The secret to making money online
Do you have a website? Yes, they are cheap and easy to buy and run. The web is open to everybody, but this guide will assume you're already monetising your own website to make money online.
This isn't going to get you free money. What I'm going to show you is a new direction to take your online presence in, and you could be taking a slice from the big media corporations!
How did I discover it? I've observed this a few times before, but there was one night I finally put two and two together. We were having a light-hearted chat in our kitchen and the subject of McDonald's Monopoly came up. When does it start again?
I threw the question into Google, and the top results were from some big organisations I didn't think would have anything to do with it: The Sun, The Metro and The Mirror were fighting over the top three spots.
I've seen this before, so cautiously I opened the first link. What I found was textbook SEO - congratulations to them! They had big, bold headings stuffed with all the keywords. They had long titles and a relevant URL. They had social media share buttons and a long block of text. What they didn't have was the answer.
You see, all three newspapers had an article called "When Does McDonald's Monopoly 2018 Start", and they all found that the answer was "Spring sometime". Instead, the pages waffled about what the game might be, what it might do, and what happened last year. That text wasn't just filling for time: it was keyword-stuffing the SEO.
This is a new strategy not just reserved for fast food games. You Google the name of any popular TV show and in my experience the top result is always from a tabloid, and it's always titled something like "When does XYZ series 2 start?" or "what time is XYZ on tonight?". They've created these articles for every conceivable question.
And there's a reason they do it. Online newspapers need to keep the page-clicks up to keep the money coming in. As the pressure mounts on them in all directions, this revenue becomes increasingly important.
But here's the good news: you can do it too. All you need is a website, a heading stuffed with keywords and a vague answer to a common question. The internet is still a fairly level playing field and if you're good with SEO you can get your page to punch its weight with those big players.
This isn't a guide to SEO but there are plenty of pages to help with that. In short, you want to get there first, and get some inbound links in - by any means necessary.
In fact, you can be a journalist
Are you fed up with supposed articles about "the best 15 reactions" which are actually just a list of GIFs and tweets? It's so 2015.
Bad news, they are still generating huge numbers of page views. That's why all these new media organisations, including BuzzFeed, Lovin Group and even The Metro - all of whom I'd happily criticise for getting gossipers to dress up as journalists - do what they do.
So once again, if you have some webspace and want to make money out of it, why not get on board with it yourself? You don't need any qualifications or journalistic clout; you don't need to be able to link to your previous work, you just need to spot an opportunity. Twitter Moments compiles tweets every day and in theory - if you're really good at it - you can do the same.
Here's how it works. At the time of writing, Storm Emma has just happened. This generated hundreds of hashtags.
Go through them and find some popular tweets. Don't compile them with Twitter Moments (why would you want Twitter to make money out what you're doing?!), just paste them using the official embed feature into your own webspace.
Now tweet a link to that page, containing the hashtags which will get you the exposure, with exactly the kind-of titles you hate: "the best 20 reactions to the storm".
You don't have to only do this for the big news stories. In fact you shouldn't, because people working for other organisations with more followers will probably spot the opportunity first. Instead, you need to find any news story that has rocked a small community. Shops closing down, roads being dug up, new websites being launched.
There's an important disclaimer. I loathe clickbait. I love clicks. Of course I try to make my titles and leads sound exciting, but I try not to write cheques I can't cash. I know other self-titled 'journalists' are all over clickbait and you might think that means there's no harm in you joining in, but I would ask you to remember the internet is polluted enough.
Yes tweet lists masquerading as articles are annoying, but a lot of people love them. Whereas clickbait is just selling something you can't deliver.
The same goes for hashtags. Find a creative way to crowbar some popular hashtags into your links, yes, but don't just stick a load of irrelevant hashtags on the end of your tweet.