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The beauty of adsense is that because the ads are tartgetted to content, they are highly relevant and much more likely to get a click, and most importantly, much more likely to convert for the advertisers. Therefore earnings on Google stack up a LOT better than earnings elsewhere. I've tried adsense, and I've tried untargetted ads and there really is no competition.
I know actual earnings are dependant on many factors, but I'd say that you could probably do a lot better than $5 per year for a quality article that gets only moderate visitors. One of my articles that gets only moderate traffic earns me at least 100 times that anually.
Today i was thinking to start a program to let's users post content for about 0.50c... maybe waaay to low but i'll be happy when i earn 5 dollars a year with one page. So maybe it's worth it if the articles stay online for 10 years or more.
((annual traffic to the page) / avg ctr) * avg EPC
You'd only need 167 clicks @ 3 cents a click to earn $5 per year.
I personally wouldn't waste my time writing articles that had such low EPC, unless they were directly related to the theme of a well-established site with decent traffic.
I'm not advocating targeting only high dollar keywords, but if I had the choice between putting up fifty articles on Armenian folk music or fifty articles on, say, some sort popular electronics widget, I think I'd go for the widget articles.