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Believe It Or Not – Money Can Be Made The Easy Way – With A Catch!

May 19th, 2008 by Wai Loong (13 Comments)

Have you ever felt lost one day without turning on your computer?

If you are, then that’s not too bad!

Have you ever felt lost in front of your computer? Or felt frustrated and didn’t know what to do when you realized that your Internet connection was somehow terminated or disconnected by natural or technical problems?

Believe me or not – I actually felt frustrated because I was so used to working online these days! I even suspected that my home internet connection was terminated because we didn’t pay the bills…

Fortunately, I’ve retained a very important skill – the skill of reading materials offline! ๐Ÿ™‚
I kept myself company throughout the downtime… all the while reading; and reading quickly.

The truth is, the Internet has totally revolutionalized the way we live, the way we social network, and even the way we make a living!

Remember my previous articles about social networking?

To extend the possibilities of the various forms of online networking, let’s explore the other possibilities of making a living online.

Wait a minute… did I say make a living – online?!

If you didn’t think that’s possible, let me blow your mind off with what I am about to reveal…

Here are some pictures of a real US check; it’s cold hard cash that I received in my mailbox some 2 weeks ago. I don’t receive this kind of checks often, but you get the idea that it’s real cash I made while promoting some products I use myself.

Affiliate Clickbank Checks Screenshot 1
I’m not trying to boost or what, but it’s simply a small check of about $100 greenback – but you get the idea and the possibilities on what I am about to show you!

Affiliate Clickbank Checks Screenshot 2

Wells Fargo's corporate headquarters and main branchImage via Wikipedia

This check was issued by Wells Fargo Bank, a very reputable bank from the United States of America. The stability of the bank’s business is so good that even Warren Buffett has a shareholding stake!

To be more realistic, let me point you to what’s easily possible here in Singapore

Last week, I caught a rather interesting live interview on Channel U of a medical doctor who has turned his passion of tasting great food into a huge turnover photography hobby for his Singapore food blog!

According to him, his food blog has a daily traffic of over 7000++ unique visitors!

Was that a hype or real?

I point my browser over and did a little spying; it’s a skill I’ve acquired over the years and was surprised to uncover a significant amount of useful information that may support the doctor’s claim.

But first, here’s some screenshot of his site and how he derive money out of it…

I Eat, I Shoot, I Post Screenshot 1
This is the blog’s main header. Notice the rectangle round edge boxes?

I Eat, I Shoot, I Post Screenshot 2|
I’ve zoomed in further to show you what are showing up in these boxes.

I Eat, I Shoot, I Post Screenshot 3
This doctor was pretty smart. He took full advantage of his interview with Channel U and used the media to help him drive free and solid publicity! Not to mention about free traffic! That’s the way every businesses should aim for to get credibility and increase site exposure.

I Eat, I Shoot, I Post Screenshot 4

I Eat, I Shoot, I Post Screenshot 5

Noticed the rectangular advertisements? These advertisements are served by Google advertisers that are syndicated across from its various advertising networks, such as Adwords and Doubleclick. If you click on them for him, it may earn the owner $0.20 to $5.00, depending on the maximum bid and quality of the advertisements.

Let say each click earns the owner an average of $0.20. With an average 6,000 to 7,000 daily visitors and about 2% folks clicking on them (2% CTR or click-through rate), that will be $28 passive income earned per day.

Or in the case of $2 per click, that will be $280 per day.

I scrolled down further down on his page and noticed that the advertisement network was serving him some very badly targeted advertisements.

Imagine finding *gasp* “Lesbian Dating” advertisements on a food blog?

Two things are pretty obviously here…

  1. The owner is probably a bit greedy. Too many Google Ads CAN be harmful and CAN reduce earnings.
  2. The publishing advertisers (Google Adwords) are obviously suckers for over paying clicks for highly un-targeted keywords, or paying by per million impressions (if they’re lucky).

In either case, that translates to $840 or $8400 passive income per month! And with over 7,000 visitors and still growing at a fantastic rate, this owner can be easily earning 5 figures passively month after month.

And I’m not even considering other smarter forms of revenues, partnership or deals that can bring him even more income passively! He can even quit his medical practice if he wants, but I suspect that he enjoys blogging so much that the money is secondary. ๐Ÿ™‚

Is content syndication really so profitable?

Let’s take a look at some of my traffic analysis on the site:

I Eat, I Shoot, I Post Site Stats Screenshot 1

First of all, the webmaster was not so smart. Either he was deliberately leaving those traces for me to dig out, or was it place out there to convince his interviewers.

I took the liberty to drill down to on his site visitors and indeed, most of the traffic that’s being driven to it are spread by word of mouth.

I Eat, I Shoot, I Post Site Stats Screenshot 2

I Eat, I Shoot, I Post Site Stats Screenshot 3

I Eat, I Shoot, I Post Site Stats Screenshot 4
Site was measured since 2006.

Interestingly, the site has been on Google blogger hosting network but has been pointed to a private domain name since 2006. Looking back to the inception of the site, it appears that traffic has been building up really quickly (and possibly exponentially) in a very short span of time!

The site’s traffic more than doubled and by May 2008, it has reached a new height. I suspect that at the rate it’s going, it will reach its 1,500,000 unique visitors mark by December 2008!

I Eat, I Shoot, I Post Site Stats Screenshot 5

Can you understand why a food blog is such a remarkable business model? Virtually everyone is addicted to eating or tasting good food and they can be spending as long as an hour to see what great food he has to introduce.

Only rarely do you find a weird geek like me who enjoy poking at his blog stats, trying to figure out how much money he may be making out of it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Updated 19th May 2008:

Just this evening, Channel U reported at least 3 different NUS student groups making advertising fee by creating interesting Facebook applications. One of the group even reported a net worth of over $13,000 (after about 5 months of hard work) should they decide to sell it to professional developers.

Honestly speaking, building a business on Facebook is entirely possible, but do be wary. Not every Facebook business can be valued accurately. Their valuations are mostly based on intangible values which are often hard to measure.

As in any solid businesses taught by Warren Buffett, Facebook businesses must be build on fundamentals that adds value to the lives of their users. As you may be aware by now, most Facebook application waste or kill your time more often than adding any value. This is the main reason why I don’t play games on Facebook. ๐Ÿ™‚

If you are still skeptical about how this online business model, work, then I invite you to check it out. Here are a few resources you can begin with: CS3216 Software development on evolving platforms course launched by NUS, and a recent report on Warring Farmers raking in fans, by TODAYonline.

Question: Can anyone really make a living blogging online?

It’s hard to deny that but from my experience, the answer is a resounding yes!

Unfortunately, as always true to any success, there is a catch!

Many folks I’ve seen on are working so hard to make a couple of bucks here and there trying to create blogs to make some advertising fee. The truth is, most of these folks will be sadly disappointed.

Professional blogging is a lot of hard work.

Not only must you write useful articles, you must also be willing to put in labor to research your topic and deliver your content with passion!

The best mix of blogs I’ve seen are those articles that really make a difference in your life. The content are usually highly practical and honest, forcing you to think hard if it makes any sense before you dismiss them as time killer.

Coincidentally, writing good articles has tremendous value in personal development and making the world a better place. Ethical bloggers write about their thoughts, so as to enrich the knowledge of others through their own living experiences. Their main motivation comes from satisfied commenters who appreciate their works, or pick up a little tip from constructive criticisms.

When a blogger, very much like a author of a book, looks to add value to others through their own research work and/or compilation of others, they seek compensation much later through the mechanism of royalties from their publishers (or just about anyone who like to use their works in a variety of different ways).

A blogger is no different from a book author.

Advertising, product recommendations etc.. are just some ways to get compensated for the work put in. Plus, the hostings and domain names are not free – someone’s got to pay for it somehow; and that is compensated in a similar manner.

Question: What Risks Does A Blogger Have?

If you are totally inspired but what I’ve put together so far, then you’ll be more likely interested to know the risk factors to blogging.

Blogging has its own inherent risks.

Unfortunately, we all live in a world of imperfections… unpleasant folks who are out to ruin your reputations, or drastic changes in the landscape of social networking can easily bring down your blogging businesses.

Also, web technology is constantly coming in as a challenge to many aspired professional and part-time bloggers.

Risk #1: Hosting and Server Migration Challenges

For my case, I’ve been rather bogged down by many technical challenges with a new web host after shifted from Bluehost. I face a variety of new problems, ranging from setting up my secure IMAP for emails, crashing the web host’s SQL servers, being banned for resource over utilization having upgraded to a newer version of the CMS software, and keeping spams from hitting me from real visitors who make a comment.

Fortunately, I have sufficient technical background to deal with the recent migrations and the good news is, I’m more than capable now to handle server migrations, backup and recovery. The recent exercise had boosted my confidence to test out future and new (and possibly cost effective) hosting solutions soon.

As a side note, if you’re looking to find someone to help you out on script configurations, setups or full backups, I may be able to take out some of my personal time to assist you, in exchange for a small negotiable fee.

Risk #2: Spam Challenges

To keep hosting cost down, most entry bloggers like me will opt for cheap (and mostly unreliable) web hosts. The main problems with such hosting solution is, they are shared. If your IP address (Internet Protocol Address) of your host happens to be blacklisted by major search engines (especially Google), then a large part of your traffic may be crippled, unless they come from email or RSS subscriptions.

Such blacklisting usually comes from bad neighbors residing on your host’s, where a few hundreds of domains share the same IP address.

If you can afford (and I do if I honest can justify for the added cost!), I recommend dedicated servers from Rackspace or MediaTemple.

Risk #3: Loss of Blog Database, Content, Domain

Imagine loosing your entire blog database and content on your blogging host!

That’s the ultimate nightmare I can think of for a blogger… or any webmaster for that matter.

How does one lost control of one’s blog (or website)?

For certain, a growing number of folks enjoy hijacking or invading into a site for thrill or for money. Hackers consistently look out for victims with well known vulnerabilities on their site and attempt to break in with those weaknesses.

And by the way, these people may not even require to know your passwords, but it does help tremendously if the owner uses a weak password. Upon breaking in, the hacker can use it for any targeted purposes, such as ruining the site’s reputation, to launching spams or illegal activities to evade law enforcers or make law enforcers difficult to track down their origins.

This topic on blog intrusion is best illustrated by the classical example of Xia Xue, a Singaporean blogger who lost control of her Google blogger account some time in July 2005 by some unidentified hacker(s). Not only did she lost her $3,000-4,000 monthly income (maybe more by now!) from her blog, she lost control of it all until finally, she managed to convince Google that she was the real and authentic owner.

Even after then, a significant part of her blog was damaged by the intrusion. Blogging reputation and content takes time to rebuild.

Another possibility is the loss of domain name. As you probably know by now, domain name marketers trade high quality domain names for huge returns! Many times, domain names are bought outright due to the failure of the owner to renew it in time.

As a blogger or site owner, you will want to make sure that your domain registrar is not on an automatic recurring payment system linked to a credit card. This way, you will not take the assumption that your credit is still honorable and legal for payment when it has actually been expired or canceled without you realizing it.

Having said that, many folks still make the common mistake to run their professional businesses (blogs) on free servers.

My advice is to pay for the ownership of your domain name and hosting servers. If they are generating income for you, doesn’t it make sense to own it outright legally, or would you rather risk the possible and changing terms and conditions of those free services? You’ll get what I mean if you truly look at your blog from the perspective of a business owner.

Lessons learnt:
Take some time to configure your CMS software to backup the database regularly, and keeping mirror archives of the entire blog/website as often as possible.

Make sure you pay upfront any charges you incur to maintain your domain name. The content does not matter too much as long as you keep consistent backups to your local machine and on offline optical storage discs.

Risk #4: Loss of Advertising Revenue

Most blogging folks may not be aware of the terms and conditions of their advertising network. For Google, they are very protective of their advertising business. Google staffs will not think twice to terminate anyone on their publishing network for abusing their Adsense (and hence Adwords) program.

For instance, I have personally saw one interview on Channel U that people are clicking on their own advertisements to make some quick money. Google treats fraud clicking activities very seriously and they will not hesitate to terminate any publishing accounts that violate their click through terms and conditions.

And there should be no excuses too. According to the creators of the currently very popular Facebook game, BattleStation, they were forced to asking all their friends to help them click on their advertisements to tide through the low periods when their Facebook business were not bring them enough income to sustain their monthly operation costs.

Lesson to learn:
Never depend on a single source of income stream.

Actively research for various ways to supplement contextual advertisement in case something bad happen to you. In fact, there are no fewer than 10 ways I can think of for anyone to monetize a high traffic blog once it starts rolling it!


Think hard again when you’re thinking of making quick bucks using the Internet.

The truth is, most people are never persistent enough to earn a single dime despite their efforts. Many others are lead astray by focusing on get rich quick schemes for short term profits. So when something looks too good to be true, it probably is!

Blogging, like any other marketing activities, is a continuous and on-going work. There are many other activities besides the risks that I mention that must be put into serious considerations.

To put things in perspective, focus only on the things you are passionate about, while developing professional interactions with your visitors through actively responding to comments. Pay close attention to the quality of your writings and finally, align your expertises to the theme of your blog.

That’s it!

And wow! This article actually took me more than 2 days to prepare and draft!

I trust that you have enjoyed reading so far and somewhat benefit from my experiences.

I look forward to hearing your comments and learning from your own experiences!

Stay hungry, stay foolish, and live a life with passion!

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13 Responses:

Alex Tseng on May 20th, 2008 at 2:44 pm

Hi Wai Loong, you always blow me away
I’m trying to start my own blog but I can’t seem to get into the front door throught via my gmail account ?
also those spam and hacking and other risks – how do you overcome them ? thanks ! AT

Alex Tseng on May 20th, 2008 at 2:48 pm

Hi again, I’m also looking at SEO ( Search engine optimization ) – do you have real testimonies that this really works and making more money for peoples ?

Wai Loong on May 20th, 2008 at 10:15 pm

Hello Alex!

I trust that you’ve enjoyed or learned something new and put your learning to good actions!

I’m surprised that you’re also IN for writing! Anyway, it’s really easy to get started with blogging platforms such, as Blogger, WordPress, Typepad, etc.

Reality check: are you really serious about blogging for money, or are you using it to build personal branding, publicity etc, or all of the above and more? Starting a blog is easy, maintaining it and diligently building a following group of readership is real hard work!

Will you be serious enough to grow it slowly, or quickly? How about outsourcing, freelancing, occasional, mid-term or serious long term?

If you’re set for the right intention from start like I did more than 1 year ago, it will be a lot easier to formulate a theme and tightly coupled vision and mission. There are more non-technical questions to answer.

As for technical questions, I do not have good answers, but I can point you to some useful resources I use to control spam and hopefully discourage hacking. Some of the resources I use are plugins particularly for WordPress (the CMS software I’m using) and as follows:

Akismet (Comes with WordPress)
WordPress Database Backup
WP Security Scan

(I don’t use this – it works so well that I’m scared that it kills legitimate comments!)
AskApache Password Protect
(Require thoughtful configurations, I’m not using at the moment)

Others Deterrences:
Use very strong and different randomized passwords for all your online accounts, including the blog database.
Backup often. Nothing beats a quick recovery when all else fails.

As for SEO (in particularly for blogging), I do know some simple techniques that not many bloggers are using. For a start, the following WordPress plugins are a must:

All in One SEO Pack
Google XML Sitemaps
Ultimate Tag Warrior

budi on May 21st, 2008 at 12:22 pm

Thanks for you nice article , i m just stupid blogger to earn money from adsense take 1 year to closed 100 $ ๐Ÿ™‚

Wai Loong on May 21st, 2008 at 10:31 pm

Hi Budi!

That’s a great accomplishment in under 1 year! That check has probably paid off most of your operating cost for the year (if you’re on budget hosting and domain)!

I gave up on Adsense publishing for a while after realizing the ins and outs of blogging business, but still working towards learning the ropes of quality blogging. These days, I focus on deeper research and quality writing, with the aspiration of developing copywriting skills in the future if I want.

My core focus now is not to monetize blogging, but to learn what kind of writing for long term works, and what don’t. There are some basic principles I thought I’ve identified so far that works, combining with various optimizations that seem to take solid effects slowly over time.

Anyway, do come back often and share your other findings or other discoveries. I’ll be glad to openly share what I know too! ๐Ÿ™‚

alan on October 29th, 2008 at 6:17 pm

Money Can Be Made The Easy Way – WITHOUT A Catch!

Can You Really Make Money from Internet?

I Do NOT believe it at the first place until I make my first US$100 from Google AdSense in 16 DAYS using one niche Blog!

For more info

SwordFinder on November 19th, 2008 at 8:05 am

Hi Wai Loong,

I’m still puzzled at how some blogs traffic suddenly shoots up from 10 visitors to 3000 in a matter of 2 days. How do they do it? I don’t think submitting to article directories, social bookmarking and networking can give that kind of result. Any ideas?

And is it recommended to submit our site to payable link directories instead of free ones (with reciprocal link required)?

Wai Loong on November 19th, 2008 at 7:28 pm

Hi SwordFinder!

Traffic can increase dramatically if the theme of the blog closely touches the heart (desirable), or deeply affecting readers emotionally or financially. Of course, you will need a huge audience that you have already built up elsewhere, such as one from a closely or related industry that must share a similar topic of interest.

I haven’t submit my URL to any paid directories yet. I prefer to build traffic the old fashion way first; deliver quality content and values to visitors, while occasionally exchanging RSS feeds or links with quality blogs or sites that share similar interests. ๐Ÿ™‚

Another method I do consistently is to drive traffic from email links and social networking portals, such as Twitter and Facebook.

Do you mind sharing your traffic building secrets? ๐Ÿ™‚

SwordFinder on November 19th, 2008 at 8:07 pm

Well that I don’t have, this is my first blog so I’m actually starting to build my audience.

I don’t have any traffic building secrets (100% newbie), in fact ur alexa ranking is higher than mine ๐Ÿ™‚

but I can let u know how I started and what I’m looking at. Initially I did some research before starting so I read quite a few ebooks on blogging and internet marketing before going for a course. I use article writing, social bookmarking & networking, youtube (just posted my 1st video) and basic SEO.

I was excited at first during the first week after getting indexed in Google coz it sent bout 20-30 unique visitors to my blog daily. some of the keyword appeared in Google search first page. managed to make some affiliate sales as well. few days later suddenly they all disappeared, now bout 5 Google visitors daily (easy come easy goes). still trying to figure out why, but i noticed everytime i post new article with new keyword, the older articles get ‘pushed out’ from the blog main page and their keyword don’t rank on Google first page anymore. So I concluded my main page is the one bringing Google traffic and if the new article keyword is too competitive, I lose old and new traffic. Do u know how to make individual article page to rank higher than the blog main page? My understanding is individual page has higher keyword density and proximity, so it should be better.

What do u mean drive traffic from email links? is it the opt-in list that you built before?

SwordFinder on November 19th, 2008 at 8:20 pm

Well that one I don’t have, this is my first blog and I’m just starting to create my audience.

I don’t have any traffic secrets (100% newbie), ur alex ranking is better than mine ๐Ÿ™‚

but I can share how I started out and what I’m looking at. I read quite a few ebooks on internet marketing and blogging before taking up a 3 days short course. During the first week after my blog got indexed by Google, search traffic alone shot up to 20-30 visitors daily. I was excited and expected it to go higher each day. so I posted more articles in my blog and sadly traffic went down to now 5 Google search visitors daily. Still trying to figure out why but roughly noticed that everytime I posted new article with new keywords, the older articles get ‘pushed out’ from the blog main page. so those old keywords don’t appear in Google search first page anymore. If the new article’s keyword is too competitive, I lose both old and new traffic. Do u have any idea how to make individual article URL rank higher than the blog main page URL? My understanding is the keyword density and proximity is higher in individual article URL, so it should have ranked higher than the main page for that keyword. Proves otherwise.

So now I’m focusing more in all the directories – articles (ezine, etc), blog (blotcatalog, etc), social bookmarking (technorati, etc) and networking (facebook). I just posted my first video on youtube (Links below). By the way, what did u mean ‘drive traffic from email links’? is it the opt-in list you built-up before? wow, didn’t notice this comment was that long.

My First Youtube Video

Commission report on December 6th, 2008 at 8:57 pm

Thank you. I just Stumbled on your site today. I had an idea, but youรขโ‚ฌโ„ขve helped me to crystalize my feelings about advertising on my blog.

Alex Tseng on December 9th, 2008 at 4:30 pm

Hi Wai Loong, been very busy

you were there at the T H E M M I seminar ?

I guess there was a multitude of peoples so I didn’t see you ..

Wai Loong on December 10th, 2008 at 11:48 am

Hi Alex! Yes! I was at the MMI seminar in November! ๐Ÿ™‚

This is one kind of seminar you will see all sorts of people who are aspiring to improve their relationship with money. Unfortunately, the facilitators had driven too much marketing which makes it quite boring when they start pushing their sales pitches. Anyway, it’s one kind of experience to learn about how they market they other seminars/workshops.

Anyway, how have you been doing? What are you busy with right now? ๐Ÿ™‚

Be Blessed, Grateful & Good Investing!

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About Insights, Inspirations, Tranquility, Peace and Harmony

Ng Wai Loong

Wai Loong is an electronics engineer by profession. He currently resides in Singapore, a thriving hub at the heart of South-East Asia. When he is not so stress out on the computers or laboratory, he enjoys value reading, jogging at his own pace and blogging in his spare time. Other times, he likes to catch up with some close friends over a cup of latte or teh tarik. As a gift from this friend, you are invited to interact freely with him on his personal blog.

PS: May the person reading this blog transforms his/her businesses, finances, relationships and life for ALL to WIN!