Starting a successful blog from home… a dream come true or pie in the sky?
Let’s face it, most things are more complicated than they appear. Learning to ride a bike doesn’t come without its fair share of bruises.
…but once you are off and peddling it’s something you never forget.
This my friends, is what it’s like to hone the tools you’ll need to make serious money from building a website from home.
So where does a life insurance guy like me get off handing out marketing advice?
Well I launched my blog, InsuranceBlogbyChris.com, back in 2008 and over the course of the past 8+ years I’ve created an income in the high six figures, hired a team of agents and recently celebrated the 1 millionth visitor to my site.
Oh, and I do it from the comfort of my own home.
The good news?
After hitting 1 million visitors, I’ve learned a lot, and I’m sharing my top 5 tips for starting a blog and making money online with you here today.
I don’t want anyone to have to go through the same headaches I got attending the school of hard knocks.
Drum roll please….
1. Find a Lucrative Niche: Do Your Research
In today’s crowded market, it’s very important to do your research. Is there a demand for the services or product you’re offering?
Yes, I know the course you want to develop for housebreaking puppies is the most brilliant idea in the world…
But is there really a market for your idea?
The best way to nail this down is to step outside your bubble and find out through human interaction.
I would suggest lurking around forums that have a lot of people who are interested in your niche. Get to know them, find out what they like and what their habits are.
A great place to research behavior is Reddit. It’s an endless source of consumer information.
You can also check out the blog comment sections from articles that write about your subject, and search for people with “pain” related to what you want to sell.
For example, when I first built my insurance website, I would often write about “ways to save on life insurance”, but the articles brought in no traffic and seemingly garnered little interest.
But after hanging around some personal finance forums where consumers were talking about life insurance, I found no one was talking about “how much it cost”.
A lot of people were, however, complaining about health issues and not being able to qualify. I changed my strategy, starting writing more articles about how to get life insurance with health issues, and the results have been amazing.
Bottom line: Business failure can be averted with proper research and planning. Be sure to do your homework and make sure there’s a market for your product or service before you spend two years of your life trying to sell it.
2. Hustle and Swing for the Fences!
I’m not tempting you with pie in the sky.
None of my business success happened overnight, so if you are looking for instant pudding results then maybe you should stick with your day job.
I mean that.
Simple hard work is the bedrock of any business and commitment is always key. Forget the people who tell you that millions are at your fingertips if you just want it badly enough.
You are going to have to Hustle to make it big in this competitive world. This means once you have a kick a$$ idea you are going to have to sell it.
But here’s the thing.
If it’s hard…
If it scares you to death…
Then you KNOW you’re on the right track!
And guess what else. It’s actually easier to hunt the sharks than the minnows, because you’ll be the only one in the water.
As Tim Ferriss said:
“Life is so full of people content with hitting singles that sometimes it’s easier (and there’s less competition) if you swing for the homerun.”
If you’re afraid to pick up that phone to make an important contact, do it anyway, knowing that everyone else is experiencing the same fear. But the difference is YOU will be the one to set the fear aside and go for it, and that will put you in a different league.
3. My secret sauce: I Put ROR before ROI!
Yes indeed, ladies and gentlemen, it’s very important that you really get this point. Virtually every business handbook goes into great detail about obtaining a good return on your investment (ROI) when you build a website.
You spend money to make money, right?
YES, of course you do – but if you think about your return on investment (ROI) first you’ve just put the cart before the horse.
…which means you aren’t going to go anywhere.
Instead, I focus on ROR… “return on relationship”.
When you launch an online business you’re on a deserted island. Google doesn’t know you exist and it’s up to you to make waves and get links.
If you think you can do this alone – think again!
You need to round up a tribe of like-minded people who are shopping for your product or solution and get the support of influencers in that marketplace.
A good connection can bring you:
- Introductions & Referrals
- Guest post & linking opportunities
- Collaboration opportunities
- Affiliate Agreements
- And more
This is simply going to take time and effort on your part. Get to know the lay of the land. Join forums, start to follow people on social media who are successful in your niche and join groups where people congregate who are interested in your product or service.
You can also follow Jeff Bullas’ proven tips for getting the attention of influencers.
YES, this is going to cost you some money and time but it’s the best way to assure a return on your investment for the long haul.
4. Join HARO. It Can Get You Some Outstanding Backlinks
Launching a blog or website is one of the best ways to make money from home, but here’s the problem.
When you first create a website for your business, your Google street cred is nonexistent.
Yep. It’s true.
That’s why HARO is important.
HARO stands for “help a reporter out” and that’s exactly what you’ll do.
No one really wants to link to a DA 4 site. However, if you’re knowledgeable in a specific area, you can shine on HARO.
Reporters submit questions that are circulated to HARO subscribers daily.
Online publications like Time Magazine, the Huffington Post and Forbes – sites with some serious link juice – are looking for input from people just like you.
This is how my company picked up quite a few of our backlinks.
Remember, reporters are looking for entertaining submissions that comprehensively ANSWER the questions they ask. Don’t waste their time if you aren’t sure about the subject matter. If your qualifications don’t meet the description, give the query a pass.
Also remember, you only have a couple of seconds to make an impact! I always draft an attention-grabbing subject line.
When you are competing with a stack of other submissions it’s a great way to get noticed.
For example, when I respond to a query asking about online marketing tips, I might use a subject line like:
- Niche Marketing for Eye-Popping Conversions
- Why My Boring Life Insurance Page Converts at 20%
- Myth – You Must Constantly Be Producing New Content
See how much better those are than “Three Great Tips to Help You Build a Website”?
Not a great subject or headline writer? No problem. Just follow Buffer’s headline guide.
And if you want more, you can check out my awesome guide on how to write the perfect HARO pitch here.
5. Remember You’re Always a Student
Do you dream of a job where you can set it and forget it? Well dream on. If you want to work from home and make fantastic money, you need to be constantly learning.
What was true back in 2008 when Huntley Wealth was just starting is no longer true today. Google is practically unrecognizable and my site had to change with the times.
We are constantly drafting new content, learning about new algorithms and taking new courses. It never ends.
Trust me if you apply these golden rules, add a little elbow grease & tenacity, you can build your site to 1 million visitors too, and soon you’ll be bringing in enough cash to kiss your day job goodbye!
Chris Huntley is president of Huntley Wealth & Insurance Services in San Diego. He also owns eLifeTools, a site dedicated to online marketing for insurance agents. He can be reached on Twitter @mrchrishuntley.