Earn Money Writing Online with Ads

It takes more than just fancy flying.

Read to earn money by writing online? Selling advertising to monetize your published content online is one of many ways to make money by writing online. It is also one of the most popular thanks to being able to generate passive income for a long time without the need to do any additional work. That is the theory, anyway.

The catch to making money with Google AdSense once you have been approved or another advertising network is that people have to click on the ads you display.

Technically, that is not true since there are advertising programs that will pay you based on how many times an ad is shown, something known as cost per impression, or CPM (cost per thousand impressions). Unfortunately, the pay rates for CPM or impression-based ads are typically very low. Without tens of thousands of pageviews these ads won’t generate enough money to cover your morning cup of coffee.

When it comes to CPC or cost per click, advertising, the need for high amounts of traffic is much lower. One can actually make very good money on just a few thousand visitors per month provided you generate the right kind of content, that content ranks highly, and most important of all, that content leads people to click on the advertisements displayed.

It is that last piece that trips up most people. Just because something is popular, just because you rank #1 in Google for that keyword, and just because you get a million hits per day, doesn’t necessarily mean that anyone is clicking on the advertisements displayed on your website. The fact is that certain types of people click on ads and certain types of people do not. One area that trips up a lot of new writers looking to build an online money making business writing, is that the more technilogically savvy a user group is, the less likely they are to EVER click on an ad.

Think it through.

A techie user most likely abandoned Internet Explorer for a better browser years ago. That same user almost certainly has taken advantage of the more powerful browser’s ability to use extensions by installing those that make surfing the Internet faster and easier. The first plug-in on that list is an ad blocking plugin, which means that not only are technically savvy readers not clicking on Google ads, they are never even seeing them in the first place.  This is not good news for those of us who are professional technical freelance writers.

In other words, if you want to make money writing with Google AdSense or any other advertising program, you will also need to write about non-technical topics.

Writing Calendars and When To Ignore Them

As a professional writer, one of the things that always strikes me as odd is when new, or aspiring, writers ask me, how to come up with things to write about. I have notebooks full of more article ideas that I’ll ever be able to write in one lifetime. However, I understand how it can be difficult to just sit down at 8:00 a.m. and start typing.

There reality is that most writers actually have lots of things to write about. They either just can’t force those ideas into their brain at will. And, when they do come up with great ideas to write about their topic, they dismiss them as not worthy, too complicated, or something like that.

A Blogging Calendar or Writing Calendar

This is where a blogging calendar, or writing calendar comes in handy. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. I use one of those desktop blotter calendars you can get for less than $10 at any office supply store, or from Amazon. Fill in a topic on each day for each blog, or website, that you generate content for. Soon, you too will have a tons of topics. As an added bonus, you can start to see trends and upcoming events that you might want to capitalize on.

writing muse hideout

For example, if you are filling in your April writing calendar, you might want to consider topics on Spring, or on filing your taxes, or planning for a big Mother’s Day weekend. You may also happen to notice that you are writing a lot about a specific topic. You can either take the opportunity to spread those topics out, or conversely perhaps market the upcoming list of topics as a way to get detailed information for your readers.

The trick to effectively using a writing calendar is to be willing to move articles around. If you need to publish something else on the 23rd, then just cross out the original article and write it down on a new date.

Most importantly, you need to know when to ignore your writing calendar.

Sometimes, you’ll get the writing fever, where you muse wakes up, jumps on your back and whips you forward. As an experienced writer, you know that these days and times come with far too many less motivated days in between. When you want to write: write. And when you want to write about certain topics, then do that. Your publishing calendar will be there later when your muse hops off and goes to lie down in the warm fields of grass for a long rest.

Passive Income Online Myth

Passive income is the Holy Grail of the lazy. The idea is certainly tantalizing. Earn money, without doing anything. However, passive income is pretty rare, and usually the result of circumstance.

Passive Income vs Residual Income

passive income graphicOne of the problems with the idea of passive income is that it is misunderstood. Passive income is income that you receive without doing anything for it. Residual income is income you receive for having done work earlier. This may sound like semantics, but the difference hides how much work goes into building an online income.

Truly passive income often comes in the form of royalties. For example, your great-great grandpa bought (or homesteaded) some land in the middle of nowhere and it has stayed in the family because it was never worth selling. Then, one day, an oil company shows up and starts pumping out oil. You get a check every quarter. That is passive income.

Notice that in this scenario, you did absolutely nothing. The oil company did the exploration, they did the digging, they pump out the oil. You do nothing. One might argue that you did something by owning the land, but that only works if you bought the land for the purpose of collecting the royalties. Otherwise, the money is a byproduct of another decision and, therefore, truly passive.

Contrast the situation above with one where you buy a domain, build a website, write lots of quality content, and then start earning a few thousand dollars every month from Google ads. This is NOT passive income. You made the investment, you did the work to build up the online property, and now you earn money off of that effort. This is residual income, you are continuing to be paid for something you did work for.

Theoretically, if you never work on the website again, and it continues to earn money forever, you might be able to make the argument someday that the income is now passive. You heirs certainly can make that argument, when and if your website ever passes on to them. However, therein lies the rub, as they say.

It is highly unlikely that your hard work will end up developing a web property that is so amazing, so well linked, so well ranked, and so well optimized that it will continue to earn money forever with no further effort from you. In reality, any site that you build that has continued success does so because you make continued effort.

Ongoing Work vs Passive Income

Just because no one is paying you an hourly wage for your work does not make your income passive. That, actually, just makes you a business owner. Businesses of all kinds make investments in labor, materials and money that does not pay off immediately. Microsoft spends years developing a new operating system (like Windows 2012 Server) or a new version of Microsoft Office. When they start selling the product, that is when they get paid, but each copy of Office sold is not residual income.

And, just like Microsoft, you can’t just put your product out there and then disappear. In Microsoft’s case, there are patches to be written, technical support, and various licensing activities, and so on. In the case of making money online by writing, or building websites, there is writing new content, updating old content, answering comments, building links, and so on. Every hour of effort is work. Work that you will be paid for later, but work nonetheless.

The key is to understand that if you want to make money writing online or via any other internet pursuit, don’t search fruitlessly for the path to passive income. Rather, find something you like, or are good at, and start building. Don’t make extra work, and never skip over a time saving idea, but don’t assume the money will just start coming in. The oil companies never show up and start pumping out from under your online websites.

Death of the 300 Word Post

One of the dumbest things the SEO world ever spawned was the 300 word blog post or the 300 word article.

Way back in the day, there was a sort of consensus among search engine researchers that followed Google and used their knowledge to instruct website owners in the practice of search engine optimization that Google only indexed the first 300 words on a webpage. More to the point, it was said that only the first 300 words were used by Google to determine a webpage ranking in its search results. Thus, anything you wrote after 300 words was "wasted."

death-300-wordsThat may have been true at one time, but it has long since ceased to be the case with Google’s determination to index more of the web. Still, this time honored SEO advice was repeated constantly over the years.

Worse, a 300 word post is seldom sufficient for covering almost any topic in enough depth to make it valuable to a reader. Most web publishers were well aware of this, but they chose optimizing for search engines over writing for their readers.

Google’s recent search ranking updates have slaughtered those who were slaves to the 300 word article rule.

Google Website Rankings Update

As more information about Google’s new search rankings algorithm has emerged, the consensus now is that a plethora of 300-word posts will actually hurt your website rather than improve your search rankings.

Google has stated that it has improved its search rankings by downgrading websites with thin or limited content. In fact, even the good webpages of a website can be penalized if they are on a domain with too much junk content. Those highly ranked, well-written articles are now dragged down by all of those keyword stuffed 300 word posts used before to prop them up.

This is all good news for writers making money online by writing. No longer is it advantageous to pay $1 for fifty 300 word articles from the cheapest freelancer you can find on elance.com. Such thin content actually hurts your website and makes your webpages rank worse. Websites looking to improve their traffic and even those looking to recover from a Panda hit that they took will be better off actually generating or commissioning worthwhile, informative, and yes, longer articles.

This website was started with the writer in mind. Instead of advice of how to make money with websites using tricks and techniques that gamed Google’s search engines, the idea is to show someone who can (and does) write well and publishes useful content how to turn that content into a way to make money writing online.

Make no mistake. The content mills and affiliate marketing scammers are hard at work on finding the next bare-minimum they can get away with.

Don’t fall into that trap. Keep writing the good stuff. Keep using the techniques to link it, index it, build it and monetize it, but keep making it good.

Google is said to be updating the Panda algorithm on a monthly basis now. Whatever garbage method the junk publishers come up with next might work for a month or two, but as soon as it becomes known, Google will be looking for a way to knock it down.

Content to Advertising Ratio

One recent metric to emerge from the AdWords / AdSense world is that of ads to content. It seems that in some cases, Google measures how much content there is relative to how much advertising there is.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that longer articles will fair better in this ratio. A 300 word article, for example, is 10 percent ads with just 30 words of advertising, versus a 1,000 word article offering up to 100 words of advertising for the same ad ratio.

In other words, if your blog is monetized with Google AdSense, those longer articles you have been writing are paying off for you right now.