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Ask HN: How much ad revenue you make from your side project?
308 points by samblr on June 17, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 174 comments
Have a side project which is an analytics web application based on 100k+ records. I was initially thinking to get a small payment from each user. But it appears to me that - information provided can be easily scrapped from site (if someone really wants) and it won't make sense.

So I am thinking of revenue model based on ads. At its 'full' potential web application can draw a million visits per month (in 2-3 years may be).

Adrevenue calculators show adrevenue of $2000 dollars for a million visits[0] with 2 pages/visit and $1 RPM.

How realistic are these adrevenue calculators ?

Can anybody share their experience with real numbers and insights.


edit: reformed sentence

I make about $600/mo pretty consistently with a typing game (http://zty.pe) - about 200k visits/mo.

I once managed another project that had about 14m visits/mo and made a meager $3000. Bad target demographic.

Wow, http://zty.pe is really fun!

Oh yes! :-) First try: 1866, wave 15, 96% accuracy, 244 streak.

Should have a donate button on the page (because uBlock..). Edit: Or: Register to track progress over time with a login, for a low fixed(?) fee.

That was awesome! I only got 1180 / 95.5% but I am lying on my back and have an injured hand. :-)

3100 score, wave 21, fun game!

I don't get it how do you guys get to million of visitors? actually - if you just tell me how to get to hundreds of unique returning visitors??!?!

Build a community site and wait for 9 years. I'm not joking. The first 6 years saw maybe 2k visits/mo.

What's the community site?

You don't even know what site he's talking about.

You should thank Jerry from Barnecules Nerdgasm channel on YouTube. He used too play it often, That's where I saw it from ...He started playing it from the old version which is where I heard about it too. I Take two hours off every Sunday to play it and get my typing skills up.

I was wondering how you monetized it, until I realized my ad blocker was probably blocking everything...

Yeah, same here, sorry.

I used to be very anti-ad blockers. But ads seem so much more annoying these days, can't really live without one anymore :(

Yep, and it's so easy to whitelist a site like this (at least with ublock origin)

I don't know if you were looking for feedback about the game, but the ease of losing progress quickly made me stop playing; because I was more likely to stop playing right after losing, you might want to make it take a longer time to advance levels, or to add multiple lives so that you don't lose all your progress suddenly.

But I don't know how that would affect my likeliness to see the ad. To improve that, maybe add more natural pause points to the game, so people can have more chances to click?

Losing quickly provides natural pause points to the game ;)

Dude this game is fantastic. Especially how the individual letters split off. Great job!

zty.pe is really fun - played it for an hour when it came up in another hacker news post.

How did the costs of running the 14m vists/mo compare to http://zty.pe? Different times, and probably different kind of site, but did the experience change the types of applications you tried to build?

I'm hosting ztype on the same server as all my other personal sites (http://phoboslab.org, http://impactjs.com and a few more) and pay 50€/mo for everything.

The project with the 14m visits/mo generated 700tb of traffic and required half a dozen servers. Cost was around $2000/mo with traffic being the most expensive part. (I complained about traffic costs with cloud hosters a while back: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11301085)

I think I might used this to practice touch typing. It looks addicting :)

I tried to bookmark it by hitting command-D (in Safari on a Mac), but since you capture all keystrokes, I couldn't bookmark it. Perhaps you'd see a bump in your numbers if you allowed command-D through?

I don't seem to get this?

Windows, Chrome, bookmarking seems to work fine?

Fun game! Just played a round - the ship that shoots a bunch of single letters is a cool mechanic. Can I see how I stack up against other users?

Pretty cool game curious if you do anything with it, like do you somehow use the client's resources or what? Is it just to waste time? Though I could see if it's a "trying to improve typing speed" as it has to be typed in order

When sharing the link on facebook, there is no useful preview, mostly just a white block.

I tried it and quit after a minute of play. I suggest making the levels a little bit longer to unlock a greater sense of accomplishment. Just curious, why the phone-type aspect for a typing game? Fantastic graphics.

Wow, finding (http://zty.pe) was serendipitous. Please don't include that world in the early levels, I'm not a good typist.

Has this been updated recently? I remember an older version (that I actually enjoy more with the difficulty selection!). Is that still hosted anywhere?

I used to play this game years ago (2010 or 2011). Glad to see that it's still there.

A shame it crashes on both Chrome and Safari (iOS 10.3.2, iPhone 5)

Great, I used the android App version of this. This is awesome.

I dont see any ads in there?

P.S: This game is seriously fun!

Awesome games, you create great atmosphere

What tech stack is the site by built with?

just bookmarked zty.pe it was great.

Very relaxing Game! Great!

this is a cool game.

Thought it was cool too, and I don't play that many games.

Addictive game

Great game!!

great game!

It varies greatly based on type of content. The most I have made was $20k per month on a TV show review site. We had Netflix and Hulu advertising on in through Adsense for awhile and their ads were specific to the individual TV shows we were writing about. The RPM's were amazing.

I also ran a Minecraft mods site for awhile with my son and at its top it made $9k/mo with about 130k unique visitor per month.

More tech content sites or other more general sites I have ran haven't gotten anywhere close to those #'s.

Games and entertainment content geared towards youth do well.

Ad placement also makes a difference. 1 well placed in-content ad can make you a lot more than 3 ads. That one well placed in-content ad can generate a higher CTR and CPC vs. if you place 3 ads. When you place multiple ads, the CTR on all of them even the well placed in-content ad is much lower as well the the CPC. I have tested this extensively.

> The most I have made was $20k per month on a TV show review site.

> I also ran a Minecraft mods site for awhile with my son and at its top it made $9k/mo

Congratulations. That is pretty impressive, and you repeated he success twice. Do you still run those? Is that your full time job?

> When you place multiple ads, the CTR on all of them even the well placed in-content ad is much lower as well the the CPC.

Wouldn't you still come out ahead because with more ads you get more impressions? Isn't that how it works and why you see sites with 1000000 ads?

Thanks. I don't run either anymore. The TV show site started off as a side project to train a new employee and ended up turning into a nice little business for awhile. When summer hit, the site plummeted in traffic & revenue and when the TV show seasons started again both Hulu and Netflix where not advertising the same anymore. That combined with the TV show line up was horrible so the traction just wasn't there anymore. It was fun while it lasted.

I shut down the Minecraft site about 6 months ago. Traffic also plummeted being that mods are not as popular because lots of the kids are now playing Minecraft with the app or consoles.

It's not my full-time job. It's always been more of a side thing. I don't think I would be able to sleep at night if it were my full-time job. Way too much risk with it.

"Wouldn't you still come out ahead because with more ads you get more impressions?"

You would think but actually no at least not for all of the tests I did and I did a lot of them. You don't really make your $$ from impressions. You make $$ when people click on your ads. If the ads that are displayed are very relevant and your CTR is really good, you make more money.

Isn't Minecraft still popular? Why shut it down rather than let it sit there or sell it?

I'd think with the increasing popularity of Netflix that'd still be popular as well.

It was a site about Minecraft mods which don't garner as much traffic as they once did. I did consider selling it at one point and even spoke with a web broker. The biggest concerns were trademark stuff especially now that Microsoft owns it. Letting a content site just "sit there" is the same thing as letting it die, which is what I pretty much did. You gotta keep on generating good content if you want to make $$ at it. In addition to that, the content you do generate needs to be able to garner enough traffic to make that $$.

Yes, Netflix is still popular but they were not pushing as many display ads as they once were when the site was doing its best. Plus the TV show line up sucked after that summer and nothing really was sticking. After taking into account the cost to hire and manage contract TV show writers, cost to advertise it, hosting, etc. the revenue it was making wasn't enough for it to be worthwhile. Especially considering our SaaS products and Advertising Agency were growing.

I run a modding site and are always interested in small sites even if dead. Reach out if interested it might fit what we are looking for

I think it's save to assume they considered the numbers and concluded it wasn't worth it

> Games and entertainment content geared towards youth do well.

Which is, I guess, because the youth is more susceptible to ads.


I can speak for the food blogging industry. This is my wife’s blog[1]

A good food blogger focusing on the US/High GDP audience can get CPMs from $1-4[2]. Where it gets interesting are the RPM numbers. If you can manage multiple ad networks, execute 100% fill rates, bid between networks and become a preferred partner, you can rake up to $12-15in RPM [3]. Here’s more of multiple revenue sources for a successful blog [4]

Caveat: Things take off once you cross around 700—800K US traffic. Until then it can be frustrating.

[1]: https://alittlebitofspice.com/

[2]: http://d.pr/i/bIBobD

[3]: http://d.pr/i/Qvk1M

[4]: http://d.pr/i/dEqpvA

Your top right logo is 2.3meg https://www.alittlebitofspice.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03...

It can be much smaller and still get the 'retina' effect, saving load time and bandwidth.

Thank you. Re-uploading.

Very refreshing to see a food blog that's recipe oriented. I'll be trying some of those! When I see a picture of mouth watering food, I want the recipe, not paragraphs of fluff about what the author did that week.

FWIW, that fluff is what builds a relationship with readers and for a lot of food blogs that's what separates you from powerhouses like seriouseats. You can usually just jump down to the recipe card if you want to skip the fluff.

Wow I had no idea food blogging was a profitable thing. Congrats to your wife.

> If you can manage multiple ad networks, execute 100% fill rates, bid between networks

Isn't that impossible to get 100% filled? I recall reading a while back that getting even 40% was challenging which is why the ad quality online has gone down and they're more intrusive?

Lots of interesting stuff on this thread, thanks for sharing.

There are a lot of companies that help you do this. Examples: http://www.adthrive.com/, https://www.mediavine.com/

Edit: The money takes more than 6 years of hard work and a lot of content, social media management, brand building, sponsored writing, quality photography, now byte-size videos etc.

Food blogging is an enormous market. The best foodies don't get money from Adsense though, it's through sponsorship/affiliate deals, books if they hit it big.

It's quite a stereotyped field though, and I would imagine it's a saturated market. Everyone wants to be like Deliciously Ella [1]. Don't even try unless you have a studio setup for the photography. Lots of food authors are pivoting towards more (usually female oriented) "lifestyle" blogs which happen to have recipes.

A lot of food blogs target healthy eating, or niche diets like keto/paleo. There are also tons of specialist food blogs covering bread, cakes, etc.

[1] https://deliciouslyella.com/

You are right. We have around $3000 worth of lighting equipment, lens, etc. But we acquired them along the way.

Sponsored content is a good chunk of money (close to 30% every mom) but its nonscalable.

Can you elaborate some more on this? What kind of equipment and resources for learning more about this?

Typically: DSLR, large aperture normal zoom lens, 2 or more external strobes, softboxes, reflectors, tripods, and flash triggers.

Have a look at Strobist which is specifically aimed at flash photography.

Otherwise just look in photo or recipe books, food blogs and shamelessly steal until you get the hang of layout.

try googling 'photography equipment'

If the internet has taught me anything, it's you can make a lot of money at anything if you work hard enough.

And long enough. It's a lot of survival until you learn enough to make money.

There are a lot of blogging categories that are surprisingly profitable but in different ways. The internet is quite vast!

> A good food blogger focusing on the US/High GDP audience can get CPMs from $1-4

You're taking a risk here.

By mentioning this, a good fraction of the 300K Hacker News daily uniques will visit your site as I did, and some may be gourmands. Excellent uncluttered presentation and mouth-watering photography by the way.

On the other hand, you tipped off the largest gathering of highly motivated, entrepreneurial web developers to a business idea that no one expected to be so profitable.

If only people would work hard as my wife, be relentlessly passionate and marginally improve routinely...

In addition to what owebmaster said, and no offense, but if some random person takes it up they will probably do it shittier and get significantly fewer unique visitors.

I expect OP enjoys and is knowledgeable about the subject. They are married (content and tech) so they get to pool results. If you paid someone who was passionate about it there will be turnover. If you do it on your own just for the money and you aren't passionate and knowledgeable the site will just suck.

It's not that easy to get visitors and if they are paying out like that then there is probably plenty of room for additional actors.

If a lot of people copy him, probably he will make a lot more of money.

I think it's been proven this fear is overstated. Startup ideas are rarely stolen.

Not startup ideas but my app ideas was stolen twice and my competitor (was friend, ex-friend now) got more resources and beaten me out of market. I don't share app idea with friend now.

i don't get it how do all you guys get so much traffic you talk about 100k's and millions of people visiting your web sites how do you make that happen?!?

Keep on writing content where you can be good (it all starts with the passion). Healthy Desserts, Everyday 30-minute cooking, Asian cooking for Americans, etc. Learn from Google what the audience intent is, improve your content. Do this for four years; you’ll get 300K/month. Then there’s SEO, Pinterest optimization [1], better photography, Lightroom skills, video shooting & editing, etc. You’ll learn this along the way. After that, there’s a good chance traffic will compound.

But you have to show up at 5 AM every day (I can’t find that Kobe Bryant quote)

[1]: https://in.pinterest.com/janerosep/a-little-bit-of-spice-fro...

How often was it updated?

Then there’s SEO, Pinterest optimization [1], etc. You’ll learn this along the way.

Don't be so sure about that. People who are telling you "I can't imagine" are probably failing to get much traffic. I don't have that kind of traffic on anything and I boggle at the idea of getting it.

So, a bit more detail and resource links would be appreciated. If a few blurbs were going to do it, then people wouldn't be asking you.

Here’s Neil Patel doing for a different vertical [1]. That article and the commenters from there can take you a long way. FWIW, don’t jump on to these things without following the links and spending a month or more researching. Writing is hard. And you have to produce around 4-10 pieces of audience intended content every month.

When we started, we didn’t care about the traffic. We did it because we loved it.

Content updating happens every year or during vacations when we get bored or when we learn a new technique. For example, when we learned that good photographs increase the CTR by 10x, my wife started learning photography. When we learned that Pinterest optimized vertical images get 5x+ CTR [2], we implemented that a year back. There are many Facebook groups for these discussions.

[1] https://www.quicksprout.com/2015/05/11/how-im-going-to-achie... [2] https://in.pinterest.com/pin/527554543833038696/

Content ... content ... content. Content is the key here.

No matter how much SEO optimization you will put into a website if the content is bad or not regularly updated (at least 2 - 3 times per week) you won't grow enough to see a significant revenue.

>We’re not on this stage just because of talent or ability, we’re up here because of 4 a.m

[I don't know if he said it, that's what I have in mind attributed to him]

If i want to make a dish that needs exotic ingredients why cant i find a link to say.. Amazon or somewhere else?

There are no ads on her site though....

And you don't happen to run an adblocker?

I disabled uBlock, still can't see any ads. Weird.

Also, uBlock tells me it only blocked two analytics scripts, no ads.

When they said that the next generation of advertising was going to be invisible I didn't quite know what to make of it, I guess this is it :) Good CPM and totally untraceable. I could get used to this.

Next thing you know you're buying things online in your sleep.

We are switching ad publishers.

Are you the owner of Cucumbertown ?

I have couple of small side projects that which are monetised through ads. Portfolio of those web apps are 7 years old and traffic is growing linearly. The problem is revenue, which is basically cutting in half every 12 - 18 months: both CTR and revenue is going down.

There are a lot of people with adblock these days, but also mobile traffic is not that profitable and people learned to ignore the ads as a noise. I am also using just one small rectangle per page and not going for more aggressive tactics.

During those 7 years I am down from "these apps are paying my rent" to "I can have a one meal in a nice restaurant each month".

The point is: it is getting much harder to make money by having ads in your app. Also make sure that all the information are recent and comes from your market sector as is changing real quick.

> There are a lot of people with adblock these days

And it is soon to be built into web browsers, you have to wonder the impact that will have.

isn't ad block easy to thwart? Sites like forbes and fortune do

Yes, I can do it, but I respect choice of my users.

Not every site is as big as forbes and fortune. Being big allows you more fuck-you potential.

How is Fortune blocking it? I'm using uBlock Origin and fortune loads fine with no errors or in page css popups?

I read Forbes articles some rare times and still have adblocking working.

That's how you end up in hosts files.

Besides, filter lists move pretty fast and are usually self-update.

Do you think that it's more related to adblock usage or rather people ignoring ads completely?

Hard to say. I guess it is combination of different things. I also suspect remarketing campaigns plays role in lower CTR, but I haven't really investigate it.

I don't know if YouTube counts here.

On the weekends I upload videos for artists from my home country. I have one channel that is fairly popular. The artists themselves are not big enough to attract many people to their own channels so the use mine. We split the ad revenue. I pay them locally. My take home after deductions is anywhere from 5k to 8k per quarter.

EDIT: added payout period. I give payouts per quarter because as i said, they are not big artists, so it would be tedious sending small amounts to tons of people each month.

That's pretty impressive. I'm curious to hear how your YouTube account gained enough followers to make this possible. It would be difficult to convince an artist to upload it into your account before you had traction.

I started the channel by posting some videos that were not allowed to be played in the country, then some protest videos that became very popular and were taken up by news outlets. So at that point, it got a lot of subscribers. Sat on it for a while doing nothing, then i realized there was an opportunity. I tried to explain to some artists initially what YouTube could do for them. Most of them didn't understand. They'd just put up their stuff on Facebook or Soundcloud. So i initially did it without their permission. I took 2 really popular artists' material and put it up on the channel then sent a letter at the end of the month with a report and asking them how they wanted to be paid. Out of the blue, they had someone offering them money. So then we had a conversation.

Some other artists already had channels, so they were hesitant, so i approached some of them and tried to explain momentum. They didn't understand either, so I took the same material they had on their channels and put it up then gave them the reports and checks at the end of the month as well. Then they understood it would be tough to go it alone. From there onward, it was much easier getting artists to post on the channel.

I am now looking for ways to move the thing forward. I am getting to a point where I have too many uploads which sometimes dilutes the attention, so I might open another channel. Unfortunately I am not large enough to manage other personal channels as a small MCN.

That's a great story. Thanks for sharing.

I think it's common on sites like HN for us to see your original post and think "he uploads videos and gets how much?" But it's the backstory that's interesting. What events led you to have this unique opportunity that you are now capitalizing on.

Is that monthly or yearly?

clarified in edit


I have some YouTube videos that total half a million views, which is not much, but enough that I could be monetizing. I don't turn on monetizing because I don't feel okay pushing more ads on people. So my total is zero.

I would like to make a living producing positive value to the world. I don't want the additional job of promoting advertisements that I would not necessarily endorse just because my work is popular enough that advertisers will pay to take some of the attention I've gotten. Ads are inherently manipulative, and I'd rather encourage everyone to use an adblocker rather than have a conflict-of-interest with what's actually good for my audience.

I got YouTube Red for the purpose of contributing to content providers without watching ads. I would just use an ad blocker otherwise.

Unless your content is for kids, where they probably don't have the choice to watch them or not, why not monetize?

If it's your viewer's choice whether they see ads or not, and if the money might help you provide more or better content, it could be a win-win.

(A) I don't like specifically supporting Google's efforts to tie direct-funding to their ad-platform (they specifically have made many efforts to make it so that direct funding is connected to removing ads because it cuts out people like me who refuse to use the ads… using their direct-funding approaches is actually an increase in advertising, not a reduction)

and (B) I don't like the "viewer's choice" argument that I see as basically suckers-deserve-to-be-suckered. People who aren't thoughtful or knowledgeable enough to install an adblocker are just the people most susceptible to advertising manipulation. I want no part of increasing that. My understanding is that YouTube doesn't just give me a cut of revenue or not, they actually increase the ads tied to my videos if I "monetize". I won't be able to control the ads either to make sure they aren't manipulative or promoting products I would not be comfortable endorsing.

The money would totally help me provide more and better content, for sure. I hate this dilemma, but I've ended up sacrificing a lot in my life to work on building a more ethical economy around all of this via https://snowdrift.coop (approaching launch, not fully operating yet) rather than give in to this whole ad-based economy that I would have trouble with even if it were only advertising typical corporate crap let alone engaging in the far more unethical tracking and other shit they actually do. https://wiki.snowdrift.coop/about/existing-mechanisms#third-... expresses my views on this.

I hope this doesn't come across as me shaming everyone else who uses ads. I think the problems are systemic and recognize fully the way any individual going against the flow isn't necessarily the answer. That's why we need systemic change. I just wanted to share my perspective so this thread at least had the critical issues brought up, even though it's tangential. (Although my story of $0 ad income is an answer to the question)

extra note: I have a relatively low (for U.S., not just among Hacker News crowd) income otherwise, so my refusal to monetize with ads isn't even tied to otherwise having a high income. I just don't want to play this game that I can't agree with morally.

I'm small fish here, but since question was asked I will share. https://random.country/ brings me around 40$ passive income monthly. Around 5K visitors monthly. Probably it could bring me more money with one more ad.

I like the quiz, but I wish it told me the correct answer when I guess wrongly. You could give the correct answer either immediately or at the end of the quiz; either way would be fine.

Agree, good idea.

Hey, a small tip: I got the same country twice in one quiz, which is less fun

Do you do any work to bring traffic in or just rely on SERPS?

Nice idea :)

@csallen could probably jump in with some interesting insights. His site Indie Hackers was generating $5K a month from ad rev before it was acquired by Stripe (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14090063).

He actively reached out to relevant companies to ask them to place ads on his website.

If you brokered these type of ad partnerships, you could easily make a few thousand with your audience.

Ad types include: send a targeted email promo to users based on their analytics data, ads on the pages, etc.

I mentioned this in another post, but I believe this is how most seriously profitable bloggers make their money. They don't go for Google ads, they go for affiliate deals and sponsorship.

It's a smarter way to do it because the adverts are usually far far more relevant to the audience. Nothing annoys me more than generic clickbait advertising ("Release your equity!", "What did these 10 people do to get rich?", etc) which I'm never going to click on. On the other hand if I see a food blog sponsored by e.g. KitchenAid, I might have another look at their mixers.

If you have the readership and a trusting community (or reputation), it's a no brainer. This is how Daring Fireball does it too.

Affiliate links are another good way of subtly making cash - look at people like Ken Rockwell, who was once the de facto "Nikon Guy". His site was (is?) the go to place for Nikon camera/lens reviews. There are no ads on his site, but every damn link is affiliated (and why not?). This is also a very sneaky way for airline reward bloggers to make tons of points: they find the deals, everyone goes through the affiliate links and earns their meager 100 avios, while the blogger makes a tidy referral profit. The guy who runs Head for Points [1] made thousands when the Curve Card was released.

[1] http://www.headforpoints.com/2017/01/12/curve-rewards-launch...

$100/month for the Pi Searcher + the Splat Calculator. More on Pi day. $1-2 RPM. 100k page views per month. One built in 1996, the other in maybe 99. http://www.angio.net/pi and http://www.angio.net/personal/climb/speed

Neither is designed with monetization in mind. I just threw some ads on them to cover the hosting costs (the pi Searcher needs a few gigs of RAM) -- but it turned out that learning about the ad ecosystem was pretty interesting.

2 niche blogs: archimodels.info / archidrawings.info

Adsense revenue accounted to half of my monthly revenue ($100) 4 years ago. Nowadays, thanks to adblockers, it's only 10% of it and my monthly revenue is down to $50. Most of my revenue comes from a direct ad that adblockers can't detect.

Adsense is dead to small publishers.

I run a couple of ad-based websites. The largest one being https://www.dailywritingtips.com

The key aspect to estimate how much you can earn is the page RPM you can get.

The average I have seen across my sits is around $2. Some niches have lower RPMs (e.g., programming, in my case at least). Some niches have much higher. I had a site about investing in gold that had $12 page RPM on average, if I remember well.

In your case, I believe the number would be higher than $2000 per month if you reach 1 million visitors. I am guessing twice as much at least.

Is that RPM for AdSense or a different ad provider? I tried multiple providers for my site (gaming / MMO niche) and I end up around 0.13$ RPM everywhere. Or is that value for multiple combined ads?

One of my sites (https://riddlesbrainteasers.com) has been a wild ride, reaching a peak of $18k/month and down to an average of around $500/month now. Monthly traffic is generally around 300k unique visitors.

Another site (http://coincollector.org) was making $300/month as long as I kept posting but after several years I grew tired and now it earns next to nothing.

How did you go from $18k/month to $500 month? ad blockers?

The site got hit by one of Google's black box algorithm adjustments. I spoke with folks on the Adsense team and followed their advice but it's never rebounded. It was mostly organic traffic, which means it depends on the whims of search engines. (It's not a reassuring position to be in).

I hate to hijack, but I'm facing the exact same issue you are. The rates that I've heard quoted for AdSense just aren't happening for me. My rates are very similar to yours, samblr.

I think that part of my problem (and it could be yours) is that I don't have a ton of written content around my free giveaways, which is the core of my site. Basically: plenty of cake, very little frosting.

Can anyone offer advice for increasing AdSense revenue for a site without much written content?

I run a site called Preset Love (http://presetlove.com) which gives away free Lightroom presets (Lightroom is an image editor for Adobe). My ad rates are abysmal and I've thought of walking away as a result.

I welcome feedback.

Every single one of your pages I visited shows me a remarketing ad. This tells me that Google can't find good matching advertisers for your content so they show remarketing ads instead. Remarketing ads always pay out much, much less.

Good feedback, thank you: it certainly means that I'm not doing a good job giving clues to AdSense what the site is about.

At its peak I had one (photos) site making ~$2000/month. Not a lot of text per item, though I did try to provide extensive tree-structured content. (Now that site is lucky to make 1% of peak, BTW!)

I would add a h1 heading with keywords "Lightroom Presets" (?) near the top of the page. But I think the main thing to do is experiment with the size and location of your ads. My highest clickthrough pages just have a stack of three ad blocks in a left side or left-middle column above the fold. I have never been able to get a good result with the horizontal banner style ads.

You should reach out to Ryan at Esthetic label.

I have an adwords site that sends affiliate traffic to a few merchants.

I currently pull in about $300k/year in revenue and $80-$100k/year in profit.

I use a number of credits cards for the ads to get points, so I consider it a source of revenue and vacations.

It's not easy to make a site like this and it as been a long road, but a worthwhile one.

(Posting anon as I prefer not to disclose revenues publicly)

Elaborating on the other questions:

There is no good revenge calculator to use as a baseline because it makes a broad assumption about demand for your audience.

if you care only about ad revenue, look for subjects that have high cpcs in Adsense. Those are a good place to start as the potential profit is more easily modelable. However, you also at wind up with subjects that are very esoteric or otherwise boring to you.

The other options is something you like as a subject to build content or a community around. You may have lower revenue but a much more fulfilling project.

My one major piece of advice is to look at how you creat unique value overall. If your site is easily replaced then the valeu is low and your staying power in the face of competition is very low.

If your site is something that users can't live without, then you are far better off.

Wow, that's impressive - thanks for sharing. One question though, what do you mean by Adwords site?

At what point you approached an affiliate and what analytics you use to bill an affiliate ? in short how is deal made and managed.

Use affiliate networks like impact radius or affiliate window / Zanox. Apply to and join programs there and they handle analytics and payment.

..$300k/year is really a good amount! And what are your expenses - $200k is high - you pay someone to manage site ?

The expenses are advertising costs. I spend a lot of money to drive traffic to the site, and profit from the arbitrage.

-11$ this month for my blog. One article hit HN front page 2 weeks ago and I'm left with a small AWS bill, I had no ads :)

Since then, I tried to activate ads via disqus comments but their revenue program seems like you have to be selected first in order to earn money. What would you recommend to monetize a tech blog ? (at least to cover the hosting fees)

if your blog is static data on S3, you can put cloudflare in front of it with the free plan and pay next to nothing due to the caching which they dont charge for

hey, that's pretty good

Somewhere between -$30,000 and -$60,000 I think. Even though they weren't successful (two) projects, it's always disappointing to see how few people are willing to spend their own money on something.

their own money on a similar project or your customers?

I'm sick of seeing people running to get capital to start a project instead of actually putting their own money down.

Once upon a time, https://tweepsect.com/ would get upwards of 650,000 visits/mo so I slapped some Fusion Ads (now Carbon Ads) on it and it brought in about $200-300/mo.

It has slowly declined down to tens of thousands of visits per month, which comes out to around $15-30/mo.

I really didn't want to try and monetize it for too long and ultimately regretted not slapping a simple clean ad on it earlier. Could have made more with more non-exclusive ads but it was about right for the amount of effort it took (very little). Not bad for a completely unattended service with zero overhead.

For some years, I got a check from AdSense about once a year or so. Then with the adblocker wars, I didn't see a check for about two years. Their payment threshold is $100, so I was making something like $100 or so a year-ish. With getting more traffic, my numbers in recent months are looking more promising than that, but it is still looking like "not enough to be obligated to report it on my taxes." (In the US, that means under $600 annually, which I am not on track to be anywhere near. But I might get a second check before the year is up?)

I have always done better with getting cash from my audience than with ads. I used to have donate buttons on my sites, but at some point I switched to a tip jar and my take improved. Instructions how to make a pay pal tip jar can be found here (on my website):


I write the blog http://datagenetics.com/blog.html

In 2016, it delivered 4.3 Million PVs

I have a single Google AdSense advert on most pages and revenue generated in 2016 was $1,124.95

It pays for hosting, and the occasional steak dinner, but no, it's not a fulltime job :)

Just wanted to say that I absolutely love your blog. I purposefully bought my younger brothers Battleship for Christmas a few years ago just so that I could crush them with the strategy I read on your blog. ^_^

> So I am thinking of revenue model based on ads. At its 'full' potential web application can draw a million visits per month (in 2-3 years may be).

Please don't. Find a way to charge money for it, or accept that it's really not that valuable.

Sad how everybody thinks merely hosting a website entitles them to revenue now.

People are accustomed to paying nothing on the web, unless it's a physical product nobody is paying for anything.

Yet Github, Dropbox, Fog Creek, Atlassian, and thousands of others aren't shutting down.

Maybe it's time to raise the bar a little bit and stop funding these services that nobody really values but will use because they're "free".

Ad supported companies have a strong tendency to invade people's privacy, track people around the internet, provide almost no customer support, and refuse service (or shutdown) on a whim. Google, Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo, etc. do it all the time, and it's the same way all the way down to the smaller players. Generally they're just not very good companies.

I agree. But I've noticed a similar "downvote" in physical conversations with people.

I think there's a strong desire for the whole "build a huge audience for your free product, then monetise somehow" model to be valid still (if it ever actually was). Because it's easy, I think.

The fact that it doesn't actually work any more is upsetting to people. So they downvote. That's my guess anyway.

Not that you'll be able to read this, because this post is about to be downvoted to oblivion too ;)

Why the downvotes? Please don't downvote if you disagree with somebody's opinion. Start a meaningful conversation instead.

people would comment if they felt the comment stood on its own and was worthy of a counterarguement. However i feel the author lives in a bubble where ordinary people pay for online things.

I have got two sites averaging about 50K a month and used to earn close to $50 a month. But I got bored and earnings and visits crashed. I have now got a renewed interest to look at it and try to establish a basic business model not based on ads which is just not sustainable. Affiliate networks is something that I am excited about or a job board site. Tl;dr ad revenue is nothing as compared to what you can make due to affiliate networks or a paid service. For people who were asking: https://jquer.in and http://angular-js.in

I wanted to practice a little more more with nodejs. To me it's pointless to learning a programming language without a project. Eventually, I will convert it from PHP (codeigniter) to angular 4 so that I can learn angular 4.

I also was banned from adsense, for machine generated content. Regardless, I really like amazon and my product you can't really use adblock, so I put together a website that monitors amazon daily prices.

I get most of my hits on facebook feed.

Regardless I don't make as much money as I would like, but it gives me something to do when my job is annoying me.


I might be looking for a growth hacker...

I am completely a Rookie here. http://groupsone.com/ targeting whatsapp/telegram group aggregation. Biggest problem I see for my Ad targets is the country based traffic. Currently integrated with Chitika and they need US traffic. So I have been earning <10$ with about 10K visits per month. Just posting here to help newbies out here. I Will be waiting for other 4 months for Adsense approval which can help much more revenue to me . Let me know if any one have suggestions that can help me out as a newbie.

Android video game: https://traveler208.com/ Not making much, spend more in ads trying to make it works (300$) then what it brought me (about 100$).

Other old android apps are still bringing me 8$/month such as: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.pervychine...

For searchcode.com I am getting about 300,000 uniques a month and ad revenue around $700 a month using carbon ads. It's enough to pay the bills which is all I really need for it.

I'm curious if anyone can answer this from the perspective of iOS, particularly games. Which ad exchange do you use (fb, google, other?) and how do you present the ads?

I have a site with Hebrew verb conjugations (http://www.pealim.com), which generates c. $150/month with 60k visits and 6 pages per visit.

Re: scraping - I don't think it makes a big difference whether you have subscription or ad revenue here. My site can be scraped of course but I don't plan to make serious money on it anyway.

Your project can do better or worse depending on the visitors' demographics.

- for domain and hosting

+ I have learned about delays in click detection on mobile

I have created http://morebeer.today some time ago and I was waiting for more visitors before I include some ads.

Based on the discussion it looks that no content -> garbage ads -> it doesn't make sense to introduce ads. Also 1$/1k views is not realistic. Should I rather try to figure out what would be good affiliate links?

A couple of years back, I used to make about $1000/month from about 150K page views. Nowadays, it is about $400 from 50K pageviews despite better CPC but ad impressions have come down.

Such calculators are worthless. There are tens in not hundreds of factors to determine ad revenue.

Site is http://www.gtricks.com

I no longer have the original domain name, so traffic (and income) have been down since then, but http://user-agent.io earned about $30 a month in AdSense revenue after ~6 years of slow growth.

I'm hoping the "see someone else's UA" feature helps the new site grow a little faster.

http://www.samurai-sudoku.com makes about $500/month on 170k page views/month but it only has one ad block for a better user experience. Also one page view can take hours solving the puzzle.

I like the sodoku designs. What technology do you use for the site?

Thanks. The site runs on plain old javascript.

My trash mobile apps got me a cool $0

Seems pretty plain logic. Yes most of if you use adsense you will be making around 1-2$ per 1000 pageviews if your niche less competition else around 5-10$ per 1000 page views if it has competition and traffic is from tier 1 countries.

on avarage you should be getting 1$/month per unique returning visitor. but you need some volyme so you can sell directly to advertisers or be very lucky that your ad network can match you with buyers. if there are no good matches you'll only make 1 cent or less per user. you need 10k+ monthly users or they will not talk to you. there are other ways to make money though. instead of selling your users you can sell to your users. ask around what they need and want, then sell it to them. you do not have to produce what you are selling yorself.

That sounds astronomically high. There are sites with billions of visitors and they certainly aren't making billions of dollars. Some of the popular news sites would fit that bill and they surely have access to the highest quality and best paying ads.

There are many countermeasures to scraping (some of which I employ)

Google is your friend

Slightly off topic: there's a lot of discussion in this thread about CPM and RPM for different types of content. Does anyone know typical CPM and RPM for adult / NSFW traffic?

Many people have commented that their revenue has dropped due to Ad blockers. Can you suggest any alternate business model for side projects other than ads

Charge money for your product/service/content?

I understand the concern with some ads/ad networks. But advertising can be the best way to provide no-cost content and resources. As this thread shows, ad-blockers, though understandable, cause harm to those providing valuable and genuine content and services.

I pay for many services, but there are also many services I would never pay for, but happily would put up with ads. To me, your suggestion implies that enough people with ad blockers would otherwise pay for all ad-supported services. I doubt that.

Are people willing to pay for quality content?

Whatever you do make sure you can host the ad banners or so yourself. A slow ad-network is killing for your traffic.

Is it possible to have a side income while having a full time Software Engineering job in California?

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