Wednesday, March 5, 2008

10 Ways to Get New Content for Your Website

One of the biggest frustrations I see with people who are interested in earning money using a blog is content creation. The most successful blogs are ones that focus on a niche. Unfortunately writing a minimum of 50 articles a year requires lots of content.

Here's what I recommend in terms of volume of content for a blog.
  • First 30 days: Blog Every Day!
  • After the first 30 days: Blog at least once per week.
  • After the first year: Continue the blog only if it generates solid revenue.
So in the first year you'll need to write 30 articles in month #1, and about 48 articles in months #2 through #12. Many bloggers try to write three or five days a week, although I don't recommend it, because once your blog has a nice body of content, you need to focus as much on promoting as you do on writing.

Getting new content for blog posts and website articles is actually easier than it appears. There's lots of content on the Web.

News Alerts: News alerts are available through Google News, Yahoo News, CNN, Fox News, the New York Times, and just about every other news website on the planet. With these news alerts you enter your keywords, and they send e-mails of articles and links to your inbox. This technique works best with blogs that focus on current events.

Social Bookmarking: There are many websites that allow readers to bookmark interesting articles and blog entries. Some of these websites go on to rank them or allow readers to vote on the most popular. Not only can you find content in your niche, but you can also gauge its popularity among readers. Social bookmarking sites include Digg, Reddit, and del.icio.us.

Article Directories: There are several good article directories. Article directories are repositories for writers to create articles for distribution or syndication. The articles usually contain a link that directs people back to their website. For them it's marketing, for you it's free content. Some popular article directories include Ezine Articles, Articles888, Articles City, Article Basement and Go Articles.

Blog Directories: Bloggers create millions of pages per day, and many of them are on your topic. You can often use these articles as sources of content. Blog directories and blog search engines include Technorati, Google Blogs, plus many of the blogging software websites have directories or resources or browsing. If you're using Blogger with one of the standard templates you can browse blogs by using the navigation bar at the top of your blog.

Surfing: Chances are if you're writing on a niche, you're also reading pages on that same niche. When you find an interesting article or topic, write a post about it. If you can create a link, terrific.

Search Engines: Believe it or not there are more search engines than just Google. It's the most frequently used, so it's incredibly important, but there are literally hundreds of search engines. By using some of the search engines you can find pages that are your direct competitors on key words. Searching terms in your niche will help you find content. The big three are Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft Live Search (formerly MSN). Other prominent players are Ask, Lycos, and the venerable AltaVista. The Open Directory Project is a search engine and directory combined; while it isn't one of the most popular in terms of visitors, it's highly regarded by other search engines. Additionally there are hundreds of search engines that focus on niche markets. Get familiar with many of them.

Newsletter Subscriptions: Many websites publish newsletters. Some of these newsletters are incredible sources of content because their content never reaches the web. When I do a newsletter I always archive back issues on the web, but a few websites do this. Therefore you have access to articles that have never appeared on the World Wide Web.

RSS feeds: Feeds are a blogger's best friend. When you find a great blog, subscribe to the feed. That way you have tons of content delivered directly to your desktop or home page. There are standalone feed readers, homepage feed readers, and the newest versions of Firefox and Internet Explorer both have the feed readers built in.




Social Networking: Social networking websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace don't receive much attention from search engines because much of the content is behind login screens, and public content varies widely both in topic in quality. However, there are groups in niches that are sharing lots of terrific topic ideas. Becoming an active participant in one or more social networks can breed terrific article ideas.

Creative Commons: Creative Commons is a repository for individual websites and writers who donate some, or all, of their copyrights to the public domain. If you don't know much about copyrights, it's also a great knowledge base. It also has a search engine that allows you to search for articles in various stages of public domain.

Website Marketing Tip #1: Obviously, using all 10 of these techniques will generate far more content than you need. However, it's also important from a marketing perspective to be very familiar with all of these techniques. These same methods you're using to find content will also be methods that individuals are using to find you!

WARNING: Don't steal! Three reasons not to steal content. #1) It may be illegal. Most website content is covered by copyright laws, unless the author specifically states that they have donated the content to the public domain. #2) It is rude. Would you want someone claiming your article or blog post as their own? While you certainly can generate ideas, and even use some content verbatim, always cite sources and give credit where credit is due. It's good Netiquette. #3) Search engines may HATE you. Search engines look at website content, and some of them are lowering the page rank of websites that have identical content to other websites.

Always create original content. It doesn't have to be long, 200 to 400 words is easy to crank out. This article for example is about 1100 words.

Making money with your blog isn't difficult, but blogging isn't easy. Remember, I never promised you easy money, and I never will.

However, it gets easier. You start seeing the world with what I call "Article Eyes" where everything that you see, do, or read triggers a question, "Would this make a decent article?", in the back of your mind.

Happy writing!
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