Basic groundwork needed to start a blog to earn money

Blog is one of the most popular ways to earn money on internet. You can start blogging either by using free services like Blogger, WordPress etc or by owning your personal domain. Free services always come with many limitations like their name will be included in your web url, options to place ads is limited and many times sharing of the revenue is required. Limitations are not common for all services. You should look for the service which suited you best. I always suggest to own the domain before starting a blog if the aim is earning money because there is no limitation in this case. Whatever is the case following is the basic groundwork one has to do to start earning

1. Define your Niche:
A niche is a subject area related to any topic, market, product or service. Niche can be anything but the niche blogging is most successful when it not overlap with the mainstream providers. Niche should not be very small or very broad. Certain niche area like finance and education are very high earning but there are always competitors in such topics. It takes time to establish yourself in the field. Although profit depends on the niche area, but the success of niche blogging depends on your interest and command on the topic. If you don’t have the knowledge or interest on a particular topic, you cannot build content rich blog/website on that topic. Without good contents no blog can be successful in blogosphere. Therefore your interest in the niche should be first criteria. You should aim for content not for search engine. Traffic will be driven by contents.

2. Make list of Keywords
Content of the blog should cover full information about the niche. Therefore articles should be build around important keywords related to niche. Those keywords can be well known to you if you are an expert in the field. Otherwise you have to work hard to extract it from search engines. Search engines also regularly release the list of most searched keywords. Some online services are available to automate the process. Keywords will help you in building a successful AdSense website. The best keywords are those having low competition and high traffic.

3. Arrange keywords in groups
You should be able to classify keywords into groups. Now you can build your website around those groups which can be your categories.

4. Buy a domain name
Domain is the address of your blog. It will point towards your content whenever anybody type your it in web browser. Your domain should reflect the theme of the blog. Unique and memorable domain is useful. It shouldn’t be too large. Large domain names are difficult to remembered. Availability of the preferred domain can be checked using many free online services. Otherwise you can directly go to domain registrant and check the availability followed by buying the domain.

5. Host your blog
Next step is to find a good host. You should consider two things before deciding web host for your website – cost and quality service. Web hosting services meant to maintain contents of your website available to everybody round the clock. Low downtime (period for which your website is not available, generally done for maintenance purposes) is desirable from a web host. Almost all web hosts provides facility ot automatically install blogging software like WordPress, Joomla, drupal etc. You can also choose free (open source) software to start a forum, micorblogging website, classified website etc. Our website is hosted on WebHostingPad. This is one of the cheapest web host providing quality services and won many awards for its quality services.

6. Blog design
Look of the website matters a lot. Pleasant looking websites give a good feeling to the visitors and they stay longer on such websites. You can build your website using professional software like Microsoft FrontPage and Adobe Dreamweaver. However there is no need to learn coding to build the website. You can use easily (and freely) available themes for open source software like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal to build your website. You can change the theme at any time without affecting the contents.

7. Submit your blog to search engine
After you built your website next step is getting people know about this. To do so you must submit your website to search engines. They don’t charge anything for the submission. Search engine also gather the information from any other website wherever there is a link pointing towards your website. Therefore even if you don’t submit your website, search engines will find it through your links placed on other websites which are indexed in Search Engines.

8. Build a sitemap
Now your website is listed on the search engines. Next step is indexing all of your web pages in search engine database. For this you should have a sitemap file (in the root folder). It helps in indexing your website in search engine. Web crawler search for the sitemap files from your website and index it in the database. You can also submit it manually using your personal account. For example, using Gooogle WebMaster Tools you can submit your sitemap file manually. Once you have assigned the file location (usually in the root folder) there is no need to follow on and to re-submit. Search engine’s web crawler will do it automatically. It is not compulsory for the search engine to index all of your pages.

9. Links for higher search engine ranking
Every search engine has its own set of rules for ranking website and dispalying it as search results. Ranking decides priority of appearance of your contents on search results. Most widely used search engine Google display the search results on the basis of its patented technology “PageRank”. More the number of links to your website and webpages, more is your rank for that particular keyword. Links can be internal or external. Internal links are those which connect your pages and posts with each other. You should link only relevant pages with each other. However there can be a maximum points given for internal links. Beyond  that ranking can only be enhanced by external links. If somebody is linking your content (website or webpages) by giving a link pointing towards your web content; it shows that your content is useful. Higher the rank of linking website higher is the point given to you. These all helps in better visibility though search engines. There are ways to enhance the external links. Submission of articles to Article Directories is one of the most popular ways. Although links are important for ranking but it is not the only criteria for higher ranking of your website for particular keywords. Google never disclose full set of criteria for the higer ranking.

10. Quality contents
All efforts will be wasted if you cannot maintain the quality contents for your blog. High bouncing rate is also not a good indicator for niche based blog. Bouncing is the term used when a visitor come to your site by any ways (like though search engine) and they go away after reading one article. Therefore you should not build your site only by keeping search engine in mind. Useful and engaging contents keep visitors on the site for longer time. Longer stay increase the chance for clicking on the advertisements. Ad should also be appropriate and placed in such a way that reading article will lead them to click on one of the ads. Duplicate contents are not good for search engine ranking. So you should avoid using published contents. Your site should contain unique contents. Content addition can be done by yourself or you can invite your visitors sharing common interest to write on the niche topic. You can also hire a person to write for you if you are earning enough though ads. Services like elance.com can be used in that case.

11. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Since beginning you should focus on SEO. This is the way to enhance your search engine ranking. SEO involve number of things. Few are listed below

  • Your page title should contain important information about the article. Search engine display maximum of 60 words in the title. These are the words which helps search engine to find contents related to searched keywords. It also attract people towards your site. Therefore you should optimize the words appear in title. You should not use more than 60 words. Use of repeated keywords are also waste of resources.
  • Meta Tags should be used properly. This is the short description (abstract) of your article. People can read this below your article title in search result. Therefore it is useful to write a nice informative abstract which is real representation of the content of the article. This will convince people to visit your site. You should not use meta tags to put your keywords as it is not used by most of the search engines (although it was used before by some).
  • Images should be used with “alt tag” (e.g. <img src=”imagetitle.jpg” alt=”keyword” ….>). Search engine cannot see what is inside the image. The purpose of the image can’t be judged by search engines. All images are searchable (e.g. Google Image Search). Placing keywords for images help people to locate it. Alt tag help search engine to locate the image related to searched keywords. Placing the images higher on the page (before keywords) is not good.
  • Header should be placed as close to the top of the page as possible.

12. Observe the traffic
You should always observe the visitors coming to your website. Your observation will help you to improve the contents. You can add contents which interest your visitors. Traffic counter is a regular feature provided by almost all web hosts. There are many online services as well to observe traffic. Every search engine also provide this facility. Google webmaster tools and Google Analytics are one the popular service in this category. Many people are browsing website on the mobile. You can also monitor traffic coming through mobile.

13. GO GET IT (place the ads)

Now you are ready to place your Ad Units or Link Units in your website. Open an account with popular advertising networks like Google AdSense or Chitika to start with. You can also use affiliate marketing to display and promote sell of product of your choice and for revenue sharing. But be careful as affiliate marketing will pay only when somebody buy the products. So lots of your clicks may be wasted.

The good places to place your ad units are discussed in our coming article.

 

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