At the BlogHer 2007 Conference in Chicago last weekend, I was a proud dad, on-hand to support my daughter, Chloe, who presented her "Ultimate Neopets Cheats Blog" success story to a packed audience of bloggers, online marketers, and SEO enthusiasts attending the Professional Blogging: Ways and Means session.
Check out some highlights of Chloe's presentation at the BlogHer Conference 2007...
In early 2006, when Chloe was 15, she decided to devote a blog to Neopets, a virtual pets site popular with kids the world over. After performing some keyword research through WordTracker and Google Suggest for her blog's title and section headings, she discovered that "neopets cheats" was a hugely popular search term to target for her blog. So she settled on the name: the "Ultimate Neopets Cheats Site." She then used the free WordPress.com service to start the blog. Chloe's site was able to ride on the coattails of WordPress.com's trust and authority in the eyes of Google, thus sidestepping the "Google Sandbox" and jumping to page 1 in Google for the term "neopet cheats" within two weeks of launch.
Wanting to capitalize on her success, Chloe attempted to place Google ads on her WordPress.com blog, only to find that she was unable to monetize her blog due to WordPress.com's restrictive Terms of Service. So Chloe migrated the blog over from neopetcheats.wordpress.com to her own domain, neopetsfanatic.com, powered by the WordPress software. She then went about building links through places like Blogger Stories.
By spending just a few hours per month, Chloe earns through Google AdSense between $20 and $30 per day--and it's sometimes even as much $40. If you do the math, that's somewhere around $700 to $900 a month for very little work. If Chloe wanted to earn a similar amount of money through a part-time job--at her age, this typically means flipping burgers, babysitting or operating a paper route--she'd have to work somewhere around 25 to 30 hours per week (assuming minimum wage). And best of all, because Chloe has an income generating asset (versus working dollars-for-hours for "The Man"), Chloe can take a paid vacation whenever she wants and still earn the same amount of money.
Currently, Chloe is planning what she will do next with her blogging. By branching out into new topic areas with other blogs and adding a forum to her Neopets blog, she will expand her reach in the blogosphere. A sister project of WordPress called bbPress is Chloe's platform of choice for her upcoming discussion forums; it will be a more suitable venue to host the plethora of comments that have been posted to Chloe's blog (some of the pages on Chloe's blog have thousands of comments). Her link building efforts have also evolved to include face-to-face networking at conferences in order to build links and create invaluable contacts. Thanks to her blog's strong rankings for Neopets related terms (including a page 1 ranking for "neopets"!), Chloe watches over an ever-growing college fund.
Hopefully Chloe's story will inspire other teens to seize the opportunity to build assets, whether online or offline. Her story also teaches us that SEO is not inaccessible; in fact, it's so easy, that a child can do it!