Blogging is one of the cornerstones of Internet 2.0. People take to their computers and share knowledge, opinions, experiences, and even their dreams. Thousands of new blogs are made each day. Blogging reached a level of maturity that allowed it to shed and outgrow its fad status. It is now mature enough that some people have figured out how to generate revenue from it.
Affiliate marketing still ranks as one of the biggest sources of revenue for bloggers. Technorati.com reported that in 2010, 36% of all bloggers got paid this way. Experienced bloggers know that generating traffic is that first crucial step in getting people to whip out their credit cards.
As their affiliate sites generate income, bloggers get a small piece. This amounts to just cents, but the key here is volume. You too can generate traffic and get paid a tidy sum if you follow some simple rules:
• Ever wondered why David Letterman’s Top 10 List remains popular all these years? Because people love lists. Either agreeing totally, or complaining impotently on ranking or the contents of the list. A lot of search queries on Google start with “top” or “most popular” and your blog should capitalize on this.
• Don’t be afraid to be controversial. In a sea of similar offerings and generic content, you need a unique angle to get noticed. Coming up with a topic that will stir hot debate should be easy enough. The challenge lies in achieving the perfect balance. You have to still have credibility and offer useful info. People quickly grow tired of trash. Challenging commonly-held beliefs will not only ruffle a few feathers, it will also drive traffic to your blog.
• Be nice to look at. A lot of useful websites and blogs are not getting the attention they deserve because they look amateurish. Ensure that at least your home page is sharp and smart. Mind color combinations and font usage. A color wheel and basic graphic design skills go a long way here. Be wary of heavy Flash usage, as people tend to click away when pages take too long to load.
• Form without substance is useless. The best blogs all share one common trait: useful content. The days of sharing what you had for breakfast over your blog is over. There’s Twitter for that. If you want web traffic to be consistent and heavy, make sure that you talk about something people can use. Don’t worry too much on the topic. Even the most obscure interests get a following these days.
• Never be a parrot. Linking something for a source is one thing, copying word-for-word is another. The biggest pitfall for unoriginal content is that people will see your blog as a redundancy. If the story you post is big enough and enough sites cover it, search engines will bury your blog.
• Get with the times. Social networking offers much more than what they did even just a year ago. According to technorati.com’s annual State of the Blogosphere, majority of bloggers now use Twitter and Facebook to attract visitors. Social media sites are now outpacing SEO as a tool in traffic generation. Bloggers who use the former reached 38%. Now, compare that to 65% of all bloggers who favored the latter and you will see that the disparity is huge.
Just a small percentage of bloggers can claim that blogging pays all their bills. For some, it’s just a way to subsidize their hobby. For others, getting their ideas and opinions out is payment enough. For both blogger types, driving traffic is a primary concern. Whether you belong to the former group or the latter, you’d want maximum traffic. And as long as people keep clicking on your site, you are doing some things right.