Mr. Blog just turned three years old today. He's getting to be such a big boy. Can you believe that this is his 498th post? And he has over 1,000 Facebook followers? They grow up so fast, don't they.
Every year on Mr. Blog's birthday, I do a little reflection on blogging. On his first birthday, I had a look at how Mr. Blog stacked up against the criteria for a good blog. Last year, on his second birthday, I shared some random thoughts on blogging including wondering what type of blog The Cynical Sailor really was.
This year, I thought I would talk about how I was briefly tempted to sell my soul to the devil for $11.97 a month. Maybe $11.97 doesn't seem like a lot of money to you, especially when we're talking about the devil, but $11.97 equals a few bottles of cheap and cheerful wine or a few bags of dark chocolate Dove Promises. I don't know about you, but promises of red wine and chocolate are always worth a conversation with the devil. Of course, the devil invented red wine and chocolate for this very reason - so that you'd talk to him.
Google AdSense Fast-Tracking
It all started when my Blogger dashboard (that's the blogging platform we use) greeted me with the exciting news that our account qualified for Google AdSense fast-tracking. If I joined millions of other bloggers, I could be making up to $11.97 a month too!
Visions of red wine and chocolate filled my head. Blogger was telling me that I was special, they they would give me money because I'm so special and that I'd be an idiot not to join millions of other bloggers making money. I just had to know more.
While I knew what Google AdSense was (it displays targeted ads on blogs and websites, I'm sure you've seen them), I wasn't quite sure what they meant by fast-tracking, so I Googled it and found this enticing tidbit:
"If your blog has high quality content and traffic, you may be qualified for a simplified sign-up process for AdSense."
See what they did there? They used flattery to sucker me in. High quality content and traffic - wow! I was super-duper special!
The voice of reason decided enough was enough, jumped in and said, "Hang on a minute there. This is all sounding too good to be true. Is your blog really that great? Is it really popular? How do you know?"
Alexa & Popularity Contests
Good question. I decided to ask someone impartial. Her name is Alexa. For those of you who haven't met Alexa before, she'll tell you about your web traffic data and analytics. You can enter your website address into her search tool and find out how popular your blog is. Alexa estimates traffic and ranks sites daily based on browsing behavior of a sample of all internet users.
When I checked at the end of May, The Cynical Sailor was ranked 742,007 in the United States and 2,254,166 globally.
I don't know about you, but 742,007 out of all of the websites in the world doesn't seem too shabby, especially considering our blog stats aren't all that impressive compared to some of the popular blogs I know. But, as usual, the voice of reason had to be a downer and reminded me that rankings change daily, that this might have been a good day when I checked Alexa with a lot of referral traffic and Alexa is probably a big fibber anyway. (By the way, Alexa is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amazon.com.)
"Whatever," I told the voice of reason while sipping on some red wine and savoring a dark chocolate Dove Promise. "You're such a party pooper. Let's get back to talking about making $11.97 a month to keep me in this lifestyle I've grown accustomed to."
The Aesthetics Of AdSense
If you're like me, when you look at a blog or website, you see ads in the corner of your eye, but you ignore them for the most part. Especially, when they're discretely placed on the sidebar, not smack dab in the middle of the section that you're reading.
Having had perhaps a glass of red wine too many, I got to thinking that I could put a couple of discrete ads on our sidebar and the money would come rolling in. Or, at least, $11.97 would come rolling in each month. But something was nagging me at the back of my head. Oh, yeah, that rational voice of mine.
"Read the small print dummy," it said with a smirk on its face. Not that I can really see its face as it lives in the back of my head, but I know it well enough to know when it's smirking. It was smirking big time.
"Revenue figures are estimates only, based upon your most recent traffic and are not guaranteed."
Here's the thing with AdSense, or ads of any kind really, it's all about how many you have on your site, how big they are and where they're placed. Sure, I could have put a couple of tiny ones on the sidebar below the fold where they'd be unobtrusive, but then they would be less likely to be viewed and/or clicked on.
If I wanted to make $11.97 a month, not only did I have to keep my current blog traffic up (oh, the pressure!), but I'd also have to have a lot of really large ads all over the place.
It wasn't sounding very aesthetically pleasing, for me or for you. So, I decided to give up red wine and dark chocolate and forsake $11.97 a month from AdSense. (Anybody who believes the first part of that last sentence, doesn't know me very well.)
Amazon Associates For Kicks
While I was looking into monetizing our blog with AdSense, I decided to check out the Amazon Associates program as well. Amazon Associates is another way to advertise on your website or blog with links to specific products and/or banner ads. If someone clicks on an Amazon link and adds something to their shopping cart (not just a specific product you linked to) on Amazon within 24 hours and then purchases it within 89 days, you earn some money.
Some people earn serious money (like these folks who made $690 during May), while the rest of us can probably count on being able to buy one bottle of wine or one bag of Dove Promises (not both) with a year's earnings.
I decided to give it a go for kicks. Right now, I'm just inserting product links for things I like and use (mostly for books, but also for things for our boat, like our Wonderbag) and I've got a banner ad on the sidebar. It's the one that shamelessly says, "Buy Here, Pretty Please." It will be an interesting experiment to see if I make any money off of Amazon. To be honest, I'm not counting on it, but you never know, do you. Maybe if I'm lucky, I'll earn enough money to buy Mr. Blog a real birthday cake next year.
If you want to see other posts on blogging tips and tricks from myself and others, check out this page.
Are you a blogger? If so, how long have you been blogging for? What do you think about monetizing blogs either as a blogger or as a blog follower?
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