Should You Make Money With Adsense?

by Ryan

Everyone talks about passive income, making money online, and sitting on beach somewhere while you earn money while you sleep. One of the most popular programs, and so called “easy” ways to make money has been the infamous Google adsense. It’s simple to put into your website, very recognizable, and it you can be up and running in about five minutes. However, should you make money with Adsense?

A few days ago I placed Adsense ads near the top of each post here on Planting Dollars. I did it for the sake of curiosity mostly, to see click through rates, estimated value per thousand, and essentially understand how it would perform on my site. I realized I wouldn’t retire tomorrow by placing a few text links, but nevertheless I need to learn through doing so it’s more of an experiment than anything. Before I decided to place the ads I did a little bit of soul searching to determine whether or not I should make money with adsense.

Lack of Control for Ads

Adsense is an intelligent system that allows keywords to show up based on the content of the page that loads. For example, if I write a page about Waikiki Beach it will most likely bring up ads related to Waikiki Beach such as Waikiki Beach hotels, businesses, and perhaps artists. As a result, I don’t have much control as to what ads show up on my site. This limited control is what a lot of webmasters fear and a big reason why they don’t place the ads on their site.

One popular example in the world of personal finance blogs would be writing a post about using conservative investing strategy, meanwhile a few pixels away there’s an ad ready to sell you an ebook about buying penny stocks, which are the furthest thing from a long term investment strategy. I understand that the ads are contradictory, but I still have faith in my readers…

Giving You the Benefit of the Doubt

Although some ads may be contradictory at times I like to give you, the reader, the benefit of a doubt. If you’ve come to this site you obviously have a brain and hopefully aren’t interested in the “get rich quick” schemes that are often advertised. Therefore, I believe that you have the ability to not take these ads seriously and if you do decide to click on them, it’s only for curiosity sake. If you are dumb enough to believe you can get rich by next week trading penny stocks online then thank you for clicking on that ad and making me money!

A similar example to this would be TV shows. The creators of each TV program do not get to choose which ads run during their television program. That’s between the network and the advertisers. Although it makes more sense to advertise during related shows the creator won’t have a say. As a result, do you think this diminishes the value of the show because of the ads you see during it?

Making Money With Adsense

It’s not as easy as it seems. Adsense is a numbers game and all about volume. Estimated click through rates that are decent are around 1-2% and depending on the content of your site can fetch anywhere from a few pennies to a few bucks. So how much traffic would it take to make full time income with Google Adsense?

In our scenario let’s pretend you need $30,000 a year to be considered full time income. We won’t consider taxes in this simple scenario. We will also assume that you have a 1% click through rate and make $1.00 per click. That means for every 100 impressions you make $1.

$30,000 goal / $1 per click = 30,000 clicks needed

30,000 clicks / .01 click through rate (.01 is the same as 1%) = 3,000,000 page impressions.

If we break that down it’s
250,000 per month
57,692 per week
8219 per day

As you can see, they’re not exactly small numbers. The easy part is putting up the ads, as Money Funk so eloquently showed how recently with her adsense tips, however, the hard part will be bringing that many people to your site to click on those ads.

What do you think about making money with Google Adsense?

Do you think webmasters should use it, or not?

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul Williams April 30, 2010 at 5:43 pm

I don’t see a problem with it, but maybe that’s because I use it myself. :)

It’s similar to what you said about TV ads. The creator doesn’t have much, if any, control over those. It’s up to the consumer to discern between good ads and bad ads. The same can be said for Adsense.

The only difference is that it’s very easy for those browsing the web to get rid of all the ads if they want to. And that’s fine with me. It’s actually better for me if the people who won’t click the ads never see them anyway.

I found it interesting that your quick calculation is similar to what I thought it would take to make a decent living from running a website with Adsense. I figured I’d need 10,000 visitors a day (preferably search engine) to do it. I’m almost there…….hahaha! :) I wish!
.-= Paul Williams´s last blog ..Weekend Reading – 04/30/2010 =-.

Roman Soluk April 30, 2010 at 10:40 pm

I think it’s very individual and it also depends on the website structure, niche as well s on many other factors. As for me, I can’t say that I like it or not… I haven’t got too much experience with it.
.-= Roman Soluk´s last blog ..Do you want to become rich? =-.

Adrian A. April 30, 2010 at 11:43 pm

While a 1% CTR is achievable, I highly doubt you can make on average $1 per click. The real number is much lower. I have, for example, an average of 6 cents per click. Of course, it depends much on what kinds of ads you have and those depend on the type of content you post on your site…

Ricardo Villalba May 1, 2010 at 3:55 am

Last year I created a blog on blogger about moving and living in NYC, very simple with some tips. I added adsense to it and forgot all about it, until last month when I got an email asking for more information about me so they can send me some money. I was suprise that I made a little bit over $20 in five months. Is not a lot but I started thinking if I create a blog about every little thing I do or know and have over 100 blogs and they all collected at least $1 a day I will be ok. Now the ads that are posted doesn’t really bother me unless I have a very important subject I want to share then I wouldn’t have AdSense on my page.

Financial Samurai May 1, 2010 at 5:34 am

I don’t run any Adsense on my site because I’m not sure what ads pop up everytime I turn on my computer. I’ve found porno sites, manga, and stuff that has nothing to do with the site.

Ideally, I’d like all my ads to be negotiated on 6-12 month contracts. Remember that each Adsense you put up is a click away from a potential other Ad. You’ve got to diversify.
.-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..The Dark Side Of Early Retirement =-.

Daniel Johnston May 1, 2010 at 8:27 am

On some of my blogs, I’ve chosen to run Google Adsense, on some not.

On newer blogs, I think it’s a bad idea to put up Adsense straight off the bat. For one, you won’t make much, anyways, and the ads won’t be relevant at all because you don’t have enough content up.

On most of my blogs that get decent traffic, I run ads via a plugin called OIO Publisher that allows you to easily sell ad space on your site. I find out how much to charge by running Adsense for a little while and tracking my ecpm (earnings cost per thousand). I use that number, and based on my monthly page views, that’s what I charge. I also add a percent or two because almost everyone who visits will see the ad, even if they don’t click, so it’s good for branding and exposure.

If I do the testing, try to sell the ad space, and no one buys, I use how much I made during the testing and decide whether it would be better to put affiliate banners or Adsense ads based on the ecpm.

I really prefer to not run Adsense, because, in a way, it gives blogs a bit of a bad image, especially in a niche where most of the ads are scams. However, if it makes more money than selling ad space or affiliate banners, I will use it.

LenciB: Falling Into favor May 1, 2010 at 9:31 am

I don’t like ads on my page…I’m not sure what ads would come up and that would be a problem :)
.-= LenciB: Falling Into favor´s last blog ..April Goals Evaluated =-.

Scott Barron May 1, 2010 at 10:04 am

I find AdSense works best on static websites whose majority of traffic is not bloggers, online marketers or other website owners; as they are “ad immune”.

My friend makes approx $1,000 a month from AdSense, however her website is part of a “chain” of information. Most of the ads are: “what’s next” after they finish reading her material. It actually makes sense to click on the ads to learn more.
.-= Scott Barron´s last blog ..Avoid Home Distractions =-.

Austin @ TheOrangePaper.com May 1, 2010 at 9:13 pm

Having read your calculations of the number of clicks required — it really makes one think about how to get such kinda traffic and then clicks!

I pretty much am of the same view as that of Financial Samurai — ads negotiated for 6 – 12 months contract.

As simple as it is to put up Adsense on your website, it is equally simple to have someone’s Adsense account disabled by Google.

That’s what happened to mine — Just recently, a few weeks ago, I noticed that ads were not appearing on my website. Had been really busy those weeks, did not have time to check my emails — just logged in to my mail account to find that I had received an email from Google saying they detected fraudulent clicks and in order to protect their advertisers they have disabled my account. Wow — it is that easy for someone to scr*w up your Adsense account..!

Filled up their ‘appeal form’, no use — got a reply in like a day’s time saying even after reviewing the appeal they still think their advertisers need to be protected and so they cannot reinstate my account. Goodbye Adsense!
.-= Austin @ TheOrangePaper.com´s last blog ..PayPal’s Important Information For Sellers In India =-.

MyFinancialObjectives May 2, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Ads are so far off for me, it’s more of a motivational idea at this point. Having ads, for me, signifies having enough traffic to my site to generate income. therefore at this moment in time, I don’t give them any thought. In due time….
.-= MyFinancialObjectives´s last blog ..Capitalizing on Recent Market Dips =-.

HirEffendy Tahir May 2, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Well I am with MFO. Still figuring out how to increase traffic to my blog. Hoping to get some ideas and feedback from this blog on how to do that. :) and then generate the income..
.-= HirEffendy Tahir´s last blog ..SEO 7 Tips To SUCCESS =-.

Aury (Thunderdrake) May 3, 2010 at 5:53 am

If there’s some things I’ve learned with CPC ads, is that click throughs seem to depend on your traffic. I notice that if you have more blog-oriented traffic, your click throughs will be quite fine. Though for example, with social media traffic, you could get tens of thousands of visitors and not notice the clicks. Content is certainly king.. But tactical placement of ads is queen!
.-= Aury (Thunderdrake)´s last blog ..The Hoarding Dragon – The difference between knowledge and experience =-.

FinEngr May 3, 2010 at 5:42 am

Ryan:

I believe you can be just as successful without adsense. *Not generally, meaning “you” specifically.

Even without adsense, the text links or placed ads could still diminish the value of the site. No matter what route you pursue, it seems like your goal is to provide quality external links.
.-= FinEngr´s last blog ..Does This iPhone Come With or Without Cancer? =-.

Money Funk May 3, 2010 at 7:14 am

Thanks for the link luv. 😀

Ah, Google Adsense… well, lets say that I have contemplated taking it down. But not because of the content. I haven’t had any problems with the ads (that I am aware of) except for when I write about check cashing. I contemplated because its a very passive income and I am just not being agressive at it. Its taken a long time to get that $100 check in the mail!

And I am not that agressive to finding key words and worry about conversion rates… Its a lot of work! I feel that my time is better spend creating a product, as I’ve seen alot around lately, it will potentially generate much more income than my Google Adsense.

But I do know some blogs that do very well with Google Adsense. Just not my forte. 😉
.-= Money Funk´s last blog ..Future Endeavors and a Giveaway =-.

Forest May 3, 2010 at 10:18 am

Adsense enables me to keep working on my blog, so much so that it s now a hefty part of my full time job…. I work on my frugal blog everyday and as a reward I slowly seeing an increase in revenue which will lead to me being able to work on it even more…. so yes I love adsense. I click on adsense ads if the ads interest me as many of the advertisers are genuine… And I am very tech savvy so I do see good in them.
.-= Forest´s last blog ..Condom Soccer Balls, Not Just For Hard Times =-.

Search Engine Viking May 3, 2010 at 4:48 pm

I personally love Adsense. While I don’t think it’s the end-all-be-all of online income, it’s got two major things working in its favor:

1) You get paid when someone clicks, regardless of if they buy what the advertiser is selling. That means you don’t have to write sales copy and can instead focus on what you want to write about. Kind of like a newspaper…

2) It’s backed by Google. Google owns the whole world, and is looking towards Mars for an expansion. While other money methods work well, I like the idea of the world’s most powerful company backing my transactions.
.-= Search Engine Viking´s last blog ..Three Dollars Per Day Adsense Challenge: Day 3 =-.

Personal Finance May 3, 2010 at 11:39 pm

To make money with AdSense or anything else for that matter, you need to have many more visitors to make a slight dent from AdSense.
.-= Personal Finance´s last blog ..Sincere Millions Caused To Suffer Needlessly – A Naive Look =-.

Saving Money Today May 4, 2010 at 4:23 am

Generally speaking, I don’t think blogs are well suited for AdSense. I know my blog’s clickthrough rate and earnings are pretty meager to date. But I’ve had more success with small static sites that are highly focused on one particular keyword phrase. I’m ranked for a couple of decent keywords and I earn over $1 per click from them. Competition for the higher-paying keywords is fierce though so I have a lot of work cut out for me before I can really rake in the AdSense cash.
.-= Saving Money Today´s last blog ..Car Buying Tips and Tricks =-.

Noah Rainey May 4, 2010 at 9:06 am

Adsense can lower your blog’s overall quality. I don’t suggest using it Ryan. Try affilaite marketing. This a great way to make an income with your blog and not endorse certain products you feel lower your site’s overall quality. Plus, most webs surfers learn to cope around adsense. It’s only a few who actually think a Google ad is useful and click. This is all from my personal experience.
.-= Noah Rainey´s last blog ..Guest Posting – 3 Traffic Tips =-.

Simple in France May 5, 2010 at 2:25 am

I have seen a couple of bloggers I know try adsense for about a month, then have adsense close them down without paying them for thei ad time. Seems shady to me.

That and sometimes I notice really trashy ads. Maybe it’s because I’m in France, but for a while, everyplace I went with adsense had this bizarre cartoon add of a ‘dating’ site that looked sketchy/icky. Sometimes I also see adds for Russian brides. Uh. . .

BUT when I see an add that is inline with the topic I’m reading about, I usually find it less shocking–when I did a guest post at Money Funk this week about private education, her adsense kicked up plenty of school-related links and ads which looked pretty high-quality and reputable to me. . .I wonder if there’s a way to get some kind of control over that with SEO or something ???

I’m not necessarily against Adsense, but I do get annoyed at trashy/get rich type ads.

Mr Prestigue May 5, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Very Good Blog post. You really think before you write your stuff down. I’m also eager to hear what the people say about using adsense, Good choice!

Peter May 6, 2010 at 4:10 am

Personally I think Adsense is a great way to monetize a website – for some niches. The personal finance niche, for example, is a perfect niche to monetize using Adsense since it has so many high paying clicks via banks, retirement companies, brokerages, etc. I’ve found the PF niche has clicks that on average are anywhere from .50 cents to $12 or more. Seriously! So a $1 click is a good guess, at least for the PF niche. If you’re writing about your dog Fido, you’re not going to make much from Adsense – but if you write about the right topics, you can do quite well.

I’ve been using Adsense since my site launched in 2008, and I had ads up on day 1. Even in those first few months I made enough to pay for my hosting and domain name. It has grown over time, and in most months I am now able to make enough with Adsense that it basically pays for all of our monthly bills including the mortgage.

I think there’s a lot of mis-information out there about Adsense that makes people believe that Adsense is full of bad ads, that people will think your site sucks if you have them, etc. I’ve had almost 2 million page views over 2 years now, and in that time I’ve had exactly 1 complaint about the adsense ads on my site. Out of over a million visitors, that’s not too bad.

If you want to block certain ads (like payday ads), you can do that through the Adsense interface – so if there are certain ads that are bothering you, you can block them.

So, yes, I think webmasters should use Adsense. It’s a great way to monetize a site with little front end work. Plus, it can grow to be quite substantial, if you do it right. There are other good ways to monetize as well, but Adsense is good for beginners and veterans alike.
.-= Peter´s last blog ..Ally Bank Online Savings Account: Signing Up For An Account And Review =-.

harvestwages May 7, 2010 at 12:25 pm

I’ve been waiting to see you monetize this blog with adsense, i thought maybe you disregard adsense as a good ads option for your blog.
I did include adsense on my blog a couple of weeks ago, and for me i don’t see any inconvenience making a few buck though adsense.
I prefer the graphic ads to the text, since the graphic ads just fits my blog. Google don’t post spammy ads on my site, all the ads are related to my post content.
I will anxious to see where adsense takes you to.
.-= harvestwages´s last blog ..Diet and exercise For Self Empowerment =-.

Flexo May 8, 2010 at 12:03 pm

I’ve run AdSense ads since 2004 and never once had a complaint, though I did block one or two advertisers in the past. The more traffic you have, the more Google can earn by serving ads to your site, so you’ll get higher paying and better quality ads.
.-= Flexo´s last blog ..Congratulations to the Winners of the Plutus Awards! =-.

Webmaster support May 8, 2010 at 5:37 pm

It used t be dream for me to get google ads .I failed several times to achieve that goal.But once you get them it looks easy to get them but to generate money out them is not that easy , need lots of tactics and tricks.
.-= Webmaster support´s last blog ..3rd Time i failed to get google Adsense Ads =-.

OlivAmor May 9, 2010 at 4:44 am

I really appreciate these kinds of posts (and the comments they generate). I have thought about whether I should consider placing ads on my blog. I am concerned about the clutter if I were to go overboard on the one hand, but not having enough of them may be a waste of space (time & money) on the other. I’ll be checking out some of the links you have here.
.-= OlivAmor´s last blog ..Relocating During a Recession: Part 2 =-.

Dr. Mama Love May 10, 2010 at 5:49 pm

There’s alot of good information here. I like using adsense but admit I am nervous I will never see money. For the most part I think the ads that google runs on my site have a lot to do with what I am writing about. Hopefully If I get more traffic to my site I will make more money.

Jarrod@ Optimistic Journey May 12, 2010 at 6:36 am

Hi Ryan,

I’m not a webmaster but I think it couldn’t hurt to put adsense on your site. I think that they’re a way to optimize the size to get the keyword density to a point that you have more control over what ads display. And as long as you don’t expect to make a lot over night then it couldn’t hurt. I think some people get discouraged when they don’t see the results they want then they take the ads down. I think it helps to develop a long term expectation rather than expect to make a lot of money over night.

Great thoughts, thanks for sharing!!
.-= Jarrod@ Optimistic Journey´s last blog ..Are You In Indifference Mode? =-.

Darren May 12, 2010 at 6:49 am

I appreciate the discussion and various opinions here as well. As a fairly new blogger myself, I do have intentions of eventually monetizing the blog somehow.

The issue I’m having is whether I should just start putting up adsense now, or wait to build some decent traffic and an audience. I also hear about irrelevent or spammy ads showing up, which deters me from wanting to put up adsense. However, previous commenters have said that there are ways to block them, which should take care of that issue.

Ultimately, I think it just needs to be given a try and tested around with.
.-= Darren´s last blog ..Free Credit Score From Credit Karma =-.

Darren May 12, 2010 at 6:26 pm

Ryan,

Thanks for the reply! I’m leaning towards just implementing adsense now like you suggest, but am asking a few others for their opinions.

I have a question though. If you say that the left corner of a post is the best, why do you and Christine (money funk) put yours on the right side? Just curious.

Thanks for the input.
.-= Darren´s last blog ..Free Credit Score From Credit Karma =-.

Kharim May 16, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Adsense is a great way to make money online but you need lots of traffic to make it work efficiently.

I am on my way of collecting my first adsense payments :)
.-= Kharim´s last blog ..How To Increase Google AdSense Revenue =-.

Mike May 23, 2010 at 9:03 am

Great post and even greater comments. I own quite a few websites and it took me 6 months (basically on trial and error ) to figure out what works best on each website.
On some niche sites, you can sell advertising space to advertisers directly. We usually sell space on 6 to 12 months basis, but remember the cost of sales to canvass advertisers, place ads, manage ads, accounting, invoicing, and administration is incurred.
On the other hand, Google Adsense does that for you. Yes, it requires some manual labour to configure, adjust, improve, but once you have optimised your website, you will see the magic work. Content targeting and wrapping ads on the left hand side under your post title works best. Obviously, it depends on a number of factors, and the utmost important is traffic!!!
We have started a blog dedicated to Google Adsense Tips. Check it out on http://www.googleadsensetips.net.

Thanks

Mike

Neil June 30, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Hi Ryan,

In my debt niche I find that the CPC and CTR% are higher than quoted above (I would be more specific but I think it’s against the Adsense TOS!). Using my figures would mean having to get 15,000 clicks via 500,000 page views per year. I’m nowhere near this figure but it seems a bit more achievable!
.-= Neil´s last blog ..Solve Your Debt Problem – Talk About It =-.

Web search optimization July 18, 2010 at 6:49 pm

This is a really interesting post thanks. I’m considering using Adsense for one of my sites but tend to find dealing with Google very frustrating!

One great method of increasing your earnings on Google is to refresh old content on a regular basis. This will appeal to Google and your site will appear more regularly in the rankings. While you may need a lot of impressions to make more money, the more pages you have that are regularly accessed the easier this will be.
.-= Web search optimization´s last blog ..Understanding Meta tags =-.

Monterey Marketing Lab (Neal) July 28, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Hey Ryan,
From my experiences, the viability of adsense depends a lot on the topic you’re writing. A competitive subject could be worthwhile, but if you write on a somewhat obscure hobby or something that’s not heavily monetized, the clicks might not be worth very much to you. A click for one topic might get you $1 while another could get you $0.05.
-Neal
.-= Monterey Marketing Lab (Neal)´s last blog ..Really Bad Powerpoint =-.

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