By Chuck Woodbury
The headline above is: How to make money from your blog or website. But what if it had been “Make an easy $1,000 a day off your blog or website.” A lot more people would read the article, don’t you think?
Let’s say 10,000 people read the first version, and 25,000 the second. Say the blogger makes about a penny a view on average from advertising. That means they made $100 with the first headline, or $250 for the second. Which headline is true? The first. The second is sensational — an exaggeration. But that’s what a blogger does, exaggerate, if the intent is more about making money than presenting the truth.
Anyone, big business or a one-person operation, can make money publishing a blog or website. It all boils down to how many people read it. Lots of readers means lots of money. Few readers mean you earn pocket change.
How do you actually make the money?
If you own a website or blog you can sign up to show Google AdSense ads on your site. You just put a few pieces of code on your website or blog and the ads appear automatically. We do this and earn about 20 percent of our income this way. Basically, the more people read your website the more you earn. Maybe you make $5 or $10 per thousand readers. Some blogs and websites make far more. Some bloggers make more than a million dollars year.
You can also sign up for an Amazon affiliate program. Link to products on Amazon and if someone clicks there you get a little commission, a small percentage of the sale. But with lots of traffic, those sales add up.
The easy way to make big money is to do whatever you can to attract traffic. Sadly, that often means running sensational headlines. How many times have you been suckered into clicking an ad or teaser that says, “Famous celebrities of the ’80s. You won’t believe what they look like now!” And so you click through 75 pages before you see the pic of Barbie Benton as she looks today. If that website makes an average of a penny per page view from advertising like AdSense, they just made 75 cents off you.
If RVtravel.com was just about making money, I could make a wad of it. I know how to do it. I’d run juicy headlines that were hard to resist:
• Is Winnebago secretly owned by the son of Saddam Hussein?
• Is your motorhome a moving time bomb?
• Is Camping World on the brink of bankruptcy?
• Is it true? Study shows glues in RVs are killing people!
Oh, I could be really creative:
“Are Thor executives plotting to destroy the Democratic Party?”
The answer to all those story headlines is no. But if you post a story with one of these headlines, people will read it, lots of them! What you do is basically concoct a story, write a sensational headline (usually a question) and then in the end say, no, the glues are not really killing people and, no, it’s just a mean rumor about Thor and the Democrats.
But if I wrote such a story on my blog, I’d sucker in a lot of readers. Ka-ching!
I could write stories like these in my sleep. If I didn’t have ethics, I could make a fortune. I’d start by creating a website called the “Seattle Register-Guard,” and make it look like a legitimate publication, then I’d start posting phony or at least exaggerated stories. People would believe them and post them on Facebook. Word would spread – all of it fake! Those Social Media exposures would send people back to my website where I’d earn a penny or two for every page they read. Ka-ching!
You hear about Fake News? The fake news is from all those websites and blogs that post this kind of crap. The real, legitimate media, which is sadly dying, tries to take the high road by researching a story before publishing it. Say, a popular blogger with no ethics who cares only about making a lot of money posts a story with a headline like this: “Does Hillary have a secret lover?”
If he writes it convincingly, he could even leave the impression she, indeed, does have a secret lover, even though the blogger won’t come right out and say it and risk being sued. But people who don’t like Hillary will post the page to their Social Media accounts and the fake news will spread like wildfire.
The legitimate press will not even report this. And even if an unethical blogger does post something sensational that does have some truth to it, the mainstream press might look into it, but in the time it takes to get the facts straight and prove it fake, the public has forgotten about the original story, leaving the blogger’s fake story cemented in their mind.
As far as RVtravel.com goes, we could post sensationalized stories all day and night. We could reprint a story word-for-word from a local newspaper that showed a photo of a terrible RV wreck. We’d just lift the story, maybe adding a few juicy words of our own, and then post a headline that said something like this: “Horrible RV wreck kills two. What went terribly wrong?”
I’ll be honest. We are guilty of doing a bit of this sometimes, but rarely. We know full well that a “grabber” headline will draw more readers. In the instance above, the tamer headline might be: “RV accident kills two.” Which one will draw the biggest audience? Easy to answer that.
Here’s what this all boils down to. I can pay a writer to do a story about the best insurance policies for full-timers. He or she will spend hours on it, talking with various companies and doing other research. To get the story done properly, I’d need to pay him or her a few hundred dollars. In the end, we’d post the story which might get 10,000 views. If we averaged a penny a view, RVtravel.com would lose $200 on the deal.
For all the time that writer spent doing that important, factual story, I could have asked instead for 25 quickies, lifting articles from other sources (called “aggregating” to legitimize the act) with sensational headlines, and draw a total of 250,000 page views. If I paid that writer the same, then at an average of a penny a view we’d make $2,500, or a profit of $2,200. Do you see now why fake news is so prevalent, and why if a person who had decent writing skills, but no ethics, might choose to write fake stories instead of spending far more time on factual ones that earn far less?
So when I ask the readers of RVtravel.com to pitch in to support our efforts as a voluntary subscriber, I’m asking them to help us afford to spend our time on the truth rather than hustle our income by lying or exaggerating.
There’s a whole lot more to this subject, but that’s for another time.