Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Inside AdSense

Look at those numbers!
You may need a magnifying glass.
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of blogs about blogging, which when described that way seems even more navel gazing than this one. Actually, they’re blog posts on monetizing your blog content, and they probably get more traffic than I do. (I admit it, when I realized that my major themes were going to be constructed languages, gay rights, and cooking, I wasn’t assuming that I’d get massive amounts of traffic.[1]) I have seen my traffic slowly grow over the last six months, although recently it took a big tumble that had me wondering just what was going wrong.

Let me digress for a moment (my blog, I get to, though I’d never know if you skipped to the next paragraph) and discuss the State of the Blog at about six months. This is my 353rd post and this is the 201st day after I started the blog,[2] working out to about one-and-three-quarter posts per day. I have been getting approximately two thousand hits to my blog each month, and as I noted in the previous paragraph, that has been slowly growing.

The sad truth is that Blogger is somewhat indiscriminate in reporting hits to your blog. Search engine indexed you? That’s a hit. You posted a link to your blog on Facebook? That’s a hit.[3] How many of these actually count as someone reading your blog. Well, none of them. And that becomes the sad truth about AdSense. Sure, there may be a lot of traffic to your blog, but the only ones that count for it are the ones that Google is certain have actual, physical eyeballs attached.

When you use AdSense you get a completely different set of stats.[4] Oddly enough, these can’t actually be synced to the Blogger stats. A new “day” on Blogger starts at 0:00 GMT, which currently works out to 4 p.m. If I look at my blog hits for the day at 4:01 p.m., I am assured that I have received few if any hits that day (often it’s plain old zero) and the number that had been there at 3:59 p.m. is now “yesterday.” AdSense works by the local time of my blog, which means that a new day starts at midnight my time. It would be nice if these were actually synchronized, but that’s not going to happen. But in AdSense, I can see how many people actually read my pages, although I can’t actually see who read what.[5]

Here’s the part where I pull back the curtain. In AdSense, advertisers bid for traffic. The lower your traffic, the cheaper bids per 1,000 hits you’ll see, so the fewer hits you have, the less valuable those hits are overall. Get a lot of hits, and you end up getting the pricy ads, and everything will add up. Get few hits, and you might see ads from Google advertising AdSense (which, if I’m not mistaken net the blogger exactly nothing). My current projection is that Google will be cutting me a check sometime in the next three centuries, based on current traffic to my blog, but my projections are somewhat optimistic, and we might instead be talking about two years after the heat death of the universe.

Over the last week, I have had a high of 85 and a low of 7 page views. Those same days (with some shifting) are listed as 135 and 41 page views, which probably indicates as a general rule, I can take my first 50 hits of the day and ignore them. This is the hard truth I need to share with my fellow beginning bloggers: when Blogger tells you that you have 50 hits in a day, no one is actually reading your blog.[6] My 2,000 hits per month quickly crumble into nothing, and instead of that meaning that I’d slowly accumulate a few bucks each month (minimum AdSense payout is $100), it means that my projected earnings are zilch.

What none of the sites I’ve seen have told me is that grim truth that if you want to see any money from blogging, you need thousands of hits per day. Real hits, they kind with human eyeballs attached. More traffic means more profitable ads, means that you zoom to that minimum payout. None of the blog posts I’ve read on monetizing your blog point out just how many hits you need to actually make anything.

Who benefits? Google, of course. They’re fine with my paltry blog hits, since in selling advertising space, an eyeball is an eyeball. Sure, my blog might not amount to much, but it’s clear that as they aggregate a vast number of low-traffic blogs, they’re filling out their customers’ orders of thousands of impressions. A few here, a few there, and before you know it, you’ve served thousands of impressions. Google might even like the low-traffic blogs, since the ad rates are probably based on the idea that Google will be keeping the entire pot (since, as I pointed out, no payout is ever likely for my blog).

Fortunately, while it would be nice to make some money from my blog,[7] I actually started this blog to get me writing on a (preferably) daily basis and putting it out in front of (potential) readers. It always amazes me how, after a day of staring at a page and not being sure what I’m writing,[8] I can turn to my journal and bang out the words so fast its as if I’m transcribing them from somewhere else. On the other hand, I don’t try to be factual or interesting in my journal.[9] As a result, the journal is the easiest thing I write each day, the blog second hardest.

If you’re an aspiring blogger, hoping to monetize your writing with AdSense, I hope I haven’t crushed your spirit. Mine has not been crushed, even though I currently doubt that I’ll ever make a penny on this blog.

Correction: Initially, I projected a payout after two centuries of blogging. I had done the math in my head. My head is trained in English and Medieval Studies. Once I used a calculator, it was clear the number I was looking for was "3." But not all the way to 2314. Not that grim.

Update: I've been struggling with a blogger who scraped some of my posts in July through September (eighteen of the Esperanto posts). I recently found that one of my posts on his blog came up in Google search rankings ahead of my post on my own blog (I had forgotten what post I had written something in, so I did a Google search, knowing that I could then open it in Blogger).

  1. This assumption has been validated. I am aware that I am not writing clickbait, nor do I want to. I could give things clickbait headlines, but it would feel wrong. “This man learned a language in just hours! Click to learn his amazing trick! Language professors hate him!” Any colleagues with whom he had disagreements, presumably.  ↩
  2. Drat. Missed marking two hundred days of blogging, though it hasn’t been completely consecutive.  ↩
  3. Depending on the subject of my post, I will share it on Facebook from two to seven times, the high end being the posts on Esperanto history.  ↩
  4. A much grimmer one.  ↩
  5. I probably need to go to Google Analytics for that one.  ↩
  6. Yeah, I’m bummed out about it too.  ↩
  7. I have absolutely no objection to that.  ↩
  8. In addition to the blog, I’m working on a novel. Of course, I’ve been working on a novel for about the last fifteen years. I’ve abandoned it a few times, usually because I’m unhappy with chapter 1. Now I’m happy with chapters 1 and 2, but unhappy with chapter 3. That’s progress, though I would hope at this point I was unhappy with chapter 25.  ↩
  9. So you can feel relived that I’m not posting my journal to my blog.  ↩

You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...