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Could jgc.org be monetized?
42 points by jgrahamc on Oct 1, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 44 comments
With September over it's time to review my web site stats. Google Analytics tells me that in September I had 137,515 page views and 87,471 unique visitors. That's actually quite a typical month for my site.

I do two things currently to monetize the site (actually just my blog): AdSense and an affiliate link for my book. In September this resulted in:

1. £24.73 ($38.88) in AdSense revenue

2. 724 clicks on the affiliate link resulting in £27.39 ($43.08) in revenue from Amazon.com

So I made a total of £52.13 ($81.96) from my site in September.

Could I do better? If so, how?

The quickest proxy for AdSense earnings is your incoming search traffic for commercial keywords, not your popularity on HN or wherever that sent you most of that. I am fairly confident that you have little. The same is true for me.

My mother always advised I learn to cook, because cooking is a "friendcatcher". Blogging is also a friendcatcher, sometimes even literally for me. It gets you opportunities you would not have if you did not blog. I am here at a SEO-skeptical company getting paid handsomely to make them scads because I blogged.

Friendcatching also works for getting links to new projects, intros to new jobs, etc. Next to these, $200 is penny ante.

You can play with your ad placement, do a bit of A/B testing, maybe even try different ad networks....aand make £70 instead. Is it really worth it?

A personal blog is not to be monetized via ads. Use it as your personal marketing channel and don't dilute its effectiveness with ads.

That sounds about right for AdSense. You make $1/day, regardless of traffic.

Honest! I tried it when my site was getting 1000 visitors per day: $1/day. When I had 4000 visitors per day, $1/day. 10000 visitors/day, $1/day.

Granted, it was the same site, with gaps of about a year in between attempts, so likely what I was actually seeing was the downtrend in people across the entire internet clicking google ads. Back when they were new, you might click them. Now that people have noticed that every single time they clicked a google ad they ended up on a made-for-adsense site with more google ads, they stopped clicking them.

If I were you I wouldn't bother. Sites without ads just look cleaner and more professional. For a dollar a day, it's not worth losing that.

I assume you're being satirical here, maybe mocking 37signals etc but I'll indulge you...

A smalltime website I don't maintain any more, and which is basically dead, makes around $30 a day from adsense.

Don't make the silly mistake of thinking that a website is a website. It drastically matters what your website is.

Also, adsense isn't a magical device to monetize websites, it's a tool which should be used, constantly optimized, A/B tested etc to increase revenue. It takes time and effort and knowledge.

Your stats are very similar to mine. Last month I had 125K visits with 103K uniques and made around 80 bucks as well. I'm curious to see what the HN crowd suggests as options. I'm reaching the point where, since I pay for blog hosting, the blog is actually paying its own rent.

One thing I've done is switch to Amazon affiliate links whenever I mention something. I never use the blog to promote products on purpose, but I do talk about things people might buy from time to time. I figure if I spend a small amount of time telling my impressions of a product, it's reasonable that I get a small cut if a sale develops as a result of my post.

I think the danger with monetizing is the same danger as writing for an audience instead of yourself -- you can quickly lose focus on what the point is.

Hmm .. not an expert, but I do manage one website that's got a little more twice your number of page views but brings in vastly more money.

First thoughts: Your ad placement is bad. Ditto on the colors. (I had to actually look for the things in order to spot them.)

You want the big 728x90 leaderboards at the top or the big square rectangles (300x250 minimum) in the sidebars or in the page content.

You also want to choose colors that pop off the rest of the page (black on gray is practically invisible).

Consider mixing up flash/image/video ads along with text ads.

Place them so they're highly visible but not obnoxious. Look to the bigger publishers (like Gawker, Wired, or Vanity Fair) to see where they place ads. You'll notice almost all of them place ads in a similar. There's a reason for that.

Start checking out sites like http://www.problogger.net/. You may not want to be that gung ho about monetizing a personal site, but it'll give you a lot of ideas to play off of.

Other posters here have the right idea too: It's not so much about AdSense or Amazon (at least not at first), but attention economy. If you can manage to become viewed as a content-area expert, you'll get more book deals and people will start hiring you for speaking gigs at conferences and tradeshows.

Good luck!

For adsense, that's a CPM of $.28. I'm guessing your audience is pretty valuable and someone would be willing to pay 10-30x that for advertising, but you'd probably have to sell it direct. I'm not sure if you get enough traffic for that to work, though...maybe someone else here can elaborate.

The first thing to do is to divide your revenue numbers against your page views: you get an eCPM of 22 cents per 1000 page views from adsense and 24 cents from amazon, for a total of 46 cents.

That's pretty good for a programming blog, in fact, the best I've seen. Programming blogs don't monetize well, for quite a few reasons:

* Many programmers refuse to buy software and other programming tools * Outside of a few special enclaves, programming is a relatively low status and low paid occupation. (Yes, you'll find people in the valley who get paid $120k a year, but every one-horse town has a job shop that wishes it could pay programmers $30k a year and may or may not offer health insurance... Sure they get turnover, but they think they'll make it up in volumes) * Programming blogs attract a lot of people from India and other developing countries who are very poorly paid, cheap and don't have credit cards anyway * There's just too many programming blogs... The cost ofadvertising is set by supply and demand if there's a lot of inventory and not enough advertising, the price is going to be low

What to do? You may (or may not) be able to double your revenue by making your ads more intrusive; if you make your blog look like hell, you'll lose the social traffic, however.

The best things to do are:

* Not blog. Permanent content that attracts search traffic pays better than blogs that are driven by social traffic. Blogs aren't all bad, because (1) you write a lot of content and (2) the social traffic results in a lot of links which helps you in search, but a search-first strategy is better still. * Pick another topic. One reason so many people make so little money on ads is that 80% of content creators create content about 20% of the topics. If you put on a blindfold and threw darts at a thesaurus, you'd find something that monetizes better than the average fool who "follows his passion"

Oh yeah, if you need to "make money fast" don't forget the value of your domain name. You could get $5000-$15000 in one lump sum for a three-letter name. That's 8 years to two decades worth of your ad revenue...

>programming is a relatively low status and low paid occupation

Median comp-sci undergrad salary is like second or third from the highest out of all majors. Non-degreed programmers likewise do better than just about any other non-degreed professionals.

Sure, computer science students get paid a lot, relatively, when they get out of college.

The trouble is that, unlike white collar professions, pay for programmers doesn't go up as they mature -- instead, it goes sideways or down.

From what little I've read about making money from Adsense, the single thing that stands out is that you have to put big square image ads in the right column. Only text links are not going to make you money, especially considering a lot of your readers (programmers presumably) are already averse to clicking on ads.

If you do want to put up ads, good sponsors might be the way forward. Flowingdata is a good example which puts up high quality relevant ads for its audience and is making a few thousand dollars a month. See http://flowingdata.com/advertise/ for details.

Aren't you making money off the royalties for your book, too? Hopefully your publisher pays a bit better than Amazon.

Also, having your name out there in people's minds is worth some amount of money.

Just so you know, your HN comment history meant my boss said we could not buy your Catalyst book. I, personally, think your comments are nearly always valuable, but I could not sell it.

I wonder if he'll consider my comment history to be a "buy" or "don't buy" for the apress book then ...

This is a very cryptic comment. Could you please clarify?

It's not so cryptic. We were implementing an API based on using Catalyst. My boss asked if there were Catalyst books I could recommend. I recommened jrockway's. After a review of his HN comments, my boss decided to depend on Internet resources.

It's not complicated. Mixing up your profit-making identity with your being-real identity does not always translate to increased profits.

Wait, to evaluate a 40$ book purchase, your boss tracked down the author's HN account and "reviewed" his comments? Where do you work, some secret service that's afraid of saboteurs masquerading as Perl hackers?

This is exactly why I'm confused. It doesn't seem to make any sense. What exactly has jrockway said that means you can't buy his book about a web framework?

I don't pretend to know his motivations.

My boss has a sense of technical competemce which I do not care to review because he pays me 2.5 boatloads of money. He doesn't want to buy the book? Could not possibly care less. Somebody else might.

Is this the sort of thing that you should say in a forum that you've already admitted your boss reads and makes purchasing decisions based on?

Sure. I'm not trying to sell him any books.

Nor am I. So why are we even having this conversation?

Also, calling my book "profit making" is ... misleading. I wrote it because the community needed a book and I wanted to write it. 3 years of revenue on the book equals about two weeks of my regular job.

Any future books I write will be for the same reason -- because I feel like people will benefit from reading it. You don't write a tech book to get rich.

Fair enough. I'm not pretending to have any great insights here. In fact, it turns out I misread your initial comment, which led to this over-blown thread.

Well, that's 0.03c USD he'll never see.

Unlike others in this thread, did not pretend he would give a crap about 8 books.

Hilarious. This sort of story is worth significantly more to me than the $3 I get per book.

You should buy mst and kd's book, it's much more up to date: http://apress.com/book/view/1430223650


Who's your publisher? Perl web frameworks are that popular?!

Apparently the $2 that normally goes to typesetting the book in something other than MS Word, and the $1 that pays the editor to not edit my correct grammar into incorrect grammar went directly to me.

What an odd thing to say, particularly in a public forum - jrockway's profile lists an email address; wouldn't direct contact make more sense for this sort of thing?

Not when we're discussing royalties based on public personae.

jrockway and I have no personal relationship. I don't feel any need to create one, certainly not based on not buying his book. I'm just guessing he has more interesting emails from Nigerians with inheritances.

"Monetizing" a personal web site means getting job offers/more salary/consulting opportunities. You are never going to make a significant amount of money with ads, so optimize for what can benefit you (at some point in the future) and consider removing them completely.

I mostly wanted to say I've enjoyed your blog in recent weeks, but only through your HN submissions (I'm not one to "follow" a blog).

I know very little about monetizing web sites, so even I would not follow my own advice without having someone smarter than me look it over.

Google AdSense is easily defeated/filtered, and technical users tend to be more inclined to use filtering. Similarly, users who do not employ technical means of filtering have generally adopted "mental filtering" of AdSense. In short, they ignore it since it is often misleading.

Pushing your own book on Amazon doesn't hurt, but I sincerely doubt it will help very much.

A working solution is potentially more work. You could use amazon affiliate links to * RELEVANT * books/products mentioned in your posts. For example, the following blog post mentions IDL:


It took a simple google search to find out there is a book on the topic sold through amazon.


When your advertising is essentially part of your content, as well as complimentary to your content, it should be more effective (in theory). You are the one who knows your content best, so allowing others to decide what to advertise on your site is a dubious proposition. Unless advertising is effective in its goal of making money for you, then there's no point in having it on your site. If you have to do more work to make it effective, so be it. --That's why it's called "work" ;)

As for why "IDL" (Interactive Data Language) jumped out at me as a great example is because I had a "WTF?" moment caused by only knowing the other "IDL" (Interface Description Language).

Your link to the correct wikipedia IDL page was helpful, but there was no reason why you could not also include affiliate links to relevant books/products.

Since I'm admittedly ignorant to monetizing websites, hopefully some of the pros around here will have better ideas and show me why I'm wrong.

My site (a yelp-like site for another country) has about the same amount of traffic as you do, and I make around US$800 per month just with adsense. Adsense works best when people are looking for something valuable, which is not your case.

Your website is your commercial for your book and your career. If you have a job, the best way to monetize your site is to ask for a raise because you're now influential in the community. If not, be happy a lot of people are looking for your books; maybe its time to write more?

I don't know much about AdSense, using it only on one site, but I think I have about 500 uniques/day (15000/month) and it amounts to ~70€/month at the moment.

So it seems to me you should be able to earn more.

The sources might make a difference, though - my visitors seem to come straight from Google (in fact 500 might be uniques from Google, not total uniques, it's the only number I looked at lately).

I'm willing to buy text ads on sites for my store in the range of $10-$100+/month depending on traffic/pagerank/quality/reputation for your site. Anyone reading this should email me if you are interested. :)

Possibly you might do better with job adverts (I presume your audience is tech-heavy). I usually won't click on adsense ads, although if I saw a book on amazon I'd probably buy via a click thru.

Last month I got $310 (text-link-ads) + £50 (adsense) from a site with (almost) no content, just a high pagerank and a well-known url.

The world is bonkers.

Do you have any released commercial products which can be of interest to your audience?

So place your products ads on the site.

You could try a specialist ad network like Federated Media

We are about to launch a startup that aims to bring behavioral targeting to Amazon Affiliates links. Your sales will increase drastically and you will still be paid by Amazon. We do not interfere with the process, all we do is matching your affiliates links to your visitor real-life interests. We will charge a subscription fee. If you want to stay tuned follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/albertoarmandi .

Interesting, we are working on a similar product. What kind of behavioral data are you using to match interests of users with available products on Amazon? On a side note: will the subscription fee you charge be revshare based or a fixed fee per month? Why did you choose not to use your own Amazon affiliate id and thus get to a higher referral rate tier (volume advantage)? We're planning on using the increase in referral rate as a way to monetize the product.

Cool.I won't reveal implementation details here but i can tell you we will look at real-life users interests.The sub-fee will not be tied to your revs. Concisely, we chose not to use our own referral code because of the nature of the product itself, and the fact we do not think this would be transparent to Amazon. Fearing of being ceased&desisted

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