t have advertisers, don’t link to other websites in your sidebar, basically making sure the only way they can leave your site is via an affiliate link or closing the browser.
Offer Your Visitors Audio Interviews / Podcasts
I told my new mentors that all my interviews were done over email. i.e. I emailed the interviewee and they emailed their answer back.
Alex did not like that, and to quote him he said: “Audio interviews are where it’s at”. Looking back, of course he was right, indeed I had quite a few people not do an interview because I did not offer an audio option.
To do the interviews, they suggested I use Skype and record the phone call with Pamela, which both work perfectly for the job. As well as that, to display the audio on my blog I use Podcasting Plugin and I also get my audios transcribed by CastingWords so that people can read it if they can’t listen to audio. This also gives me a huge advantage in the search engines because I have thousands of keyword rich words.
It seems a simple decision now but looking back it was actually a huge decision – I decided rather that change the exiting RetireAt21.com site it would be easier to start with a completely new domain.
I had previously bought the domain IncomeDiary.com of Tom Sinfield for $100 and had not used it and felt it would work perfectly for this project. I also thought it would be wise that I build IncomeDiary in a way that anyone else could, so I could write an eBook and show them step by step how they can follow in my footsteps to make money online blogging.
Building IncomeDiary.com – The Early Days
After deciding I would use the IncomeDiary.com domain I quickly found a premium WordPress theme from Woothemes called BusyBee, I installed my blog and uploaded the theme. After asking David Leggett for his suggestions, I decided to hire him at a VERY expensive rate (although later proved to be well worth it) and we began customizing the blog theme. These changes included:
- RSS feed including an Aweber Opt-in box so when I update my blog, readers would be emailed instantly alerting them that there is something new to read. I decided to go ahead and use a paid service because that would give me full control over my emails, unlike free alternatives such as Feedburner.
- Activated Threaded Comments which comes with every Woothemes, which basically lets you reply to each comment, you can enable this option in discussion settings in your WordPress control panel. We then went ahead and made any comments I made green so they stand out.
- Social bookmarking links at the top of every post. Yes they look really cool but as far as I can see they don’t make any in pact in the traffic we receive, so for all of those who keep asking me to release them as a download, don’t bother
- Created a custom page for the optin page for our eCourse, now I know a lot of people would put there optin all over there website to make sure they got as many people opting in as possible, although I have been tempted, I decided having a dedicated page because I wanted people to value what they were signing up to and know what was involved. We also used Aweber for the email optin on this page, if you need more information on email marketing, check out this post.
- Blogging Resources page was not necessarily built to make money but to give a better idea to my readers that the things I recommend are clearly the best products with the lowest prices. Having said that, thousands of people use the page monthly to find resources for their blogs.
- Finally, we did a whole bunch of graphics to make the site visually impacting.
As well as customizations, we don’t even use a handful of plugins so I do worry when I see people creating posts called “30 WordPress Plugins every bloggers need” – I’m proof you don’t need them. So often I get asked, “Michael, what WordPress plugins do you use”? Here they are:
- Podcasting Plugin which allows me to add a player to blog posts so people can play our audio interviews.
- WP-ContactForm which is basically a contact form, really simply plugin that works perfectly. For anyone who has tried to create a contact form on a normal website, you will realize just how hard it can be.
- Comment Notifier which is basically an RSS feed for comments, alerting people who subscribe when there are new comments.
- All in One SEO Pack which basically makes optimizing your blog for search engines really easy.
What Products Should I promote?
Now that I had put together the bulk of the site, I still had to decide on content and monetization. I knew from discussing with James and Alex that I wanted to promote affiliate products only but which ones to promote? For the blogging resources page it didn’t matter, I could include anything I wanted in the comparison charts as it simply is a comparison between what you get and at what price. But for my eCourse and in other places throughout the blog, it was a bit more difficult.
Recommending the right products is very important as it can really affect your earnings, it has to be a great product, great customer service and offer a good affiliate deal, and luckily it just seemed the best services offer the best affiliate sales, perhaps because they can convert more people so can pay out more. I bought all my domains through GoDaddy, so I knew I could promote them, whenever creating blogs for clients and friends, I would use HostGator so I knew I could put my name behind them and I was personally using a theme from Woothemes so of course I can recommend them. This is what I believe to be crucial to my monetization success, you can’t promote something you don’t believe in and haven’t tested, period!
More Business Changing Moments
Early on one of my first interviewees (and most popular) at IncomeDiary was the King of Continuity –Mr Ryan Lee. Ryan is another generous mentor of mine and he took a big interest in what I was doing. Not only that he invited me to his Continuity Summit event in Connecticut last May.
So here I am again in America – this time at Ryan Lee’s event along with Alex Maroko again. I showed off my sites to a lot of people there and even had one die hard fan come to the event just to see me. I had quite an amusing experience when I was talking to Mike Hill – one of the speakers and a hugely successful Internet Marketer. Mike and I are talking when an IncomeDiary Fan comes up, interrupts us (politely) and asked if he could get a picture with me to show his son and asks Mike to take the photo (Really Mike, I know you are a bigger STAR than me — but this was one of those moments when I realized I must be doing something right – when someone asks to be photographed with you.
Mind you, the coolest moment was when Ryan was giving a shout out to a few people at the beginning of the event and he mentioned Mark Victor Hansen who was sitting to my right then Mark Joyner who was sitting to my left and then me – although of course I know I’m nowhere near their level at present, to be recognized along with those big names we sooooooo cool.
While Ryan’s event I also realized I should be doing a few things better such as a having a custom homepage to drive people to the places on the site that I wanted them to go. (I call that a conversion secret) I also need a proper thank you page on the site, for people who sign up for the eCourse. So often people set up the OPT-IN for their newsletter etc – but forget to create a custom page (thank you page) for their news letter sign-ups to go to after they opt-in.
This past September I took on my first full-time member of staff here at IncomeDiary.com. This is already providing nice dividends – for a start I am working slightly harder. (Hard to believe — but true) because when you are paying someone to work full time you want to make sure you’re around to make sure they got work to do.
I now am more motivated then ever. We decided that we needed to make the website “bullet proof” which is a new rule of mine which basically means every single aspect of your website is perfect/bullet proof. We fixed every error we could find and improved anything that was necessary which helped increased conversions quite a lot.
Where am I now With IncomeDiary?
It’s crazy to think I have done all this in 7 months and to know that I messed around for years before with things I was told that “work” when they clearly didn’t. What I have achieved:
- I now earn more than most people do in a day (sometimes a week) before I even wake up, from a passive income on IncomeDiary alone.
- My site gets an average of over Twitter Tweets 100 times every day, in fact last month we got 800 tweets in a single day!
- 5000 People Have Taken My FREE eCourse to making money online blogging and not yet had anyone say a bad word about it.
- Broke into the top 20,000 websites according to Alexa which was a big target of mine. Although Alexa isn’t always that accurate, I had set it as a goal.
- I employed my first person full time, he had worked with me on WebDesignDev for a few months and I realized I needed to up my game and the risk seemed a no brainer.
The Future of IncomeDiary
Every time I get interviewed I get asked this, where do you see your future, where will your blog be in 5 years, etc.. To be honest, I don’t know, I just hope to keep moving forward, make a small difference and have fun of course. We have quite a lot of quite big updates planned for IncomeDiary but like everything, things get in the way and everything seems to take longer than expected.
Why Do I Think I Have Been So Successful?
I started this blog at the time 100’s of other make money online blogs started, they had all the same goal, and be the next John Chow. Most of them went on to earning no more than $200 and either being sold on Sitepoint or just going offline. I came to the niche with a different angle, which was to present my content in a way no other blog did.
It was really simple, I was to interview all the big internet entrepreneurs and ask them to give the advice, that way my visitors got the best advice and not just another blog post about how you can make $10 a day with Google Adsense.
The second aspect of my content was to inspire, I created top lists that would impress every reader but also give the impression they could do it themselves if they wanted to (which I believe they could).
The other reasons these two content methods work so well for me is that I’m dyslexic (my spelling and grammar is terrible) and it doesn’t matter how hard I try, I am always slipping up which is pointed out by quite a lot of my readers. So I wanted to share knowledge but keep the writing side of it down to a minimum. I sometimes think that if my school teachers knew I now write for a living they would tell you it was a lie, impossible! I really was that bad, I remember reading to my mum when I was like 12 and she would fall asleep, I was just that slow and boring, and when I do finally come to the end of a page, I would have to read it again because I completely forgot what it was about.
The key elements to my success would have to be:
Providing Value, Being Inspired, Hard Work (at times) and Consistency!
To Your Blogging Success,
PS. This is a guest post by Michael Dunlop, Founder of Incomediary http://www.incomediary.com