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While it might seem like everyone is making money online, that simply isn’t the truth. In fact, the amount of people that actually are making money online is quite a minimal percentage, and it’s just that the stories you do hear of success and quick money are more appealing and get spread around like wildfire.

Here’s what you need to know.

  1. It’s extremely easy and low cost to start a website
  2. It’s not so easy to find success and make money with a site

The good news is, if you find the right guidance and startup tools to help in this process, it can greatly improve your chances for success.

That is exactly what you will find below – a simple, yet effective, five-step formula for making money online with a website or blog of your own. Startup costs are minimal, there are no technical design skills required, and it’s also something you can get started in your spare time.

Let’s get started.

1. Build the Foundation and Plan for Your Business

Before starting a business, you need to first have a business plan and strategy. This is one of the biggest problems I continually see people rushing when trying to start an online business. Just because it’s easy to start a website or blog, it doesn’t mean running your own online business is going to be easy.

Here are a few things you will need to consider before getting started:

  • Why are you creating a site, and what value are you offering?
  • Who is your target audience and how are you going to reach them?
  • Is there a similar site or solution out there that you can study?
  • What is your preferred form of monetization and generating revenue?
  • Will you be focusing on free, organic search traffic or paid methods?

By being able to answer these questions beforehand, you will have a much better idea of how and why you are starting your business, and then also how you can keep growing and scaling it over time.

Here is a quick run through of what this might look like.

“I want to create a blog that showcases the many different basketball shoes that players are wearing throughout the season. My target audience is anyone that likes basketball and enjoys buying or investing in high-end basketball shoes. To reach this audience, I will focus on creating list-style posts on my site and also using social media (and mainly Pinterest) to reach new audiences that wouldn’t otherwise know about my site. For monetization, I will focus on Google Adsense in the beginning, as I also implement affiliate marketing in the mix. With our detailed reviews on different shoes and brands, affiliate marketing will allow us to earn a commission on any new business we refer to outside brands like Nike, Under Armour, and other basketball apparel or shoe brands.”

2. Get Started with Your WordPress Site

If this is your first time playing around with the idea of starting a website or blog, don’t worry. There are no technical design skills required, and pretty much all of this can be done without the need to hire an outside designer, coder, or programmer for your site.

Thanks to the power of WordPress, all you need is a domain name and hosting solution – then, you can start going live with content on your site. I don’t want to spend too much time on the hosting aspect, as it’s been talked about several times over across thousands of different sites. In short, any of these trusted WP hosting solutions would be more than fine. Just go with a standard shared hosting plan and keep your costs under $10 a month, and you should be more than ready to go.

The great thing about running a WordPress site is that it’s very easy to create content and make sure your site is fully optimized for the search engines and easy sharing on social media. This can all be done through free or premium WordPress themes and plugins.

3. Create Five Articles of Pillar Content

As important as you might think your site content is, it’s not the most important thing. The biggest misconception that ‘bloggers’ have, is that they need to write and create a lot of content. With more than a billion active sites on the internet today, the last thing we really all need is more content. On top of that, if you want to rank at the top of Google for some decent keywords, it’s either going to cost you a lot of time and effort or money, as you will need to compete against sites that have been established and gaining backlinks and exposure for years.

So what’s an SEO-focused affiliate marketer or content creator supposed to do? Simple – focus on ‘pillar content‘ only.

There is no rule out there that says your blog needs a certain amount of content, or that it needs to be updated daily. In fact, some of the top bloggers only have twenty or so articles, and just keep updating and referencing back to them time and time again.

This is a strategy that you should focus on with your new or existing business as well.

Here are some talking points and articles to consider.

  • What is your audience looking for, and how can you provide it to them?
  • How can you walk your readers through a process, and provide them with a solution
    (while also monetizing this process through affiliate marketing)?
  • Have you analyzed your direct competition to see what type of content they are creating?
  • Be sure to have at least 1,500-2,000 words of content per article, and go for long-tail keywords.
  • Use case studies, images, graphics, and videos to break apart content and show your expertise.

Also, make sure that you have calls to action at the beginning, middle, and end of your articles. Remember, you aren’t trying to just create a blog that people visit and read; you actually want to make money from this!

4. Have a Solid Content Marketing Strategy

With your site live and your content now in place, you should also be thinking about how you are going to reach new audiences and get them back to your site. There are basically three ways to do this.

  • Organic SEO – Search engine optimization is the practice of building backlinks to your site and ranking higher in Google over time. This is great because the traffic is free and highly targeted, but it can take a very long time for a new site to start ranking in Google for competitive terms.
  • Social Media – There are now more than 3 billion users spread across all of the major social platforms. Advertising through social media can be done through free and paid traffic methods. However, conversions and quality might be low, as social media content is usually an interruption and not a result as someone searching for something.
  • Paid Advertising – Paid advertising through pay-per-click marketing or buying media ads is very effective, but it can also be very costly. There are a lot of options to explore here, and this reference guide can help you get started.

When exploring your options with each of these methods, it’s important to make sure you have a working monetization plan in place. This means having people sign up to your mailing list, having the ability to generate revenue with Google Adwords, or selling your own product or making money with affiliate marketing.

As great as paid advertising is, it can definitely blow through your budget fast. Make sure you know what you are doing, and have low daily spend limits in place before doing any type of media buying or pay-per-click marketing.

5. Monetize, Optimize, and Scale

No one just creates a website or blog and then sits back and watches as the cash rolls in. This is something that you will need to continually tweak, review, and scale over time. For every moment you aren’t working on growing your site, there are millions of other sites that actively are.

When it comes to growth and revenue, it’s all about monetization. For example, if you started out with Google Adsense, you may want to remove it from your site and focus more on affiliate marketing or providing your own products or services. Once you have an idea of what your audience wants, try to get a much higher commission or remove the middle man from wherever you might be making money.

For optimization, take a look at your SEO and site content. Spend some time on making sure your content is relevant and see what can be done about improving server and site speed. Little things like these can add up to big improvements over time.

Scaling your business is all about outreach and putting in the extra effort.

In summary, you can make money online… but you need to treat it like a business!

With this simple five-step plan, anyone can start a successful website or blog online, and even make some money in the process.

The most important things to remember is to have site content or a service that offers value. Don’t fall into the trap of ‘content is king‘ and focusing all of your efforts in this one area. As we previously mentioned, the internet is saturated with content, and the last thing we need is more of it. So, when you are going to create content, make sure it’s amazing and is always working for you.

A ‘blog business’ needs to have a legitimate business model. Follow these steps and start finding that financial success online that you have been looking for.Opinions expressed here are the opinions of the author. Influencive does not endorse or review brands mentioned; does not and can not investigate relationships with brands, products, and people mentioned and is up to the author to disclose. VIP Contributors and Contributors, amongst other accounts and articles, are professional fee-based.

Zac Johnson is an online influencer in the world of blogging and affiliate marketing. He has more than 20 years of online experience and has helped millions generate more money online.