Part #3: Freelance Writer’s Technology Month
[Want to start a successful career as a freelance writer?]
Part #1 of the Freelance Writer’s Technology Month series, I outlined the four fundamentals of making money online. To recap briefly, they were content, online presence, search engine optimization and choosing a monetizing model. Read the full article here.
In Part #2, we talked about content development, specifically, how to write SEO articles.
In this part, Part #3, we’re going to move on to developing an online presence. As I said in the introductory article of this series, developing an online presence doesn’t necessarily mean a blog or a website. Although, it usually does. So, that’s what we’re going to discuss.
Which Do You Need to Make Money Online – a Blog, a Website or Both?
To be honest, whether your online presence is a blog or a website or an affiliate squeeze page is irrelevant. Making money online depends on which monetizing model you use, to a large degree.
Here, we’re going to discuss what you need to make whatever online presence you choose successful.
Read here how I routinely make $250+/day as an SEO writer – and how you can too!
NICHE IT! Most of the research that I came across when trying to figure out how to make real money online preached niche, niche, niche. As in, develop an expertise in a certain sector and go wide and deep.
This was a relief, because it was something I’d always believed in. The key to profiting from a niche however, is to pick the right niche, which is where many online entrepreneur go wrong.
3 Steps to Choosing a Profitable Online Niche
Some of this is going to run contrary to what you may have been taught about business. But remember, the goal here is to make money online (real money).
a) Online research: This is one of the first things you’re going to want to do. How do you do this? By researching what people are searching for online. This can be done using online search tracking tools like Google’s HotTrend, PopularSearches.com, Yahoo! Buzz, or my personal favorite, SEOmoz.
I like SEOmoz because it gives you a look at popular searches across a myriad of sites, eg, Google, Technorati (blog tracking site), Ebay Pulse, etc.
Once you gauge what’s popular, you can start to build a niche around it.
b) Ignore your “unprofitable” interests: This is very, very important. Many business experts will tell you to go with your passion. And, to a certain degree, I agree with this. If you have a passion and it turns out that its in a niche that you can make money from – then great. No problem.
BUT, if you have a niche and discover that it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to make money from it with reasonable hard work, then by all means – leave it as a hobby. Making money online is hard enough without choosing an unprofitable niche.
I speak from firsthand experience here. My niche – the business of freelance writing – is not profitable when compared to others. But, you may be thinking, “There are plenty of wannabe freelance writers out there. Certainly you can make money from them somehow.”
My response: “Popular is different from profitable.” My blog and its accompanying website are labors of love. They don’t bring in nearly the income they should considering the time I invest in them.
That was one of the reasons I started writing ebooks and producing freelance writing seminars. When I say that this niche is not as profitable – I don’t mean from the finding work standpoint. Freelance writing is a relatively simple way to make good money.
When I’m referring to profitability, I’m referring to passive streams of income, eg, affiliate marketing, making money from ads, etc.
Why this niche is not as profitable as it should be – I don’t know for sure. My guesses are that it’s oversaturated, it’s a field where everyone who can write considers themselves an expert and finally, it’s a field where a lot of information is given away freely.
If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t choose this niche. But, I’m one of the lucky ones in that I have built up someone of a reputation as an expert in this field, so I don’t struggle like someone who’s just starting out might.
c) Assess the Competition: As mentioned above, some niches are so saturated that it would be hard for a newbie to enter and start making money in a reasonable amount of time (eg, 2-3 months).
Most experts agree that some of the most saturated markets have to do with web hosting, making money, ringtones, domain names, adult, loans, refinance, gambling, pharmacy, etc. Getting recognized online in these markets would be tough – not impossible, but tough.
Some markets you might want to look at are dieting, game cheats, freebies, recipes, etc. Still saturated, but not as much as the others.
For more on assessing the competition, click here to view this thread on DigitalPoint.com’s forum.
NOTE on entering a saturated niche: Just because a niche is saturated, don’t let that stop you from entering it IF you have a definitive, workable marketing plan.
The reason sites dealing with making money online, web hosting and gambling are so popular is because there will always be an audience for these. You only need to capture a tiny slice of the online pie to make it profitable for you – you don’t need to be an industry leader.
I often think of Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show when I think of this. Could the market have been more crowded when she started her talk show in 2003? I remember thinking, “Great, just what TV needs, another talk show by a comedienne.” Remember Rosanne and Whoopi’s stab at it.
BUT, Ellen has managed to bring something different to the table – old format, new twist. You can do this too.
So, do your research, stick to ideas that are profitable and assess the competition.
After doing all of this, then it’s time to decide how you want to get busy creating that online presence, which we’ll discuss tomorrow.
UPDATE 11/30/07: Following is a link to every post in the Freelance Writer’s Technology Month series.
Intro Post: New Series – Freelance Writer’s Technology Month
Post #1: The 4 Fundamentals of Making Money Online
Post #2: SEO Content Development: How to Drive More Traffic to Your Website
Post #3: Niche Marketing: How to Choose a Profitable Niche
Post #4: Software Tools for Niche Websites
Post #5: Turn $1/Day into an Online Empire: How to Make Money with Minisites
Post #6: 4 Controversial Ways to Get More Traffic for Your Website
Post #7: 5 Ways to Get a Job Writing SEO Articles
Post #8: How to Determine What to Charge as an SEO Article Writer
Post #9: How to Optimize Your Website to Get More Traffic
Post #10: Social Bookmarking Software & 9 Money-Making Conclusions from Freelance Writer’s Technology Month