Thursday, July 3, 2014

Something Troubling at Blogger

I am well aware that if you're getting something for free, you're not the consumer, you're the product. Nevertheless, I had figured that Google had found other ways to monetize other people's work.

A digression: Not long after I started this blog, I was a party where I noted that I was blogging. "Oh, I hear you can make money doing that," said this friend of a friend. Maybe it is possible to make money at blogging, but I have come to conclude that it won't be me who's making it.

Google does have a program called AdSense that allows people to put ads on their pages. Every time someone reads your page, you get some tiny fraction of a cent (the term for this is an "impression," and advertisers buy impressions at a certain rate per thousand). If someone actually clicks on an ad, the web site gets a higher payout. It should be noted here that Google prohibits going to your own site and clicking your ads, or telling people, "hey, please click on my ads."

I actually considered signing up for AdSense, but this blog is not eligible. At least not yet. Google makes it quite clear that blogs in some countries (such as China or India) must be at six months old before they are eligible for AdSense. In poking about the Google forums, it seems that this is now true of all blogs, no matter where they are hosted. Either that, or writing about Esperanto has somehow violated the no-adult-content rule.

The other reason why my blog might not be eligible is that I don't get a lot of clicks. I have long, long wait for a thousand page impressions. A few days ago, I wrote about encountering an employee of Murray's Cheese (cheese shop in Greenwich Village) who said that his blog gets a thousand hits a day. Of course, I'm not writing on a sheet of paper and handing it off to people at a high-profile business in Manhattan. Nor, am I writing about a specific topic with real pull like downscale eateries in the New York boroughs (that would be a tough one for me).

I realize that not having a single focus (and a name that reflects that) probably costs my blog traffic. I suppose I could have created a cooking blog. There'd be fewer than a post a week. Or I could have done the history of Esperanto blog, in Esperanto, translating primary source material into Esperanto where necessary. I might even get more hits that way. But neither of those are the blog I want to write, nor would they accomplish what I want to do. End of digression.

While it is unlikely that I am going to monetize this blog, Google seems determined to do so. They won't let me sign up for Ad Sense, but…

A couple days ago, I noticed a new button on the Blogger Dashboard. Unless you're running a blog yourself, you don't get to see this. So, I'll show you a picture:

Along the left, under the "New post" button, are a number of tabs. You're looking at the Overview tab (and my depressing last few days of hits. The new one is fourth from the bottom. It says "Campaigns." And what is a campaign? A "campaign" is when you slide Google money to promote your blog on AdSense. While I am not eligible to apply for AdSense, they're fine with me spending money on it.

The problem with this is that now, the success of my blog is now contrary to Google's best interests. If readers come to my blog (oh, please do), then I am less likely to attempt to promote my blog through AdSense (not that I would actually promote my blog through AdSense, as that would currently be a totally losing proposition). I can cope with a blog that makes no money; I am not in a position where I can afford to lose money on a blog.

As I said, I'd like this blog to become popular, even if I don't get any cash out of it (I feel validated when 100 people read something I wrote, less so for 10). I don't want Google to be in a position where their best interests are met by my shelling out cash in order that anyone read what I've written. That's not the way it's supposed to work. I'm pounding out the words, so I get the love, adulation, and cash (if possible).

A second digression: I've been obsessively promoting these posts on Google+, Facebook (it's all I ever post about anymore), and Twitter. This one gets nothing. Since Google has invited me to test the experiment of what happens if I promote the blog with having ads appear elsewhere, I've decided to test the experiment of who will just stumble on this.

Apart from a few comments on Facebook from friends, I generally get no feedback other than those clicks. And yet, people read my blog from places where I don't know anyone. If you're reading this, please make a comment. Say hi. Challenge my assumptions. Tell me what you like or how you got to this page. End of digression and end of post.

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