Anybody who is even the least interested in making money with their blog has done a Google search this title phrase and have landed up with thousands of articles, posts, advertorials, videos and other material that provide a hash-up of few different techniques that can bring in the greens. But when you look at them with some curiosity, you'll see that almost all off them give you a bullet list of techniques that can bring in traffic and can potentially bring in some dough. You'll learn about SEO techniques to improve search engine rankings, you'll know how important it is to have in-links to your site, you'll discover what article marketing is, and how to effectively use the social networking and bookmarking sites (Facebook, Orkut, Del.icio.us, Reddit, Stumbleupon etc. etc.).
You'll know the benefits of enlisting your blog to multiple blog networks and directories, tricks to improve Alexa rankings and the secrets of setting up RSS feeds for potential subscribers. All these techniques are good and work to some degree to bring in traffic to your blog – but believe me, millions of bloggers are doing just the same. Traffic is king to any blogger, and whatever published technique exists today are being tried over and over again. The problem is that the search engines (Google, Yahoo, etc) and traffic ranking sites (like Alexa) keep on changing their strategy frequently and hence many techniques become stale.
On the money making aspect, these how-to articles will tell you, that online advertising is the only way to make money on your blog. Subscription, donation, and other direct fund collection schemes simply does not work on the blogosphere. There are multiple different ways to publish advertisements from agencies like Google AdSense, Yahoo Publisher Network and many many others – and they work to some degree – like collecting few cents after a year on the net. If you are lucky, you may be able to recover your blog hosting cost, but if you plan to quit your day job – this may not be the right vocation. Having said that, you can make money on your blog only if you get traffic – lots and lots of traffic – period! But how to get them to flock to your site? The answer is simple – create your long tail!
Long Tail is a term coined by Chris Anderson to explain the marketing phenomenon used by companies like Amazon and Netflix that sell large number of unique items, each in relatively small quantities. For example, Amazon does not make its fortune by selling only the best sellers, rather the bulk of the sale comes from books and items that sell in small quantities. In other words, if you can manage to sell your two copies of your book through Amazon, you get your peanuts – but Amazon has millions of dreamy eyed publishers and writers like you to make their money from. Netflix rents more movies that can hardly be regarded as block busters. I think you get the idea.
The concept of Long tail comes from the sales frequency distribution curve which shows high sales volumes for a very small number of items (less than 20%) but the distribution curve tapers down asymptotically such that most sales volumes occur for the low selling items. If this long tail is properly exploited then most money can be made from those low selling items. For example, when you use Google AdSense kind of advertising on your low-traffic blog or website, you hardly make any money (maybe few cents a month) but Google has millions of websites like yours and hence they reap in the big bucks. So how can we exploit this principle to bring traffic to your blog? What is the product that you are providing to your visitors on your blog? Your posts or articles. If you do some traffic analysis (whatever traffic data you may have) you'll find that very few posts draw large number of visitors.
Most of your articles will fall under the category of the long tail – each bringing in a measly number of visitors. Hence all we need to do is to make this long tail very very long! The longer you make, more traffic you get. That means you need to post a large number of articles or varied topics. This principle is used by many blog platforms like blogger or blogspot. Squiddo Lenses is another attempt to create a long tail to harvest visitors. You can do that too. Invite guest bloggers to write on your site, if possible syndicate articles.
Note that your articles need not be long and wordy ones, they can be short, specific and to the point, that adds some value to the visiting experience. Not only articles, you may post images. Google image search can bring in large amount of traffic. However do not forget the SEO and the other promotional techniques I mentioned earlier. Your posts need to be discovered by your visitors. Web bots and crawlers will eventually discover your new post, but you need to be pro-active to invite them as early as possible. Once you start getting traffic on your website or blog, advertisers and cash will follow. Till then keep stretching that long tail.