Looking for a “How I made a lot of money from my blog” post?

Do you want my own recipe for generating a monthly five-figure income from a blog?


I’m not giving it away. Sorry.

For one thing, I’m not making that much money.  My sites make as much, as it happens, but my actual profits only hit the 5-figure range (upper, I’m happy to say) on an annual basis.

Also, I don’t have a recipe to share. The thing is, I don’t think anyone has one. If anyone had a foolproof recipe, they would hire 10 people and replicate everything to make 10 times as much. At least, that’s what I would have done.

Here’s what I can share though.

  1. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication and the ability to do this for the long haul. And by long haul, I mean years.
  2. You have to absolutely love web publishing. This includes everything, from deciding on a project, buying domain names, dealing with hosting, writing top-notch content and marketing. If any of these daunt (or bore) you, this isn’t for you. You absolutely can outsource some of these functions but  you need to have a good grasp of them to know what works and what doesn’t. Which brings me to my next point –
  3. You need to be able to write with a passion. I don’t believe you absolutely have to be an expert on the field. Being an expert helps in cutting down on research time and gives your writing an authoritative tone.  That said, there’s nothing wrong with investing some time to research a topic and with using a more hesitant, explorative tone. Either way, unless you care about what you write about, it’s going to be so much harder to keep writing for years on end.
  4. There are no formulas for successful web publishing. There are ideas, tips and techniques. However, it will always take some amount of creativity on your part to implement them in a way that works for you, your niche, style and personality.

Don’t get me wrong, “How I made/make money” kind of posts are fun to read. They can be anything from educational to inspirational. Just read them with the understanding that what worked for that particular blogger, in his or her niche, with their own interests and abilities, may not necessarily work for you.

I suggest you read these posts skeptically, not because I think that blogger is lying. I never just assume people are lying (though obviously, some may). I just don’t think their own way of making things happen will necessarily work for you. And that’s totally fine, of course.

My own “Dos and Don’ts” for reading this type of posts are –

Do –

  • Let their enthusiasm motivate you. Motivation is always a good thing!
  • Assess how close that blogger is to what you’re trying to do. Is he or she blogging in the same niche or vertical? Does their style of blogging resemble yours? The closer the affinity, there’s a better chance you can actually learn from them.
  • Scan their techniques and tips for those golden nuggets which may be pertinent to your own style of blogging, even if it’s a different niche altogether. Write them down somewhere for future reference.
  • Engage in a positive dialogue with the blogger. Networking is always good, and leaving your paw mark in the comment link (if such a field is available) never hurts either. This isn’t SEO per se (the links are nofollow) but just a nice friendly way to get yourself known in the community.

Don’t –

  • Ignore the date. Found an inspirational blog post? Check the date. That magic-bullet SEO trick mentioned may no longer be relevant and in fact could hurt your blog.
  • Copy their techniques or blindly follow any step-by-step recipes. Web publishing simply doesn’t work like that.
  • Spam. Don’t just leave them a comment that says “Great blog post, thank you!”. You’ll look like a bot. If you have something to say, say it. Otherwise, move along.
  • Be rude or objectionable in your comments. Constructive criticism is fine but if you do leave a comment keep it polite.

I hope you find this blog post helpful even though it doesn’t provide you with a recipe. I do believe recipes are for cooking and baking – not blogging – sorry! And honestly, even when I use a recipe for baking, you can count on some tweaking on my part 😉

Developing sites on topics that interest me

It’s true what they say. If you create a website solely for profit and don’t care about the subject matter it will be very difficult to make it into a viable long-term operation.

Over the years, I ran literally hundreds of different websites. Some larger, most smaller. Back in the early 2000’s topics were up for grabs and search engines were easy to manipulate. I confess: I was part of the big pseudo-SEO festival of the period. I even scored key phrases in some lucrative niches such as loans (and actually, lawns too, but that’s a different kind of niche and far less profitable in terms of Adwords bids 😉 ).

These weren’t negative experiences. Some of them generated an excellent ROI for the time invested in making them. I had a website about the thrillingly fascinating topic of DVD cases back at the time. It made hundreds of dollars a month from Adsense and Amazon. Making it was fun but creating content on a regular basis was impossible. It was the dullest thing ever. At least for me. I’m sure there are people out there who find the topic of DVD cases genuinely interesting. I don’t know any of them but with more than 7 billion people on this planet, they must exist somewhere.

These days I focus on topics that I enjoy. I’ve learned that researching and writing are my strong suits and so I focus on creating quality blogs on topics that engage my own interest.

I think I know by now that my passions in life are pets and travel. They’re a terrible match together, by the way. They clash. I’m a responsible pet owner and when I travel, I need to know that my pets are in the best hands possible. That used to be possible in the past, when we lived near our extended family. It’s not longer the case. If I get a pet and we go out traveling, said pet will have to either stay home alone with daily visits from a pet sitter, or spend the duration of the time in a boarding facility. Our trips tend to be long, sometimes for months at a time, so no, I really prefer not to leave a pet without its loving owner for so long.

Which means right now, I’m pet-less. I crave having a companion animal to share my life with and I’m trying to get at least some of that longing and direct it into creating more websites about my favorite pets.

So, topics that I currently have websites on are cats and travel. What will the next big project be? I’m definitely toying with the idea of starting a website about parrots. I rescued a parrot a few months ago and fostered it for a whole week. I was not ready to adopt (for the reasons detailed above) so having failed to find its owners, I found it a good forever home. I fell in love though. And ever since then I’ve been researching and learning all I can about parrots. I figure, why not turn that into a website? Just like I do here, I can blog about the things I read and learn, along with my own insights and put them into good use for other people as well.

Hopefully, hookbilled birds is going to be a topic that will keep me interested for a long while. In a few years time, when my wanderlust subsides (or I get too old and frail for extensive travel), I can fulfill my other fantasy and share my life with cats and parrots! Until then, websites will be my only therapy for my cravings.

To hyphenate or not to hyphenate – that is the question

I just bought a domain name on Godaddy for a new project.

Searching for a good domain is kinda fun and always a challenge. It’s 2016 and your keyword.com domains have been taken literally decades ago. Some are being used, most are being squatted over with their owners demanding exuberant prices, often in the six-digit realm. Not really an option when all you want to do is start a new blog on something you’re interested in.

So, two words then.

Anything with “blog” as the second word is taken. Duh!  Most other cool words like “love”, “lover”, “fun”, “central” or “about” are long gone as well. Some are available though and my keyword (a type of pet) was available in several fairly tolerable combinations.

However, some of these combinations just don’t work well without a hyphen. Everyone knows that famous example Matt Cutts used, right? How Experts-Exchange has to be hyphenated or it can be read as Expert-Sex-Change. Ha, ha.

Does that mean Matt Cutts ever recommended hyphens in domain names? Not that I’m aware of. That video where that example was used is all about URL structure and how Google reads words and the message was that hyphens are used as separators of words while underscores are not. Hardly relevant to domain names.

Some SEO experts claim that whether a domain is hyphenated or not should not really matter. Hmmm, I can see how in theory that could be the case. After all, why would anyone be penalized for a hyphen if everything else is ok. I am guessing that’s the case.

That said, how many popular websites do you know with hyphens in their domain names? I can’t really think of any, to be honest. The ones that have words like “blog” or “forums” in their domain name, for example, seem to avoid hyphens and do well without them.

I still remember the time when hyphenated domain names were hugely popular because people used more extreme SEO tactics to create and promote what was basically MFA (Made for Adsense with some Amazon thrown in that A for good measure 😉 ). I know because I had such sites myself and there was a time when this was viable and productive way to make money online. I promise you, a decade ago this wasn’t even considered spam and it was neither spam nor blackhat SEO. Just a legitimate way to optimize your blog or website for the search engines.

Then the bad guys took over and spammed Google like crazy with sites that had shitty content. And by shitty (pardon my French) I mean either illegal scraper sites or sites that can barely be considered to be in English – those produced by word jumbling algorithms. The first type (scrapers) are illegal. The second type should be.

Using software to mass produce these junk sites means their producers couldn’t care less about what their domain name sounds like to surfers. In an effort to SEO to the extreme, their solution was to use domain names that had 2, 3 or even 4 keywords. These were almost always hyphenated. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe the hyphenated ones were easy to find (so why waste time searching for non-hyphenated ones) or maybe they thought this was in fact better SEO.

The bottom line is: hyphenated domain names have become a trademark of junk websites. And if I can see that as a surfer, I am pretty sure Google sees it as well. After all, the whole point about the Google algorithm is that it tries to be as intelligent as a human being using the web.

One point worth mentioning here. I have very mature domain names that I use which are hyphenated and as far as I can tell they’re doing well on Google. You could say this was proof that hyphens don’t matter but I suspect Google realizes that old websites, more than a decade old, were created in a different environment. Or it could be that they are mature enough for Google to have realized they’re good sites despite the initial flag the hyphens may have raised. I still think a new website that starts out with hyphenated words could suffer.

Which is why – after some deliberation – I decided to go with a non-hyphenated domain name.  That’s quite limiting though because too many combinations are difficult to read, especially if your main word is plural and ends with an S. Forget any second word that start with an H, for example.  Even with a singular form, any second word which begins with a vowel could be trouble. Or not, depending on the sound it creates.

I finally found my combination and will start working on the new project today (WordPress files being uploaded as I’m typing this!) Now, all I need to do is start working on some top notch content and hope for the best!