If you follow the buzz around the internet and you read various “make money online” blogs, there’s a good chance you’ve heard about InfoBarrel (and it was even mentioned in my interview with Lauren Nelson). InfoBarrel is an article directory/platform much like Squidoo, HubPages, eHow, etc. The standard model goes like this: You write an article and you get paid when someone reads it and clicks on an ad. The reason InfoBarrel’s popularity is really starting to explode is that they have a very favorable earnings program, where they let you keep the majority of the money that your articles earn.
I believe I’ve come up with a solid plan to make $2,000 per month with InfoBarrel, which I’m going to call my InfoBarrel Earnings Challenge. It won’t happen overnight, but it also won’t consume a lot of your time. In fact, once you’ve got the hang of it, you shouldn’t have to spend more than 90 minutes a day on it. Sound good? Keep reading.
[Warning: This is a long article that goes into a lot of detail!]
Why InfoBarrel and Why Now?
Before I get into specifics about how I plan to make $2,000 per month with InfoBarrel, I think it’s important for you to understand why now is the time to join InfoBarrel and begin writing articles. No, InfoBarrel isn’t as popular as the “big guys” (Squidoo, HubPages, etc.), however there are a number of things to love about InfoBarrel.
1) They are booming. A quick look at their Alexa profile tells me that their U.S. rank today is 3,374 and they have seen enormous growth since 2009 (see Alexa graph below).
2) Although they are booming, they are relatively new. This is important because it means you’re less likely to come across articles that you want to write, but have already been written. Of the top 100 writers on InfoBarrel, only 54 currently have over 100 articles published. They may be booming, but relative to the rest of the internet, this could still be considered an untapped opportunity.
3) Your articles you write today will be worth significantly more a year from now if InfoBarrel’s growth continues at an exponential pace. Without going into a discussion about “page rank” and Google’s ranking algorithm (which I don’t know much about), your articles will very likely have a better search engine ranking in the future, which is crucial to getting traffic and generating revenue.
4) They currently have a revenue-sharing model that is unlike other similar article sites. InfoBarrel allows you to keep 75% of the Google Adsense revenue generated by your articles. Most similar articles sites only allow you a 50% share.
5) They have a lot of room for improvement. Although they have a very solid process (requiring approval of your articles before they go live, which I love), the site design is less than desirable. I think they will eventually revamp the design and layout, create a more appealing logo, and in general, look like a more professional and authoritative resource. Although “content is king” (I hate using that phrase), design is almost just as important. Personally, I think InfoBarrel will be HUGE if/when they redesign the site.
Haven’t you already tried something like this?
As many of you know from reading prior posts on this blog, I experimented with another article platform (Squidoo) and ultimately decided to stop using it for now. It wasn’t a matter of being lazy, but there were a few things I didn’t like about Squidoo:
- The earnings methodology was unclear. Your pay is impacted by your “lens rank,” which is impacted by traffic to your lens. Beyond that, it unclear exactly how Squidoo divides up earnings among its writers.
- The “lens” format was a little annoying to me. Although it’s unique and somewhat interesting, it got old after the first handful of lenses. Not only do you need to spend time writing the actual content, but you also could spend a lot of time designing the lens (with Amazon widgets, guestbooks, and various other lens objects you can add). That’s all great for the experience of the reader, but it can get tedious from a writer’s perspective.
- Squidoo is well-established, and therefore competitive. It’s not easy to create a lens title that is based on high traffic keywords. It’s certainly not impossible, but Squidoo has been around for awhile and its popularity has led to a more competitive environment. This could be a positive thing (more popularity), but I’d prefer a service that is lesser known but has a lot of potential (like InfoBarrel).
How Exactly I Plan to Make $2,000 Per Month
Here’s the part of the article you’ve been waiting for. I’ll go ahead and give a standard disclaimer: I’m not guaranteeing that if you follow this guide, you’ll make $2,000/month. First, this is a long process that I think few people are capable of actually staying committed to. Second, this number is an approximation. Some of you might only make $1,600/month after a year while others might pull in $2,400/month. It’s going to depend on lots of factors, but the most important one is your hard work (and mine too, of course).
How You Earn Money with InfoBarrel
InfoBarrel gives you three ways to earn money with your articles (there’s a bonus fourth way that I will discuss later). You will need to create accounts in all three places.
- Google AdSense – In order to have your InfoBarrel article ad impressions appear in your AdSense account, you’ll need to create a separate channel within AdSense, which takes about two minutes to do. The URL you will want to add a channel for is www.infobarrel.com. You can read more instructions here.
- Amazon Affiliates – You should create a separate tracking ID for InfoBarrel if you currently use Amazon’s affiliate program for another site or blog.
- Chitika – When I tried signing up for Chitika, I received a message saying, “As we prepare to transition to an upgraded version of Chitika ads, we are temporarily holding off on approving new domains and accounts…Your application is on file and will be reviewed once we have finished our upgrades.” Based on what I’ve read, Chitika represents a tiny % of earnings on InfoBarrel, so don’t worry if you can’t get this set up right away. UPDATE (9/15/2010): My Chitika account was finally approved, so I can begin earning with this site.
As you might have guessed, when someone clicks on an ad within your article from an AdSense or Chitika ad, you earn a certain amount of money (I think the value per click can vary widely). If someone clicks on your Amazon ads and purchases something on Amazon within 24 hours of clicking your ad (they can purchase ANY item on Amazon, not just the product shown in your ad), you earn a commission. All of this is fully automated once you set up your InfoBarrel account with the proper ID numbers from each advertising source.
Three Quick Articles Each Day
This is the “meat” of my plan, and it’s really quite simple. The way to achieve $2,000 per month will require you to write an average of three articles per day. Once you become efficient in finding topics to write about and creating effective titles (which I will explain later in this article), you should spend, on average, 30 minutes writing each article.
If that seems like an impossible task, consider this: InfoBarrel articles are only required to be 400 words or more in order for them to appear in the site’s index. From my experience, once I know what I’m going to write about, a 400 word article takes approximately 15-20 minutes to write. I generally also like to include one image, but this isn’t absolutely necessary in every article.
There are some rules to keep in mind with your articles (these are taken straight from InfoBarrel’s site):
- Must be original and be created by you and must not have been submitted or posted elsewhere on the web.
- Must not be a sales document, advertisement or any other type of promotional document.
- Must be written in proper English with correct spelling, grammar and structure.
- Must not be derogatory, hateful, pornographic or defamatory in any manner.
- Must not have external links in the first paragraph. Links to other InfoBarrel content is ok.
- Maximum of 2 self-serving links per article.
Once you’ve found your efficient “groove,” you can expect to only spend around 90 minutes in total writing your three articles each day. If you space them out, it really isn’t so bad.
If writing three articles per day seems like a daunting task to you, consider the following times you can write, assuming you’ll spend 30 minutes on each article:
- Each morning while you have your coffee and breakfast
- In the evening when you’re watching TV
- During your lunch break
- Before you go to bed
It’s unlikely you’ll have time to write three articles each and every day – after all, we have vacations, jobs, events, etc. that consume our attention periodically. You can offset this by writing 4-5 articles on days where you have more time, such as on weekends. Write about topics you enjoy, to keep yourself interested in what you’re writing.
The Math Behind It All
My $2,000/month goal involves the following assumptions:
- Write three articles per day
- Continue this process for an entire year (365 days)
- Most articles have titles that are properly search engine optimized
- Articles will earn, on average, $15 per 1,000 page views
Although we’re using $15 per 1,000 page views as our estimated earning rate, there is evidence that this rate might be slightly conservative. I took the below screen shot from the sales page for an InfoBarrel success product (I won’t link to the sales page because I don’t want to imply that I’ve tried or recommend the product when I haven’t tried it):
According to this image, this user has earned approximately $18.64 per 1,000 page views for his InfoBarrel articles, which is well above the $15/1,000 rate that we’re using for purposes of this challenge.
If we’re earning $15 per 1,000 page views, then $2,000 requires approximately 133,500 page views.
“Wow!” you think. 133,500 page views per month? There’s no way I can I accomplish that.
Let’s break it down:
3 articles per day x 365 days/year = 1,095 total articles after 1 year
133,500 page views across 1,095 articles = 122 page views per month, per article = About 4 page views per day. Remember, this is just an average. Some articles may have 8-10 views per day while others might have 0-2.
Bonus: Affiliate Links and The Signature Box
While you may find that your earnings are fine based on the AdSense, Amazon, and Chikita revenue, results may vary. If more of your articles have search engine optimized titles, you’re going to receive more views and clicks than others who put very little effort into their article titles. However, this isn’t the only opportunity to make money with your articles.
InfoBarrel, like many other article sites, allows you to write a different signature box (i.e. author info. box) for each article you publish. This is a perfect opportunity to link to an informational product as an affiliate, using products sold on affiliate product sites like Clickbank. For example, if I write an article called “How to Increase Your Reading Speed,” I might create a signature box that reads:
Eric is a CPA who enjoys writing about business ideas, technology, and lifestyle design. If you’re interested in more information about increasing your reading speed, check out this speed reading audio course.
In the signature box, I am linking (as an affiliate) to a speed reading course I found on Clickbank. If someone clicks through this link and purchases the product, I earn $20.36. InfoBarrel also allows for two contextual links within your article, which you can also link to affiliate products. You need to be sure that your article isn’t about selling the product, however. InfoBarrel strongly discourages this, and will deny your article if you are improperly using affiliate links.
If you find that there is no product relevant to your article, you can use this as an opportunity to build backlinks and traffic to your blog or business website. For example, my signature box in this case might read:
Eric is an entrepreneur who enjoys writing about everything from technology to making money online. For more great content, read his blog at My 4-Hour Workweek.
As you can see, this is an excellent way to further monetize your articles. To reach a goal of $2,000/month, I really think this is a crucial step that should be implemented wherever possible.
Why My Articles Will Be More Popular Than Other Writers’ Articles
It’s pretty clear to you now that traffic = money. If your articles aren’t visited, they simply won’t generate any money for you. This is the reason why your title is the most important part of your article. I know this sounds like a broken record, because I’ve mentioned this very same tip in my guide to using StumbleUpon, and you’ve probably heard it countless times from other bloggers. Although there are many ways to get traffic to your articles (which I will cover in detail when I write Part 3 of this series), the primary one we will focus on is organic traffic (i.e. traffic from search engines).
There’s a classic debate with writing online between writing for search engines and writing for people. Which is better? When you write for search engines, you try to focus your title on keywords and phrases that have a high volume of search activity. When you write for people, you essentially ignore search engine considerations and focus on writing titles that are interesting and eye-catching to a human being. When writing articles for InfoBarrel, we should write articles focusing on each objective (but not necessarily at the same time). Some articles will have titles that focus on search engine optimization while others will simply focus on being interesting to the human eye.
Writing for Search Engines
The reason your title is extremely important is because this is one of the primary factors that influence how people will find your articles on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. You might think you have a great title until you find out that only 30 people a month are even searching for it – of these 30 people, you’re unlikely to capture any traffic if you’re not on the first page of Google’s search results for those specific keywords.
I’ve looked around at the articles written by some of the top 100 writers on InfoBarrel, and I came across some people who actually write articles that share information about their InfoBarrel earnings. One person complained about writing 200 articles and only earning $60 last April. I took a look at the articles she has written, and it was clear to me why her earnings were so low: Most articles had titles based on keywords no one is searching for!
In order to write effective titles that receive plenty of traffic, we’re going to use a piece of software I’ve written about before: Market Samurai. If you don’t know anything about Market Samurai, go ahead and read my initial reaction about the product. Market Samurai is going to allow us to find out which titles will help us generate the most traffic to our articles, while keeping in mind how competitive each keyword or phrase is.
I’m going to run through an example now showing you how I use Market Samurai to write titles for my articles. Let’s take the example I used previously about an article that discusses how to increase your reading speed. First, I’ll create a project in Market Samurai called “increase reading speed.”
Next, we’ll look at the keyword research tab and generate some possible keywords to base our title on.
For purposes of this example, we won’t attempt to filter any of the 133 potential keyword ideas out (but filtering is one really nice feature of Market Samurai). We’ll go ahead and click Analyze Keywords to see what our best options are.
The top keywords are ones that we’re very likely going to ignore. Because they are very broad keywords, they are probably very competitive and not worth building an article around. In addition, these words don’t really make good article titles on their own. In case you’re wondering what those letters mean on the top row – SEOT tells you the maximum number of clicks per day a #1 ranked site for that term would expect to receive. PBR is kind of confusing to understand, but it basically quantifies how relevant the search term is to what you’re trying to find, based on the initial keyword we used (“increase reading speed”).
If you feel lost at this point, don’t worry. Market Samurai has a TON of free videos that explain everything you need to know. When you get the chance, you can watch the video that explains everything I’m attempting to show here. In fact, all of the following videos are excellent:
- Golden Rule #1: How to Find Relevant Keywords
- Golden Rule #2: How to Find High Traffic Keywords
- Golden Rule #3: How to Assess Market Competition
- Golden Rule #4: How to Assess Commerciality
A list of ALL videos can be found here. Now, back to what I was saying. Those high traffic, broad keywords are probably too competitive, so we’ll look at some more realistic options:
“How to Read Better and Faster” sounds like it would be an interesting title, so let’s dig deeper into that keyword by clicking the little key icon. The way we’re going to examine this is by checking out our competition for the keyword by clicking the following button:
[Click image to enlarge.]
I’m not going to explain what each column means (you can learn all about that in the 3rd video I listed above), but essentially, these results display the top 10 Google results for the keyword “How to Read Better and Faster” and examines 13 different criteria that affect each site’s rank in Google. Green means the site is not competitive with respect to that attribute, and red means it is highly competitive.
These results seem favorable to me. The #4 result is an Ezine article that has a page rank of 0 and only 1 backlink to the actual page. Even the #1 result doesn’t appear all that powerful to me – its greatest attribute is it’s DA which is the site’s age (14 years). The great thing about publishing an article on an article website instead of your own blog is that your article takes on some of the attributes of the main domain (infobarrel.com). It’s the same reason why an Ezine article is ranked #4 in the above example. Here are InfoBarrel’s competitive attributes:
[Click image to enlarge.]
InfoBarrel pulls some competitive weight now, and I’d only expect this to grow tremendously over the next year as InfoBarrel increases in popularity.
Our last step is to make sure this title is available on InfoBarrel (you can check this earlier if you prefer).
Success! It looks like this would be a good title for an article. (Note: I did not wind up writing this article because I was just using it as an example, so as of the time this post was written, that article title is still up for grabs.)
As you can see, Market Samurai is a pretty powerful tool when you’re trying to come up with titles for articles, so that they rank better in search engines (which ultimately gets you more traffic and more income). The funny thing is, I’ve barely scratched the surface for the things Market Samurai can do.
Click here to try Market Samurai free for 12 days (no credit card or other payment information needed for the free trial). Remember, if you like it after trying it, you’ll receive a discount for purchasing it within the first few days of using it (I can’t remember the exact time limit for the discounted price).
If you don’t think you can afford Market Samurai once you’re done with the free trial (even though I have no doubts that it will pay for itself quickly), you can use Google’s Keyword Tool to at least see how much traffic various search terms get each month. I’ve written a brief overview about how to use this in another article.
Writing for People
Although we’d like to almost always write our titles for search engines (I’m only talking about InfoBarrel articles – there are many instances in writing and blogging where you’re better off writing for people, not search engines), this simply won’t be possible for every article.
First of all, it’s time consuming to research titles, and if we’re going to write three articles per day, we won’t necessarily have the time to optimize each title. Second, not every topic you’ll write about will receive a lot of search engine traffic to begin with, but this is okay. For example, if you want to write about “My Experience Learning 10 Languages,” you aren’t likely to find a lot of search engine traffic on that topic. However, the title is extremely interesting and will cause many people who are already looking around InfoBarrel to click on your article and read it.
It’s possible that you’ll “write for people” and still wind up with an article that works for search engines. You might be frustrated with your job and at the spur of the moment decide to write an article called, “Hating Your Job.” As it turns out, this might be something a lot of people search for on Google!
The bottom line is, you shouldn’t waste all your time and energy perfecting each title so that it aligns with search engine traffic. Sometimes in order to write articles quickly, you need to be able to write about whatever pops into your head and seems interesting.
Potential Struggles with This Challenge
I’m always one to point out flaws in my own thinking, not to demotivate myself, but to allow myself to be realistic and understand hurdles before I get to them.
1) I still work a full-time, 9 to 5 job. It’s possible that there will be days I don’t write three articles, and won’t have time to make them up on other days.
2) My estimated earnings are exactly that – estimates. No one has proven how much money can be made per 1,000 article views, simply because it varies. There is a chance my estimate is way off, and I’ll only earn $1,500/month instead of $2,000/month.
3) Lack of article ideas. I may be able to write the first 50 articles with ease, but after that, I might struggle with what to write about. Fortunately, I’m going to work on another massive guide like this one, which will cover how to find ideas for articles.
Good Luck to You!
Hopefully this article has gotten you excited about making money writing articles – I know I’m excited! If you’re going to play along with me, click here to sign up with InfoBarrel. Let me know in the comments if you’re going to take on this challenge with me, or if you’ve already done something like this (with InfoBarrel or another similar site). I’d love to hear your feedback. Also, I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have about InfoBarrel, my challenge, or Market Samurai.
In Part 2, I discuss how to come up with article ideas. After that, Part 3 will explain ways to boost traffic to your articles. Be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed so that you don’t miss these articles once I publish them.
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