Friday, May 11, 2007

AdSense Success Story - From $10/Week to $800/Week

Here is a post by DigitalPoint Forum's Member "Burta". He inspired me much and I just wanted to share it on my blog.

Original Post is here:

Well it would appear that another year has quickly come and gone, but it has been a very eventful year for me in terms of my AdSense experience so I thought I’d share my experience over the last 12 months, and maybe throw in a few hints and tips that I have learnt in that time.

OK will start off with who I am and how long I have been doing this for? My name is Chris and I’m a 21 year old university student from Brisbane, Australia. I started my sites back in the middle of 2004 for a bit of fun and to apply some of the new skills that I had just learnt in one of the subjects I had just studied at uni. That said I did have a bit of website and SEO experience from a few hobby sites that I created back in 1999 – 2001 when I made a couple of sites while I was in high school, again just as a hobby about topics I liked. As you can see I have been a member here at DP since October 2005 so I have been here for over a year now and I have learnt SO much, and I guess this thread is my little way of summarizing a lot of what I have learnt and giving back.

So I guess what you all really want to know is just how much am I making from AdSense on my sites. Well as it stands I’m making around $120/day lately.

As you can see when I first joined DP I was earning a very measly $10/week from AdSense with my sites that were at this point about 15 months old. Once I joined DP I obviously had my eyes opened to the true potential of my sites, not just in terms of AdSense but also in terms of SEO and the importance of building a good quality site. With this, I quickly saw improvements in my AdSense earnings and my traffic to my sites by applying that simple advice that is scattered all over these forums, and within a few short weeks I was earning a very solid $100-$200/week which I was quite happy with.

From October 2005 through to May 2006 I saw fairly gradually, but small growth of my sites with the exception of two weeks in February where my sites were down for a few days and constantly crashing until I upgraded my hosting, which had become overburdened due the progress I had made. Then in May I got caught up with my university commitments and then I went on a couple of brief holidays which saw my sites’ growth stagnate until around August at which point I had a terrible drop in revenues as a result of Google supplementally indexing my sites and placing many of my pages into supplemental results, a problem which I would solve a couple of months later.

Then came September! As you can see on the graph I made significant progress in September. What did I do that made such amazing returns in such a short period of time? Simple – I got serious and started working hard and applying what I had learnt over the past two years.

How did I get serious? I took a bit of a risk, bought a few books about AdSense, SEO and general website development and dropped down to part time uni and started dedicating more time to my websites. I started writing articles that were on topics that people wanted to know about and topics that people were searching for, and I placed these articles into a highly optimized template that was just designed for these articles, then I went about building a few backlinks for these articles to help with the SEO. I’d have periods of maybe a week where everyday I would sit down and write an article two, often three or four, and I’d just keep writing, sharing my knowledge, sharing my expertise.

Why were articles successful? These articles each focused on an individual search term or topic within my industry. The articles were informative and useful. They were 100% original and completely unique in the industry. They were my thoughts, opinions and beliefs on topics that I was very knowledgeable on. They were detailed and lengthy. And the search engines loved them.

Why did the search engines love them? Because they were original and unique, and because they were getting backlinks and they were on my established sites which I believe have a fair amount of “TrustRank” because at this point my sites were well over 2 years old and had thousands of backlinks, because I had slowly but surely developed them over the previous two years. Plus the articles were all on niche topics that there wasn’t that much competition for, and I had employed very basic, but very solid SEO techniques. Things like:

- Giving each article an individual highly relevant page title.
- Using meta descriptions and keywords, but not abusing them.
- Using H1 and H2 tags.
- Using good keyword density and specific phrase targeting.
- Using good quality, unique, original and focused content.
- Building some well anchored backlinks.
- With a good navigational system between articles.
- Using an aged domain with good TrustRank.

These techniques are nothing special, and are the basics of SEO and when they are applied to individual articles and based around a well optimized AdSense template is the formula for high earnings and success with AdSense.

So what sort of template am I using? It is again nothing special. It basically is a simple article page that was 780px wide, with an AdSense links unit at the top, then a 100px high header image, then a left hand navigation bar. Then a large rectangle unit above the article, then the article itself with a H1 title, with H2 sub titles, where required, followed by another large rectangle unit after the article which was along side a list of similar articles, then a footer. Far from a revolutionary template design. I have attached the hand drawn version I gave to my designer so you can see how simple the design was.

Ok so that is the basics of how I went from less than $10/day in August 2006 to $100/day in October 2005, but before I wrap up this “little” post I thought I’d also share a few bits of wisdom that I have picked up along this 15 month learning curve here at DP.

Firstly so many people out there are preaching you need to diversifying and make MORE sites if you want to make more money with AdSense, and often in this suggestion is the timeless of debate of which is the best way to make money with AdSense, with sheer quantity of sites or a few quality sites? Personally I’m a quality sort of person who believes that that with every page and site I’m creating and building an asset that will not just be of value now, but well into the future. I’m not working on a snatch and grab model of trying to create one spam site a day everyday for a month to hopefully earning $1 from each site so that by the end of the month I can be earning $30/day. Why don’t I work like this – because in life making money generally comes down to one thing – providing value, and sites like that are soon weeded out by refined search engine algorithms.

Whether you are a CEO of a large company or a factory worker working on assembly line you are being paid for the value you provide. When it comes to websites you also need to be providing value to your visitors for them to continue to use your service, and by providing value you will gain them as a loyal reader, and as a reader you can advertise to them. The more people and the more value you provide the more you will make. It’s a simple equation really. Now search engines are constantly working towards weeding out the “poor value” sites that are often referred to SPAM and whilst there may be loopholes at the moment with every passing year the search engines become savvier and are refining their search algorithms.

So for me providing value is normally about providing good quality content. So I make sure that when I’m creating sites these days I’m adding something to the site that makes it worthwhile for someone to visit and if possible try to make it so valuable to them that they are actually inspired to come back again and again. These sorts of sites are then normally looked upon favorably by search engines as they receive natural link development from all the fans of the site. This is a model of site development that doesn’t just work presently, but is a model that I’m confident that will work well into the future of this rapidly changing environment.

Another issue that is often brought up is the issue of creating lots of sites for high paying niches. Personally I have never wasted my time with such things because I’m focused on providing good quality expert content and if I’m going to do this I need to make sure that I’m knowledgeable in the niche that I’m creating the site on, and unfortunately for me I’m just not that knowledgeable on mesothelioma, cancer, debt consolidation or lawyers, nor do I have any passion towards developing my knowledge on such niches so creating a site for such things would just be a waste of my time and any visitor’s time that came by my site, because the information on it would be next to useless.

What is a much smarter idea, that I believe I got from one of Shoemoney’s posts was that you should establish a good quality site in an industry that you are familiar with and knowledgeable of then when you have built the site to close to its potential and you are looking to make a new site to diversify, you should look to make a site that is still in a similar industry but has only a degree or two of separation from your original site. So say you had a site about Sports Cars, instead of trying to start a site about Music or something else that is completely unrelated to your established site, you might try making a site about Car Sound Systems, or Luxury Cars, or something that is still related to cars. This way you can build the new site somewhat off the back of the already established Sports Cars site. Plus you already have a great deal of knowledge about the related industry plus it is easier to stay motivated if you make sites about topics related to your passions, and even if you don’t have expert knowledge to start off with, you will pick things up quickly when you have loads of related knowledge from your other expertise. This is so much easier than trying to develop a new site from scratch and is a very effective way of developing a successful network of sites that feed off each other.

In this game of making money online you really should be always experimenting and trialling new things, but you should also be looking to apply methods that you know work. Building on what you have with more of what has worked in the past and consolidating your position.

You also need to make sure that you are working hard and keeping yourself motivated. The online world can be extremely competitive and you need to make sure that you are doing your best to stay ahead of the pack. You should be reading diversely on a range of topics, AdSense and other earning methods, SEO, online marketing, website design and development. Reading diversely doesn’t mean just reading forums, I also highly recommend buying ebooks, books taking classes to extend your learning beyond that of JUST DP – there is a whole world of thinking out there and often I think that so many people are just reading DP thinking that it is a one stop shop for everything.

The reality is DP doesn’t have it all and a $20 book from Amazon on AdSense or SEO could make you thousands of dollars. Let’s face it, if you aren’t willing to part with $20 at bare minimum to extend your expertise, chances are you aren’t going to be the next person here making $XX,XXX/month from anything online. That said there are definitely exceptions to that but it's extremely rare. Plus you can certainly fast track your development and earnings if you are willing to shell out a few dollars to increase your knowledge, or get a good quality design made, or some special feature for your site. Plus if you have invested money into your projects chances are you will be a lot more committed to gaining a return from them which will only further contribute to your development.

The reality is there are millions of people online that are willing to put their time into making money online, but only a very small proportion of those are willing to put there time AND money into giving themselves the edge, and the reality is that for every person that had tried to make a few bucks online and succeeded there have been about another 99 that tried and made nothing. So give yourself the edge, and take the risk of losing a what is literally a couple of dollars – I can almost guarantee you it will be the best risk you have ever taken.

I mentioned above, it is important you stay motivated, and one of the best ways I know of staying motivated is setting challenging goals and targets that are very detailed and measurable. That includes, short, medium and long term goals, and often making them public like here on DP is a great way of making yourself accountable to them. I personally think that you should have your goals written down somewhere along with an action plan at least and renewed them at least once a month. There have been many goal setting threads started up here at DP before in the past, many of which I have tried to stay actively involved with in the past, and I have always found them be wonderful references for both your progress and to help with keeping to a target.