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Why Your Blog Is Not Going to Make You Rich (Or Pay the Bills)

This guest post is by the Blog Tyrant.

$100,000 a year? $500,000 a year? A million? These are figures I bet most of us think about from time to time. But I’m here to tell you a sober truth—something that you probably won’t like the sound of.

Your blog is not going to make you rich. It might not even pay the monthly bills.

But don’t lose hope yet. There is a (very shiny) silver lining to this article: I am going to show you what you need to do to get up to those wonderful figures. In this post I’m going to give you a few important facts and tricks that my multimillionaire uncle passed on to me; facts and tricks that translate to the blogging world very very well.

Aston Martin V8 Vantage
Creative Commons License photo credit: Ed Callow [ torquespeak ]

The millionaire’s advice

Let’s start this post with the advice that my uncle gave me. When I first heard it I think I probably told him to “go away” under my breath. But as I got deeper into my own business I realized how insanely important the advice had become. Especially because I learned the hard way. Let me illustrate.

My first blog was a fitness blog that I ended up selling for $20,000 after just eight months. Before that time, however, the blog paid my bills with a consistent AdSense income. It wasn’t a lot of money but it met my needs at the time. That was until Google banned it from the search results without warning, and without reason. I woke up one day and my excellent rankings for some super-high traffic keywords were gone. And so was my money.

Right at the moment my uncle’s advice came floating back to me:

You must always have a short-term source of income that pays the bills, two medium-term projects that supplement the income, and one long-term project that’s a year away from fruition. Always.

It is powerful advice that every rich person I know pays attention to (consciously or not). I, however, had totally ignored it in my youthful arrogance. I had put all of my eggs in to one basket and as such I had nothing to fall back on, and nothing to look forward to. I was in trouble.

Applying the advice: diversifying my business

So what did I do? Well I went out and cleaned toilets. I worked at a gym as a cleaner for over a year while I built up a new empire. I worked at the gym in the mornings and then came home and, after sleeping for an hour, plugged away at blogs and my other online businesses.

It was different now. Now I was applying the advice. Instead of just building up one blog, I was working on several while building small product websites. I was also working on ideas for the long-term project so that I had something to look forward to.

And this part is important. As the medium-term projects began to fall into the short-term income category, I created new medium-term projects. The trilogy of short-, medium-, and long-term must always be in play. I am trying very hard to remember that.

Why you need to diversify to be rich and safe

Adidas Pro Model
Creative Commons License photo credit: Julien Menichini

Your blog, as it is today, is not going to be enough to make you rich and safe. Okay, you might get lucky and be the next Huffington Post or Mashable and never have to worry about money again. But the chances are good that you’ll be like me; you’ll have to be smart about your future and your income. And to be smart you need to develop projects: one short-term, two medium-term, and one long-term project.

1. The short-term income

The short-term income is the work that pays the bills while you work on your other projects. The important thing to remember is that it doesn’t need to be blogging. It doesn’t even need to be glamorous. Like I said before, I worked as a cleaner at a gym in the mornings. It was one of the smartest business decisions I ever made, because it allowed me to still have a full work day to devote to the other projects, since I worked from 6am to 11am.

It also got me a free gym membership, which, trivial as it might seem, allowed me to work out daily and completely de-stress my system. That is a very important thing to do when you’re worried about money. Lift weights and run. If you just sit at home all day in your own company, you won’t realize how stressed you’re actually becoming.

2. The two medium-term projects

The medium-term projects are those that you’re working on to eventually take over your current short-term income. Remember, it’s a good idea to generate your short-term income from more than one source: the more diverse it is, the better. These medium-term projects should be no more than a year away from turning consistent revenue. They can take the shape of:

  • blogs
  • product websites
  • affiliate websites
  • content creation deals
  • partnerships
  • etc.

As they start to make money, you can put them into the short-term category and begin to create new medium-term projects. Perhaps these will come from your long-term category or perhaps you will see new opportunities that you can place directly into the medium-term area.

3. The long-term project

Your long-term project should be ambitious but achievable. It should be one of those ideas where you sit down and think about how much money it would make if only you could get it off the ground. Well, partner, the money coming from your short- and medium-term gigs is what you’ll use to get this idea running.

What I’ve come to discover is that it’s all about these long-term projects. The toilet cleaning, the short-term, the medium-term—all this is a method that gives me the finances and experience to get my big ideas happening.

Blog Tyrant is actually a long term project of mine; it earns me no income at the moment, but I have something absolutely massive planning, which will be launched in a few months’ time. At that point, the blog will fall into my short-term group.

How to make it all happen

Picture 020
Creative Commons License photo credit: Brian K YYZ

Sure, this approach sounds good, but how do you get it to work? How do you divide your time, and how do you manage all of the different problems that arise during the process?

Here are a few of my own suggestions but I would love to hear any advice that you might have — please leave a comment and let us hear your thoughts.

1. Focus on helping others, always.

The very first thing I want to mention is that you have to focus on helping others. This is both a marketing and an ethical concern.

Why is this important? Firstly, the products and websites that do the best are the ones that solve a need in a person’s life. I talked about this a lot in my article on how to make your blog addictive. Today a lot of products are created that don’t solve a need — instead, they create a new one. Forget it. Help people.

The second reason why this is important is because if it all fails you will have no regrets. And if it succeeds, you will spend your life helping people.

2. Take risks.

When you go to invest money in the stock market, the broker will say something like “the biggest returns come from the biggest risks”. At some point you have to decide whether or not you are a risk-taker. If you want to be making $100,000+ a year from the Internet, you’ll need to take some risks. You need to risk your time, maybe some of your savings, and definitely some of your sleep. But these risks should be managed and controlled — and well thought through. This isn’t like buying a lotto ticket: it’s like making an investment in the near future.

3. Stick to a routine.

Make a routine and stick to it. Don’t deviate from it at all — if you do, sooner or later the whole thing will fall in to a heap. Divide up your day or your week into the different categories. For example, I spend the weekends working on long-term projects, the mornings on medium-term projects, and the afternoons working on my short-term stuff. It works well. It works best when I stick to it.

4. Don’t give up early.

One of the biggest mistakes I’m guilty of is giving up before I’ve seen an idea through. For example, a few years ago I bought a whole bunch of domain names with the intention of creating a little group of product sites to dominate one particular niche. It didn’t pay off right away so I put less and less time in to it. Now, when I look back, I realize that these websites would be making a huge amount of consistent money without much work at all. The problem was that I didn’t keep my long-term motivation in check.

5. Use verticals.

A vertical is a product that you launch to compliment another product that you already have. A good example of this is the iPod, which makes Apple more money from iTunes, product cases, headphones, etc. If you can use your existing projects to help launch new products, you can cut out a lot of the hard work.

Conclusion

Your blog is not going to make you rich unless you diversify. Darren does it, Shoemoney does it, and my multimillionaire uncle does it. If you want to have longevity in any business, you need to make sure you’re diversifying your assets so that you’re not left high and dry if one of those income streams suddenly dries up.

If you have any stories about this approach, or advice on starting new businesses, I’d love to hear them in the comments.

The Blog Tyrant has sold several blogs for large sums of money and earns a living by relying solely on the internet. His blog is all about helping you dominate your blog and your blog’s niche and only includes strategies that he has tried on his own websites. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook or subscribe to his feed for all the juice.

The Big Decision: Personal or Corporate Brand?

This guest post is by Luke, an IT-and-business nerd from Melbourne, Australia.

I started dating my wife when we were both pretty young and she still lived at home. My wife’s dad, Bob, was a very successful businessman and his daughters all inherited their dad’s intellect.  The dinnertime conversation often turned to their studies, and one of Bob’s favorite theories was about personal branding at school and university.

The theory went like this. The most important thing to do initially is to get noticed by the teachers.  It doesn’t matter what you do.  In fact, it might be easier to do something wrong in order to gain attention.  Once you have attention you then have something to work with, and it’s easier to do well when the teachers know who you are.

I think I recall this advice because it seemed highly unorthodox to me at the time.  If I’m honest I probably still wonder if it’s wise to instruct your children to misbehave.  But, if you stop and think about it—he was probably onto something.

In a society obsessed with celebrity, you don’t have to look far to find individuals who have turned themselves into household brands.  And it’s often the case that their brand achieved prominence because of bad behavior (yes Paris and Lindsey, I’m thinking of you).

That there is incredible power in brand is something I’m going to assume is agreed.  What I’m more interested in at the moment is whether it’s better to build your blog around your own personal brand, or is it smarter to establish a separate brand for your blog that is not directly attached to your personal identity.

The benefits of the personal brand

I think the most obvious benefit to a personal brand, is that it is easier to make personal.  Most people easily empathize with other people.  By putting yourself out there it gives readers something to connect to that is easy to understand and relate to.  It is easier to agree (or disagree) with a person than it is with a faceless company.  It is a smaller step to engage with a person than it is to leave a comment for a logo.

A good personal brand is a clear projection of you, what makes you an individual and what makes you different from others.  Done well, it will consistently convey your unique personality and approach to those you encounter.  It will help you stand out from the crowd, and hopefully mean that people think of you first when they start thinking about becoming a customer or partner.

Hopefully you don’t need to spend too much time formulating what you stand for before embarking on a mission to establish your personal brand.  I believe it works best when rooted in authenticity.  People have a sixth sense for what is credible and what is not.  The contrived approach will ultimately smell a little bad if you’re faking it.  The good news is that being yourself should be easier than working to a script—which is what you’ll have to do to some extent when inventing a corporate brand.

Fame can also be a benefit.  It’s a two-edged sword for sure, but who’s going to deny that it’s nice for your ego to have a personal fan base? Who out there doesn’t enjoy a little bit of attention? Before you tell me that it’s not your thing, how often to you check Google Analytics to see how many people tuned into your last post! If you’ve never had your name on the door at an exclusive party, I’ve heard that it feels great to walk past the queue.

If you become popular enough, there are also other perks out there.  If your personal brand is strong enough, others will pay simply so you can be seen to be endorsing another brand or product!  More of this goes on than you might think, and if you’re smart about disclosure and being ethical about it, why not enjoy the fruits of your labor?

But back to the business upside.  Because your brand can and will help you open doors—if you want to approach another company, website, or blogger, and you’ve established a strong personal brand—you’ll find that it’s a little like being on the guest list at that exclusive party.  Once you learn to leverage that brand power, a momentum can be built that continues to lever your business up from one level to another.

The drawbacks

Human Frailty

I am not perfect all of the time.  In fact, forget perfect. I’m not even close to being consistently good or bad at the same things.  The only reason I haven’t given up entirely is because, thankfully, most of the people I know share some or many of my faults.  I also think life would be pretty boring if there was nothing left to work on.

“Why use this post as a confessional?” I hear you ask. Well, if I’m doing the personal brand thing and people have a sixth sense for authenticity, this reality does not bode well for me.  Sooner or later, I’m going to do something stupid, say something insensitive or just screw up royally in front of everybody.  And my personal brand is going to suffer for it.

If I have taken the time to establish a corporate brand and one of the staff does bad, there is an inbuilt form of containment that offers more protection than a personal brand offers.  Ultimately a corporate brand has some redundancy.  The implication is that any single screw-up is just the action of an individual.  It doesn’t make sense to extrapolate one person’s actions into a statement about a whole corporate brand.  Do you think this could ever be true for Tiger Woods?

Scaling up

If your blog is based on your personal brand, and you are fortunate enough to enjoy success.  The day might come when you can employ others to run your blog.  You might now have a challenge.

Chances are that your audience is there because they like something about what you do.  They relate to you.  They are your fans, your tribe.  When that first guest post goes up, even though you think it’s better writing than you ever did, it flops.  The first comment asks when your next post will be, and the next five chime in supporting the sentiment.  There go your plans for that extended vacation, because what you just learned is that it can be hard to scale a personal brand.

Said another way, it’s very difficult for a personal brand to truly outgrow the person.

Privacy and personal exposure

If you’re going to enjoy fame, it’s probably a good idea to start getting used to the idea that your privacy is going to take a hit.  This will bother some people much more than others, but privacy is something I think we should be taking more seriously.  After all, as Mark’s ex-girlfriend explains to him after he blogs her bra size on The Social Network, “Everything on the internet is written in ink” (If you’re a Sorkin fan like I am, go see it).

A friend who follows my wife on twitter (@drcris) remarked to me the other day that he was amazed at how I had no privacy.  Cris talks about our home life a lot on twitter.  It initially struck me as a strange comment because neither of us have that many followers.  I suspect many of them don’t listen anyway.  Who wants to know about how our house cleaning is going, seriously!?  I also made the observation that I had always pretty much shared more than I should have whenever somebody would listen, so I guess it made little difference.

I wonder if I had 200,000 followers, would my attitude to privacy change?  It probably would.  I suspect your first stalker changes your attitude as well.

If you take the time to establish a corporate brand, you will likely have a lot more control about what you can keep personal and private.

The other thing many bloggers know all too well is that putting yourself out there can have its downside.  Those snarky comments can sting badly.  If you don’t have a thick skin, it might be a good idea to hide from the trolls behind a more generic brand.

The big decision

I haven’t decided if there is a right answer about whether or not you should pursue a personal brand or start work on a corporate brand. There are upsides and downsides to both, and ultimately I think it comes down to what it is you’re trying to achieve.

I’ve mentioned what I think are some obvious points, but I’m hoping many more come out in the comments and any discussion.  Is your brand a personal one, or a corporate one? Why did you choose it? And do you have any regrets?

Luke (@lukie) started life as a young corporate IT nerd, who then got interested in running a business. He spent the last five years as CEO at SitePoint, and has just made the move to start working on something of his own. Luke is an Aussie who lives in Melbourne and is married to Cris (@drcris). They have three kids under five and no spare time!

Why Social Media Is a Better Investment than SEO

This guest post is by Gary Arndt of Everything-Everywhere.com

As a blogger, you probably do not have the luxury of having a staff of people to work for you. As such, your time is very valuable and you need to spend it where it will do the most good. We have reached a point in late 2010 where the work required to generate traffic for a normal blog via search engines is much greater than that required to generate an equal amount of traffic via social media.

My thesis is simple: for the majority of bloggers, the time and effort invested on social media is better spent than time spent on SEO.

This post will probably generate controversy. There are an army of people out there who make a living selling SEO products and services. To use an old adage, when you only tool is a hammer, every problem is a nail. To them, SEO is the beginning and end of traffic generation.

To be sure, search engines do drive a lot of traffic, however, with the increasing pollution of search engines with content farms, Google’s love of big brands/big media, and the increasing amount of work required to rank for ever longer keywords, SEO is no longer worth the effort for most bloggers.

The power of brands

Google loves brands. The reasoning behind this actually makes some sense. An easy solution to the problem of spam websites was for Google to give extra authority to sites that have large, established brands. This doesn’t bode well for bloggers, however.

To given you an example of how much authority brands are given, several months ago I conducted an experiment. I had an article that I had done some link building on. After several months the article ranked #3 for the keyword I was targeting (behind two large media properties). I had an opportunity to put some content on the website of a very large media brand. I put that article, word for word, on their site to see how they would rank for the exact same keyword. Within an hour, they were ranked at #4, just behind my original article. In a day, they were ranked above me, even though the same content had been on my site for months and I had gone through the effort to do link building.

I realize there is a new content bonus that Google will give articles for a while, but the fact they were able to rank so high, so quickly, even against a previously indexed article with links, shows just how much the deck is stacked against blogs. Google can’t easily tell the difference a legitimate blog from a made for Adsense spam site. If they could, there would be no spam.

If you are in a niche that doesn’t have a large traditional media presence (niches like Internet marketing, SEO, or social media) you might not notice this because there is little media competition. However, if you are in a niche with a large traditional media presence (like travel, politics, news, sports, or food) you might see on a regular basis how difficult it can be.

Brand vs. individual authority

You might think that Darren Rowse has a great deal of authority on the subject of blogging. You would be correct. However, in the eyes of Google, Darren doesn’t have any authority; ProBlogger.net does. This is a fundamental problem with how Google works. People invest trust and authority in other people while Google puts authority in URL’s.

As a thought experiment, lets say Darren sold ProBlogger.net and started up a new blog called The-Blogging-Pro.info (a horrible domain name, but just stay with me). Everyone who reads this site, subscribes to the newsletter or follows Darren on Twitter would know to now go to the new site to get Darren’s advice on blogging. The authority that Darren has developed over the years would stay with him, even if he moved to a new domain. Google, however, would still put its trust and authority in ProBlogger.net, even though the real authority has moved to a different domain.

Social media solves the authority dilemma. You know who is authoritative and isn’t. I often ask people how many people they can name who have written an article for National Geographic in its 122-year history. Most people can’t name a single person. Yet, if I ask them who is behind their favorite blogs, almost everyone can give me a name. We trust the New York Times or National Geographic because of the reputation the brand has developed over the years. Even if the author of a given article knows nothing about the subject (which does happen), they are assumed to be authoritative just because of the brand they are writing under.

Writers will usually give a list of the publications they have written for as their credentials. Their authority is a second hand authority derived from the publications they have written for. (“I am a successful author because I have written for large, successful publications.”)

Blogger authority is first hand authority. It comes directly from the reputation they have developed over time from their audience.

The power of individuals

The fact that people know who bloggers are is exactly the reason why blogs have a comparative advantage in social media. The New York Times Twitter account might have millions of followers, but they can never do more than pump out links to articles. It can’t have a conversation, talk or listen. If it did, who would be the one doing the talking on behalf of the brand?

The part of social media that actually builds trust and authority is totally absent from most large media properties. They are simply not able to engage in a conversation as a brand. Some companies like ESPN have banned their staff from using Twitter precisely because they didn’t want their employees to develop their own authority outside if the network. If they did, they’d become too valuable and they would have too much leverage when it came time to negotiate contracts.

Bloggers have the ability to do an end run around traditional media precisely because we are capable of having a conversation. That is something a faceless brand can never do.

SEO is time consuming

Critics of this article might point out that if you just worked harder, you could rank for anything you want. They are probably right. It isn’t a question of what is possible. It is a question of the return on your investment. The concept of time ROI is absent from almost any discussion on SEO.

As I stated above, the deck is stacked against the little guy in SEO. Google loves brands and can’t associate authority with individuals. To just keep pace with media brands, you have to put in much more work. The New York Times doesn’t have to bother with link building. You do. That alone should tell you how fair the playing field is.

Bloggers have a comparative advantage in social media. We can appeal to human notions of authority, not algorithmic notions. We can have discussions and conversations, and brands can’t do that. Moreover, it isn’t hard to do. All you have to do is talk and most of you are probably doing that now.

Already you are seeing a shift in some media outlets to superstar journalists. What is happening is the same thing you are seeing in the blogging world. People are putting their trust and authority into people, not the brands they work for. It will only be a matter of time before the superstar journalists realize they don’t need their media masters anymore.

Writing for humans vs. writing for machines

Despite what Google says, the key to good SEO isn’t writing for good content for people. This is a bald-faced lie which anyone who has spent time trying to rank for a keyword knows. Human beings enjoy alliteration, puns, jokes and other forms of word play, which are totally lost on an algorithm. What makes for a good article from a content farm is exactly the thing, which you should not do if you want to covert readers into subscribers. Content created with SEO in mind is more often than not fun to read.

Google’s original rational for the “create good content” argument was that people would naturally link to good content. That is no longer true. People share good content on Twitter and Facebook, which is either closed to Google, labeled as “nofollow”, or doesn’t have anchor text. The world Serge and Brin wrote their seminal paper for in the 1990’s doesn’t exist today.

Traffic as a means vs. traffic as an end

Newspapers have developed an obsession with visits and page views. Many bloggers have the same problem as well. They view raw traffic as the end game because they view the world though an advertising model. Under this paradigm, the more traffic you have the better, regardless how you get it or for what reason, because it will lead to more ad clicks.

Many bloggers have wised up to the fact that advertising isn’t the best way to make money. CPM rates keep falling and will keep falling so long as ad inventory grows faster than online advertising budgets. It has reached a point where to make money via advertising you have to either have an enormous media property or have an incredibly targeted site devoted to a very niche keyword.

Most blogs don’t fit into either category. They don’t have millions of page views per month, and they don’t niche themselves into talking about only instant coffee makers. In this middle space, what matters aren’t raw page views to generate advertising revenue. What matters is growing a loyal following of people who view you as authoritative in your area.

In this model, traffic is just a means to an end, not an end in itself. The real end is getting traffic to convert to subscribers and loyal followers. You will be more likely to get a follower from someone who views you as having authority rather than someone who is just looking for bit of information with no idea of who you are.

Google-proofing

Google changes their algorithm all the time. There are companies who have been destroyed by changes made at Google. Fortunes rise and fall based on how Google decides to rank sites. A major question you have to ask yourself is “how dependent do I want to be on Google?”

All the hard work you put into SEO can be destroyed, or at least significantly altered, but changes at Google. Authority and reputation with other people, however, doesn’t change on a whim.

Also, knowing that Google is going to change in the future, in what direction do you think it is going to change? My bet would be towards a greater reliance on social media and less reliance on links. I’m sure there are engineers at Google right now trying to figure out how to translate the authority and trust that individuals have into their search results.

Choose social media for greater ROI

I am not saying you should block Google from indexing your site. I am not saying search engine traffic is bad. In fact, there are blogs out there that would be best served by an SEO strategy.

What I am saying is that outside of a few things you can do in the creation of your blog, don’t worry about SEO. Make sure your permalinks make sense, create a site map, install the appropriate plugins … and then stop worrying about it.

Invest your time where it will give you the highest return. Today, I believe that place is in social media. Do you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Since March 2007, Gary has blogged from over 70 countries at Everything-Everywhere.com. He was also named by Time Magazine as one of the 25 Best Blogs of 2010.

UPDATE: Darren has added his thougths on the SEO vs Social Media debate here.

Which Domain Is Right for You?

This guest post is by Karol K of newInternetOrder.com.

If you’ve ever wondered about domain name selection, you probably already know that there are basically only three main types of domain names. And they are:

  1. semantic names
  2. unusual names
  3. combined names

Which will be best for your next blog? If you’re not quite sure yet, read on! In this post, we’ll consider each of these options in detail.

A semantic name

This is a name created from one specific word, or several words put together. What’s important is that the domain uses existing, well-known words. Here are a few basic examples:

  • Cars.com
  • Pizza.com
  • Toys.net
  • VintageElectricGuitarBlog.com

There are a number of advantages to using such a name:

  • It specifies the theme of the website/blog.
  • It clearly defines the niche which the blog touches upon (everyone knows what they can expect to find at toys.com).
  • It’s easy to memorize.
  • It makes your job easier when it comes to getting good ranking in the search engines for the keywords that are included in the domain name.

Of course, there are some disadvantages to using a semantic name:

  • Many basic semantic names are already taken.
  • There’s often no direct connection between the domain name and your company brand, which can make the task of brand-building more difficult. Blogs using this type of name can be literally replaced overnight with different blogs on the same topic and many people wouldn’t even notice.
  • A semantic name makes it hard to expand the theme of the blog to other areas. It’s very unlikely that we’ll see a catalog of garden furniture on pizza.com anytime soon.
  • Semantic names don’t assist with building trust, since they don’t define a brand: they’re usually very generic. For example, if I name my website WeWillStripYouOfAllOfYourMoney.com, I probably won’t gain as much trust as I would have if I’d given it band named like BWin.com. The difference is similar to making a statement like, “we’re a sports betting site” rather than “we’re BWin.com, a sports betting site.”

An unusual name

Unusual domains usually employ a brand name. Think of domains like:

  • Google.com
  • Amazon.com
  • Yahoo.com
  • Mashable.com

To create such a name, you need to find or create a semantically empty word—a word that has no meaning among the target audience—and give meaning to it.

As you can see from the list above, some of the biggest players in the online game use semantic names.

So there are, obviously, some advantages to this type of domain name:

  • It’s characteristic. It can’t be confused with the competition. Google is Google, and Bing is Bing—there’s no way of mistaking these two even though they both do the same thing.
  • It doesn’t create a brand—it is the brand!
  • It’s easy to get good rankings in the search engines for the name itself. And if the word you’ve chosen doesn’t already exist, the competition won’t be too strong for the domain name itself.

As you’d expect, there are disadvantages to using this type of name:

  • It doesn’t define the niche, nor the theme of the blog. If this kind of name is attached to a new blog, and no one really knows about it, it can easily be overlooked by a potential visitor—even if they’re looking for the kind of content that the blog publishes—simply because they won’t be able to guess what the blog’s about.
  • Since it’s usually harder to say or communicate the name orally, it’s easy to get it wrong. When my friend first told me about ebay.com years ago, I fired up my browser and typed “ebuy.com.” I’m sure I wasn’t the only person who made this mistake.
  • It’s harder to gain good rankings in the search engines for specific keywords using an unusual name than it is with a semantic name. If you write about computer hardware, then it would probably be a little easier to get good rankings for the keyword “computers” if you had a domain like “computers.com” rather than “compunationgeorge.com.”

A combined name

  • Facebook.com
  • Problogger.net
  • Friendfeed.com

…are all combined names. These domains combine semantic and unusual names. Although the name may have little meaning on its own, as soon as you visit the site, you grasp what’s going on—and recall the domain—very quickly.

I think that these are the hardest types of names to come up with. You really have to think outside the box to find an existing word or several words, and then give them a unique meaning that binds them somehow with the theme of your blog.

If you succeed, you can expect some benefits:

  • A combined name defines the brand in a unique way that’s similar to an unusual name, only better.
  • Visitors can quickly grasp the concept of the blog even though it’s not as obvious as it is with semantic names.
  • A combined name clearly differentiates your site from the competition.
  • It’s usually easy to memorize.

And as for the disadvantages:

  • A combined name can make it harder to get a good search ranking for specific keywords (similar to having an unusual name).
  • It’s easier for your competition to imitate this kind of name. This usually happens when we’ve used an obvious framework to  create the name. For example, if our car-related blog is called “4wheeldrive.com” then somebody could try to copy our success with a domain like “rearwheeldrive.com”.

Which one is the best for you?

Here’s my advice. If you want to create a small blog targeted at the members of a small, precisely defined niche, then I think it’s probably best to use a semantic domain name. You have a better chance that interested people will find your blog in the search engines, and that they’ll actually visit it, because the URL itself will tell them what the blog is about.

If you’re aiming at taking over the world with your blog, then you should probably choose an unusual or combined domain name. As I’ve already said earlier, the biggest players in the game use such names, and we can learn from them. There’s nothing better when it comes to building a brand than a good, unique name that’s easy to memorize.

So go on and try to choose one of these three types. And if you’ve already done it, congratulations. You’ve just started a marathon in which your domain name is the first step. This is just the beginning.

What do you think about this classification? What’s the type of your blog name?

Karol K provides blogging and marketing tips at newInternetOrder.com.

Awesome WordPress Plugins to Empower Your Visitors

This guest post is by Jeff Starr, co-author of the book Digging into WordPress.

Helping your visitors get the most out of your site benefits everyone. Visitors get more relevant and useful content, and you enjoy better statistics and more exposure. Unfortunately the game is set up to keep people away from your site. Think about it:

  • Search engines are used to find your content
  • Feed readers are used to read your content
  • Social media is used to share, tag, and organize your content

These are major obstacles, certainly, but they don’t have to work against you. People use search engines, feed readers, and social media because they provide functionality missing from most websites. By integrating some of that same functionality into your site, you empower your visitors to maximize its usefulness. This may sound like a tall order, but if you’re using WordPress, improving your site couldn’t be easier. Let’s look at some awesome WordPress plugins to make it happen.

Google-power your search results

People will always use external search engines like Google to find content on your site. That’s a good thing, but you also want to empower your users with the best possible search results. WordPress’ default search is limited in several ways:

  • does not do “exact-match” searching
  • only searches posts and post titles
  • only searches your current WordPress installation
  • can be painfully slow, gobbles resources

Fortunately, we can harness the power of Google and empower your users with the most accurate, comprehensive, and speedy search possible. Integrating Google Search into your site provides the following benefits:

  • exact-match searching (i.e., using quotes to match specific phrases)
  • searches your entire site plus any other desired sites or directories
  • usually works pretty quickly – much faster than WordPress default search
  • optional additional revenue through Google’s AdSense program

Sound good? Here are some of the best plugins to make it happen:

Google Search for WordPress

This beautiful plugin works silently behind the scenes to replace WordPress’ search results with Google’s search results. You simply install the plugin and enter your Google API Key in the Google Search Settings. If you don’t have an API Key, it’s free and easy to get one. The only other requirement is to include “Powered by Google” next to your search form and on the search-results page. Once it’s installed, all search results will be replaced by those from Google. No code-wrangling required.

More information and downloads are available at the WordPress Plugin Directory.

Google Custom Search Plugin

The Google Custom Search Plugin is another excellent way to integrate Google Search into your WordPress blog. Instead of signing up for an API Key, visit Google Search and create your own custom search engine by walking through the steps. After setting up your own form, grab the generated code and paste it into the plugin’s Settings page.

More information and downloads are available at the WordPress Plugin Directory.

More from Google

The More from Google plugin works a little differently by adding to your default search results instead of completely replacing them. After installing and configuring the plugin, your search results will include matches from both WordPress and Google. If Google has yet to index your entire site, this may be the perfect way to ensure that visitors are getting the best search results.

More information and downloads are available at the WordPress Plugin Directory.

Other Ways to Improve WordPress Default Search

If Google Search isn’t for you, don’t fret. Here are two additional plugins that will vastly improve WordPress’ default search:

  • Search Everything – literally searches everything in your database, based on your preferences
  • Better Search – highly customizable solution for improving WordPress’ default search

Regardless of how you do it, improving your site’s default search functionality is a great way to help your visitors use your site and find the content they crave.

Socialize and communitize your WordPress site

Bring the excitement of social-media to your WordPress-powered site! There are so many reasons to empower your readers to favorite, share, and rate your content directly on your website, and just as many awesome plugins to make it super-easy to do. Here are some of the best plugins for making your site fun, social, and more interactive.

WP Favorite Posts

WP Favorite Posts is a popular, five-star plugin that enables your visitors to add favorite posts to their own list of favorites. Installation is easy, and the plugin is straightforward and easy to modify and customize to fit any design. I use the plugin on my Angry-Birds fan site. You can see the “Add to Favorites” link in the upper-right corner of any post. There is also a link to “View Favorites”, where each user can view (and delete) their favorite links. And even cooler than all that, you can display a list of everyone’s most-popular favorites, very similar to how Delicious works.

More information and downloads are available at the WordPress Plugin Directory.

Star ratings and reviews

Post ratings are a fun and informative way to engage visitors and promote content. And there are many post-rating plugins to choose from.

In terms of functionality and customization, the GD Star Rating plugin can do just about anything, but the endless configuration options may be overkill. On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got the elegant simplicity of the Vote-the-Post plugin, which is lightweight, flexible, and easy to customize code-side for tight design integration. I use this plugin to enable voting at Angry-Birds.net (see any post for example).

These plugins also enable you to display lists of top-rated posts anywhere on your site, so you can uninstall that most-popular-post plugin you no longer need.

Chat forum

Chat forums aren’t for every site, but when done right they’re great ways to build community and facilitate conversation. As with post-ratings, there are many chat plugins available in the Directory, but there are two that stand above the rest:

Both of these plugins are popular, highly rated plugins that provide flexible, customizable chat functionality. WordSpew is great because it uses Ajax to refresh everything automatically, keeping the chat window flowing in real time. Pierre’s Wordspew works without AJax, but it also uses a Flash .flv file that prevents it from working on devices like the iPad and iPhone. You can see a highly customized example of the WordSpew plugin at Dead Letter Art.

Show online users

Just like showing off counts for feed subscribers, Twitter followers, and Facebook fans, you can also show off the number of users currently online. An excellent plugin for this is WP-UserOnline, which provides several templates for easy configuration of how and where the user-online count is displayed. You can also set up a “Who’s online?” page that shows detailed statistics of where your visitors are on the site, who they are, and where they came from. This awesome plugin takes only minutes to implement using template tags and/or widgets.

Social media

Even after socializing your site, you want to make sure that visitors can easily share and bookmark your content on their favorite social-media sites. I tell you the truth, there are a gazillion plugins and widgets for adding every social-media site under the sun, but you really only need one plugin to do the job. Just install and configure WP Socializer and done. Any combination of social-media buttons, icons, links displayed virtually anywhere on your site. Tons of options yes, but they are all well-organized and easy to configure from the comfort of your WordPress Admin.

Wrapping up

No matter how awesome your website, there’s always room for improvement. With the techniques and tools described in this article, empowering your visitors to get the most from your WordPress site is as easy as installing and configuring a few choice plugins. As you go, keep an eye on site performance. Loading up with too many plugins can burden your server and slow things down for visitors. All the functionality in the world means nothing on a slow-loading website. A good strategy is to cherry-pick a few choice plugins and watch the results. Remember the goal is to help visitors get into your site and really use it for all it’s worth.

Jeff Starr is a web developer, graphic designer and content producer with over 10 years of experience and a passion for quality and detail. Jeff is co-author of the book Digging into WordPress and strives to help people be the best they can be on the Web. Read more from Jeff at Perishable Press or hire him at Monzilla Media.

The Dark Art of Product Pricing

This post was written by the Web Marketing Ninja — a professional online marketer for a major web brand, who’s sharing his tips undercover here at ProBlogger. Curious? So are we!

One of the most common questions I get asked is how much I’d charge for a given product. I guess the reason I’m asked this so much is it’s one of the hardest questions to answer, but the importance of price should never be underestimated.

Here’s the process I go through when I’m trying to arrive at a product price.

1. Your existing readers

It doesn’t matter if it’s your first product, or your tenth. If you know your audience, you should have a feel for their propensity to pay for things—and to what degree. If you’re unsure about this, look at the sorts of affiliate campaigns that are more successful with your readers. Do low-cost/high-volume campaigns deliver your highest revenue? Or do high-cost/low-volume promotions boost your bottom line the most?

Outcome: My existing customers have a propensity to buy cheap/expensive products.

2. Market perceptions

The general public has trouble valuing things—and brands have been exploiting that for years. But what you need to determine for your specific product is this: is there a market-based status quo when it comes to the price people expect to pay? If you’re selling music, or books, ask if there’s generally an accepted price range for these products.

Outcome: The community perception is that my type of product will be priced between $____ and $____

3. Where it fits in your product/customer life cycle

If this is your one and only product, then this perhaps doesn’t have much of an impact, but typically, products fit into three key life-cycle categories: entry level, standard, and premium. Once you’ve slotted this new product into your product life cycle, you want to apply one simple rule: make the step from entry level to standard small, and the step from standard to premium high. For example, you might offer an ebook as your entry-level product, a webinar series as your standard product, and one-on-one consulting as your premium offering. An example price structure might look like this:

  • ebook $19.95
  • webinar: $49.95
  • consulting: $5000

Outcome: This product is my Entry / Standard / Premium offering in my product portfolio.

4. Competitive market research

When building a competitive profile, aside from the prices my competitors charge, I document five key items:

  1. Influence of the brand (High, Medium, Low)
  2. Perception of the product (reviews, sales volumes)
  3. Core problem the product is solving
  4. History of discounting
  5. My product’s key point of difference from the competition

What I’m attempting to find with this research is where there is an under or over representation in terms of high/low value and high/low price. You’ll also get a good understanding of the caliber of your opponents’ products in the particular subsection of the market you choose to enter.

Outcome: My product has (high/medium/low) value and a (low/medium/high) price, and my closest competitor is…

5. Defining the real cost of the product

Bloggers often fail to figure out the cost of selling the product. You need to factor in things like transaction fees, the likely overhead of affiliate payments, and, if you’re selling a physical product, delivery, storage and other costs. While you may be likely to sell electronic products, you’re still going to have to pay money for every sale that’s made. How much?

Outcome: On average, my product costs $____ to sell.

6. Correlating feature relevance with customer value

Things can get tricky at this step. You need to make a realistic assessment of how relevant your #1 feature is to the customer problem that your product solves. Don’t get caught adding up the ten different features your product might have—focus on the top one. Then, make a call about the value people put on the solving this problem.

Outcome: My product has a (low / medium / high) relevance to solving the customer problem (___________) and people are willing to pay (a little / some / a lot) to solve it.

Other considerations

Okay so that’s the first stage done. Since you’ve answered some critical questions, you should now have a feel for what the market expects to pay for this type of product, and where yours fits into that spectrum. Now there are just a few more considerations to keep in mind as you choose a price.

Don’t be the cheapest.

It’s easy to start a pricing war by offering the cheapest item, and if you’re after a short term windfall, then it’s and option. But rarely does the cheapest win when if comes to competition.

For me this was summed up when I heard a five-year-old kid say to his mother, “We need to get that one, it’s more expensive, so it must be better”. The innocence of youth — saying what we all think!

Discounting is dangerous.

Lately, many successful product launches have initially offered a special introductory price that’s discounted. That’s fine, but try to avoid any ongoing discounts. It’s actually more advantageous to offer outrageous 50-60% discounts than smaller 10-20% amounts, as the customers’ perceptions of returning value on higher discounts are a lot greater. But if you can, avoid discounting at all.

The smaller the price, the more important it is to get it right.

If you decide on a low-priced product, keep things in proportion! The difference between $5 and $10 is 100%. So if you price your product at $5 you’ll need to sell twice as many to earn the same amount of income as you would if you sold the product for $10. Worse, a product you sell for $5 needs to sell four times as much as it would if it was priced at $20. When working with small numbers, finding the sweet spot is extremely important.

Don’t get stuck in middle.

Those irrelevant middle prices do nothing but cost you money—especially at the high end of the market. If you’re thinking of an $800 price tag, and your product has a unique selling point, charge $999. For a $325 product, go for $399 or $499. Your competition might seem to drive your price downwards, however I’d be working the other way. If you’re competitor is $999 try $1499—as long as you can prove why your product is better.

Throwing caution to the wind

As this post’s title attests, pricing is an art. Pricing can be so hard that sometimes you just need go with your gut, pluck a number, throw it out there and see what happens. Remember though, that it’s easier to drop the price of something than to increase it.

What techniques have you used to price your products? Have you had any pricing disasters?

Stay tuned from most posts by the secretive Web Marketing Ninja — a professional online marketer for a major web brand, who’s sharing his tips undercover here at ProBlogger.

How to Blog for a Transient Audience

This post is by Tim Tyrell-Smith, founder of Tim’s Strategy.

We all have a free flow of readers who pop in, consume our content and move along. And while we have them, we hope to convert them: to have them purchase a product, sign up for our feed, or perhaps join our community for good.

Image by Tim Tyrell-Smith

But what if your core audience is transient? Not just a small percentage of them, but the bulk of your readers. They might be in a life stage that requires new knowledge or a key advisor—a life stage that may end before you, the blogger, are ready.

Is your core audience transient?

My primary audience is the active job seeker—a segment of the population that’s highly engaged in my subject. And they’ll stay engaged for the next eight months, on average.

But what happens when they succeed in their job search? Or when the larger macro-economic situation turns around? It’s great news for them, but what about the bloggers looking to build a community in this space?

Of course there are other transient audiences out there. If you write a blog about the following categories, you likely have a transient core audience:

  • pregnant or new mothers
  • beginning photography
  • home buying or selling
  • wedding planning
  • political campaigns

These topics have audiences that are heavily engaged with you today, but may pick up and go tomorrow.

For some of these categories, readers may come back every two or three years (pregnancy) or every five to ten years (home buying). Some needs are unpredictable and can occur at any time (job search). Finally, some are natural progressions (the beginning photographer shifts to intermediate and advanced photography).

My blog has an unpredictable entry point (lay off) and a natural progression (new job) as an exit.

How do you write effectively for a transient audience? How do you keep them satisfied while you have them, and give them a solid reason to become a long-term reader even if your core content becomes less relevant as their lives change? Here are my tips.

1. Know and reflect their experience.

Either on a landing page or about page, you have to connect with new readers. You need to show them that you’re someone who has the life or category experience to lead them through the content successfully.

That first impression really matters. After all, you have to give them a reason to join in the first place, right? A great way to do this is to tell your story (buying your first house, or having your first baby, perhaps). And do so in a way that reaches the emotional or richly practical core of your subject. Whether your story is based on a real-life success, or a failure, the connection to your story is critical in the beginning.

The ideal reader reaction? “He knows me.” “She’s felt my pain.” “They did it right.”

Next, you have to maintain that credibility throughout the first months of their readership. One thing I hear a lot from my readers is: “How did you get in my head? How did you know that was important to me?” The answer has two parts. First, I was there: I was a job seeker for four months in 2007. Second, I meet with ten or 12 job seekers a week, and I ask them lots of questions, so I can stay as relevant and engaged as I can.

2. Know who they are and what they want.

At Blog World, I sat and watched Darren illustrate the importance of creating reader profiles. And I heard him speak about the value of writing posts directly to each profile. He gave each profile a name and a photo, to make them more personal.

As a consumer marketer, I’d done this for years—but I’d never done it for my blog readers. I’m knee-deep in it now.

Ask yourself, “What’s the core content that my readers are looking for? How does it compare (in terms of voice and complexity) to other sources of content in my category?“

While I don’t want to re-hash the same content that’s already out there for job seekers, I know I need to have a base source of content about resumes, interviewing skills, and career networking. Once I do, I can deliver it uniquely. For example, instead of just writing another “how to write a resume” post, I wrote about writing a bare-knuckled resume and cover letter.

I also provide a lot of free content (templates, tools, and ebooks) because I know “practical, easy-to-use, and affordable” is important to anyone looking for work.

While I’m in the process of creating fee-based products and services, I continue to create free content—and will always do that.

2. Know where they’re going next.

While I stay on my primary topic, I try to sprinkle in some more broadly based content.

This allows me to stay highly relevant, but also to begin introducing my role as more than just a job search expert. I also have a perspective and growing expertise on career strategy and work/life issues. For example, I wrote about the importance of building a stable career and life platform. so that if they were ever laid off again, their lives may not be so dependent on a single job.

To support that breadth, a few months ago I renamed the site with the following tagline: job search, career and life. It used to be solely a job search blog.

I am also developing a career strategy newsletter as a way to join my readers, arm in arm, as they transition into their new job, and are looking for content that will support their successful entry into the new company. This is content that will help keep them in a job, and out of the job search market.

I’m also beginning building my database. This is a must, I now realize—especially for bloggers with a transient audience. I figure this is much better than complaining about their departure.

This way, I can celebrate their success and be a part of their new world in a very natural way. But if they ever need me again for job search, I’m here for that too.

Do you target a transient audience? How do you keep them coming back?

Tim Tyrell-Smith is founder of Tim’s Strategy, a blog that helps professionals succeed in job search, career and life strategy. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimsStrategy and share his 30 Ideas E-Book with job seeking friends!

How Personal Experience Helps Me Blog Better

This guest post is by Kiesha of WeBlogBetter.

Have you ever wondered how some bloggers never seem to run out of post ideas? They always manage to escape the dreaded writer’s block unscathed; they’re always full of inspiration. Ideas overflow and pour onto the page as they type feverishly. They’ve tapped into a mystical stream of never-ending stories.

What if I told you that you could tap into the same power?

Everything you’ve already learned and experienced can be used to create infinite and original ideas for your blog. If you can turn on the analytical and creative juices in your brain, you’ll never run out of ideas.

Almost anything you’ve learned in school, on the job—even life’s lessons in general—can be turned into useful analogies or comparisons. Music, television shows, movies, or videos can also be used as fuel for unique and engaging blog posts.

There are almost no limits to this technique. In fact, the more unlikely and unusual the comparisons you make, the better.

Using my personal experience to blog better

Whenever something evokes an “Aha!” moment for me, I immediately think about how I can use that principle for blogging.

For example, late one night, I was watching The Karate Kid. At the point when young Dre finally realizes that all those days and weeks spent picking up his jacket had really been preparing and strengthening him, my mind immediately connected that experience to blogging.

When Mr. Han said, “Kung Fu lives in everything we do … Everything is Kung Fu”, I jumped up like a hot coal had landed in my lap. I grabbed a pen and wrote:

“Blogging lives in everything we do … Everything is blogging! Every experience is potential blogging material!”

My husband thought I was going mad as I frantically scribbled this on an already over-filled piece of paper. It was a major “Aha!” moment!

Yes, everything in my life — even those experiences that I thought were useless wastes of time — had been preparing me for blogging.

You might not be able to see the similarities between blogging and manicuring nails, but what I learned years ago as a nail technician helps me blog better today. I was known for my creative airbrush designs and 3D nail art. I had more customers than I had time. It sounds like I should be rich by now, right?

Here’s the problem: I loved the design/art part of the process, but I hated the chemical aspects of the job. I also hate feet, which wasn’t the best of news for customers who wanted their toes to match their fingers. I suffer from the exact opposite of a “foot fetish.” Would that be a foot phobia? What I learned is that no amount of money justifies doing (or smelling) things you hate.

How does that translate to blogging?

Nothing, not even money, should be the reason for blogging about something you’re not passionate about.

I can see many parallels between applying acrylic nails and blogging.

They both require preparation

When applying acrylic nails, the surface must be adequately prepared. Skimping on this step creates the prime condition for the growth of fungus or other harmful pathogens that, if left untreated, could create medical problems for the customer.

With blogging, if you don’t take adequate time to prepare with research and fact checking, you could potentially steer a reader in the wrong direction. They may not be physically harmed, but advice you offer on your blog could harm a person’s business or their blogging efforts—and maybe even adversely impact their finances.

They Both Require Good Design

If I tried to put a beautiful design on a malformed nail, it only made the malformation more apparent. On the other hand, a well-formed nail with an ugly or bland design would be a waste of sculpting efforts. In other words, the nail had to be both well formed and display a beautiful design.

The same is true for a blog. You can have the most beautiful blog design, but if your site lacks valuable content, no one’s going to want to return. You need both good design and great content.

So you see, yes there is much to learn about blogging from doing nails. There is much to learn about blogging from everything—from all of your experiences.

Over to you

Have you ever thought about how your own abundance of personal experiences relates to your own niche? And how you can use that to create a blog unlike any other?

  1. Start by listing some of the most vivid experiences you’ve had, or lessons you’ve learned over the years.
  2. Then instead of thinking about how different they are from blogging, think about how similar they are.
  3. Use those points of intersection to highlight those similarities.
  4. Then mesh those ideas together to create something new.

What you’ll get is something totally unpredictable and extremely insightful.

Which pieces of your personal experience and life lessons could you use to create an interesting analogy or comparison in a blog post? Which could you use to help you improve your blogging in general?

Kiesha blogs at WeBlogBetter, offering blogging tips and tricks. She’s a technical writer, writing instructor, and blog consultant for small business owners. Connect with her on Twitter @weblogbetter.

Inside the Life of the Other Kind of ProBlogger

This guest post is by Paul Cunningham, blogger, internet marketer, and author of How to Become a Successful Freelance Blogger,

I bet that you could easily name at least a dozen blogs that dispense blogging tips to other bloggers. The so-called “blogging blogs” vary in many different ways, but they all tend to give out the same basic advice: start a blog, build your audience, monetize, and maybe one day you’ll reach that six-figure income that defines you as a “problogger”.

But what about the other kind of problogger, the one who gets paid simply to write blog posts? You might think of them as freelance bloggers, or staff writers, or maybe you’ve never actually thought about them at all.

Consider this: while you work hard to build up your own blog, writing post after post and trying to find the traffic and monetization strategies that will work for you, those freelance bloggers are out there getting paid for every blog post they write.

So, is it really that easy for freelance bloggers to make money while most other bloggers make nothing? Let’s take a look inside the life of these other probloggers.

Skills and experience

A freelance blogger isn’t all that different from someone who publishes their own blog. The freelancer is a regular person who knows how to use WordPress to write and edit blog posts, just like any of you reading this that have used WordPress before.

They certainly don’t need to be a WordPress expert, because someone else is responsible for all of the technical stuff that goes on behind the scenes of the blogs they write for. Installing plugins, dealing with comment spam, and performing upgrades are things that don’t eat up the freelancer’s time and energy. They’re free to concentrate on the writing.

The freelancer also either has strong experience in the topic they’re writing about, or uses simple research techniques to write with authority on almost any topic they wish.

This is more common than most people realize. After all, the biggest audience for most blogs is the beginner level, so freelance bloggers only need to be at intermediate level—or be able to fill in their knowledge gaps with research—to be able to write about the topic.

Discipline and time management

Make no mistake: that image you have in your head of a freelance blogger sitting in their pyjamas at home or relaxing at the local coffee shop while they work is true in a lot of cases. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t professionals too.

Freelancer blogging is a business, and has to be treated as one. The clients that you write for depend on quality blog posts being submitted on time. A freelancer can’t just spontaneously take the day off when they’ve got a deadline to meet. If they did, their reputation would take a hit, and reputation is one of the biggest assets a freelance blogger has.

Because most freelancers work from home, there are numerous distractions throughout the day that can easily harm their productivity. Successful freelance bloggers develop excellent time management skills and create routines that have them writing at their most productive times of day.

Money, money, money!

By now you might be wondering just how much money a freelance blogger makes, compared to the typical problogger. Naturally, this depends on a few different factors.

The ability to find and win good paying work is the first challenge. Freelance blogging opportunities are in plentiful supply at the moment (just take a look at the action on the ProBlogger job board as one example), and the trend seems to be towards more work rather than less.

Now that blogging has become mainstream, it plays a big part in the web strategies of a huge variety of media companies. The top blogs in the world tend to be high-volume, multi-author sites using a mix of staff writers and freelance bloggers to turn out the amount of content they need to compete in their niche.

All of this means that freelancers who are able to present a good portfolio of work, and have the discipline and professionalism to do the job, can virtually pick and choose exactly how much work they want to do each week. This puts the earning potential of a freelance blogger almost entirely within their own control.

It’s no surprise, then, to find that freelance bloggers can be anything from hobbyists who do it one or two nights a week for a bit of side income, all the way to full-time freelancers running their own six-figure business writing for multiple clients.

My experience in freelance blogging

I’ve spent the last two years freelance blogging. For me it was a side income — some extra money that I could reinvest into my own blogs as I was building them. It meant that I didn’t need to dip into our family savings to pay for the WordPress themes, plugins, ebooks, and other products that have helped me along the way.

While I was blogging, I met numerous bloggers who spend most of their time doing paid freelance work. A lot of them also run their own blogs for fun, and some make good money from those blogs too, but for most of them the attraction of freelance blogging is that it gives them a steadier income and almost instant return for their effort.

What about you? As you work to build your own profitable blogs, would a freelance blogging income help you get there faster?

Paul Cunningham is a blogger, internet marketer, and the author of How to Become a Successful Freelance Blogger, the ebook that teaches you how to turn your knowledge and passion into a real income stream. Follow Paul on Twitter.