The Idea Dude


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Blogging for dollars

We've all been sold the story reminiscent of the Gold Rush days. Create a blog, get a Google Adsense account, put our literary skills to the test and sit back and wait for the dollars, kaching! actually it's klunk! the sound of reality hitting the floor. Sure there a lots of people making serious change running blogs or websites with Adsense but there are a lot more that don't! Here are some of the things you should know about great Adsense success stories and why it works against really good bloggers.

  • Volume. volume. volume. The CTR (click-through rate) of Adsense pages are usually 1% or less. If you are 4% or more, you're probably a very niche market and darn lucky to have found the niche. What it tells us is to make reasonable money, you need visitors, lots of them. The reason why Google is laughing all the way to the bank is because with adsense on a couple billion pages, they only have to make 1%. It's like everyone in the country giving you 1c.
  • Time. To get volume, you need content, lots of it so Google searches find you. Others build forums to make people come back repeatedly. Whether you're building a community or content, the magic number seems to be 18 months or more. Simply a matter of perseverance.
  • Money. The serious players buy Adwords and advertise through other channels, join link farms, directories etc. Needs an investment to get volume.
  • Focus on specific topics. People who click through Adsense ads are usually people who are looking for product and found your page but didn't get enough so clicked through the ads. There's an unspoken rule that says the point of the page that hosts the Adsense ads is not to satisfy the visitor. In fact, dissatisfaction is probably a key driver for successful adclicks, i.e. I looked for something, didn't find it on your page and so tried one of links. Pets, finance, consumer reviews are good candidates, religion and politics less so.
  • Optimization. The successful ones spend a large amount of time experimenting. Blending the ads into the content. Figuring out where it fits best on the page to make money. Choosing content that has a great chance of returns. The point is, you tweak the page and you tweak it often.

So where does that leave the good blogger. They tend to write about stuff that interests them not stuff that may result in an adclick. They put stuff they care about at the top, pictures of their dogs, blogrolls, etc. The ad is not prominent. The biggest problem of all, is too many interesting things going on in the blog. They may be good stuff (like archives, blogrolls, links in your stories, subscribe to RSS etc.) but they take a slice of the attention pie and clicks away from your Google ads. Remember the dissatisfied customer syndrome, give them a reason to stay, i.e. great stories, links to other stories etc. they won't be clicking elsewhere.

So this isn't about discouraging you as a good blogger from making dollars from ads, it is about setting expectations and knowing that how you behave as a good blogger may not be consistent with you as a great salesman.

So the moral of the because you want to...that is really the ultimate reward.


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