I registered my domain seven years ago to present my business
to the web. I got the idea that I could attract potential clients
by writing articles and posting them on my website. They were at
first very focussed on what I do but eventually ended up covering
This worked very well for me, because hundreds of people who have read
my articles linked either to one of them or to my homepage, and so some
of my articles
are now very popular. Every now and then someone who needs
what I offer reads an article and then realizes I'm for hire and
inquires, and maybe then I get a contract.
This ended up working so well for me that these days I have
to turn away business. My website as a whole gets over a hundred
thousand hits a month. My homepage is
PageRank 6, and
all my articles
are either PageRank 4 or PageRank 5. My pages are in the top ten for hundreds,
if not thousands of relevant queries, and many of my pages are #1
for lots of queries.
I had some
health problems last year and was unable to work enough
to get by, so I finally tried AdSense. I put it on all my articles,
but not my homepage which still is meant for my clients to see. My
first month I made over three thousand dollars. I could see from my
ad performance report that this was going to happen within a few
hours of publishing my first ads. It made me break down and cry.
I have not always made that much. Last month (March 2005)
was only eighteen
hundred, but April started up again in the last week, coming out
at $2100 and I can see how I might make $3k in May.
It's not simply a clean, honest site, my whole
reputation as a
businessman depends on it. With the expenses I have, I'm not
able to quit working (yet!), so I have to run a very clean operation.
I have also worked like a slave on my website on many occasions. A
my articles took more than a month to write.
I had this crappy old half-baked HTML design, with poor navigation,
inconsistent colors, invalid HTML, formatted with nested tables and
the works, but I suddenly lost a contract a couple months ago and was
in a really hard way. To get back to work quickly I started paying for
advertising with money that was very scarce.
My wife, who used to be a web designer before she went back to
art school, had made a really nice
XHTML+CSS design for my site, with easy navigation, consistent colors,
a nice theme, but when she realized there were over a hundred
hand-coded static HTML files on my site, most of them in ancient,
invalid HTML, she was too intimidated to roll out her design across my site.
Her templates sat on her computer for over a year until I started
paying for advertising. I began to fear that people would click my
ads - costing me money - see my half-baked homepage, and just press
the back button without even reading what I had to offer. So I spent
three solid days, and nights, without sleeping, on a marathon HTML
coding session to implement her design.
All I did at first was to redesign my homepage and each of
the pages that were directly linked from my homepage, but there
were quite a few of those.
My hard work, and advertising gamble paid off. I got back to work
quickly enough that by the time I could earn a paycheck we hadn't
starved or become homeless yet.
Since then I've been redesigning an article each week. I have about
a third of them done now.
So yes, clean, honest hard-working webmastering pays.
I'm now paying to
advertise my articles. When I have a new
one redesigned, I pay for ads for it. I had AdSense on all of
them at first, but have been removing it from the non-performing
pages. My objective in my advertising is not to drive clicks to my
ads, but to bring repeat visitors to my site, and over time build
even more traffic as (hopefully) some of these people give me links.
Now, it took six years to get my site to where I was able to earn
$3k in my first month of AdSense. But I didn't have the first clue
about anything when I started out. It wasn't for several years that
I really started to devote much time to my articles, when I realized
what a difference they were making to me.
I think that if I were just starting out with a totally new website,
knowing what I know now, I could get it to $3k in AdSense after a year.
It would help to have an ad budget, but that's not the most important
thing, it's having a site that's worth someone's time and effort to
link to. It's having a site that makes people want to link it.
My advice, if you're just starting out, is to not post any
ads on it at all. Not even one! Not for at least a year. Why? I think
ads discourage linking. Once you do publish ads, test them for a week
or two and then remove them from all the nonperforming pages. A page
without AdSense still gets linked, drives up the pagerank of your site
and is a gateway to your other pages.
When I'm done redesigning my articles, there will be just
one AdSense unit on one web page.
That single ad unit is responsible for all but about ten dollars of my monthly
revenue. I think the other pages will be better at building traffic to
my site if they didn't have ads, and I would have already removed their
AdSense but I have so many that I just don't have the time.
I have become very well aware that I'm sitting on top of a gold mine,
just beginning to tap into the vein of ore. I am very inspired to
read so many posts here from people who say they were able to quit
their jobs because of AdSense. I'm not there yet, but it is my objective
to quit working my original job within a year and instead make a
living - a good, comfortable living - writing content for my site.
I've been in the same line of work for
seventeen years, and have
been self-employed for seven. It's not an easy way to live. I wish
I could go back to my younger self and shake some sense into me.
But now I see a way out.
So there you have it. Clean, hard work is indeed the key
to success on the web.
I originally planned to keep this article proprietary as a way
to draw traffic to
my website. For reasons
I explained in my diary
The Way of the White Hat SEO Ninja, I am releasing it under
Creative Commons and submitting it here and elsewhere
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs
License. To view a copy of this license, visit
or send a letter to Creative Commons, 559 Nathan Abbott Way,
Stanford, California 94305, USA.