Friday, November 2, 2007

Running This Blog: Update #3

I don't talk about it much, but one of the purposes of running this blog is just that: to see what it is like to run a blog/website/whatever. Who knows, at some point, I may have to run a website to make money. Hopefully not, though!

Google Adsense

Along those lines, I decided to try out Google Adsense. I'm getting a little under 1,000 page views a month, which isn't much, but I figure it is enough to see how Adsense works. It is really difficult to get an idea of what sort of money can be made, because Adsense is like Fight Club: the #1 rule of Adsense revenue is you don't talk about Adsense revenue. I can see why Google wants to keep stuff like that a secret (otherwise they'll get all these webmasters arguing with them over the revenue) but it is one of the few activities of Google that makes me suspicious.

Anyway, you'll notice the Adsense banner on the page (currently, I stuck it in the vertical bar to the left to not be intrusive). Hopefully they'll get me authorized in the next day or two and I'll start making my five cents a month!


  • Adsense application at 9:30 am
  • Application approved at 11:55 am (no real ads yet, still public service ads)
  • Logged in at 1:55pm -- the Adsense dashboard is cool! They do ask for tax info though.
  • 1:56 pm: I've got ads! They must not show ads until you put in your tax info.
  • 1:59 pm: Turns out I get ads only every once in a while, usually it's just the public service ad. They must not have enough advertisers to fill the page each time. (later: looks like if I refresh a bunch they detect that and go to PSAs)
  • Nov 5th, 4:05 pm: I got my first click and earned somewhere between 5 and 15 cents (the first rule of Adsense is...). At this rate I'll get my first check for $100 in about 10 years!

Current Status

Really, this is a follow up to my first post and my second post about running this blog. So let me get you updated.

The image that started this post shows the visits to this blog since I started with Google Analytics (click to see it larger). Surprisingly, even though I made minimal posts in August and September, traffic remained pretty steady. Broken down by source (see above) my main sources of hits are from Google and Strobist. The Google and Strobist graphs:

As you can see, Strobist drove most of my earlier traffic, but dropped off substantially when I stopped posting. But Google has pretty much taken up the slack, rising quickly and leveling off in July, then rising a bit more recently.

I haven't put much time and effort into getting readers lately, and I'm not really planning on it. But I'm starting to see what gets readers and what doesn't. You can learn a lot just looking at what search terms get to your site and which don't. I've also been getting a few hits from the other search engines, but nowhere near the volume as from Google.

Other barometers of the site's progress (because really this is just a report for myself later):
Not too great, but not too bad considering I haven't been putting a lot of effort into marketing.

If I had more time...

Now that I think about it, it could probably be reasonably profitable to choose whatever the newest fad is, stick up a site with useful information on it, and then monetize it with Adsense or affiliate programs (Amazon's affiliate program is very popular). For instance, getting in on the ground floor of a popular movement (like poker a few years ago) can get you some decent money by harnessing web searches if you are one of the first to offer legitimate content. I see two main parts of this: targeting an audience and optimizing revenue.

Targeting an audience is probably the most important: you want to be able to rapidly generate content that people will find useful and be one of the few sites that offer it so you don't get lost in all the other sites that are out there. For example, just watching Oprah and latching on to whatever she recommends could probably make you some money :) For me though, I'd have to write about something I'm already interested in, otherwise the work would be intolerably boring. But if you can get your finger on the pulse of a large group of web surfers (be it homebound housewives, bored guys at work, or photography enthusiasts), you could rapidly draw a large amount of traffic to your site.

The second part is turning the visitors you get into click-throughs on your ads and purchases in your affiliate programs. All that, without appearing TOO commercial (you know the sites I'm talking about, the ones which are just plastered with ads and maybe a tiny bit of content). Oh, and make sure they come back once they leave your site to look at something else!

Really, though, don't look here for that sort of information. A ton of good resources on managing an affiliate program, dealing with Adsense, and other tasks, just a quick Google search away!

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