Have you ever wondered if anyone makes a real living on Examiner?
I’d never heard from a writer who made more than a few hundred bucks on this revenue-sharing platform, which pays writers based on the number of clicks they get on their blog posts’ ads.
Until recently, that is.
Then I met Bill Belew at the New Media Expo last month. He is Examiner’s top earner.
He did a presentation on how he earns a healthy five-figure income from each of a half-dozen different Examiner sites, on topics from Christianity to blogging to India. He proudly states that he pays his Silicon Valley (translation: sky-high) mortgage and all his bills from his sites’ ad-click revenue.
In all, his sites have seen more than 100 million visitors.
Belew outlined how he built each site into an earner — and why most bloggers who try this approach fail.
Be warned: This is not a blog-earning strategy for the faint of heart.
Blogging your way to a five-figure income
To build a money-earning site in this model, begin with a topic you love. Why? You’ll be needing to post about it a lot.
How much? Belew says it takes about 1,000 short articles on a site to get to where you’ll rank well and start to earn real money. It usually takes him about seven months to ramp a site to that level.
Do the math: That’s about 143 posts a month — more than four posts going up every single day, seven days a week. Search engines like updates and deduce a site is worthwhile if there are a lot of changes.
Did he write all those posts himself? At first. Now, he works with a team of freelancers who he pays a share of his revenue (one of the few revshare situations I’ve heard of that might actually be worth doing).
The posts can’t just be any old slapped-up crap, either, he says. You have to say something that meaningfully contributes to the conversation or adds information on your topic. You have to build authority in your topic so that readers return for more. Learn how to scan newsfeeds — and then spin current news with your own take or additional facts to make it fresh.
Of course, you also need to know how to write amazing headlines that search engines and people both love. You need to know all the basics of creating posts that get traffic — putting key words in met data, tagging photos with key words too, and making posts scannable and interesting.
And then do them — over and over and over.
Why most bloggers fail
Belew has mentored many bloggers, and says most won’t make it.
Why? They give up too easily. They don’t have the work ethic for keeping at it, posting like mad, month after month, until it pays off and finally starts to get some traction.
Building a successful blog-based business — breaking through the noise and standing out among the millions of blogs out there — takes more than desire, or even drive, Belew says. It takes flat-out hunger to make it work.
When he was starting out, Belew kept a picture of his wife and baby daughter nearby. He thought constantly about how desperate he was to provide for them. Failure, and letting his baby girl starve, was not an option.
“If you have some other way to survive and pay your bills, you probably won’t get this done,” he says. “You’ll give up.”
Is this an easy way to make a living? Belew readily admits it is not. When I described how I earn from my blog posting only three times a week, he replied, “I wish I’d done it your way!”
So consider hard before you devote time to trying to build a blog that earns from getting mass traffic and ad-clicks. There are easier ways, in my view — for instance, developing your own products, affiliate selling a few quality products, writing freelance for clients.
But if you dream of building your own 1-million-view-a-month site to earn off ads, now you know what it takes.
Have you earned from ad revenue? Leave a comment and tell us what’s working.