Working from Home Using a Business Blog
The primary objective of this website is to provide you with all the information you need to create a blog, publish it on the Internet and then market and promote it so that it gains visibility through search engines and social media sites. It doesn’t really matter at this stage why you want to create your blog, although in truth, you should know! The basic principles for starting a blog will be pretty similar whether you want your blog for business reasons, to share your personal thoughts, raise funds for a charity, provide a service or promote a product such as a book or consumable item.
For example, I got into blogging when I left my native country, moved to France and started a holiday business. I soon realised that much of what I wanted to do would involve having a presence on the Internet and that paying a third party to create that presence for me was likely to prove to be quite expensive and to an extent a little bit limiting in terms of being able to update information as and when I needed to. I would be both reliant on a third party to meet my requirements and would have to pay for those services.
It didn’t take long to work out that there was an alternative way of approaching this. Yes it does take a little effort and no it is never completely free, domain names are leased and server space for hosting needs to be rented, plus there are some basic tools every blogger needs. Then there is the investment in time, this reduces after going through an initial learning curve as you come to grips with procedures and gain familiarity with the programs at your disposal, but there will always be updating of content that needs to be carried out and marketing activities that will never go away.
Of course there are ways you can set up a blog that doesn’t require you to register a domain name or even pay for hosting and for some people that could well be a viable option. These are the free platforms you can use, the better known of which are the ‘Blogspot’ and the free ‘Wordpress’ platforms. These options should certainly be explored but with the following considerations………… you will never own full rights to these sites, you will never have full control over the content you can place on them and they could shut you down anytime they like if you inadvertently commit a misdemeanor that breaks their terms and conditions.
A Basic Business Blog
When you create a business blog you are actually stepping into the world of Internet marketing. That requires research so that you are prepared and not just once and you are done, but on an ongoing basis. This is because techniques and methods are constantly changing in response to the ever evolving world of the Internet.
So how did I get started with business blogging? I had dabbled a little bit before leaving the UK and manged to register myself with several affiliate sites such as Amazon, eBay, Affiliate Window and one or two others. I also learned how to use their software to create ads and place them on my various websites and blogs, these are all activities you can undertake for creating and sustaining an effective home business that can and often will generate money. Providing you commit time to getting it right of course.
As I became more familiar with the whole process of Internet & Affiliate Marketing I enrolled with Google to participate in their Adsense program, actually one of the best and easiest ways to earn money on line. So all in all, at that point, I was pretty much set up with the basic suite of tools you need to generate an online income, but there was still a lot to learn and I needed a way that would allow me to enter the arena with a bit of support, some training and a bit of leverage with the search engines.
Cutting Your Teeth on Squidoo
Cutting your teeth on Squidoo is a great way to start to get traffic. Now I am sure that you will have heard this many times before but I will say it again because it is the absolute key to earning money on line, nothing works without traffic to your websites, blogs, articles or other online entities and more than that it needs to be targeted traffic consisting of visitors who are interested in what you are offering them.
To get traffic you can start from absolute scratch with your own blog, out there with the other millions of blogs all vying for a niche, or you can participate in an established presence, one that can give you a helping hand towards gaining the coveted Google page rank which in turn will lead to the even more coveted traffic.
There are a few of these presences on the Internet, domains that are already valued by Google for the quality of the content they bring to the Internet, but the one I am recommending today for anyone starting out is Squidoo.
Here are the reasons: –
- an established and valued web presence (valued by Google et al)
- a helpful and supportive community
- free single page webhosting
- page formats that lend themselves to optimising ad placement
- module format that makes it easy to edit and deliver new content on your chosen topic
- affiliate relationships with some of the top online Internet companies
I could go on but I think you are getting my gist, if you are just starting up and want to build an online business from scratch that gives you a great chance of actually getting an income for your efforts, then you could do a lot worse than Squidoo. Some successful writers and publishers on Squidoo have revealed that they earn in excess of $1500 a month, just on Squidoo. Now don’t think you are going to do that overnight, these guys have typically written a large number of articles ( lenses in Squidoo language) to a decent standard, they have taken care of the SEO requirements and have also taken the time to promote the lenses once published, this is a lot of work. But what you have to remember is that once the bulk of it is done it’s done, they carry the page rank, they have the bookmarks and they get the traffic.You will need to monitor the articles (lenses) you produce and periodically update them to keep them both current and to a high quality. To really profit from Squidoo you will also need to participate in the community, take on board the free lessons that are available and engage using the social tools that are freely available on all the articles (lenses) produced.
What many people do not realise is that there are no cheats or shortcuts, cutting your teeth on Squidoo will get a significant head start and while you go about the process of producing articles (lenses) that can in turn earn you an income, you will be going through a learning process that will take you to a point where you could stand on your own two feet with your own domains, blogs and/or websites. But now when you get there you should already be in pretty good shape and be a lot more tuned into how things work on the Internet.
Getting involved on Squidoo doesn’t mean that you can’t be working on your own blog at the same time of course, you can, as long as you know what you want to blog about and you are able to generate regular high quality articles on your chosen subject. Plus of course you can use Squidoo to promote your own blog and send traffic in that direction.
Some Generalisations On Creating a Business Blog and Working from Home
So exactly how do you go about finding a topic, creating an article and promoting that article to your targeted audience?
I would imagine that you have already guessed that a large part of the approach, from your initial thoughts through to the release and promotion of your articles is going to be firstly identifying something you are passionate about and want to write about, then secondly ensuring people find your articles through SEO (search engine optimisation) and thirdly how you promote your articles using social interaction via social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or Pinterest.
This may all be starting to sound a little over awing and perhaps too much to take on. So the very first thing you do actually need to decide, is if you are cut out for this type of work and whether you really want to do it. So lets get down to it and hopefully have a bit of fun on the way.
Yes it is going to be hard work, but hard work can be fun if you have the right attitude and you are writing about something you are already passionate about. Being the ‘ go to guy’ for answers on your chosen subject can also be very gratifying. Plus if you can become the ‘go to guy’ for answers you will be well on the way to becoming a successful blogger. Successful bloggers for the most part are the ones that generate interest, answer peoples questions and help people solve problems. But before you set out on this path, you need to Ask your self these questions:
- Are you self motivated and disciplined
- Can you work for the most part on your own with little social interaction on a face to face basis during your working day
- Have you got the necessary facilities for working from home (you don’t actually need that much)
- What skills have you got or you think you can learn for your business
- Do you know what your business financial model is and will it sustain your desired lifestyle (that’s a tough one, but you have to set targets so you know what you are working towards)
Working from home will not suit everyone, as nice a thought as it is. The bare fact of the matter is that some people need a normal work environment in order to function. So before committing 100% if you have doubts, try some part time activities. Squidoo is a great option for that, you can dip into and out of it while you build up a decent quantity of articles and you can write on a number of different topics to find out what interests you the most and whether that passion you thought you had for a subject really exists. Another side benefit is that you will establish the topics that actually gain you visitors, don’t go too broad on the number of topics there does need to be some focus if you want to gain repeat visitors to your articles, but testing the water on perhaps 3 or 4 topics should be manageable, bearing in mind that you will most likely have to focus on only one or two ultimately, if you want to establish yourself as an expert in your niche.
If you are still here and still reading, I guess you have decided that this really is something you want to do, so lets get into the basic start up rules. Good luck and remember to enjoy the process.
Rule number 1, getting started and what to write about
What’s my business
First of all if you are going to work from home and you are serious about earning money at home, you have to be passionate about what you are doing, this applies if you are running a gite, designing a website or putting a Squidoo lens together.
As an aside, this doesn’t rule out subjects you know nothing about or haven’t been involved with in the past because actually a passion can be developed. Perhaps there was always something you wanted to do, but never got started for example; well now might be the time. When you start to research a new subject however, look for warning signs, are you having trouble staying awake, are your eyes glazing over, if so then forget it, move onto something else. On the other hand if you can’t wait to write your next article or share something you have learned, then you may just have found your passion.
So forget about the most valuable adsense ads or the most expensive affiliate products with the biggest commissions, if you are not passionate about what you are doing it will show through in the quality of your work and you will very quickly run out of ideas ultimately resulting in your business suffering the consequences.
If you look at the content of my lenses on Squidoo and my websites you will see there are a few core trends
- website design
- eBook publishing
- internet marketing
So if you feel that you don’t have enough interests that you are passionate about, then start researching, you have the Internet at your finger tips after all. Believe me, you don’t need too many because if you are truly passionate or you become truly passionate about a subject, you will ferret out new ideas and you will enjoy researching the subject more and in researching the subject more you will come up with spin off ideas for new topics. Ideally, try and make the ideas and spin offs ‘problem solvers’, ‘answers to questions’ or just plain ‘new revelations’ on the subject. Its also a good idea to look for the synergy between chosen topics, ideally what you write about should be categories or sub-categories of your primary topic.
I like the analogy of peeling an onion to describe this, you start with the outer layer and you start to pick away at it until the first layer is gone, but underneath there is another layer and then another and when the onion is gone there is a different onion which is similar but not quite the same and the process begins again.
So rule number 1
- If you are truly passionate about what you are doing, the ideas will keep coming and the quality can be maintained. This makes it easier to focus and stay focused on your chosen subject.
Rule number 2 – what’s my title (an SEO perspective)
The very first thing you have to do, is to come up with a name for your blog (or individual post or article for that matter), but that’s easy isn’t it. You just say what the subject matter is and hey presto you have a title. Well that is true, but have you considered exactly what it is the search engines see first, then have you considered why it is they are looking at your title.
This is your primary and probably most important keyword or keyword phrase, the first* one that the search engine looks at when trying to match the enquiry that has been made. *Actually that’s not quite true, it’s the URL for your website, blog, article or page that is the first thing that is found, it may not form part of the article itself i.e. your visitors don’t see it as part of the content, but it is the link that the search engines see and registers first.
I’ll give you an example, when I selected the title for this page I used the words I did because I had examined what people type into a search engine when they are searching for the subject of this blog.
The data came from the Google Adwords: Keyword Tool . So by using the words I did, I effectively made my title match the search enquiry likely to be entered into a search engine.
I looked at what phrases were being used on the subject and identified a list of around 6 or 7 keywords. I then prioritized them in the order I wanted to use them. Life used to be relatively simple after that, you used to be able to scatter the keywords you wanted to be found for throughout your textual content, putting your primary keywords in titles headings and alt-tags for images. No longer that simple I am afraid.
If you use exact match keywords too often now, you are likely to get penalized or ignored because you have over-optimized your content. So things have changed, you need to balance the use of your keywords perfectly in order to firstly get found and secondly not be penalized. The easiest way to explain it is that the search engines want completely natural, well constructed, high quality content even more so than they did previously. They now place much more emphasis on the use of synonyms that have a more subtle relationship to the actual keywords you are trying to target than they do on exact match keywords. Basically what that means is that you need to utilize exact match no more than once, perhaps twice in your content and then support those keywords with other terms that have a natural connection to them.
The search engines spider your site, look at your content and try to match the content to a search inquiry. If your keywords match and are not over optimized then there is a good chance the search engines will return your pages in their search results, especially if the remaining content alludes towards the same topic.
You should be aiming for no more than 2 primary keywords which are supported by synonyms that are all contained in the content of the article and are aimed directly at your target audience. But it has to be natural, using normal language that flows properly and does not alienate a human audience. The most important ones need to be contained in the titles and headings for your modules.
Now add to the equation that there will be plenty of people out there using the same phrases and fighting for the same traffic as you, but if you don’t pay attention to these details then you will be left at the starting blocks, keywords are just one piece (very important piece) of the puzzle that will help you on your way to search engine glory.
So here is rule No.2
- Use text that is based on actual search engine inquiries, but make sure you do not overdo the use of exact match. Use synonyms that are associated with your keywords and ensure your content is high quality and flows naturally so that it doesn’t alienate a human audience.
Rule number 3 – contents
Hopefully we have established that the text of your article needs to contain keywords and synonyms that are entered into search engines in high volumes. Remembering that overuse of exact match keywords will be detrimental to your efforts to be returned in search engine results.
But it’s more than that, the subject matter will ideally be unique, new and refreshing. Not easy to achieve in that great big trillion words, world wide web.
So don’t cut and paste, just write in your own words, there will be a fair chance you will be covering a subject that has been covered before but at least it can be in your own style with your own edge to it and it will appeal to your own audience.
You need to become an entertainer and I don’t mean that you film yourself doing a juggling act and stick it on YouTube (actually that’s not a bad idea, shame I can’t juggle), but you do need to strike a chord with the audience you are targeting.
There are ways and means of doing that, interesting content, photographs, video, RSS feeds, reference links, podcasts and really useful information. Also don’t forget relevancy, relevancy and more relavancy. It is absolutely pointless having a YouTube video about photography techniques in an aticle about poetry.
Search engines like original and fresh content that’s for sure, especially on a blog, everywhere you go you read that. I am pretty sure they like videos and photographs as well especially if they are driven by their tool sets (I know I am an old skeptic).
Lets face it if you are at home and working on your own, you have to be super efficient and super effective, because if you are not you are the only one that is going to miss out. Very often you are your only resource, unless you have the cash to employ help, so you need to find ways of utilizing other resources legitimately to keep your personal workload to manageable levels.
So that is rule number 3
- use interesting, useful and original/unique content that is updated regularly with text that is mixed with graphical and other mediums to please your audience and the search engines.
Rule number 4 – Promotion and links
So you are sitting at home, you have lovingly researched a subject you are passionate about, you have picked all your very best keyword terms turned them into tags and written them into your content which consist of unique and refreshing information that perfectly matches your target audience in terms of complexity and detail.
Then you click on ‘Publish’ and you wait for the traffic to come rolling in and what happens, well at this point it’s probably zippo, zilch, nada and what went wrong!!!!
Time to spend some of your precious time promoting and advertising. We all know about the social book marking tools and we post our articles in Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, we email then use Stumbleupon, Delicious and Digg to get it out there.
There is also the network of friends we build up within the various community’s we engage with, using forums, blogs, squeeze lists, favorites and becoming a fan, and yes you should use all or as many of these resources as possible, remembering this is a 2 way street and if you want people to help you then it is a good idea to help them and you never know you could learn a thing or two in the process. Be careful not to fall in the trap of spending all your time on too many social bookmarking sites however, there is only so much value they can bring if you don’t engage properly. Plus you will come across a lot of people where it is all one way traffic, they ask a lot and give nothing, to be honest you are better off without those people even if they do help make your numbers look good in terms of followers. Always remember that social sites are all about engaging with the community, it shouldn’t be all about you, it should be about the community and making friends, and you can only do that by engaging and helping people out, just like real friends :-).
A word of caution about the squeeze list, your list of email addresses of everyone who has ever been in touch with you for one reason or another, e.g. by subscribing to your blog.
I think squeeze lists are dangerously close to being a spam tool if they are used inappropriately and what I would say is that it’s fine to use them as long as you consider that the addressee has a genuine interest in what you have written and/or they contact you on a similar basis. If it’s email and hope then I would say don’t do it, you will just become an annoying little irk.
So what else is there you can do, surely that is enough. Well not really, we are back to those dreaded search engines and their aspirations of what you need to do in order to fulfill their needs.
Reciprocal linking, one way linking and triangular linking. What on earth does that mean?????
OK you probably know the reciprocal linking, someone with a site that has the same subject matter as you swaps links with you so that you both benefit, grouping your own related articles and linking to other articles from a post or page does a similar thing. Actually Google are not particularly keen on these types of links, they see it as ‘you pat my back and I will pat yours’ rather than the natural occurrence of one website pointing to another as a source of genuinely useful information. You can see their point really. Something like a link farm is really a waste of time and likely to be seriously detrimental to your campaign, so don’t even go there.
Then there are one way links, posting comments on blogs and leaving your URL, answering questions in Yahoo and using your URL as the reference for the information these are ways of getting one way links into your site. Article writing and posting your websites in directories is another. But these type of link now carry much less emphasis than they once did, far better to develop a relationship with a high ranking website to secure one or two high quality links to your site than build hundred of low quality links, especially those perceived as being self promotional.
Then there is who you point to for good quality reference information, Wikipedia is a fantastic resource for this sort of link, but any site that has high quality content especially if it has been rewarded with a good search engine ranking for it’s contribution is worth pointing to i.e. you link to their site but they may not necessarily point to yours. This should be a tactic that is only used if it brings something to the party, in other words, only provide links that embellish and improve the user experience, adding relevant information that supports and adds to the subject being discussed.
Oh! I nearly forgot the triangle, this where you point to a website which points to another website that points back to you. Fantastic you tie 3 websites together without a direct reciprocal link, call it reciprocal linking with a twist. Trouble is the search engines have the ability to see straight through this if it is used on a regular basis, especially if the links are between websites or blogs that you have set up yourself.
One final point and another judgement call I am afraid, sometimes there are times when you want ads to be your outgoing links. In other words to get to the information they are after they need to click on an ad that offers that information. This is perfectly legitimate, you should have ads that are relevant to your content so visitors to your site may want to explore what they have to offer, the whole point of the exercise I would say, so sometimes less is more as they say. But from an SEO perspective, to be safe, ads should be tagged as ‘nofollow’ links so that they do not pass page rank.
Rule number 4
- Use every resource available to you for promoting and making people aware of the existence of your website including social networking tools. Only link to high quality relevant websites when it benefits your visitors, use reciprocal & three way linking responsibly, post comments in forums or blogs and most importantly seek out one way links from relevant high quality sites.
A Picture Paints a Thousand Words
In summary, there is a lot of information here, so representing that information in graphical format was probably always going to be a good way to provide a ready reference. So here it is, a picture of the information on this page, hope it helps, there is a lot to take in.
That is it for now, if you think what I have written is sensible and helpful then don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and ensure you get notified whenever a new post or page is published exploring to ever greater depth the wonderful world of business & personal blogging – You Can Subscribe Here and get your free eBook on how to create your first WordPress blog.