In my very post on this blog, I asked the question - Can I Make Any Money On The Internet? Now, just under a year later, I can answer that question with an emphatic Yes! Yes it's possible to earn money online, but it takes a considerable amount of work and perseverance (at least that's been the case for me).
Despite the claim in my first post that I would use this website to document my exploits in internet entrepreneurship as I go along, it will be perfectly clear to anyone who cares to browse through the archive on this site that I haven't done so. There is a perfectly good reason for this. It's hard to make money with a make money online blog.
Every man and his dog has one. So many people as their first online endeavour create a blog about making money with your blog. The same topics get done to death - Top 10 Ways To Drive Traffic To Your Blog, 7 Tips To Increase Your RSS Subscribers and so on. Or even worse, they focus on blogging - How To Put More Zing In Your Post Titles or 31 Days To A Better Blog - and the list goes on.
Are you really going to make money that way?
Now don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with writing about that stuff. But it's a tough topic to make money out of. Why? Because all of your readers are struggling bloggers just like you. They're struggling to get traffic to their website and they're struggling to make money from it.
What are you going to sell to these people? More than likely, you'll be pushing all of the same products and services on your readers that they're pushing on theirs. Why would they buy through your affiliate link when they could buy through their own (assuming the product was any good and they were interested anyway)?
If you're an A-Lister like Darren Rowse or John Chow, you'll earn money by promoting ad networks and affiliate programs and the like (Darren has been quite open about making money signing up new users to Adsense). Being at the top of the food chain means you get first bite at the cherry. When a new program comes out, you write a 'review' of that program and a percentage of your eager readers sign up using your affiliate link and you earn your commission.
But if you're near the bottom of the food chain, you'll be pushing the product onto a (small) audience of people who already know all about it (from John, Darren and others) and are most likely promoting it on their blog as well.
I'm as guilty as everyone else...
Sorry, I got a litle off track there. The point I was trying to make was that fortunately I came across a couple of websites which gave the lowdown on the perils of the make money online niche. I decided I didn't want to become another 'me too' blogger. I considered whether I could really offer readers a unique perspective and decided that I couldn't.
I didn't have any experience in making money on the web and I wasn't about to pretend I did. I may have been able to provide some insight as to what it's like starting out in the niche, but those sort of blogs are a dime a dozen.
So I decided that the time I was going to put into updating this site would be more productively utilised pursuing a more profitable niche.
So why did I come back?
That's an excellent question. There are a few reasons but the main one is so that I can write and share my thoughts on a variety of topics related to internet marketing. I'm not fussed whether anyone reads what I write here and if people disagree with my opinions, that's their prerogative.
Over the past 11 months I've had a number of experiences which would have made good subject matter for blog posts. But I was busy with other things and didn't want to put aside the time publish my experiences here. However, I've now managed to strike a good balance with my internet marketing efforts and while I don't plan on writing here all of the time, I am hoping to provide updates on a semi-regular basis.
How I started making money online...
Now I should tell you that I don't make a fortune from this caper. I earn somewhere between $600 and $700 each month. It's some handy extra income, but nothing to brag about yet.
But there are a couple of things I really like about this income. First off, it's passive. The income comes from 2 websites which require very little maintenance. Because I work full time as a salaried employee, my available time (as well as my motivation) ebbs and flows. There are periods when I completely ignore my online empire (can you have an empire with only 2 sites?). But even during these periods of neglect, people keep visiting the websites, clicking on ads or buying products through my affiliate links. My longest period of inactivity has been just over one month and despite this I saw no drop in earnings.
The other thing I enjoy about this caper is closely related to the first. Each additional piece of work I do results in incremental income - not just now, but each month into the foreseeable future. It's comforting to know that I can walk away now and again and that when I come back I'm not just maintaining an existing earnings stream but rather making it grow even larger.
2 websites so far...
I make my money from 2 websites. The first is a blog on a topic I know a lot about and for which there is a constant flow of news. I enjoy writing about this particular topic but I only post updates once or twice each month. Fortunately there are plenty of advertisers in this niche and it's broad enough that I have an ever-growing list of keywords bringing me traffic from the search engines.
The second website is a static one. In other words, I don't update it at all. It's product related and gets lots of long tail traffic. It doesn't rank for the major keywords yet. At some point I'll put in some effort to expand the site and promote it some more.
3 main revenue streams.
Everybody likes a list, so here is the top 3 ways I make money from my websites starting with the best money maker at the top.
- Amazon Associates
- eBay Partner Network
I have Adsense on both of my sites. But it's from the blog that I make more than 90% of my Adsense revenue, despite only recently having passed my static site it terms of traffic volume. It seems to be the nature of the niche that people click more and advertisers are willing to pay more.
The Amazon Affiliates program is my next biggest money maker. I only run it on my product focused site. The great thing about Amazon is that they're really good at cross selling. When people go to Amazon from my site, they frequently buy more than one item, often completely unrelated to the products on my site.
Like Amazon, I find that with the eBay Partner Network, it's something that people are familiar with. They seem happy to click through to the eBay site and they're happy to bid on the auctions there. eBay have recently converted to what they call Quality Click, which basically means it's now pay per click, rather than revenue share. I've heard that publishers are having mixed results, but I've seen an increase in earnings to far.
Ethics in Internet Marketing
This is the last thing I'd like to discuss today. If you're considering getting into this game, you'll need to have a firm grasp on what your personal values are. In the chase for the almighty dollar, it's easy to lose sight of who you are and what you believe in.
In one of my niches there are a number of products which I believe to be of questionable value, yet by all accounts they are quite lucrative to promote. I had considered adding these into the mix because with the level of traffic I receive, the conversion rates and the value of the commissions paid, I could have added significantly to my monthly earnings. However it just didn't sit right with me. These are real people visiting my site. Would I have been comfortable pushing these products onto friends and family? Not on your life!
Now don't get me wrong. I'm not judging other people for what they sell on their websites. And I'm not preaching to anyone about how to run their internet business. I'm simply pointing out that if you go down the path of making money online, you will need to make some moral judgements.