In any field, if you want to be good at something you look to those who are and see what they’re doing right. If there’s something that John Chow does well, it’s make money online using his blog.
I’d really love to look at what John does to monetize his blog. But that’d be a bit like telling you how Bill Gates gets business loans. A beginning blogger simply can’t use the same techniques and expect success.
So I want to go back in time and see how John started. How did JohnChow.com start off? Using the magic of the Wayback Machine, we can take a look through the mists of time and see the site as it stood on December 4th, 2000.
You’re probably thinking, “my blog’s much cooler than that!” Keep in mind that the Wayback Machine doesn’t always do a good job of capturing themes in a site, so I’m not sure if the site looked that bad. But you’re probably right that your blog looks much better.
The site doesn’t change much until late 2005, when it has become an actual blog. One of the things that strikes me right off is that the mix of posts is about the same as now. Some personal posts, some online marketing, and some technology related posts. John writes about the things that interest him, and that interest comes through the blog.
According to John himself, he didn’t monetize the site for nine months, so from December 2005 until about September 2006 the blog was run without any advertisements. This allowed John to build a loyal readership.
Too many bloggers who start out wanting to make money with their blog create a blog with no content in it and put in the maximum number of Adsense blocks possible. But it’s the reader of a blog who click on the links, and many people are turned off by advertisements on a new blog.
Do you have to wait nine months? Not necessarily. Randall Cornett waited three months, and showed over $50 in advertising income for the month. Not quite up to John Chow’s approximately $350 in his first month, but it’s a good sign you don’t have to wait quite as long to monetize your blog.
The key would be whether you have readers who are participating in your blog. Do they leave comments? Do they seem to care about what you’re posting? If so, you could probably get away with placing some discreet ads on your blog.
Keep in mind that less is often more, though. Jane May reported an increase in Adsense income from removing ad blocks from one of her blogs. The key is that you don’t want to annoy your readers…they’re the ones who make you money.
So what John Chow did right is to start a blog on topics he was passionate about, and build a loyal readership. At the point when he started monetizing the blog, he was popular enough for it to not affect his readership.
What else has he done right?
John offered links from his page to people who review his site. By linking to other sites, John shares a bit of his PR with them…in essence, hanging around with the popular kid makes you a bit more popular, too. Of course, this resulted in more traffic to JohnChow.com which meant more readers.
Many bloggers are obsessive about page rank (PR). Now, realistically, PR isn’t that important for traffic. Traffic comes from your search engine rankings and from links to your site. PR is a result of good links to your site, but improving your blog’s relevancy to search terms will do more than raising your PR to get you sustainable traffic. But PR is a metric, and people love to maximize metrics. John capitalized on this love of PR to get links to his blog.
Let me repeat from above, it’s your readers who make you money. Growing your readership is the most important part about making money blogging.
Take a look back at the chart of John’s earnings since he started monetizing his blog, and you’ll see the dollar amounts increase month after month. This no doubt reflects an increasing readership.
So if we ask, “What would John Chow do?”, the answer seems to be to write about what interests you and build a loyal readership before even considering monetizing a blog.
Have you had different experiences with ads on blogs? Leave a comment and let us know!