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Making Money on the Internet - With your own Expertise

May 31, 2011

I'd like you to imagine, for a moment, that you are flipping burgers on the barbecue... and someone pays you twenty dollars.

Now you're watching your favourite television show ... and someone pays you fifty dollars.

Next, you are reading your child a bed time story... and you've earned thirty dollars.

No, I am not talking about running a brothel next door or investment banking. I am talking about earning revenue on the Internet.

Now, before you roll your eyes with the thought that I am just another Ron Pompeil, I'd like to say "But wait! There's more!"

I am also not talking about is selling anything, recruiting anyone or investing any money. This is about you and your expertise.

"But I am just an average Jane in an average job!" You're thinking. "I don't have a university degree and I'm not a recognized expert in anything!".

The Internet says you're wrong. There is literally nothing that you can think of that isn't searchable - with thousands of results - on the 'net. Think I am exaggerating ?

  • "How to sweep a room" - 11,000 results
  • "How to pick my nose" - 47,300 results
  • "How to cut my lawn" - 16,100 results
  • "How to carve wood" - 178,000 results

The chances are that if you enjoy doing something - especially if it is something you do often - you are good at it. It might not be "good" in the way that will give you a syndicated talk show, but I can guarantee that you have ideas, advice and techniques that thousands of other people will read and think "Hunh, I never thought of doing it that way. You know, I'm going to book mark this page and see what she has to say next week"

By this point, you may be thinking "Okay, he might have a point. I am pretty good at making fly fishing lures, but no one's going to pay for that, after all, he just said that you can search all that for free!" - And my answer to you would be: "You're right". The idea, of course, isn't to get money from the people who are reading about your fly tying secrets, but from the people who want to show those same readers.

Three elements to making a revenue generating site

There are three key elements to making a web site where people will pay you for ads:

  1. You must have the content that people will seek out and read
  2. Your content must be findable - Not only on search engines, but other sites, too
  3. You must have the traffic - the number of people reading your content - to make it worthwhile to put up the ads.

Believe it or not, doing all of this is trivially simple and can be done without spending a dime. Of course, there are methods and techniques where spending a little will help speed up the process, but it is by no means necessary.

The Steps in Detail

So let's take a look at these three steps

  1. The content. In creating a content rich website, you first need to choose a topic on which you know a lot about, are passionate about and know will be able to keep writing about regularly. You do not have to have a university degree or accreditation to write on most topics, although it is worth pointing out that if you do, they will add weight to your words.

    It is also not about writing one essay and waiting for the money to come in - because that's not going to happen. It is about writing a constant, regular stream of content that your visitors will come back to, time and time again, to read and learn more about what you have to say.

    You can also flesh out your content with related stories from other sites such as news reports, studies and statistics. Adding your own commentary and experiences further increases the value to your readers.
  2. The second point is making your content findable online. A presentation on search engine optimization and online marketing is a topic all on its own, but briefly, there are many ways for your content to be found by the rest of the world:

    While the search engines will eventually find your content on their own, you can submit your sites to them to speed up the process. Other links to your site are also critically important, as well; This doesn't just mean getting other websites to link to you: You can use your own sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogspot and other sites you own to link to your articles. Getting in touch with media organizations who run regular columns related to your topic and telling them about your site will sometimes result in them linking to you for a specific story or even running a feature on you and your site. Link exchanges are popular, too: You link to a related site in exchange for them doing the same for you helps not only get the word out, but increase the popularity of your site to the rest of the world.
  3. Finally, the traffic to justify the advertising dollars. This is a long process, especially if you are doing it with zero budget, but it is by no means impossible. Unlike all the get-rich-quick schemes out there, this process really is about time and dedication. How much you put into it will dictate how much you get out of it and how long it will take. If you spend an hour a week on your site - which is perfectly acceptable - you'll probably see results in about a year or less. If you're spending an hour or two every couple of days, your traffic numbers will jump all the faster.

    Key to justifying advertising on your site is the type of people, or the demographics of your traffic. This is where it comes full circle, back to the content of your site. The more focused your site, the fewer the regular visitors you need in order to be considered valuable to an advertiser. For example, if you ran a general interest site, say a news like like cnn or cbc, you'd need at least 50,000 monthly visits to be worth an advertisers time. This is simply because the nature - and interests - of the visitors covers such a broad spectrum that advertisers will see a much lower chance of interest in their ads.

    On the other hand, the more focused your site, the lower the visitor count needs to be for it to be worthwhile to advertisers: This is because if your site is about one narrowly defined range of related topics, it means that advertisers of related products know that the interest - and the likelihood of purchases - is much higher. Depending on the nature of your site, a monthly visitor count as low as 5,000 uniques can be enough to generate ad interest.

To Summarize

To summarize earning an income on the 'net;

  1. You need the content that you will write about regularly.
  2. You need your content to be found on search engines and linked to from as many other sites as possible.
  3. You need the numbers of people visiting your site regularly - and telling others about it - to generate interest in advertisers who will pay you to expose their messages to your readers.

An example of how it is done

I will end with an anecdote about a friend of a colleague of mine who did exactly what I have just spoken to you about:

He's a do-it-yourselfer - Always looking for ways to save a few bucks by doing his own repairs, building his own things around the home. He had a regular job, working in accounts receivable for a high tech firm in Alberta, but he also had a passion for writing about his little tips and tricks and posting them to his website.

For the first year, it was pretty much just his own passion. He'd write his articles, tell a few friends about them and even had a few friends write articles for him, just to make his collection bigger. During his second year, he had a hardware store ask if they could put a banner up on his site for $100 a month. Hey, free money, right ? By the end of the second year, he was seeing about a thousand dollars a month. Not enough to quit his job, but it paid off his debts and bought him some nice toys. Two years ago, before his site was bought out by a major content conglomerator, he was making roughly thirty thousand dollars a month. He had long since quit his job, spent about two solid days a week writing for his site and the other five in pure heaven: Puttering around his house and his shop, coming up with new ideas to write about and making his home a nicer place to live: Not only while saving a few bucks, but while making a fortune at it, too.

Marc Bissonnette, Ontario, Canada

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