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How does a stay at home dad makes an income online while taking care of the kids at home?

Tim Bonner is a 40-something online entrepreneur who is building online income while taking care of the kids at home. Tim has been making a supplementary income online for over 10 years. In the following interview, Tim shares how he makes money as a blogger and niche site affiliate marketing.

Do you want to start making money as a blogger? Click here for my step-by-step guide on how to start a blog.

Success Harbor: You have been making supplementary income online for over 10-years. Please, tell me the different ways you have been making income.

Tim Bonner: When I first became interested in generating an income online, I started with affiliate stores. So I set up several sites with data feeds linking in from some UK affiliate networks. Over time, these generated a pretty good supplementary income. My main blog earns money through sponsored posts, affiliate marketing and other services I offer. I also set up a couple of niche sites which make a passive income from affiliate marketing and advertising revenue.

Success Harbor: How do you find sponsored blog post and product review opportunities?

Tim Bonner: I’ve signed up with a few companies that offer sponsored blog post opportunities. However, I’m keen not to harm my PageRank with posts that contain paid links. I use a couple of the sites which are search engine friendly. That is they allow me to publish sponsored posts with nofollow tags which don’t pass on any PageRank. For product reviews, I usually write about products which I use myself on a daily basis or am testing out. On some occasions, I’ve also been approached to write product reviews in return for a free copy of the software of service. In those cases, I will take those on if they would be beneficial to my readers and if I have full editorial control over what’s written.

Success Harbor: What sites, tools, or forums do you use to find appropriate affiliate programs for your site(s)?

Tim Bonner: I mainly use ClickBank for my niche sites. I also use JVZoo and the Warrior Forum to source other relevant affiliate programs. For most of the products I promote on tim-bonner.com I use Shareasale. 

Success Harbor: Why did you retire you online stores after a Google algorithm change instead of fighting on?

Tim Bonner: At the time I had no idea about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I didn’t know anything about link building or ranking keywords. I set the sites up and luckily they started generating an income. When that income started to dwindle, I didn’t understand why and what I could do about it. I hadn’t realized that it was to do with a Google algorithm change. It was much later on that I learned the reason for my drop in rankings. By that stage I had already retired the sites because of lack of sales.

Success Harbor: When you started the tim-bonner.com blog what were your expectations?

Tim Bonner: I started the tim-bonner.com blog because I was taking a training course about writing an eBook. Part of the training was to set up a blog to help promote sales of the eBook. My expectations weren’t high because I had no experience in writing but I had nothing to lose.

Success Harbor: Was blogging just an experiment, hobby, or did you know from the beginning that you wanted to turn it into a business?

Tim Bonner: To start with, blogging was an after thought because of the training course I mentioned. I started my blog in May 2012 but it took me several attempts and deletions before I was comfortable with the first few posts. I had given up employment in the pensions industry at the end of 2011 to be a stay at home dad. I figured I could earn a supplementary income selling eBooks but I found I enjoyed the blogging much more than writing the eBooks. It was at that point that I started to see blogging as something I could build a business around.

Success Harbor: What is your process to research and identify appropriate affiliate niches, to then create sites around?

Tim Bonner: I use CBEngine to review the statistics for potential products to promote on ClickBank. It helps me to determine whether a product is worth doing any further research on. After I’ve done my initial research on CBEngine, I then use keyword tools to delve into things further. The tools I use are Market Samurai and Long Tail Pro. Both do similar things but I find they often provide different keyword combinations. I then check to see how much competition from other sites there is for keywords and how many people are searching for them on a monthly basis. Both keyword tools help me to determine whether I can rank well on Google and in particular on the first page of the search results. All being well, I will then buy the product and make sure I’m happy to promote it. Without owning the product it would be difficult to build a niche site around it!

Success Harbor: How did you start monetizing your blog?

Tim Bonner: I started out with Adsense and banner advertising. They were the easiest to put in place and then I graduated towards product reviews and sponsored posts.

Success Harbor: How many visitors have you had when you started monetizing?

Tim Bonner: When it came to Adsense I put ads on my blog straight away because the training course I was doing taught that that was the best thing to do. In hindsight, that wasn’t good advice. You need a significant amount of traffic to earn any money from advertising. There’s no harm in putting banner advertising and Adsense on a site from the outset but they’re not likely to convert well.

Success Harbor: What are the most effective ways for you to monetize your blog?

Tim Bonner: I monetize my niche blogs by writing posts around an affiliate product based on keywords I’ve researched. All the posts are then linked to my review of the affiliate product. So far this has allowed me to rank on Google without much extra work and has lead to a passive monthly income. I also use Adsense on these niche blogs to generate extra income. I do use affiliate marketing and sponsored posts on the tim-bonner blog. I no longer use Adsense or banner marketing because it wasn’t worth my while. I also decided it didn’t fit in with the message I wanted to portray on my blog. For the past few months, I’ve been more involved in providing services such as WordPress installs and plugin help. I intend to develop this to include other services in the future and that’s the way I intend to monetize my site going forward.

Success Harbor: What were the most effective ways to drive traffic to your site when you started out?

Tim Bonner: The most effective way I discovered early on was blog commenting. By leaving meaningful comments on other blogs in your niche you can generate referral traffic. You do have to be consistent with it and comment on at least five blog posts per day. The good thing is that you can also develop some strong relationships with other bloggers.

Success Harbor: What are the most effective ways to drive traffic to your site today?

Tim Bonner: I aim to diversify traffic sources so that there is an equal measure of direct, referral, social media and organic traffic. One of the most effective ways I use to drive traffic to my site is by using social media. I use Twitter but I’m keen to increase my use of Pinterest too. I also use keyword research to help with organic traffic from search engines. I use long-tail keywords as much as I can to give credence to the main keyword in each blog post. I use Market Samurai to help with this. Blog commenting is still part of my strategy to generate traffic as well but less so nowadays. I tend to use it more now to build relationships with like-minded bloggers.

Success Harbor: Can you give us some specific examples of marketing/getting more visitors to your blog today?

Tim Bonner: One way that I’m experimenting with is by using email marketing. Subscribers are a good way to generate traffic because they have already indicated they like your stuff by signing up. I’m setting up an autoresponder series to generate traffic from my subscribers to some of my archive posts. I’m also testing out a 5-3-2 strategy with social media sharing. For every 10 messages I send, five are content from others, three are relevant content from my blog and two are personal. It doesn’t have to be rigid on the 5-3-2 model but it’s helping me stay organized. So far, the results have been promising with a good increase in traffic from social media networks.

Success Harbor: How many different ways are you able to monetize your blog today?

Tim Bonner: I use affiliate marketing as well as sponsored posts on my blog to generate an income. I also help people with their own blogs behind the scenes. On my niche sites, I use Adsense and banner advertising.

Success Harbor: How much traffic does your blog get in a month?

Tim Bonner: It varies depending on how much I’ve been promoting my blog but around 2,500 to 5,000 visitors per month. It’s growing as I get to spend more time on content and marketing. At the same time, it’s manageable with my role of being a stay at home dad.

Success Harbor: Can you give me some specifics in terms of using social media to drive traffic to your site?

Tim Bonner: One of my favorite tools to drive traffic from social media to my site is Triberr. It’s amazing how large a potential reach you can have by joining tribes and participating. It helps to bring in traffic from Twitter in particular. I also spend time engaging on social media and searching for relevant questions that people have. By providing them with the answer and referring them to one of my blog posts, it helps to drive traffic as well as bring return visitors.

Success Harbor: Which one is your favorite social network and why?

Tim Bonner: Twitter is by far my favorite social network. I find it easier to engage and connect with people using it than other networks. There are also many useful tools to analyze results and find influential people.

Success Harbor: What advice do you have for those that haven’t been able to monetize their blogs?

Tim Bonner: If I started again, I wouldn’t have taken the advice on the course I did which started me on my blogging journey. From my experience, you need to think beyond Adsense and banner advertising. Unless you’re building niche sites you also need to do more than rely on affiliate marketing. I would’ve thought more about what I can help others with and what outcome I wanted to happen. It’s important to think of the value you can bring to them. It’s best to research your chosen niche to make sure there’s a demand before you do anything. That will also define what your potential customers need and want. I would then have either come up with a coaching program or a service which I could charge my customers for. It’s only then that I’d set up my blog and create posts around the valuable outcome I wanted to provide. I now do this with the services I offer but it would have been much easier had I figured this out from the beginning. It’s also important to collect email address from subscribers from day one via an opt-in form. Subscribers are a great way to bring traffic to your blog. As they’ve already signed up to receive emails from you they’re also prequalified. It’s important to provide value to your subscribers rather than constant marketing. Otherwise, they won’t stay on your list for long!

Success Harbor: What do you think bloggers should spend their time on to be successful?

Tim Bonner: You can have great content but if no-one’s reading it then that’s a waste of time. I think bloggers need to spend most of their time on promoting themselves. It’s not just that though. We need to be reaching out to influencers in our niche, engaging and sharing their stuff and forming relationships. An endorsement from an influencer will do wonders for traffic generation, branding and credibility.

Success Harbor: Where do you look to find popular topics to write about?

Tim Bonner: I have many blogs which I follow via Feedly and I add new ones regularly. I usually get great inspiration from the blogs that I follow. I use BuzzSumo and Topsy to see which blog posts have done well on social media. I also find inspiration from the posts I see on sites like Swayy and Triberr and from questions on Quora.

Success Harbor: How do you improve content, so it is better than what’s out there?

Tim Bonner: I research other articles written on the subject I want to cover and then look at the how many sites are linking in. I write something even better by making my post longer, more up-to-date, better designed and more thorough. I also scan the comments section to see whether there are any unanswered questions which I can cover in my post.

Success Harbor: What is your biggest win as an entrepreneur?

Tim Bonner: I’m networking with some of the most influential bloggers in my niche and am getting positive feedback. I’m also making a passive income from my niche sites as well as building my blog around the services I can now provide.

Success Harbor: What is your biggest loss as an online entrepreneur?

Tim Bonner: Time. My family comes first as a stay at home dad and my blog comes second. Often there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done.

Success Harbor: What is your goal for your blog?

Tim Bonner: I want it to be a place where people come to find valuable information, join in the conversation and network with me and others. The end goal is to build a successful and thriving business around my blog based on the services I can provide to fellow bloggers.

Success Harbor: Is there a question I haven’t asked that you wish I had?

Tim Bonner: Yes, what’s the best thing about having your own blog?

It’s fantastic to be able to help people by sharing my own blogging journey. I want to teach them what I’m learning in a way that is easy to understand. It’s interesting to be able to meet and reach out to so many people.

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Say hi to Tim at tim-bonner.com.