Wednesday, April 1, 2009

AdSense Pennies Make Dollars

Are you a small blogger thinking about advertising but unsure how much money could be made?

This will be the first of an ongoing series of posts on how a blogger like myself makes (a small amount of) money using Google Adsense. Expect one post per month, but no more.

Some background: I currently have three blogs on which I actively post: Systemically Important, Nearby Pen, and The Guru 5. As of this writing the blogs are between two and three months old. Traffic over that period has averaged roughly 150 page impressions per day, meaning I am most likely in the same exact position as many of you (new bloggers):

Not only will I not be making loads of money with Adsense, but at this stage of the game I should not expect to.

So why use Adsense? Quite simply, because--as the title suggests--pennies make dollars. Or to put it differently, a little bit of money adds up, even if little by little. And who knows, perhaps those pennies will grow faster with traffic at each site. In my view, it pays (at least a little) to learn more about how advertising on one's blog works while the blog is growing. I also think it is interesting. Here's the data for my first three months:

January...........4,291 page impressions...........$1.97 earned
February..........4,242 page impressions..........$3.62 earned
March.............4,411 page impressions..........$11.15 earned

[If I understand correctly, Google AdSense does not allow publishers to share confidential information about the number of clicks and the amount paid with each one (a number that varies), so this somewhat important information can not be shared.]

Notice the percentage at which earnings are growing every month, despite the number of page impressions staying pretty much the same.

In January, I got a huge bump in traffic after having a post of mine (at Systemically Important) mentioned by Abnormal Returns, one of the top finance-related blogs on the web. This brought me a stream of visitors that stayed for a second or two, then left.

While I operate under the premise that "tiny streams of traffic will in time lead to rivers," when comparing the amount of page impressions to dollars earned, I expect that the quality of interested traffic is much more important than the quantity of uninterested passers-by.

In March, I didn't get any huge bumps in traffic at any of the sites--but I did achieve a lot more return visitors who were interested in what I was writing and stayed around to read it. Some of these visitors were no doubt the one's who clicked on ads. And the most likely reason they did that was because they found something relevant advertised.

Having passed the three month mark, I am starting to get a steady stream of visitors from the search engines, thanks in part to google-juicy titles, and am slowly picking up spots on people's blog rolls or in their blog posts. (Here's looking at you Rational Jenn and Simoleon Sense and SemiConductor Girl!)

The steady accumulation of these over time, like so many tiny streams, should lead to a river of traffic. And that will bring with it more money.

However, while money is good--and I'll write more on how I plan to monetize what I have written later--my main focus is on producing quality content. This is what matters most to readers, to search engines, as well as to me. Any money I make after that is gravy.

All that said, do the ads display here bother anyone? Do you find that they sometimes distract you from the content? Any comments are welcome, including comments as to why you don't personally use ads on your blog.


  1. By the way, I have found that the more focused one's content the more relevant Adsense ads one will see.

    A good example of that is to take a look at the ads on this blog versus those at the Guru Five. There, the ads are much more targeted, and are (not surprisingly) clicked much more.

    I will be sharing the new direction that I plan to take The Nearby Pen on Friday, but for now I will just say that I plan to more strictly focus on one area, and post as a guest on other blogs if I have un- or loosely-related posts.

    This gels with what I like as a blog reader, and what I think most others like as well.

    Okay. Any comments? I'm hungry for feedback, so if you have anything to say...feed away. :-)

  2. I would ask myself:

    1. What is my purpose?

    2. Am I achieving it?

    3. How do I know?

    4. Who is my intended audience?

    5. Am I reaching him?

    6. How do I know?

    I would suggest that the number of relevant comments and questions from one's intended audience and the number of references to one's weblog on other sites would be better measures than "impressions" or similar indices.

    Comments can be an informative measure because they require work (thus weeding out the tourists and zoo visitors) and because they can reveal active minds (not just "viewers") who are engaging the content of one's writing.

  3. Thanks for the comment Mr. Laughlin!

    The number of comments made or links to one's blog may be better measures of success--depending on one's purpose in writing.

    However, my purpose in this post was to measure how much money I have made--and therefore let other beginning bloggers see how much money they could possibly make too (given that our traffic is probably similar).

    I actually think that comments and ad clicks both come as a percentage of one's traffic. And the more focused one's blog on a single topic, the more one is likely to get more of both.


    I should add that I agree comments and links back from other bloggers are important.

    I spent a good bit of time this past week making it easier for others to find my best posts at the different blogs, for them to share the posts that they like, and in conjunction with focusing the blogs, will start writing guest posts for other bloggers to publish.

    (This last gives them a break in writing, provides value to their readers, and earns myself both awareness, some traffic, and a link.)