The Net is full to bursting of sites about how to make money online. But what we really need to know about making money is this: Making money is not easy and All we need to make money is common sense and a well-planned approach to work. But those two points are a secret to no one. Nevertheless, it’s very frequent to find websites and blogs bragging about how much money their owners are making. And they are earning a lot with just an Internet connection, a deluxe Apple laptop, and some coconut water in a paradisiac island. You may win up to 250K, monthly! You can be as rich as them! You only have to follow their techniques, and of course, to buy their books and videos to learn how to be a successful “entrepreneur”. Utterly nonsense. Thanks to the Net, to be a “guru” is easier than ever. I’m no “guru”, so bear with me.
I do strongly believe that blogging is about living (in the net, that is), not about bragging. These undoubtedly clever guys nourish from the naivety of some people. For them, it’s a perverted kind of pleasure to read about “how to make tons of money online.” They say: “Look! This guy is making so much money with just a web page!.” Their natural reaction, of course, is “I can do better!.” Some have quit their jobs to pursue the role of “entrepreneur”. To have the motivation to improve is nice and all, but it’s even nicer to have a clear and mindset. We can win money. Yes. We can. We have all the required abilities. But we’d be better off if we take every net’s thing with a bit of salt. Building self-confidence demands taking risks… but illusory, unattainable goals knock-off self-confidence
Being an entrepreneur requires a clear vision about the business we want to undertake. Being an entrepreneur needs courage and accepting risk. But above all, being an entrepreneur requires good capacities for planning and self-discipline. Entrepreneurs have the abilities for being their own bosses. And not everyone is prepared for that. And it also requires courage to be able to accept our current limitations. But if you believe in yourself, you can overcome any of these obstacles.
Trust & Betrayal
It’s indeed possible to make money with a blog. How much? I really don’t know as of the time I’m writing this. Life, Money & Development is fairly new. Some sites report a huge success, and seem credible. On the contrary, the above referred “bragging” sites are liars and it’s easily verifiable: their inbound links, relative status and rankings reveal poor traffic and linking data, which would not really allow for a sustainable income. They are clever, though, in trying to attract readers and advertisers based on the buzz about “how much money they are doing”.
As told, winning money online is viable. Take, for instance, e-commerce. Internet has turned into the ultimate platform for modern businesses, mainly because of lower costs and wider reach. In turn, some notable websites and blogs, not directly related to e-commerce, have achieved considerable popularity, and declare notorious income levels. But that’s not an easy chore. It’s true that pop culture madness reveals affection for miraculous sites and net ventures with a quick and nearly immediate cash return. Those sites, though, require considerable traffic and a broad reader-base. Gaining and maintaining readers is not easy. Then, Traffic is the first nourishment of any web venture. Conversion is the other mandatory requisite for online success.
The Visitors’ Lounge
If you own at least a website or blog, you are likely familiar with the hardships associated to growing up the site’s visits log. Friends and family are usually the first members of the reader-base. Beyond that, it’s more difficult. You have to follow several strategies, and discover the ones that work best for you. We have to submit our information to news sites and networks, to register in directories, to leave comments in other people’s blogs (a nice way to promote your site without being too intrusive; thanks to Robin for this recommendation), and so further. Hopefully, new readers will also act as promoters of your site. Search engines will drive some traffic too. And spammers will discover your site someday
The Trail of Victory
Getting visits is not enough. If you want to promote your business, to convey your ideas to the world, or to win money, it’s necessary to accomplish successful conversions. Simply put, a conversion means that a visitor performed a desired, target action (clicking a banner or reading your post, for example.) Gaining traffic requires hard work, but conversion is an art. Alas, conversion shall be forevermore linked to experimentation. Implementing a successful conversion scheme requires visualizing the flow of actions of our visitors. It means we have to anticipate (somewhat) our readers’ actions… where they will look at, where they will go after reading something, and so on. Layout of the site (including considerations about the best type of advertisement) is very important to direct the flow. Also, we have to be specially careful not to abuse our visitors’ trust.
Online Marketing & Advertisement
It’s the most common source of revenues for sites not directly related to e-commerce activities, such as this blog. Online advertising uses electronic media to deliver marketing messages and, ideally, attract customers. Online advertising has several distinct flavors, some of which are very bitter. Typical online advertisement schemes include, but are not restricted to, the following:
** Contextual ads constitute a very popular advertising variation. This type of ads display text or images that are (likely) related in semantic terms to the keywords of a search, or to the content of the page on which the ad is included. It’s believed that such ads offer a greater chance of attracting customers because their content is related to the user’s interest. Widely known programs of contextual advertisement are Google Adsense, Yahoo! Publisher Networks, and AdBrite, for instance.
** Non-contextual Banners are not intended to be related to user’s interest. They tend to be very disruptive of user experience, and adopt several forms. However, if the layout is arranged in a way allowing clear and natural distinction between the banner and the content, it could be a very effective approach to monetize a site.
** Inline Text Links are my preferred approach. As of the time I’m writing this, I’m combining the Adsense Contextual Frame with some inline text ads. This kind of advertisement is not very disruptive in visual terms. Conceptually, though, it’s not very honest… I concede that. Nevertheless, I think they integrate neatly with the current layout of the site. A future shift in the blog’s approach may require discontinuing this scheme. The advertisement networks I’m currently using are:
** Link Blurbs is other name given to a collection of advertising links. Strictly, it’s a frame filled with links. Typically correspond to direct sales, and are obviously related to banners.
** Affiliate Networks pay you for referring other publishers, or even advertisers. A few of the above links correspond to my membership in some affiliate networks.
** Email marketing is other way for delivering advertisement content. The mechanism is obvious. Legitimate email marketing is frequently referred to as opt-in email advertising in order to distinguish it from spam, grayware and general malware.
There are other popular schemes, such as Chitika eMiniMalls and other widgets, but I have yet to experience with them. I think it would be a very bad idea to burden our sites with all these advertisement schemes and companies. It would be a total mess, both visually and conceptually. Our visitors would have to dig up the actual content. And there is a golden rule for content-delivering: high hurdles to access content decrease the readers’ interest in the media (in our case, blogs).
I’m experimenting with the ads here, trying to keep the balance between visuals, concepts and marketing. Let’s practice and share our results. We cannot expect our practice to be always clear of obstacles. I’ll expand on this topic in upcoming posts.
Thank you very much for reading.