5 tactics Ryan Robinson used to build a $30,000+ per month revenue blog
First things first. It took at least two years for Ryan to start generating some serious income from his blog. He launched the blog in 2014, but his first monthly income report of $9,322.89 was published in January 2018.
Ryan himself wishes he knew how long it takes for content marketing to start generating money. Now, with six years of experience and the numbers to back it up, he doesn’t expect his new posts to start ranking on page one of Google any sooner than after six months.
If you do have a stable income stream already and are looking for a good long-term investment, look no further. Ryan’s 244 blog posts he wrote in six years are now generating him a secure $30,000-ish income every month. Here are the tactics he used to get to this point:
1. He Writes Massive 10,000+ Word Posts
Looking at Ryan’s top traffic generators, one thing that stands out instantly are his posts’ length. They’re enormous articles filled with substance, with an average length of 11,956 words. In fact, Ryan’s two best-performing articles are 17,703 and 15,217 words long.
He does this to consistently rank high for audacious keywords. Ryan’s top-performing blog post ranks fifth for “business ideas”on Google, a 100,000+ monthly search-volume keyword that is dominated by the likes of Entrepreneur, HubSpot, and Shopify. On my screen, Rob’s article ranks second for the keyword, and that is not a trivial achievement for a solopreneur blog.
Ryan’s bread and butter post type is the listicle. He writes massive, exhaustive lists that leave no stone unturned. 101 Business Ideas, 70 Genius Ways to Make Money Online, 78 Best Freelance Jobs Websites, 60 Best Remote Jobs Websites — Ryan’s posts could each be turned into a healthy ebook.
The second type of post he writes is guides: How to Start a Blog in 2020, 6 Steps How to Get a Remote Job This Weekend, 10 Steps How to Start a Freelancing Business While Working Full-Time. His guides are just as long and all-encompassing as his lists. Ryan himself says that Google tends to surface extremely long-form content.
2. He Makes 92% of His Income From Affiliate Deals
Ryan used to be a freelancer, so he writes about freelancing and making money online. His top three affiliates, which comprise roughly 95% of his earnings, are Bluehost, Dreamhost, and Flexjobs (remote work platform).
Ryan doesn’t talk about it, but many aspiring bloggers select a niche “based on their passion” — like kiting or karate. That’s the advice they’re given.
The problem is that not every niche can be easily monetized. Hosting affiliate deals are simply amazing: You can set them up in a day, get your account approved by the end of the week, and receive good commissions consistently to your bank account. Dreamhost, for example, offers up to $250 per referral, while Bluehost pays a flat fee of $65 per each qualified sign-up.
There may not be obvious ways to monetize something like a farming website. You may attract an amazingly engaged and loyal audience, but you’ll have to get creative trying to monetize it. Why not just find an intersection between what you like and what people are ready to pay money for? Ryan is passionate about lots of things, but he chose to write about freelancing because that’s where the money is.
3. He Includes Influencers in the Writing Process
Anyone with basic knowledge of SEO knows that backlinks are a thing, and Ryan confirms this. Backlinks show Google your “social status” within your ecosystem. If Seth Godin quotes you, Google knows your marketing advice means something.
Ryan’s little freelancing blog has 31.4K backlinks, some of them from web behemoths like Apache.org, HubSpot, Sitepoint, Backlinko, Linkedin blog, GoDaddy, Yelp, and Money.com.
Some backlinks come organically. For others, Ryan has a few tricks up his sleeve.
His prized technique is to include influencers in his writing process. He will schedule a call with them, interview them, and mention them in whatever article he is writing. This, he says, dramatically increases the likelihood they will actually link back to you. As opposed to just writing a post and then reaching out with a Hey, I mentioned you in… type of message.
Since all of Ryan’s blog posts are ambitious, he easily justifies creating some marketing collateral to entice backlinks. For example, he sometimes creates a lengthy infographic to support his blog post. He does not always include the infographic in the post itself — he just uses it to reach out to people to get shares and backlinks.
4. He Updates His Blog Posts Regularly
Many people, myself included, think of blogging as a set-it-and-forget-it type of thing. You write a blog post, it either soars or flops, and whatever happens next is out of your control.
Wrong. Google openly encourages content creators to keep updating their content on a regular basis.
If you scroll through Ryan’s blog posts, you’ll quickly see they all have an “updated on…” tag next to the title. Most of his posts have a year in the title. Right now, it’s 2020.
Ryan aims to update three or four posts each week. He adds a few tips, cleans out the no-longer-relevant bits, changes time-sensitive information, and hits re-publish. His posts may fluctuate in popularity, but they never tank.
5. He Keeps Things Personal
On Medium, it’s quite expected for writers to be personal, to share and be vulnerable. However, that is not necessarily what you might expect out of a Google first-page result.
Whenever he can, Ryan opens his articles with a personal story. He uses bits of his freelancing journey to illustrate whatever subject he is writing on. Here is how he started a list of motivational quotes:
He maintains the personal tone throughout the articles. If he’s writing about books, he will give the reader his own experience of reading those books. If he’s writing about business ideas, he will share his own takes on those ideas. He uses I instead of It’s.
A Few Additional Takeaways
1. He stayed in his lane throughout the years
Once you hit some success, it can be extremely tempting to start trying out other things. There’s nothing wrong with testing, but it’s easy to start digressing towards things that don’t work. Ryan found his formula with 10,000+ listicles and guides, and he stuck with that formula for years.
2. Most of his posts failed
Aside from Ryan’s 16 top-performing posts, his average blog post only scrambles a few hundred views per month. It’s an extreme case of Pareto distribution, but that is just the reality of content marketing. You have to keep pumping out 10,000+ word high-quality blog posts, knowing that 90% of them will fail.
3. He says video is going to be his next tactic
In addition to extremely long-form blogging, Ryan is looking to supplement his writing with videos, too. Video can be an extremely intimidating format if you’ve never done it before, but it really isn’t. If you’re really uncomfortable filming yourself talking, you can simply go for quick Lumen5 summaries. Google loves to prioritize good video, and so do high-ticket backlinkers — and so should you.
4. He kept his day job
It took years for Ryan to start generating serious income from his blogging efforts. And writing 244 book-worthy posts is by no means a passive activity. But Ryan still has a day job and he still freelances. So making money from his blog wasn’t a life-or-death type of thing. It was a side hustle, and it still is.