Can I Make a Little Money Yet?
May 3, 2008 3:48 PM   Subscribe

What sort of readership for my blog would be enough to start offering advertising?

I have a blog which I've maintained for about a year. My readership is continuing to increase, and I'd love to get a little extra cash from it. How do you know when your readership is large enough to warrant adding advertising?

(I am thinking the Google text ads.)
posted by miss tea to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I think it depends on how little a "little money" is. Are you willing to settle for $4 per month from Google text ads if not less? (Paid once a year?) As I understand it, that's pretty typical for bloggers like you. (And me.)

If you've got readership like Glenn Reynolds, of course, then you should be able to do quite well. But few of us do that kind of traffic. (And as it turns out, Glenn uses most of the money he gets from advertising to pay his hosting and bandwidth costs.)

You'll have a hard time finding quantitive information about Google's payout, by the way, because one of the terms of Google's contract is that you're not supposed to tell anyone how much (or little) you make. That's because Google doesn't want folks like you who are considering signing up to know just how pointless it is.

If you're getting 20,000 discrete visitors per day, then it would probably be worth running advertising. If you're getting 500 discrete visitors per day, it's a waste of time.
posted by Class Goat at 4:10 PM on May 3, 2008

The best way to find out is to try. I put Google text ads on my weblog, just on the individual entry pages, not the front page. I make ~$200 a month. When it's turduckhen season, I make even more...

When you put the ads in, you can see the stats for impressions and click throughs. You can decide if you have the traffic to make money fairly easily.
posted by Argyle at 4:10 PM on May 3, 2008

That should have been "quantitative"...
posted by Class Goat at 4:11 PM on May 3, 2008

Argyle, how much traffic do you do? That sounds like a pretty high number compared to what I've heard from other people. (Or maybe I've been misinformed.)
posted by Class Goat at 4:15 PM on May 3, 2008

I don't want to violate my TOS, so I will not note numbers. I make a very compelling hourly rate from my other business, but my blog advertising absolutely competes with it and even beats it.
posted by acoutu at 5:09 PM on May 3, 2008

As I see it, when you put text or banner ads in from Google, you're essentially working for google, and a victim of google's whims and rules.
I did them for a while, but in the end, my traffic didn't merit it, they were ugly and distracted from what I'm really trying to do, which is provide good content on the art of writing and sell my mystery novels.
posted by willmize at 5:35 PM on May 3, 2008

Honestly, who cares? Your cost for adding AdSense is only the time you spend setting it up. I've gotten about $60 for my wine blog over the past year. With a readership that bounces between 30 and 100 hits per day. Which is nothing.
posted by jeffamaphone at 5:36 PM on May 3, 2008

Yeah, it's super easy to set up. Just do it, and see what happens. I barely maintain a couple sites and their Google ads bring in up to $100/month. (More like $50/month lately, as I've been lazy.) Nobody notices or cares about text ads, as "all the bloggers are doing it."
posted by iguanapolitico at 6:20 PM on May 3, 2008

I get ~300 visitors today a blog that I started a while ago and haven't updated in ages. The subject matter is narrowly defined (it is about a desirable gadget, an important detail). All my traffic is search driven (another important detail). It well worth putting AdSense on it. It isn't anything I could make a living it as-is. It is enough that I could imagine that I might somehow be able to make a living at it if I worked at it pretty much full time.
posted by Good Brain at 8:09 PM on May 3, 2008

Apparently I was wrong.
posted by Class Goat at 8:45 PM on May 3, 2008

Best answer: Obviously without knowing your numbers and your market it's very hard to say. When I ran Google Ads on a blog of mine to see how they worked, my experience mirrored jeffamaphone's, both in terms of hits and payout. Not impressive numbers for traffic or ad revenue, same general area of focus. Your blog about mesothelioma and the legal system might do much better, though. Obviously a big part of it is going to depend on how forward you're willing to be with your ads... if you're comfortable putting them front and center, in places that people are likely to either accidentally click on them, or mistake them for desirable content, you'll do much better than if you consign them to the lower sidebar ghetto. Click-through is where it's at. Firefox click-and-download conversions are worth $1/head, if you don't mind running a graphic banner for an open source package. Can't say it proved to be a cash cow for me, but your audience may be different.

If you're don't already, start running Google Analytics, and generate and submit an XML sitemap to Google's Webmaster Tools. You will then know how Google perceives your site. Then sign up for AdSense. If your blog is running on Wordpress, there are scads of plugins to assist with each of these tasks. Can't speak to other platforms. It may not be worth it to you, in the end, but there's only one way to find out.

You should know that Google doesn't pay until they owe you $100, by the way, so there's a lower threshhold to the trickle of income you'd be seeing.
posted by mumkin at 9:49 PM on May 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There's no magic number, Miss Tea. It depends on your site's age, content, and traffic. As other commenters have mentioned, it doesn't hurt to give Google ads a shot. (And you may want to consider other forms of advertising, too. Depending on your traffic -- and if Google isn't a concern for you -- you may want to try Text Link Ads.)

I run several blogs. I can't give too much info (for fear of violating Google TOS), but let me say that my 7-year-old personal site makes a couple bucks per day. My two-year-old personal finance site makes enough from Google that I quit my day job to do it full time. My six-month-old fitness site makes $50/month. And I have various other sites that make a few bucks here and there.

Really, though, your question is too vague, especially without a link to your site. And it's not readership that warrants ads. Your regular readers so not click on Google ads. It's search results that matter. There seems to be a direct correlation between search traffic and Adsense earnings. If you don't know how much search traffic you get, then find out.

But, again, your best bet is to install Google ads and use them for a few months to see how they go...
posted by jdroth at 9:58 PM on May 3, 2008 [4 favorites]

Seconding all of what jdroth said, except that I would recommend staying away from Text Link Ads, because of the Google search penalty, unless perhaps you don't rely on new search traffic. (there's tons out there on this subject - just try searching for 'text link ads google penalizes'.) I did have Text Link Ads on my site a while back, and I sure did see that penalty in action. Once removed, all was well, and things have bounced back revenue-wise too.

It really does depend on the subject matter of your blog. Some subjects, or in internet-marketing speak 'niche', make a whole lot more than others. I have a couple of pretty popular blogs about a subject matter that generally does not make that much Adsense revenue proportionately, but they generate more from other sources such as Amazon Associates and similar, direct ads, and so on. Amazon Associates is also something that's very easy to set up that you may want to look into if you haven't already.

On the other hand, I have a site that has a single Adsense ad on the front page and nothing else, that I've neglected for years, and it still made about $150 or so last year. For no work, I'll take it.

Your blog should also be quite focused on your chosen subject. Personal blogs, unless they generate mega-traffic like Dooce, do not make much because they are usually unfocused. My personal site is ad-free partly because of this.

A must follow for anyone even casually interested in making money from their blogs is Problogger.

(and derailing, but jdroth's personal finance blog is fantastic.)
posted by thread_makimaki at 2:13 AM on May 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. This is very helpful. My blog gets about 50% search traffic, so it sounds like it might be worthwhile to give the AdSense a try.
posted by miss tea at 4:43 AM on May 4, 2008

I'd try other solutions, like pubmatic, and rubicon, who can probably do more on the optimization level that just using adsense alone.
posted by Freen at 10:16 AM on May 5, 2008

It depends on the topic of your site and where you place the ads. If you want to be obnoxious with your ads and place them front and center you will obviously earn more, but your readers might be less likely to return.

A good way to make money with adsense on your blog is to create a directory section for your niche. Create different categories with links to relevant sites. You can place the the large rectangle ad from adsense right above your real links, make sure you match the font size and color with the adsense ads for high click through rates.
posted by amedia at 7:10 PM on May 5, 2008

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