It’s times like these that I realize that the only thing I know is that I know nothing. I learned it first when I started investing in the stock market over 2 years ago, and I was reminded yet again when I decided two months ago to start my own ‘how-to’ investing website.
Now while I wouldn’t consider myself a computer and internet guru, I am far from being computer illiterate. Infact I’m typing this article from a computer that I built myself. So when I decided to start an investing website, I thought given my respectable knowledge of both computers and the internet, that I wouldn’t have too many problems; I was very wrong. Here’s what I’ve learned about having a blogging site in the past two months since I opened up the site:
Having a good domain host is essential
I started out on a certain well known website host (company name withheld) and was plagued with problems from the very start. It ultimately came down to the fact that they offered an inferior service at an overpriced cost. I experienced everything from url problems, to not being allowed to access general files in my own account, to even discovering that the majority of all of my problems came down to my inferior host. I have since switched to Bluehost for my web hosting needs, and am very happy with them.
Simplicity is more effective than overwhelming complexity
When I first started customizing the theme for this website, I wanted to add all kinds of things such as displaying recent comments, recent blog readers, current users online, my website rank, etc. Similar to the early 1990’s when web designers just vomited up code everywhere and decided to call it a website, I was going for overwhelming complexity instead of effective simplicity.
When I decided to cut down everything I felt wasn’t necessary to my site, the pages became smaller in terms of file size, and ultimately became more effective. I realized that with less options available to the reader, the more effective the available options will be. This helped my readers find things more easily, as well as increased the advertisement click through rate on my site.
You Really Will Get Out What You Put In
I’ve noticed that articles I write that provide genuine value to readers always reward me in return. If I write an article that a reader believes is really something useful, he will bookmark it on a social networking site and then others will view my article. Another example is when I submit a quality article to a blog carnival, I have a good chance of being an editor’s pick and receiving more traffic.
Now every time I write articles, I try to pause and ask myself, “Why would I be reading this? Is there anything valuable in this article”? Although this usually results in common attacks of writer’s block and less frequently posted articles, the articles that I do end up publishing display quality over quantity material.
Blogging is hard, but making money from blogging is even harder.
The idea of creating a website and having passive income is very attractive yet very misleading in terms of it’s difficulty and success rate. While there is no official statistics, the generally agreed upon average for click-through rates for advertisements on websites is around 1 in 100 views. So if you get 100 views on your site in one day, you’ll end up with one advertisement click. One click usually amounts to around fifty cents.
So if you want to actually make considerable amounts of passive income from your website, you’re going to need significant traffic to achieve that goal. Using our rough averages listed above, if you wanted to make $1000 dollars per month, you would need to bring in 200,000 views per month. In my second month with this website, The Investor’s Journal brought in a mere 1,410 views. Now that is a reality check for all you passive income wanna-be’s.
The upper-center of the page is generally the hot spot
After large amounts of research and some experimentation, I’ve concluded that the upper-center of the page is the hot spot for reader attention. If you want to make money off your website, it’s best to have ads that are placed in that section of the site. This isn’t true for all sites, but in general it is the first place a reader looks. Further proof of this argument can be seen in just about any major site with advertisements in their articles; the advertisements are always placed in the upper-center part of the page.
Competition is rampant, therefore “Content is King”.
Many people say how the key to success with a blog is to have great content. It is definitely true that good content is what will bring you readers, but there’s more too it than that. What most people never mention is how much competition there is out there. You need good content not just for the sake of keeping readers, but also because the readers have such a wide range of choices to get similar information. My niche of ‘how-to-invest blogging’ is less crowded than other niches, but there are still plenty of sites just like mine out there.
Forgot about the little things and Just Focus on Content
In the beginning, I was so concerned about the site layout, which ad formats were most effective, what color scheme I should use, etc. that I lost focus on what really mattered: writing quality investing articles. After I got back on track I started writing more frequently and with less occurrences of writer’s block. I started to realize that while site layouts and ad formats are important, they matter very little in comparison to the content that is shown on the website. It’s not the layout that has people viewing my site, it’s what I have to say in my articles.
Learn CSS or enjoy having no control over your site’s appearance
When I first created my website, I installed WordPress and had the default theme loaded. Even when I was a blogging virgin I could tell that the default wordpress theme wasn’t going to cut it. I eventually looked around for some themes I liked and applied them to my site. Then came another obstacle: I have no idea how to read, edit, or understand any of the CSS code in the theme. It took me at least a week of trial and error to get the hang of CSS and other little codes in the theme’s design.
Of course I could have just hired a professional to do all the work for me. However I strayed away from hiring someone to create a design for my website for several reasons. First, it is going to cost a decent amount of money to have someone design my site. Second, with the design being created by myself, I am more self-reliant and can easily adjust the layout to my liking without having to contact some hired designer again. Third, I am motivated to make this website successful, so I have pride in knowing I designed my site by myself and didn’t have to hire anyone.
Just like anything else out there, blogging is much more difficult than it originally seems. The amount of knowledge a blog author has to have in both websites and their topic of choice is what ultimately leads to most blogs being abandoned within the first year. However I am not as easily discouraged by the difficulty of blogging and its many obstacles that it throws at me, and I hope ten months from now I can write an even more in-depth article called “What I’ve Learned About Blogging After 1 Year”.