It was with just the right amount of fear that I launched the Adsense Ante Up in early December of 2013 (launch post here). Even the earliest readers know we’ve never fully been blog on how to make money blogging, and these series usually run on the blogs of Pat Flynn and Darren Rowse.
What if things totally flopped? It’s Adsense, afterall…
Yet, with your help and clever ideas, my Honest College blog was able to:
♨ Practically double 2-month look-back revenue
♨ Increase clicks by nearly 50%
♨ Do it all with 16% less pageviews
As I said during launch, I’d give you a recap post after one month, and while I know I’m a bit late, I hope the takeaways in this post will show you that the time is now.
How to get involved and set your goal
Before we go into the numbers, I figured I’d drop off some instructions because obviously some of you are arriving now and missed the Ante-Up launch:
It’s simple, to get involved:
- Drop by the launch post and create a goal, any goal you have with Adsense earnings
- Check out the strategies our rather brilliant community has gathered so far
- Add one from your blogging!
- Check out the payout chart I posted to see how often I was earning a Google Adsense paycheck
- Get a coffee or something and come back over here for the updated results
As I said, the idea is to make any goal and see any improvements. So many of us (myself definitely included) have had these ghost-like Adsense ads that just sit there and take up real-estate so we’re trying to change that right here.
Okay, time for the updates!
Adsense earnings before we ante’d up
Let’s look at how my college advice blog was doing before the Ante-Up began. At this point I was earning enough for a Paycheck about once a year, and things were verrrrry slowly improving:
For new readers here, Honest College began on Blogger, moved to WordPress.org, and through my
guidance, luck motivation to try new things and always fall forward, we’ve done alright. Through the journey, I’ve tried a mixed bag of earning options:
- Private advertising – a big time earner
- Adsense earnings of $10 to 20 / month with $20.29 in this particular 2 month window before the Ante-Up
- Affiliate marketing and Amazon associates (less successful; the blog didn’t began with this purpose and as you probably know it’s hard to blend them in midway through)
As my maiden blogging project, it was a smorgasbord of adverts and content styles, much of which worked (and a lot of which didn’t).
This makes the blog a good resource to test blogging ideas and bring them back here for everyone.
Seth Godin recently wrote a piece on how the corporations that help today and think of earning as more or less an afterthought are the ones who enjoy the most success. It makes sense, and while I was tweaking this blog in the early days, eager to make a few bucks, I’m glad it has become much more of a training ground than a short-term fix.
This can be a highly productive route, both personally and financially, for anyone who manages multiple blogs.
Adsense earnings after we ante’d up
Time to check out the earnings in the 53 days following the Ante-Up.
You can check out the date to keep me honest, and while I circled clicks, the other numbers are probably interesting too.
The initial strategy:
- Remove the existing ads from my header, top of post and bottom right footer location
- Place one large advert at the top of posts
- Place another ad mid-post and a third ad below the posts (#3 was all advice you guys left in the comments)
And I’m pretty happy with the way things turned out. Going from 28 clicks to 44 clicks for a 57% increase is awesome.
I don’t monitor this blog a whole lot (remember, training ground) but I did check out the ad content and was pleased Google was pulling in a variety of banners and links to match the topics.
We’re also getting more $3+ days than ever before, which makes the goal many of us set to earn $100/month seem a bit more likely.
Of course, as a blogger I’m also forced to think about optimal routes…just not in the sense of quick fixes, which rarely ever work.
Would earnings increase if I were to place ads on the homepage?
I bet you think this could be more powerful than the edits I’ve already made, and I would think so too if we do it right.
Because the homepage gets the most traffic, right?
Let’s take a look. Heading over to Google Analytics…
Upon checking out my traffic on Site Content / All Pages, I found this:
El wrongo. The homepage is not getting the most traffic.
The homepage actually gets a mere 756 visits while a post I wrote WAY back on the best college GPAs brings in 4439 visits.
So, the question shifts here.
How do we optimize ad placement on this internal post? This post just became more valuable, so what kinds of ads are going to convert the best?
These kind of findings occur on a blog where you basically don’t pay attention to what’s going on. I have to admit, even with the Ante-Up, I’ve been careless.
But that doesn’t mean there’s not still room opportunity 🙂
Take aways after round I
Let’s take a look at what worked in round I, what you can bring back to your blog, and what to expect in round II.
- People do still click ads
A big risk in asking people to get involved in an experiment like this was that our strategies would have no effect. If people simple weren’t clicking much on my blog, in the whole niche or in general, it would have been like redecorating an apartment for sale that was already off the market.
- Ads and images don’t belong next to eachother
I had to replace the images at the top of posts with the larges square ad units. While this was a hit to post design, many of the images were random and ineffective. I quickly realized that this can save you time spent in publishing a post too.
- $100 per month is getting closer
As I pointed out above, the number of days where the blog brought in over $3 from clicks and views is increasing. If we could span a whole month like this, and I’m hoping we will with further improvements in round II, then our goal will be reached.
- Single posts can perform better than the homepage
This one is still more of a theory, and I’ll be toying with it in round II. I do think the post on GPAs mentioned above has the ability to get lots of clicks, if not for the awesome writing then for the post-view count, so we’ll work on that from both a structural and content perspective.
I’m really curious about the sheer fact we’ve improved here, and enough to write a post on it 🙂 Round I was more of a test, where I wanted to gauge interest on your part and performance on mine, so the question begs, what will happen if I do focus a ton of effort on Adsense in round II?
Lorraine introduces our next (simultaneous) series
I’m going to end the Ante-Update here to see if anyone has comments. Thanks again for all your input, and double thanks for those who dropped by this update post. I hope you’ll use these strategies back on your own blog, and use Honest College as a resource. It’s a good example of a blog than jumped from Blogger to WordPress, has both failed and succeeded, and more and more, I keep it live for you and for posts like this.
Now, I’ll turn things over to Lorraine, who’s got a little note for you about coding, which is both useful for placing Adsense ads and going to be a topic at Dear Blogger in the next few months.
Not to mention, also probably her favorite aspect of blogging…
Finally: I hope that’s some good content for you to munch on today and the rest of this week. As Lorraine’s note tells us, we’ll be running a couple series, The Ante-Up AND A Guide to Image HTML Editing + Styling side by side as 2014 unfolds.
It’s going to be super fun, obviously, and we should probably get some donuts to celebrate.
Excited? We are!
Greg and Lorraine