To add to Andy’s advice, here’s what I’ve learned…
It’s do-able, but requires time, application and a bit of luck. The trick to making decent money is to think of it not just as a website, but as a multi-media content business.
1. Focus on a really tightly defined niche, and grow out from there. Think about what demand you are filling with your content. Even a small or seemingly obscure niche can scale, given that you have a potential audience of billions.
2. Use WordPress to build your site. It’s the biggest for a reason.
3. Use a good SEO plug-in. Yoast is popular.
3. Cross promote your content on 1 or 2 social media platforms. All Social platforms reward consistent posting of quality content and user engagement, so be careful not spread yourself thin across too many (I’d recommend 2 max). Chose the right SM platform for your subject / niche. Eg if its Travel or food-related, use insta. If it’s politics or current affairs, use Twitter. If it’s fiction, use Reddit or Facebook. To go next level, create a podcast or YouTube channel to complement your website.
4. Publish a couple of articles on Medium before you spend any $ setting up webhosting etc. Test if there’s a market for your content.
5. Many Medium publications take unsolicited submissions – just contact / submit to one that fits with your topic or genre. Getting published or featured on a Medium publication is a fast way to reach a large audience. e.g. my writing got picked up by the StartUp and The Ascent quite early on. (An SEO optimised article with a very hooky title will help here…)
6. The title of your content is a big deal with online publishing. Use short, succinct titles that really invite the reader to click through and read. This is (sadly) why ‘listicles’ are so popular in online publishing.
7.Use Google Trends to inform the subject / topic / genre of your articles. Check what search terms are trending, and write to those. You can drill down quite a bit by subject and geography. Its free too…
8. Post as frequently as you can. Google search algorithms reward active sites and quality content. It would be a good idea get a good handle on how Google search works – there are plenty of free tools out there. neilpatel.com has some useful free resources.
9. Be ruthless in asking people to promote your site / content etc, or give you backlinks (links from other blogs & websites in a similar space to yours). These are invaluable to building your online audience. Pick a handful of influential writers in your chosen subject, and try and get them to help you out.
Making Money / Revenue Streams:
The bottom line here is that you need to focus on building a large and engaged audience. Put simply, the larger your audience, the more money you can make.
1. Fees from Medium. These only get interesting after a few 000 reads. You also need to be a Medium member to collect $ and get published on there widely. (About $70 / year from memory).
2. Ad revenue from Website. It’s directly related to the amount of traffic and engagement you have. It can take a lot of time to build up traffic to a level where you start making decent $. Years in most cases because digital ad space is in massive oversupply and is cheap as. But don’t let that put you off, there are other potential revenue streams too..
3. Build an email distribution list / subscribers to your site. This is critical in getting your numbers up and increasing your commercial potential.
4. Pro Tip: There is a big demand from companies for people who can write content for them. Even inexperienced writers can earn up to $US200-$US500 for writing blog or newsletter articles for commercial clients. Websites such as Scripted are set up to connect writers with potential clients. Your website could also act as a portfolio to market your services, if this is something you are interested in doing.
5. Affiliate Sales: You can promote products and services on your website and get paid for each referral.
Realistically, you need to be prepared to be patient, methodical and quite committed. The financial and lifestyle rewards are there, but probably only 5% of sites make decent $. For many, it’s a hobby.
hope this helps!