Don’t get too obsessed by your monthly AdSense earnings

Google AdSense is the main source of revenue on my niche sites and when you’re looking at CTR (Click Through Rates), number of clicks, page views, CPC (Cost per Click), etc it’s pretty easy to become obsessed with the statistics and what your final earnings for the month will be. If you’ve read my monthly income reports then you will know I am obsessed and you will also know that I’ve seen a massive drop in my AdSense earnings over the past month.

Look to the positives

The fact is that I do not depend on my niche site earnings, I already have a 9-5 job, and any extra money is a bonus, so I should be happy with any revenue that comes from these sites. In August I earnt £398.93 and the majority of that went into my savings, but this month I am well behind and will be happy to get to £100. One Hundred Pounds. Only. £100 isn’t actually too bad when you sit back and think about it, and I guess my views have been tainted slightly by my early success. If someone came and gave you £100 each month you’d be pretty happy I bet, or if someone bought you a sandwich and crisps for your lunch every day you’d be chuffed, so I really should start looking on the positives.

This is only the beginning

I’m only 5 months into this ‘project’ and can hardly say that I’ve put all my effort into it or that I spend every spare minute writing articles or creating backlinks, but it is working, I’m doing something right, and I’m earning money. The amount of money I can earn depends on several things:

  • The amount of sites I have – Currently I’ve got 3 sites (not including this one) that are earning me money, with another couple hopefully ready to earn some money shortly. My aim is to have 10 sites up by the New Year and more sites, means more potential revenue. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket as I’m sure some of these sites won’t be amazing successes.
  • How they are created – I have managed to streamline how long it takes me to create a site, such as knowing which plugins to use (see 11 Awesome WordPress Plugins For Your Niche Sites), and where best to place AdSense adverts, so I can get a website online much quicker than in the beginning.
  • How good the content is -I feel that I am now better equipped at writing articles and content and taking into consideration not only the reader but also how search engines view pages and what they are looking out for.
  • How good a niche is – No niche is the same as another and you can go for BIG ones where the potential is huge but will require more work or you can go for smaller ones which are slow burners and earn you a small amount each month but require less work but are more dependable. I am opting for the latter.

These are just a few factors but it gives me the feeling that I can only improve with my sites and should be able to maintain my earnings at the very least, and should probably be able to increase my revenue due to the fact that more sites=more potential. There will be plenty of ups and downs so if you’re having a bad month don’t dwell on it too much as there are sure to be plenty more good months just around the corner if you put the work in.

One simple change that could increase your AdSense earnings

In this article I will show you one simple settings change you can make on your AdSense account which could increase your AdSense earnings on your niche sites.

When conducting research for my niche sites I will look for keywords with a certain number of searches and a reasonably good cost-per-click value for the AdSense ads I will be placing on the site (I use the free Google Keyword Tool for this) and once I’ve found what I like I will built a site around those keywords.

How AdSense is meant to work for niche sites

These are niche and very specific sites so the people who visit my sites are not randomly surfing but actually searching for information on the niche I’m covering and as such I’m hoping that once they’re on my site they may decide to click on an AdSense advert which will be relevant to the niche and earn me some money.

That’s the way it’s supposed to work, and that’s what I love about AdSense. If I’m searching for ‘cheap laptops’ then you can be sure that AdSense will display adverts for laptops, but this isn’t always the case as AdSense is a little smarter than that and has knowledge of all the other sites you have been visiting so if you visit my niche site on ‘cheap laptops’ you may actually be served with adverts that are completely irrelevant. An example is that when I use my computer after my fiance has then I will find my searches are littered with AdSense adverts for ‘shoes’ instead of those for ‘cheap laptops’ because Google uses Interest-Based advertising as well as Contextual advertising to determine what adverts to show me.

Why I turned off Interest-based Ads

To me it makes perfect sense to turn off interest-based advertising and only use contextual advertising on my niche sites as the whole method of choosing keywords based on visitor numbers and Cost-per-Click (CPC) and then creating a relevant website relies on that website serving ads related to that niche and the keywords I chose. It makes sense doesn’t it?

By looking at my Performance Reports>Targeting Types I can see that one of my sites does earn some money from interest-based ads but the majority of my sites earn nothing from interest-based and all their money from contextual, but the fact is that Google is still placing the interest-based ads on my site which means I am losing out on potential clicks to contextual ads which are not being shown.

The one benefit of interest-based ads to note is that the average CPC is often slightly higher than that of contextual ads but the CTR is half of what it is for contextual ads, so they are getting far less clicks which means the higher CPC counts for nothing.

You may want to check your own reports before disabling interest-based ads, and please realise that this setting will come into effect for your whole AdSense account and therefore all the ads no matter what sites they are on.

To opt out of interest-based ads do the following:

  1. Sign in to your AdSense account.
  2. Visit the Allow & block ads tab.
  3. In the sidebar, choose Advanced settings.
  4. Click the checkbox next to the Interest-Based Ads Preference so that it reads “Ads based on user interest categories are not allowed to show.”

By doing this and opting out you will decrease the number of ads competing to appear on your website and so if you’ve picked a niche with very few advertisers then you may decrease your potential earnings and few ads will be shown. This is a possibility but if you’ve done your research correctly then you should be fine.

Monitoring the changes

I think it’s important to keep an eye on your earnings along with clicks and pageviews to ensure that your sites are not effected by this change, but it’s easy enough to opt back in if you are adversely effected by only showing contextual ads. I only made this change yesterday but will let this run for at least the rest of the month to see what effect it has but I have a firm believe that it can only be beneficial and should increase my earnings and the number of clicks.

Could this one change earn you more money?

11 Awesome WordPress Plugins For Your Niche Sites

Once you’ve built a few niche sites and got to know your favourite WordPress plugins you will use them time and time again, and so I thought I would share my favoured plugins with you all. This isn’t an extensive list and there are bound to be ones that I don’t include, but this is just a sample of those that really add value to a site and can make your life easier.

All in One SEO Pack

This does what it says on the tin and offers out-of-the-box search engine optimisation for your WordPress blog. One of the better feature is the ability to override post titles so they are displayed differently in search engines which is great for testing without changing your posts url.

Google Analytics for WordPress

Google Analytics is the daddy of monitoring your sites stats especially since Google is where most of your traffic will be coming from. You will need to set up an Analytics account with Google and then you will be asked to paste some code into your site so that they can track it. Simply enter your analytics code into this plugin to authorise your site and it will start tracking.

Google XML Sitemaps

This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines to index your site and alert them when you make any changes.

Ozh’ Admin Drop Down Menu

This hasn’t got much to do with SEO and niche sites but it’s the first plugin I install on a new WordPress site as it removes the sidebar menu and provides a horizontal drop down menu instead which helps with navigation in the admin area of your WordPress installation. It really is a must.

Pretty Link Lite

This is a way of shrinking or masking your links which is great for affiliate sites allowing you to display a friendly url as well as being able to track them.


Quick Adsense

This allows you to insert your AdSense code into posts/pages/sidebars with minimal effort. Paste your various advert codes into the plugin and then say where you want them to go. This allows you to experiment with their positions putting ads at the end of posts, the beginning, or even the middle and specifying their alignment so they fit in snugly with your text.


SEO SearchTerms Tagging 2

This increases blog traffic by strengthening on page SEO, increasing the number of indexed pages, and auto converts search terms into post tags so that more of your pages are indexed. This also displays incoming search terms on the footer of your post or on your sidebar which can mean more visits but also helps you with keyword research and perhaps what words you should be looking to optimise or write new content on.

SexyBookmarks (by Shareaholic)

You will have seen this on quite a few blogs (and this one) and it adds an attractive social bookmarking menu to your posts, pages, or homepage. I would click on this far more often than any other bookmarking plugin and you can easily select which social bookmarking links to display.


Strictly Auto Tags

Tagging is a great way to get more pages indexed by search engines and can also increase site traffic but it’s all to easily to forget this and not add any tags to your articles. This plugin will scan your post and add the most relevant and appropriate tags but in a really smart way. Hit ‘publish’ and the tags are automatically added.

Subscribe to Comments Reloaded

This enables people who comment on your site to sign up for e-mail notification of subsequent entries and if you’re running a niche site you want to get as much returning traffic as possible. You can also have this as ‘opt out’ as well as ‘opt in’ so that the box is already ticked when a user comments meaning they are more likely to be subscribed to that comment stream. This may annoy some but it’s easy to either untick or unsubscribe.

Tweet old post

When running a niche site you will probably set up a twitter account for it too but it’s not always easy to keep this updated so why not use this plugin to keep your twitter stream (and your followers) populated with links back to articles on your site? You can specify the age of posts, exclude categories, add additional text, add hashtags based on the tags on your post, and lots more. Then just set the intervals you would like to publish your tweets at.

Knowing when to quit and how to succeed

When I started creating niche sites in May of this year, barely 6 months ago, I had no strategy and when I had success with my very first site which earned me £384.83 ($602) in one month I thought I was onto a winner. If I created more sites like that then I would be rich! Alas that wasn’t to be the case and the site took a big rankings drop after a Google update, and I realised that I was going to have to put a lot more work in if I was to succeed.

The need to diversify

I failed because I depended on one site and one method of income generation, and all the reading I have since made have told me the need to diversify to ensure that I’m less effected my any bumps and slip-ups that come along the way. Pro bloggers like Spencer Haws freely admit to having hundreds of sites, and building up to 30 new sites a month, which is only possible by hiring VA’s (Virtual Assistants), so I’m not going to be making that many sites but I’m still aiming to have at least 10 sites up and running by the New Year.

Why do some sites fail?

The fact is that not all of these sites will be successes, some will hopefully do well, some will do okay, and some will earn absolutely no money at all. There are plenty of external factors that effect the success of a site so that in some cases no matter how much effort you put your site will sometimes be a failure. Some of these include:

  • Poor Keyword – If you didn’t research properly then you could be doomed for failure from the start building a site that no one has any interest in.
  • Low Advertiser Bids – If you rely on AdSense then your site will only earn money if advertisers are paying and bidding on the keyword you are promoting. If a good paying advertisers drops out of the AdWords scheme then you could see your profits drop.
  • Google Ranking – The truth is that initially you will rely on Google for 99% of your traffic. If Google doesn’t like your site then you are doomed.
  • Competition – You may aim for #1 but that isn’t always a possibility. If you are in a competitive niche then ranking on the 5th page of Google isn’t going to get you many visitors.

Most of these come down to the initial keyword research you put into your chosen niche and so I find this the hardest part to do and the success of your site will depend on this. Don’t be too afraid of making mistakes though as this is still more of an art than a science.

Knowing when to quit

I got some good advice from Thomas Sinfield in a comment on my post 1 site or 10 sites? Decisions to be made:

What I tend to do is do the research on a heap of niches, pick a couple and work on them:

1. if I get average results I leave them to settle and focus on new sites 2. if they produce good results I keep working on them while starting new sites

3. if they produce great results I make them a focus and limit my time on new sites.

Not all sites are going to be big hits, even if they seem to all have similar research info. By building many small sites, it allows you to test 10 niches and see which ones naturally take off.

You can then either sell off the smaller sites, or keep them as littler earners.

It’s good advice and this is where knowing when to quit comes in. Once you’ve got some sites set up then it’s usually just a case of waiting to see how how they fare in terms of traffic and AdSense earnings. Your site may starting earning in weeks or it could take months to get off the ground and get indexed, but sometimes a site will do nothing and you should realise that it’s not worth putting any further effort into it and just leave it.

I have a couple of sites like this and they are usually a case of where I’ve rushed in and chosen the wrong niche. I will put those down to experience and not add anything more to them. The sites are still there though and who knows, I may get the odd click from the sites. A typical UK domain only costs £3 a year so it’s a small gamble, and worth the risk as you could stumble upon a great niche. By having many sites you can limit your exposure to this as hopefully the more sites you have the more chance you have of creating profitable ones. Obviously you will also create more duds, but knowing when to quit them will save you time and effort, and allow you to focus on your profitable sites.

Creating new sites quickly

Once you’ve done your keyword research it’s pretty easy to buy a domain, point it to your server, and install wordpress, but what then? Obviously you need content and initially I will start with one one article on the front page, along with a contact page, about page, and a privacy policy page. I think one article is enough to start getting visitors and get indexed. When you have time then you can add more content but it’s not worth spending too much time on other articles on a site that might not have any potential. Obviously there are arguments for having more content at launch but this is the way I do it, adding more content if I think the site is going somewhere.

I’ve written about awesome plugins for niche sites but I haven’t spoken about themes/templates for your site and the fact this there are thousands of themes out there and sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. I’ve installed themes before and spent hours editing the CSS and html only to have no visitors to appreciate the work that’s gone into it!

What I needed was a theme I could use for all my sites that was simple to install, simple to customise, and AdSense ready and I recently came across a premium WordPress theme called CTR Theme. I don’t normally pay for themes but this promised so much that I took the plunge and for $67 (£42+VAT in the UK) I bought it and have been very happy indeed.

The CTR Theme features it’s own admin panel where you can change designs (4 different styles included), change colour schemes, add all your AdSense codes, etc and it literally takes 5 minutes to get this sorted and have your niche site online. Also as it has an unlimited site licence you can use it on ALL your sites. Oh and changing the colour scheme on the admin also changes the colour of the AdSense ads so no need to change the ads on your AdSense account!

One of the smartest features of the theme is that it features ad randomisation, meaning every time a visitor comes to your site the AdSense adverts change location which can help reduce “ad blindness” and improve your click-through rate (CTR).

I think it’s best to mention that the links to the CTR Theme are affiliate links but this isn’t me trying to push the product as it’s genuinely something I use on my sites and recommend. It also comes with a 60 day money back guarantee so if you’re not happy then you can get your money back.

Here’s a video that runs through the features of the theme and shows how easy it is to install it on your sites:

Quicker setup = More sites

If it takes less time to make a site then it means you can make more and as discussed earlier I believe this is the best solution to making money and reducing your risk to fluctuations. I will continue to make niche sites in this way and if they show signs of potential then it’s time to develop them and try and make more money!

Mini Update

So as I said in my last post I won’t be putting up income reports anymore mainly because I don’t want the money to be the overall focus of my sites. I do know how to make money online, I think I’ve proved it over the past year, but I am looking to change the way I make money. I could carry on churning out AdSense sites which earn well but I know there is no long term plan in those and that every site has a finite lifetime.

My sites didn’t really get hit that much by the recent Google updates and I only saw a 20% drop in revenue for last month, so I could carry on as before but I am now looking to focus on fewer sites but put more effort into them.

Moving away from AdSense

AdSense is where I’ve earn the bulk of my money, but I don’t see this as a long term revenue stream, and as such I’m looking into more direct revenue streams and building this into the sites I currently own and which are currently ranking very well. I have sites that are #1 or #2 for their main keywords which I believe can be earning far more money than they currently do with AdSense, and so I will either be looking to get money from direct advertisers or from affiliate products and services.

With AdSense my average CPC (Cost per Click) is around £0.40 and the best way to get visitors to click on these is to make your site as poorly constructed as possible with minimal content so the visitor feel inclined to click on these links to find the information they are looking for. That is the crux of it and that doesn’t really make for a good site or really make me proud of the site or my work at all. I want a site I can happily promote and if I can point people towards products they actually want then great as it will mean I also get a better share of the profit too!

I still also want to make a site that doesn’t rely too much on organic traffic and which I can promote as a brand but I know this will take more time than I currently have so that’s on the backburner and will come back to life when I know I have a solid plan.

E-Commerce

I bought the ShopperPress theme last week which is an e-commerce WordPress theme that looks very professional and allows me to sell affiliate products or even real physical products if I wished (that’s another story). I managed to get this at a discounted cost of just over £30 which I though was worth a go and I’ve been very happy with it. If you use this affiliate link then you can get it for £30.66 rather than the usual £51.10.

The rewards for selling affiliate products are much higher and it is in my interests to write great content so that the visitor is won over to buy the products I am promoting. This better content should also allow my site to rank better too.

That’s it for now

That’s the end of my mini update but should keep you up to date where I am. Please let me know how things are going with you in the comments or on Twitter.

Niche Website Bloggers Who I Follow

I’m subscribed to quite a few blogs about passive income/niche websites and it’s amazing how much knowledge you can get from these. They generally fall into two categories of blogger:

  • Those like me who are trying to succeed but are making minimal earnings but learning as they do.
  • Those who have succeeded and provide inspiration.

I like it that others are in the same situation as me but I also like knowing that there are also those who are where I want to be. Okay, I’m probably never going to be Pat Flynn but I’m sure I can learn a thing from them all and thoroughly enjoy reading their regular posts.

I recently stumbled across Spencer from Niche Pursuits, and this has to be my new favourite read and I’m learning a whole lotta new things about niche sites especially when Spencer is so transparent with his techniques. The thing you do notice is that all the top bloggers have completely different techniques for backlinking and ranking their sites which shows that there is probably no 100% set way of going about it and no magic formula or get rick quick scheme.

Anyway I thought I would share a list of those who I follow and have made their way onto my rss reader. I’m only including those who are currently active as some have stopped blogging so don’t make it onto here.

Smart Passive Income

Penny on the Floor

Make Money on the Internet

Leaving Work Behind

Niche Pursuits

Okay, so I’ve just gone through my list and I actually haven’t got loads of sites on there although I do follow a lot more people on Twitter and get tweets about their blog updates from there. So this hasn’t turned out to be a great post but at least it’s keeping things moving on this site after 2 weeks without an update.

If you have any reading recommendations then please comment below.

How to make money from blogging

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photo credit: jo.sau

It’s dream most of us probably have had from time to time and wouldn’t it be great if something you loved doing made you money in the process too?

Three of the most common ways of making money from blogging are:

  • Advertising (adsense, selling advert spots directly)
  • Affiliate schemes (writing articles about products and linking to them earning a percentage of sales)
  • Selling products (eBooks are pretty big right now, and perhaps you could write one and sell it?)

Of course these don’t work with any blog or website, the thing you need is visitors, and specifically visitors that are interested in what you have to say. Getting visitors relies on many factors, such as keywords, trends, content, backlinks, etc and even if you are an seo guru it still won’t guarantee the amount of visitors you need to make a decent living from your blog.

I’ve been reading quite a lot into this subject and if this is something that you are interested in then you might want to check out these blogs from people that are actually blogging for a living:

  • Viperchill
  • Blog Tyrant
  • Problogger

The above bloggers are the exception in that they make huge amounts of money from blogging, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a bit of the action.

If you want more info on this subject then here is a great article that further explains ‘How Bloggers Make Money From Blogs‘.

June 2011 Income Report

I’m happy to be writing this report for June as my niche website has been running for a complete month having only started in mid May and so last month’s income report only provided a partial picture.

It’s been a really exciting month and I had hoped to be reporting back with news of a new niche site but in the end I had enough to do with niche site P and couldn’t commit to properly creating a new one but as you will see from the results below it didn’t really matter. I had an amazing month!

What did I do?

Most of the hard work was done on the site in May but I still managed to write 10 very short pages of content which kept Google happy and increased the amount of keywords for visitors to find. Apart from that is was just a matter of letting people find the site and hopefully click on the AdSense.

Amount of Visits

Visits have increased and have reached a steady level which I expect them to remain at for the immediate future. In doing my research into the niche I know how many searches there are per month for my keyword so I’m not expecting this to suddenly increase, but in adding more content I’m increasing the chances of visitors through other keywords and searches, but let’s be honest, I’m not going to get thousands of searches a day for my site as there simply aren’t that amount of people looking for what is my niche. I am happy to say though that I am ranking at #5 on Google for my keyword which is great news.

You will notice a rather large jump in traffic around 6th June and this was because I managed to get a free AdWords voucher for which I was able to buy some PPC (Pay Per Click) adverts to promote my site. These would’ve appeared as AdSense adverts on other people’s sites and did manage to attract people to my site. This was artificial traffic and not something I intend to do in the future, but it was nice to increase the hits and also increase my AdSense revenue for that period.

All the other stats have gone up too though with Pages/Visit going up from 4.31 last month to 4.65 this month and the average time on the site went up from 5:00mins to 5:12mins. All this shows that the content is still relevant and useful and had lead to a drop in the bounce rate from 35.14% down to 31.52 this month.

Revenue

So here’s the juicy bit. In the month of June I made £237.74 from niche site P! An absolutely amazing figure that I could never have dreamed of. I was hoping to break the £100 barrier and ended up smashing it! This shows I’ve chosen my niche well both in regards to getting visitors through good quality content but also attracting well paying adverts my readers want to click.

Clicks

I am so so happy with these figures and if I was able to replicate this every month then it would make a real impact on my finances. In the chart below you can see the big peak from the AdWords campaign. I won’t have that for July so we’ll see what effect that has, but if I average £7.65 a day then I will reach that total next month so that’s what I need to aim for.

What Now?

Six weeks still isn’t conclusive evidence that the traffic and income will remain at these levels so I will be monitoring the stats and doing what I can to keep them at this level. This will include some more content, although only maybe 3 articles, and also getting more backlinks. July is looking to be a very busy month for me with Stag weekends, weddings, etc and so I’ll have to see how much I can commit to the site. If I can get anywhere near the income of June then I’ll be very happy.

Finally

I wanted to say a big thank you to Ryan at Covering the Rent who gave a lot of advice and inspiration towards getting the niche site to succeed. If you want to get into niche sites then visit his website and read through all the posts.

Experimenting with niche sites

I’ve been experimenting with niche sites and the whole idea of passive income through Google Adsense. Lost yet? Basically you need to find an area where there is not much info but plenty of demand, then create a website, monetise it (through adsense), and then watch the money roll in…

That’s the idea anyway but the hardest part is finding an area to focus on that hasn’t already been written about and that doesn’t already have high rankings in Google., If you do find an area though then you have to create a website, create good content, establish links and authority, and then work to get more visitors to your site and boost your ranking in search engines. If you can get to #1 for your keywords, and get lots of visitors, then by association a percentage of them will click on your Adsense banners and earn you money.

It sounds oh so simple doesn’t it? So far I’ve made my site, written lots of content, and am already getting visitors and clicks, but now I need to focus on increasing the authority of my site.

At some stage I’ll let you know what the site is and hopefully by that time it will be established enough to earn me some sort of income (passively) and I can let you know what the figures are like.

To truly earn larger amounts via Adsense you either need a mega-huge site, or need to have many smaller sites running at the same time and collectively earning you revenue. At this point I have only focused on the one site but am now researching more areas to add to my Adsense portfolio.

Hope you’re all fine and dandy icon_smile-4499652

Addicted to Adsense

As you will know I’ve been playing around with niche sites and trying to increase my passive income (please excuse the buzz phrases) and a sideline of this is that I’ve become slightly addicted to checking my Google AdSense income. AdSense is my main revenue stream (see my May Income Report) and I’m only a few clicks away from seeing if my sites have earned me any money. We’re not even talking a huge amount but in my mind I’m thinking ‘How much have I earned for free today?’ and can’t help myself.

What has made it worse is that at the start I had some pretty successful days but a lack of effort on my behalf and also a drop in advertisers has meant that I’ve usually been disappointed this month when I’ve had a look. I also used a free AdWords coupon to boost my traffic so saw some increase in that but now it’s dropped down again. I really can’t complain though and knew that this was always the case.

The solution is and has always been to continue to write new content and also to create more sites to strengthen my position so that I’m not relying on one niche site, one set of visitors, and one set of advertisers who, through Google, wish to appeal to visitors searching for my site.

I’m happy to say I’ve got some more content written for my 2nd niche site and feel ready to start getting some backlinks for it and getting it listed on directories. We will then have to see what impact that has and hopefully I’ll be able to give you some figures for my June Income Report.