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You too can make $5.35/hour with AdSense?
Let's Look at Some Numbers

 3:36 am on Mar 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

I fear for all the newbies who may get skewed expectations (OK, even worsely skewed than they walked in with) by reading this forum. People everywhere seem to be making thousands of dollars a month, Markus makes millions per year, and... so you must be an utter dolt if you're sitting there staring at your $105 check for last month.

Maybe not.

Like most web distributions of everything, there's a power law effect for people going after AdSense income. In other words, a few people (and you can bet they post to let us know who they are!) are going to make the lion's share of the money, some larger number of people are going to make OK money, and a whole lot of us are going to make, well, not really very good money at all.

Of course, the whole lynchpin of the winner-take-all society is the way that our insane belief that we'll be one of the lucky few helps us keep plugging away for a pittance. The large number of ghetto kids who are certain they're going to be NBA stars have a lot in common with AdSense slave-workers who are convinced they're going to be the next Markus-like Millionaire.

But let's run some numbers anyway, even though everyone who thinks the numbers couldn't apply to them will keep thinking that way. It won't change anyone's behavior, but maybe seeing some numbers that actually match your own experience (as opposed to making you ashamed of your own experience) might be a pleasant change.


There's a million ways to skin the AdSense cat, but certainly the straight-shooter, white-hat, Build Good Content and Good Advertisers Will Come approach is used by a whole lot of new AdSensers. Practically speaking, if you're just now embarking on a black-hat, get-rich-quick scheme, then you're so far behind the old-timers (and Google) that the odds against you are even crueller anyway.

So here's the scenario: You're going to make your AdSense gold by building good content and getting ads, and over time the dollars will just keep mounting up.

Assigning Numbers

Of course, AdSense income varies very widely by topic and by what SmartPricing thinks of you this week. But still, I think it's possible to arrive at some plausible guesses for some average income.

One oft-quoted guesstimate claims that people in the AdSense content business make roughly $10/page per year. But I'm going to say a more realistic estimate is $5/page per year. That's probably better than you're going to make off a joke-of-the-day type of content, but probably plausible for anyone who does a modest amount of investigation about where likely good income topics lie.

I know, if you're a newbie you're thinking "oh, I'm pretty sure I can beat $10/page per year". I know, you're special, but remember that this set of numbers is aimed at what's going to happen to most newbie AdSensers, not really smart people like you, to whom the odds do not apply.

Also keep in mind that a number of things conspire against the new AdSenser. If you got few pages, it's harder to get natural inbound links. It's harder to get PR and harder to rank highly for popular terms. Think of AdSense like one of those online games where you have to spend the first part of the game being a toady and doing a grunt work to get enough gold/skills/whatever to actually have any fun (and to avoid being wiped out by the first opponent you look at funny).

So yes, however improbably low you think it, let's go with $5/page per year.

Next, of course, is how fast can you write pages? As always, there's a trade-off here. Two sentences per page is going to let you crank a lot out quickly -- but lower the odds that they'll actually do you any good. And, if you just write crap, you greatly lower the odds you'll get any of those "natural", one-way, inbound links from authority sites.

Google is not magic, but if you think they have not managed to achieve at least a rough correlation between rankings and actual website quality/usefulness, then why are you investing time in this business anyway?

Also, you ain't gonna live off the income from your initial 10-page AdSense site, so you've probably got to spend some time elsewhere making a living. You probably can't work 10-hour days on nothing but creating content. And, many people have actual families or other frivolous pursuits that keep them from working 7-day weeks. And remember, we're looking for numbers that describe what's going to happen to most newbie AdSensers who embark on this expedition.

I want to go with a number of 2 hours per page, and 4 hours per day. And I'll assume you work on this project 5 days per week, and 50 weeks per year.


Now comes the fun part. You plug away at this AdSense thing for a year, and where do you think you (the imaginary "average" AdSenser) will be?

Well, after a year, you've got 50 weeks * 5 days/week * 2 pages/day = 500 pages. Wow! Let's hope you picked a topic that you could actually write that much about! (What was the most number of pages you ever wrote for a term paper? Hmmmmmm...)

Now how much yearly income will your website make you at that point? Well, 500 pages * 5 dollars/page/year = $2500/year = $208/month.

Is it Worth It?

Let's suppose after that year of work, your website will produce as estimated for a while. Of course, you don't really make that $2500 in year 1, because your page count was slowly growing from zero during the first year. And some people are going to find that their website earnings on a "frozen" site go up, while many will find them going down sooner or later, due to competition or algorithm changes.

But to make the math easy, let's assume (conservatively I think), that your total earnings (even in the face of Google algorithm changes) from this website will be at least 3 * $2500 = $7500 -- even if you do no other work on it after the end of year one. One of the paybacks for doing true-blue, white-hat, decent content development should be that you're less likely to get "wiped out" completely by a Google algorithm change, though I would not expect the website to earn it's peak forever with no changes.

So, you made $7500 and all you invested was 50 * 7 * 4 = 1400 hours. That's right, you made $5.35/hour.

Sorry, you grossed $5.35/hour. You'll probably need to be paying taxes (and some Social Security in the U.S.) on that. But still, you had the pleasure of being your own boss, eh?


Disagree with my assumptions? Of course you do! But if you're an AdSense newbie, you should at least look at the numbers and then see whether your own estimates are panning out as you go.

After a couple of months of AdSense work, do you have more or less than the 80 pages of content I'm assuming the average AdSenser will have?

After a couple of months of AdSense work, are you making more or less than the $.14/page per day I've assumed here?

After a couple of months of AdSense work, do you have more or less than the 160 hours of invested time I guesstimated for this model?

Am I anywhere close in my estimation of what will happen to the average AdSenser? I don't know, but I suspect this flimsy model is a lot closer to reality than you'll get by reading posts by people who are on the sweet end of the power-law curve. People at the much more heavily populated end of the curve (that's the part that looks an awful lot like a flat line) rarely post their earnings experience.

Sometimes I wonder if those unrealistic expectations don't lead to more cases of outright fraud, as people decide that must be what "everyone else" is doing, since "everyone else" seems to be striking it rich with AdSense.

Am I telling people not to try to make AdSense? No. But I'm telling people to not do AdSense instead of getting an education, to not quit their job to do AdSense, to not forego relationships to work more on AdSense. And if you're here to tell me that you did all those things and you're now the NBA star equivalent of AdSense, well, just remember that one bad injury can take you out of the game forever.



 11:03 pm on Mar 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

The calculations at the beginning of this thread seem to miss one vital fact. If you create a site that earns you $1000 p.a. then without any work at all it will continue to earn money for many years IF the subject matter is not one that requires constant updating.

If your site is about some soccer team, bad luck because the pages need constant, at least weekly, updates. In 3 months they will earn nothing. On the other hand if your site is on brick laying then good news. Brick laying is brick laying and it will have the same relevance in two years time and maybe even 10 years time.


 3:30 pm on Mar 30, 2006 (gmt 0)


I have contributed to this forum in the past.

The reason I don't like this post is that a lot of people take this stuff literally, and then they do nothing because they think its all futile or luck based. So in the end others suffer.

Again, there is no such thing as luck. For those that believe in it, have fun throwing your towels to the wind and wishing for the best.

All the Best.


 6:10 pm on Mar 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

then they do nothing because they think its all futile or luck based. So in the end others suffer

That's one way to look at it.

The other way to look at it is when they give up it leaves more for the rest of us :)


 7:18 pm on Mar 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

One vital point, once the work is done its done.

Its a constant source of money, I use mine to do silly fun things with Im now over teh point where I consider that ive 'worked' for it


 7:51 pm on Mar 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

Here's a question for the group.

Suppose Google decided to crack down on the MFA sites tomorrow (and I'm talking about the obvious sites, forget about the borderline sites for now) and somehow was able to wipe them out in a very short time.

Do you think it would be easier for the remaining publishers to make money with AdSense and/or would the remaining AdSense publishers earn more money with their current sites?

Evidently some people are having a tough go or this thread wouldn't be so long. How much of a factor are MFA sites?

Elaborate as you think necessary.



 7:58 pm on Mar 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

Do you think it would be easier



 8:12 pm on Mar 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

How much of a factor are MFA sites?

I promise you that if google used some human eyes and removed even 10% of the worst offending MFA sites WW would be in an uproar. The "my website is gone" threads would go through the roof. The arrogance level would also hit an all time low.


 4:38 am on Mar 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Ok, so someone makes 1M in three months and another makes $5/page/year. Big freakin deal. It's apples and oranges. You can make a "zillion" or nada with Adsense on your site. Depends on the industry, ad placement, ad colour, and a billion other factors. And who says you have to create useful content to make money? Crap, if someone doesn't do what I want them to do on my site I send them to another page where my ctr is 50% and I get an average of $3/click. So, what does THAT page make per year? Haven't a clue, but I know it's a lot. Look out for yourself. If you love to build sites and don't give a hoot about how much you make...great! But, if you want to make good money, then don't have to give a rat's arse about the user...cause you know what? EVENTUALLY they will find what they need anyways. The web is like a maze...I'm only one minute part. If a surfer passes through my part and I get paid by some action they perform then great...cause eventually they will find what they want (did I say that already?)...alright, enough of me. Dream, and you'll make it...be a skeptic and you'll fail for sure.



 6:31 am on Mar 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Ok, so someone makes 1M in three months and another makes $5/page/year

A small fact a lot of the OP-bashers (:-) miss is that the guy who makes 1M in three months is probably doing less than $5/page/year.

E.g., if your pages only do $3/page/year, find a way to have 1 million pages that don't cost you almost anything and in the same time are interesting for your audience...

Ronburk's points remain valid for the ones that have a conventional (and passive) approach such as "write your pages, put adsense, wait for money to come".


 5:15 pm on Apr 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'd like to add just another comment about the sports star, movie star analogy.

I think that comparing making $ with adsense to a sports star is not a fair comparison.

Why? Because it's based on a physical talent combined with skill.

The physical talent will limit you and me every time (assuming you aren't Jordan or some amazing athlete who just never tapped into your potential).

On the other hand look at the number of actors / actresses and rock / pop stars.

In those areas it really doesn't take that much inborn talent (J-lo, Ashley Simpson, Vanilla Ice, Britney Spears are just 4 easy examples) and you can become wealthy / famous.

It takes most of the same things you need to succeed in business (persistance, drive, willingness to learn & make adjustments, etc)

I submit that business doesn't necessarily take talent to succeed (it certainly helps) and really the only limitations on it have to do with your mind.

Anyway I already commented on what that means and so did a few others so just was thinking about why this shouldn't really be compared to Michael Jordan.


 7:16 pm on Apr 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

arubicus said:

Um... I could be wrong, but I think ronburk was making a mathemathical statement, not a political one. You might want to look up the definition of the "power law distribution [en.wikipedia.org]" before criticising his alleged mis-use of it.

arubicus said: Nobody is saying to quit your job and leave your family unfed BEFORE you create an alternative income.

So we should be "realistic"...? Even if real-world considerations are "discouraging"...?

leveldisc said: [W]hy as Adsense been singled out?

Perhaps because this is an AdSense forum...?

jimphilli said: Ronburk, I gotta say that I think you're being a little too pessimistic.

I would respectfully disagree. The purpose of his original post seemed to me to be to answer the question that many of us newbies have: Is markus007 typical and, if so, what the frick am I doing wrong?

By nature of the Google "Terms and Conditions", it is difficult to get specific numbers, but I for one appreciated his rational and informed presentation.

Sorry to offend.



 8:20 pm on Apr 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Who's offended?



 8:31 pm on Apr 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think that comparing making $ with adsense to a sports star is not a fair comparison.

I think a fairer comparison is the people who made money off of dot-com stocks in the late 1990s. There were certainly viable arguments for investing in dot-com stocks (despite concerns about their long-term valuations), and people who were willing to gamble made good money. However, everyone who invested in dot-com stocks did not make money. Those who got in late lost money because the stocks peaked. Likewise, people who got into AdSense early before concerns about click fraud, nonconverting traffic, MFA sites, etc. made good money also. There may still be some areas where good money can be made from AdSense. But it's not typical.


 10:15 pm on Apr 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

arubicus said:

"Um... I could be wrong, but I think ronburk was making a mathemathical statement, not a political one. You might want to look up the definition of the "power law distribution" before criticising his alleged mis-use of it. - stapel"

The statements I made illistrate my point. You cannot predict with certainty WHO EXACTLY will and will not be in which group at a specific point in time. This is because power consistenly changes hands. Since money is not a zero sum game...new markets, new products, new tecnology cositantly evolve which again changes the distribution of wealth.

Also this law does not address the personal goals of the individual adsenser nor does it address value, energy, time...

My point is that despite the power curve. You never know where you will land. There is NO prediction where you will be until you are there because of the FACT that wealth and power are CREATED and exchange hands consistantly. Because of this FACT...ANYONE ANYTIME can CREATE their own power and wealth. Let me ask you...was there a microsoft 100 years ago? How about Amazon. Those were powers that were CREATED.

See to a newbie the article give the impression as if you have little chance. What I am saying is that you have opportunity sice no power/wealth is set in stone and the outcome GREATELY is determined by you.

"So we should be "realistic"...? Even if real-world considerations are "discouraging"...? - stapel"

Sure br practical - Nobody is saying not to be realistic. But being realistic is to discuss ALL of the VARIOUS aspects to this business so that you can make better INFORMED decisions. The OP's article I believe does not do this.


 6:14 am on Apr 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

In his excellent business book "Swim with the Sharks without Begin Eaten Alive", Harvey MacKay wrote that every pessimist he knows calls himself a "realist". I would recommend that book to everyone on this forum, which is long on much needed programming skills, (where I am unfortunately deficient), but short on business skills, which are much needed if you are going into business.

Of course markus007 is not "typical". But in order to be successful we must take his advice in whatever ways we can. Like letting users make your own content, and not waste your time doing it yourself. How many sites in the Alexa 500 were created by one guy slaving away writing text? The answer is zero.

Find a way to create boatloads of relevant content, and I believe you will make your millions on the net. The trick is figuring out that little puzzle.

In business you simply MUST have a CAN DO attitude, and not preach defeat from the get go.


 9:04 am on Apr 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

In business you simply MUST have a CAN DO attitude, and not preach defeat from the get go.

Ronburk didn't do that.

As for Harvey Mackay's comment, it needs to read with the knowledge that (a) Harvey Mackay is an evangelist with books to sell; and (b) Harvey Mackay is also a born salesman who knows what his readers and customers want to hear,


 11:52 am on Apr 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

You always have good input, europeforvistors, and I always read your posts whenever I see them.

But I have to disagree with you about Mackay and the Sharks, it really is an excellent book on business, not just publishing spam. I've read a ton of those types of books, and his is the best. He made his fortune by selling envelops, and was an established name in the business community before he wrote his first book. He offers a money back guarente if you read it and don't like it, so there's no risk :)

BTW, all pessimists that I know also call themselves "realists", so that really rang true for me.


 4:17 pm on Apr 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

"Swim with the Sharks without Begin Eaten Alive"

I think I have a copy laying around here but haven't really read it.

EPV - is correct that the intent of Ronburk was to shed some light to newbies on a "pratical" level. But being in this business long enough it is far from practical. Each business, decisions, income, or whatever is unique and what should work on a practical level may produce something far from practical results.

Being practical also tells me that other people have made really good money and if you think outside the box other than the inside the box you too can make money.

Those who are on the bottom of the stick and stay there are there for a reason. Right there is your practical lesson that is more valuable than number crunching. This tells you how NOT to do it. Just as those who rise to the top and loose it all. This tells you again how to do it but how not to sustain it. This is the reality you should focus on because this is REAL. It is not faux numbers and probability.

Leave the probability numbers for gambling where the odds are out of our control. With running our own sites we can instantly change the odds at any given point. That is the BEAUTY of this business. That is also the REALITY of this business.


 4:23 pm on Apr 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

$1800 per page per year. 60 page website.


 8:14 pm on Apr 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

As for Harvey Mackay's comment, it needs to read with the knowledge that (a) Harvey Mackay is an evangelist with books to sell;

I always wonder with these "how to succeed at zzzz" books, why they are selling books and not succeeding at zzzz.

No matter how well they write, or how persuasive, they chose to market a book on howto rather than do it themselves and that should tell you something.

Look at the highstreet and shops go out of business all the time, so ask yourself what you're advantage is, and be realistic about it. Take it from me, it's heartbreaking sacking staff who depend on their wage.

There are plenty of Amway style salesmen who tell you dreams of Amway success. But the average Amway agent, buys more Amway goods than they sell. The market is so saturated that they never really had a chance to do otherwise. The saleman knew this, he's trying to dump his stock onto you!

Adsense is no different, some people know what they're doing, but many don't, and there are a lot of people feeding on those newbies with stories of easy gold.


 1:45 am on Apr 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

Lets see...with Google Adsense you have no contract with them. They pay you what they decide they want to pay you at any given time. They can change the terms at will. This is a business for google, but it is NOT a business for you. Google is the pim-p, and you are the ho, if you let it be that way, and if you set up a website just for google adsense, than you are the ho. It would seem foolish to design a website only for the purpose of making money on adsense, while 8000 pound gorilla Google could swat you like a fly at any time. It seems much more wise to hook into affiliate programs where you can make commissions on things, or, sell things directly yourself. Add adsense, and if Google is sucking profits from you, while giving you crumbs, it will be easy to unplug them.


 3:59 am on Apr 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think ronburk was making a mathemathical statement, not a political one.

True, of course, and thanks stapel, for adding the relevant link.

As for Harvey, anyone who's read all the stuff he's written, knows that when he published his first book he first studied why most books don't sell many copies and why most book authors don't make much money. Did that make him a "realist" and therefore a "pessimist"? I dunno, but I think it made him less stupid than most people who write their first book without taking the time to study how the market works, how many winners versus losers there are, and what separates the two.

If ol' Harvey decided to go after AdSense income, you can't bet that he would become well-acquainted with how the money is distributed in this market, and use that knowledge to decide who/what to study so that he could raise the odds of not being the typical AdSenser who makes a pittance of income.

You cannot predict with certainty WHO EXACTLY will and will not be in which group at a specific point in time.

So? I can predict with certainty that a large percentage of AdSensers will make below-average income, and that a large percentage of those people will never make above-average AdSense income.

No doctor can predict with certainty WHO EXACTLY will and will not be cured of cancer by application of chemotherapy. Just because statistical population information cannot predict with certainty the fate of an individual member does not mean that it's not useful in maximizing the odds of survival for an individual. Harvey couldn't prove with CERTAINTY that his first book would make good money; that's why he tried to learn about what happens to MOST books, and why.


 6:51 am on Apr 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

"So? I can predict with certainty that a large percentage of AdSensers will make below-average income, and that a large percentage of those people will never make above-average AdSense income."

How many of those precicely will be because of the model expressed in the article?

"No doctor can predict with certainty WHO EXACTLY will and will not be cured of cancer by application of chemotherapy"

Most doctors won't go hmmmm a large percentage of adsensers will not be cured of cancer so let's not give it. Most doctors won't go hmmm a large percentage of people do get cured so let's give it.

They look at INDIVIDUAL CIRCUMSTANCE. They test and look at many different aspects of that person BEFORE they administer chemotherapy. They look at the facts FIRST and FOREMOST. When facts are completely exhausted then averages and statistical set can be used that most closely resembles the circumstances of the patient NOT a generalized set of stats.

This is what you leave out in your article. You pretty much say most adsensers will you won't make much more than $5.35/hour model such as writing more articles and more than likely you won't make above average income (whatever average is). You never even considered or addressed the many FACTORS that affect such a model. You never even gave one statistic for those factors and contrasting factors of those on the other side of the stick.

Now when you get a bit more specific with your statistics and cover the various determining circumstances you will paint a whole different picture than this genarization crap you dished out.

Since running an adsense business is not life threatening nor is it really a financial burden it can typically be experimented with to SEE what happens. So you can see first hand what ideas work.

Also new adsensers should learn about the VARIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES of the winners and looser and WHY they are where they are. Also look at those where WERE in the bottom group and look at the circumstances they have changes that put them in an income range you wish to seek. Look at various top performers and study their circumstances. Look at the various top performers who have fallen from their grace. Study the circumstances that led them to their fall. A much better way to go about it in my opinion.


 3:47 pm on Apr 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think the power law model is too simple to describe the way AdSense actually works. I'm sure it's true that the overall distribution looks like that.

But, more than most things, AdSense success is virtually guaranteed IF a person has the right skills and follows the right steps. A newbie looking at entering the AdSense world is not well-served by just looking at the distribution and thinking, "argh, the odds are stacked against me." That's true on average, but the whole point is to make your site and your methods above average.

Any newbie who can realistically assess his/her own skills in programming, marketing, writing, and design should be able to decide if AdSense is worthwhile or not. This is ultimately all there is to it:

Good Traffic + Decent Ad Placement + Decent Market = Money

That's not very hard. Anybody can learn good ad placement and design. There are lots of good markets. So the real challenge is if they can create a website so useful and unique that lots of people want to go there. If you have the skills to do that, you can succeed with AdSense.

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