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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Should You Use Google AdSense on Your Writing Homepage?

Here's my question for today. If you have a writing homepage - and if you're a writer you almost certainly should have one - should you use Google AdSense to try to make money from it?

For those who don't know, Google Adsense is a program that allows anyone with a website (subject to Google's approval) to run small ads on it and get a share of the fees paid by advertisers when someone clicks on them.

Until recently, anyway, I would probably have answered no to the question in the title. For most writers, their homepage exists to help promote their services and/or sales of their books. If you put AdSense ads on it, they may distract or even deter potential clients. And if someone clicks on an ad, while it will earn you a small sum, that person will then no longer be viewing your page.

And, apart from that, some years ago I did try AdSense advertising on my homepage at, and was disappointed with the minuscule sums I was paid per click.

All things change, however. Inspired by this Problogger post, I recently decided to give AdSense another try on my homepage. A contributing factor was that at present I am not particularly trying to attract new writing clients - I'm rushed off my feet anyway - so I wasn't too worried about putting anybody off.

So I placed some AdSense ads across the top of my homepage. And this time I've been more impressed with the returns they are generating.

Google don't like publishers to reveal what they are being paid, but hopefully they won't mind me saying that I'm receiving between five and ten times more per click than I was a few years ago. It's still not a fortune, but it does mean that I'm getting a useful extra boost to my income every month, for no effort on my part.

As you probably know, Google AdSense displays ads related to the subject of the website in which they appear (writing, in my case). As I'm getting paid more now than I was, I'm assuming that there are more people nowadays wanting to advertise to writers, thus pushing prices up.

Anyway, all this means that my AdSense ads are staying for the moment, though if I'm running short of work I might remove them and smarten up my homepage a bit (and yes, I freely admit that it needs updating - the design stems from over ten years ago, and was originally created with something called CompuServe Homepage Maker - ah, those happy, innocent days before Web 2.0!).

If you have a writing homepage or blog and aren't currently using AdSense, my advice is that you might want to consider giving it a try. Just be careful that the ads don't detract from the main purpose of your site, if this is to promote your writing products or services. But if you're getting a reasonable amount of traffic, and aren't unduly worried about deterring potential clients, there is something to be said for using these familiar, unobtrusive 'ads by Google' to help monetize it.

* Are you using Google AdSense on your writing homepage, or firmly opposed to the idea? I'd be interested to hear your views. Please leave your comment below.

Photo credit: Kevin Collins on Flickr

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Blogger Myles said...

yes, i tried Adsense for my site, Http://

After a lot of carry on, they said i had to give a 'code' to

there was no facility to do this, but could i contact Adsense to tell them? No. It's DEALING with adsense, that is the propblem, not whether you should do it or not.

regards val

1:33 PM  
Blogger MattyMatt said...

It seems like a bad idea to slap someone else's ads on your brand if you're trying to attract new clients; but if you're comfortable and established why not?

I'm curious about what you did differently the second time to boost the income.

6:35 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Nothing, as far as I know. It just seems that circumstances have changed, such that ads on writing-related matters are now paying better than they used to.

As I said in my post, this presumably reflects the fact that nowadays there are more advertisers active in this field than was previously the case. Really, then, it's just an example of the law of supply and demand, working in my favour on this occasion.

10:47 PM  
Blogger MattyMatt said...

Interesting! Sounds like it's just a case of right-place-right-time.

11:52 PM  
Anonymous Megan Reilly said...

Could it be true that Google Ads really made their program more effective/better paying in a time when many are cutting back? I had AdSense on my previous site, but never considered it for my new one.

I will definitely take another look at it now. Thank you for you informative post; I would like to generate some additional revenue if possible. Who wouldn't, right?


12:35 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

Megan, I'm not sure that Google should really take any of the credit for this. It's just that these days there are more people wanting to advertise, and this seems to have driven rates up (on writing-related sites anyway).

But yes, if you're getting reasonable levels of traffic to your site and don't mind putting a few ads on it, it would certainly be worth a try. Don't expect to get rich, though!

9:41 AM  
Anonymous Desi said...

Hi Nick,
I am very dubious regarding advertisements on a (my) website.
I feel that the professionalism disappears when adverts are present. Furthermore if I see adverts on a site I feel that the site owner is not very successful in what he or she are trying to promote and therefore have to resort to ads for an income. Many years ago I was, I believe I am still am a member of the Zanox Comunity. I found this a complete waste of time earning absolutely nothing at all. For these reasons, above all the first regarding professionalism I do not use any aads on my site(s).
If you, or anyone can convince me otherwise I would love to hear from you.

2:20 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Thanks for your comments, Desi.

To be absolutely clear, I am not saying to anyone that they SHOULD put ads on their homepage. I am just saying that, in certain circumstances, it may be worth considering.

Ads on websites are commonplace nowadays, and I don't really agree that they automatically make a site look unprofessional (unless, of course, they are used to excess). You could even argue that the small, unobtrusive AdSense ads actually increase the value of sites to visitors, by showing them links to other sites they might like to visit as well.

But that's just my opinion, of course. If anyone feels that adding AdSense ads to their site would devalue it, I have every respect for that point of view.

4:40 PM  
Blogger John McDonnell said...

I have tried AdSense on my site, and in two months I made $8.00. It's such a small amount that I don't know if it's worth having it on my site (especially if it might make me look unprofessional). I also have ads from Amazon Associates, and I made 43 cents from that. Apparently there are strategies for maximizing the ad revenue from these programs, but I don't know if it makes that much difference. I think if you already have a lot of traffic to your site, then it might make sense, but if you're still trying to build traffic it probably isn't worth it.

7:25 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Thanks, John. I tend to agree that you need to have a reasonable amount of traffic to make AdSense worthwhile.

On the other hand, once you've set it up (which doesn't take very long) it will continue to make money indefinitely, with no further effort from you.

But clearly, it's a decision every writer needs to make for him/herself.

8:44 PM  
Blogger Steve St Clair said...

I've never tried Adsense on my blog, mainly for the reasons you stated. It exists primarily to tout my content writing company and I think ads would turn folks off. Content writing along should be enough to drive client's websites towards the top of Google results. We're finding our website -
climbing very quickly and it's obvious which key phrases we're writing for SEO.

Love your blog and following you on Twitter. Great stuff!

2:49 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Thanks for your kind comments, Steve, and good luck with your own websites.

2:53 PM  
Blogger Derek said...

I'd be interested to know how many visitors are needed to your blog before you see a proportionate amount of click-throughs that create more than pennies.
My blog is still getting established so it may be way too soon.

8:32 PM  

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