Before the demise of Squidoo, I espoused the benefits of writing articles for Squidoo. Write about anything you want. The search engines ranked Squidoo well. With just a little work, you could easily make a few dollars for an article. With lots of work and research, one article could make hundreds, even thousands, of dollars over the course of a couple of years. All without the need to worry about the technical side of stuff. No programming required. Sounds great, doesn’t it? You collect Troll Dolls? Take some photos and write an article about it.
But like troll dolls, Squidoo’s popularity fell. It went the way of MySpace and Geocities. Google stopped ranking Squidoo so highly. And after a year of declining traffic, they sold much of their content (read: your content) to Hubpages. Authors could move to Hupages and continue to make money, in theory, but Hubpages had rules that limited the number and type of affiliate links.
Why did Squidoo fail?
The direct cause of their failure can be debated, but undoubtedly some of their problems were caused by their very nature. They were seen by some as a “make money fast” website and people produced poor content. Google saw this poor content (not to mention the ever increasing number of ads) and ranked the whole domain lower in the search engines. The drop in traffic caused the drop in revenue. The management tried to use automated filters to improve the content, and they had contests and incentives to write specific content, but sometimes it seemed like the management was just as interested in making fast money as the writers were. Halloween coming up? Make some costume articles. Really? Is that the right path to take?
You can avoid all of the problems Squidoo encountered by creating your own website. And, all of your hard work won’t be erased by someone else’s decision. There will be ups and downs, and the start will likely be slow, but if you think about the long term (5+ Years), your own website is definitely the most secure way to go.
WordPress is the Easiest and Cheapest way to have your own Website
A personal website can easily cost as little as $10/month, and you don’t need to be a programmer. Web hosts like Siteground offer a 1-click Easy Install of the Wordpress blogging software. Don’t be misled by the word “blog.” Wordpress can power any type of website, including product review sites, e-commmerce websites, membership sites and more. The interface for creating blog posts (or any other new content) is easier than using Microsoft Word.
There are even WordPress plugins specifically designed for increasing affiliate revenue. Plugins are a great way to easily add new features to your site. Wordpress is very modular. Even the appearance of your site can be changed easily by swapping out themes. There are many free themes, and if you decide to buy a custom designed theme, you can do that at any time without losing any of your content. WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that keeps your content separate from the appearance, which makes it ideal for writers of all kinds. Plus, if you decide to branch out and hire writers, you can do that easily as well, since WordPress supports multiple users. You can even create contributor accounts specifically for writers that have limited capabilities.
How to Choose a Web Host?
Basically, to start your own website, all you need is a domain name and a web host that supports WordPress. These do not have to be purchased at the same company, but doing so makes life easier and often web hosts offer special deals on domain names.
I am on my third web host company. I left the first two companies because of too much downtime. In July of 2014, I switched to Siteground. As I write this, it’s almost January 2016, so I’ve been with them for about a year and a half. We just finished the busiest time of the year (Christmas), and they were only down once during this past month, for a total of 48 minutes. In the months prior to that, their uptime was even better. I use UptimeRobot
to keep track of my websites’s downtime. I have to say that Siteground is exceptional, considering the very cheap shared hosting plan I use (the GrowBig plan). Furthermore, their customer service is very fast. I had an issue with phpMyAdmin not working and they fixed it within a few minutes. Also, they just recently upgraded their servers to run solid state drives and a better backup system. Siteground also does automatic upgrades of the WordPress software, which is important for security.
Choosing a web host can feel difficult because of all of the technical details. I’ve found searching google to be pretty useless because there are so many affiliate websites that have fake reviews and useless comparison sites. So my best advice is to get a recommendation from a friend. I really wouldn’t worry about the technical stuff. If you’re using WordPress, make sure that the host you choose supports that, and then once you start getting traffic you can consider upgrading your web hosting plan.
How to Get Traffic to your Website
The two major reasons that people write articles for other websites are traffic and money. They usually go hand in hand. You can’t make money off of your website if you don’t have any traffic. So, how do you get traffic? The answer is to write high quality, unique content and wait.
Google ranks established domains higher in the search engines. A new domain will take awhile to rank well in search engines, even with good quality content. That’s exactly why I think you should register your domain and start your website today. You could register your domain, set up your WordPress website with a basic theme, and publish one article a week. Don’t worry about traffic or money. Just wait a year and see what happens. Of course, add affiliate links just like you would normally — even a website will low traffic can make affiliate income if you link to what your readers are looking for. If you’re not sure how, check out this tutorial on how to add Amazon affiliate link to your WordPress blog.
If you have the time, here are some ways you can try to generate more traffic
- If you have a Twitter or Facebook following, write articles that you think your followers would be interested in and post links to those articles.
- Find a topic that doesn’t have much competition in the search results, and write an in-depth article that answers common questions. Long and unique content is likely to rank faster than short content.
- Offer to write a guest column on another website and ask if they can include a link to your website in the author’s bio area or article footer. Backlinks from related websites are helpful in increasing traffic.
- Participate in forums like Reddit, Yahoo Answers, and niche based sites and link to your site when appropriate.
What should you write about?
If you’re disappointed with the search results and think you can provide a better article, then write one.
If you can provide a unique angle on a topic, then write about that topic!
If you have a funny or creative idea that you think your friends will like, write about that!
If you want to make a ton of money with Amazon affiliate income, then find products that are popular and write an article from a different angle. You could write about:
- Accessories for a popular item
- Comparison of several different similar items
- Answer technical questions
- Buy the item and take your own photos and write a review (a great way to fund a hobby!)
Take Control of Your Future – Start a Website Today
Running your own website takes time and a lot of patience, but very little money. If you think you have something special to offer to the world, then build an online presence with your own website. Write articles that people will bookmark and send to their friends. Don’t give up. And remember that your article might not get any traffic this month, but it may bring in hundreds of visitors in a year from now. Be you. Make the World Wide Web a better, more fun, place! And profit with links to products you can honestly recommend! Win-Win.