I was reading a post on Digitalpoint forums where someone who was trying to make money online with AdSense as they had lost their job!

There’s loads of ways to make money online, personally I wouldn’t start with the Google AdSense program if I didn’t have a source of income already (AKA a paid job).

Making money with AdSense is not a make money fast option unless you already own a popular website with no advertising. With websites it’s NOT a case of make it and they will come, takes a lot of time and effort to generate a lot of traffic to a website, sometimes years.

Make Money with AdSense

I’ve been doing what this person is trying to do for years (make money online) and I have Google banned sites making more money than what he reported: $2 a day from AdSense which you can’t live on in most countries (maybe in India and similar growing economies?).

Some of my Google banned sites have made more AdSense revenue than the person relying on AdSense as an income reported because they have a LOT of pages: they are Google penalized (not really banned as they are still indexed in Google) because the content is thin affiliate content and Google hates thin affiliate sites (meaning you use the affiliates content with nothing unique), Google will spider/index them but send very little SEO traffic to them.


I’ve also had websites with quite a lot of unique content that are under a year old and they don’t make a dollar a day from AdSense, not had the time to build links so the off site SEO element to Google ranking is missing.

The unique content tends to do well long term though, so anyone with a reasonable sized site with unique content should hold in there, as long as you work on the backlinks over time and don’t do anything stupid your site will gain traffic long term.

With websites and AdSense it’s not a case of you’ll be making a enough money to live off overnight, at least not from organic search engine traffic (there are other ways to generate traffic faster than Google).

How to Make Money with Affiliate Marketing

It’s difficult to make a living from AdSense/affiliate type money, I own ~130 domains many built to make money from AdSense and I could barely live on what I make from AdSense alone, looks like I’m making over $50 a day this month (far from my best month).

When you consider that’s from 130 domains it’s not a lot of money, admittedly some don’t have AdSense on them, others are SEO test sites and are Google banned/penalized, others I’ve not developed so it’s not 130 actively developed sites, a handful make most of the AdSense revenue: actually in the process of consolidating several sites into one site (this one) as it’s easier to SEO one site than dozens.

Even with a lot of organic search engine traffic making money from AdSense and affiliate sales is not as lucrative as selling your own products/services.

I’ve sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Amazon products, but for every $100 I made Amazon I only made around $6!

I only made around $35,000 from selling over $400,000 worth of Amazon products!!!

Amazon Affiliate Earnings

Interestingly I tended to make a similar amount from AdSense as well (would put AdSense on the Amazon affiliate stores) so I was making around 10-12% of the products value sold.

If I wanted to earn a living from selling Amazon products I’d have to sell over 1/2 million dollars worth every year! Until Google began penalizing thin affiliates I would have been able to get to that amount of sales, (quite easily actually) but now I can barely make $100 a quarter from Amazon!

I’m not saying you can’t make enough money from affiliate/AdSense type income to live comfortably, but it’s not easy any more.

Make Money with Free Google Traffic

It wasn’t easy to get to tens of thousands of free search engine visitors my network receives (used to get up to 50K due to thin affiliate content in 2005-2006) and I have excellent SEO skills, OK PHP skills, very good HTML/CSS skills, OK design skills, OK writing ability, excellent people skills: I get on with clients/customers: they are always right…

I took several year off doing any serious online site building other than my SEO business, my AdSense income halved, took months to build it back up. Actually because of my health problems I’ve probably only worked half the time I could over the past decade!

Anyway, if you work it out $50 from AdSense a day from tens of thousands of visitors isn’t a lot per visitor!

Admittedly some of my traffic is rubbish for making money (classic literature for example, about 8,000 visitors a day) since my first websites was built not for making money from them directly.

If you planned your sites content better you could make the same revenue as I make on far less traffic, still even if you can double my money made per visitor your going to need to pull in 10K visitors a day to make $100 a day from AdSense and that’s not easy!

Google SEO Rankings

For example the niche this site is in is not an easy niche to generate high traffic to, I’m pulling all my SEO and make money articles from other sites to here so I can concentrate the SEO better. I was checking my Google analytics account earlier and noticed I was getting several thousand search engine impressions for the one word keyword AdSense.

Checked Google and found I wasn’t ranked in the top 30 for that keyword (AdSense is going to be HARD). After scratching my head for 5 minutes remembered to check Google.co.uk :-) This site is ranked number 10 in Google.co.uk for the AdSense SERP, so when anyone searches for AdSense in the UK I get a search impression.

AdSense UK

AdSense UK

That’s a very impressive SERP for an article I added here one month tomorrow (added it on the 9th March 2014, it’s April 8th 2014 now). Does show you the power of the SEO theme I develop (used on this site).

Guess how many visitors it’s resulted in?

4 visitors in a month!

Now it’s a new SERP (few days, so it’s really 4 visitors for a few days), below is a month worth of Google Webmaster Tools traffic data for the page ranked number 10 for AdSense, since analytics tends to be a few days out of date it’s March 6th to April 6th, so looks like 2 days at best into the top 10.

Google SEO Traffic

Google SEO Traffic

The reason for this is very few Google search engine users look past the first few results. You want traffic from Google it’s top 3 to be in the money and that can be hard for competitive SERPs like AdSense.

I wasn’t targeting the AdSense SERP, that page is about not cheating the AdSense program so a pleasant surprise to see just how awesome the Stallion Responsive theme is :-)

Given time the page might go higher for this competitive one word SERP, but look at what’s above me, 6 of the results are owned by Google, 1 is Wikipedia. So that’s 7 results I don’t think I’ll ever pass, there’s two pages I might be able to beat, so my best result is number 8.

That’s the sort of mine’s bigger than yours SEO SERP, pure vanity or hire me as an SEO expert SERP, because the traffic is going to be non-existent :-(

The sort of SERPs I’m targeting for this site is WordPress SEO Theme (trying to sell an SEO theme after all) and unfortunately it’s relatively low traffic SERPs: a few hundreds searches a month. If I’m going to get 4 visitors from the top 10 AdSense SERP from thousands of impressions I’m going to need to be number one in Google to make the WordPress SEO Theme SERP pay: currently ranked 5th in Google.com.

Even the WordPress SEO Plugin SERP (currently ranked 9th) doesn’t have a great deal of traffic, under 4,000 searches a month. Going to be difficult to compete with the top 2 in that SERP. The Yoast WordPress SEO plugins page at the WordPress repository (number 1) and Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin page which carries a lot of off site SEO value (lots of backlinks). SEOPressor will be difficult (PR6), but the on page SEO is rubbish, so should be beatable given time.

It’s a lot of work to generate organic Google traffic to this niche and I know what I’m doing.

Other Ways To Make Money From Affiliate Products

Because of the low amount you make from AdSense/affiliate product sales you can’t pay for your traffic from AdWords for example, so your limited to free traffic sources like Google organic search.

So unless you think you can get to 10K visitors a day trying to make a living from AdSense/affiliate based income isn’t going to be easy. I would say for the vast majority of people you could use this sort of money to supplement your main income: that’s what I do, though I do this sort of stuff more for fun than money since I could make more money selling another product/service (I find this an interesting challenge).

How I Make Money Online

Before I got into SEO I sold lingerie and sex toys online, I have no interest in these products before you ask, I needed a business that was online because I’m disabled (had to drop out of University in the final year on medical grounds: I studying genetics with a view to working in HIV/AIDs research) and through research found adult products have a GREAT markup.

Black Hat SEO Techniques Gamble with your Websites Future

Black Hat SEO Techniques Gamble with your Websites Future

After learning the basics of SEO (learnt on the job so to speak) I took a new site adultlingerieuk.com (now an affiliate store) from zero visitors to around 8,000 visitors a day, but used black hat SEO techniques (comment SPAMMING, got the home page to PR8) that eventually got the site Google penalized. Still in the year or so it did well I sold over £80,000 in stock and the profit for that year (which was all mine) was just under £25K (~$50,000).

Since most businesses make a loss in the first two years and at the time I had less than £1,000 to spend on setting up a business (actually spent about £300 to set the business up) that was really good.

Had I not used black hat techniques I’d have made less money in that time, but the site would still be working for me today and would almost certainly be making more than £80K is sales a year by now (the site sells nothing now).

Based on how I’ve helped similar online businesses with white hat SEO techniques if I had to guess how that site would be doing today I’d say if it was running well it would make me around £120K a year (profit) which is more than I make right now.

With all this in mind IF I didn’t own a network of sites or I was starting from scratch (like I did 10+ years ago) I would not go into affiliate/AdSense type sites to make a living. That’s not to say I wouldn’t use AdSense/affiliate products, but like now they wouldn’t be my main focus because you can make far more selling your own products/services online than you can make from AdSense/affiliate sales.

Think about it, AdSense/affiliate sales you make a small percentage of the revenue the affiliate and Google AdWords makes. With most affiliate type programs your lucky to make over 10%, which means to make an OK living you need to sell $500,000 of other peoples products/services! And to have a good living you need to sell $1,000,000 worth of other peoples products/services.

There’s not many people who can sell a cool million dollars worth of stuff every year!

And that’s just to have a good living, not a GREAT living.

On the other hand if you sell your own service/product you can potentially make 90%+ of the money you make (all depends on what you sell). This means you don’t have to make anywhere near as many sales as with affiliate products. And with how Google has changed over the years it’s far easier to sell your own products/services than it is to sell affiliate products/services.

Only problem then is what service/product to sell :)

Will add there is an exception to the affiliate ‘rule’, if the affiliate product has a very high affiliate revenue share you can make a lot of money. Clickbank for example sells products with revenue shares as high as 75%, if you can find quality Clickbank products to promote there’s money to be made on far less traffic than I’ve discussed above.

Clickbank Affiliate Sales

Affiliate Earnings

In early 2014 decided to reduce the number of SEO and make money online websites I develop/promote (easier to SEO one domain relative to half a dozen plus) and started moving content to this website (as I edit this June 2014) almost at 200 articles (plus 3,000 comments) on this website, probably 150 of the articles (and the majority of the comments) are from other websites of mine: moved the content here and updated it (months of work!).

Still early days SEO ranking wise (started developing this website February 2014: not even had a PR update yet, still PR0 home page), yet seeing some nice top 10 SERPs, so combining my SEO/make money online websites into one is working.

One of my websites (45 Year Old Millionaire) was pretty much just for tracking my affiliate revenue. Rather than add over 30 articles to this site detailing my affiliate earnings month by month, instead added the revenue reports as comments: about 30 of the comments are revenue reports, makes for an interesting read looking back as added my thoughts to the affiliate revenue reports at the time, so not just dry numbers of how much cash I made.

Good Luck making money online…

David Law

David Law : Technical SEO Expert with 20 years Online Business, SEO, Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Marketing experience... Creator of multiple WordPress SEO Themes and SEO Plugins. Interests: wildlife, walking, environmental issues, politics, economics, journalism, consumer rights.

Website - SEO Gold Coast