Upcoming Blogging Course – Learn How To Earn More Money Blogging From A Real Expert

May 6th, 2011

When I first started blogging, I had no clue about making money.  I didn’t even know it was possible to make money from a blog.  It only took a few months before I realized that not only can you make money, you can make a lot of money.

Unfortunately it took me about 18 months until I finally figured out how the whole “money blogging” thing works to the point where I could make a bit of money at it.  When I look back, I wish I knew then what I know now.

Bob Lotich from ChristianPF.com is a big time money blogger.  He started his first blog back in early 2007, but didn’t make a serious effort to make money until losing his job in 2008.  By March of 2009 he had surpassed the income from his former job.

Bob is a real expert at making money from blogging and he is offering a course to teach other bloggers how to do the same.  The course costs money, but I think it is very worthwhile for someone who is either just starting out, or has been blogging for a while and isn’t making much money.

Note – The links in this post are affiliate links which means that I get paid if you sign up for the course through those links.  I’d like to pretend that money doesn’t influence me, but the reality is that if the money didn’t matter – I wouldn’t have included the affiliate links.

This is true of every affilate link you see – the writer is ALWAYS biased.  Take everything with a grain of salt.

Affiliate opportunities give me motivation to write reviews or posts – they never influence my recommendations.  If I don’t like a product or service, I probably won’t write about it (unless I really hate it and have to tell the world).  😉

In this case, I know this course will help a lot of bloggers.  I really wish I could have taken something like it back when I was starting out.  It would have advanced my money blogging “career” by at least a year.

What about Bob?

I’m very hesitant to sign up for online courses with people who claim to be experts.  There are a lot of real estate investing and stock trading courses offered by people who made money (or so they claim) when the markets were doing well.  Now they just teach.  The overwhelming majority of “make money blogging” bloggers have never made a penny from blogging, except for money made teaching others how to make money blogging. 🙂

I’ve known Bob through his blog for a long time and he is a real pro.  He’s knows what he is doing when it comes to blogging and making money.  The material in this course will help you make more money if you apply it properly.

About the course

The course is a webinar format which means you sign in on your computer and can interact with Bob and his partner, Jonathan Milligan.  It takes place over five Thursday evenings starting on May 12 at 9:00 pm EST.  Private forums will be available for course members.

The cost of the course is quite reasonable.  $247 for all five webinars and my readers get $50 off for a grand total of $197 for the course.

Use the code “BT50” to save $50.

I think that if you have the desire and ability to make money blogging, this course will pay for itself fairly quickly.

Each webinar will be about 90 minutes of content and then Q&A.

There are a number of extras provided like copies of the webinars along with a download of all written resources.

Who should take the course?

I think the best candidates are bloggers who are in the first year or so of blogging and are trying to figure out how to make some money.  Bloggers who have been at it longer and aren’t making much money would likely benefit as well.

Will it be easy?  Probably not.  This course will put you on the right path with the right tools.  You still have to go and do the hard work.  One of the many benefits of this course is that it will help you avoid the many months of trial and error that both Bob & I (and many other bloggers) went through trying to figure out how to make money.

Interview with Bob

I talked with Bob recently on the phone and he answered a few questions that I had.  I didn’t record the conversation, so I’m just summarizing his answers:

Mike:  Is this course applicable to blogging topics that aren’t personal finance?
Bob:  Yes.  The course is about blogging your passion – whatever that passion is.  It is a lot easier to blog about something that you are passionate about. Most topics have monetization potential and there are many ways of monetizing blogs.

Mike:  Do you cover keyword research in the course?
Bob:  Yes – keyword research is one of the main sources of traffic.  Most people use search engines to find information, so if you want to be read by more people, you have to learn how SEO (search engine optimization) works.

We chatted for a while about blogging and the blogging webinars.  It was quite obvious that Bob and Jonathan have spent a huge amount of time putting this course together and that they are very passionate about the course.

If you wish to read more about the course or sign up – click here.  Use the code “BT50” to save $50 off the price.

Course outline

Week 1

  • What to do in the first 24 working hours of your blog
  • The Behind-the-Scenes Checklist (Domains, Hosting, WordPress, etc)
  • The Blog Design Checklist (Proper SEO, Must Have Plugins, Themes, Analytics, Logo Headers, etc)
  • The Social Media Checklist (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.)
  • The Content Creation Checklist (Your first few posts)
  • The Monetization Checklist (Simple Income Ideas)

Week 2

  • 20 Different Types of Posts You Can Use
  • How to Target Keyword Phrases for the Search Engines
  • How to Do Fast Article Research
  • Fast Content Creation Strategies
  • Article Topic Ideas Spreadsheet Explained

Week 3

  • Understanding the Difference Between Time Management and Self Management
  • Learning How the Pareto Principle Applies to Blogging
  • What The Parkinson’s Law States
  • Education vs. Experience
  • Action vs. Activity
  • Part-time Blogger Time Management Tips
  • Full-time Blogger Time Management Tips

Week 4

  • Developing Social Media Traffic Systems (Get Your Content Viral)
  • Developing Search Engine Traffic Systems (Rank on 1st Page of Google)
  • Developing Internal Traffic Systems (RSS Readers, Mailing Lists)

Week 5

  • Multiple Streams of Blogging Income (Over 20+ Income Streams Explained)
  • Introduction to the “Profit Ladder
  • Setting Up a Sales Funnel for Your Blog
  • Earning a Passive Income from Your Mailing List
  • Low Maintenance Income Ideas
  • Passive Income Ideas
  • Personal Involvement High Income Ideas

Most Bloggers Should Sell Text Link Ads

April 11th, 2011

One of the great, never-ending debates in blogworld is whether bloggers should sell text links. They can be a source of relatively easy money, but there is a risk they will bring the wrath of Google down on your blog. Or more specifically – on your search engine rankings.

Quick reminder – text links are links that a blogger will put in their sidebar, footer or in a post. The site that the link leads to will pay money to the blogger. The idea is that the link will provide the receiving site with some “Google juice“, which will help their Google rankings.

Let’s talk about text link risk

Selling text links is a risky activity. Or more accurately put – it’s an activity that has some risk associated with it. The problem is that nobody knows how much risk.

I don’t know of any other bloggers who got nailed for selling text links. It seems that so far, Google has only punished a few high publicity scenarios like text-link-ads.com. By “punishment”, I’m referring to Google actually dropping your site and it’s pages in the Google search engine results page. Many sites have had their PageRank (PR) number lowered, which is not the same thing.

The only drawback of a lower PR number, is that your future text link income will likely drop.

I’ve sold text links in the past, had my PR drop and my search engine numbers went up. There is a public PR and a private (real) one. As of right now, it doesn’t appear that any kind of link punishment includes the real PR which is the one that could affect your search engine rankings. This could obviously change at any moment.

Don’t listen to people who say that their traffic went down “a bit” because of text links. If Google wants to punish you – ALL your Google traffic will be gone – not just a bit of it. It would be very noticeable.

My theory is that G doesn’t punish link activity in the search engine ranks because they can’t determine which links are paid with enough certainty to avoid lawsuits.

Can you hide text links inside a post?

No – a link is a link. They are all equally risky – don’t think you are “hiding” your links, just because they are inside a post.

My Insurance theory

If you don’t sell text links for fear of being punished by Google, you are in effect, paying an insurance premium (equal to the amount of money you could make from text link sales) on your search engine related income (and potential future income).

If you are successful with your blog, you might see search engine income climb over time – this will manifest itself with higher Adsense and affiliate income. If your text link income falls to a low enough percentage of overall revenue – it might make sense to drop the links and start paying the “Google insurance” premium.

If most of your income is from text links, it doesn’t make much sense to give up the majority of your income to protect the minority.

Another thought is that once your search engine related income gets high enough, it might be worth dropping links, even if they are still a significant part of your income. It’s one thing to put a few hundred bucks per month at risk, but once it gets to decent money – say $1,000/month – you might want to protect that amount. It’s also very likely that if you can get your Adsense and affiliates over $1000 per month – you are very good at generating online income and will likely be doing it for a long time – or selling the site for a pretty penny. Either scenario could dictate that dropping text links might be a good move to lower your risk.

So why sell links?

You need to make money blogging.

Most new bloggers will never get to the point where their search engine based income (Adsense) is high enough to warrant dropping text links. They will either quit or just continue the blog as more of a hobby.

If you are a new blogger, I would definitely consider selling text links. If you end up being a short-term blogger, at least some income will have been made. Income is a great motivator – it’s very hard to make much search engine money in the first year of any site. Selling links can be a great way for a new blogger to keep motivated to continue to the next level and perhaps one day be able to drop the links.

In my case – I sold text links for a long time and made some pretty decent money from them. I eventually gave them up because:

  • Link revenue dropped.
  • Link income became a small percentage of my total income (less than 10%).
  • My search engine income (Adsense and affiliates) was quite high on it’s own.
  • And lastly, because a lot of link sellers are a pain in in the ass to deal with. 🙂

What do you think?

Are text links “evil” (according to the big G they are).  Would you sell them?

 

Do You Need A Newsletter For Your Blog?

April 4th, 2011

It seems that all the big money bloggers insist that the newsletter, aka “the list” is the best way to monetize a blog. Because a lot of non-“make money online” bloggers read those money sites, it is easy to think that we are losing out if we don’t have a proper newsletter.

Pat Flynn mentions the saying “The Money is in the List” and describes why newsletters are so awesome.

The reality is that like most things in life, your mileage may vary. In some cases, by a lot!

When someone gives advice, it’s important to understand the context of the advice giver. Just because XYZ works great for them, doesn’t mean it will work as well for you – or at all for you.

In the case of the “make money online” bloggers – they can’t make money from Adsense because there just aren’t enough advertisers in that space. Those bloggers need to make money from their regular readers, because there is nowhere else to make money. An email list is a very good way to reach their readers with affiliate offers and product launches.

A personal finance blogger (like me) on the other hand, typically will list Adsense as their top earner. The vast majority of Adsense clickers are search engine visitors, not regular readers.

When it comes to monetization – a Money blogger shouldn’t unconditionly follow advice from a Personal Finance blogger and vice versa. Apples and oranges.

The downside of newsletters

The big downside of newsletters is the extra work involved. If you are just sending out your regular posts in your newsletter, you are wasting your money. The whole point of having a newsletter, is to use the extra functionality not available in RSS email service.

  • Formatting – You can format the posts anyway you like.
  • Autoresponding – A new subscriber can get an automated timed series of posts.
  • Stats – Typically, there are pretty good stats available for the reader actions.

The extra features take extra time, which is why I haven’t started a newsletter yet. I know I won’t do anything other than just send out my regular posts.

Targeted audience is the key

The success of a newsletter is heavily dependent on how targeted your readers are and how it monetizes.

The reason search engine visitors are profitable for personal finance blogs (if there are good ads showing in Adsense), is because they are targeted. Thanks to Google and other search engines – people looking for information can easily find a post you did on that topic, even though you might have 1000+ posts on your blog on all kinds of topics.

If your site is very targeted, your readers will also be targeted by definition. A good example is a “make money online with blogging” site.

Pat Flynn, Erica.biz are a couple of good examples of that. They pretty much only write about blogging and monetization and therefore I would assume, most of their readers are bloggers who are trying to make more money.

If they send out an email blast for an affiliate product like Scribe or Market Samarai, which would obviously be of interest to bloggers trying to make more money – they will likely have some good success. There is a good match between their readers and the product offering.

Personal finance blogs are generally not very targeted – they can cover anything to do with money – which is pretty much everything. Your readers’ interests will also reflect that variety. If a personal finance blogger sends out an email for a discount brokerage offer – how many readers will be interested? It will always be a small percentage.

I’m not suggesting that newsletters are not a good idea – that is something we should each test and determine for ourselves.

Conclusion

It’s very common for certain bloggers to insist that the email list is the only/best way to make money and you’re an idiot if you don’t have one. If your site is very targeted and can’t make money from search engine traffic via Adsense – you probably need an email list. For the rest of us, an email list will be less beneficial and less critical.

How Self-Publishing Works

February 25th, 2011

Since becoming a world-famous author*, I’ve had a number of people ask me about self-publishing and how the whole process works.  There are some great resources available and I’ve written down a few of my thoughts as well.

Self-publishing does not mean ordering 500 books at a time and mailing them out by hand.  Authors can upload their books to Lightning Source or CreateSpace and have the book listed on Amazon automatically.  You don’t have to handle any transactions or deliveries if you don’t want to.

It also does not mean you have to complete every step yourself.  You can outsource things like cover design, editing, and writing (if you want!).

If you self-publish, it is possible to get your book into bookstores, but it will probably take some legwork to make that happen.

My self-publishing business model

The business model I used is laid out in Aaron Shepard’s book “Aiming for Amazon” – free pdf here:  http://www.aaronshep.com/publishing/drafts/Aiming2.zip.  If you wish to buy the updated physical book (well worth it), be aware it has been split into two books:  Aiming For Amazon and POD For Profit.  Excellent, excellent resource.

Here are a few articles I wrote on the self-publishing experience:

*not true

Answering Reader Questions And Evaluating Your Time

February 22nd, 2011

One of the goals of this blog is to try to help bloggers make more money without spending more time blogging.  This can be done by changing your efforts from non-profitable activities to more profitable activities.

Another side of the equation is to try to eliminate time spent on tasks that don’t provide any return.

In my case, I’ve decided to stop answering questions which I get from readers.  As much as I enjoy answering some questions (and might continue to do so on occasion), a lot of the questions are repetitive, have already been answered in posts or are so complicated that they will take a long time to answer.

I have goals I’m trying to achieve with my business.  A lot of those goals are dependent on producing more content, both online and in book form.  I have to spend time to achieve those goals.  Answering questions provides almost no value to me.

My solution is to provide a canned response every time someone asks a question.  I’ll explain that I’m not answering questions anymore and will list some references they can use.

Here are a few other points on this issue

  • Can’t make money – Even if I make a post out of an interesting reader question, it is likely a pretty rare occurrence and unlikely to get any search engine traffic money.
  • Time consuming – If I have to do research to answer the question, that is costing me a lot of time.
  • Obligations – Just because you provided some information about a topic, doesn’t mean you are obligated to keep answering questions.
  • One person – If you answer one lengthy question, you help one person.  If you spend that time on an entire post – you likely help many more people.
  • Who are they? –   Most questions are from search engine visitors – not your regular readers.
  • Obligations part II – You might feel obligated to your regular readers to help them out, but why?  You provide them with free content, why do you owe them anything else?
  • Thanks – And the biggest reason not answer questions – at least 50% of them don’t even say thanks.  Drives me nuts!!

Evaluate your time

The point of this article is not to discourage you from answering reader questions.   It is to suggest that if you are not meeting your blogging goals and you are getting frustrated (as I am) about spending time on “other” items, it might be an idea to evaluate what you spend your time on and maybe think about dropping activities that are not helping you to achieve your goals.

Some Interesting Reads About Blogging And Self-Publishing

February 21st, 2011

One of the best articles for bloggers, that I’ve read in a long time.  Bloggers – Don’t give away your content!.  If you do – you’ve been Dangled.

Write to Publish did a good comparison between Lightning Source and Amazon CreateSpace.  She did make one crucial error (noted in the comments by Aaron Shepard himself), but the comparison is worth reading.  Check out my Lightning Source vs Amazon CreateSpace vs Lulu comparison.

Ever get the feeling that some websites just want your money and aren’t delivering a solid product?  Well, check out Buy my stupid e-book.

The New York Times uncovered a massive paid link scandal, originating from none other than JC Penny.  Read The dirty little secrets of search.

How To Convert Meta Information From SEO Plugins Like All-In-1 SEO and HeadSpace To SEO Theme (such as Thesis) Using SEO Data Transporter WordPress Plugin

February 13th, 2011

I’m a big fan of using the meta description box for posts that do well in search engine results.  I don’t bother with tags, keywords or even titles anymore.

Read to find out the importance of search engine visitors to make money.

I’ve been using HeadSpace and All-in-1 SEO for several years and have been entering the meta description in the proper spots.  A couple of years ago, I started using Thesis theme, which like a lot of premium themes, has it’s own SEO functionality.  I’ve been wanting to just use the Thesis meta information, but it would have been a lot of work to convert all my old SEO information into the Thesis SEO.

Note – If you have an SEO plugin installed (ie HeadSpace), Thesis will not use any of the Thesis SEO functionality.

I recently came across a plugin called SEO Data Transporter, which is the answer to my prayers.  It will convert all your existing SEO meta information and convert it to another platform.

Before you start

Make sure you have a recent backup of your database

Steps:

  • Install the plugin from the WordPress site.
  • Activate the plugin
  • Select from Tools menu:  SEO Data Transport
  • Select the platform you wish to convert from ie All-in-1 SEO or HeadSpace2 (in my case).
  • Choose the platform you wish to convert to  – (Thesis in my case).
  • The basic meta information will get converted.
  • Then you can deactivate and uninstall the SEO plugin you were using as well as the SEO Data Transporter plugin.

Blog Giveaway Contests Are Not Always A Waste Of Time – Some Are Very Profitable

January 10th, 2011

In a recent post I talked about bloggers sponsoring giveaway contests.  In my opinion, this is a complete waste of money.  There are however, some type of contests which are worth doing.  Let’s look at three of them:

  1. Sponsor pays for giveaway – This works best if the sponsor also pays for delivery costs.  I’m still of the opinion that there won’t be much benefit for your blog, but if it doesn’t cost anything – you can’t really lose.
  2. Donate money to charity that the contest winner picks – This clever contest was mentioned by Sustainable Personal Finance in the comments of the previous post.  Basically, SPF will be running a contest, where the winner gets to pick which charity SPF will donate to.  Given that SPF was going to donate the money anyway, there is no net cost for him.  Great idea!

Most brilliant “contest” idea ever

This idea is so excellent, it gets it’s own paragraph.

I had an idea a while back about holding a “contest”, where I would ask for blog posts to be submitted for a chance at winning a $100 top prize.  My ulterior motive for the contest was to try to find new writers.  I never ended up running the contest, but I recently heard of a similar contest, but the creator has cleverly made it into the best contest ever (from the blogger’s point of view).

Credit Cards Canada  is holding a blogging contest where you can win a $1000 top prize for submitting the winning blog post.  There are quite a few other prizes as well.

This sounds awesome – but does it make sense for a website to put up that kind of money just for some content?

Let’s take a closer look at the contest:

Sponsors:

This is the really clever part – CCC has lined up quite a few sponsors at $200, $100 and $50 .  In exchange for this donation, the sponsor will get links back from every submitted post that is eventually published.  On the contest page at the time of writing, there are a total of $2,750 sponsored.

On the How to win page, the “prize goals” total $3,000.  It mentions that the sponsorship will probably exceed the prizes, so the excess will be donated to charity.  Personally, I would rename the “excess” to “profit”.  🙂

Regardless, it appears that the prizes are covered by the sponsors, so the host site doesn’t have to put up any money.  Fantastic.

So how does CCC benefit?

Links – In the rules it states:

To qualify, you must announce the post and/or the contest on your blog and link back to all the sponsors and to the announcement post on this blog.

So to “enter” your blog post, you have to give a free, permanent text link to CCC site along with all the sponsor sites.  Text links are pretty valuable if you are trying to rank higher in the search engines, so this is a pretty good benefit.
Submissions – It also states in the rules that:

“Upon submission of the entry, you grant exclusive publishing rights to Credit Cards Canada.

So, in other words – when you enter this contest, you are really just giving them a free blog post, plus a pile of permanent, free text links in exchange for a chance at a big prize.  Buying half decent blog content typically costs about $25 per post.  If there are 50 acceptable entries, then CCC will get about $1,250 worth of content for free.

Brilliant!

Are the contest entrants being ripped off?

No, they aren’t.  The rules are quite clear and the prizes are pretty good. One $1,000 prize, two $500 prizes etc.  Not bad at all.

Summary

Some blog contests can be either neutral or beneficial to the host blog.  Three methods of having successful contests are:

  1. Donate money to winner’s charity, that you would have donated anyway.
  2. Get someone else to pay for the prizes.
  3. Get sponsors for your “contest” to cover the prizes and maybe even provide a profit.  Get extra links and keep the submissions for your blog.

Giveaway Contests Are A Waste Of Money For Bloggers

January 8th, 2011

Many bloggers will run giveaway contests to try to get more traffic or new readers.  Books and gift cards seem to be the most popular prizes.   It appears that in most cases, the blogger is paying for the prize which I think is a bad idea.

Who enters these contests?

Entrants are:

  • Professional contest trollers – They set Google alerts and hang out together on forums to find out where the contests are. These people don’t give a rat’s ass about your blog – all they want is a chance at winning something they can either use as cash (gift certificate) or resell (book, merchandise). You will never a new reader out of these people.
  • Existing readers – Your current readers will likely enter the contest, but what do you gain if they enter or win? Nothing.

You might get the occasional new reader from a contest, but your cost per acquisition will be enormous and not worth it.  Readers want to read your content – giving items away has nothing to do with your content.

Even if you can buy new readers – what is the point? If you are trying to make money – regular readers don’t pay the bills – search engine visitors do.

How to get more readers

If you really want to spend money on your business, spend it where it might have some effect. Pay for content – this content can go on your site or can be used for guest post material which will provide more links to your site.

If you really want more readers, start working on guest posts. Yes, they take time, but they will be far more effective at gaining new readers than any contest.

Note – This article is only referring to contests where the site owner is paying for the prize. If you can get someone else to sponsor it – then go for it!

See my follow up article:  Blog giveaway contests are not always a waste of time.  Some are very profitable.


A Few Good Publishing And Blogging Links

January 5th, 2011