Start Your Own Website and Earn More than Pennies

Handful of pennies on a table.It is quite possible to earn money from your own website if you are willing to put in the necessary time and effort. Initially, there is a fair amount of work involved to get started and the rewards take time to reap. However, if you put in the time and pay your dues in sweat, broken fingernails, and worn out keyboards, you can definitely make money online by starting your own website and publishing your own content.

Life is Not a Free Ride

Yes indeed. There are free services on which you can build a blog or a website. The big question becomes should you or should you not?

I won't make that decision for you. Instead, I will offer some insight.

Free website hosts get something for your website. They don't do it "for free" even if it appears that way. There is some benefit to them, and that probably means there is some disadvantage to you. Free sites are always limited in some way. For example, they may limit your available storage space. I know more than a few people who have run out of space on free blogging sites.

It is easy to start a free site, but when you run into the limitations, it becomes difficult to move to your website someplace else so you can continue to grow.

If you choose to use a free hosting service, make sure you have these options:

  • ad publishing is allowed.
  • templates allow some customization and the ability to edit the HTML.
  • allow the use of your own domain name.

Wouldn't it make you very upset if you put a year or more of hard work into a website and it was paying off in a decent fashion, and you ran into a limitation that threatened the existence of your website and was very difficult to overcome?

Spend a Little Make a Lot

Many hosting companies will offer cheap or even free hosting that you can later upgrade. There are some pretty good deals out there to help you get started with very little in the way of financial commitment. One company in particular is offering hosting at 99 cents for an entire year with 100 GB of storage, free email, and a free domain name.

And the point is this. You can set up a website for next to nothing or pay a very small monthly fee for additional features or power and spend six months or a year building your brand. By the end of that time, you will more than earn back the tiny amount of money you spend and a lot more.

Once you are up and running, you just keep building and earning more. It won't take long and you will wonder why you waited so long to get started or why you even bothered writing for a content farm in the first place.

Rules to Live By

Anyone that wishes to make money by publishing their content needs to follow basic rules.

You must:

  1. produce excellent quality work.
  2. have your own website with your own advertising network and affiliate accounts.
  3. research keywords and key phrases and choose them wisely.
  4. create excellent article pages for the users while instituting good SEO practices.
  5. design your website with the user in mind and make it easy to navigate
  6. gain a rudimentary knowledge of HTML in order to effectively implement SEO.
  7. implement Google authorship.
  8. submit your site to the search engines
  9. add content on a regular, ongoing schedule
  10. choose a single, broad topic that attracts useful traffic.

You must NOT:

  1. publish content that only draws useless traffic.
  2. rely only on social media for traffic.
  3. publish drivel.
  4. steal content such as images, articles, memes, video or anything you don't have a legal right to publish.
  5. accept offers for guest posts from strangers.
  6. publish spam.
  7. publish thin or inaccurate content.
  8. stuff content with keywords.
  9. fail to implement good SEO practices.
  10. exchange links, ad clicks, or use link farms, link networks, click farms, or similar tactics.

In addition to these dos and do nots, there are three things that will make you successful.

  1. A willingness to be persistent.
  2. Recognize the need for change and implement it.
  3. Set aside the notion that you can make money without spending money.

Wow Mike, that's a lot of rules.

Yep. Sure is. But hey, I never promised you a rose... er I never said it was easy. In fact I told you up front it was not easy and took some sweat and finger grease.

Blog or Content Site?

There are two basic website formats to choose from. The blog and the content site.

The blog aims to be more personal in nature, is usually less formal, and quite often written in first person. Authoritative writers often create successful blogs about topics they are passionate about and can turn them into serious money makers. Think Huffington Post (110 Million monthly viewers), Tech Crunch (15 million), Mashable (25 million), and other big name blogs. They get serious traffic and make serious money.

These blogs look more like news sites and less like blogs, and that is part of the reason why they are successful. Set your sights high and aim for the stars. As you zoom past the moon, smile because you are on your way to success.

The other website type is a content site. It turns needs into USEFUL information. Let us illustrate by example.

John has a fix it list from his wife that includes installing a new light switch to replace a broken one. John knows it is a simple fix, but working with electricity makes him nervous and for good reason.

From this scenario we can identify John's three needs:

  • He needs the knowledge to replace a light switch.
  • He needs to purchase a new light switch.
  • He needs the tools required to install a new light switch.

John opens his favorite search engine and types "how to replace a light switch".

Almost instantly the search engine displays hundreds of websites that have articles on how to change a light switch. John clicks on a link and a page opens to an article written by Kirk. The article gives him step by step instructions on how to change a light switch and tells him what tools are required. Advertisements shown along with the article offer various switches and tools.

In moments, John has printed instructions on how to change a light switch and has ordered the tools and supplies necessary to complete the job. John's needs are fulfilled and Kirk made a couple of dollars when John clicked on the ads.

On the other hand, Betty loves cats and likes to write about her daily cat interactions. Her friends on social media also like cats because well, cat ladies tend to like each other. She blogs about her cats almost every day and posts lots of pictures of their antics or when they fall asleep in a clothes basket. Her social media friends read her blogs, tell her what a great writer she is, and "like" all her social media posts.

Betty's blog is entertaining and her writing is pretty darn good considering she usually has three cats in her lap while she writes and they all try to play with the mouse at the same time. The advertisements that show next to Betty's posts offer products for cat owners, but Betty makes almost no money on her blog.

(No disrespect intended toward cat owners, I'm just making a point here.)

Start Your Own Website

Most blogs are just that. Blogs. And remember that the word blog is a shortened version of WeB log, which is an informal sort of diary for web users to share their lives with online friends, followers, and stalkers.

Kirk and Betty are both good writers and they both write about their favorite topics. Betty has about three times as many posts on her blog as Kirk has articles on his home electrical repair website.

Kirk made about 3000 dollars on his electrical repair site last year. Betty made about 100 dollars after two years of blogging.

Kirk writes articles that fulfill needs and gets a decent rank in the search engine results. Betty's posts are relegated to the black hole of search because they are not really useful and because there are a billion and three blogs by crazy old cat ladies, and the search engines don't see her as being any different. Betty writes mainly to please her friends and has no idea what the letters SEO stand for. Meanwhile, Kirk has invested heavily in learning search engine optimization techniques.

Betty writes on a free blogging site. Kirk set up a hosting account, registered a domain, and is well on his way to success. In addition to the website about home electrical repair, he has other sites for other types of home improvement or repair. Kirk isn't getting rich yet, but he is nearly at the point where maintaining and contributing to his websites will become his day job.

Create something useful that people can use, put time and effort into it, and your effort will pay off in dollars.

Photo credit: cawman

The Death of a Content Farm: Helium Closes the Doors

Interstate exit sign stating the only route is to exit

R.R.Donnelly has announced that is going the way of the dinosaur. No huge loss there. Truly. Even the people who were still making a few pennies at Helium and counted on it as part of their monthly income should rejoice. Helium closing it's doors is a chance for them to use their material elsewhere. With a few caveats.

Detractors are going to point out that a lot of the content on Helium was worthless and is the reason why Helium was so badly affected by Google's Panda algorithm update. That doesn't mean every article was worthless. In fact, I've read some pretty good stuff at Helium over the years. Even Google's head of Spam, Matt Cutts, stated that he had seen good content on sites like Helium.