The following post was submitted by Matt as part of the ProBlogger Case Study Series
Hello, my name is Matt and I run a number of blogs, let me tell you how I have gone from a money sucking website to multiple blogs bringing in the cash.
I originally started off with a fan site www.aliciakeysfan.com for the artist Alicia Keys in January 2002, but in April of the same year was heading off to University and realised I would no longer be able to update my site as there would be no FTP access. So I looked in to a news type of system and stumbled across b2 (the origins of the popular WordPress blogging system). That was the birth of my very first ‘blog’, the idea and system worked great enabling me and others to easily update the site from anywhere.
Over the next few years the site continued to grow well, but nothing much changed with how the site was run and the increasing hosting costs were putting a strain on my student finances, due to this I considered closing down the site on more than one occasion.
I will now bring you right up to January 2005 (my blog has now been running nearly 3 years). I was just about to close the site down due to financial strain, when my girlfriend found and suggested Google Adsense. I was always against ads, but Adsense was very different. I signed up and added a ‘skyscraper’ ad down the right hand side of the blog, and the next day was excited to see I had already earned $8 or so. I quickly realised that in just a few days the blog would earn enough to cover the cost of the hosting and more. Having now seen the potential earning power of my blog I worked hard on improving the Google Ads on the blog. I moved the skyscraper on the right higher up to a more prominent position, I added a ‘banner’ sized Google Ad to the top centre position of my blog, right above the news, and also changed the Ad colours to blend in with my blog design colours. This had a dramatic improvement on my earnings (+200%), and the banner ad was well out performing the skyscraper, as it was closer to the action.
I was now in the dreaming frame of mind dreaming about the money making potential of blogging. I knew I could still improve my Alicia Keys blog to some extent, and thought, if I could make $300-$400 a month from one blog, what is there to stop me making that amount or more from x10 or more blogs each? At this point our dream was just a ‘maybe it’s possible?’, until I found Problogger! and found this dude called Darren was living our dream! This provided much encouragement, enthusiasm and knowledge to work more on blogging.
After discovering Problogger and fuelled with enthusiasm, blogging and SEO tips, my girlfriend and I launched Paris Hilton Online.Net. With this extra knowledge we improved both sites, by modifying the highest earning ad (the main banner) by splitting it up into two ‘half banners’ and having small random photos (php script) of the artist next to the ad, this drew more attention to the ads and improved CTR by nearly twofold. Later on we removed the poorly performing skyscraper ad down the side, and replaced it will a better performing ‘link unit’ ad.
We then changed from b2 to WordPress as it offers a lot more features. We made each news post its own page, which has a small Google Ad right in with the text, which wrapped around the ad. The page titles reflected the post’s title, and also made use of ‘nice url’s’ by using Permalinks, this enables the url to have keywords. We then used Google sitemaps, via the WordPress plugin to push all these new pages into Google.
The best change we made, (which could also be seen as a mistake from the past) was to remove all Adsense Ads from the image galleries, and forums, as these provided very very low CTR, which I believe lead my account to be ‘Smart Priced’. Shortly after removing these ads, the CTR for the whole account climbed, so did the earnings.
We are now relatively up-to-date on my blogging story, I now have a number of blogs all earning money, and I am at my ‘think big’ stage, where we have created our latest blog, www.celebsource.org, all designed with Adsense very much in mind. The blog includes everything that I have learnt over my 4 years of blogging, in terms of design and SEO. It targets the large celebrity field rather than individual artists to reach a much wider audience. One of the problems with this blog was correct Ad targeting for articles and categories for the selected celebrity, as there were many other celebrityâ•˙s names on the page, this was solved by the use of section targeting.
Just quickly, here are some other smaller ways I monetise my blogs, Mercora paid me $100 a month to have a small search box on my blog, also a number of concert ticket selling websites have contacted me to sell tickets on my site, for a 7% commission.
For those of you who are interested, I am currently earning about $1,000 a month from blogging, and it continues to grow each month! In less than a year I have gone from earning $-30 a month (hosting costs!) to $1,000. One year from now? Who knows!