Leveraging Social Currency: AdSense Bad for Blogs about Blogging...AdSense Good for Blogs about Expensive Topics

I do not currently display AdSense on this site for a few reasons, one of which is that it probably would not earn much since most people reading this site can distinguish ads from content.

Nathan Weinberg recently wrote AdSense Bad For Bloggers?, where he questions whether or not people can make money from AdSense using blogs.

I think he said his network gets about 1,000,000 monthly pageviews, but AdSense is not making him much money. Blogs about Google and MSN will get traffic, but the revenue streams might not be there since technologically savvy people are less likely to click ads.

One time I had a chat with a well known web guru, who stated that not all sites need to make money. Websites can act as a team.

If you have sites with a ton of authority and little revenue there are a few options:

  • alienate your users by trying to force a revenue stream that does not exist and thus lose your social currency

  • gather feedback and create a product or service that matches the desires of your site visitors
  • leverage the social currency of that site to help build up a network with other high profit channels

You only need one or two strong channels to launch a network.

A few of the major blog networks have even added poker sites to their networks, and people still link through to their network not minding that they are helping to promote illegal gambling.

In Nathan's comments Richard offered a good tip for bloggers wanting to avoid the evil generic blog ads:

The biggest positive changes occured for me when I stopped using the word “BLOG” and I stopped getting the same boring ads for how to setup a free blog.

As an added bonus, Nathan mentioned that ProBlogger made a post about earning milestones, saying that he is making over $10,000 a month from AdSense on his network of around 20 blogs (most of which are low quality content spam IMHO and thus I don't want to link into his bad neighborhood, but the post is here:
http://www.problogger.net/archives/2005/07/12/earning-milestones/ )

If you look at his network (www.livingroom.org.au & breakingnewsblog.com) you can probably guess which ones are making money and create / market better channels on those topics that will make far more than he is. Digital camera reviews are huge for AdSense.

Published: July 12, 2005

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Comments

July 13, 2005 - 3:40pm

Aaron,

I'm not sure where you're really coming from with the Spam comment. To me spam is about automated systems that produce massive amounts of pages very quickly with the sole desire to get SE traffic.

Whilst I'm interested in SE traffic (and who isn't) I'm trying to build blogs that are useful to my readers.

My digicam blog has 4000 newsletter subscribers and 10,000 to 15,000 daily visitors - many of whom are regulars. I'm not sure how many spam sites would get this kind of readership. Sure they could achieve it maybe just through SE traffic but I am reguarly linked to by Gizmodo, Engadget and other well respected blogs and websites.

I've been blogging for two years and work long hours to find relevant content.

I'll admit some of my blogs are more experimental with higher paying keywords, but these are my worst paying blogs and I'm considering dropping them to stick to what I know most about - gadgets.

I take your criticisms on board, but ask you to reconsider your quick judgement of my blogs which I'm working hard at producing good results on for both my readers and myself.

July 13, 2005 - 4:04pm

>I'm not sure where you're really coming from with the Spam comment.

A while ago I looked through the one about depression and looked through 10 pages without finding a single word in a post that wasn't just cut and paste.

>To me spam is about automated systems that produce massive amounts of pages very quickly with the sole desire to get SE traffic.

Well to me spam is crap in my email inbox. Spam is manual comments which Indians that get paid $1 an hour still post to this very blog one at a time. Spam is clutter.

Generally I don't agree with how search engines use the word spam to push the blame for faults in their own business models, but if you have 10 whole pages with 100 posts on them and not a single word in the posts is original thought then that probably is not doing a bunch to increase the value of content on the web.

For every visitor that goes to a rehash site there are going to be less visitors going to the original sites that paid to research and create that content and host more information about it. This makes creating and sharing knowledge harder, makes finding useful information harder, and pulls ad dollars away from the people who created the original content that ended up as a snippet on another site.

Sure there are flavors of spam and my spam is better than everyone elses, but you and I are both in unique positions to where we do not need to just go after whatever makes the most money. I am not without fault and still have many shoddy sites, but currently I do not actively promote them unless I want to put original thought and creativity into the content on their pages.

>Whilst I'm interested in SE traffic (and who isn't) I'm trying to build blogs that are useful to my readers.

And thats cool, but again, the channels where they had no original content for 100 consecutive posts really are not as useful as they could be. That is like saying you thought 100 articles were citation worthy without having anything to add to them. How can you track subjects and not strongly agree or strongly disagree with pieces of some of those sites you linked to. I mean they have to be citation worthy for one reason or another. Sometimes a snippet is enough, but not always.

>My digicam blog has 4000 newsletter subscribers and 10,000 to 15,000 daily visitors - many of whom are regulars. I'm not sure how many spam sites would get this kind of readership.

hehehe. Some spam sites get over 15,000 visitors a day :)

>Sure they could achieve it maybe just through SE traffic but I am reguarly linked to by Gizmodo, Engadget and other well respected blogs and websites.

Right, but the channel on depression, that I mentioned above, is that linked to regularly?

>I've been blogging for two years and work long hours to find relevant content.

About the same as me...maybe a bit longer. The issue with what I was saying is that if you want to claim titles like Pro Blogger and mention how some other stuff is wrong or unethical that automatically elevates yourself to needing to be at a higher level.

>I'll admit some of my blogs are more experimental with higher paying keywords, but these are my worst paying blogs and I'm considering dropping them to stick to what I know most about - gadgets.

Those were the ones I was referencing.

>I take your criticisms on board, but ask you to reconsider your quick judgement of my blogs which I'm working hard at producing good results on for both my readers and myself.

My criticism doesn't really matter all that much in the grand scheme of things, I am just saying that if you want to self label yourself as pro and mention how much you are making when it is a good sum of money then you might want to make sure you are not risking the good sites and income streams for a few extra nickels on the bad ones.

July 13, 2005 - 4:40pm

It's getting late at night here so I'll attempt to keep this brief.

When it comes to the Depression site - let me offer a couple of comments.

1. It's titled 'Depression News' - as someone who has loved ones suffering from Depression I was reading up on the topic myself and studying the latest research. I started the site because I wanted to record what I found and begin to collate it. Of the blogs in my 'network' you've actually picked one of the blogs that I am quite proud of to critique. The reason why is that it's on a topic I am passionate about learning on and highlighting. I don't feel expert enough to really do any more than report on the news as it comes to hand.

2. I now have researchers and writers email me when they post new findings asking me to link to their studies. The original writers of content appreciate a site dedicated to their topic linking up (this is the case on many of my blogs - an increasing amount of my posts are in response to notifications from writers of articles looking for exposure). You commented above that every person that goes to a 'rehash' site is one less that goes to original content sites - I dispute this from looking at the exit stats that I get - my readers generally leave my site going to the original content that I point to.

I guess we have a different opinion on what is a useful site. What I see as useful is a site that collates and repackages news of others from a variety of sources and then sends readers to those sources.

This is the same thing that I do on the digicam site as I do on the depression one. I scour the web looking for the most interesting and up to date information that I can and point my readers to it.

My point about my digicam site was not that it mustn't be spam if it gets 15,000 visitors per day - it was that it gets a lot of repeat visitors and people subscribing to its newsletter (who can unsubscribe at any time). This to me says that these people obviously find something valuable there. Whilst you're now talking about my depression blog - your original post did not - it only really referred to digicams.

Btw - i'd argue that the money in digital camera reviews isn't really as big as you say. I can think of a lot of other topics I'd rather be highly ranked for. It does ok, but in the scheme of things the click value is pretty small.

I take on board you comments about 'Pro' Blogging. Whilst I call myself that because it is my profession (how I make a living) I do accept that it means I need to be professional also. As I said before I'm taking on board your comments and am taking it into the mix as I move forward in my blogging (an ever changing endeavour of experimenting, dreaming, learning and evaluating). Whilst I'm not ashamed of any of my blogs - I know some have room to grow and others should perhaps be put out to pasture.

I would argue the same thing could be levelled at yourself as an author on the topic of SEO who is generally pretty well respected. You have a responsibility also to have quality sites that don't dabble in or be seen to support the unethical methods of SEO that many engage in.

I'd argue that your own 'shoddy sites' are perhaps things you might want to be willing to be challenged on also. Perhaps you should link to them here so that your readers can give your methods a critique as you've given mine which are clearly linked to as mine on my 'professional blog'.

Anyway - I'm off to bed.

July 13, 2005 - 5:52pm

>1. It's titled 'Depression News' - as someone who has loved ones suffering from Depression I was reading up on the topic myself and studying the latest research. I started the site because I wanted to record what I found and begin to collate it. Of the blogs in my 'network' you've actually picked one of the blogs that I am quite proud of to critique. The reason why is that it's on a topic I am passionate about learning on and highlighting. I don't feel expert enough to really do any more than report on the news as it comes to hand.

Now if you don't feel comfortable commenting on the information do you feel that it is ok to give people snippets of the research (knowing that most research projects aim to prove something the sponsor wanted to be proved) from which they might decide to make life changing events from and then let an independant third party sell on topic advertisements which may offer people solutions that cause those people to commit suicide?

>2. I now have researchers and writers email me when they post new findings asking me to link to their studies. The original writers of content appreciate a site dedicated to their topic linking up (this is the case on many of my blogs - an increasing amount of my posts are in response to notifications from writers of articles looking for exposure). You commented above that every person that goes to a 'rehash' site is one less that goes to original content sites - I dispute this from looking at the exit stats that I get - my readers generally leave my site going to the original content that I point to.

Understandable people want exposure, but there is still flowthrough to the advertisements. And for that profit some other original sites are not being seen, and some people might be clicking on quick fixes that destroy their lives.

Just so you understand my background on this topic, I own
http://www.depressionblog.com
which collects feedback as people write it. I also was suicidally depressed for a couple years not long ago and learned a bunch about many drugs (legal and illegal). What is scary is just how many people complain about the side effects of the legal antidepressants being similar to street drugs like ecstacy, which is a drug I knew well for a decent period of time.

>I guess we have a different opinion on what is a useful site. What I see as useful is a site that collates and repackages news of others from a variety of sources and then sends readers to those sources.

To me there has to be a value add of some sort. Great filtering is a value add, but to have no input at all just makes it seem a bit more questionable.

>This is the same thing that I do on the digicam site as I do on the depression one. I scour the web looking for the most interesting and up to date information that I can and point my readers to it.

And its cool if people like it and it helps people.

>My point about my digicam site was not that it mustn't be spam if it gets 15,000 visitors per day - it was that it gets a lot of repeat visitors and people subscribing to its newsletter (who can unsubscribe at any time). This to me says that these people obviously find something valuable there. Whilst you're now talking about my depression blog - your original post did not - it only really referred to digicams.

At the end it mentioned digicams because you did on your site. I did not mention all the channels because the intent shines through on many of them. I mean I have never met a person interested in cameras, printers, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, credit cards, and depression. Imagine if the effort that went into less interesting channels was spent instead as times marketing the channels you enjoy the most, etc.

>Btw - i'd argue that the money in digital camera reviews isn't really as big as you say. I can think of a lot of other topics I'd rather be highly ranked for. It does ok, but in the scheme of things the click value is pretty small.

Well 15,000 visitors is a good amount of traffic, and on your blog didn't you say that was your #1 channel? If so, was that misinformation or was that last paragraph aiming at leading potential competitors astray ;)

>I take on board you comments about 'Pro' Blogging. Whilst I call myself that because it is my profession (how I make a living) I do accept that it means I need to be professional also. As I said before I'm taking on board your comments and am taking it into the mix as I move forward in my blogging (an ever changing endeavour of experimenting, dreaming, learning and evaluating).

like I said, my opinion is just my opinion, and one that is generally unimportant in the grand scheme of things. where I think people run into problems is when they try to force their views onto others. I am not trying to do that and think it is cool if there is a wide variety of opinions. I just am expressing mine.

>I would argue the same thing could be levelled at yourself as an author on the topic of SEO who is generally pretty well respected. You have a responsibility also to have quality sites that don't dabble in or be seen to support the unethical methods of SEO that many engage in.

Of course this could come off as sounding hypocritical, but by having sites in a wide variety of circumstances where I know their link graphs well helps alert me to when search engines change their algorithms. A few shoddy sites purely for research do help more than most could ever imagine.

>I'd argue that your own 'shoddy sites' are perhaps things you might want to be willing to be challenged on also. Perhaps you should link to them here so that your readers can give your methods a critique as you've given mine which are clearly linked to as mine on my 'professional blog'.

fair point.

people challenge me all the time on some of them (I have a few forum hate threads, some of the hate article love, and about a half dozen hate sites), but some of them have little direct connection to me doing SEO other than if the sites rank while being that bad it means there are some anomalies in the algorithms I should be looking at.

word orders, word relationships, trusted links, etc etc etc (I have a single page site about effexor which has all of it's links from DMOZ or DMOZ clones and ranks at #17 in Yahoo! for Effexor)

My first website was made a few years ago, and is about why I did not like the Navy nuclear power program. I could pour effort into cleaning the site up, fixing its links, making the content more useful, add research to it, and turn a bit of it s raw misfocused emotion into something far better, but I have not made it as best as it could be because there are other things I want to focus on at this point in time and I appreciate how far I was able to come so quickly.

And also there is nothing wrong with making money. Like I have made way more than I needed and gave a bunch of it away. most of my other sites make nothing though. almost all of them are money losing ventures which help me collect feedback. one of the sites did get me cold called by a harrassing SEO firm which I posted about on this site. If I was making buckets full of cash off of my shoddy sites and telling people to do something else than that would make me hypocritical.

Some of my stuff you would consider blatent spam, and the same holds true the other way around. It really does not matter much what we think of each others sites so much as what we do with our own.

July 14, 2005 - 1:06am

I'm enjoying the dialogue - your last paragraphs sound similar to how I think about many of my blogs in part.

"f course this could come off as sounding hypocritical, but by having sites in a wide variety of circumstances where I know their link graphs well helps alert me to when search engines change their algorithms. A few shoddy sites purely for research do help more than most could ever imagine."

ProBlogger.net is a site which makes virtually no money but which exists to help other bloggers. Another benefit of having many blogs on a variety of topics is that it helps me keep my finger on the pulse of what is happening across the wider blogging community. I see it as research as much as anything also. As my topic is making money from blogs I guess I'm interested in seeing how easy/hard/fun/energising/profitable it is to run a variety of different types of blogs. I think it makes my own writing all the more profitable.

To be honest you do sound a little hypocritical in your comments on my blogs if you can concede you've got your own shoddy sites - purely for 'research' of course! :-)

I'd also comment that on the breakingnewsblog.com network I'm only a partial owner. ie of the blogs listed there I only own and operate a third of them. What I'm saying is that I'm not interested in every topic covered there. Of the blogs I do run I am interested in almost every topic on some level. There are one or two I'm not interested in personally and as a result I'm recruiting writers who are to run them. Hopefully this will be reflected in the increased amount of original content written there.

I'm glad you're interested in the topic of Depression also and am sorry to hear about your own battles. It's a terrible thing which I look forward to working on continuing to highlight in the future.

I've been aware of your blog since I started mine and to be honest was always a little confused about it in terms of design and navigation. I worked it out soon enough and appreciated it for what it is - my only concern with it was that in being so focused upon the feedback of users of drugs I wondered about the quality of information.

In my experience of depression and some mental illness - some of the people taking the drugs were sometimes not probably in the best position to talk about the products that they were using because of the very illnesses that they were battling. Not sure I'm making sense with that statement. I guess I worry about the advice of non trained people, some of whom can be battling things that at times can alter perception and even create delusions. I applaud the concept but worry about quality - a criticism that can of course be aimed at my blog also. Perhaps we should somehow combine them for a more balanced presentation on the topic?

I'd also say that on your front page you've got some pretty nasty comment spam going on there today in your last comments. Someone's SEO strategy is taking advantage of your blog.

you write - 'great filtering is a value add, but to have no input at all just makes it seem a bit more questionable.'

I take this on board - fair call and I'll attempt to think through how to increase the input. Perhaps I've been working so hard on the 'great filtering' thing that I've been a little blind to balancing it with some input.

In terms of the digicam comments - I'm not trying to put anyone off the mark. In fact since starting ProBlogger and talking about my site I've had at least 10 of my readers start similar blogs. Good luck to them I say.

What I was meaning is that the click values of digicam keywords are not high. There is a lot of people searching for the terms so it can be lucrative in that sense, but its not easy money as there are so many sites competing for the clicks.

I don't actually think we're too far off one another. We probably both do some things very very well, we are both passionate about a variety of things, we both do things that we're very proud of. On the flip side there are probably things that we do/have done that we're not quite as proud of that we justify in a variety of ways. These are things we can be critiqued about and probably should be more open to be challenged on.

July 14, 2005 - 8:23am

Hi Darren

>I'm enjoying the dialogue

Me too. I think in many areas we think exceptionally alike.

>I think it makes my own writing all the more profitable.

having a central location and identity that people feel they know and understand is huge for longterm profitability.

>To be honest you do sound a little hypocritical in your comments on my blogs if you can concede you've got your own shoddy sites - purely for 'research' of course! :-)

well most of my junk sites make no money and usually do not even surface that well in the search results. but they are like test flags. I also have a personal rant blog which outranks this site for my own name and ranks at about #20 for "peanut butter" even though it has next to nothing to do with peanut butter. It is simply a way of gathering emperical data. Some people do it much better than I do. Make no mistake I could afford to launch 1,000 automated spam sites and make a killing off of AdSense but I have not done that yet.

>There are one or two I'm not interested in personally and as a result I'm recruiting writers who are to run them. Hopefully this will be reflected in the increased amount of original content written there.

thats a good idea if you want it to do well longterm (although I am sure we have both seen many sites that are probably doing amazingly well that are not aiming at longterm goals).

>I've been aware of your [depression] blog since I started mine and to be honest was always a little confused about it in terms of design and navigation. I worked it out soon enough and appreciated it for what it is - my only concern with it was that in being so focused upon the feedback of users of drugs I wondered about the quality of information.

Well thats the interesting part. It generally is honest human opinion & emotion. Not something on a warning label of rare effects. Even if they are drugged and not able to express themselves correctly due to being overmedicated that should be seen by people debating taking the drugs. Sometimes the testimonials for the drugs scare me more than the people who have had horrific side effects because the voice was so disconnected from reality.

>In my experience of depression and some mental illness - some of the people taking the drugs were sometimes not probably in the best position to talk about the products that they were using because of the very illnesses that they were battling. Not sure I'm making sense with that statement. I guess I worry about the advice of non trained people, some of whom can be battling things that at times can alter perception and even create delusions. I applaud the concept but worry about quality - a criticism that can of course be aimed at my blog also.

By asking people to create a single post to express their thoughts in they do. To me experience is far more important than how stuff is supposed to work. When I joined the military I was told the story of how it was supposed to work, but not how it really did.

Look at it like this: many of the people providing solutions would not give their own children the solution that they openly prescribe for others.

Another problem with depression is that people always think stuff is their fault and its their fault if a drug does not work and it is their fault they react weird to it. By taking islands of people and allowing them to see others are just like them they can start to learn how to fight off their problems.

>Perhaps we should somehow combine them for a more balanced presentation on the topic?

well thats the thing. If I were to do a site on that subject it would mean that I would probably have to kill this site because I would want to work on it like 50 or 60 hours a week. Also for now I want to keep mine non commercial so that people do not think I am trying to profit off it and so people believe the intent of the site is pure.

>I'd also say that on your front page you've got some pretty nasty comment spam going on there today in your last comments. Someone's SEO strategy is taking advantage of your blog.

yeah. fixed it. thanks. I have to clean it up every day and I dont think a single spam comment ever stays on that site too long unless I am gone for a while.

>you write - 'great filtering is a value add, but to have no input at all just makes it seem a bit more questionable.'

>I take this on board - fair call and I'll attempt to think through how to increase the input. Perhaps I've been working so hard on the 'great filtering' thing that I've been a little blind to balancing it with some input.

yeah...its all just a balance IMHO.

>What I was meaning is that the click values of digicam keywords are not high. There is a lot of people searching for the terms so it can be lucrative in that sense, but its not easy money as there are so many sites competing for the clicks.

I am sure one has to put forth a good amount of effort to get above the fold, but after you get there it is probably a bit self reinforcing.

>I don't actually think we're too far off one another. We probably both do some things very very well, we are both passionate about a variety of things, we both do things that we're very proud of. On the flip side there are probably things that we do/have done that we're not quite as proud of that we justify in a variety of ways. These are things we can be critiqued about and probably should be more open to be challenged on.

I totally agree with you on that.

I love how both of us are making multi page long posts back and forth. even your one stating you will be brief :) hehehe

cheers
Aaron

July 14, 2005 - 9:02am

LOL - yes. I don't think I've ever written anything brief.

Until now.

July 14, 2005 - 8:45pm

I didn't need a ton of incentive to stop using the B word... I think it's one of the ugliest words to come out of the internet age. If I need to quote someone, I just treat it like a curse in an upright publication, and blank out a couple letters.

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