Hello and welcome to the celebration of my blog, My Money Design turning 2! This week marks the second year since we first hit the Internet and I started putting my thoughts out there for the world to read. You can catch my write up for my first year blogging anniversary here.
Since last year a LOT has happened – both personally and on the blogging front. Although my website still isn’t as wildly popular as some of the other personal finance sites out there, I did enter the second year a little wiser having made so many mistakes the first year. And therefore half of this post will be dedicated to helping you by sharing some of the SEO tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way. More on that below.
Thank You My Readers:
When I first started My Money Design, I honestly had no idea how far I was going to take it. Maybe I’d just write for fun. Maybe it would go really good and I’d make a lot of money. Maybe the site would be a total bomb and I’d quit after a few months.
One thing I can definitely say about this whole process: It’s been a lot of fun. Almost therapeutic if you will. I never imagined that pouring out what was on mind would receive such strong attention and feedback. That’s been one of the best things about writing for this site: It can give you that instant gratification that you need to know that you’re doing something right. That you’re making a difference.
Engaging you, the readers, has been the single best thing about this entire process. And for that I thank you.
I can still remember the first six months of starting this site when I had no readers, no comments, no traffic, and no ranks. Hell, I didn’t even know what a Google Pagerank was.
For that reason, I treasure the feedback I get. I like seeing comments. I like getting emails from people who have questions or just want to let me know that my advice helps them. When I see links pointing to my site or quotes of something I said that other bloggers posted on their sites, it gives me a feeling like nothing else that what I do actually matters. And perhaps that’s why this hobby has been so addictive. If you are interested in joining the blogging crowd online, check out this resource on how to set up a blog.
A Year of Progress:
Over the last year a lot has happened to me personally that I am very happy for:
- My two kids are growing older and more beautiful every day
- My wife and I celebrated our 11 year anniversary
- Our personal net worth has seen a big boost. Ever since the stock market kicked back into high gear, our 401k and IRA accounts have really ramped up. On top of that we’ve started boosting our efforts with our dividend stock fund.
Blogging in Review:
During this last year and since I’ve started blogging overall, a lot has happened. Some really great blogs were started and even more of them crash-and-burned to the ground. Sites that I used to visit religiously and email the writers at would suddenly go radio silent. Other sites got sold off and harvested into real estate for advertising. At least once a month I check Flippa and recognize a personal finance site that I used to visit.
But it has been really cool to interact with a few select websites and watch them grow and prosper over the years. You can almost start to tell by the writing and involvement which ones will really plan to stick with it. I don’t blame anyone for quitting or getting out while there’s something more important going on in your life. But a blog is almost like its own entity, and I’m starting to believe that it really takes a special person to mold and shape that presence into something that will sustain itself over the long haul.
One thing I never expected throughout this experience is how much I’d learn from my fellow bloggers and readers. I’ve learned so much more than I ever could have imagined about alternative retirement strategies, making money, living my life, etc. not to mention seo tips and tricks that have helped me to improve my site. Trust me – if you think you know what you’re doing and don’t have anything more to learn about personal finance, start a blog. It will kick your butt and you’ll find out that you don’t know nearly as much as you thought you did. By forcing yourself to learn from others and just listen to what the readers have to say, you’ll learn ten times more than you could have ever imagined.
And what about the money, right? After all – This is a website about money.
I’ve purposely never really revealed how much money my site makes in a given month. But I can tell you that since starting this little venture my efforts have brought me just over five figures. And most of it was during the second year.
I originally started this website after making a long list of ideas for ways that I could make some decent money on the side. I’ve got to say – out of all the other things I’ve tried (outside of just simply investing), this one has been one of THE MOST profitable ventures I’ve taken on. Just think about it – what other business model is there where the initial investment is so ridiculously low and the overhead cost is almost nothing. It cost me $58 to signup on iPage and start My Money Design. And other than the time I’ve invested in writing and networking, look at all it has done for me both directly in terms of income and enhancing my personal finances all around.
SEO Tips and Tricks for My Fellow Bloggers:
To anyone who would like to hear the wisdom (and sometimes lack thereof) of someone who has crossed the 2-year mark, here is the continuation of my tips and advice on making your blogging experience better. It may be helpful to start by reading my first set of blogging tips from my first year and then come back to see my more advanced ones below.
Keyword research is extremely important. EXTREMELY!
Highlight the word “extremely”. By far keyword research has been one of the single biggest changes I’ve made to my blog efforts over the last year and it has paid off handsomely! Man – what a change it has made to my traffic numbers, income, and overall promotional effort.
I can’t believe how “in the dark” I used to be on this topic. Before when it came to writing posts for this blog, it was almost as if I was taking a bowl of wet noodles, throwing them against a wall, and then hoping that one of them sticks. If that sounds familiar or something like what you’re doing to get people to notice your posts, then let me humbly remind you: THAT IS NOT A PLAN!
Because of the way the Internet works, you HAVE to write according to the rules if you want to get noticed organically by people who naturally search for your topic. And that’s exactly what I do now. Before I write each post, I spend some time on Long Tail Pro seeing which phrases actually receive some attention and have low competition. You’d be very surprised at how one small variation in a keyword phrase can make or break your chances of getting noticed in the search results.
My success with this SEO strategy has been demonstrated time and time over on both this site and my two niche websites. With My Money Design I used to comment ten thousand times a day and work like mad just to build up my traffic. Ironically my first niche website (NS1) actually receives just as much organic traffic as My Money Design these days, and I do it all with little to no involvement from me! I attribute that ALL to careful keyword selection and quality content writing!
Remember: If no one searches for the keyword in your post, then NO ONE will ever find your post naturally and organically when they search for something in that topic. No one. You might enjoy some temporary success on a social media site or other bloggers may quote you, but that will fade with time. The only way to position your content for day to day success is to write strategically and write well.
And as you can guess – increased targeted traffic can also lead to more income opportunities …
Don’t waste your time.
You DON’T need to comment on ten thousand blogs per day. If you find that your blog traffic is proportional to the number of comments you leave each and every week, I’ve got bad news for you: What you’re doing is not going to work for forever. It’s temporary at best.
Since last year I’ve dramatically cut back on how much and how often I comment on other blogs. It’s not that I don’t value the connection or want to be selfish. But understand this: Your time is limited. You’ve got a lot of other things you need to do if you want to make money and make your website a success. And commenting on ten thousand blogs a day is not the solution.
Plus from an SEO perspective commenting is not very effective. Most comments are nofollow and so you receive no link juice. While you need a few for a natural link profile, they are far from top on the list of links you want to go after for your site.
Instead prioritize your time according to activities that will aide your monetary strategy, keyword research, and content development. If you’ve got time left over, then feel free to comment all you want. There are a lot of good blogs out there.
Have a monetary strategy.
If you wake up every morning to check your email like a dog going to his food bowl and expecting to find food, and then you’re disappointed when no one sends you a request for advertising, then you’ve got a problem: You have no monetary strategy.
If money is important to your site and something you plan to make from your efforts, then you need a plan. A blog all by itself is NOT a business model. You can’t just “hope” people will offer you money. In my two years of blogging, I have seen the gravy train of private advertising decline and decline.
Instead, do this:
- Write down all the ways you could potentially make money from your website.
- Decide which ones you are comfortable doing.
- Then start doing something to make it happen.
It might be getting more traffic and hits on Google Adsense. It might be creating a signup form for an affiliate. It might even be to sell an eProduct or the website itself. The point is to figure it out and then DO IT!
One of my biggest developments to my monetary strategy was getting involved with the development of niche sites. I’ve been incredibly inspired by blogs like Niche Pursuits or Smart Passive Income and was amazed by how much money they make from their niche sites. Though I’m no where close to making as much revenue per month as they do, I have been learning a lot and can see my efforts heading in the right direction. Hopefully my Anniversary Year 3 I’ll have lots of great news to report on this front.
Write BETTER posts.
I had originally titled this section “Write epic posts”, but I’d like to one-up the blogging cliché of epic content by telling you do even better!
Stop worrying about posting 3 times a week. Stop worrying about trying to vary your topics so much. Stop worrying about what other people might think or might say. This is your blog.
If you want a blog that matters, both to yourself and to your readers, then write better posts.
Ever since I took the pressure off myself to jam out three posts per week, it has made a huge difference in my writing. I can spend my time not only exploring and explaining topics more clearly, but I can also hunt down research, crunch numbers and display them, and find graphics that help illustrate my point.
You would actually be better off from an SEO stand point to write one really long, juicy post per week than try to fudge out 3 mediocre posts. First of all that one great post will make a better and more valuable piece to read, and you’ll probably get readers coming back again and again for more. Then by using your other writing for guest posts, the links you would get from the other blogs will be far more valuable than the internal ones on your site.
If you don’t believe this is possible, just look at any of the really popular blogs. Lots of them only publish once per week and they enjoy 10X to 100X the traffic I get. Why? Because people care about what this author has to say. They link to it and quote it and eat it up!
If they do post more than once a week, notice that a lot of them will use staff or guest authors to do so. That’s because the main guy can’t do it all himself. It takes time to write quality, and you’ll burn yourself out too quickly if you try to do too much. The same goes for you!
My suggestion: Focus on a niche that matters to you and write about it. Write a lot. If the words don’t just flow out of your fingers as you type, then its probably not what you really want to write about or not going to make a good topic. This should be entertaining and come with ease. It should not be a chore.
This was a hard lesson for me to learn on My Money Design. But now that I don’t feel as though I have to hit a quota of posts per week, what a burden it has lifted from my shoulders! Not only do I feel like the writing has gotten better, but it also gives me lots of time to work on other things related to blogging as well as simply live my life. After all – I never started this blog to simply have another full time job.
Reach out to your fellow bloggers.
You heard it when you played sports and it works here too: There is no “I” in blog.
You cannot do this alone. You can’t write everything yourself. You can’t do all the technical stuff yourself. You can’t promote your site yourself. Everything is easier with a great group of friends.
My advice: Pick a handful of blogs that you REALLY enjoy and leave some quality comments. Then after a few exchanges, feel free to email them. Be a friend. Don’t ask for anything. Just offer help or encouragement; the things a real friend would offer.
This is how you build your network, and you’ll be glad you did. This blog would not be half as good or half as successful financially if it weren’t for networking with other bloggers in my niche. Through emailing and talking with them, I’ve learned so much more than I could have imagined about keyword research, technical stuff, building back links, financial opportunities, and lots, lots more.
You can learn a lot from others if you let yourself.
Get technical about SEO.
Don’t burry your head in the sand. SEO comes with a set of rules that you need to obey. And if you ever want to increase your chances of getting your posts found in the search engines of Google, then you need to learn what to do and what not to do. It WILL make a difference.
Here’s the good news: It’s not as complicated as you think. All the really tricky or complicated strategies out there are basically crap and don’t seem to work anyways. Or they get outlawed by Google eventually anyways.
What’s your best bet? Keep it simple and don’t get fancy!
- Get the WordPress SEO plugin and follow the suggestions it offers. Make sure your post is keyword rich, has the keyword in the title, URL, meta description, etc.
- Buy Long Tail Pro. Long Tail Pro Platinum has been one of the best investments I’ve ever made in my blog developing efforts. Don’t guess at what makes a good keyword or topic to write about. Actually KNOW by seeing the numbers in front of you.
- Work on your back links. You don’t need a ton of them or anything too crazy. Just create a little bit each month. You could do this by making a few guest posts, comments, social media posts, carnival submissions, making it into blog roundups, reaching out to other bloggers, and especially important – linking internally. Be sure to also vary your anchor text as you carry this out. Don’t always use your main keyword or blog name.
Outsource. It’s Okay.
You can’t do everything yourself. This is another hard lesson I’ve learned this year as I’ve tried to develop My Money Design, two other niche websites, and plans to build many more.
There are lots of quality people out there who are ready and willing to write for you, post your content, create back links, and do all those other routine things that you either don’t really want to do yourself or simply don’t have time to do. And the good news: It’s cheap. You can find great writers and virtual assistants on eLance and oDesk that are willing to do all this for a very low fee.
This is something that I am just starting to warm up to and explore further as I expand my portfolio of money making websites. The business model is simple: Pay one fee to have some articles written, and then spend a few bucks per month to maintain the site. The potential income you could make from advertising or eventually selling off the site is significantly higher than the initial investment (or risk).
The most important reason: It turns blogging into an actual passive income opportunity. When someone else does these things for you, you have more time to return back to your life and do the things you actually want to do with it.
This has been the biggest and most important thing of all. No amount of keyword research, blog income, or anything will make a difference if you are no longer having any fun.
From time to time I hit a “what’s the point” phase where I don’t want to write. I don’t want to respond to comments. I feel overwhelmed or drained. I’ve got too much going on in my normal life to deal with all that right now.
What turns me back around and puts me back in the driver seat is to feed off the success of others. I love reading other great blogs like Niche Pursuits or Think Traffic where the people have similar goals as me and are actually finding ways to make it worse. When they succeed, it gives me hope. It gives me ideas. It gives me things to try.
Even though it’s great to read blogs and network people that are at your same level, make sure you pick a few really successful ones that you can truly learn from and use to inspire you. I’ve got a few of these that I read each week and I get a TON of great information from them. They are doing what I hope to be doing for you.
I think the thing to keep in perspective is to find things that matter to YOU to write about. If you think that it’s important, then research it and write about it. Who cares if anyone else will take an interest in it. As long as you give it a keyword / SEO upgrade before you publish your thoughts, then I’m sure that someone else out there is bound to find your post and care about it too. What matters is what YOU get out of it – what you learn from it. Chances are that if you draw a lot of value out of what you research and find out, then others will naturally follow.
Thanks again for being a loyal reader and keeping my blog going. Here’s to doing even better by Year 3!
My Favorite Posts This Past Year:
Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net