This guest post is by Sid of GeeksMakeMoney.
It has been a year now since an eventful day when I was browsing the Internet and clicked on an advertisement that seemed an obvious scam: Get 90% off a new iPad. “Yeah, right,” I thought. But I wanted to check it out anyway since I seemed to recall seeing the same ad previously, and I wondered if it was a new type of scam I should be aware of. As it turned out, it wasn’t a scam, just misleading advertising … and thus began my blog on penny auctions, which are a class of entertainment auctions.
I found the idea exciting enough to blog about. I was just getting interested in multi-player game theory and thought that auctions are a nice field to study. The problem was, I had no experience of problogging at all. Like so many others, all I previously had was a blog for my random musings but nothing serious. I had a very elementary knowledge of SEO which I gained working as a freelance writer. I knew nothing about how to rank well in Google or how to use backlinks effectively. As a writer, the only promotional tool I did know about was article marketing.
I started this blog in May 2010, and it’s been growing for one year now. Looking back, I have learned so much and there is still so much to learn. Here is my journey in a nutshell.
Blogspot is okay!
The thing that surprises people the most about my blog is that it is a Blogspot (or Blogger.com) blog. Yes, it is against the holy grail of problogging, but there is a very simple explanation—I didn’t know better! If I had waited to gain all the technical knowledge needed to have my own hosting, I know I would never have started, which would have been an even bigger mistake.
If I had a chance to create this blog all over again, I would of course choose WordPress and have my own hosting. That being said, I was just following the very fundamentals of blogging: sharing with others what I knew and what I thought. These details didn’t matter to me then.
Using Blogger is really convenient for me as I can spend almost all of my time writing posts instead of anything else. Since my primary purpose was just to share my thoughts rather than making money from the blog, Blogger was a natural choice. However, even now, it seems it isn’t as bad as it is made out to be!
The jump from blogging to problogging
No, I didn’t start the blog with the intention of making money from it. Truth be told, I didn’t even know how to at that time. I just started the blog because I felt intrigued by the niche I was blogging about and had a thing or two to share. I wouldn’t say I was passionate about the niche like a dog-lover is about his dog-related blog. However, I was certainly interested and curious and it was always a good learning experience.
The shift from blogging to pro-blogging for me was very gradual. As I saw more and more people visit my blog, I thought it would be a good idea to start monetizing the blog. As is common with beginners, I really had an information overload and didn’t really know where to start. The simplest was Google Adsense and I started off with it. Even now, I get about $100/month from one ad unit of Google Adsense on my blog although I have moved to better ways of monetization.
If you have a blog, you don’t need to monetize it immediately. You don’t even need to get started with that intention. It is true that it is all about the traffic. Once you build an authority in this area, there are a hundred ways to make money. The first step is not about making pennies and then dollars but about building an authority and brand that people look up to and trust.
Blogging in a new niche: advantages and disadvantages
When I started a year ago, there were very few blogs on penny auctions, if at all. There was just one famous forum on this topic and no well known blogs. This has plenty of advantages and disadvantages and it was a very different learning experience than blogging in Internet marketing, affiliate marketing, or other more common areas.
The biggest advantage that I can think of is the ease of ranking. When I started, I wrote a couple of general posts and then a strategy which would help people improve their winning chances on an auction. I didn’t have any backlinks to this post at all. It so happened that it was indexed and ranked within the first page of Google then (it would never happen today!) and I could see a small but steady stream of traffic. For me, without this initial encouragement, I would never have taken to problogging.
The biggest disadvantage was there was no community of bloggers. I couldn’t comment on related blogs, which is central to most other blogging success stories. Even today, I hardly know of five bloggers in my niche. Another disadvantage is that there is no precedent so you need to do your own research and take leaps of faith quite often. You do things that you think are right, which may be absurd for this particular industry. For example, when I first started banner advertising on my blog, I had no clue how to go about it or how to price them. I only learned through a series of failures, which looking back seem like obvious mistakes.
The importance of knowing how your niche is unique
I think it is very important to realize how your niche is unique and different from other niches. This is particularly so when you are blogging in a new area because there is ample scope to do things differently and be creative. Finally, it is all about creating value to readers and advertisers.
I figured out relatively early that there are plenty of new businesses opening up and they don’t have adequate ways to advertise except with Google Adwords. I gave them a very good alternative: advertise on my blog! I have had excellent advertiser feedback for the amount and quality of traffic my blog sends to their site, which is also why I charge more than what a blog in another niche would for the same amount of traffic. I also realized that featured blog posts, especially promotional ones with coupon codes are good both for my readers and my advertisers, so that was another area I was making money off.
It is very important to know what the readers of your niche are looking for and what the advertisers are looking for. By matching their two needs, you can create a good harmony and make good money off it in a sustainable fashion.
Knowing what to promote
Reading online about affiliate marketing, I wanted to enter the niche as well. Problem was, I didn’t have many products that I could promote. I found an ebook about winning penny auctions on ClickBank that I wanted to give a try, but I never liked the idea from the beginning—I thought my blog had superior information!
With time, I found some sites that gave me a percentage of sales that I make—CPA advertising. If my visitors registered at the site and bought a product, I would be rewarded. With experience, I figured out this would be the best way for me to make money from my blog and I was right. Today, more than half of my income comes from affiliate marketing but not from promoting a product but from promoting a website. Of course I need to be extremely careful that the site I promote is indeed good for my readers.
In the end, I want to share with you my breakdown of earnings. As of now, I have three primary sources of money on my blog:
- Google Adsense: One ad unit near the header. For May, I made about $100 from this.
- Direct advertising: I contact advertisers directly and tell them how they can get value from my blog. I usually combine banners with featured blog posts (mostly coupon codes). For May, I made about $350 from this.
- Affiliate marketing: Out of a bunch of sites, I chose the one that I found the best fit for my readers. For the money of May, I made about $750 through this route.
Did you start blogging in a new niche? Do you run a Blogger blog as well? I would love to hear comments from you!
Sid is a freelance writer and blogger. He is one of the top Penny Auction Blogger and an expert in this niche. He is sharing his tips to Make Money Online and is the blogger at Geeks Make Money. He is always happy to connect to his readers through blog comments and ready to help those are beginning their journey online.