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.

matched-content-ad-information

Google AdSense Matched Content Review

It’s still early, but I’ve been checking out my AdSense performance reports for data regarding the new AdSense Matched Content offering that Google is rolling out. Here is my Google Matched Content review, so far.

First off, if you are wondering what Matched Content Ads from AdSense are, you need to read that article first.

Implementing Matched Ads

You put Matched Ads on your website the same way as you put any AdSense ads onto your site. You create an ad on the Google AdSense website, and then you copy the code it gives you and paste it into your webpage code. Unlike other ads, Google sort of tells you where to put your Matched Content ads. They go at the bottom of the page, underneath your content.

Once there, the matched content algorithm kicks in an posts one of those sets of images with links to other content on your website, kind of like the Outbrain advertisements, except all the non-ad links stay on your website.

Check out my WalletHub review.

Google AdSense Matched Content Ad Performance

Of course, what you really want to know is do Matched Content ads make more money, or does Matched Content perform better than regular ads.

That question is a little bit tricky to answer.

First, as Google frequently points out, the point of Matched Content is to “increase user engagement.” They go so far as to include a message at the top your AdSense reports to remind you.

matched-content-ad-information
Check out this cropping! No personal info showing 🙂

In other words, the Matched Content module is working just as well when it keeps people clicking around on your website, as it does when it gets someone to click on an ad. Theoretically, this will increase your overall AdSense performance since more traffic, equals more revenue. After all, if someone stays on your site long enough to click an ad on their fifth page, as opposed to leaving after reading their first page, you win. However, that might lower some of your metrics. In the above example, that user would normally register as one impression, no clicks. But, with the Matched Content, they would register as five impressions, one click.

To get a black and white answer about whether Matched Content is better, you would like to see more impressions and more page views, as well as higher overall earnings, even if you see lower click through rates, and lower RPM.

I’ve only been using Matched Content ad units for seven days, so of course, the data isn’t really that good yet. However, it does look like I have a bit higher impressions, and a bit higher earnings. Yea!

Of course, that could be based on a lot of other factors, as well. What I can say for sure is that it hasn’t hurt my earnings, so I won’t be pulling the plug on Matched Content just yet.

Matched Content Ad Units Performance

Considering the Matched Content ad units go at the bottom of your page, they are replacing the ad unit that offers the lowest performance on most websites. If you were running an A/B test, you would do it against whatever ad you have at the bottom now. (If you have no bottom ad now, then adding Matched Content certainly won’t hurt assuming you haven’t already used your max ads per page.)

So, how does the money making potential stack up?

Wondering about the Digit app? Here are Digit reviews.

As always, my best performing ad is the one at the top. That is true across the board: total earnings, click thru rate, impressions, and RPM.

My second best performing ad is a responsive ad unit that I sometimes (but not always) put in the middle of certain content. Because I have the Managed Content unit set up on more pages, it has more impressions, but, the Managed Content at the bottom and the Responsive ad in the middle, have similar click-thru rates. The cost-per-click, or CPC, is higher on the middle-place responsive ad, but with just 7 days worth of data, that may be more of just how the week went, than an actual look at performance.

The ad that was previously in the place where the Matched Content is now, was a 300×250 size at the bottom of the content. For the week before I implemented Matched Content it has a lower CTR, but higher CPC. Again, this isn’t really enough data to draw a useful conclusion.

Matched Content Ad Recommendation

At this point, I think that the Matched Content units are performing well enough to keep them in place. There is no obvious increase in earnings, or clicks out of line from the typical variation I see from week to week. However, I do like the way the numbers look and hope that they continue to improve.

That being said, if you aren’t using Matched Content, I certainly wouldn’t push you to do otherwise. For now, most things seem close enough. I’ll keep following the data though, and keep updating here.

New AdSense Matched Content Ads

I started getting emails from Google saying that my sites are eligible for “Matched content.”

According to Google, Matched content is “a free recommendation tool offering you a simple way to promote your content to your site visitors.”

Okaaaaayyy….

By switching on the “Monetize with ads” feature you can also display targeted native-style ads.

Ah ha! Now, I understand what is going on.

New AdSense Ads Mimics Outbrain and Others

You have probably noticed at the bottom of many websites you visit there are some ads that are different than the others. Instead of advertising products, these ads suggest other stories or webpages you can read. Here is an example from the hyper-monetized Denver Post website.

matched content ads google adsense

I don’t know exactly how those ads work, or what kind of revenue they generate, but you can bet that Google, the king of all online advertising sees dollars that are getting away, and they aren’t going to stand for that. This new product offers a similar design and setup, but with a twist to make it more friendly for publishers.

How Google Matched Content Works

Unlike the Outbrain-type ads that send readers away from your page, the Matched content ads are pitched by AdSense as a way to keep readers on your site. The idea is that those “ad” spaces are filled up with links to other webpages on your own site. In fact, Google notes that it will ONLY match the same site, even if you have several websites on the same Google AdSense account.

Now, you can “opt-into” monetizing these matched content ads, in which case Google will replace one or more of your own site’s matches with an ad. The idea is that a particularly well-matched ad would draw more targeted visitors (Good for Google and advertisers), while a less well-matched ad would be ignored in favor of your own content (If they stick around maybe they’ll click a different ad later). Whether this is good or bad, depends on how you view your content.

Obviously, AdSense has no interest in people NOT clicking ads, so look for the whole don’t-monetize option to go away in favor of monetized, or nada.

How To Use Matched Content On Your Site

How to setup Matched content on your site is pretty much the same as for any ad. You create a new ad unit. You pick Matched content and then you name the ad and chose your options for how the ad is displayed. Then, you copy and paste the code onto your page where you want it to display.

Google recommends you insert the Matched content ad units directly below your content, or in the sidebar.

The matched content ads DO count as an ad slot toward your ad limit. After I pasted in the code on some pages, the last ad on pages that were at the maximum number of ads already the page went blank.

A Matched content example, or sample Matched content ad looks like this. The two things highlighted in yellow are the ads. The rest are links to my own articles, on that same site.

matched content sample example

How Well Does Matched Content Work?

What you really want to know is can I make more money with Matched content ads?

I don’t know yet, this is the first day I have them set up, but I’ll keep an eye on them and then post back when I have some data.