Today is a milestone day for me, and it’ll surprise some people. AdSense gave me a nice treat for Hallowe’en – but it doesn’t make up for the trick of my pagerank dropping on several sites I spent good money buying and/or building. At any rate, I finally cracked $100 in Adsense earnings in a single month, for the first time since I started using the ad network around April 2005. That’s a very long time, and has allowed me to reflect upon it. Here’s what I’ve learned:
- Focus. Stick to building one site at a time and reach a modest amount of success before starting another site.
- Build traffic. You need a lot of traffic to monetize through AdSense, especially in competitive niches and obscure niches.
- Fine tune. Don’t run AdSense on sites that are giving you low ad CTR (Clickthrough Rate). Try it out, but if after a couple of months the CTR is low, stop using it until you determine why.
- Refine. Make sure to blend ads into your blog/ site theme. Don’t hide your ads but don’t make them stick out like a sore thumb in terms of colors and borders.
- Refine some more. Try the rectangular and square AdSense formats. These apparently have higher CTR, though I didn’t keep track of any AdSense channels to prove it.
- Improve quality. Write quality content that you can promote with social media, and keep it up or you’ll lose readership. This will give you the traffic you absolutely need to monetize CPC advertising. If you have older posts you’re embarrassed to have, don’t delete them. Instead, when you can’t think of what to write, browse your archives and see if you can write a better version of a bad post.
- Choose the right niche. Consider that some niches simply don’t monetize well with any sort of PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising. One such is the “how to blog” niche. You’re better off running appropriate affiliate offers. It helps considerably if you some how introduce discussions of gadgets or software no matter what your niche. Any niche that has higher priced items tends to also have higher CPC (Cost per Click) ads.
But I don’t consider this by any means a success. That $100+ isn’t for a single site, it’s for about 50 sites. What’s more, it includes sites that I’m partnered on, and have paid bloggers – who will eventually share in the revenues.
My problogging goal is to build up to at least US$3000/mth in ad revenue by making sure less of my sites suck. I get paid in US dollars, and the Canadian dollar’s current exchange rate is cost me several hundred dollars per month. The film school I want to enter in 2009 costs Cdn$5,000/term [updated] and lasts for six terms over two years. Because I refuse to ever get in debt again, I have to come up with my own cash. And since I only work online at present, freelancing, consulting and ad revenue are my only income sources.
My approach will be to continue the way I’ve be going: maintain freelance revenue and increase ad revenue by putting more effort into my own sites. It’ll be quite some time, if ever, before I earn money making movies.
What are your pro blogging goals, and how do you plan to use your earnings? Will you use them to support a career change or some other dream that you have?