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The 80/20 Rule You Should Live By

This article has been generously donated to InfoBarrel for Charities.
By Edited Dec 21, 2015 56 37

I wanted to take just a little time to try to help out some of my fellow InfoBarrel authors and explain something I think people often forget when trying to write online for money.  This article might not explain all the methods you can use to make money, but it will explain some of my personal philosophies that I use to this day, which has allowed me to do pretty well. 

Virtually everyone by now has heard about the 80/20 rule as it pertains to online writers.  Essentially, the rule states that 80% of your income will come from 20% of your articles.  Some people these days call it the 90/10 rule, but it has the same basic meaning.  Maybe the best way to explain my personal philosophy with online writing is to suggest a new 80/20 rule that online writers should live by.

The New 80/20 Rule

It is simple – spend 80% of your time studying and 20% of your time writing.  This is especially important in the beginning of your online writing venture.  I generally manage to write less than 10 articles per month these days, but I did put in a lot of work to get to that point.  The most important thing I did, in my opinion, was study.  I learned all I could about SEO and LSI in the early going.  It is harder these days to get good info online, but it can still be done.  Virtually everyone that asks me what they are doing wrong or for help is told by me to spend time learning and not just writing.

Spend Time Now – Save Time Later

While I don’t have any specific statistics, from my own personal observation, I find that for every minute I spend studying, I save at least three minutes over the course of time.  Just take a look at my profile for proof, if you need it.  From August 17th, 2011, through today, January 17, 2012, I wrote 54 articles.  This includes some articles donated to charity and articles I just wrote for kicks, not money.  I only average about 10 per month anymore.  Granted, I did write a little for some other sites, but I do this very part-time.  I personally view my time of equal importance to the money I make.  I knocked myself out in the early going, but only after I studied appropriately and learned the tricks to online publishing.

What I Study

There are several things I study as it pertains to online writing for money.  Listed below are some of the things I look at when I decide to write for earnings.

  • Keywords:  Everyone is probably sick and tired of hearing me harp on keywords, but it is where I spend a good portion of my time.  It all starts out with good keywords, but you also have to know how to use them appropriately.


  • SEO:  What is working and what isn’t?  I have adjusted my methods a little because I spent more time studying and analyzing results.  I am not nearly as concerned about what is working today as I am concerned about what is likely to work tomorrow. (Hint)



  • AdSense/Analytics:  Some topics will earn more than others no matter what you do.  I study the results that Google lets me study.  I look at CTR, views, and eCPM first and foremost.  I also compare month to month to see what topics and articles are rising and falling.


  • Evergreen content:  I pay much more attention to evergreen topics than seasonal topics, but I do consider Christmas an exception.  I use a pretty loose definition for evergreen though.  Just about anything that’s not a flash in the pan, current trend and is likely to be around in a few years counts as ‘close enough’ to evergreen for me.



  • Time:  In a number of different ways.   How long does it take my articles to rank for alternative search queries?  How long does it take to write articles that are short vs. long and what is the payoff?  As I stated, for me, time is of equal importance to earnings.  I’ll do just enough this summer to keep my earnings up.  The rest of the time will be spent with my kids, four wheeling, camping, etc.  I have that luxury because of all the time I spend studying, so I can save time for the fun stuff.

What Studying Does For Me

There are some things that studying does for me that need to be mentioned.  Some will be pretty obvious, but some might not be.  Here is what I think the main benefits are that I see from using the new 80/20 rule.

  • Saves Time:  I know, this one is what I have been harping about during this article, but it really holds true.  I don’t have to work much at this now because I worked so hard in the beginning studying and can now just brush up on things.  I know what is likely to pay off and what is not.


  • Increases Earnings:  I know what will work and what won’t through studying and analyzing what I do.  I use this information to increase my earnings.



  • Predict the Future:  I don’t have a crystal ball, but when you spend the time finding information and studying results, you can spot trends and see what is on the horizon.  While I cannot remember the exact figures, I remember that millions of pages are added online each day.  This makes it harder for people to actually find the information they need.   What happens when internet searchers have a hard time finding the info they really want? (Can you say, Panda?)


  • Have Confidence:  I believe that I can write on almost anything and do well.  I fall flat on my face at times, but that comes with the territory.  I am confident in my abilities to do well online.



  • Avoid Frustration:  I write articles and they go nowhere.  I don’t sweat it because I have learned to have patience, know what articles might still take off, and know which ones need work.


  • Set Realistic Goals:  I know what to expect and what not to expect.  There are always exceptions, but I have a very realistic view of what is going to happen each month.



  • Take Chances:  I can take chances and spend time doing things I normally wouldn’t do because I know the information I gather will be of great importance.  It allows me to justify the chances I take and make educated guesses about the results.

It Was Easier for Me

It might be unfair, but it was easier for me to find free information online that was accurate than it will be for you, if just starting out.  With millions of pages added online daily, there is more misinformation than ever.  Figuring out what is right and what is pure garbage will be a little harder.  You will have to find sources you trust.  Whether that’s me or not is purely up to you.  Remember, I peddle an ebook (and I’m giving a back-handed plug to it right now), so I have a vested interest in promoting myself as someone who knows the online world of writing.

I would suggest finding some people you trust (that are doing well) online and listening to them.  Try the methods they mention and pay attention to long term results.  Now, don’t just take a portion of what is said and ignore the rest.  Quite often, one thing leads to another.  For example, if you study on how to come up with great keywords, but don’t have a clue about SEO, you are missing the bigger picture.  Online writing is like putting together a big jigsaw puzzle.  You cannot grab one piece of the puzzle and expect the rest to magically fall into place – they won’t.



Jan 17, 2012 11:54am
Excellent advice as usual. Studying and reading are on my list for the remainder of this afternoon. Thanks Jason!
Jan 18, 2012 6:49am
Great advice. I've just started and this exactly what I needed to hear as a newbie.
Jan 23, 2012 3:54pm
Awesome advice. Thanks!
Feb 16, 2012 10:57am
Thank you for sharing your honest advice.
Feb 16, 2012 1:09pm
What an excellent article. I'm doing my keyword research and reading the forums but I'm a long way off getting it right. Have you any advice on article title length as I think some of mine are far too short even though I'm trying to target keywords.
Feb 16, 2012 2:15pm
I'm all over the board with titles. I like to use the keywords at the beginning of the title, not the end, at least in general. So, if I'm targeting four wheelers for sale and wanted to include something about Chinese ATV's, I'd do... Four wheelers for sale - New Chinese ATV's...

Other times I just use my main traffic keywords as the title all alone. It just depends on my mood at the time.

For the most part, the only words I use in the front are attention grabbing words like cheap, free, easy, etc.
Feb 16, 2012 3:32pm
Thanks for taking the time to give me advice.I'll use it on my next article.
Feb 16, 2012 4:44pm
Great article, I took this approach to learning StarCraft 2 and other pursuits. An exception was Aikido where the study IS the active side of it.
Feb 16, 2012 7:04pm
I love the way you have broken this advice down Jason. I have so much spinning in my head right now, you brought the clarity back, so thank you.x
Feb 17, 2012 8:27pm
Really helpful advice.
Feb 19, 2012 11:49am
I appreciate the simplicity in your advice!
Feb 20, 2012 11:16am

I've read many many money books. I appreciate the different views on the same subject from this article!
Feb 21, 2012 3:18am
This is where I am going wrong! I spend 80% of the time writing and only 20% studying. I do agree with you, once you know the subjects that will be profitable, studying the best keywords and SEO techiques will put you in a different position.
Feb 21, 2012 12:01pm
Good advice, and words of wisdom. SEO and LSI is a hard one to grasp. But like you suggested, leave the frustration at the door, and take it one step at a time.
Sep 18, 2012 6:31pm
Particularly motivating article, I will keep it as close to my daily web-serfing as possible.
Oct 27, 2012 4:17am
Fantastic advice...
I know I still have a lot to learn re keyword research and seo, but I am an enthusiastic student.
Nov 2, 2012 5:34pm
Great article..Thanks!
Dec 4, 2012 6:50pm
Thanks for the advice and great reminder! I've been on hiatus from online writing for the past several months but I'm ready to dive back in and this is a perfect first article to review.
Dec 11, 2012 8:29pm
I haven't written much here, but have learned time matters a lot. It may take a year for people to catch on to a piece you wrote, but eventually they will. Everyone doesn't comment either. I have a piece on Hubpages that has over 10,000 views, and nobody commented on it for almost two years!
Feb 13, 2013 9:51am
This is interesting coming from a successful writer. It takes a different tone than other pieces I have read on the subject. Bottom line, its good advice.
Apr 6, 2013 12:49pm
Thanks, jcmayer777!
Apr 26, 2013 7:45pm
Thank you for this article. I am trying to read at least 5 articles about this topic a day. I am also trying to read 5 other articles from Infobarrel just to see what is working that I can do to improve.
Jul 12, 2013 1:14pm
"80% of your time studying and 20% of your time writing"... that's what responsible writers do. Thanks for the advice;)
Oct 25, 2013 11:00am
Super information....I agree education and awareness is the key.
Thank you
Mar 6, 2014 5:54pm
Great information. Thanks!
Mar 22, 2014 1:09pm
Fab advice! I'm just starting out and I'm trying to do exactly what you've just explained.
Mar 28, 2014 8:05am
Great article, only just started with InfoBarrel, so still not sure what I'm doing - thanks!
Jun 1, 2014 5:38pm
Excellent advice, I really appreciated your insight as it is helpful to someone like me just get started. Thanks!
Aug 11, 2014 3:00pm
great information well presented.
Nov 12, 2014 2:34am
Thanks! This is something I should have done a long time ago when I started writing online. There are still so many things that I have to learn.
Nov 15, 2014 4:25pm
Still useful information. Your advice has definitely stood the test of time. Thanks.
Nov 25, 2014 10:49pm
I am new to the world of online writing and I am very eager to learn how to earn money from online writing. However, I hope to keep the quality of my writing as my top priority or is that a naive newbie notion? Is it possible to read a profound and possibly a life changing sentence next to a Google Ad? I really hope so...
Mar 2, 2015 4:03pm
Very useful!
May 1, 2015 6:42am
I am a little late to come to the party with this article, but I'd like to comment that it was a great read none the less.
May 13, 2015 6:59pm
Personally, I'd love to know where/how you learned to create content for the web??
Aug 4, 2015 2:31pm
This is a new venture for me. Your article provided great insight and has set the platform for moving forward. The New 80/20 rule sounds very good in theory and I'd very much like to test it out for myself.
Apr 13, 2016 12:54pm
Great advice, thanks for sharing! But don't forget about promoting as well and maintaining relevancy after your article is published. Any little bump (such as a tweet) helps an article along.
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