In my book, Wealth Virtues (release: Summer 2010), I discuss various means for eliminating debt. After cutting expenses, creating some means of deriving additional income is the next logical step. To do so, one must evaluate the cost, either in time or capitol, to invest in that new endeavor. I suggest using Benjamin Franklin’s virtue of Industry (Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions) as the guide to devote time, rather than money, in this effort. Of course, the time you devote to this effort must be balanced with your duties to your family and other means of employment. Once you have resolved to dedicate your newly found “free time” to this effort, let me suggest some entirely free tools to provide the path for this additional income.
I have to say, that because of my background and business, my solution is technology based; but, do not let that scare you away from this solution. You only need to know two things:
- Your passion or interest
- How to write
There are a lot of books and websites dedicated to how you as a blogger can make gobs of greenbacks just by writing. There is a little more to it than just simply writing. Whatever your passion or interest, the things you write about have to encourage that same interest in the reader. We will talk about what to write about later. Right now let us delve into the ready-made tools that you want to use to help generate the income from writing.
Free Blog software
You might be reading this email on the Wealth Virtues Journal (http://WealthVirtues.com/journal/). It uses WordPress blog software on my own site used to promote the sale of the book Wealth Virtues. If you already have your own website, consider downloading the free WordPress software to add blogging capabilities to your site. Many webhosting providers like BlueHost, HostMonster, and others will set this up for you at the click of a button.
If you do not want to pay for any hosting, consider setting up an account with Google’s Blogger. This is a great tool as it is optimized to take advantage of some ready-made income generators, specifically, the Amazon Affiliate Program, and Google’s AdSense Program. Once you sign up, you will have an account at the domain YourAccountName.blogspot.com. Be aware that the account name you create should accurately describe what you are writing about. The nice thing about Blogger is that you can set up your theme to match your style and content. This now becomes the central point for your content. It is the location to which social tools point, and where part of your Internet income will be generated. I use this tool at the domain http://WealthVirtues.blogspot.com to promote other wealth related authors and tools.
The Tools that Generate Income
Now that you have your free blog from Blogger, you probably want to start to create accounts with the most prominent and recognizable affiliate programs. The way that affiliate programs help you create income is either through a pay-per-click structure, or a pay-per-sale structure. Both are effective ways of obtaining income through your blog as well as from the companion social networking tools.
Pay-per-click provides you with income whenever someone clicks on an ad that is presented on your website. The most popular is Google’s AdSense. Once you place the AdSense code on your site, Google will examine the content of the page (i.e., what you are writing about), then present ads that are relevant to your topic. Once you sign up for an AdSense account, you will then be able to create an ad layout of different sizes to fit within your blog. Once you have created the layout, AdSense will provide you the code with your embedded identification that you can place within your blog. To sign up, just visit http://www.google.com/adsense.
One of the best pay-per-sale affiliate programs is with the Amazon.com affiliate program (https://affiliate-program.amazon.com). Not only are you able to sign up under Amazon.com, but also under Amazon in the U.K., Canada, Germany, France, and Japan. When you sign up, you create your own affiliate ID. When a person buys a product from Amazon through a link embedded with your ID, you earn a commission on the sale. The more you sell per month, the higher the commission. The percentage ranges from 4% to 8.5%. Certain products have a higher percentage such as Amazon Video on Demand and MP3 Products which earn 10%. Some products have a fixed lower rate such as electronics at 4%.
The great thing about Blogger, is that there are preset areas for Google ads. In the layout section you will see boxes where you can activate and use “gadgets”. You can position these gadgets in various locations in your Blogger layout. There are gadgets specific to Amazon, Google AdSense, Twitter, and other items that you may find useful. There is also a great Amazon tool directly integrated with Blogger that allows specific product links that can be directly related to your article. You can get additional details on this feature at https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/gp/associates/blogger.
To see an example of what a Blogger site can look like using the affiliate gadgets, take a look at the “Wealth Virtues Recommends” site at http://WealthVirtues.blogspot.com.
The Tools that Spread the Word
So, now you have the basic structure for conveying a message about your interests as well as a means to generate income from your writings. How do we let others know about the existence of your blog? You now need a means of marketing your information, and like the blog tool, you don’t want to pay a single penny for getting the word out to others.
First of all, Blogger, the tool I recommend for starting your blog, is operated by Google. Original articles in Blogger under the domain YourAccountName.blogspot.com will be searched regularly by Google as well as other search engines. An additional step you may want to take to ensure Google crawls your site is to use Google’s Webmaster Tools to verify your site.
To submit your blog to Google, go to: https://www.google.com/accounts/ManageAccount
If you do not already have on, you need to create an account. You then select “Webmaster Tools” to add your website. Click on the “Add a site…” button and then enter the URL of your blog which should be YourAccountName.blogspot.com. Click on the “Continue” button, and you will be able to view a Meta tag. This is shown in the “Verification method” drop down box. If it isn’t, select it.
You will see something similar to the following
The entire code above between and including the “< >” is your meta tag that you need to add to your blog template.
Go to Blogger, and sign in under your account. From your account dashboard, click on “Layout”, then “Edit HTML”. You should now see your Blogger page template. You have the option through the top menu to download your template before you modify it. This is a good idea just in case you do something wrong and you need to put your template back to its working state.
Go to the HTML code and find the <head> tag. Using your keyboard enter or return key, create a blank line just below this tag. Now go back to the webmaster tools page and copy the verification Meta tag. On your Blogger template HTML code, paste the verification Meta tag in the blank line you had created. Click on “Save Template” and you are finished.
On the webmaster tools page and click on the “Verify” button. Your site should now be deemed “verified” by Google.
Once this is done, you now have to find a way to drive traffic to your site as well as use the theme of your site to generate income. That is where we turn to social media services.
Twitter and Facebook are wonderful tools for marketing your blog. Many people have an aversion to these tools because they feel that they have to spend a lot of time “tweeting” or entering information that they hope others will find interesting. Facebook and Twitter can both be either great marketing tools or great time wasters. It all depends on how you want to use them.
First, setup your Facebook account. If you concerned about privacy, only provide information that is relevant to your blog and your topic of interest. Once you have your main Facebook account established, setup a “Fan Page”. The significance of a Facebook Fan Page is that it will be the main focus area of your blog topic rather than the personal Facebook account. It is also a better place to submit entries and links back to your Blogger account.
If you already have an account then you should use that. Don’t worry; your personal photos, wall, comments, etc won’t appear on your Facebook fan page. You will simply be the owner of the page.
Once your personal account is setup, go to http://www.facebook.com/pages/manage/ and click the “+ Create Page” button. You can also go right to http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php. You will now see a few different options for the type of page you want to create. Enter your blog name or topic in the “Name of Page” box and click the “Create Page” button. If you have a logo or picture, use it as opposed to the big blank question mark that would fill that space.
The following are few links to check out that will get into the details of setting up a Facebook Fan Page:
- HOW TO: Set Up a Winning Facebook Fan Page
- How to set up a Facebook fan page that works
- How to Create A Facebook Page
- 5 Elements of a Successful Facebook Fan Page
The Wealth Virtues fan page can be found at
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wealth-Virtues/283013716813 (Feel free to join!)
Twitter is an online social media tool used to gather followers who wish to see your “tweets.” Many people pose useless bits of drivel, but occasionally, a few good links, or bits of advice are presented. Regardless, having an account on Twitter to present your messages of 140 characters or less is a great marketing tool. I started a Twitter account and did nothing to “follow” others, but I did set it to automatically follow those who chose to follow me; a “reward”, I suppose, for being a virtual “follower.” My account produces dozens of tweets per day automatically, and the number of followers grows by dozens a day, and is growing.
In my Twitter account for Wealth Virtues (http://twitter.com/WealthVirtues) all of the posts from my “Wealth Virtues Recommends” Blogger account (http://WealthVirtues.blogspot.com) as well as posts from my main Wealth Virtues Blog (http://www.WealthVirtures.com/journal) all show up as “tweets”.
Remember the Amazon affiliate account I mentioned earlier? From your Amazon account, you can create an RSS feed that can be used to generate feeds to specific Amazon products. For example, I can create a feed which will display books that have been newly “tagged” by Amazon customers with the keyword “wealth” using the following format:
You can also replace the word “new” on the feed above with the words “popular” or “recent”. Length refers to haw many products are to be displayed in the feed. The tag=youraffiliatename-20 is simply your Amazon affiliate id. In this case, I have used mine. There are similar feeds for those members of Amazon affiliate programs in the UK, Germany, France, Canada, and Japan.
So now that you have a feed for products relevant to your theme or topic, how can you use it to automatically “tweet” the product links in your Twitter account as well as your Facebook Page? The answer is Twitterfeed.com and a small Facebook application called Selective Twitter Status.
Updating Twitter and Facebook Fan Page Without Logging Into Either
Both your Twitter page as well as your Facebook page should have links back to your central blog page. In turn, your blog page should also promote both the Twitter and Facebook pages as well, considering that the links within those social media tools have the ability to generate your income.
Though you certainly may want to spend a little time promoting your blog using the Twitter and Facebook tools, you may not have the time to do this live throughout the day. Twitterfeed.com takes reoccurring feeds like the Amazon feed above and sends them to your Twitter account. With the additional use of Selective Twitter Status (or SelectiveTweets) on your Facebook account, those same tweets generated by Twitterfeed.com will also be published on your Facebook page.
The link below to the website Social Media Rock Star has a complete and accurate method of setting these tools up to publish Amazon, as well as other income generating links.
- Update Twitter & Facebook Fan Pages Automatically via RSS
Once again, you will spend a little time for setting up your accounts. You will not, however, have to spend any money to do so. As your time should be spent writing on your blog (also generating feeds to Twitter and Facebook back to your Blogger account), the automated use of Twitter and Facebook to promote those as well as other income generating feeds will save you time and promote your site as well.