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Failed Blogging Experiments: How NOT to Make Online Money

There are many reasons that people start blogging: to help others, to share your thoughts or perspective, to correct a misconception, to develop your writing skills, to create something successful, and last, but certainly not least, to make money. While I would bet that most people who start blogging (and stick with it) did not start their blog(s) to make money, it can easily become that. Sometimes, even the best-intentions can be corrupted.

That’s what happened with me.

I had the best intention of creating a successful blog that would be a great resource for young adults when it comes to dealing with finances. When I first started out, I wasn’t confident that I could be a successful blogger. I didn’t know if I had what it takes to be a big hit. But I went for it anyway… I decided to take a risk, buy my own domain and invest $110 of my own dollars to see if I could do it. Since I was spending “so much money,” I had to give it everything that I had. I put in hundreds of hours over the next 6 months and was quite successful. I had also made my first $1,000 and from what I’ve been told, I did it faster than most.

That’s where it all went down hill (kind of)…

After I started making some quick cash, I asked the question that if I can start making X amount of money for the hours I was putting in, what would happen if I could multiple that with multiple blogs. I won’t re-explain my rationale for how to make more money with multiple blogs, but suffice it to say that I was convinced that I could multiple my income. I didn’t realize it at first, but I was obsessed with making money online.

My Failed Blogging Experiment # 1 – Niche Site

I didn’t want to commit a lot of time to run a second blog, so I thought I would try creating a niche site. I had been reading about how people have created informational sites that are so focused on a topic or keyword that they get a significant amount of search engine traffic without much maintenance. The idea is that if you can target keywords with the domain name and other meta tags, you could compete with larger, more general sites. If you find the right keyword, you could potentially earn hundreds or thousands of dollars each month. Or, so that’s the thought. Easier said than done.

I thought I could do this and started working on my site. I planned out what I thought would be a great niche site. I jumped into buying a domain without thinking too much about it and started working on it. I had done some basic research on my keyword and saw that there were plenty of searches for my keyword each month. Sounds great, right? Well, as I soon found out, there were tons of other quality sites that were targeting the same keywords. Ranking high enough for my keyword was going to be difficult and would require more work than I signed up for.

My Failed Blogging Experiment #2 – Gaming the System

I was so motivated to make money that I had to figure out another way to accomplish my goal. I was making some money with my main blog, but I wanted to multiple it 5 or 10 times. I came up with a brilliant plan. In hindsight I will admit that it wasn’t that original. If I could have 5 more blogs that were generating the same amount of money each month, I would be doing well. Yet, I didn’t have the time to build up that many sites. While it was possible to buy already established sites, I didn’t have the cash reserves to buy 4 other sites.

So, I went a different route. I thought I could game the system. There, I said it. I haven’t shared this with anyone else, but I thought I could multiply my efforts with little more time investment and only require a few dollars each month per site. My plan was to slowly build up multiple other blogs and use other blogs that I owned to build up the rankings. I thought I would be able to use various writing services to pay for ghost writers and get quality material. My first try at this was going well. I was paying $20 per month for 4 original articles each month. I knew that if I could get the rankings up, I could make hundreds of dollars each month. For the hour each month it would take to come up with writing topics, receive and copy/paste the articles into WordPress, and manage comments, I could be making hundreds of dollars each month in profit. It sounds like a great plan. If I can multiple this by 5 or 10, I could quit my day job.

How it Went Bad

To make a long story short, it didn’t work out as planned. My greed got the best of me and made me lose site of the quality of material. I was only interested in fluff or something for Google to index. It didn’t matter what was published as long as something was published.

What also did me in was that I convinced myself that I could write an article in the time it took me to come up with the topic, request it from the writer, and paste it in WordPress after receiving it. This was partially true. When it came to writing, I was on a role. I could pump out an article in 20 minutes easy. The problem? I started writing 10-15 posts per week to keep up with all of the new sites that I started. Yes, you guess it – burn out…

I got burnt out and soon lost all motivation for my low quality sites. As a result, I dropped two out of the three sites that I had created as part of the grand scheme and am now focusing what really matters: quality, reader retention, helping others.

While I hate to think about how much time I wasted on these extra sites, it taught me an important lesson about what is really important in making money online. It isn’t just a matter of creating a few links or building up your website rankings (read about why you shouldn’t obsess about your website rankings). Instead, I am convinced that the key to success still remains providing quality information for readers. If a website doesn’t do this, I am convinced it won’t make money for the long term and will ultimately be a waste of time.

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5 Responses to Failed Blogging Experiments: How NOT to Make Online Money

  1. Thanks for this. I had similar ideas awhile back – too many to count. Now I’m focusing on building up my blog and niche site primarily. I hope you still have your niche site. I’ve found I’m ranking for a few keywords by targeting long-tail phrases that get 500-999 local searches a month. If I check the top ten and I see sites like About or Ehow, I know I can hit the top ten for the term, and I’ve been right so far. Hope this helps.

  2. I’m starting to get really into all of the different ways to make money blogging and I’m glad you wrote this. I’m really focused on my blog and need to stay that way until I get it up to an acceptable point. Even then I’ll probably only start one other side project if any.

  3. Dave says:

    It’s tough out there. I have a few other sites trying to get off the ground. My main site is still doing better than them all put together. Live and learn.

  4. Michelle says:

    Quality information is definitely important! I only have one blog right now, and I don’t think I would have time for anything else.

  5. Actually, I think you were on to something to begin with. That is exactly what I do now…and basically I can monetize a site in the time it takes for G to update PR (roughly quarterly).

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