The Winning Content Strategy that Generated a $163,040 Profit in First 8 Months of a New Blog

Adsense Earnings Feb to Aug 2014

Note: Please see notes regarding this AdSense screenshot at the end of this post.

What you’re about to read will blow your mind.

After months of testing types of content and display ad strategies that generate high revenue per thousand page views (RPM), I discovered the type of content that:

1. Visitors love (it’s important people like your content – I can tell because it’s shared a lot and my repeat visitor rate is 28% +/-)

2. Gets shared a lot (I use a couple nifty tools in conjunction with this type of content that generates social sharing like crazy)

3. Earns very well with display ads

4. Can earn very well with promoting products as an affiliate (depending on your keyword research)

5. Is plentiful (you can do it over and over and over … and it’s all unique)

6. Can be very easily outsourced (my team publishes 1 to 2 new pieces of content every day).

7. Has the potential to pull in some decent organic search traffic (again this is largely dependent on your keyword research).

What is this type of content that works so well?

It combines lists with images.

Whoa, not exactly earth-shattering. I certainly didn’t invent this, but I run with it big time.  It’s a solid type of content to use when starting a blog as well (it’s how I started).

I’ll say it again. A winning content strategy is combining the viral nature of lists with the visual appeal of images.

It’s a lot of work to do it well, but once you get it right with the right niche, it works like gangbusters.

Caution: It only works in certain niches

By “only works” I’m referring to really going viral. Yes, lists are generally a great type of content in any niche, but image-centric lists aren’t ideal for every niche. For example, you’re not going to create a great piece of content in an insurance niche with images. You need text.

Therefore, before you run out and gather 50 images for your website, it’s important that you’re operating in a visual niche.

1. How many list items/images?

There’s really no set number. I prefer 10 or more.

My biggest list is 124 with 124 corresponding images. It’s a gargantuan post.

Most of my posts are 30 to 50 list items and images.

2. Don’t forget the text

I don’t just upload 50 images and click “publish”. I (and my writers) spend hours writing text for the post as well. This is almost as important as the images and list you’ve come up with.

3. Text Formatting

Similar to using an effective WordPress theme for display ad profits and publishing content that gets shared frequently, I stumbled upon a written format within my list-image posts that not only serve visitors well, but result in an excellent RPM with display ads.

For example, every image gets a written description. I don’t put the description in the image caption. Instead, I simply input it in the visual editor under the image.

What’s great about this is it’s so easy to outsource because anyone who writes half-decently can look at an image and describe it in words.

The other component of the text is an introduction to the post. This is critical in explaining what the post is about as well as creating the perfect display ad zone that’s a healthy mix of images, text and display ads.

4. Social Sharing

With few exceptions, people share images more than text (at least in my experience… that may be a comment on my writing though).

That’s why creating interesting, informative and/or entertaining image-focused list style articles get shared a great deal (assuming you use great images).

1 important plugin to use for getting images shared is the SumoMe image sharing feature (this thing is pure gold.

5. Earns a lot of money

I don’t want to sound like a greedy person, because I’m not. On the flip side, publishing niche websites is my livelihood so I do need to earn revenue. I really do make every effort to balance user-experience with optimum revenue per thousand page views.

A well constructed image-centric list article can earn a very healthy revenue per thousand page views when set up just right, covers the right topic and uses excellent images.

Most of my image-centric list articles earn from display ads, but have a growing fleet that focus on earning revenue from promoting products as an affiliate.  Check out my “Display Ads Secrets” report here.

Each strategy is very different; yet each article is formatted much the same.

6. Rinse and Repeat

While I’ve earned more than $20,000 in profit from a single article in 6 months, I sure don’t want my entire online business based on one article.

That’s another reason image-centric list articles are so great – it’s almost limitless (in the right visually-based niche). All you need is a list concept and the images to support it.

It’s true a picture is worth a thousand words… so if you publish 50 images, that’s a small book (I’m being facetious, but it’s also true the perceived value of a huge list article with images is very high as evidenced by high volumes of sharing across many of my image-centric list articles).

7. Free Organic Search Traffic

Google Images can be fantastic for free traffic. So too can organic search… even long tail. I don’t build links; gave up on that game a long time ago, yet one of my sites averages more than 4,000 daily organic search visits largely due to the extremely long, image and text heavy list articles I publish (I suspect their social sharing popularity doesn’t hurt).

I know more words on a page doesn’t necessarily mean better rankings, but it does result in more long-tail keywords.

A 50 image/list article will easily have 1,500 to 2,500 words of text. All of it unique and well written describing the images and forming the list. That’s a high-quality piece of content that has the potential to pull in a decent amount of organic search traffic.

8. Easily Outsourced

I actually love writing and publishing articles. However, I don’t have the time to generate all the content I need; therefore I outsource much of it. I especially outsource my image-centric list articles because I prefer focusing on research-based content. Admittedly writing image descriptions for 50 images isn’t a wonderful 2 to 3 hours. However, it’s the perfect type of content that can be outsourced to a reasonably priced writer. Their instructions: Write 30 to 75 words under each image describing the image. That’s pretty simple.

Note: As publisher, I do come up with the list concepts. With respect to sourcing images, I get some, but most are sourced by , the team I’ve hired to help with my sites.

The Takeaway: Experiment with image-centric list style articles. It could be the greatest type of content you every publish. It certainly is for me on my biggest niche website.

Notes regarding Adsense earnings’ screenshot:

1.  Approximately 57% of the total earned was spent on advertising.

2.  Currency is in Canadian dollars

3.  Those earnings do not include other earnings from the same site (other ad networks and affiliate promotions).

25 thoughts on “The Winning Content Strategy that Generated a $163,040 Profit in First 8 Months of a New Blog”

  1. Hmm it appears like your blog ate my first comment
    (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to the whole thing.
    Do you have any points for inexperienced blog writers? I’d definitely
    appreciate it.

  2. Well done John- in a land of money hungry marketers your blog is super fresh and honest.

    I am certain none of us earn half of what you earn(rightly so!) Perhaps an excellent blog post would be lifting the curtain somewhat on your outsourcing and editorial calendar so us “newbies “can see how a successful business puts it all together especially the vital 20 percent the boss does to get the results for the business.

  3. Seems like Rank Xl and few other blogs are written by same person..
    You guys talk about getting traffic from Facebook Ads.. However, getting traffic from Facebookk Ads doesn’t work anymore. Still some valuble info.

      1. Because they don’t click on AdSense. They just don’t. Taboola/Outbrain is 100% better clicks on AdSense than Facebook traffic. And cheaper.

        1. Egor, this is not true.

          I’m not sure if you have enough experience with running Facebook ads traffic to blogs with adsense monetization, but I know it works, and still works now. I’ve been doing that for a long time and don’t know why you are saying people coming from FB ads don’t click on Adsense.

          So I gonna stick to what Jon said. FB works.

          – Lester

  4. Very helpful tools for sure. Thanks so much for sharing your insight. I’m looking to build organic traffic to my website through engaging blog posts. Where do you recommend I go to find blogs about flipping houses and people that want to read about different aspects of that niche?

    Looking forward to your reply.


    1. Hey Rich,

      Thanks for your kind words. I’d probably start with Google to look for blogs about flipping houses. You can input “flipping houses” in BuzzSumo to see what comes up too.

  5. Excellent article and blog Jon, easy to read and useful. I was getting so many ideas while I was reading it. I’m actually reading all your articles because they are all very useful even for pro bloggers.
    I have seen a lot of people who write about the 1 penny click ads to get traffic and convert to bigger numbers but the few things I tried didn’t cost a penny or even close to 10 times that, to be able to get some real traffic, do you think is possible for some niche sites?

    Also, I did answer you poll and would like to know if you offer advice or co-develop with other bloggers. Thank you!


    1. Hi Jenny,
      Thanks for your comment and for taking the poll.

      I’m considering options for Niche Tycoon in 2016. I’m swamped with niche sites so it’s hard to really offer more personable services… if I can free up more time I’d love to offer more. I’ll have to see how the next few months shake up.

  6. Hi Jon,

    I’ve recently found your website and I have to admit it has been very helpful!

    Just a quick question regarding the images you use. Does your team get the images you use from royalty free image websites?

    Many thanks,

    1. Hi Dan,

      Not royalty free sites. They email hundreds of site owners each month asking for permission to use images in exchange for a link attribution.

  7. Great post, thank you for this valuable tip about generating lists and using images. Do you literally describe the image or do you use an image to support the text, a bit like a step by step action for a piece of software usage?
    Also it would be great, as we all agree that images tell a thousand words, if you could share a post with us as a visual to get the full understanding of this – an example to help us new people, would really appreciate it Jon
    many thanks

  8. Thanks so much for writing this post. I have been trying to tell my friend about paid ads and that he should forget link building to get organic search…Instead what i realised was that the more social shares I got and likes, the more that particular post ranked in search engines…and when the visitors land on my website they like my facebook page and when I share on the page,the reach is higher and so does the traffic…I think if every one on this page could apply this without changing anything the will actually understand what you are trying to say. Thank you very much…not everyone with this knowledge shares..

  9. Hi, nice post, by the way have you ever tried the layout that many sites use where you have to press “next” to see the next image.
    I mean “10 celebrities that bla bla” and instead of the 10 celebrities images in one post where you have to scroll down, you just see one image and the text below, then to see the next image, you have to press next and it goes to a new page.

    I find that really annoying but since many sites use it, maybe it is more profitable, what do you think about that? thanks

    1. I tend to avoid that level of pagination. I paginate after 12 to 20 images which is user-friendly, but won’t paginate after one image. That is supremely annoying for users and I aim to make a site that earns well and that people like.

  10. Good info about blogging and income. I write for a tool blog and am trying to get it to rank better with niche relevant content – such as which tools work best for the niche, etc. That’s my best post, unfortunately, their website doesn’t convert well.

  11. Hi Jon. Thank for your sharing good content image-lists strategy. But how you market that image-lists content, you use ads facebook to get traffic or just post content and do nothing? Thank you. Have a nice day!

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