Close
Close

Jill’s Story – Blog Case Study

The following post was submitted by Jill Manty as part of the ProBlogger Case Study Series

My husband convinced me to start a blog related to my organic baby business. He had been interested in blogging for over a year and had been trying to get me interested for most of that time. I kind of felt like it was a waste of time and didn’t really see the potential for profit. My organic business blog relates to news of interest to parents who are interested in organics, alternative energy, attachment parenting, etc. It’s made a little money. It pays for itself, plus a tiny bit extra, but it certainly wasn’t enough to make a living.

Then, in December I was reading on ProBlogger, and I read that Darren had written a blog on the Summer Olympics in 2004. The Winter Olympics were coming up, and I thought we should write about them. My husband wasn’t sure that it was a money making idea, but I convinced him that it would be, so we bought www.2006turinolympics.com. I started writing at least one post daily at the end of December. By February, I was writing 5-6 posts per day. During the Olympics, I was sometimes writing closer to 10 posts per day.

I consider the site a success for a number of reasons. One, it made money. Not enough to retire on, but enough to buy a used car, which we desperately needed. Two, I was interviewed by several media sources and was even quoted for a front page story in The Washington Post. That was pretty exciting, as that sort of thing doesn’t usually happen to a stay-at-home wife and mom to five children. Finally, I consider it a success because it has finally gotten me to see what my husband has said along– you can make a living from blogging. We’re in the process of trying out several new blogging ideas. Some of them have been more successful than others. I have no doubt we will drop some of them in time, or convert them to something different.

What have I learned from this experience that I’m taking into our new blogs?

1. If you are inspired by an idea for a blog, go for it! Even if it doesn’t make money, you’ll learn from it.

2. Contrary to popular advice, you do not have to love what you’re writing about. It does need to be something that you can be excited about, but it doesn’t have to be your first love. Prior to this Olympics, I hadn’t even watched the last two (or more) Olympics. But the more I read about the Olympics, the more interested and excited I was. I started the blog because I thought it would be profitable. I continued it because it was profitable. I will continue to write on it because, along the way, I became interested.

3. A great way to make money on a blog is to pick a topic that a huge number of people are interested in. Even if you only get a tiny percentage of a million visitors searching on a topic, you can still make decent money off of that.

4. Be specific when picking a topic for your blog. It’s much easier to make money off of the Olympics or Dogs than a site devoted to sports or animals.

5. Timing is important. If you’re planning to blog about an event, such as the Olympics, you have to start blogging before the Olympics start. We now have a summer Olympic news site and a winter Olympics news site. I’m already posting about the 2008 and 2010 Olympics and actually making some money from it.

6. Your domain name choice is important, too. Having 2006turinolympics.com as our domain certainly helped in getting traffic and media exposure.

And finally–

7. People read blogs because they like you and because you provide a different perspective. I received so many very nice comments from people as the Olympics were winding down. They really appreciated the blog because I tried very hard to be positive about the athletes and the Olympics. You don’t have to be a negative, naysayer to be a successful blogger.

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.

Problogger.net runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Genesis provides the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

Check out the incredible features and the selection of designs. It's that simple - start using Genesis now!

Comments

  1. Donna Hamer says:

    Congratulations Jill that was an excellent story of what you can achieve online if you put your mind too it.

    I think blogs are an excellent communication tools. This is evident by the number of not only private people creating their own blogs but business as well.

    Thanks for sharing your story.
    Donna

  2. Helena says:

    Thanks for the great story. You are an inspiration to me (I’m also a stay-at-home-mom). Would you mind sharing how you got initial traffic for your blogs? Especially for the Olympics blog, it seems there must have been a lot of competition. Was it all search engine traffic? Did you do anything specific (aside from the url) to get high search engine rankings?

  3. Razib Ahmed says:

    Jill’s story should be an inspiration to all of us. Many people want to come to blogging with the idea that it is ‘easy’ or money can be earned through adsense very soon. Jill started writing about Winter Olympics 2 months before it started. She continued writing and this way, she got a decent traffic when the Olympics started and she became successful.

  4. rols says:

    The article is very informative and inspiring. Of the 7 points of ur article I liked the 5th one the most, thinking ahead is very important if you want to be the first in the rat race. keep up the good job.

  5. I find number 5 as KEY lesson to earn from Google AdSense on a short-term basis.

    When time permits, I’ll work on that in addtion to my long-term core blog.

    Thanks for this post, Darren.

  6. Knut Karnapp says:

    I would go with #4, Helena, asking about ways to drive traffic to this kind of blog. Google traffic only? I´d really appreciate any answer.

  7. Jill Manty says:

    My husband did most of the promotion and handled the traffic, so I’m going to let him handle the answers to what we did to get traffic. He’ll try to post that sometime today. Thanks so much for everyone’s kind comments.

  8. Good Story. It just shows though that a good idea, some persistance and effort can go a long way. Just one of life’s lessions I guess. It applies to everything and blogging is no exception. Those who ultimatly succeed with their projects are the ones who put their heart into it. Well done Jill.

  9. Leroy Brown says:

    I’m also looking forward to hearing the details on the traffic. I’d say it’s probably mainly google if I had to guess, but instead I’ll wait to hear from the source. Keep us posted!

  10. real1 says:

    Nice story , thanks for sharing.

  11. Bob Potter says:

    [..."Today, Jill Manty was able to post her case study of a website her husband encouraged her to put up for the 2006 Winter Olympic games. The end result was a positive one for this stay-at-home mom with enough money to purchase a used car. This article adds a spark of hope for me as I would like to use the 2006 World Cup in Germany to hopefully bring in a few people to my new site, dvDigest.net"...]

    Great article and thanks for the inspiration!

  12. Power Play says:

    Way to go Jill!
    Great article.

  13. George Manty says:

    Hi, This is Jill’s husband George. I handled most of the promotion for our blogs, so I thought I would go ahead and answer the question about blog traffic.

    The most important piece of advice I can give on getting traffic is to work on getting traffic from as many sources as possible. In other words, don’t throw all your eggs in one basket.

    Here is what we did with the Olympics blog. As soon as we got the blog set up, we sent out emails to our friends and family about it. One of them sent it out to a sports list she is on. Almost instantly we had some decent traffic to our blog. Which proved to us how powerful word of mouth traffic is.

    Then I wrote about our Olympics blog briefly on one of my blogs to let some of my current readers know about it.

    The next thing we did was both for Search Engine Optimization purposes and for extra traffic. We placed a link to the new blog on all of our other blogs. This is something that blog networks do and it greatly increases the number of links to your blog. The first time I saw this done was several years ago when Weblogs Inc was first starting out. I was doing search research for my wife’s Baby site and Blogging Baby kept showing up in the Search Results. I noticed they had about 15-20 blogs all linking to each other. It surprised me a bit that the Search Engines allowed this, but have since realized that it makes sense for the Search Engines to allow it.. So if you have other blogs, linking them all together really helps with your search enginge traffic. We have a heading called “Our Blogs” and under that we link to all of our blogs. It is great for cross promoting the blogs and also great for Search ranking. Note: Be sure to use your primary keywords as the anchor text (the text you use to link to your site) when you do this.

    I setup wordpress to ping the services on Jeremy Wright’s list:
    http://www.ensight.org/archives/2004/11/21/services-to-ping

    Next, I submitted the blog to all the places here:
    http://www.masternewmedia.org/rss/top55/

    Next, Jill wrote great posts which people naturally linked.

    Jill posted often (3-5 times a day), which gave the blog a lot of content and kept people coming back to see the fresh content.

    I searched for sports related sites that you could submit your RSS and blog to. Then submitted the blog to those sites.

    I did link research. I used the Yahoo linkdomain: command and the MSN link command to find places that linked to some of the top ranked non-official 2006 winter olympics sites to see if there were any additional places we could get links to our blog.

    We submitted our site to coolsiteoftheday, which brought in about 2000 visitors the day it was featured (the day before the Olympics).

    I posted occasional comments on other peoples blogs and interacted some with other visitors of those blogs.However, I did this very sparingly.

    Eventually we got a lot of traffic. Here is a very brief overview of our traffic sources:

    Traffic coming from bookmarks (42.7 %), Search Engines (48.7 %), the rest from links (8.4%). MSN and Google gave us almost all of our Search Engine Traffic. For some reason Yahoo didn’t really start giving us much traffic at all until the Olympics were over. In the Month of February we got 72171 hits from Google, 53669 hits from MSN and only 2699 from Yahoo. Our highest number of visitors on one day was 13209 visitors (note: this is not pageviews or hits, this is visitors, pageviews and hits were much higher).

    The URL really helped. We were fortunate to get it. Apparently, a domain squatter had it and a bunch of other 2006 Olympics sites but was sued by the Olympics committee and had to release all of them. That’s why it was still available for us to snatch up so late in the game. But there are lots of other urls that would have worked just as well for SEO purposes.

    One last thing is that we got a lot of natural links, my favorite of which was a link from AOL’s Olympic home page:
    http://sports.aol.com/olympics

    They linked to a couple blogs from their Olympics home page, and for some reason they picked ours. Originally, it was first in the list although now it is second.

    There are other ways to get traffic like: press relesaes, forum participation, etc. But we didn’t use all of the avenues available to us, partly for time reasons.

    Feel free to ask other questions. At some point, I plan on writing a lot about blog traffic on the site that my name is linked to.

    I hope that helps,
    George

  14. Very helpful blog marketing strategy, George.

    Thanks for sharing.

  15. Gahsoon says:

    Thanks George and Jill, your success of the Olympics blog ispired me to start my own sports blog which i have been thinking for long time. This post will speed up my time to prepare and setup.

    again, thanks for sharing.

  16. Elamb says:

    I hate to say in Darren, but your blog is now better now that you have these guests on. Not to say it wasn’t good before but now it is phenomenal. This is great stuff.

  17. gary says:

    Jill & George,

    thanks for the great article & marketing plan! you’ve given both inspiration & action plan.

  18. George Manty says:

    I am glad you found it helpful. We both really appreciate the kind comments.

    Also, one thing I forgot to mention in the area of traffic is that when we started planning the blog we knew we had a very short time frame to draw visitors. We really wanted to make people want to come back on a regular basis. So we came up with a bunch of ideas of things we could do to make visitors want to come back to our blog. Some of the things just weren’t doable given our timeframe.

    One of the things we did to get readers to come back to our blog on a regular basis was for Jill to post 3-5 times a day leading up to the Olympics.

    We also added a poll that we regularly changed. This was easy to do and kept people coming back. During the Olympics we tried to come up with a new poll on a daily basis to keep visitors involved and to give them another reason to come back to our blog (to see the poll results and participate in the next poll). This is also something we are having good success with on our American Idol blog.

    Another thing we did was leading up to the Olympics I created a weekly Winter Olympics trivia quiz. It gave people yet another reason to come back and visit our blog and it gave us more content.

    Lastly, throughout the Olympics Jill asked people questions at the end of some of her posts to get the readers involved (This is something we learned from one of Darren’s posts).

    I think that when you get your readers involved, through polls, comments, quizes, etc. they are more likely to come back and visit on a regular basis.

    Hope that helps,
    George

  19. Helena says:

    George, thanks so much for your long reply! It is very helpful. It shows again that you have to work hard, but that if you do great things are possible.

  20. A Samuel says:

    Very interesting post, good luck on your future ventures.

    Just out of interest, did you buy the extra package for $5.55 on the following site?

    http://www.masternewmedia.org/rss/top55/

    If so was it worth doing?

  21. George Manty says:

    No, I did not buy the premium package. But for $5.55 it sure is tempting. I might do that some time, but with the Olympics blog, I just went through this list and submitted to most of the places on it. I did not submit to all of the places that required you to register with them, but I did submit to a lot of those as well.

    The ones that we got the most traffic from were Technorati and Globeofblogs (more traffic from the latter).So if you do nothing else, I do recommend that you submit to those two. I am fairly sure that all of them added a little bit of help as far as the Search Engines. Maybe not a lot, but a least a little bit.

    I hope that helps,
    George

  22. Knut Karnapp says:

    Thanks George, after your enthusiasm I created a blog for the fifa worldcup. May be someone will enjoy this as much as I do.

    cheers

  23. George Manty says:

    Nice blog. It is really well optimized for making money with Adsense.

    One last thing to keep in mind with traffic that I didn’t mention but Jill did in her write up is point number 3:

    3. A great way to make money on a blog is to pick a topic that a huge number of people are interested in. Even if you only get a tiny percentage of a million visitors searching on a topic, you can still make decent money off of that

    I know it goes a little bit against the grain of keeping it ultra-niche, but it’s something that is working for us. I am not sure how much world cup soccer is searched, but my guess is that it would be decent, especially during the peak of the season.

    All the best…

  24. Daniel Fluck says:

    Great advice. Thanks a lot Jill for the story you shared and George for the terrific explanations on traffic optimisation. I definitely will follow your “mantra” at some points to spread the word of my blog about color blindness (A tiny niche topic I know. But if it starts to kick in I might think about a second one as you suggest.)

  25. George Manty says:

    One last thing I thought I should point out is that there are methods you should not use to get traffic to your site.

    For instance, blog comment spamming, forum spamming software is bad. Will give you a bad reputation, not to mention a lot of enemies.

    Using AutoSurf programs, commonly known as Traffic Exchanges, appear to be against Google’s Terms of Service. The reason for this is that they inflate your page impressions, and Google allows customers to advertise on your site based on Page Impressions.

    That means using traffic exchange systems like BlogExplosion are a no-no for Adsense blogs.

    Hope that helps,
    George

  26. selfprofit says:

    Good advice! I’m goin to apply it for my blogs.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] While Darren Rowse (owner of ProBlogger.net) is away, he has several guest bloggers who are writing articles about their experiences with blogging. One recent post by Jill Manty talks about her experiences with blogging and making money with her blogs. She writes… I consider the site a success for a number of reasons. One, it made money. Not enough to retire on, but enough to buy a used car, which we desperately needed. Two, I was interviewed by several media sources and was even quoted for a front page story in The Washington Post. That was pretty exciting, as that sort of thing doesn’t usually happen to a stay-at-home wife and mom to five children. Finally, I consider it a success because it has finally gotten me to see what my husband has said along– you can make a living from blogging. We’re in the process of trying out several new blogging ideas. Some of them have been more successful than others. I have no doubt we will drop some of them in time, or convert them to something different. [...]

  2. [...] I’ve decided that I could really easily be a true media hound. I love it when people write about me— or even when something I write about myself gets prominently displayed. Like today, an article that I submitted about my blogging experiences is being featured on Problogger. Problogger is a website devoted to helping people make money from blogging (duh). It’s a really big site that gets tons of traffic, so this is great exposure. Plus, we’ve already had people approaching us about advertising on some of our sites. So, this has been truly exciting. If you want to check out what I wrote, you can directly link to it here. [...]