In the good old days (way back when I first started) it was possible to earn a really good passive income with a content marketing online business and it was a really satisfying way to earn a buck.
As the owner of a content site, you got to write about and share information on a topic that was important to you and interact with like minded people around the world without feeling like you were out there "doing sales".
Knitting Naturally started this way and at one stage, before it was hit by Google's Panda and Penguin updates, I was earning the equivalent of an extra weeks salary every month. (I earn six figures in my day job, so it was a significant amount of extra income...)
It has dropped a bit, but with next to no effort to maintain the site, it still more than pays it way and covers the costs of all of my other online activities, just from the income I earn from the adverts served by Google Adsense on the site.
So if you have some knowledge to share and you dislike the idea of 'selling stuff online" then a content marketing online business may be the right kind of online business for you.
What Is Content Marketing?
According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is:
The key phrases in the definition are "valuable, relevant and consistent content". If the content is not valuable, relevant and consistent for your intended audience, then they will stay away in droves. If you are planning to build a content marketing online business, it is going to take a considerable investment in terms of time and you need to be able to generate valuable original and unique information to get the attention of the search engines and any visitors that they send your way.
You can work on generating traffic in other ways, social media, guest blogging, etc., but the primary source of your traffic is likely to be free organic traffic that is sent to you by the search engines. And for that to happen, the Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Ask bots have to determine that your page(s) match the search intent for the keyword you have used and that it (they) provide value to the searcher.
There are ways that you can let the bots or spiders know what your page is about, you need to get the page structure right and use only white-hat seo (if you are unfamiliar with that term, just park it for now - I will explain it a bit later). If you do the right thing and create original, valuable content, your pages will be picked up by the search engines and the traffic will start to trickle into your site.
A Content Marketing Online Business Takes Time to Build...
If you are planning on creating a content marketing online business, you need to be prepared to wait. The whole point of this type of online business is content, and many experts still suggest that a two hundred page site might be considered a bit light on. You are going to have to invest a serious amount of time for content creation, and building credibility with the search engines and your audience takes time. You cannot throw up two hundred pages overnight and have either the search engines or your visitors trust you.
You need to invest quite a bit of time and effort and do some consistent relationship building for this type of site/online business to be successful. Demonstrate that you are knowledgeable, be prepared to share that knowledge with your visitors and you will build a following that can be monetized at a later date, either through product recommendations (affiliate sales), paid on site advertising or hard goods or digital products that you create for sale on the site. But you cannot expect to earn any serious money for quite a while.
My content marketing online business (Knitting Naturally) took at least twelve months before it was received enough organic traffic to generate a reliable (but small) income every month. In the first year or two the income for this site was limited to passive income streams (Google Adsense and Amazon affiliate sales) and I did not pay for traffic. So any income was from visitors who arrived at my site after doing a knitting related search on one of the major search engines and who then clicked on a Google advert or clicked through to Amazon to buy a book.
These days it is more difficult to get your content to rank highly on the search engine indexes that it was when I started out but it is still possible providing you are creating valuable content that people are looking for. But if you are expecting or need an income from your online home business in the short term (i.e., quickly) then this type of online home business is not going to work for you.
Content Marketing - Your Topic Choice is Key!
I have to say it again - if you want to create a successful content marketing online business you need to build a site that offers your visitors valuable content (topic knowledge) that they are actually searching for (demand for the information). It is about demonstrating to those visitors that you are an expert in the subject area and that they can trust the information within your site original and accurate. You need to build trust before your visitors will feel comfortable clicking on a link to a product or service you are offering (or recommending).
So before you start writing you have a few decisions to make...
Narrowing Down Your Topic Options
Because of the two key criteria (topic knowledge and demand) I recommend that you come up with two or three topics to work with initially. During this early stage of your planning, you need to evaluate your topics against the criteria.
First, you need to be able to write potentially hundreds of pages of content about your final topic choice. It should be a topic that you have some level of knowledge or expertise in, and one that you have an enduring interest in. You may be able to create a content marketing type site on a topic with limited knowledge providing you are prepared to research your topic (going this route will be harder though) but only if you have a genuine interest in the topic.
Most people can tell by reading your content whether or not you actually care about your subject matter. Even if they are not consciously aware of it they will notice on a sub-conscious level and it will affect the way they behave on your site. If you are bored or "over" your topic, it will show and that will have a direct impact on your bottom line.
Topic choice is critical, so what do you know and what do you love? At this stage it is important to consider your personal preferences, determining whether or not (and how) your subject matter can generate an income comes later.
As you have probably noticed, the topic area for my first successful site was a hobby- knitting! It is a topic I know very well and one that I enjoy teaching others. After nine years I still enjoy creating new content for this site, not as much or as often as I did in the beginning, but it is still a task that I love. Yes as a highly qualified professional, I could have created a content marketing online home business that was more commercial with greater potential for profit, but I would not have had as much fun doing it and the site would have suffered as I got bored with the subject matter.
And it would have felt like just one more job I had to do!
So my advice to you, pick out two or three site topics for your content marketing online business that all excite you. Eliminate any that feel like work, or that you think you should do. Shoulds rarely work. Find a topic that is a "want to do" rather than a "should do". This is particularly important for a content marketing site, because you will be spending a lot of time immersed in your topic (initially for very little return) and unless you love your topic, it is very easy to get discouraged and give up. Sometimes just before you become successful!
Got Your Topics Sorted?
Once you have worked out which topics you are happy to select from, you can move on to doing keyword research to work out which one is the most likely to produce a viable online business - no guarantees though, a site topic with the most sought after and profitable keywords will still fail if your content is poorly written, inaccurate or copied from someone else work!
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