This is the second post in my little series about how I started to make money online using blogs and other online businesses.
In the first part, we looked at how I made my first dollar online and how a lazy university kid figured out that a few AdSense ads on your blog could make a decent income.
This post is going to focus on how I managed to get that up to $1,000.
If you’re looking to start a blog or build a business online, I genuinely hope this post gives you some inspiration and ideas that make you really believe that it is possible.
Scaling up on what’s working
Previously, I talked about how I had discovered AdSense and put a few ads on my blog.
After a few days of this I realized that I needed more content so I could have more ads showing to more people. It was an admittedly crude approach, but it worked.
So I started focusing on writing evergreen content that focused primarily on basic keywords that a lot of people would be searching for. Back then, it was a lot easier to rank for this type of content and, after a while, I started to get a fair amount of Google traffic to my blog.
The big lesson for me at this point in my career was that you should scale what works until it works at bigger levels.
Basically what this means is that if you can find something that makes you $1 then have a think about what you need to do to turn it in to $2 and then $3 and $10 and $100 and so on.
This really comes down to a few things like whether there is traffic, how much it “costs” you to reach the audience, how long that method will last for, and so on.
But don’t just be happy with the initial $1 that you make because there could be a lot more waiting there if you just try to tap in to it.
Back then I realized that if I was earning $2 per day from one blog post then if I had 100 blog posts it was possible I could be making $200 a day. Of course it wasn’t as simple as that, but my version of scaling up was to pump out as much content as possible, interlink my posts, and then begin adding more AdSense ads and other variations of EPC like Chikita Minimalls, Amazon Affiliates, etc.
Within a short stretch of time I had hundreds of posts, images and a few videos and they started to rank really well with just a bit of forum commenting and the occasional mention from a powerful site in my niche.
Again, this was the days when not many people were doing long form content and so it didn’t take a lot to see results, especially from techniques that are now totally out of date or ineffective. In the next post we’ll look at a more modern and sophisticated approach.
A Google penalty and a new blog
It was around this time that my first self-hosted WordPress blog got hit with some kind of Google penalty and my traffic dropped off significantly.
I remember waking up in the morning, logging in to AdSense and seeing a massive drop in earnings which I then figured out was due to the blog’s traffic falling off a cliff.
To this day, I still don’t know what that adjustment was about, but it was enough of a wake up call for me to start thinking about the fact that I needed to diversify my income and come up with some kind of a back up plan.
These days you really need to start a mailing list and get subscribers on your blog because this will help shield you against those kinds of random events. But back then I knew nothing about email lists, if they even existed!
So I started a new blog in the same niche but with a slightly different angle and basically started re-creating the content but with slight variations for the new brand.
I really was desperate to find a way to get out of this college degree.
And it worked, eventually.
Within a few months I’d built two blogs in similar niches that were making a decent income from AdSense while providing content that was (hopefully…) pretty useful to people.
Diversify it, idiot
At this point you might notice that I’m still relying heavily on AdSense income, even though I had created a second blog that was somewhat insulating me against any issues with the first.
But now I started thinking about other way I could make money because – as every AdSense user realizes – I was just sending visitors away from my blog for a few cents.
This was not a good model.
All that work we bloggers do – researching, image editing, writing, formatting, promoting, etc. – it all seems like such a waste when you get a visitor and then they click an ad on you site and are potentially gone forever.
I needed to figure out how I could make money from the Internet in a way that wouldn’t negatively impact the content of my blog (you can’t choose what ads appear…) or the bounce rate that occurs from people clicking ads and leaving.
It wasn’t until much later that I figured out how to do this properly…
Selling a blog for the first time
I can’t really remember the reason why, but before I finished college I ended up selling that first blog for almost $20,000.
In what was an absolutely nerve-wracking moment, I signed contracts and transferred the domain name to the new owner once the cash hit my account.
I remember explaining it to my mom who just couldn’t understand why someone would pay all that money for a website. It was all very new.
For a college kid it was such a huge amount of money and it was at the point that I really understood how powerful blogging was going to be and how I wanted to be part of it in some way.
It felt like the magic solution that was going to help me work from home on a business that I actually liked… and that was very exciting.
And you know what I did with that money..?
Dropped out of college and wasted almost all of it on takeaway food while I fiddled around with new ideas.
It was here that I learned the important lesson about making mistakes and learning from those mistakes.
It was at that time that I really figured out how I was going to make a full time living from blogging.
We’ll talk about that in the next post…
Have you made your first $1,000 online yet?
Just like last week, I’d love to hear your stories about how you made your first $1,000 from blogging or online business. Sharing those stories might really help someone out there so please leave a comment below and let us know.