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Blogging for Dollars Experiment Pays Off

Posted By Darren Rowse 9th of November 2005 Case Studies 0 Comments

Warning: Heart Warming Story Ahead

I was just contacted via IM with a blogger (I’ll call him ‘Geoff’ – not his real name) who owns and blogs at a reasonably popular and established blog (not an A-lister but he runs a nice blog that gets about 3000 visitors per day).

Geoff told me that about two months ago that he’d started to experiment with putting a few income streams on his blog. He did it after seeing something that I’d written here. He said:

‘I did it with the hope of paying for my hosting costs and perhaps even buying myself an Apple ibook to blog on’.

Geoff started out experimenting with Adsense and Amazon and then on seeing some of my success with eMiniMalls added those in the past few weeks.

Around 9 weeks after starting his ‘experiment’ Geoff tells me that he’s just reached the $150 per day mark. His hosting costs for the year are covered and today he placed an order for a powerbook instead of an ibook.

He said:

‘I can not believe that I am on track for earning over $50,000 in the next year for writing on a topic that I would happily write about for free! Why didn’t anyone ever tell me that I could make money from blogging?? :-) ‘

He went on to say:

‘I’m SOOO happy Darren! But I can’t help but think of the opportunity that I missed over the last 2 years of blogging, imagine if I’d put the ads on earlier!!!’

It makes me wonder just how many ‘Geoffs’ there are out there. People who already have built blogs and sites that could quite easily have income streams added to them but who have just never considered it. While I know many bloggers choose not to do the ad thing and that many blogs don’t have the earning potential of Geoff’s (he’s luckily in a good niche – one that he’s keen for me not to mention for fear of copycats) there must be many others in a similar boat.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  1. Although I am not a ‘Geoff’, I am still excited about what my blog could become. I average about 20 visitors per day and next to nothing on the income. How people get up to 3000 per day boggles my mind. I am a member of various blog directories although my SEO ranks could be improved. I have tried reading through this site about the various tips and tricks and have tried many of them with no luck thus far. I am excited, but disheartened at the same time.
    I am glad to see that success is possible out there in the blogosphere, but how to get there is still a mystery.

    Ariston Collander

  2. Ariston

    You will get there the old fashioned way. Work hard.

    There is a formula.

    Find out all the bloggers who are in your niche.
    Put them in your blogroll
    Email them and tellt them how wonderful they are.
    Email them again and tell them you have put them in your blogroll, then ask to be put in theirs.
    Link to them, you will be amazed that they will notice.
    Concentrate on making good and coherent posts, and when you feel you hit a homerun, send it over to the big boys. Odds are one will be having a hard time finding anything to write about and will link to your story because it gets something up on their site.
    Start process again.

    You will be amazed what will happen when you get that little bit higher in the google juice game, as odds are you will have the post that will break you out.

    best of luck


  3. Tom, thanks for the response. That’s pretty much the first good set of steps I’ve seen so far. I can definitely understand that there will be that one post that just shoots you up over the edge…everyone will want to read it. It also make sense to arrange for relationships with other sites as well to build the “link back” score.

    Thanks again!

    Ariston Collander

  4. Garri says: 11/09/2005 at 7:06 am

    Personally, I’m not impressed with eminimalls as they rejected us from their program, or rather, they didn’t accept us into their program. They gave a list of a few possible reasons but nothing specific – I’m not impressed with that because we were accepted into the Google Adsense program without any hitch.

    So, if Chitika are reading this: give us a specific reason and answer our email. By us submitting our personal details to your website and taking time in making an application, you owe us a direct response and specific reason. You also owe us the opportunity to submit our site for re-evaluation. This is the absolute minimum required by them.

  5. Ariston

    You are welcome.

    We developed this formula in the political blogging world, and am now replicating it in other areas.

    One of our blogs got wildly successful for a while, http://www.scaredmonkeys.com , and is still doing well on traffic. It is not the kind of site that makes money, but it does move traffic. We were dealing with the major media and it taught us one lesson.

    Blogging is one of the few areas where working with your competitor helps everyone improve. The media has a hard time sharing anything within their own newsroom. Bloggers who link get great returns, those who do not, tend not to grow.

    If you look at Darren’s photo blog, he links to the world, and it is helping him grow and be successful. Not a bad way to make a nickel.


  6. hehe, I visited the Scared Monkeys site and saw a ton of comments. When you are dealing with controversial topics you really get people to come out of the woodwork. I about 12 or 15 page views a day but I think because my site is more informative and links to other locations no one feels the need to comment.
    I’m still trying to find a good design for my site so all of the pertinent information is at hand. I’ve looked through dozens of WordPress themes but have yet to find something I like. Once again, though, it all boils down to content….

    Ariston Collander

  7. He must have a much better ad converting topic than mine, since I’m not making anywhere near 15k with a lot more readers than 3000. Damn. I should take one of Darren’s courses or something.

  8. Nathan, it’s all about the topic. I have some popular sites that can’t make much at all with AdSense. Sites with a tenth of the traffic make more.

    Here’s a trick: make a list of more profitable niches that might have a significant overlap with your site’s audience. Start another weblog or two on those topics, and you should be able to jumpstart them with links from your existing site.

  9. Ariston: If you’re looking for a story that starts a little lower, I can mention what my personal (not particularly targetted) site has done from August of this year to now. I was averaging 25 visits per day (your number is what triggered a response in me) when I decided to actually start working with it. It is averaging 750 visits a day this week. It’s a bit earlier in the growth curve than the main story from the post, but it still points to the ability of some effort paying off.

    The revenue has been growing as well, but you need to do your math more in terms of percentages to see the growth at the early levels. I track the average daily revenue as well as CPM pulled from Adsense’s reports. My benchmarks are usually yesterday’s numbers, this week’s numbers, this months numbers and each month previous. Next year I’ll add yearly. Because they’re all stated in terms of daily revenue, it provides a way to quickly see whether things are trending upward. When I plot it out, my daily revenue has been growing at 60% per month or better.

    I’ve learned a WHOLE lot by experimentation as well as info from this site. My experiments don’t always jive with what Darren or others who are writing about blogging in search of the coin of the realm. However, to me, that’s what this is all about. Is Adsense the best, Chitika, Yahoo, BlogAds, etc.? Doesn’t matter what anyone else says, try ’em each for a week (to me no blogging experiment is valid without at LEAST a week of data).

    There are no “rules”. For instance, all of my increase has come without any of the blogroll stuff or contacting anyone in my niche. Nearly all of my traffic comes from search engines. I don’t have a niche on Wynia.org (though several sites I’m still setting up will), yet get really decent CPM overall. However, if I hadn’t tried some things that weren’t really mentioned and actually trying some that “aren’t supposed to work”, much of that traffic wouldn’t have come.

  10. J,

    Thanks for your response. I guess one of the major questions is how you made the leap from 25 visits to 750 visits. If it was a slow trend, would you attribute it to SEO or the topics your right or your site design? I am still working on finding a decent theme for my site that displays the information in the most appealing method. I spent about 5 hours customizing my current theme and am getting some good hits now, but that’s obviously not because of design. I am trying to stay on top of the digital photography news in which case linking with my peers might be the best method for generating traffic. In your case you blog on a variety of topics which can be searched upon in a variety of methods. If someone types in “nikon” in Google, I am nowhere near where I’d like to be but both Nikon and Digital Photography in general are rather broad topics. It’s almost as if I wish there were some sort of blog consultant who could provide feedback based on discussions with the author. My primary question would be “am I trying to make a presence in a saturated topic?” and if the answer to that question is no, then it would become “how can I make my presence more pronounced in that market?” Every aspiring professional blogger dreams of becoming “Geoff,” of opening Adsense or Chitika reports and seeing hundreds of clicks, and waiting with baited breath as the check arrives, but from my experience it feels like a mutually exclusive club. What I want to see is exactly how someone went from the bottom to the top…what exact steps did they take, at what point did they become profitable.

    Sorry for the long post, but it’s a topic that I feel strongly about.

    Ariston Collander

  11. Very interesting stuff. I guess i’m the same area and learing to gain for visitors. My first venture is with a sports blog cause I love sports and love to talk sports. I don’t expect too much revenue (but it would be nice) from it but just hope to get traffic to the site to gain readers. Will try some of the stuff I’ve read in the comments to gain some fans.

  12. The room for top sites is limited. Though there are millions of blogs, only few manage to get a reasonable audience. Once you realize this, you also realize that you have only two options: find a niche for your blog, or ‘simply’ write the best content about a more general theme.

  13. Darren, can you tell us what niche is “Geoff” writing about???

  14. I’m not able to give details as I wrote this post with his permission only after agreeing not to do so – except to say that it’s technology related. That’s about as much as I can tell.

  15. Ariston, i’m in the same boat as yours. getting past that 25 visits is so much harder than I anticipated. Sacred monkey has lot of interaction and comments, but Darrens photoblog doesn’t. But it still generates mola. His site pops up first when u search for digital cameras. SEO optimization will definetly pay off.

    Has anyone tried the tag system on technorati, It doesn’t say that digital camera is a hot topic yet it is.

    PLus what if u link to ur competitioner and they are doing it all wrong. Do you go out of your way to tell them how to do it right(if they ask for help). or you leave them to their doom and benefit from the traffic that generates from their website.

    When we talk about benefitting from a community, then I think its best to help the community grow as a whole.

    what do guys think.

  16. I’ve mentioned it in other comments on this site as well, but the single best thing I did to increase traffic was changing how my post titling worked.

    When I started, pretty much all of my post titles were 2-3 words long and pretty generic. For instance if I’d gotten a new CD, I’d write a post titled something like “Listening to Great New CD” and go on to talk about what it was, etc. Now, I write post titles that are full of keywords instead. My average title is now somewhere around 7-10 words. So, for a new CD, I’d write a title more like, “The Last DJ: Tom Petty’s New Album, the RIAA and the Demise of the Music Business”. It’s long, but loaded with keywords, all of which I would then actually discuss in the article (no putting irrelevant keywords in the title here). Suddenly the article becomes relevant to many more searches.

    When that’s combined with making sure your post titles are all set to H1 tags, that they’re included in your HTML TITLE tags and that you’ve got permalinks turned on with your post title used as your URL, you’ve now just put a pile of keywords into the key places Google and lots of other places like them. Whether on Google or on Technorati, the second title will hook WAY more people than the first.

    When you combine *that* with the fact that if Google knows about the posting in terms of your rich keywords for SEO purposes, it *also* knows about it for Adsense purposes, this is a powerful combination. Suddenly, Google not only points people to pages, but when they get there, serves up great ads and the CPM goes up.

    I can’t yet speak to competing in any space other than “personal and web development” topics as the only blog I’ve applied this to is my own. However, as an example, I wrote a posting about a “left join”, a fairly common database query term and it was only a pointer to another article. That term is in virtually every database article and manual out there. Yet, *my* article comes up in the 5th slot on Google, just after MySQL’s own manual page for left joins.

  17. Ariston and MySchizobuddy

    Scared Monkeys is the front blog that shows traffic can be generated. It is not a big money maker by any means, although it does shell out a little bit a day.

    What is did was teach us how to build traffic. We are hoping to replicate it with some of our other sites.


  18. I have been building sites for the past few years and I could safely say that I’m quite average in my design and coding skills. However, for the life of me, I am so lazy finding new clients and my previous clients brings little business on the table. I think I enjoy more the technical side of designing and coding as opposed to the business side.

    One day, I decided to build my very first content site as I’m hearing a lot of people earning quite substantially from advertisement. Little did I know that building sites and make it successfull is quite 2 totally different things.

    Though i can design and code site; marketing, promotion, content creation requires a different skills set. And i admit I’m just learning the ropes of SEO and other tricks out there.

    Lastly, one thing that I really do realize is that making a site succesfull in terms of traffic and earnings requires tremendous patience.

  19. my story is just like Ariston Collander. I have to admit my blog that does the best in new. I only have about 30 post on it so far. I guess I cannot complain about the traffic it gets thus far but it makes 0 money. I even have repeat visitors so I must do something right but no clicks. I keep track of my stats and found that people are linking to me in ways that I did not expect. I am now starting to use that data as a base to write my posts. I hope to get the traffic that everyone talks about.

  20. Wynia, it is the very interestng discussion.

    I have 2 questions.

    1. Does anybody knows how to turn on the option of placing the title into URL in Joomla or Mambo blog software?

    2. Wynia, when you say, that your traffci jumped from 25 to 750 in 2 month.
    What wa the timing? How long did your blog existed before that? that’s very doubtfult hat jsut packing your tiitles with keywords brouthg the

    traffic 30 times more in 2 month. It’ is 3000% increase.

    Are sure that it ws not coincedentally that may be your blog went out of sandbox in Google. Or maybe your articles were picked up by high profiel


    Of coruse palcing keywords in URL give oyu an edge, as well as packing titiel with keyrods. But SE is nto so stupid, otherwise everybody would be

    ont he top, which is imposisble.
    the edge should be not high.
    So sotmehig else influenced your traffic.
    Then you jsut misledaing the poor lady, by telling that small twicks had that dramatic effect.

  21. When I compare my main website http://portallanguageservices.com on a month by month using Google Analytics.
    I have had an increase of around 300% from one month to the next so why couldn’t someone get 300% increase in two months by adding content and optimizing regularly.

    I just wouldn’t expect ad revenue to increase at the same rate although I suppose it could if your topic works.

    PS. If someone could recommend a good CMS that could link with wordpress, I’d appreciate it.

    [email protected]

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