I have been running my Technical blog SourceDexter since 4 years now. From starting it as a platform to share my programming knowledge to leveraging it to make money, the journey took 4 years.
I hadn’t made any money from my blog for the first 3.5 years. Pretty bad, right ?
But, then, my persistence paid off. Things turned around six month back and I started making money now.
It was not a mere coincidence. Let me tell you the complete story.
My blog traffic grew to just 2500 per month with my 3 years of blogging efforts. I was able to scale my blog’s organic traffic from 2500 (Mar, 2017) to more than 10,000 by August 2017.
(Annual Traffic from Website)
Yes, you read it right. What I couldn’t do in 3.5 years has been achieved in less than 6 months flat.
I also managed to build a decent passive stream of income of Rs 10,000 each month from my the blog.
I am going to share with you what has worked for me, what I was doing wrong, and how you can learn from my mistakes and make your own strategy. The serious people will make the best use from my learnings.
I started my blog as a hobby so I hosted it on the free wordpress site. I didn’t care much about SEO, traffic, keyword research and other important things as I do today. I was very happy that I got 20 views from 4 different countries in a day.
I also noticed that many technical bloggers were getting thousands of views each day for their blogs. They were posting ads and were making money through it. In addition, they were sharing these traffic & monetary details with the audience. I thought that I should do the same.
I wrote articles and shared them on facebook along with my friends. I would get a few hundred views each week and no matter how much I wrote, the traffic was not scaling up. I tried putting Adsense ads on my site, but I got rejected either because I didn’t adhere to their policy or because I had too less traffic.
Months turned into years and my traffic increased only a little bit. I was getting around a thousand views each month. Nothing significant.
The only good thing that came out was that I got better at writing. I used my improved writing skills to get some freelancing gigs on Fiverr.
I invested that money to buy a domain name and moved away from the traditional free “wordpress” domain name. Did this affect my blog’s traffic ? Nope, absolutely nothing.
What a bummer !
And as expected, I thought this wasn’t working and hardly posted anything on my blog. But then, I realized that sharing articles on Google got me some good traffic for about a day or two. This way, I was able to increase my traffic to around 2000 to 3000 per month.
Then again, it stayed stagnant at this level for many months as you can see below.
Nothing seemed to work.
Challenges of Running A Tech Blog
Over the course of three years I had learned the following:
- Content that you write, say a programming tutorial will keep getting views even after years.
- Sharing on social media gets some immediate traffic and within a day it dies down.
- A reader of a technical blog is there only because of one particular article which solves the purpose, the reader is not going to come back for more articles.
- A technology article based on current trends on the internet behaves like a viral article and within a day or two, the article stops getting any views.
But, when I saw around, there were a lot of technical bloggers who were getting a lot of traffic and were making a lot of money. How was that possible ?
I didn’t seem to know the answers. I assumed that they were all long time bloggers and new blogs didn’t have that much scope for earning yet.
I was about to give up and was actively considering starting another blog.
Then I stumbled upon a few opportunities which turned out to be my saviour.
Making Use of the Opportunities and Tasting Success
In March 2017, I came across a blogger’s community called the Bloggers World University (BWU). They are a bunch of guys helping people to start blogs and and turn them into an earning platform. They do this for free and I attended their sessions.
At the same time, I got a chance to enroll into Pardeep’s VIP newsletter at a low cost initial offering. I told myself, why not to join and see what I will be able to learn. I had nothing to lose except a few bucks of membership fees.
“Nothing is worse than missing an opportunity that could have changed your life”.
These two decisions have single handedly turned things around for my blog.
Through the sessions of BWU and Pardeep’s VIP Newsletters, I learned a whole new world of SEO, keyword research, audience targeting, content planning, storytelling, bringing organic growth to blog, and much more.
Scaling up traffic & Scaling up revenue were the primary goals related to growth of my blog.
I aimed to scale up my blog’s traffic from around 2500 to 10,000 a month and generate a revenue of Rs.10,000 per month.
Of the things that I learnt from my virtual mentors is having a mixture of articles for the blog – one technical, one viral and, another a light interesting article.
Pardeep always talk about the business side of things. For example, even though what I am running is a blog, a blog is not just about writing, it is a complete business that involves in depth understanding of a topic, digital marketing, and sales.
I worked on my blog seriously when I started thinking like a business owner. With a business mindset, I was able to convince an online instructor to advertise on my Facebook Page.
The traffic in the last month, i.e August (2017) was greater than 10,000. The revenue generated was Rs 15,000 each in the last two months i.e July & August (2017).
I felt great & rewarded for all the hard work I put in and the persistence I showed.
Below is a snapshot of my latest traffic.
How I Scaled Up Traffic
I wanted to share with you in detail the strategies that I implemented on my blog.
#1. Reaching out to bloggers in tech niche
As a first step, I listed down some of the top bloggers in my python programming niche.
The point of reaching out was not to ask for guest post, to promote my content, or for any backlinks. The goal was to get feedback on what I can do with my blog.
I was surprised that they took the time out to review my blog and gave me feedback. I followed a similar template to reach out to all the top bloggers although with slight customisations.
Amongst all the feedback I received, the most common one was that I had very less content and that I had to increase the frequency of posting to at least 1 article per week. It was difficult to publish one post per week because I am not a full time blogger, still I improved the frequency of articles.
#2. Ton of Free Traffic From Social Media
Technical blogs are not such that people come on their own to see if new articles are posted. Neither do they come back to read the same post again. In such a scenario, social media came to my rescue.
All at once.
By doing so, I would get a few hundred traffic for 2 to 3 days and then nothing. There was a point where I even got banned from posting on Google Plus because of posting the same link & description on multiple communities.
So, what worked? The answer to that is planning. I learned that creating a link sharing plan will not only keep me organised, but it also keeps me up to date on where I have shared. The snapshot below shows my link sharing plan.
Once I had this setup, I could share articles only on relevant communities and track the response I am getting from them.
You too can have a similar plan by implementing a few simple steps.
First, for a social media channel, find out all the relevant groups that have a lot of members in them. Make sure there are at least 50,000 members. Create a sheet where you can keep all such group links as I have done in the snapshot above.
Once you have this sheet ready, start posting your links to only 2 communities per day. The reason you should not post in more than 2 is because Google Plus will consider you to be spamming and will block anything that you share for the next few days.
Thanks to my mentors who consistently warned me against spamming
Repeat these steps across all the other social media channels. For example, if you have 3 channels then you will be sharing 6 links a day. I followed this approach and instead of getting hundreds of views for 2 to 3 days, I started getting them for around 10 days.
#3. Niche Specific Sources for Free Traffic
Apart from all the popular sources like social media websites, I found that there were a few websites or forums which were very specific to my niche. For example – a lot of technical discussions and project sharing happens in the forums like Github and YCombinator News.
I used these specific niche websites to share my links and I was surprised to find that I was able to get hundreds of traffic each day from them. You too can identify such websites specific to your niche and share your content on them.
#4. Power of Viral Articles
Viral articles are good in terms of attracting traffic but not so much in terms of quality.
I found out that list articles went viral on my blog. So, each time I wanted to write a viral article, I would come up with a list based topic like “10 awesome projects on Raspberry Pis or “ Top Courses to Master Python”.
One thing to note here was that viral articles have a short duration of life. That would mean you could use them to attract traffic but it was the in-depth technical articles that helped my blog grow in the longer run.
How I Am Making Money From My Blog
A big traffic does not always make a big money…
.. unless you fix that.
Scaling the traffic was one part of the story. Generating revenue from the blog is another challenge.
Google Adsense rejected my application 6 times then I got accepted for WordAds. I got only $2 in the first month and $3 in the second. It was clear to me that this will take forever to give me any good returns.
“Pardeep warned me that Ads don’t work well on niche blogs. I learned it the hard way.”
Now that ads didn’t work, the next thing was Affiliate Marketing and I struck gold.
I wanted to recommend something that was relevant to my blog’s theme. And online programming courses are the perfect fit for a technical blog.
Below is a snapshot of my earnings of more than $200 in a single month by promoting Udemy courses.
Don’t place links randomly in your articles.
Create a list based article for promoting the affiliate courses. I curated a list of courses which had high rating, good reviews and then compiled them into an article and shared that article according to my blog link sharing plan.
Here is an example from my blog – Top Python Courses for Beginners to Advanced
I also added a footnote saying that Udemy is running a sale and a particular course can be availed at a 95% discount. This too nudged the readers to click and buy the course.
The Failure of Facebook Marketing
Most of the marketing guys leverage Facebook Ads to generate leads or to push the content to a larger audience for an impulse buy.
I tried but it didn’t work for me.
The idea was simple – promote the article through FB Ads to people who were most likely to buy.
I spent Rs. 400 on the facebook ads. Although I got a lot of engagements such as likes, reactions, and comments, the number of clicks were very low and no sales were made at all.
This strategy had failed for me. May be it could work by spending a bigger budget. But I didn’t want to burn money as I was already making a good amount of money through Udemy affiliates.
Although I have been travelling on this blogging journey for 4 years now, the last 5 months have been very fruitful as I was able to reach the two goals that I had set for myself.
So, before I wrap it up, I just want to summarize my mistakes and learnings for you.
- Starting my blog on a free platform to save a few bucks without realizing the larger opportunity.
- Spamming everyone by sharing my articles across all social media channels at one go. No proper article sharing plan in place.
- Using Ads to monetize my blog.
- Randomly placing the affiliate links within the blog posts.
- Having the right people to learn from is equally as important as taking actions and working towards your goal.
- A constant effort is required to sustain your blog’s traffic and revenue just like any other business out there.
- Persistence and hard work always pays.
Learning from your mistakes is smart but learning from others mistakes is even smarter.
It’s the beginning not the end of my online business journey.
About Author :
Akshay is a Tech Blogger and a Machine Learning Enthusiast and Consultant. He also does freelance content writing in the Technology and e-commerce space.
You can reach him at [email protected]