Finding Hidden Passive Income: How to Empower Your High Traffic Content
A lot of times when you write an article (or a page/post on a blog), you put yourself in a “set it and forget it” mindset. Sure, you’ll do some backlinking and you’ll monitor your Google AdSense and Analytics websites, but beyond that, you’re waiting around for the cash to come pouring in. While this approach works, it’s safe to say that if you do this, you’re leaving money on the table. The passive income potential of your content is likely higher than what you’re currently earning. This article is going to show you how to find that “hidden” potential.
I consider this article to be an unofficial “part 4” of the InfoBarrel Earnings Challenge series, because it fits well with the other three parts (part 1, part 2, and part 3). Just to reemphasize what I’ve said before, however: The usefulness of this information has applications well beyond InfoBarrel. You can apply this thinking to any article site or any website in general.
With that in mind, there are only two simple steps you need to follow to really get the most out of your content. Sometimes you need to take action today if you want to increase your potential for passive income down the road.
1) Identify High Traffic Articles, Blog Posts, or Web Pages
Before you can try to empower anything, you need to identify where you’ll get the biggest “bang for your buck.” It would be nice to optimize and perfect every single article, blog post, and web page, but that’s not practical. Not only do you not have the time for it, but you also don’t have the need for it.
Remember the 80/20 rule (the “Pareto principle”)? Tim Ferriss refers to it constantly in The 4-Hour Workweek. In case you’re unfamiliar with it, it basically states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. To put this in terms of monetizing your articles, you would expect that a select 20% of your articles generate 80% of your AdSense income.
Th 80/20 rule is precisely why we only want to identify high traffic spots. If you have a blog post from six months ago that no one ever visits anymore, what would be the point of optimizing it? Let’s identify which 20% of our content is going to drive 80% of our income.
How Can I Determine Which Content is “High Traffic?”
Typically, if you’re writing for an article site like InfoBarrel, you can see how many views each article has received. For websites and blogs, however, you’ll need to implement some HTML code or install a plugin that allows you to track visitor statistics.
My favorite stat-tracking tool is Google Analytics. I suspect if you have a website or blog, you are already using this. If you aren’t, you should be. It’s fairly easy to implement and it’s free. For WordPress, I also use the WordPress.com Stats plugin, which is another quick and easy way to see some statistics about your visitors.
Make a note of your high traffic articles and pages, because now it’s time to empower them.
2) Evaluate and Empower
This part is a lot easier than it sounds, because it involves asking yourself one general question:
“How can I make it better?”
This is a single question, but it has two dimensions. You can “make it better” for you, and you can “make it better” for the reader. In many cases, one follows the other. If your reader is getting more out your content, you’re more likely to get more out of it as well (in many forms: money, popularity, constructive feedback, etc.).
If you think I’m going to ramble on and on about how “content is king” and about how you should write great stuff to appeal to your audience, you’re wrong. Those things are definitely true, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about.
I’m going to go through several concrete examples of how you can evaluate and empower your content. Note that not every example is applicable to every medium. In some cases, I’ll be talking about monetizing articles, and in others, I’ll be talking about increasing opt-ins to your newsletter on your blog. There will be some overlap, as some of these concepts apply to all forms of online content.
Did you identify your high traffic content? Okay, let’s begin.
Monetize via Contextual Linking
In case you don’t know what contextual linking is, it’s basically a word or phrase within the body of your content that contains a hyperlink to another webpage. The beauty of a contextual link is that it doesn’t interfere with the reader’s experience. It doesn’t scream, “Hey, I’m just trying to sell you something.”
For example, instead of saying, “Join my newsletter by clicking here,” I might want to contextually link to it instead, like this: “As aspiring entrepreneurs, we’re always looking to learn more about muse creation.” It’s a subtle difference, but you can see that contextual linking doesn’t rely on a “call to action.”
Contextual links can be used for a variety of purposes. You can use them to promote other content you’ve written, or you could use them to link to affiliate offers where you stand to earn a commission.
Revisit your high traffic content and add your contextual links. For example, if you wrote an article about laptop computers, include a link or two to a computer on Amazon via their affiliate program. You probably have a lot of high traffic content that contains few or no contextual links. This is a great opportunity to squeeze a bit more value out of that content you’ve already created.
Utilize and Update Author/Bio Boxes within Articles
This mainly applies to articles, especially on sites where you’re allowed to create an author/bio box. In my couple months writing articles for Info Barrel and participating on the forums, I’ve noticed that there are a substantial number of writers who don’t utilize the “author info.” box. If this describes you, you are missing out on additional passive income.
The author/bio box is your place to really go all out and promote whatever you want. You don’t need to worry about subtle sales language or avoiding calls to action. Tell people to visit your blog. Tell people to check out an offer. Use calls to action. On some article sites, this really may be the only place for you to promote something (Info Barrel allows two links in the author info. box in addition to the two “self-serving” contextual links allowed). Here’s one example (I blanked out the author’s name – this isn’t my bio box, however):
I’ve noticed a lot of people use the same kind of generic bio information on every single article they write. It might say something like: “John is writer who enjoys technology and gardening. Click here to read his blog.” This is better than nothing at all, but it’s far from optimal. You should be taking advantage of this author section by always making it relevant to your article. I’ll explain how you can do this.
1) For articles about any consumer products (books, appliances, electronics, etc.), you can and should link to a product or page on Amazon with your affiliate link. Amazon allows you to create a link for any page on their site, not just for specific product pages. On any given page, you can click the button (pictured below), and get yourself an affiliate link to that page.
2) For articles that are “how to” or explain a process (e.g. “making money online”), you can either link to a relevant book on Amazon, or select a relevant product from Clickbank’s large marketplace of informational products. You probably won’t sell as many Clickbank products as you would Amazon products, but Clickbank’s products tend to have very high commissions, most around 75%.
3) For any other topics, be creative about finding relevant products to promote. I also love to use Commission Junction – they have a wide variety of products and services to promote. For example, I wrote an article about broadband internet and was able to link to a high-speed internet offer from Verizon. If you absolutely cannot find something relevant to promote, you should link to other relevant articles you’ve written, or to your blog/website. Remember, this provides your linked site with a backlink, which is always helpful to have for SEO purposes.
If you’re interested in writing articles and haven’t done so already, I highly recommend that you sign up to InfoBarrel if you want to be able to take advantage of what I’ve described above.
Spread The Presence Of Your Newsletter Opt-In Forms
When you create a newsletter via an auto-responder service (I use Aweber), you probably include your opt-in form on the main page of your website or blog, and maybe you also have a separate page that describes the newsletter (like I do).
That’s fine when you’re starting out. However, if that’s where you stop, you probably are missing out on a lot of subscribers. After all, you probably have certain posts or pages that receive high traffic (i.e. the places you identified in step one above). These make for great opportunities to spread the presence of your newsletter opt-in forms, and Aweber makes it really easy to create new forms.
Want a live example? One of my most high traffic pages is my About page. Check it out, and scroll to the bottom. You’ll see what I’m talking about.
Bonus tip: In addition to an opt-in form (or instead of one), add a line to the bottom of your high traffic page that says something like, “Did you enjoy this article? Get my future articles delivered right to you as soon as I post them by subscribing to my RSS feed!”
I try to do this on most articles, but if you don’t normally do this, it might pay to go back to your high traffic blog posts and add this little line at the end. It’s one way to really boost your RSS subscriber count.
Get Into the Habit of Retro-Linking
What is retro-linking? It’s my own fancy term for going back to old (and high traffic!) articles or blog posts and linking to newer content. While it’s common to write an article today and link to something you wrote a few weeks ago, you rarely do it the other way around. Here’s an example from my own blog: In this article (which happens to be my most popular article to date), if you scroll all the way to the bottom, you’ll see that I reference future posts in the series. Once I wrote those posts, I went back to this article and linked to the articles that were written subsequently.
What purpose does this serve? First of all, you’re making it easier on your visitors. Instead of someone needing to seek out these other posts by rummaging through my blog (and maybe after 10 seconds of looking and not finding it, they leave), I’m helping them out by providing the direct links. Second, you’re keeping them on your blog/website longer. This means that they will be exposed to your content longer, which will likely strengthen your relationship with them. Furthermore, they’re also exposed to more of your affiliate links, which should lead to more passive income for you.
If you want to semi-automate this process and you use WordPress, you should download and install a “Related Posts” plugin. The one I use on this blog is called Yet Another Related Posts Plugin. This plugin works retroactively, so if you look at some of my older posts, you might see it show related posts that were written at a later date.
Optimize Sub-Titles and Introduction Paragraphs
When you search on Google, you generally will see, in addition to a site’s title, a sample of the introductory paragraph of that article. Although your title is most important, this sub-text within search results is still extremely significant for getting visitors via search engines. In an ideal world, you optimize this every time you create a blog post, article, or webpage, however it’s likely that you didn’t always do this. That’s why we’re going back and fixing it now.
Why does this make such a big difference? Let’s look at a fictitious example. Here’s what a non-optimized website might look like in search results:
Blog About Cat Breeds
Sorry I haven’t had the chance to post lately. I’ve been busy with school, and I think my cats might even be lonely. The other day, one of them…
Do you see what happened here? Google wasn’t given a description, so it used a piece of the first paragraph written on the blog when it last crawled the website. If you owned this blog, would you really want potential visitors to read this? Would you want them to see that you haven’t been writing? I sure wouldn’t want to read that blog, even if I were into cat breeds.
For WordPress, there’s a plugin (it’s very popular, so you may have heard of it) called All In One SEO Pack. This plugin allows you to configure the description that appears with your site, when your site shows up in search engine results. Not only does this allow you to include any keywords you’re trying to rank for, but it allows you to write a (brief) compelling description that might make someone more likely to click on your site. Not only can you do this with your main blog page itself, but the plugin allows you to do this for individual blog posts, which means that you can use it to optimize each post for search engines. I wouldn’t say it’s necessary to do this for every post, but it might pay to go back and do it for some of your more popular ones.
Here’s the same example as above, utilizing this plugin:
Blog About Cat Breeds
Welcome to this amazing cat breeds blog! Here you will learn EVERYTHING you could ever want to know about cat breeds, and lots of other cool and interesting information.
Maybe you can write a better description than that (I wrote it off the top of my head), but hopefully you get the idea.
Now for articles on article websites, you probably don’t have the ability to specify what the search engine result shows. Therefore, you want to make sure you’re using appropriate subtitles and intro sentences, because that’s what Google will pick up when it crawls your articles. Revisit old articles and ask yourself, “does this introduction make me want to click on this article?” I’m a big fan of subtitles. For example, if the article is titled, “How to Fix Your Computer,” I might create a subtitle as the first piece of text in the article that says: “10 Steps That Will Save You Hundreds of Dollars in Repair Costs.”
You know which content is popular – now make it even more compelling for potential visitors, who are just coming across it for the first time, by optimizing what appears in Google’s search results.
Make Other Cosmetic Improvements
Once you’ve tackled all of the above recommendations, there is still more you can do to empower your high traffic content. Here are a couple cosmetic improvements you should consider making:
1) Add images to the article or post (if you don’t already have one) – Images often generate interest in an article, and can also make the article appear more professional. Consider making your article more appealing to all of the traffic it receives, by adding a great image or two.
2) “Refresh” your content – You may have written a really popular article a year ago, but now its relevance and accuracy have begun to fade. For example, if you wrote an article three years ago about the best way to improve your search engine ranking, there’s a good chance it would contain some outdated information. If these older articles are still receiving good traffic, consider refreshing them and make them more relevant. Often this will only require a few tweaks (and not a re-write of the entire article). Not only will people appreciate this more, but Google will also like it (they like to see new content).
Hopefully all of these suggestions will help you really get the most out of your content. Remember, you’ve already accomplished the difficult part – getting traffic. Now, it’s time to maximize the potential of that traffic. We sometimes think that generating more passive income has to happen by creating new content or building new projects. This isn’t always the case. You may find that there’s a lot of passive income potential hiding in your older content!
If you have any additional suggestions or questions about anything here, please share them in the comments!
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