Looking around at the other personal finance blogs, I notice that virtually all of them have some sort of advertising slipped into the page somewhere. Do these people actually earn money just for wiggling their fingers atop a computer keyboard a little bit each day? Even though it’s just a website they created themselves to have some fun writing out their opinions and conversing with other people out in the world? That sounds too good to be true!
So I did a bit of research on the matter. It turns out that earning money for blogging is a very hot, yet very mysterious topic. Some popular writers claim to earn an entire opulent living simply with blog advertising. There is one highly popular blog called Problogger that writes mostly about how to have a highly popular blog. I even read a recent guest-posting on Problogger from a guy who became disabled in a car crash, losing all limb functions, and yet built up an amazingly popular blog of his own, and now earns a great living, including paying for all of his special medical needs and living on the coast of Mexico, doing all of his writing only by speaking into a microphone. Quite entertaining and amazing, all the new things I get to learn as side benefits of becoming Mr. Money Mustache.
But yet there is absolutely no good general information about how much these ads pay on a per-impression or a per-click basis. The few actual people I could find to ask, claim it makes them between fifty cents and five bucks per month. That doesn’t sound very worthwhile. So what is the true answer?
As an old computer engineer, however, I must say I am intrigued by the way the system works. Because the blogger just writes articles and has fun with his readers, and meanwhile Google Adsense reads the content of your site and tries to pick ads that are relevant to them.
Advertisers in turn compete for advertising space on this worldwide pool of hosting websites, bidding up the price of keywords and clicks according to what the market will bear. They only pay for actual results – people who come and visit their website – unlike traditional advertising. Google just sits back and maintains the code that automatically hosts this bidding and content-matching. And they collect massive profits from it. Everyone wins due to yet another advancement in technology.
So, unable to find real knowledge about how well it works, I decided to just try it out down in the bottom corner of Mr. Money Mustache*. I fully expect it to not earn any money, but as a person who claims to watch every dollar bill carefully, I have to at least test it out, don’t I?
I have already learned that it is quite fun from an administrative perspective. I get to log into my AdSense account and check/uncheck the boxes for the advertising categories that are acceptable to me. Payday loans? Money transfers? BZZZZT. Get rich Quick? Sounds amusing, but BZZZZT. Mortgage rates from actual reputable banks? Cloth diapers? I guess those can stay.
Apparently, just having the ad appear pays very little, but if the ads are interesting enough to have people actually Click on them, the payment is much higher. So it’s up to the blogger to filter out annoying or useless results and try to pick categories that people will actually occasionally want to click for their own benefit. For me, I claim to be immune to most online advertising, but I notice as soon as somebody starts talking about Woodworking tools or techniques, I lose my immunity and immediately check out their online store. I’m a sucker for anything in Fine Homebuilding.
One thing I enjoyed during this morning’s testing was the fact that Dave Ramsey ads appear on almost every page that mentions his name. I found it ironic that Dave Ramsey might inadvertently be paying me for making fun of him.
So there you have it – my explanation for the ad box that is down in the corner. I promise to keep you updated on any results, and if it does earn any money, I will spend it solely on helping the Earth.. since it would be inappropriate for a man who rails on his countrymen for destroying the Earth with excessive consumption, to profit from that ranting and turn around and use it to buy more unnecessary manufactured luxury products.
If you see any ads that seem annoying or inappropriate, let me know and I may be able to block further categories. Or just ignore them and read on as you were before.
*Actually, Mrs. Money Mustache gets full credit for figuring it out and setting it up… I just get to type stuff while she practices amazing online wizardry to make the technological side all work perfectly.