11 July 2016

Happy Birthday Mr Blog! Plus, AdSense, Amazon Associates & Alexa

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.)

Privacy Policy

Part of me kind of wanted to go ahead with AdSense because I had just created a privacy policy so that I would be compliant with Google's policies. Basically, a privacy policy details what personal information is collected when you visit a website or blog and how it's used.

If you're going to use AdSense or other advertising services, you need to have a privacy policy. When I decided not to go ahead with AdSense, I started to take our privacy policy down. Then I realized I needed to put it back up because we use social products (like Google +1) and analytics (like Google Analytics) which collect information and send it to Google and other third parties.

If you have a website and/or blog and you don't have a privacy policy, it might be something you want to look into to make sure you're compliant.

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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  1. Happy happy birthday to your blog :) you should eat some cake in your blog's honor :)

    1. Thanks! I think you're right, Mr. Blog would want me to eat cake on his behalf :-)

  2. Happy three years!
    I guess I need to check out your privacy policy and add one to mine.
    I decided a long time ago I wasn't going to do ads. Just not my style. Doesn't stop companies from emailing me and asking if I'd place an ad for them though.

    1. Definitely worth looking into privacy policies. I used to think they were just for folks who flogged stuff, but if you have any sort of stat counters you might need one as it is collecting info from visitors.

  3. Happy Blogaversary! I think it's getting close to being exactly 1 year for us.

    I don't like doing generic absence ads and I hate it when blogs start getting overwhelmed with ads, but I'm not sure if never do it. I definitely do the Amazon links thing, though. I figure if I'm actually pleased enough with a product to shore about it, I don't mind making a few cents.

    I've been blogging for years, but this is the first year about sailing. I just saw on my FB memories that today was the day my husband left to go at the first ever boat he Looked at (after finally getting me to 'maybe' agree to think about the boat life on the 7th)!
    Byn Always

    1. Congrats on your 1 year anniversary! It seems like just yesterday that you started your blog - time sure does go by quickly.

  4. Our numbers are also a lot higher than yours, and we've been running the blog for over 8 years. The Amazon things took almost two years of daily posts before it really started to pay off. The first several months were around $100 a month, then it started inching up. Next thing you know it was $200 a month, then $250 a month. May was very good, and so was June. Only time will tell if it stays that way. But it takes a long time, and a high readership to make decent money from a blog.


    1. I really like they way you guys do Amazon on your blog. You take the time to choose a few items that might be of interest to your readers each day. It's great that you're making some money off of it - well done!

  5. I always have mixed feelings about the monetizing thing, although my mixture could get more rich when we have less money. soon. We tried the Amazon thing but it was a long time ago. I think we may have made .50. So, a candy bar or somethign? Lately someone approached us wanting to pay us to put content on our blog, which they assured would be a good 'fit'. Yeah. It wasn't. If that content represented their 'best writers' then we are doomed as a society. Happy birthday, Mr. Blog!

    1. I wondered what happened with that blog content you were looking at. Really interesting to get an update and good on you for rejecting it because the content wasn't great.

  6. ♪♪Happy Birthday to you,♪♪
    ♪♪Happy Birthday to you,♪♪
    ♪♪Happy Birthday Dear The Cynical Sailor & His Salty Sidekick,♪♪
    ♪♪Happy Birthday to you.♪♪

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

  7. Happy Birthday, Mr. Blog! Thanks for all the laughs over the years.

    Stephanie @ SV CAMBRIA

  8. I could sit all day and read blogs... and never get anything else done. There should be a job like that, where I get paid to read, instead I just get hungry, and thirsty, and use up my cell data plan.

    Happy 3rd Birthday, I look forward to my notifications that you have posted a new column. THANKS!

    Donna/Denali Rose

    1. I know what you mean - I can get sucked into reading lots of blogs and then before you know it the day is over. The wi-fi at the marina is really hit or miss though and there are days where I can't do much blog surfing because it eats up my cellular data.

  9. Happy birthday to your blog - and many happy returns!

  10. Happy Birthday, Mr. Blog! Thanks for all the laughs and bringing a smile to my face :-). I ignore ads, but I think the amazon links can be a good idea. I often click through to the Boat Galley's Amazon links.

    1. The Boat Galley is a great example of a good use of Amazon links. They're always things she has personally tested. I've bought things through her links as well.

  11. Happy 3 year anniversary Mr. Blog! Well done, Ellen, you are doing great! By next year, you will have doubled your Facebook likes and have made enough money through Amazon that you can buy a case of wine. Cheers! (I would move that affiliate link a bit higher up in the side bar, though. Maybe above the blog archive?)

  12. Happy bloggerversary!

    I think I've been blogging for six years this year. Okay I checked. I started in August 2010. ^_^

  13. I've been blogging for 6.5 yrs. I hate ads because they take forever to load and I don't have time to wait around. I tolerate them on some blogs I read (mostly food blogs), but I've been known to skip ones that have ads all over the place. I've never thought about putting them on my blog.

  14. Happy blog-birthday Ellen and much as we'd like our blogs to be money-makers, it's a good thing we do it because we enjoy it. Enjoy and thanks for your blog!


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