Posts Tagged ‘Web Hosting’

4 Approaches to Making Money from Blogging

Monday, January 12th, 2009

So, you’ve heard that people can make money from blogging, but you’re wondering “how exactly does that work, and what approach would suit your blog?”.

Text Links

You have a website which has outgoing links, other websites want to rank with search engines, and one of the main measures for page rank is the number and quality of incoming links. So, there is money to be made from selling links on your site, and the advertiser is generally not that bothered if nobody ever clicks on the link.

This can be a reasonable source of income both from aggregators and private sales, but it doesn’t scale that well — after a certain point, you can’t earn more money as your blog grows. The main downside is that it is not at all popular with search engines and you may find your own ranking in searches is lowered as a result.

Ad Networks

You have a website which has visitors who click on links on your website. Other websites are are willing to pay for visitors. There is money to be made from selling advertising space on your website, you either get paid when someone views an ad, or when they click on it.

Making money this way requires a reasonably sized audience, and search engine traffic is considered to click more on adverts than regular readers or subscribers. Ad network income generally scales very well, and it is possible to make this the cornerstone of a money making strategy reliant on a single blog in the right sort of niche. The downside is that unless your website is very large, you’re unlikely to make private sales and will be reliant on an ad aggregator (e.g. Adsense, ). In practice this means that you will give up a fair amount of control over which ads are shown, and there can be restrictive terms and conditions.

Affiliate Links

You have a website where you mention products and services. Other companies are willing to pay commission for leads, inquiries or sales. There is money to be made by linking to the product or service if your visitors are likely to click on the link and follow up with a purchase.

Affiliate links scale well, and there is the potential for using both aggregators and private arrangements. You generally have complete control over which affiliate links are shown on your blog, and existing readers and subscribers are more likely to click on affiliate links than straight advertising. The downside is that making money from affiliate links depends strongly on the niche you are working in. There needs to be an obvious relationship between the topics you write about, and some products or services. So, for example review blogs do very well from affiliate sales, as can blogs related to expensive hobbies, but if you rarely mention specific products or services then you will probably struggle.

Consulting and Sales

You have some skill or product that you wish to sell. Your blog is strongly related to this skill or products. Other people will pay money for your skill or products.

You need to have genuine skills or a product to sell that people are interested in. Your blog needs to be strongly positioned towards making sales, in fact becomes somewhat of a sideline. You need to research any legal issues thoroughly before offering consulting, and ensure that you have back office systems set up for dealing with clients or completing sales. This works very well with business to business internet sales (e.g. selling WordPress themes, or blog consulting services) and fairly well with anything that can be done remotely, it is much harder to do if your skill requires you to be actually present. The biggest downside is that this is not passive income — you’ll actually have to work for the money, as well as blog.

Issues to Consider

You need to have the right set up in order to make money. Some free blog networks like don’t allow their bloggers to run advertising so check your terms and conditions. It is generally easiest to grow your blog’s income with self-hosted web hosting and your own domain name, but other approaches have worked for some people.

It’s possible to use a mix of approaches to making money, but be careful. If you are selling a product or skill then you might not want to use Adsense for example because the ads that come up are likely to be for competitors. As mentioned, selling text links can have a negative impact on your search engine visitors which are the primary source of income for most of the other forms of advertising.

Invariably, making money means paying taxes on the net income. Check out the regulations in your area, but you can usually make deductions for legitimate business expenses like hosting, domain names and Internet access. If you have a tax advisor or accountant already, you should contact them with your plans, often tax departments have phone lines you can call for advice on issues.

Finally, the standing of your blog is always dependent of having good content, and your credibility can be harmed by having a blog design with intrusive advertising. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by letting your desire to make money overcome your common sense.

Best of luck, and here’s to your first million (or at least hundred)!

What’s Your Blog Exit Strategy?

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Okay, you have launched your blog, and you have been pouring your heart and soul into it.  You are gaining readers, made new friends, and enjoying the overall experience.  Since nobody can blog forever, have you ever thought about what you’ll do down the road?  I haven’t thought about this until a friend (DebtKid) asked me that question.

exit strategy
Photo by Will Foster via Flickr

Seven Blog Exit Strategies

As I went through the process and considered what I could do if I ever got tired of blogging, here are some of the options:

1. Go Out Quietly

The first option is to simply take it offline.  Let the web hosting run its course and the blog will simply disappear into oblivion.  This is probably the most common fate for blogs.

2. Stay Online, But Stop Updating

If you have a profitable blog with decent amount of organic traffic, leaving it online without updating may be a sensible option.  All you have to do is minimal maintenance and enjoy the residual income from all the hard work you have done.  I believe the official term for this is mothballing your blog.

3. Stay Online, Update A Lot Less

A variation of the one above is to keep it online and only update it once in a while as a post idea emerges.  One of my favorite blogs, Skelliewag, is following this strategy — hopefully for a short time only.

4. Sell Your Blog

There are many marketplaces that you can buy and sell blogs — i.e., SitePoint Marketplace and DigitalPoint Forums.  Just like any other assets, a well developed blog could fetch decent amount of money.  Yaro wrote about high-profile blogs for sale that’s worth reading if you are exploring this option.

5. Sell Your Content

Even if you can’t sell your blog as a whole — i.e., the buyer don’t want your domain name and brand — your content is still valuable.  Depending on the niche and the quality of your content, you could sell your articles for decent amount of money.

6. Turn It Into A Group Blog

If you are simply tired of writing, but you still want to stay in the blogging business, you could do turn it into a multi-author blog.  Of course, this only works if there are proper incentive for the potential contributors — i.e., money, traffic, recognition, etc.

7. Buy And Republish Content

The reverse of “Sell The Content” strategy is to buy content and republish them to keep your blog active.  I am certain that this is not a good long-term solution, but definitely a viable short-term patch to help you through the exiting process.

Do you have a blog exit strategy?  If not, do you think you need one?

Other articles about blog exit strategy:

A Better Way To Manage Affiliate Links

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

One of the more lucrative monetization methods for a blog is affiliate marketing (or referral marketing). Basically, you set up your blog with an affiliate link (or referral link) and send traffic to your advertiser. For each visitor that completes an action — i.e., subscribe to a service, buy a product, etc. — you’ll get paid a fixed amount or a percentage of the sale as compensation.

Three Problems With Affiliate Links

1. Non-Descriptive

Non-descriptive affiliate links are the ones that don’t tell the user information about the site it is leading to. This is a common problem with program like Commission Junction where a typical affiliate link looks something like this:

By the way, that’s the affiliate link for Lunarpages web hosting. However, with all the phishing scams, visitors are less inclined to click on a non-descriptive link because they are not sure where they will end up.

2. Complicated

Complicated affiliate links are the excessively long ones. For example, this is an affiliate link for a Garmin Nuvi GPS through

That’s a pretty long affiliate link.

3. Hard To Update

As your blog ages, it could contain hundreds or even thousands of affiliate links. This presents a challenge if one of these links needs to be updated. For example, eBay recently left Commission Junction and started its own affiliate program, forcing publishers to update all eBay affiliate links.

Using PHP Redirect To Manage Affiliate Links

The three problems above can be addressed with a simple solution if you know a bit of PHP. We will use the Lunarpages link as an example.

First, you need to create a PHP file that redirects visitors to the affiliate URL when called — let’s call it lunarpages.php. This is how the file would look like:

header( ‘Location:’ ) ;

Note the Lunarpages affiliate link.

Second, upload the lunarpages.php file to your web server. I keep my PHP redirect files in a folder called go. For example:

Now, I can simply link to this nicer looking link that tells my visitors that it goes to Lunarpages instead of the ugly “” link. Try it:

A Better Way To Manage Amazon Affiliate Links

It would be extremely time consuming to manage Amazon affiliate links using the above method — i.e., one PHP file per product. Fortunately, we can use a PHP variable to solve the problem — this way, one PHP file can handle multiple products.

First, the PHP file. Let’s call it amazon.php. This is what it would look like.

$asin = htmlspecialchars($_GET[‘asin’]);
$link = “” . $asin . “?tag=your-affiliate-ID”;

Note, be sure to replace your-affiliate-ID with your ID. Again, upload the file to your web server. Now, when I need to link to an amazon product, I can do the following:

This is the equivalent of the long affiliate link in #2 above. Try it:

If you ever need to update any of these links, all you have to do is update the PHP file — one change and you’re all set!

How To Start A Blog in 9 Easy Steps

Monday, March 17th, 2008

Over the past few weeks, my friends and I wrote about different aspects of blogging and how to position your blog more successful. In this post, I would like to take a step back and talk about how to start a blog. Specifically, I will discuss how to start a self-hosted WordPress blog since we already established that it’s one of the best platforms to start on.

Photo by rocatis via Flickr

Please note the discussion below assumes that you are interested in monetizing your blog and attracting readership. It’s not as applicable to if you want to blog casually.

1. Establish a business plan for your blog

This doesn’t have to be a full business plan since blogging has a very low cost of entry. But before you begin, there are several things you need to consider:

  • What’s the main focus of your blog? — I discussed this in Key to Successful Blogging. Be sure to pick a topic that you are passionate and knowledgeable about.
  • What are you trying to accomplish with your blog? — Do you want to start a blog to complement your business, products, and services? For side income? For notoriety? To open doors to other opportunities? To help others? To keep yourself accountable?
  • What are your expectations? — How much time are you willing to commit? What level of traffic, subscribers, income do you expect 3 months, 6 months, and a year from now? What would you do if you fail to meet those expectations?

2. Find and register a domain name

Once you have identified your blog’s topic, it’s time to find relevant and brandable domain name. I discussed this topic in detail in How to Create an Amazing Domain Name. I currently use and I do recommend them for domain name registration.

3. Find the right web hosting company

Finding the right web hosting company is probably one of the bothersome aspects of starting your own self-hosted web site. I have used many hosting companies in the past, including Hosting.

I am currently with Media Temple and have been very satisfied.

I think the four most important things to do when you start out initially are:

  • Pick the Linux package over Windows. With Linux you will have greater flexibility with .htaccess and working with PHP.
  • Pick a host that offers cPanel and phpMyAdmin administrative interfaces.
  • Use the lowest cost package. Don’t worry, you won’t go over the limits any time soon.
  • Sign up for 1 month only. Extend an additional month if you are happy and slowly work your way up to full year commitment. Use the money back guarantee if needed.

Here are a few more web hosting companies you could choose from:

4. Install WordPress

Installing WordPress is not too difficult, but it could be challenging if you are unfamiliar with the web. The basic steps are as follow:

  1. Download WordPress
  2. Unzip and FTP files to your web host
  3. Set up database
  4. Set up database username and password
  5. Update wp-config.php file
  6. Run WordPress built-in installation
  7. 5. Find and install a WordPress theme

    One of the nice thing about WordPress is that there are literally thousands of theme to choose from. With minimal effort you can make your blog looks fairly unique. I discussed this in detail in How to Find the Right WordPress Theme.

    6. Install and set up essentials plug-ins

    Plug-ins are add on programs that enhance the functionality of WordPress. You can find hundreds of plug-ins at the WordPress plugin directory. However, the ones that I considered essential are:

    7. Set up companion accounts and integrate their functionalities

    Companion accounts are other online services that make your blog more effective. I shared more information in 12 Essential Companion Accounts for a Successful Blog. Basically, these accounts will help in different aspects like monetization, marketing, traffic generation, search engines optimization, and so on.

    8. Configure your WordPress installation

    Once you have everything set up and installed, you’ll have to make everything works together. This involves making configuration changes in the administrative control panel, as well as some minor tweaking of your WordPress theme. This latter part will involve a little bit of HTML and PHP programming.

    9. Start blogging

    That’s it! You’re done and ready to share your ideas with the world. At this point, you’ll want to read How To Grow A New Blog Efficiently and other fine articles to help your blog grow.

Why Did You Choose Self-Hosted WordPress?

Friday, March 7th, 2008

In my “12 Essential Companion Accounts for a Successful Blog” article, Lisa from Greener Pastures asked:

“I am on the free Blogspot Software, but I notice everyone keeps mentioning WordPress. Could you talk more about this? I’m thinking I should convert, but wanted to keep my budget on this project as minimal as possible.”

Instead of answering by saying why WordPress is good, or why Blogspot (Blogger) is bad, I have asked a few of my friends who switched from other blogging platforms to self-hosted WordPress.


Paidtwice from I’ve Paid For This Twice Already… said,

“I started my blog on because I had heard great things about the WordPress platform and I wanted a free blog to write my thoughts. I never intended to go beyond that, actually. I never intended to make blogging more than a very casual hobby and I certainly never intended to have actual readers who were interested in what I had to say.

But, as I kept blogging, I started to grow. I had more and more visitors come to my site and interact and I became more and more a part of the personal finance community. And that is where I started to hit the limitations of using the free blog. I lacked the freedom to customize to the extent I would like, and make improvements I thought would be beneficial to both me and my readers. So after a lot of deliberation, I committed to actively growing my blog and switched to self-hosting. And I haven’t looked back since.

As well as giving me the freedom to customize and monetize and statisticize my blog, being able to install WordPress plugins has really improved the overall functionality of the blog itself and allowed me to spend more time writing and thinking and less time tweaking.”

Mike from Quest For Four Pillars said,

“I never made the switch but hopefully the logic still applies…

I used self-hosted WordPress when I started my blog because I had talked to a couple of more established bloggers who suggested that if I was serious about blogging (I was) then starting with a proper self-hosted blog is the best strategy. WordPress seemed to be the best platform available because of the plugins and support available.

A lot of bloggers who just want to “dip their toes” will go for a free blog platform and it will probably work pretty well for a while. However there are limitations in the customization you can do to a free blog so inevitably most bloggers end up going to a self-hosted platform which is a real pain because you have to move to a new domain name and hope you don’t lose half your readers. Moving old posts over (which have search engine value) can also a problem.

My suggestion for a new blogger is to think about if they want to “do it right” from the beginning and pay for a self-hosted platform. If they want to try a free blog for a while then make the switch as soon as you know you are serious about blogging. The longer you wait the harder the switch will be.”

Plonkee from Plonkee Money said,

“I asked for feedback from some more established bloggers about how I could improve my blog, and one of them said that if I was really serious, the best thing that I could do would be to switch to self-hosted WordPress. At that point I’d been blogging for 3 or so months, and I was more confident that I’d be able to handle the back-end stuff, so I decided to go for it.

I remember thinking that it was awfully expensive, compared to free, at just over $100 for the year, but since then I’ve more than made back what I put in through advertising, and even if I hadn’t made a penny from my blog, it would still have been the best blogging decision I’ve made. The ability to customise what I’m doing, is probably the biggest thing, and the fact that WordPress is ubiquitous means that there is plenty of support. It’s really not as daunting as I first thought.”

Madison from My Dollar Plan said,

“I tried writing articles for two weeks on a free blog that was private. I used it to get a feel for blogging and how to link to other blogs. I also made a goal to keep writing for 2 weeks, since it usually takes 14 days to create a habit.

Once I felt I was ready for my debut I purchased a domain and installed WordPress. It was very easy to move all the articles over to my new site. By spending some time upfront practicing, once I started promoting my site I already had some planning and legwork done.”

Mrs. Micah from Mrs. Micah: Finance for a Freelance Life said,

“I switched to because I liked the look. I could have stuck with Blogger, but it seemed less professional. The comment page was particularly annoying. was good and I had my domain directed there for a while.

But you also couldn’t really modify a lot of things like the code without paying extra for it. I figured that if I was going to pay money to modify the code and such, I might as well pay a bit more and do whatever I wanted. I’d become very involved in my site and felt constantly thwarted by’s limitations.

Self-hosted WordPress lets you use/add all sorts of tools — plugins, timed posting, etc. You can actually use scripts, unlike (scripts including simple things like Sitemeter and Google Analytics). And doesn’t allow advertisers. It seemed like my views [traffic] were getting pretty good and I might be able to make a bit of money (more than enough to cover web hosting) if only I moved. Which was true, I’m able to cover hosting and have so much control over my blog.”

So there you have it, real-life reasons why bloggers moved from other blogging platform to self-hosted WordPress. If you did the same, I would love to hear your story. Please share.