Passion is the essence of successful online content creation. With the advent of Blogger and other easy to use blogging platforms, even the unsavvy computer user is able to put content on the web for others to read and respond to. It’s even more gratifying to be able to make money from communicating your passion to others…and it is so easy to do.
I believe that most readers of this article are at least adept enough to start a blog with Blogger and perhaps even place a Google Contextual Ad in the code. However, there are many other steps to take that can maximize your “blogging” ability to not only reach your audience but to make money from blog visitors.
Using a real example, I will give you a formula that you can easily follow, with little baby steps, that will allow you to start making money with your web content.
“You know what I like? Baseball!”
Robert De Niro as Al Capone in “The Untouchables”
I am a fantasy sports junkie. To me, 14-6-8 isn’t just SERPS, they could also be Boris Diaw’s basketball stat line. Now that fantasy basketball season has ended (and I did win my league), I can focus full time on fantasy baseball.
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During the course of this article, I am going to create and monetize a blog about one of my fantasy baseball teams ([http://www.fantasybaseballmonster.com]). I will use Blogger as my platform, though I will host the blog myself (and I strongly recommend that you do this as well). I will take you step by step through the creation and monetization process as well as give you my first post. I encourage you to copy my entire process when you create your blog…I think you will be happy with the results.
First, I set up my account and enter the pertinent FTP information. For this exercise, I will be working with the “Sand Dollar” Blogger template. It isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing of the choices, but it will allow me to place my skyscraper ads down the left side of the page without changing the CSS in the code. Studies have shown that people viewing your website are more likely to notice content located on the left margin of the page (see the Google Eye Tracking Study for more detail). So in order to maximize monetization of my blog, my ads will be placed on the left.
Once I get into the Blogger interface, I click on the “Settings” tab to begin my customization. Many default settings should go unchanged…I will only focus on those that should be altered.
(Basic Tab) Title: Your core keyword(s) should be in your title. “Fantasy Baseball” is mine…hence “Tru Fantasy Warrior’s (the name of my team adapted from the Ron Artest rap record label) Fantasy Baseball Blog” is a workable title for SEO purposes.
Description: Needs to contain your secondary keywords. In my case, they would be the members of my fantasy baseball team. I list each name here.
File Name, URL: The name of your file needs to be “index.shtml” instead of “index.html”. Note that if Blogger is hosting your blog, you can’t do this.
Notify Weblogs.com: Click “Yes”
(Formatting Tab) Show: I tend to favor showing a lot of content on the home page. I would raise the number that’s the default…how much would depend on the amount of content that will be created?
Post Template: I would tag all my posts with the Technorati tag for “fantasy baseball”. I visit Technorati, click on the “tag” tab, and determine that I need to add the following code into the “Post Template”:
<a target=”_new” rel=”no follow” href=”http://technorati.com/tag/fantasy+baseball”>fantasy baseball</a>
(Archive Tab): Archive Frequency: Choose “Daily”
I will signup for Google News Alerts for each player on my team. Each day, I will receive an e-mail containing news stories about that player…their actions on the field will drive the postings that I make.
Placing an RSS Feed on the Blog
Placing an RSS feed on the blog will not only provide my readers with relevant content about the targeted subject matter, but it will also add any search engine optimization efforts.
I’m going to create a simple RSS feed for my blog that will focus on some players on my fantasy baseball squad. Note that this won’t work if Blogger is hosting your blog.
I go to Google News and click on Advanced Search.
I create my search and I see these results.
There are two primary feed types: RSS and Atom. Google News allows you to create either type of feed. I click on the Atom link.
I take the URL of the Atom Feed to Feedburner, a service which enables me to format my feed in a manner that allows me to include it on my blog. I place the feed in the “Burn this feed right this instant” box and follow the steps until my feed is live and I get a new “Feed URL”.
Moving right along, I now need to download some software that will allow me to display the feed on my blog. RSS2HTML is what I use. Note that this software will only work if my web host supports PHP. Although I’m sure that easy-to- implement ASP solutions exist as well, I haven’t used any of them.
I unzip the downloaded zip file and I see the two necessary files that I need to upload to my web server: rss2html.php and sample-template.html. I open the latter file (if you don’t have an HTML editor, use “Notepad” on your PC). At the top of the page, I delete everything between the title tags, the h1 tags, and the h2 tags.
I then change the “Table Width” from 100% to 30%. These are purely stylistic changes that I am making. I then save the file and upload both files to the root of my web server.
I go back into Blogger and I open my template. I scroll down until I see
Remember how I generated a Feedburner URL (step #4 above)? I need it now. I place the following code directly below
When you do this yourself, just substitute your Feedburner URL for mine. I save the template and republish it to the web. I should see my feed on the sidebar of my blog.
The First Post
Each day, I will get a series of Google News Alerts e-mailed to me about the members of my fantasy team. My daily postings will be guided by my ideas and thoughts about my team. The sample post I included was driven by reading a news alert about Ichiro’s first good game of the year and how I traded Miguel Tejada for Ichiro, which was an incredibly stupid move. Since Ichiro is the focus of my post, I make sure to use his name in my post title. I then proceed with my mini-rant (making sure to include the names of all the players involved).
In addition to my Technorati tag for “fantasy baseball”, I also add tags for “Ichiro Suzuki” and “Miguel Tejada” which serves the purpose of getting my site into Technorati for people searching for those players. Technorati tags also increase the keyword density of those terms in the blog, aiding in the SEO effort.
If you are new to the blogosphere, you’ll ultimately develop your own posting style…just always be sure to use your targeted keywords in each post.
Google Ads / Affiliate Programs
One needs to develop a certain amount of content before you can apply and be accepted into the Google AdSense Program (I’m leaving out Yahoo’s program because it’s still in beta). Since I already have an AdSense Account, I can skip this step.
I’m going to give you a couple of very important rules that advanced AdSense Publishers already know and use to help increase their website’s revenue generation.
Make the background of your ad the same color as the background of the page. On my fantasy baseball blog, I have decided to place my ads in the “body” of the blog…the color of which is #F6F6F6. I wish to customize my ads so they blend into the blog background. Within the AdSense interface, I click on “Custom Palettes”. I go to the “White” palette and replace the background and border colors with “F6F6F6”. I then save my custom palette for use in my blog.
The second cardinal rule of maximizing AdSense revenue is making your ads seem like they are part of your blog content. Given that I can only place a maximum of three ads on a page, I make the following selections:
I want to place a 728 x 90 Leaderboard Ad directly above my most recent post. Making sure I’m using my custom palette, in my blog template, I drop my code just after
I take a 300 x 250 Medium Rectangle Ad and place it directly above my RSS Feed in my sidebar.
I withhold using my third ad for now. I will continue to experiment with different ad placement.
Given the ubiquitous nature of contextual advertising, many new publishers forget that they can become members of affiliate programs and make money through sales of affiliate products. For “ease-of-use” purposes, I recommend that newbie publishers simply join one of the bigger affiliate networks Commission Junction, Linkshare, and Shareasale is the most prominent).
When I choose an affiliate merchant for my blog, I know that I need a tight nexus between the merchant and the blog subject matter in order to make sales. I know that with some of my older, more established websites, I have done really well-making sales with anti-aging products that have excellent payouts. However, I wouldn’t consider placing those banners on this blog because my audience won’t be interested. The sports merchandise merchant I choose here will be much more likely to make revenue for me even if the payouts are less.
Blog and Ping
Why do this step? To let the various blogging search engines know that I am continuing to update my blog with fresh content.
The easiest way for me to “blog and ping” is as follows: I surf over to Pingoat.com. I fill out the information requested, including my site feed URL (which is found in the Blogger Interface by clicking Settings / Site Feed). I will come back to this site periodically to repeat the process.
Link-building is an essential part of search engine optimization, so I will need to build links to my blog in order to drive more traffic to it. Many articles have been written about how to build links. For purposes of this exercise, I’m going to follow a beginner’s technique that will allow me to build some relevant links quickly and easily.
I go to Linkmarket.net and register my website. I upgrade to full membership.
I download and install the Google Toolbar.
I now have the ability to trade unlimited links with over 40,000 websites. I only want to trade links with sites relevant to mine. Trading links with pharmaceutical sites aren’t going to help me with SEO for a fantasy baseball website, nor will it benefit my site visitors. I click through to the Sports Directory of Linkmarket.
I offer to trade links with each website in the Fantasy and Baseball Categories (and if I’m feeling really aggressive, I’ll trade links with the Basketball, Football, and Hockey websites, as well). Before I decide to trade links with a site, I visit the site in order to check its Google Page Rank. It matters not to me what the Page Rank is, so long as it’s not zero.
If the website accepts my offer to trade, I place their code on my Website Template in the sidebar beneath my links header.
I will most certainly get offers from other website offering to trade links with me, which I’ll accept so long as linking to that website will be valuable to my blog visitors (and if their websites don’t have a Google Page Rank of zero).
Note that to achieve long-term SEO success, you’ll need to earn inbound links…not just trade for them.
When you are communicating your passion to the world, it doesn’t feel like work. When you are communicating your passion to the world and earning money at the same time, it’s even better. If you haven’t participated in this most basic area of online commerce before, I invite you to take the plunge. I’ve attempted to spoon-feed you a process that can easily be followed by someone with a minimal technical background. If you choose to embark on such a journey, it will be rewarding, educational, and a heck of a lot of fun.