Rob Benwell's Blogging To The Bank 2.0 is a detailed breakdown and explanation of the techniques used by one of England's youngest and most commercially successful bloggers to create profitable blogs that draw in thousands of targeted visitors. Or so he says — so let's find out!
Compared to the original version, BTTB2 is a completely re-written work and Benwell claims that it's not necessary to have previous blogging or Internet marketing experience. His techniques come in two parts, a basic blueprint designed for new bloggers followed by a new section for serious bloggers featuring more advanced techniques. I'm about to try out both sets of techniques and report what happens for our mutual greater understanding and, who knows, possibly profits, too.
After introducing himself and detailing his background and previous experience, Benwell sets the framework for his approach, stating, "The only way to have long term blogs that produce results for months to come is to follow the 5 blogging commandments".
So we're all working from the same perspective, here are the five commandments in full:
1) Imitate Nature: Don’t go stuffing keywords into posts or overdoing on page SEO. Google, Yahoo, and MSN are looking for quality sites by real people, not someone spitting out hundreds of blogs per month filled with keywords and ads.
2) Add Some Visitor Value: About every post you write should offer some value to your readers. Now this doesn't mean it has to change their life or anything but it needs to offer them value. Even posts about a related article with a link or a product review are good. Blogs filled with RSS vomit don’t offer value and won't last.
3) Make It Sticky: Your blog should have people coming back to it and reading it again and again. Make sure you include RSS reader buttons so visitors can subscribe to the feed. Also opt-in newsletters that offer more than just updates are a good idea but the number one way to get people to come back is to offer excellent likable content.
4) Don’t Let Your Blog Die: After testing I've seen huge differences in blogs that are kept updated and offers that don’t get new posts. You don't have to post every day or even every week but make sure you don't just set them up and forget about them because they will die off and lose traffic.
5) Market = Profit: If you are after making the most money you can from a blog them the most important decision you make will be the market you blog for so make sure you research it well first.
From there we move on to his step-by-step blueprint, which I intend to follow precisely, so let's get started.
Step one is market research and the first thing to decide is whether to target an affiliate product market or rely on Google AdSense or other advertising to generate money. Benwell has always had more success with affiliate marketing so in the great tradition of following in the guru's footsteps, I'm going to do the same.
Affiliate marketing is the art of creating a market for someone else's pre-existing product, which can be a physical product like a book or a computer or something your customer can download immediately after buying, like software or e-Books. As the go-between sending customers to your chosen affiliate partner, you make a commission for each and every sale you generate. Any affiliate program worth signing up for won't charge you a single cent for joining; if there is a charge, simply don't bother with it, there's a lot of choice.
There are literally hundreds of affiliate programs out there, some are run by companies in-house but the vast majority of businesses, from huge multi-national corporations like airlines or credit card companies to one man bands selling their own eBooks, use specialist affiliate program companies.
Probably the most well-known of these is Amazon but to get started we're going to once again take Benwell's advice and start with ClickBank, a company which focuses on info products and software. Signing up is easy, a simple one-page, fill-in-the-blanks thing and you're set. Once signed up, click over to the marketplace and do some basic research on products you might want to sell. There is a very broad range of choices, from Business through to Society & Culture; one good tip I can give you is to focus on something you are already interested in.
The key to finding a viable market lies in identifying keyword phrases that get enough search engine results as to indicate there is enough demand to hope to generate enough traffic – and therefore sales – to make your efforts worthwhile and Benwell explains clearly how to conduct this fundamental research.
As the Virtual Income series of articles is all about learning how to make money online, for the purposes of this review I've decided to choose some high-paying ClickBank affiliate products in the very competitive field around the basic keyword phrase "how to make money online". There are literally hundreds of this type of product and it can be very difficult to get a high enough profile and therefore enough traffic to your blog to actually make any significant money. If you decide to purchase Blogging To The Bank, currently a $47 downloadable eBook that also comes with a host of free bonus resources, and follow Benwell's techniques, I strongly recommend that you choose a less fiercely competitive area and preferably a subject about which you already have some knowledge.
To create your blog, Benwell strongly recommends using your own webhosting account and WordPress. He recommends Yahoo Small Business for their reliability and ease of use, though there are of course many other possibilities. However, for the purposes of this review I'm going to use one of my Google Blogger accounts to set up a demonstration site and just hope that they don't shut it down as a splog!
Having set up a blog, the next concern is content. Remember the fourth blogging commandment? Don't let your blog die by failing to keep adding fresh content. This can of course be a real problem for some people who are either unable to write regularly or, like me, are too busy simply keeping their head above water to take on yet another writing responsibility. Fortunately there are several solutions to be found on the web. In addition to writing his own content, Benwell uses a subscription service called PLR Pro, which costs $97 a month for 440 articles in 11 different niche subjects, but there are cheaper options.
Benwell lists a variety of sources for either paid freelance or entirely free of charge content and a quick search will turn up those exact same sites, too. Top of the list when I searched were iSnare and Uber Articles and I shall be using content from these and other sources of free content for my demo sites. Benwell's technique is to use a mixture of all the above methods as he is now running a network of literally dozens of blogs.
Another crucial issue is optimizing your blog, which means making it look good, easy to read and navigate through, and keeping it search engine-friendly. There is a ton of good advice in Blogging To The Bank, from using distinctive, preferably unique, design to adding RSS Reader icons and, a key point, collecting reader email addresses. He also gives detailed explanations of how to tweak the WordPress code properly for maximum Search Engine Optimization (SEO) benefit and user friendliness, which I am going to duplicate on Blogger. For reference purposes, the site I have set up on Blogger is How To Make Money Online.
Having got your site established, the next thing is to get your site noticed and Benwell details a broad variety of ways to do this, including pinging; article syndication, to facilitate which he includes a free software program with the e-Book which, though fairly basic and in need of an update, is a real time saver; link exchanges; press releases; forums; and getting free or paid links back to your site. Another related major chapter covers newer techniques, generally known as Web 2.0 promotion and traffic generation techniques. Benwell highlights his four top sites in useful "how to" detail, which are Squidoo, Digg, del.icio.us and Technorati.
Obviously, really committing to Rob Benwell's Blogging To The Bank techniques is going to take an ongoing commitment of time and modest resources, more than I can give for review purposes here. He claims to be making a six figure income through persistent application and in his ninth and final step explains how and where he finds freelance writers and coders to outsource a lot of the grunt work, leaving him more time to manage his blog empire.
He closes by detailing some extra techniques for maximising the income from your site, doing advanced SEO and also offers an affiliate opportunity to promote his e-Book. His last words are probably the most pertinent:
The worst thing you can do is put this e-book down and not do anything with the amazing information you've just learnt. So at least do a little research, make a plan of action for yourself over the next week or so and stick to it. Here's to your blogging success.
If you are attracted to the idea of blogging your way to financial freedom, this e-book will serve as your guide.