Blogging for cash
Part 2 of 10 ways to supplement your main teaching income
In part one of this series I talked about finding students online and we had a great response from people trying the ideas out. In this second part, I will discuss how to start a blog and cultivate it into a potential source of income by analysing how to start a blog, write for the web and how to make money from your hard work.
I have been lucky enough to talk to many successful bloggers and they all say the same thing when I ask what it takes to make a blog successful. Keep in mind the acronym P.I.C - Passion! Interest! Consistency! That's what a successful blog is all about.
You need to love what you are writing about and most importantly, so does your audience. Pick your audience and consider what they are passionate about. Do this and you are already on the road to a successful blog. To get the ball rolling, start writing down titles of your blog and taglines, then test them on your friends and colleagues. Look for that spark in their eye when you tell them what your blog will be about. How do you know if your readers are passionate about what you write? Because they will comment on and share your content.
Here's a great example of a blog written with passion. David Lebovitz's blog has become one of the top food blogs of 2013 and David's passion for baking comes through both in his writing and in his photography. The site is both clean and efficient and he recommends books and apps to make a decent income. David's posts often attract up to 60 to a 100 comments - so you can see his readers are also salivating with every post and sharing his passion for good food.
Writing about something only you are passionate about is called a diary. Writing about what others are passionate about is a blog.
This is the hard part, the peak of the mountain of Blogdonia. The interesting part comes from a handful of research, three tablespoons of good, to-the-point stories, mix in one cup of either humor or cynicism and whisk gently to give a fresh spin on things. Most of all, keeping fresh ideas flowing is the key to keeping your readers interest. Interesting can also be the style of writing. For example you can write from the point of view of someone else, write from a pseudonym with a warped sense of humor or you can just be on the ball and at the forefront of the news.
Imagine two friends talking in a bar about the subject you blog about and one guy turns to the other and says: "I found this great blog the other day all about.....".
Start by thinking about the sources of your information and how you would digest and write about them. Try writing an article then
1. Reading it aloud in front of the mirror as if it were a conversation. At any point do you wish it would just end - or are you looking forward to speaking the next paragraph? Does it have good rhythm and build upon an interesting point?
2. Read it to a friend and at the end ask them to tell you two interesting points in the blog - and one point you could have got across better.
A good example of this is Grouchyrabbit, which is a fun and fantastic little blog. Readers submit funny snippets under specific categories such as "signs things aren't going so well" or "to-do". One of my favorites is:
DEFINITION: Irony (noun) - drawing trees on paper.
Being interesting is just as about story telling as it is about the story. Put a fresh spin on historical writing, accurate up-to-date details on the present and intriguing thoughts into the future. Which brings us nicely to.....
The most important of all of the above or below is this little fella: consistency. It is what keeps people coming back for their daily, weekly or even monthly dose. It helps you develop a loyal following who are more inclined to comment, share or like your content. Consistency in blogging also helps you plan ahead. You should assign days for writing and then marketing the post once it is on-line.
Take this series of blogs that you are reading now for example, I have agreed with Ajarn.com to release them on a bi-weekly basis and by doing so you will start to expect parts 3,4 and 5 etc and come back to this great website ready to read the next installment.
Here's a great example of consistency in a blog. Gerry McGovern's New Thinking is a weekly blog and newsletter that Gerry releases on the dot every week. I have come to expect his email every Sunday evening, which I then read before bed. I am a loyal and avid fan of his blog and share every post - and now I am recommending it to you dear Ajarn.com reader.
To be consistent I recommend creating a content schedule that you can keep to. Put it in your diary with enough time for research, writing and marketing.
Quality not quantity
Writing quality articles is much harder but so much more rewarding. A quality article will receive a lot more traffic and traffic can mean more dollars, baht, drachma or whatever your PayPal account is set to accept. Quality articles attract quality links and these are key to raising your search engine ranking. You will often find other websites referencing your article within theirs and this is excellent for driving even more traffic to your site.
For example: I wrote a blog about creating a guide to making a business card using Adobe InDesign and that one blog post has been linked to over a 100 times from various blogs on the internet including some of the top design magazines such as Trip Wire
A quality article answers questions, informs and intrigues users to want to read more. It should have a nice mix of gaining the readers interest, phrasing the issue, answering it and concluding succinctly while promoting further discussion.
Good example: This article by David Sleight attacks the use of the world "real" in today's media. It is well written, flows well and has a well founded opinion.
Writing for the Web
People skim read on the web. They first look over the titles, decided if they have the time and inclination to read the amount of text and want to know quickly if the article is what they are looking for. They also will want to know if the article or blog will benefit them by reading it.
How do I write a blog? I first come up with the title and then start researching it. I put down some bullet points for the major sections. Under each section I then write a series of bullet points that I will then expand on when I do the actual writing. Once the structure is there, I write the introduction that should outline the issue I want to discuss in the article, such as "earning more income as a teacher", and then give readers the main benefits to this article. Re-read the introduction to this article and you'll see the pattern.
A tip is to use blog titles that give the reader an idea of the main body content but not give away the secrets just yet. Below each title I have two to three paragraphs maximum as the reader often 'skim reads'. If you want readers to pick up on something important; simply bold the text.
How to make a blog
This is where technology makes life easy. You have many choices but the main two blogging platforms are Wordpress.com and Tumbler.com. Each has their own merits so it is down to your personal preference. Simply register, enter your blog title, pick a theme, tweak your final settings and your good to go. Both platforms are super-easy to use and come with lots of help and support.
What to do once you have posted content
Once you post an article you need to share it on social networks, reference it from other pages, share it with your readers and try and get it linked to from a quality website. Sharing on social networks is easy when you have share buttons installed on your blog. All blogs nowadays have Facebook like, tweet and Google plus on their posts and so should you.
Sending out newsletters
To let your existing readers know about new content you can do this via a newsletter. Again adding a newsletter to a blog is super-easy with Wordpress and Tumbler and I recommend MailChimp.com as the way of sending out your newsletter.
Quality links are gold!
Earning links from quality websites is not easy i.e websites like this one linking to your website. One way to do it is post comments on other blogs and mention your article. Only do this if it is relevant to the post you are commenting on though. You can also contact the site owners and ask them to link to you or you can write a guest post (like this one) and have a link back to your blog.
How to monetize your blog
So you have worked hard and you are starting to get a following and decent traffic to your blog (say over 20,000 unique hits per month, which you can find out by installing Google Analytics) Now it is time to start making some money! You have a few choices:
1. Premium content - this is where you charge users for special content. This is not easy and your content will have to be something very special to loosen your reader's purse strings. Start by asking potential readers and friends if they would buy your content.
2. Banner advertising - this is how most blogs make their money. They attract business owners such as myself to advertise to their niche market. As your traffic grows start to advertise there is banner advertising for sale and work out how much you want to charge and when. For example 5000 baht per month or using a service like buysellads to manage it all for you.
3. Google Adsense - this is also very popular as Google does all the hard work. All you need is users to click the Google ads and then you receive a commission based on your traffic and click thru rate. See this article for more information
4. Affiliate marketing - this is selling other peoples goods or services and in doing so you earn a commission. Amazon makes this easy with their "partner program". Once you register you can look for specific items that would interest your readers and you paste a little bit of code on your site. If you look back at David Lebovitz's site you'll see the kind of of books he is recommended to his readers.
A twist in the tale
Seen as we are talking about making money from blogging, all of what I wrote about above can be applied to doing it for other businesses. If you are not sure about writing for yourself then charge people to write about them. Professional bloggers are rare and a sought after commodity.
Do you blog already?
I would love to hear how you made your blog a success in the comments below. Is there some special tricks I missed? Or do you have an idea for a blog you want some opinion on? Either way leave me a comment below as I love to hear from you.
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I have been writing this travel blog for 7 years on blogger. Another excellent medium. My monetization has not worked too well though as you can read on the page:
By AWOL Geordie, Bangkok, Thailand (28th April 2013)
Hi Carl. I recently started a blog (katekingsley89.wordpress.com) and although I am not generating an income from it (yet) - I am thoroughly enjoying writing, sharing and seeing what others have to say who are in the same/similar situations. Traveling Thailand and moving to Bangkok have not been as easy as one may presume, but I have really enjoyed being able to share the highs and lows of the experience so far! So, thank you for sharing the helpful advice and tips above! :)
By Kate, Bangkok (16th April 2013)
Wordpress and Tumbler are both free to start with. If you want to add special plugins and themes then you may need to pay a little.
By Carl - Web Courses Bangkok, Thailand (11th April 2013)
just want to ask if there is a fee for creating a blog site through wordpress or tumblr?
It's been one of my goal to create a blog site but I don't have much time. But now I really have to do it.
By lee, thailand (10th April 2013)
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By juliannad, france (5th April 2013)
Great to see so many comments already! Love the feedback thanks and I am looking through your blogs and really loving what I am seeing. Any questions?
By Carl - Web Courses Bangkok, Bangkok, Thailand (3rd April 2013)
I liked your post Carl, but I thought it needed more substance. Especially when it came to the monetization aspect. There are lots of other ways to increase revenue such as running classifieds, selling eBooks, premium memberships etc... I run a site called http://bangkokroomhunter.com and help new teachers find housing in parts of Thailand. I also help people buy and sell their old purchased items at http://classifieds.bangkokroomhunter.com
By Ian, Bangkok (3rd April 2013)
I like your blog, Daniel. I found that blog entries with no photos had the fewest hits. Photos drive readership. Thanks for sharing.
By Roy, Thailand (2nd April 2013)
Good informative article. I have been running a little blog - http://www.bkkautos.com - for a while now, and consistency is certainly a key. When I keep the site ticking over with articles on a regular basis it keeps the revenue ticking in, too. To anybody thinking of starting a blog, you really need to stick with it. Often the rewards won't come right away.
By Peter, Bangkok (2nd April 2013)
Great article, some really useful information..
I've been running a blog at my school for a couple of years. I started it to keep the parents updated with what's happening at the school. Once you get the hang of it it doesn't take much extra work and the parents/students appreciate it.
By Daniel, Chiang Mai (1st April 2013)
Thanks again, Carl. Great article. Reading I see that my blog was more diary than blog. I had a following though nothing huge. It was about my move from the US to Thailand and I had a regular readers but it was more of an open letter to friends and family than something to make money on. Still, I liked finding readers and by posting it here on Ajarn as well as Facebook and a few other places, I managed to get readers from all over the world. I plan to start one on another topic such as farming in Thailand. Something like that I will start advertising and marketing. Writing once a week is a challenge and sometimes life gets in the way, though I was mostly consistent. http://roy-facingchange.blogspot.com/
Keep writing. I am learning more.
By Roy, Thailand (1st April 2013)