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decisionIt’s easy to get caught up in plopping a bunch of Adwords ads on a site and waiting for the big bucks to roll in. News like Jeremy of Shoemoney.com and his huge Adsense check is inspiring and can lead to a kind of tunnel vision if you’re not careful.

A particular site of mine makes between $100 and $150 a month but only on affiliate income. I’ve put Adsense up and taken it back down, moved it all around, styled it in forty odd ways and the best I’ve managed on it is $8 in a month. Other months it’s just nothing. I’ve begun to consider the possibility that something else may work better.

Looking at my options I see a few…

  1. Replace the ads with another CPC or CPV solution. The site only receives between 1,000 and 1,500 uniques a month though so this may just not work well.
  2. Replace the ads with relevant affiliate products. This might be a good bet as a single sale in a month will probably beat Adsense.
  3. Sell the ad space directly. This is possible with a combination of the other methods but can be hard due to the low traffic.
  4. Create a product to utilize the ad space. A good idea but I lack the time currently.
  5. Use the ad space to build an email subscriber’s list. This is something I need to do “one of these days”. Yeah, I’ll do that…one of these days.

In this particular case I’ve gone with five 125px x 125px sponsored banners in a second right side bar and I’m currently looking for good affiliate products to fit in the content ad space. We shall see what happens. If the site had more traffic I would probably turn it into a good case study. Maybe when it hits a few hundred uniques per day.

One thing that really interested me in a blog post I read on zacjohnson.com is Zac’s use of the Yahoo Publisher Network instead of Adsense. He made very good money and a solid portion of it came from this choice. Which is not to say YPN is better than Adsense but I believe a smart person would consider and test available options.

If I’m not continually testing to find the right combination of monetization methods on my sites, chances are I’m missing out on opportunities to make more money. More money makes my life easier.

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Follow the Smart People!

I really like working from home. I have for years and it’s all well and good. Unfortunately, at a certain point in my lazy, vacation taking existence I have come to the conclusion that I need more money. I actually need a lot more money.

To get this “money” of which I speak I look, again, to the internet. Being a geek with not so polished social skill I understand my need to learn from people smarter than me. This reminds me of all the times I’ve missed something important because I wasn’t paying attention. I believe there are people online who know what they are talking about and so I will “pay attention” and see what I can learn.

Industries on the internet are constantly shifting and methods of promotion seem to have a short lifespan now days. This can make things hard for the small affiliate marketer. Many people can’t just throw $5k away to test a new traffic source. Some of us have to take pain killer to cope with parting with a few hundred dollars for promotion.

Much of the headache of making a living online can be effectively dodged by following the guys who can throw $5k at a new traffic source or are close to other industry leaders that know where markets are going. Sometimes it can be similar to riding a roller coaster and the difference between knowing where that next drop or turn will be and being totally clueless. In the second case, depending on how resilient you are, you could lose your lunch!

Pick out some blogs that smart people post to and make sure to follow them continually. Lots of the information on some of these blogs is worth money but they give the information freely. Unless you’re already one of these “smart people” I speak of, you probably can’t afford to not pay attention to these resources.

I try not to be a paranoid conspiracy theorist but I can’t help myself in this case. I’ve been a solid supporter of Google for years and I still use many…I mean many of their services. I dump money into Adwords and even use Adsense in a couple of places.

They have great services and I can understand some of the data they collect and coordinate. The whole privacy thing seems to be heating up as an issue for many Google users and I can understand that too.

Above the privacy thing though, what scares me more is that it seems like Google is trying to put us all out of business. I know you don’t believe me and people will wine and say “it’s their search engine blah blah blah” but you need to look toward the future. Things that web masters have been lax on concerning Google are already coming back to bite us.

I remember removing paid text link ads on my site way back when because Google said “No!” and threatened the de-index hammer. It was an easy way to monetize a smaller site and helped pay for web hosting and yet I removed it. Reading about this more recently Matt Cutts seems to suggest that we need to mark all paid links with nofollow.

While I understand and agree with the need for transparency this should have been handled by Google’s algorithms. Google created the link spam problem and should just deal with it. Text links are a legitimate way to advertise and, dare I say it, get traffic from sites other than Google. Adding nofollow to text links on your site is often unacceptable to the person paying for the link and will give you yet another problem in competing. If the site is related, relevant and of decent quality there should be no problem.

“You could always say no to Google traffic and do things on your own!” as I’ve heard. The catch here is that Google holds about 70% of the market as far as search engines go. Google has come to a place where a business can hardly be competitive online and ignore it. If Bing or some other search engine like Yahoo even the odds things will probably get easier but for the time being we gave Google the power to re-shape the net and I can’t help but feel that power is being abused.

What scares me most of all is the future. I make income from affiliate marketing among other things and I’ve recently been witness to Google using the search engine built up by us users over years of time and using our content as their index actually going into affiliate marketing themselves. This makes it look like all the years they spent collecting data on our sites…data that shouldn’t be used to compete with us…was indeed part of a plan to work our site monetization plans themselves.

Here’s a post on SeoBook commenting on recent Google search results.

Read this as Google cashes in by sticking big name advertisers up top for a fee with a CPA (cost per action) model, pushing down the natural results that made them what they are, even pushing down some of the Adwords advertisers and giving their ads an unfair advantage in ad display (which can drive down CTR and cause higher CPC BTW making Google more money) and taking those sales to the bank.

Of course there is always balance. If things do get too bad, in theory, everything will probably naturally try to right itself.

I believe that one day soon we will be able to enjoy indefinite lifespans. We will live lives not really in danger of ending due to natural causes where we can continue to learn and experience life. Some would say “Why?” but I still have a lot of life left to experience. I don’t think another 50 years or so will cut it for me.

Wikipedia has a bunch of interesting information on indefinite lifespan.

Immortality is a concept often found in old stories and legends. What always struck me funny is that immortals could be killed through various means. What I’m talking about is indefinite lifespan…a concept of not being able to die of old age. So as long as you managed to not die in a car wreck or of some other non-natural cause you would be able to live on indefinately.

I believe in the case of indefinite lifespan we would probably retain the body of someone fully matured and in the prime of life. If a lifespan is really to be indefinite it would mean there would be no loss of efficiency in the way the body replicates cells and handles waste so none of the effects of aging we’re used to seeing.

Another interesting thing is that the brain may very well continue to develop well into middle age. This makes me wonder if having the prime of life body that may be maintainable under conditions of indefinite lifespan will give us huge opportunities for expanded learning and understanding. Check this Bloggingthebrain.com post. What if, in a state of indefinite lifespan, the human mind never stopped developing?

Have you ever noticed how every goofball old in Startrek can run complex mathematical calculations based on physics in their heads in a couple of seconds? What if we are capable of this given the proper time to develop our minds?

For the actual possibility and hope of indefinite lifespan I leave you with a link to a post at singularity2050.com concerning actuarial escape velocity…a term you may recognize from the link to wikipedia near the start of this post.

Actuarial escape velocity basically refers to the point in time that the average human lifespan increases by more than one year within one year. At that point in time even if your life expectancy is only 90 years you will never hit 90 years before your life expectancy is way past that point. In theory, you should be able to live indefinitely until technologies like nanotechnology and stem cell research can literally revive your damaged cells.

It’s important not to forgot what kind of impact this may have on our global economy and over population though. More on that at another time.

Every morning between the hours of 4AM and 6AM I wake up. The birds usually aren’t singing. The alarm clock is not making it’s typical racket and I amĀ  most certainly not waking up on purpose. If you’ve ever lived in an apartment or duplex you probably already know where I’m going here…

There is a 2 year old next door that has invented his own little language. He loves to gallop through the neighboring apartment…back and forth…screaming in his native language. The galloping actually manages to shake our bed. I can’t help but be somewhat impressed actually. The kid manages to make a lot of noise for his size and age. I wonder if he’ll be able to get up that early when he has to go to school.

My wife is not impressed. Sometimes it’s actually her hissing that wakes me up. You don’t want to wake her up…ever. Seriously, let her wake up when she wants to. A couple of mornings I thought she was going to throw her body through the wall and engage our neighbors in mortal combat.

Good news is, if we manage to get back to sleep, the kid will actually go out onto the porch near our bedroom window and start “fixing things” with what must be a little Bob-the-builder hammer or something. That way we will never miss our “wake up call”.

And so I blog…

First I was in manufacturing, head full of big ideas and imagination always running full throttle. I was never able to understand why work had to be so dull. After years of getting up every morning before the birds and other wildlife I began to put my master plan into action. I wanted to be my own boss and work from home.

Sounds all fine and such. “Easy enough”, you say. I had programmed for years so my first phase completed itself in the form of freelance programming. I learned to bid on various projects many times based around open source software. At that point, I could officially call myself a web developer and consultant.

Great! After years doing freelance work I began to want the next phase in my master plan. Total and complete pseudo retirement. No more money worries and complete free time. The free time I already enjoy somewhat at the moment but money just about always worries me.

As much as I love programming, over the years it has become work. Some days I can’t even stand to look at my laptop. Phase 2 for me then…need to bring in a few thousand dollars a month in pure, automated income.