Monday, February 09, 2009

Websites are for Chumps

I've had a website of one sort or another for 13 years. I've had trickles of advertising revenue for a large share of this time. You have to the keep the site up. You have to manage your keywords. You have to keep an eye on the content for the sake of monetization. You have to be a chump.
There are parts of my site I built for the joy of web publishing. There are some sections I have done so that I could get rich quick. The net effect was some joy and little cash. What if I split out those two elements: the website continues to bring the joy; but the cash comes directly from the Internet?
This is is different from Google arbitrage through Adsense: wherein you buy Adwords spots for lower cost search terms and bring the visitor to a page that is mostly Adsense. The arbitrager then makes the difference between the low value clicks he bought from AdWords and the higher value clicks generated by this traffic on his sites. In 2007, Google cracked down on this business model by closing the accounts of many arbitragers. Another way Google and Yahoo are combating the proliferation of arbitrage are through quality scoring systems. For example, in Google's case, Adwords penalizes "low quality" advertiser pages by placing a higher per click value to its campaigns. This effectively evaporates the arbitrager's profit margin.
The Google-to-Google game is largely done. It was about time, but Google was reluctant because all of those chumps who paid for an e-Book that told them this was the way to get rich quick also spent cash to Google. When Google paid them Adsense revenue, they always retain a share of what they paid out. Arbitragers made major cash for Google.
There is another way to use Google Adwords to make money and it doesn't require a website! Join an affiliate program (Amazon, a good one via Commission Junction or Clickbank). Get your direct links through to products. Go into Google Adwords and spring for an ad campaign. The URL to use in the ad campaign will be the link through to the affiliate program's product page.
Indeed, you are laying out your own cash to benefit someone else's website, but remember: clickers click. When I did my last forays into Adsense and the Yahoo advertising my hits went up by a little, but my clickthroughs from the site ads went up alot. This is because there are people who click on ads; and people who do not. If you have ads on your site to generate revenue, you want those clickers to visit. The same holds true for Adwords->affiliate paths. People who started down a road of commerce are likely to keep going-- much more so that those who trip over your site via Google. What's more: you can't screw it up yourself. Like a golfer who is bad at putting, I have watched myself get the ball on the green, get close to sinking the hole of proverbial revenue-- then adding a couple words and accidentally give my traffic a line drive into oblivion. Google couples your ads with the best matches that will make it most likely to put purchasers through your link.
Your job is to get it going, invest some cash up front into Google Adwords, monitor the end success of the campaign-- at your affiliate dashboard, and tweak. If you are getting many Adwords hits (and expenses), but few affiliate sales, then you need to review your campaign: change Adwords phrasing; or even stop the campaign and link to a more viable project. (Really, what could be more viable than the Caprica pre-sale?) After the Adwords-to-affiliate income lag closes, you can be making some cash. The best part: your Affiliate revenue - (Adwords cost + your time) = your NET INCOME. No more worrying about that bill for 1TB of traffic before Google cuts you a cheque for those eyeballs.

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