Becoming a ProBlogger

Becoming a ProBlogger:
Darren’s Story of Blogging
During the first year of my blogging career, I worked three jobs simultaneously,
studied part-time, and blogged on the side.
A common misconception that first-time readers arriving at
have is that the six-figure income I’ve earned from blogging was something
that I achieved overnight. It wasn’t.
Though blogging has enabled a growing number of people to earn an
income, the process is rarely a quick one. For this reason I’d like to share my
own story of blogging—from hobbyist to full-time blogger.
So, grab a coffee, make yourself comfortable, and relax—this could take a
little while.
Once Upon a Time...
In November, 2002, when I first hit “Publish” on my original (and shortlived)
blog, I did so believing that this “blogging thing,” which I’d only just
heard of that day, would be nothing more than a bit of fun.
I started this blog for a number of reasons, but it was largely out of curiosity,
the idea of having a new hobby, and the hope that perhaps I might meet
some new people with similar interests to mine.
At the time I was working three jobs.
My Three Jobs
My main job at the time was as a minister of a church, three days per week.
It was a part-time job (I was not “the” minister but one of four working in a
team), and my responsibility was to work with young people.

I was engaged to be married (to Vanessa, or “V,” as I call her) and trying to
save for a wedding and pay off a car loan and college fees, so I had also taken
on a number of part-time jobs (minister’s wages are not fantastic at the best of
times, but part-time they are even less spectacular).
My second job was working for an online department store. Although that
might sound interesting and useful for what was to come in blogging, it was
not. I was the warehouse “dog’s-body,” and my job consisted largely of sweeping,
cleaning, lifting boxes, packing orders, and other menial and boring
tasks. Still, it helped pay the rent.
My third job was as a casual laborer. I was on-call with an employment agency
and did all kinds of temping work ranging from mind-numbing production-line
work on a conveyor belt to helping to assemble circuses (don’t ask).
Alongside these jobs I was finishing off my theology degree part-time—
a long-term endeavor which took 10 years to complete.
This was my life that fateful day when I first got the taste for blogging.
Hobby Blogger
I’d like to say that at the moment I hit “Publish” on my first blog that the earth
shook and a light from heaven came down and I was suddenly transformed
into a full-time blogger—but as we all know, it usually doesn’t happen that
way, and it didn’t for me.
In fact, for the first 12 or so months of my blogging very little changed. If
anything, I became busier as a result of taking on an extra subject at college and
leaving my job as a minister to lead a team starting a new, “emerging church.”
Blogging at this time was a hobby and a way to connect with others who
were thinking through issues of the “emerging church.”
My blog LivingRoom ( became reasonably
popular in emerging-church circles that year, and my site-hosting and ISP
costs (I was still on dial-up) began to escalate.
It was after about a year of blogging that I accidentally started Digital Photo -
graphy Blog; it was originally a photoblog, but no one looked at my images,
and the review that I wrote of my camera got a lot of traffic. In an attempt to
help cover my hosting costs, I decided to add some AdSense ads and the
Amazon Affiliate program to this blog. I just wanted to cover expenses.
I quickly discovered that my hope of covering my costs was realistic, not
simply because of AdSense, but also because I put it on an established blog
xii ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income
that was getting several thousand readers per day (this is important to keep
in mind).
Even with established traffic the earnings in the early days were not high.
In my first month (October, 2003), I averaged about $1.40 per day, and that
was with lots of curiosity clicks from my readers; by November, I'd hit $3
a day.
The money was minimal, but it covered my costs, and I began to wonder if
with the extra few dollars a month I might be able to save up for a new computer
(up to this point I was blogging on dial-up from a six-year-old PC that worked
most days). My other lofty goal was to save for a professional blog design.
December saw daily earnings hit $6 per day, January $9, February $10, and
March $15—hardly big dollars, but I began to wonder what would happen if
I saw the same sorts of increases in income over a longer period of time. By
that I don’t mean adding $2 to $3 to the daily average per month, but what
would happen if I could sustain 30-, 40-, or even 50-percent growth each
I began to think in terms of exponential growth.
Part-Time Blogger
Around this time, I had a little more time on my hands and was in need of
another part-time job.
My study was winding down (I finally graduated), and other jobs ended.
“V” (my wife by now) began to hint that maybe I should start looking for
another part-time job (rightfully so), and we decided that when I finished my
degree at the end of June, I’d need to get serious about finding another two
days of work per week. All this time I was secretly doing the calculations in
my mind to see how much I’d need to earn per day to be able to call blogging
my part-time job.
April’s earnings came in and averaged around $20 per day, and I realized that
I just might have myself a part-time job already. The beauty of blogging income
is that it earns you money seven days per week, so I totaled $140 per week.
I began to work harder (largely after hours and late into the night), with
the hope of getting earnings up high enough to convince “V” to let me pass
on getting a “real” part-time job and to concentrate on blogging.

The work paid off: In May earnings hit $32 per day, and by the end of June,
I’d broken $1,000 in a month for the first time and was bringing in $48
per day.
It was crunch-time, and “V” and I had to consider our next move. I could
probably keep growing things each month by working after hours on blogging
and go find another job—or I could put the two free days that had been taken
up by study into blogging and see if I could make a go of it.
I decided to put six more months of effort into blogging to see where it
would end up. At the end of the six months, “V” and I would assess the situation
again—the threat of getting a “real job” still loomed. I also got my new
computer and the professional blog design that I’d been eyeing.
I’ll pause here in my story to say that this was a bit of a freaky moment for
both “V” and me. Neither of us had started a small business, and though I’ve
always had something of an entrepreneurial spirit, we are both fairly conservative
people in many ways. Although the figures indicated that there was
potential on many other levels, it just seemed plain weird.
I mean, who makes their income blogging? Needless to say, we didn’t tell
many people of our decision, and when we did tell a few family and friends,
there were plenty of raised eyebrows and lots of comments like, “That’s nice,
but are you going to get a real job?” and, “How’s your little hobby business
I’ll stop going into the monthly earnings at this point except to say that
investing the two days per week into blogging proved to be one of the best
decisions we made. I will stress that this decision came after I’d already been
blogging for 19 months and after establishing a number of blogs that were
earning reasonable money.
Quitting jobs is not something I recommend people just do off-the-cuff in
their early days of blogging. Work up over time, because though it worked
out for me, there are plenty of others for whom it has taken a lot longer, and
some for whom it just hasn’t worked at all.
Throughout the second half of 2004, I continued to put two days per week
into blogging while maintaining another three days a week of other work
(some church work and some warehousing). It was more than two days per
week in practice because I continued to work long hours in the evenings to
keep things moving forward, and at times worked literally around the clock
(like during the Olympics when I partnered with another blogger to run a
blog on the games).
xiv ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income
This was a time when I began numerous blogs (I had 20 at one point) and
experimented with many different income streams and advertising systems. It
was during this time that I also started blogging seriously about blogging and
had an active blog-tips section on my LivingRoom blog. This didn’t go down
too well with some of my readers there, and so I decided to move all of those
tips to a new blog called It launched on September 23, 2004.
Full-Time Blogger—Eventually
By mid December of 2004 we had pretty much decided that 2005 would see
me go full-time as a blogger. I’d already ditched most of my warehousing work
because the earnings from blogging had continued to rise, and my paid
church work had ended as we transitioned the church to a voluntary leadership
All was going well, with some amazing figures in terms of earnings in
November and December, until what felt a little like disaster happened in mid
December. Google did one of its notorious updates where some bloggers go
way up in search results and others go way down—I was in the latter group
and most of my blogs virtually disappeared from Google, taking with them
almost three-quarters of my traffic and earnings. Ouch!
Things looked a little uncertain for the first time in more than six months,
and I wondered if the next Google update would see things back to where
they were or get worse. The Google update in mid December left us at a level
where we could still get by, but it was time for a contingency plan. I even went
out and got another part-time job for a while.
The next Google update brought things back to a level just under what
they were before. The experience did teach me many lessons, including the
importance of diversifying your interests, not relying only on search-engine
traffic, and expecting the unexpected when working online.
2005 was a massive year. I worked the part-time job that I’d got during the
“Google crash” and worked full-time on my blogging (a juggling act, but both
were worthwhile). I continued to diversify my efforts, which resulted in new
blogs and partnerships, including developing a course called Six Figure
Blogging with another blogger, Andy Wibbels. The name for the course came
as I realized that I’d in fact grown my blogging to a point where I earned more
than $100,000 per year from the medium—a staggering realization.

Since that time things have continued to grow, with new blogs and partnerships.
The biggest development was the starting of a blog network—
b5media—with a small group of other bloggers.
The idea behind the network was to see what we could achieve if we put
our experiences and skills together.
We started out small with just a handful of blogs, but quickly grew it into
a network of hundreds of blogs employing hundreds of bloggers from around
the world. The business took on $2 million of venture-capital investment in
late 2006 and has continued to grow into a multimillion-dollar business.
Lessons from My Journey
So why am I telling this story? Is it just a self-gratification thing? I have
enjoyed reminiscing, but there’s more to it than that. The main reason I
wanted to tell the story is because I think it’s important to keep emphasizing
a number of points:
1. Blogging for an income takes time. Although there are stories of
people making good money from blogs faster than I have (I’ve been
at it since 2002, remember), there are many others whose growth has
been slower. I’ve had my share of luck, have worked insane hours,
and I started out at a time when blogging was a lot less competitive
than it is now. All of these things have contributed to my success. It
took me more than 1.5 years to be able to call blogging a part-time
job, and another year before I went full-time. Building up to going
pro as a blogger takes time.
2. Take it one step at a time. Unless you have a massive pile of cash
somewhere or a sugar daddy (or mommy) to cover your expenses,
you need to approach blogging professionally one step at a time. My
approach was to always have a backup plan and to increase the time I
dedicated to blogging only gradually as it started to show me earnings
that justified it. My wife and I decided what level of income I
needed to earn and agreed that as long as blogging was bringing in
less than that, I would need other work. We put a time limit on it. If
income hadn’t reached the level we wanted within that time frame, I
would have been looking for work. Though this might sound a little
rigid or a bit of a downer, I didn’t want to run off ahead of “V” in my
own direction without our decisions being joint ones that we were
xvi ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income

both comfortable with. “V” has been incredibly supportive in all this
and has allowed me to follow my dreams even when they seemed
quite bizarre—but there have also been times when she’s rightly been
the voice of reason and pulled me back to earth.
3. It takes hard work and discipline. As I mentioned a number of
times in this story, there have been countless nights when I’ve
worked into the wee hours of the morning blogging. Though I have
better boundaries these days, it wasn’t unusual for me to post 50
times per day over 12 hours in front of the screen. I love blogging, so
this isn’t a chore all of the time, but I’d be lying if I said there weren’t
days (and weeks) that I didn’t want to slack off and ignore my business.
Friends talking about starting a home-based business often say
to me that they’d never be able to do it because they’d be too tempted
to never work. I always thought I’d be like this too, but I’ve worked
hard at being disciplined and working hard, and I credit a lot of my
success to that discipline.
4. Follow your dreams. The main point of this story was to communicate
the preceding three points and to give a realistic view of the
process of becoming a pro blogger. I never want to be accused of giving
an unbalanced view of blogging or hyping it up as a get-richquick
Having said all this, it would also be irresponsible of me not to say that it
is possible to make money blogging—and for some (but not all), it is possible
to make very good money doing it.
There is a growing number of bloggers earning a full-time living from blogging
(we employ a few at b5media) and even more that supplement their
income on a part-time basis while spending other time doing other work, raising
a family, or studying.
My hope is that this book will help the number of people making a living
from blogging increase even further.
Chris Garrett’s Blogging Story
My blogging story is quite different than Darren’s and, in fact, Darren plays
quite a pivotal role in it.
The early part of my career consisted of various IT and programming roles
until I discovered the Internet or, more accurately, the Internet found me!
I was working for a college in the U.K. when the management decided we
should have Internet infrastructure and a website. The task for setting all this
up fell to me.
Although I had experienced the Internet in a limited way, and had been
online for a while, first through “bulletin boards” then later using Usenet discussion
groups, it was my first experience of the Mosaic web browser that
switched me on to the Internet in a real way, and this project meant learning
everything, and in detail. I was hooked from that moment.
As well as the college website I built my own, one after another. I had a
science-fiction news site, I built sites around my favorite Usenet newsgroups,
and, of course, I had a personal homepage. Then I started doing sites on the
side for local companies.
After that I took various Web and marketing-agency roles and looked for
ways to increase my connections and job marketability. This, combined with
a naturally helpful nature, and also being a complete geek, meant that I was
active on discussion lists and forums. Getting known in those geek communities
led to writing work, which led to co-authoring a couple of programming
books, which led to even more of a geek profile.
Around this time I started trying to supplement my meager salary with
building affiliate marketing websites. Though I had some successes hawking
magazine subscriptions, lawyer leads, and loans, my heart really wasn’t in it.
My programming websites still did very well, bringing in leads for my programmer-
training sideline and freelance writing.
It was Darren and Google AdSense that switched me on to professional
Though I had hand-developed a blog as a journal in 1999, in fact before
they were called “blogs,” and routinely blogged and wrote articles about programming,
it was the knowledge that you could make money off blogs without
selling products you don’t necessarily have interest in that made me a true
I fell out with AdSense almost as quickly as I fell in, but thanks to Darren
I knew this blogging thing was a perfect fit for me.
My biggest blogging achievement to date is probably having worked on before it was sold to Splashpress Media. I was one of the
founding bloggers on the site. In the space of a year we took it from nothing
xviii ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income
to number 15 on the Technorati 100 list, had our software downloaded hundreds
of thousands of times, and had more than 30,000 registered users.
Fast-forward a few years to today; I now make 100 percent of my income
directly or indirectly from blogging. As well as my own blog,, I
write for several other blogs as a guest or paid writer, and I do consulting,
with leads all coming from my blog or past-client referrals.

It is hard to miss the word “blog” today. We hear blogs mentioned in the
media, see them all over the World Wide Web, and we even hear them discussed
now in business and social situations. In many cases the term “blogger”
is used not just to describe a person who writes a blog, but also someone
who earns money doing it.
In this chapter we examine what blogging actually is and what it involves,
the different types of blogger, and the truth about making money blogging.
Before we get into earning money from a blog, we had better define what
exactly a blog is.
What Is a Blog?
So what exactly is a blog? Because we are at the beginning of a blogging book,
this is definitely an issue we need to be clear on!
There are a number of ways we can answer this question, ranging from the
broad to the highly technical. To put it as clearly as possible, a blog is a particular
type of website. You can see an example in Figure 1-1.
Studies have shown that although awareness of blogs is increasing, there
are still many people who frequent blogs without realizing it. This is fine; the
key thing is that readers get value out of it. Anyone who has been reading
blogs for a while, though, will know there is more to blogging than just publishing
any old website.
Though blogs started out as informal lists of links and personal journals,
they have evolved into a far more varied medium. In addition to diary blogs
and link blogs, there are now CEO blogs, educational blogs, marketing
blogs—you name it!
1 Blogging for

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Start a Google AdSense Account and Make Money Blogging

  1. Read the Google AdSense program policies.
Familiarize yourself with what you can and cannot do as part of the Google AdSense program to ensure you're prepared to start your new account.
  1. Visit the Google AdSense home page.
Click on the 'Sign Up Now' button in the upper righthand corner of your screen.
  1. Complete the online application.
You will need to provide your blog's url and primary language as well as answer some questions related to the rules of the Google AdSense program. You'll also need to provide your payment information to receive the money you generate on your blog from Google.
  1. Access your new account and review the ads available to you.
Google AdSense provides a wide variety of advertising options to bloggers from text ads to image ads and more. Take some time to research everything that's available to determine what will work best for your blog.
  1. Select your ad design choices.
Once you've decided which ad opportunities are best for your blog, select them. Google will provide a snippet of HTML code to you after you make your selection.
  1. Insert your Google AdSense HTML code into your blog.
Copy and paste the HTML code provided by Google into your blog's template. One of the easiest ways for a beginner blogger to do this is by inserting a text widget into his or her blog's template and pasting the code in the widget.
  1. Let Google do the rest.
It may take a few hours or a few days for Google to start serving ads on your blog. Google will search your blog to determine the predominant subjects of each page. When readers visit your blog, the HTML code you pasted into your blog from Google will activate and relevant ads will be displayed based on each page's content.
  1. Collect your money.
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15 Tips to Increase Blog Traffic

The blogosphere is a big and busy world with over 100 million blogs and growing. How do you attract visitors to your blog? Follow these simple tips to drive traffic to your blog.

1. Write Well and Write Often

Frequently updating your blog with useful content is the first step to building your blog's audience. The content you write is what will keep readers coming back for more. Make sure you have something meaningful to say to them and say it often to maintain their interest and keep them loyal.
Furthermore, post frequently to increase the number of chances you have for your blog's content to be noticed by search engines such as Google or Technorati.

2. Submit Your Blog to Search Engines

Get on the radar screen for the popular search engines such as Google and Yahoo! by submitting your blog's URL to them. Most search engines provide a 'Submit' link (or something similar) to notify the search engine of your new blog, so those search engines will crawl it and include your pages in their results.
It's important to understand that simply submitting your blog to search engines doesn't mean your pages will appear at the top of a Google search results screen, but at least your blog will be included and will have the chance of being picked up by a search engine.

3. Use and Update Your Blogroll

By adding links to sites you like in your blogroll, the owners of those blogs will find your blog and will be likely to add a reciprocal link in their blogrolls. It's an easy way to get the link to your blog in front of many readers on other blogs. The hope is that some of those readers will click on the link to your blog on the other blogs' blogrolls and find your content interesting and enjoyable turning them into loyal readers.

4. Harness the Power of Comments

Commenting is a simple and essential tool to increase your blog's traffic. First, respond to comments left on your blog to show your readers that you value their opinions and draw them into a two-way conversation. This will increase reader loyalty.
Second, leave comments on other blogs to drive new traffic. Make sure you leave your blog's URL in your comment, so you create a link back to your own blog. Many people will read the comments left on a blog post. If they read a particularly interesting comment, they are highly likely to click on the link to visit the commentor's website. It's important to make sure you leave meaningful comments that are likely to invite people to click on your link to read more.

5. Syndicate Your Blog's Content with an RSS Feed

Setting up an RSS feed button on your blog makes it easy for your loyal readers to not just read your blog but also know when you publish new content.

6. Use Links and Trackbacks

Links are one of the most powerful parts of your blog. Not only are links noticed by search engines, but they also act as a tap on the shoulder to other bloggers who can easily identify who is linking to their sites. Linking helps to get you noticed by other bloggers who are likely to investigate the sites that are linking to them. This may lead them to become new readers of your blog or to add links to your blog from theirs.
You can take links to other blogs a step further by leaving a trackback on the other blog to let them know you've linked to them. Blogs that allow trackbacks will include a link back to your blog in the comments section of the post that you originally linked to. People do click on trackback links!

7. Tag Your Posts

It takes a few extra seconds to add tags to each of your blog posts, but it's worth the time in terms of the additional traffic tags can drive to your blog. Tags (like links) are easily noticed by search engines. They're also key to helping readers find your blog when they perform searches on popular blog search engines such as Technorati.

8. Submit Your Posts to Social Bookmarking Sites

Taking the time to submit your best posts to social bookmarking sites such as digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit and more can be a simple way to quickly boost traffic to your blog.

9. Remember Search Engine Optimization

When you write your blog posts and pages, remember to optimize your pages for search engines to find them. Include relevant keywords and links but don't overload your posts with too many relevant keywords or completely irrelevant keywords. Doing so can be considered spamming and could have negative results such as your blog being removed from Google's search entirely.

10. Don't Forget Images

Images don't just make your blog look pretty, they also help people find you in search engine listings. People often use the image search options offered by Google, Yahoo! and other search engines, and naming your images with search engine optimization in mind can easily boost your traffic.
The blogosphere is a big and busy world with over 100 million blogs and growing. How do you attract visitors to your blog? Follow these simple tips to drive traffic to your blog.

11. Consider Guest Blogging

Guest blogging can be done when you write a guest post on another blogger's blog or when another blogger writes a guest post on your blog. Both methods are likely to increase traffic as your blog will be exposed to the other blogger's audience. Many of the other blogger's readers will visit your blog to see what you have to say.

12. Join Forums, Web Rings or Online Groups

Find online forums, web rings, groups or social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn where you can share ideas and ask questions of like-minded individuals. Add a link to your blog in your signature line or profile, so each time you post on a forum or participate in another online network, you're indirectly promoting your blog. Chances are many people will click on that link to learn more about you.

13. Promote Outside Your Blog

Promoting your blog shouldn't stop when you step outside the blogosphere. Add your blog's URL to your email signature and business cards. Talk about it in offline conversations. It's important to get your name and your blog's URL noticed offline, too.

14. Nominate Yourself and Other Blogs for Blog Awards

There are a number of blog awards given out throughout the year. Nominating yourself and other blogs and bloggers can draw attention to your blog and drive traffic to it.

15. Don't Be Shy

The most important part of the blogosphere is its community and much of your success as a blogger will be tied to your willingness to network with that community. Don't be afraid to ask questions, join conversations or just say hi and introduce yourself. Don't sit back and hope the online world will find you. Speak out and get yourself noticed. Let the blogosphere know you've arrived and have something to say!
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How To Increase Your Blog's Earning Potential with Google AdSense

When you include Google AdSense ads on your blog, there is certainly potential to make money, but how? Many beginner bloggers have Google AdSense ads running, but the earnings aren't coming. Follow the steps below to give your blog's Google AdSense program the greatest chance for success and start making money now.
Time Required: Ongoing
Here's How:
  1. Determine your blog's primary focus.

    Google AdSense ads are most effective when they are served to people who are interested in the products and services those ads offer. With that in mind, Google AdSense tends to work best on blogs that are about niche topics such as a specific product or hobby. Consider how you can make your blog's topic more focused to better attract specific types of readers and specific types of ads.

  2. Write consistent and focused content.

    Google serves ads based on the content on each of your pages. The more focused your content is on each page, the better Google can determine which ads are the most relevant to your readers. Write consistently and stay focused on a specific topic to increase the likelihood that Google will display ads on your blog that your readers are apt to click on.

  3. Work to increase your blog's traffic.

    The more visitors to your blog, the more potential for clicks on your Google AdSense ads. Work to increase your blog's traffic to boost your chances for ad click-throughs. However, keep in mind that if you write focused content, the ads on your blog will be relevant to that content. The traffic that comes to your blog needs to be interested in your blog's topic and your content, or they are not likely to be interested in your corresponding Google AdSense ads. Work to drive traffic but make a concerted effort to find traffic that adds value to your blog.

  4. Research and test keywords.

    Google serves ads through its AdSense program based on keywords. Advertisers bid on keywords relevant to their businesses. Some keywords are more popular than others and therefore, drive higher bids. Higher paying keywords also mean higher payouts to you when your readers click on them. The ads served on your site are determined by the content on your site. If you're writing about topics related to higher paying keywords, then you're likely to earn more money from your Google AdSense program than if you wrote about topics related to lower paying keywords.

  5. Test Google AdSense ad positions on your blog.

    You can display Google AdSense ads just about anywhere on your blog. Test a variety of positions on your blog to determine which work best for you in terms of generating click-throughs and maximum revenue.

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Google Adsense Tips, Tricks, and Secrets

I’ve been reading a few forums and blogs about Google Adsense tips lately, and thought it would be helpful to consolidate as many as possible in one place without the comments. I’ve also thrown in a few tips of my own. We start out with some of the basic general stuff and move to the more specific topics later on.

Build an Empire?

When you’re deciding to become a website publisher you will fall into one of two broad categories:
  • Publish 100 websites that each earn $1 a day profit
  • Publish 1 website that earns $100 a day profit
The reality of it is, most people end up somewhere in between. Having 100 websites leaves you with maintenance, management and content issues. Having one website leaves you open to all sort of fluctuations (search engines algorithm’s, market trends, etc). You can adapt your plan on the way, but you’ll have an easier time if you start out going in the direction of where you want to end up.
General or Niche
You can build your website around general topics or niche ones. Generally speaking niche websites work better with adsense. First off the ad targeting is much better. Secondly as you have a narrow focus your writing naturally becomes more expert in nature. Hopefully this makes you more authority in your field.
If this is your first try at building an adsense website, make it about something you enjoy. It will make the process much easier and less painful to accomplish. You should however make sure that your topic has enough of an ad inventory and the payout is at a level you are comfortable with. You may love medieval folk dancing, but the pool of advertisers for that subject is very small (in fact it’s currently zero).
Once you’ve gotten the hang of how Adsense works on a website, you are going to want to dabble in some high paying keywords, you may even be tempted to buy a high paying keyword list. This does come with some dangers. First off the level of fraud is much higher on the big money terms. Secondly there is a distortion of the supply and demand relationship for these terms. Everyone wants ads on their website that make $35 or more a click, however the number of advertisers who are willing to pay that much is pretty limited. Additionally the competition for that traffic is going to be stiff. So, don’t try to run with the big dogs if you can’t keep up. If you have to ask if you’re a big dog, then chances are, you’re not.

New Sites, Files and Maintenance

When you’re building a new site don’t put adsense on it until it’s finished. In fact I’d go even farther and say don’t put adsense on it until you have built inbound links and started getting traffic. If you put up a website with “lorem ipsum” dummy or placeholder text, your adsense ads will almost certainly be off topic. This is often true for new files on existing websites, especially if the topic is new or different. It may take days or weeks for google’s media bot to come back to your page and get the ads properly targeted. TIP: If you start getting lots of traffic from a variety of IP’s you will speed this process up dramatically.
I like to build my sites using include files. I put the header, footer and navigation in common files. It makes it much easier to maintain and manage. I also like to put my adsense code in include files. If I want/need to change my adsense code, it’s only one file I have to work with. TIP: I also use programming to turn the adsense on or off. I can change one global variable to true or false and my adsense ads will appear or disappear.

Managing URL’s and channels

Adsense channels is one area where it’s really easy to go overboard with stats. You can set up URL channels to compare how one website is doing to another. You can also set up sub channels for each URL. If you wanted to you do something channels like this:
  • – 728 banner
  • – 336 block
  • – text link
  • – 728 banner
  • – image banner
  • – 336 block
  • – 300 block
While this is great for testing and knowing who clicks where and why, it makes your reporting a little wonky. Your total number will always be correct but when you look at your reports with a channel break down things will get displayed multiple times and not add up to correct total. Makes things pretty confusing, so decide if you really need/want that level of reporting detail. TIP: At the very least you want to know what URL is generating the income so be sure to enter distinct URL channels.

Site Design and Integration

Once you know you are going to put adsense on your website you’re going to have to consider where to put it. If this is new site it’s easier, if it’s an existing site it’s more difficult. While there are some people who will be able to do it, in most cases I’d say if you just slap the adsense code in, you’ll end up with a frankensite monster (props to Tedster of WMW for the buzzword). While every website is different, Google has published some heat maps showing the optimal locations. No surprise that the best spots are middle of the page and left hand side. Now I’ve done really well by placing it on the right, but you should know why you’re doing it that way before hand, and be prepared to change it if it doesn’t work out.
Google has also has published a list of the highest performing ad sizes:
  • 336×280 large rectangle
  • 300×250 inline rectangle
  • 160×600 wide skyscraper
From the sites that I run, I do really well with the 336 rectangle and 160 skyscraper. My next best performing ad size is the 728 leaderboard, I don’t really use the 300 inline rectangle too often. So really it depends on how well you integrate these into your site. Placement can have a dramatic effect on performance. TIP: When working on a new site or new layout you may want to give each location it’s own channel for a little while until you understand the users behavior.
Another ‘trick’ that can increase your CTR is by blending your adsense into your body copy. For example if your body copy is black, remove the adsense border and make the title, text, and URL black.TIP: Try changing all of your page hyperlinks to a high contrast color (like dark red or a bold blue) then change the adsense title to the same color.
The one area where I’ve found blended ads don’t perform as well is forums, especially ones with a high volume of repeat members. Regular visitors develop banner blindness pretty quickly. One ‘trick’ to keep the ads from being ignored is to randomize the color and even the placement. As with any of the decisions about location, placement and color it’s a trade off. How much do you emphasize the ads without annoying your visitors. Remember it’s better to have a 1% CTR with 500 regular visitors as opposed to a 5% CTR with 50 visitors. TIP: For forums try placing the adsense ads directly above or below the the first forum thread.

Using Images

One of the latest ’secrets’ to make the rounds is using images placed directly above or below an adsense leaderboard. This has been used for a while but came out in a digital point forum thread where a member talked about quadrupling their CTR.
Basically you set up the adsense code in a table with four images that line up directly with the ads. Whether or not this is deceptive is fuzzy and very subjective. Obviously four blinking arrows would be ‘enticing people to click’ and be against the adsense TOS. However placing pictures of 4 laptops over laptops ads isn’t, so use your best judgment here and look at it from the advertiser or Google’s perspective. If you have a question as to your implementation being ‘over the line’ write to adsense and ask them to take a look.
As far as using the images, I’ve done it and can tell you it definitely works. You get the best results when the images ‘complete the story the ads are telling’. For example if you have ads about apple pies, use pictures of freshly baked apple pies, instead of granny smith, Macintosh, pink lady, and braeburn apples. TIP: Don’t limit yourself to using images only on that size ad unit, it works just as well with the other sizes, like the 336 rectangle.


I got a little criticizm for this and rightly so, as I wasn’t specific as I could have been. Do not use very identifiable brand name or products for your images. Use generic non-specific stock images whenever possible and appropriate.

Multiple Ad Units

Another way to increase ad revenue is to use multiple ad units. According to Google’s TOS you are allowed to post up to three ad units per page. Similar to standard search results the highest paying ad units will be served first and the lowest being served last. If there is enough of an ad inventory, place all three ad units. However you should pay attention to the payouts. Current assumption is you get 60% of the revenue (on a $0.05 click you get $0.03). So if a click from the third ad unit is only paying between 3 to 5 cents you may want to omit it from your page. This is one are where giving your ad units channels does have value. If one ad unit is getting a higher percentage of click throughs you’ll want to make sure the highest paying ads are being served there. TIP:Use CSS positioning to get your highest paying ads serving in the location with the highest CTR.

Adsense in RSS

With the growth of blogs and RSS feeds you’re starting to see adsense included in the feeds now. IMHO this doesn’t work, and here’s why:
  • You only get to place one ad unit.
  • You have no control over finding the ’sweet spot’ for the ad unit.
  • The ads are usually poorly targeted (this is getting better).
  • People develop ‘banner blindness’.
I know people like being able to read full postings in their feed reader, and there are at least a dozen other reasons for full posts from pleasing your users to mobile offline computing, all of which are completely valid. However if your website depends on generating adsense revenue to survive, then bring them to the site and show them the ads there.

Affiliate Sites

Placing Adsense on affiliate sites is tricky. Are you giving up a $10, $20, or $30 sale for a $1 click? This is something you have to test on your own to figure out. If you aren’t converting now it’s definitely worth a try. I like to use adsense on my article pages. For example let’s say you had an affiliate website where you sold shoes. You’re going to need some related articles to ‘flesh out’ the site. Things like ‘getting a shoe shine’ or ‘finding a shoe repair shop’ these are excellent spots for adsense. While you won’t get rich, they will usually provide a small steady income and cover things like hosting costs.TIP: If you find you have pages getting more than 50 clicks per month add more pages about this topic, and link the pages together. Mine you logs for the search terms used.

PPC Arbitrage

This is a dicey subject so I’m going to steer clear of precise examples. Basically you bid on low volume uber niche terms at a very low cost. You set up landing page that contains high payout ads for the related general topic. You are looking for terms with a large gap between the price you are bidding on adwords and the price you are getting on Adsense. If you pay $0.10 a click and get $1.00 a click you make $0.90 each click. To get your adsense ad approved you will need to ‘add some value’ along the way. You can make a killing or get taken to the cleaners with this one, so make sure you know what you are doing before you try it.

Have any other adsense tips, tricks or secrets? Drop me an email and let me know, I’ll give you credit.
728 leaderboard works very well if it is just above the end of the
“above the fold” area on what would be considered your viewers average
resolution/browser window size if there are few other enticing links
above the fold. Makes for an interesting layout but if you’re building
a site for AdSense it may be worth it. We consistently receive very
high CTRs from doing this.

Try to build sites that allow you to quickly try any and all of
those locations outlined in the heatmap guide or at least allow you a
wide degree of freedom to easily change ad/content locations.

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