After complaining about my Adsense earnings falling over the last two months to bartenders who look at me wondering what I am talking about I have wiped my tears away, finished my beers and went back to work. After spending long, grueling 3 hour work days I am happy to report my money train is rolling again.
Checking Out Contextual Alternatives
Adsense has been the best contextual ad solution for my niche sites. I looked at the other contextual solutions and they just don't have advertisers that would work well on my niche sites so I am keeping Adsense. I also played around with placement and ad size and confirmed that all of my hard work a year ago picking the right placement and ad size was correct. In hindsight I don't think I would recommend to others to play around with it. Because if you did it right the first time it is likely still the right match.
I love affiliate programs. A well matched affiliate program can bring in high conversions and pay way better than any contextual ad. The key is to get the right affiliate program. A year ago I couldn't find the right match. There was a company that would have been a perfect match but as much as I begged them they refused to start an affiliate program.
I just logged into CJ and guess what? The company that I was begging to start an affiliate program just joined CJ. I added their banner ad and two others to the site. I waited a few days and checked back and found one of the affiliate programs was generating no money. I'm not saying it is a bad program but it is a bad match for me. Time to get rid of it and keep looking for a better affiliate match that will make me money.
Start Selling Stuff
Yes, affiliate programs are nice but you can also start selling your own stuff. Write an ebook, provide a consulting/answering service, create branded products. If you want to get crazy start buying wholesale products and sell them for retail prices (that is too much work for me).
My personal favorite is writing an ebook or should I say hiring someone to create my ebook. This provides easy income every month. You can even transform the ebook into a real book using sites like lulu. Don't be lazy. Start thinking what you could sell and look at the competition to see what they sell. Be careful just because your competition is doing it does not guarantee it is a profitable idea.
Private Ad Deals
One of my niche sites is a buyers guide and it has reviews of companies. Guess what? Time to contact each of these companies and ask them if they would like to advertise on my site. Don't expect to have people throw money at you. You will need to contact them and prove why it is smart for them to spend their money.
Also do not be an amateur. If you want real ad money you need to portray yourself as a real advertising channel. This means you should provide usage stats verified by a third party. Also conduct a survey on your visitors so you can tell prospective advertisers even more detailed information. It can also help to offer long term discounts.
Before people start freaking out, I am not talking about turning your site into a paid link farm. I am talking about real advertisers that will be well received by your audience because they offer related products/services.
Personally I offered the companies listed on my site a CPM banner deal plus I added a free contact form to their company profile so users could more easily contact them.
Extra Traffic Never Hurts
Adsense is earning me less money but my adsense check hasn't decreased. Want to know my secret? I am boosting my traffic levels every month. It hurts to see the eCPM drop but don't just sit there and watch it fall. Instead get demotivated by doubling your traffic and have your Adsense income stay the same (it sucks but it is better than losing money).
Go out there and increase your traffic and I mean quality traffic to your site. 99% of the time only quality traffic will lead to money. We all know how to boost traffic but we hate to do it. You need to add more content, get more links, partner with related forums and online communities, launch new sites, buy out competing sites and so much more.
Adsense is producing a lot less bang than it has in the past. Who knows if this is because Google is keeping more money, advertisers are spending less, the "recession", smart pricing or whatever else. It doesn't mean your site has to produce less money. It just means that it is a good idea to diversify your revenue streams and maximize the profit.
[edited by: eljefe3 at 2:57 pm (utc) on Feb. 24, 2008]