Welcome to my very first monthly Adsense earnings report!
In this post I’m going to share with you exactly how much money each of my websites made last month in Adsense revenue, along with the lessons I learned and my plans for next month to grow my income.
Now, you’re probably wondering why someone would want to expose themselves, with their naked bits flashing everywhere, by revealing publicly how much money they’re making.
Good wondering! I have a few reasons for discussing my Adsense earnings – in detail – on this blog:
- I can share what I’m learning publicly. This will hopefully allow other people to learn along with me. One of the great joys of running a blog is the interaction with like-minded people – people who share a similar mindset and goals.
What about competition? Well, I’m not going to reveal the URLs of my sites, so direct competition shouldn’t be an issue. And I believe there’s so much opportunity in building and monetizing niche sites that I’m not too worried about getting muscled out of my niches by other IMers.
- Writing allows me to learn more. To be honest, the way I’ve tallied my monthly earnings up til now has consisted of a quick glance at my Adsense and Clickbank accounts. Not exactly rigorous analysis! I expect that writing these earnings posts will force me to dig deeper into WHY my revenue is happening, instead of just WHAT is happening. Understanding “why” is critical to good decision-making.
- Public commitment leads to action. As Robert Cialdini outlines in his book on the principles of persuasion, when a person makes a public commitment, they’re more likely to take action to fulfil that commitment – because they don’t want to be seen as inconsistent. That’s why I’ve publicly stated my Adsense goal ($10k per month in Adsense earnings), and why I’m reporting on progress here on the blog.
- Because Pat Flynn does it! Need I say more?
So let’s get into the details…
Adsense Earnings for January 2012
In January I made $1,038.66 in Adsense revenue.
Although I’m pretty happy with that, it’s well below what I was making last year when my sites were earning up to $2,500 in Adsense, before my traffic nosedived from Google’s Panda update.
Here’s a table showing the breakdown in Adsense earnings per site:
A few observations on this breakdown:
- A few sites made up the bulk of my earnings. It would be nice to have a portfolio of sites that are earning according to a bell curve (in other words, a few sites that are home runs, a few that are losers, and the rest making moderate income), but I have one site that’s making good money ($591.59), another that’s decent ($239.33), and a whole lot of others that are just “okay”.
The result is a distribution of income that’s way out of whack:
There are a couple of things I can do to increase my overall earnings, and I talk about those in the last section of this post.
- Clickthrough rate varied widely from site to site. Unfortunately, I can’t show you the exact CTR (because that goes against Google’s terms of service for the Adsense program). But I can tell you that a couple of websites with high traffic had CTRs that were a fraction of my top two earning sites.
So the problem with some of my low earning sites is not the amount of traffic or the cost-per-click. It was the clickthrough rate on the ads.
My goal in coming months will be to try to increase that CTR, while still providing a good user experience for my sites’ visitors (i.e. without making them look “spammy”).
- Some sites didn’t make any money at all. Lest you think I’m a super Adsense genius, I want to point out that 22 of my sites didn’t make any Adsense revenue at all last month! You don’t see them in the table above because I didn’t include them there.
Why didn’t I include those sites in the table? Because none of those sites received over 100 pageviews in the past month. In other words: they had hardly any traffic! So those sites are duds because they’re not getting traffic. With more visits I KNOW the clicks would start happening.
Here’s the lesson from this point: if you’re just starting out, don’t worry about conversions (i.e. clicks on ads, or affiliate sales) first. Worry about getting more traffic!
If you only have a few visitors straggling onto your site each day, you should take that as encouragement (because it’s better than zero visitors), but focus your mind on what you need to do to get more visitors to your site. Or, if you’ve done backlinking and other SEO techniques on a site for months and still aren’t seeing visitors, consider shelving that site and starting a new one. But this time, make sure to do good keyword research, because that’s your biggest obstacle to launching a site that gets ranked in the search engines quickly.
Analyzing the results from last month has been a great learning experience, and has influenced what I’ll be doing in February to increase my Adsense earnings.
Plans to Increase My Adsense Earnings in February
Here’s what I plan to do to try to increase my Adsense earnings this month:
- Regularly add content to my “money” sites. This might seem obvious, but I’ve noticed that when Google likes a site, it tends to index new content quickly and rank it highly.
An example: on my largest health site I regularly post small (100-200 word) summaries of new medical research that I don’t even do keyword research for, and those small snippets of content regularly get traffic, because Google has ranked them for long-tail keywords. It’s not a huge amount of traffic, mind you, but it all adds up.
So this month I plan to start regularly adding new, original articles to my top money sites.
- Launch 13 new niche sites. I’ve already done the keyword research using Long Tail Pro to launch these sites, many of which are in the “cholesterol” niche.
I was actually hoping that my VA (virtual assistant) would get this done earlier in January, but I’ve just started implementing a process for launching niche sites in batches (including step-by-step checklists with video walkthroughs), and we’re still working out the bugs.
And in doing the keyword research for these new sites I made a MAJOR mistake that I won’t be repeating – I only researched the primary keyword for each site, not the primary AND secondary keywords!
What that means is I only have one low-competition keyword for each site, even though I need to launch each site with at least 4 articles on it.
Lesson learned for next month: find at least 4 low-competition keywords for each new site!
- Test out the “eHow.com” web page layout. One of the things I love most about owning websites is the opportunity to run experiments, and then quickly see the results. Over the coming months I’m going to be testing out different page layouts on my Adsense sites, by changing where the ad blocks are placed on my sites’ pages.
Once I have enough pageviews from one experiment, I’m going to change the layout so the ads are placed in different positions on the page – and see how that affects the clickthrough rate.
The idea behind this experiment is to (a) test the layouts of popular sites that rely heavily on advertising revenue (under the assumption that they must know what they’re doing) and (b) test layouts that are proven winners according to experts, e.g. the Adsense layouts in the Ultimate Heatmap.
This month, I’m testing the ad placement used on eHow.com. Here’s a sample page from eHow.com to show you what I’m talking about (note the three ad blocks that I’ve put a red border around. That’s the placement layout I’ll be testing this month):
- Ignore the sites that will take a lot of work. Like a lot of other people in this business, I’ve been guilty of committing one of the “cardinal sins” of internet marketing newbies: continuing to pour effort into a site that just won’t rank. I won’t be doing that with the sites in my portfolio that are duds.
What do I mean by “duds”? Sites that target keywords that are just too hard to rank for. Despite being the self-proclaimed “Keywords Blogger”, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always nail the best keywords, and sometimes make dumb mistakes (like the point above about not finding good secondary keywords for new niche sites. D’oh!)
It’s commonly understood among internet marketers that you can’t make a good income from Adsense. To that I say: poppycock! Just look at sites like eHow, Huffington Post, and Livestrong. The revenue model for those (and many more “brand” sites) is based largely on advertising revenue.
January 2012 marks the first month of my Adsense Challenge. In the next twelve months I’m going to be launching new niche sites, trying to get them ranked high in the search engines, analyzing the results of tests, and learning from mistakes. And I’ll be posting what I’m learning right here on the blog.
What questions do YOU have about earning a living from Adsense?