Ken, you know enough about me personally. Your comments are totally spot on - to an extent!
As you possibly/probably know I've not written anything new, long before AdSense was even invented. I only got into affiliate programmes to "hopefully" re-cover the costs of an ever increasing bandwidth. That was back around 2000. I either had to earn some "money" or close down my informative sites.
AdSense accidently came along, I made more in the very first hour [this is true] which you could miracoulously track back then, almost real time [a first] than I made with Amazon, et al, in a month.
Even if AdSense died tomorrow I would still be a million miles in front.
I've "NEVER" had a site devoted to making money, if I did, I expect my "peer group" would crucify me. Earning money to cover costs is one thing, earning large sums by accident is entirely fortuitous among my peer group. Devoting your sites as money earners is totally beyond the pale.
Last time I checked, a friend of mine had nearly 200+ valuable lectures on the internet. Each page as wxyz.txt files.
Yep, plain old vanilla text files they render, and curiously, defying SEO were rated very highly. No title, no description, no keywords etc. just millions of links back.
He simply dumped onto his "free" server as part of his account, a lifetime of lectures etc. he had written and had ultimately put onto his Mac around 1990 [I think] as a "record" to print out again and again.
He really could have made billions.
I can remember "begging" him as far back as 1998 to let me optimise his pages [not for monetary gain which was scarce back then] but to get a well deserved higher profile in Alta Vista, Lycos whatever where he deserved every inch of relevancy. Just let me convert to HTML <title> etc. etc. Total indifference, maybe Professors pensions were much larger than I imagined.
Google came along as Yahoo's SE and it exploded. Like myself, he was faced with ever increasing BW costs.
To me, the theory of carefully crafted SEO pages out perform anything else is BS. He was in those days the "Wikipedia" of our genre.
I can't locate links to those pages because of a HD crash in 2002 and so much lost information. I don't even know if he is still alive, if his site still exists.
One of the hazards of my sites is that "authorative" links back to my sites die with their owners. We're in that age group.