Almost two years ago, in February 2010, we ran a story on JCMayer777 and all the success he was having with InfoBarrel. InfoBarrel has changed since then, we've launched InfoBarrel 2.0 and we've survived through a number of Google Algorithm changes. What matters is that we've come out on top and we're happy with what we've accomplished.
Not only has InfoBarrel grown since February 2010, but so has JCMayer777 and his success with InfoBarrel. Back in early 2010, Jason was striving to hit $1000 per month. Two years later and he has made that look like child's play. In this interview not only will Jason tell you how far he has come since we last spoke, he will also share some of his valuable knowledge which I can only hope will help take other InfoBarrel writers to the next level.
It has been a little bit since our last interview, how have things been since?
Everything has been going pretty well. I have my health, as do my kids. Probably cannot ask for much more than that. I do have a few planned changes that I’m checking out right now.
I’m looking at buying a new house this winter or early spring. Right now, that’s one of my main focuses. I’m pretty picky about what I want, so it’s tough to say how long it will take to find the right one. I have a general location where I want to be within my hometown, so it’s just a matter of the right one popping up on the market.
I still work a fulltime job as a jail guard, primarily because of health insurance, but I actually make more online now than I do offline, even when I work overtime. Plus, I’ve kind of become accustomed to the level of income I’m making now between both sources, so I’ll probably hold off on quitting my “regular” job even when the income goes up enough to support my lifestyle and pay for health insurance. I only write on the side now and although I love it, I don’t know if I’d want to commit to doing it fulltime.
We know you've been having a lot of success here on IB, what is the most you've made?
My best month so far was right around $2,800, which happened in November, 2011. The vast majority of my earnings come from AdSense, but Chitika and Amazon earnings are starting to pick up.
As odd as it may sound, I actually left a lot of money on the table. It wasn’t until the beginning of that month that I actually got around to creating some Amazon links for affiliate income. Granted, many of my articles aren’t really conducive to Amazon, but there’s no doubt that I could have made more. I have to suspect I could have made over $3,000 on InfoBarrel if I had taken the time.
Even just now, as I’m thinking about it, I just cannot believe it. Just a few years back I would have loved to make $2,800 per month and now I’m making that on InfoBarrel in my spare time. There was a time, early on in my InfoBarrel career, that I wrote a lot and spent tons of time on it, but now, it’s blossoming on its own, without me doing much to help. I guess that’s what passive income is really about.
When you break that total down, it works out to about $6 per article, per month. In a year, that’s $72 and after 4 years it’s $288 from each article. The old cliché applies – it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Have you changed any of your strategies since the last interview? If so, what are you doing differently?
I haven’t made giant changes, but I have made some. I’ve stated in the past, both on my earning reports and on the InfoBarrel forums, that I feel a writer needs to focus on SEO. Not the SEO of today, but what’s coming down the road. If you can stay one step ahead of the game, I don’t think you have to work nearly as hard to get the results you desire.
One of the main changes I’ve made is the way I optimize my articles on the page. In the past, on-page SEO was mostly about density and repetition in the proper quantity. I wrote the bulk of my articles with this philosophy. I actually used a smaller density percentage than recommended by most gurus and used synonyms and LSI words liberally throughout the article. I’ve altered that a little. I think this helped me survive and flourish after the Panda updates that killed the earnings of so many authors.
These days, I don’t worry about the density nearly as much as I do about synonyms and LSI. It seems to be paying off, so I cannot complain too much. My earnings reports of the last few months have had some tips in them that state what I’ve been doing to earn money on InfoBarrel.
How do you decide what to write?
I love keywords. I really feel choosing the right keyword for an article is one of the easiest ways to succeed with online writing. While there are probably fewer untapped niches today than there were three years ago when I started making money online, there are still plenty, if you can find them. I’m not going to give away all my secrets, but I’ll give you a little background insight into how I select the right keywords.
When I started out about 3 years back, I wanted to find a way to determine what keywords were the best to use. I used a free keyword tool at that time and started to record and track scores for them, whenever I found one that appealed to me. It became pretty apparent to me that I could take a somewhat scientific approach to the selection.
I designed a sliding scale ratio over time. I would record the score from each set of keywords onto paper and then check Google search results for the same keywords. I kept the keywords separated by length and gave preference to longer strings of keywords. In other words, I had a list of keywords that were 3 words long, 4 words long, 5 words long, etc. I would take the keyword tool score and the Google search results and turn them into a ratio. If the Google search results were 300,000 and the keyword tool score was 300 for that string of keywords, I’d divide them out and it would be 1,000 to 1. I’d write on the lower ratios and skip the higher ones, after applying some additional filters. Eventually, I came up with ratio guidelines that had the best potential.
Now, I mentioned that I gave preference to longer strings of keywords. I would add about 50% to the acceptable ratio for the addition of each keyword in the string. So, if a 3 keyword string needed a ratio of 1,000 to 1 to have proper potential, a 4 word string could be 1,500 to 1, and a 5 word string could be 2,250 to 1, etc. I played around with other keyword tools and found that as long as I compared ratios always using the same keyword tool and only those from Google results, I could quickly come up with what would be acceptable ratios. The ratios of course changed, since different keyword tools gave different scores to keywords, but the point was that the lower the ratio, the better potential. The key is to always use the same tool and always use the same search engine results. After that, it’s easy to develop the ratios.
I also mentioned that I had a few filters. I’d check Google results and see if the first page had any plain-jane blogs listed or other revenue sharing sites. If there were eHow, HubPages, or other revenue sharing sites there, I tried to beat them. I’d also use the allintitle: command on Google. If there were a ton of results that showed up, but very few on the front page, I’d generally skip it. Sometimes I’d get a little full of myself and decide I could beat out everyone, but...
While I use paid keywords tools now, I know for a fact this method still works. I’m putting all this out there in hopes that some people will give it a try and see some results. I’d like to also suggest that people explore keyword tools that don’t generate their results from Google’s keyword tool, which everyone else uses. I think you’ll be surprised by the results. My best earning article made well over $350 just in November, but it shows a zero for search results in their keyword tool. This is far from the only one that earns well for that shows nothing or almost nothing on their tool.
A couple other little tips I’d give to people about keywords: You are only measuring potential. A keyword can look like the greatest thing ever, but still never produce. The 80/20 rule still applies. You also have to use strong SEO to ensure you rank well. Take the time to study up on SEO.
You talk a lot about LSI on the forums, do you have any pointers you'd like to share?
As you know, I wrote and ebook course with x3xsolxdierx3x (Howie) called InfoBarrel Success. One of the courses deals specifically with Latent Semantic Indexing and Analysis (LSI, LSA). In my opinion, this is the future of the online writing world. Before too long, things like keyword density will mean absolutely nothing.
I wrote about this as a tip to authors one my InfoBarrel earning reports. It’s actually much more involved than what I wrote, but it gives out the basics. I’ll just copy and paste that here, since it’s pretty straightforward and I really don’t want to write it all over again.
How to LSI’ify
LSI isn’t really an internet term. It’s been around for decades and predates the internet. It all boils down to mathematics called singular value decomposition (SVD). In written text, you are more likely to see certain words that correlate with each other. This is especially important since some words are spelled the same, but have different meanings. Is an apple a fruit or a brand of computer? If you use LSI words in your articles, the search engines will know the difference (and the ads will match more appropriately).
If you were to give all the information you knew about a topic you were knowledgeable in, there would be certain things you would be likely to type out for the reader. In this example, we are going to assume you are writing an article about some type of charity.
LSI words are words that are somewhat related to the main topic. They are not synonyms. Think about “charity” carefully. If you were well-versed on charity and were to sit down and tell someone everything you know about them, what types of words would likely be uttered? Let’s make a list for illustration purposes.
- Charitable organization
- Nonprofit organization
- Tax deductible
- Worthy cause
- Financial help
- Less fortunate
This is quite literally what just entered my mind as I typed. All of these words are related to the basic theme of “charity.”
LSI’ified (yes, I'm just making that word up) articles will generally have most of these words in them, because they all relate to the basic theme of charity. If you include several of these in your articles and make it pretty natural for the reader, there’s a good chance you’ll rank much better.
Now, you are not likely just to title an article “charity” and you should think about what you’re writing. Some other possible words, depending on what type of charity article you were writing would include: hunger, starving, Africa, third world, etc. Take the title and the basic theme of the article and come up with your lists accordingly.
Personally, I would suggest you type out a quick list, just as I did above for the first several articles you write like this. It will help you find ways to include them in your articles. Once you do it a few times, you should be able to think of most of them on the fly.
What other tips do you have for other writers on the site?
The most important step in writing online for money is studying. I have to suspect it’s the most commonly skipped step. Study search engine optimization, latent semantic indexing, and keyword selection. It might make you feel like you’re not being productive, but from experience, I can assure you, it’s the most productive time you will spend during your entire InfoBarrel writing endeavors. I’ve gotten to the point, through studying and analyzing, where applying SEO/LSI to my articles are second nature and take no more time, yet yield much better results. I have a choice now; I can write 5 articles without regard to SEO and LSI, or I can write 1 and get the same results. That’s productivity.
There are awesome threads on the InfoBarrel forum. The consolidated one tip thread, the free keyword tools thread, and a bunch of others are all great to read. Read through them and you’re bound to learn a great deal. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help on the forums. The InfoBarrel community is somewhat smaller than other sites, but it’s the most friendly, helpful forum I’ve ever seen. Ask questions and you’ll find a lot of us willing and able to help.
I’d also suggest people work to accomplish their goals on InfoBarrel. If the idea is to make money, go for it. If the money isn’t a primary concern and you just want to share your knowledge, this is a great place to do it. If you are looking for nothing more than a place to write a little and meet some new efriends, you’ll find them here. Whatever the goals are, it’s up to you to make them.
I’m getting awfully long-winded here, so I’ll finish up by suggesting writers emulate some of the others on the site.
For Productivity: Sookie and Ernie are the first two that come to mind. I don’t know how those two find the time to write so much. Although I haven’t heard much from either lately, I have to suspect they are both taking a well-deserved break.
Quality Writing: The first two that come to mind are Classicalgeek and a newer member, Vicdillinger. Classicalgeek’s work is always error-free and full of accurate, relevant information. Vicdillinger’s articles are among the most entertaining and unique you’ll ever read. Both of them are absolutely outstanding.
For Giving Back: X3xsolxdierx3X is the most generous and committed of all the writers here, in my opinion. He’s incredibly active on the forum boards and is more than willing to help out anyone. He’s currently in Afghanistan, but finds a little time to hit the boards. Another few are mommymommymommy (I don’t know how she finds the time), Deborah-Diane, DPeach, and JadeDragon, who gives out great advice on the threads. A newcomer that always seems willing to help is Skeffling.
What is your long term goal for IB and how long do you think it will take to achieve?
It’s winter, I live in Wisconsin and I hate the cold, so I pretty much hunker down and turn into a hermit for about 5 months. This is when I’ll work to achieve my long term goals.
Goal #1 is simply to crack the $3,000 barrier for a single month. I don’t know if it’s going to happen in December or not and things slow down a little the following months, so I’m not sure exactly how long it will take. If I can stay committed to writing during the cold winter months, I’ll have a shot to make it. As you can see through my profile, I pretty much took the summer months off. This truly is a spare time thing for me, despite the fulltime income, and I intend to keep it that way during the summer. There’s only so much time to spend out on the four wheelers with the kids, so IB has to take a backseat. Then again, that’s the beauty of this type of site; it can take a backseat and I can continue to earn.
Goal #2 is to eventually hit $5,000 per month on InfoBarrel. Three years ago, I would have thought it an unrealistic dream. Of course, now I know it’s perfectly attainable. Since it’s a spare time deal for me, I think it’s about two years away.
Those are my financial goals. Beyond that, I’d simply like to make some new friends and enjoy myself.