There comes a point in every bloggers life when they wonder if using Google Adsense is even worth the time and effort.
One day goes by and they make a couple of pennies.
The next day goes by and they make a few cents more.
Day four and... Hallelujah! They just made 25 cents.
Day five... oh, it looks like they're back down to 7 cents again.
What happened? Why is this happening? Is there any point at all whatsoever to using this Google Adsense program and trying to blog for money? Is it even remotely possible to make any real sort of income off of Google's ad revenue platform?
Can you get the most bang from your Google Adsense buck?
Fighting the depression caused by low Google Adsense revenue
Allow me to let you in on a secret: it is frigging hard to make money with Google Adsense, but it is possible. I have been a Google Adsense user since September 21, 2011 and in that time I have made a grand total of $1,281.36 Canadian (to date).
Are you surprised? Over the course of over just four and a half years, $1,281.36 is practically nothing. But what if I told you that nearly half of that income was earned over the last three months? It's starting to sound a little bit better, isn't it?
This chart you are looking at is a lifetime summary of my Google Adsense earnings.
The first big spike was for $36.81 when I made my first blog post go viral.
The second huge spike was for $71.66 when the BBC linked to one of my YouTube videos.
But that third growing graph on the right side is the one you have to pay attention to. That started to go up when I launched my new website, What to Do When Bored, in an experiment to see if it is possible to blog for money.
As it turns out, it is.
The lesson here is that to blog for money, having both persistence and great content are key.
How the heck do you make money with Google Adsense?
Perhaps first and most obviously, in order to actually make money with Google Adsense you will need a Google Adsense account and a place to put ads. This means you need either one of two things (or both). You need a website and/or a YouTube channel.
Any website can do. I recommend getting one hosted by either Google Blogger (free) or Wordpress (about $100 a year). If you need more help deciding on what platform to use, check out the first blog post I wrote on this site.
Once you have all that set up, here are 7 ways to get the most bang from your Google Adsense buck and start blogging for money:
1. Make Sure Your Ads Are Relevant
The first thing you must know about Google Adsense is that what you blog about (or make videos about) matters when it comes to ad placement.
For instance, if you have a blog about food then ads about food are likely to appear on your blog. If you have a blog about video games then gaming and technology ads are likely to appear on your blog. And if you blog about medicine, then ads about various medications are likely to appear on your blog.
The question is, which of these ads are best?
Honestly, if you could pick between the three then you would probably want medical ads to appear on your blog simply because advertisers are likely to pay higher bids for their ads to appear than advertisers who are paying for ads about video games.
However, ads about medicine appearing on a video game blog would be a mismatch, as would ads about video games appearing on a blog about health. Your ads have to match the content.
You do have some control over what type of ads appear on your blog. In your Adsense dashboard, at the very top you can click on "Allow and block ads" and then on "general categories." There, you should get a screen that sort of looks like this:
Basically what you want to look for is a mismatch between the % of ad impressions in the last 30 days and the % of earnings that correspond to those ads. If an ad is displaying frequently but the % of earnings is quite low, then you might want to consider blocking that category because it isn't earning you much money.
Fine-tuning your Google Adsense revenue is like detailing a car, it takes a close a eye and attention to detail.
2. Make Sure Your Content Is King
Content Is King! Content Is King! Content Is King!
Say it with me now!
What the heck am I going on about? The concept is simple. Your Google Adsense revenue is fully based on the amount of page views you are getting for your ads. If you don't get many page views, you won't make much money. This means one thing and one thing only:
Content Is King! Content Is King! Content Is King!
Your content needs to be likable. It needs to be readable. Most importantly, it needs to be shareable.
How do you make your content shareable?
The only way to do that is by making your readers want to share it, and that is a can of worms on its own altogether. For anyone who is interested in learning more, I recommend signing up for my free online marketing course.
In short though, it is similar to an old proverb that has to do with communication. My own twist on it is that in the online blogging world, effective communication is 93% in how you say it. Only 7% of effective blogging communication is what your message actually is.
3. Don't be a Spammy Spammer
There are plenty of ways to get yourself blacklisted from Google and let's face it, do you really want that?
Of course you don't. You're smarter than that.
There are black hat "marketers" out there that use all sorts of schemey tactics to try to trick Google and turn a quick buck. Creating fake social media accounts, bombarding Reddit with their content and using group forums to massive upvote their friends are only the beginning.
The thing is, Google is smart.
They don't like spammers and they certainly don't like people who abuse their systems.
Google is kind of like the Internet police when it comes to moderating who gets to the top of their search rankings. In fact, Carol Tice of Make a Living Writing recently reported that the Guardian Liberty Voice who was using spammy, black-hat tactics had all of their articles removed from Google News - their former main source of Internet traffic.
The question is, would you rather make a friend or a foe of Google?
The answer is simple. Don't be a spammy spammer.
4. Keep an Eye on Things and Track Your Results
Fortunately Google's Adsense dashboard is pretty thorough and gives you a good idea of how well you are performing on a day-by-day basis. That doesn't mean you shouldn't keep an eye on things.
Remember in item #1 where I talked about the importance of making sure your ads are relevant? Here is a quick way to get a good idea of if your displayed ads are the best they can be.
On the Google Adsense dashboard, there is an item called "RPM" on the middle-right side. This number is an estimation of the amount of money you make per every 1,000 views your ad gets. An amount between $0.50 to $1.00 in my experience is about average. Anything higher is quite good and if your RPM is lower than that then you might want to take another look at your "Allow and block ads" panel.
Keep track of how much money you make each day and how those numbers relate to how much you made the same day of the previous week or the previous month.
Also watch your revenue optimization and your site health. On the main page of your Google Adsense dashboard, Google will tell you if you are having any problems. Issues here could mean lower earnings.
In summary, keep track of:
- Your daily earnings
- Your earnings from the same day last week
- Your earnings from the same day last month
- Your allow/block ads
- Your revenue optimization
- Your site health
- Your RPM
- Days of the week where you seem to do better or worse
5. Follow the Law! Google Style
We have already talked about how Google is essentially the Internet police.
Would it surprise you that they have a long list of policies that you must abide by when using Google Adsense?
In case you are wondering, here is that list and here is their beginners guide to understanding that list.
Now here is my quick and easy guide to understanding Google's Adsense policies:
1. Don't be deceptive with your ad placement.
2. Don't click your own ads or encourage others to click your ads.
3. Only 3 ads per page max.
4. Follow the other guidelines in this post.
6. Set Performance Goals for Yourself
Right now I only have one performance goal for my Google Adsense.
Make more this month than I did last month and make more next month than I will make this month.
So far I'm batting three for three since I set this up.
The question is what kind of performance goal will you set for yourself? It can be an arbitrary number, it can be a certain percentage increase, or it can be a minimum threshold that you have to meet for yourself every day.
Whatever performance goal you set for yourself, do what you have to do to remember it. Write it down on a post-it and stick it to the front of your monitor. Tell it to your mom, spouse or kid and make them hold you accountable. Print it out on a giant poster and hang it above your bed so it's the first thing you see when you open your eyes.
Do what you have to do, but hold yourself accountable dang it.
By setting Google Adsense performance goals, not only will it give you something realistic you can track, but meeting those goals will lead you right into point number seven on this list, which is...
7. Be Brave Like Harry Potter Facing the Basilisk
Last week I had three days in a row where I was making over $30 a day on my Google Adsense.
Yesterday I didn't even hit $10.
Should I punch myself in the foot out of frustration?
Of course not, there will be good days and the there will be bad. Several months ago I would have killed to make at least $1 dollar a day on Google Adsense. Now, not a day goes by where I don't make at least $5.
And if that's not motivation then I don't know what is.
Isn't successful blogging awesome?
I certainly think it is! If you do too then I highly recommend signing up for my free online marketing course where I'll personally delve into advanced blogging and Internet marketing topics with you. It's the perfect small business marketing strategy for busy entrepreneurs and bloggers. Keep your eyes open for upcoming webinars!