Make money online, part 1: Introduction to Google AdSense

Make money online, part 1: Introduction to Google AdSense

Summary: Google AdSense provides arguably the easiest avenue to make money online. Learn about it here in the first post of my making money online series!

TOPICS: Google
Make money online: Part 1

Make money online: Part 1

If you've found your way to this post without having first read my introduction to this series, please read it before carrying forward. It's not a necessity for you to read, but I wrote it to help cast away the understandable skepticism and doubt that posts like this are typically met with.

Welcome to part one of my make money onlineseries! I'm going to cover a lot of new territory for many of you, so bookmark this post for continual reference. If you're familiar with implementing AdSense on your Website, then this is most likely an article that's safe for you to skip. The main audience I'm looking to reach are those who aren't currently familiar with AdSense or implementing ads in general. Each part in this series will build on the previous part before it, so although this part may not be news to some of you, I need to build a foundation for those who are completely new to this. To start, I know that some of you reading this may feel skeptical, overwhelmed, anxious, or doubt that you can even do this -- especially if you have absolutely no idea what "Google AdSense" is. Well, please bear with me and give this post -- and yourself(!) -- a chance. I will do my absolute best to give you a solid foundation of how ads work and how you can easily implement them on your very own site via Google AdSense. With that said, let's get started with building your online money-making foundation with ads.

The Nuts and Bolts of Ads

Prior to this point, you may or may not have heard of Google AdSense. If you haven't, it's an ad network that Google has set up to allow Web site owners, bloggers, and others to place ads on their site and make money. Put simply, an ad network is essentially a place that contains ads from companies who are looking to advertise on Web sites. Companies approach ad networks and they ask them to run their ads on sites that are signed up on the ad network (i.e. if you had a Google AdSense account). Simple concept, right? The quick 'n dirty breakdown goes something like this (don't worry if you don't understand any of this yet; I break it all down on page 2 for you):

  • 1 - Begin with a Web site or a blog.
  • 2 - Sign up for a Google AdSense account (it's free).
  • 3 - Prepare an ad unit to be posted on your site (color, size, and content you would like to filter).
  • 4 - Place your ad unit on your Web site/blog.
  • 5 - Populate your Web site/blog with content.
  • 6 - Promote your Web site/blog and make money from ad clicks/ad views.

Now, it's not so simple to just follow 6 steps and profit, but that's the essential framework of how it works. There is a great deal that you need to do with each step to help #6 along and I will cover the essentials later in the post. But for all intents and purposes, it really comes down to having a site, signing up for AdSense, creating an ad unit (basically, a placeholder you put on your Web site that runs ads from Google AdSense), then placing it on your site and hopefully making money as you populate your site with content and grow its popularity. Now, if you're like me, you need almost granular detail about how something works to feel like you've got a solid understanding of it.

In order for you to really understand how this all works -- I mean, for you to get a FIRM grasp -- you have to understand the ad ecosystem a bit. In other words, how do these ads -- seemingly EVERYWHERE you go these days online -- actually help make a person money? How do these ads make Google BILLIONS of dollars? How does Google pay you when you place these ads on your site? How do the companies that these ads are created for profit? By the way, if you have any specific questions you would like to ask after reading this article, feel free to fire them away in the comments below, okay? But PLEASE READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE FIRST! Despite my initial attempt to make this article flow as easily as possible, I will inevitably touch on various points at different times and leave a number of you confused.

First, it's important to understand what happens when someone clicks an AdSense ad. The site that runs the ad makes money AND Google makes money. In fact, Google earns more than you do by a wide margin, so that's how Google can afford to do this. So, to take you to the top of the chain of how it works, companies go to Google and they say, "Hey, Google! I'll pay X amount of dollars/cents to you for every ad click and/or ad impression if you run my ad on relevant sites that people have AdSense installed on." Google then takes that ad (which must first go through a strict acceptance process), pops it on their AdSense network, then -- if your site is deemed relevant to the content of the ad -- Google will give you a percentage of what they earn from every click on that ad if it displays to a visitor on your site.

The only grab to the whole thing is that you don't see any of that money hit your bank account until you earn $100 worth of clicks/impressions (impressions are simply the ad being displayed. A small amount is usually paid per X number of impressions, but clicks are always worth far more). That's okay, though, because seeing even one cent show up in your AdSense account is a huge motivator if you've never messed with it before. Once you see that it really works, it motivates you. To note, it took me 11 months to hit $100 when I first started running AdSense ads, primarily due to me not having a good understanding of it, but for as long as that may seem, time flew by and I was enjoying watching the numbers rise (even if it was at a snail's pace). It can get frustrating sometimes when you don't see the numbers rise quickly, but always remind yourself that you have PLENTY OF TIME to work on this!

Don't let your desire to make money override sound perspective. Even if it takes you a year to hit $100.00, that will be an extra $100.00 you didn't have before! Plus, the learning experience makes it worth it. With that said, I will be giving you many options to choose from throughout this series, such that you will undoubtedly find a way to monetize something you're passionate about; thus, the effort you put into things will be fun more times than not. I promise. :) Back to AdSense, when you sign up, they require your Social Security number (SSN), address, name, and additional personal information. This is because you're essentially starting your own little freelance business. And because Google are the ones who pay you, they have to report all of these things when it comes tax time.

So, if you're a Google conspiracy theorist or reserved about Google having that information, then you will just have to wait until future parts of this series to find something to delve into. Now, where taxes are concerned, it is very important for you to understand that you have to report your earnings (here in the U.S. at least). With earning money online comes a certain level of responsibility. Don't dig your own grave by earning a lot and then spending it all! If you remember taxes and integrate that into your earning process, you will not have to worry about shelling money out-of-pocket to cover them if you don't have enough write-offs to balance your earnings. A good rule I recommend is to put away 50% of what you earn every time you get paid. That will ensure that you have more than enough come tax time.

So, are you overwhelmed or confused? Are you ready to not even consider doing this because I'm talking about Web sites and blogs and ads and taxes and social security numbers and the likes? Yes, there is an education that has to happen here, but trust me when I say it's really not as big of a deal as it seems right now. Yes, you may have some things to learn -- potentially a lot -- but so did I! Heck, to this day, I'm stilllearning, but that process never really ends. If you stick with it, you'll get the basics down with no problem. From there, it's all about monitoring ad performance, trying new spots for your ads if one spot doesn't seem to be performing well, and more advanced things that will help you earn *more*. You will already be earning, but the quest then becomes earning *more* than you're already earning. Still with me? I hope so. :) If so, then let's head on over to page two where I'll delve into the aforementioned 6 steps in more detail for you. Then, I'll discuss some AdSense no-nos and conclude the first part of this series!

Down to Specifics

Alright. So now I'm going to take those 6 steps on the previous page and explain them in more granular detail. But before I do that, let me once again stress that you need to give yourself time to learn! For many of you, I recommend giving yourself at least3-6 months to gain a solid understanding of everything I cover and link to in this article. And if you have any questions or if you're confused about something by the time you reach the end of the article, I encourage you to please ask questions. I will answer them as best I can! And now on to the 6 steps:

  • 1 - Start a Web site or a blog: If you've never started your own Web site or blog, then your journey to implementing ads to make money probably feels like an impossibility to you right now. Fear not, though. If you're unsure how to purchase a domain name, a hosting plan, and put up your own Web site, there are plenty of places out there on the Web where you can simply sign up for a free blog! I recommend WordPress or Blogger. Both sites have great guides for walking you through sign-up and quickly choosing a look to get you off-and-running quickly. Again, it's completely free to sign up for a WordPress or Blogger blog, so right off the bat with this process, you're out absolutely nothing monetarily.
  • 2 - Sign up for a Google AdSense account: Signing up for AdSense isn't difficult, but it does involve a process. Once you provide Google with the information they need, they will mail you a card (not email, but snail mail) which contains a code you will need to enter to activate your account. This is so they can verify your address. Now, I'm a big fan of utilizing well-crafted resources, so just about all of your questions about signing up for -- and utilzing -- AdSense are answered on Google's AdSense Newbie Central or on their AdSense Support site. Look in the left-hand sidebar of either of those sites to find links that will take you to AdSense videos, webinars, and more! I expect you to spend some time around there and really get your learn on.
  • 3 - Prepare an ad unit to be posted on your site (color, size, and content you would like to filter): Once again, referring to Google's very own help section will allow you to make fast work of this. Here is a link to Google's help section regarding the preparation and utilization of ad units. When doing this step, take into consideration the types of content that are most related to the content of your site. You can filter out specific categories of content not related to your site, thus eliminating pointless ads from being shown to your users! Unfortunately, for the time being, filtering out content affects all of your ad units. So if you have two completely different Web sites, since you can only have one AdSense account, you will need to have all applicable categories of content made available. Luckily, though, if your site's content is targeted enough, Google will be smart enough to apply applicable ads to your individual sites! Remember, no clicks for you means no clicks for them. They make money when you make money, so it's in their best interests to display the most relevant ads to your site. Lastly, you can create as many ad units as you'd like, but only 3 will display on any one page, so take that into consideration as well.
  • 4 - Place your ad unit on your Web site: Once you follow the steps above, you will have an ad unit ready to be placed on your Web site. Where you place it is up to you, but there are people out there who swear by particular placements. It seems individuals have their own unique success with placements, though most I have run across claim that the right side of the page works best for them. If you would like, you could just stick with what Google recommends for your type of site by using their ad location best practices optimizer. While there are ways to monitor individual ad performance and placement, I will cover that and more advanced facets in a later post.
  • 5 - Populate your Web site or blog with content: The easiest and most fun of the steps, this is where you fill your site with whatever content you want! If you run a photo blog, post photos. If you run a journalism site, post articles. If you run a game site, post links to games. Whatever you do, definitely get text on your page that's related to the topic of your site. If you run a photo blog and only post photos, Google isn't going to have a freakin' clue as to what types of ads to run for you. Their spider understands text, not images. So, if you have a picture of a blue flower, make sure you get the words "blue flower" on the page! If need be, take a look at the steps in my SEO for images blog post to get a good idea for ways to get text in with your images!
  • 6 - Promote your Web site or blog and make money from ad clicks/ad views: Promotion is incredibly important, because you can't obtain ad clicks or page views if you don't have visitors! Create a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and maybe even a LinkedIn account. These are very popular social networks that will allow like-minded people to find you much quicker than if you simply create a site, post to the site, and leave it at that. And if you look at my signature at the bottom of this post, you will see where I have linked out to all three of those sites! Another idea is to go out and find some forums or other blogs that post content related to yours. Visit Google, type in a search related to your content and add the word "blog" or "forum" to it. You can establish mutual friendships with individuals who run similar sites and engage in facets like guest-posting. If someone has a much more popular blog than you, why not see if you can do a guest post on their blog with a link back to your page? If people enjoy what you post there, they will certainly check you out! But you want to have content on your site for people to see if they go there, so make sure you spend some time populating your site before you spend time promoting it heavily.

I will dive much deeper into some of the methods above in a later post. Believe me when I say there is A LOT to discuss yet in terms of monitoring ad performance, ways to promote your site, and more. People have whole blogs dedicated to just those topics alone, so if I didn't cover something in particular that comes to mind for you, feel free to ask and I'll either give you an answer myself or link you to somewhere that has information I think you will find useful.

AdSense No-Nos

No introduction to Google AdSense is complete without a naughty list. An extensive list of Google's AdSense program policies can be found here, but I'm going to list Google's brief overviewof them here for faster reference:

1. Don't click on your own ads. 2. Don't ask others to click on your ads. 3. Don't include any prohibited site content, including adult content, violence or excessive profanity, drugs (including alcohol and tobacco), or copyrighted material. 4. Don't modify the AdSense code. 5. Do follow our Webmaster Quality Guidelines. 6. Do provide a good user experience. 7. Don't place more than 3 ad units, 3 link units, and 2 search boxes on any page. 8. Don't place images near ads in a way that may mislead users into thinking that the images are associated with the ads.

And with that, I will go ahead and wrap up this introduction to Google AdSense. As you can see, it's free to sign up and the only cost is your time and effort. There is certainly a learning curve, but if you're already running a Web site that sees any number of visitors, you need to get on the ball and start running AdSense if you're seeking out avenues for earning residual income! If you're lucky enough, you may end up like one of the few who earn tens-of-thousands of dollars a month on AdSense. The most I've ever made in a month is ~$400, and you had better believe that while it didn't make me rich, it made me unbelievably happy. An extra $400 a month can do a lot of good for someone -- especially in this economy (speaking as someone who lives in the U.S.)!

In future posts, I will be covering specific manners in which you can utilize AdSense and give you ideas for creating sites if you're not sure what to do with the information in this post. Plus, I will be covering online money-making ideas that don't involve ads whatsoever, so if all of this is just too much for you, perhaps a future part in the series will appeal to you. Thank you for reading, I hope you found this post informative, and please do not hesitate to ask me any questions you may have. I know for a fact I didn't cover certain things as thoroughly as some of you may need, so feel free to ask me questions and I'll be glad to help however I can!

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Topic: Google

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  • RE: Make money online, part 1: Introduction to Google AdSense

    First and foremost, Thank You Stephen for the article! I know people have been nagging you for the past few months about getting Part 1 up online. Fortunately, I'm not one of those people ;-). Nonetheless, I (and I guess everyone who's been waiting) really appreciate it.

    I've been considering starting a blog and monetizing it for the longest time. Although I consider myself to be a "techie" (I work in IT), my issue is primarily writing good content (definitely not my forte). Any advice you can give me on that?

    Also, if I were to create a blog on music videos, how can I implement Google's Adsense ads on my site without violating their policies (particularly the one that states not to include copyrighted materials)?

    • RE: Make money online, part 1: Introduction to Google AdSense

      @coolmac76@... Hey, thanks for your patience and for reading! Here's some advice for your questions:

      1 - This is an issue even for writers! In the next part, I plan to cover niche blogging. It can be very lucrative, but often times, the most lucrative niches are ones you don't have the slightest clue about. Personally, I don't like to just put garbage out there for the sake of making money; I like to make niche blogs regarding topics I can provide real value with.

      If you're going to start a blog to monetize regarding a topic you're knowledgeable and/or passionate about, just write whatever comes to mind without worry for how useful or lengthy it is yet. Often times, I like to just sit down and brainstorm in notepad. Some ideas happen and I can crank out a piece like that, and then there are the ideas I've been sitting on for a year or two now, still trying to formulate a post such that I feel it justifies the topic!

      Also, it helps to research how other people go about writing content regarding topics you're interested in starting a blog about. Some Google searching for those topics along with the word "blog" or something of that nature should give you great ideas.

      One of my last resorts back when I was heavily into niche blogging was to go to somewhere like TextBroker and pay for an article to be written for me on a topic. It's fast, it's cheap, but it also requires some editing on your behalf if you want it to sound just like you'd like.

      2 - I'm no authority of AdSense, but the latter point seems to be the least restrictive. Where do you plan on posting the videos from, YouTube? Wherever it is, if you source the content somewhere in the post, you should be good to go. I'm not an authority on this though, so you may want to check elsewhere. I think the clearest choice is to err on the side of caution, but if I were you, I would go for it and just source any actual videos from YouTube. If any cases are brought up about copyrighted content, YouTube will take the fall and remove the video; not you. As for the AdSense side of things, well, I see it *everywhere* on sites that primarily post what could be considered copyrighted content, so I wouldn't worry too much about it.

      Hope that helps a bit!

      • Thanks for the Make Money Online Tips

        I found your site while researching my back-links and your article caught my eye. The title was so close to one that I wrote on I thought it was a re-write but obviously not. Your article is much better than mine and much more detailed. ZDNet has always been one of my favorite blogs, are you the owner? Would like to hear from you.
    • RE: Make money online, part 1: Introduction to Google AdSense

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  • RE: Make money online, part 1: Introduction to Google AdSense

    Nice article.

    I shall be reading the rest of your articles base on this topic.
    • RE: Make money online, part 1: Introduction to Google AdSense

      @Knowles2 Hey, thanks for taking the time to read and comment! I'm glad you found it enjoyable. :D

    • RE: Make money online, part 1: Introduction to Google AdSense

      @Knowles2 Yes knowles2 definitely great article. Have already subscribed.
  • RE: Make money online, part 1: Introduction to Google AdSense

    Thanks Stephen for the reply! Really appreciate it.

    • RE: Make money online, part 1: Introduction to Google AdSense

      @coolmac76@... Any time!
  • really could not use the adsense part

    there are lots of great companies out there beside Google to team with I myself have had bad luck with both adsence and adwords but found awesome alternatives. but anyway great article.
    • Share?

      @mikeb270 - how about sharing a few of those "awesome alternatives"???
    • RE: Make money online, part 1: Introduction to Google AdSense

      @mikeb270 Definitely share your alternatives! I will be covering alternate avenues of monetization in a later post, such as affiliate offers, etc. Anything that you've found success with would be great to contribute here for others! Thanks for reading and commenting. :)

  • RE: Make money online, part 1: Introduction to Google AdSense

    I am new to this site and found you from another site. I have been thinking about starting Blog, but am clueless at this point so I am looking for as much information as I can find. You have great info here, thanks for making it available. I always thought that making money from ads was a gimmick, but I guess it isn't. I do have to keep in mind that it's not a million dollar business for the blogger though - as long as I realize that I shouldn't be disappointed. Like you said, any money you make from ads is money you didn't have.

    Thanks again!
    • RE: Make money online, part 1: Introduction to Google AdSense

      @Sunshine65 Hey, thanks for reading! I'm really happy you've found this stuff useful. I, too, used to think ads were a gimmick, but once you set out to really learn to utilize them, you quickly find they do work! Unfortunately, most people won't even make that first $100, because earning *can* be a really slow process and it *does* take time and effort; populating the blog with content on a regular basis, promoting your own content via social media avenues, etc. but if you have a passion for anything at all that you can put into writing, AdSense is a great way to monetize that.

      Thanks again!

  • RE: Make money online, part 1: Introduction to Google AdSense

    Thank you Stephen. I really glad i clicked on this link. I was recommended by my brother in law to research on making money online and this is exactly what he was describing. I am have been considering blogging for a while. I have been jotting down Blog subjects. I have experienced a lot in my young life. I will be using my blog as pretty much an open book into my life, to encourage people ... would having a Christian tone to my blog minimize my opportunities for ads.
    Just want an idea if this is something that would benefit, or something I should either pursue or not.
    • RE: Make money online, part 1: Introduction to Google AdSense

      @Famray4 Ultimately, you will never know until you try. As for the Christian tone, there are TONS of ads where that's concerned. Setting aside what religion does for people on a personal level, religion is a huge business. HUGE. With that in mind, you will absolutely see no shortage of ads where that's concerned.

      Go for it! Be passionate and honest about what you write, and do it for your enjoyment. People may just come to read inspiration, or they may get that and more thanks to advertisements. Some people hate ads, others don't mind. Again, ultimately, you never know until you give it a shot. Just make sure you promote yourself in other places and don't just expect people to randomly find your blog or spread it by word-of-mouth.

      Good luck!

      • RE: Make money online, part 1: Introduction to Google AdSense

        @StephenChapman YESSS!!! I am sooo even the more inspired by ur comment now. I thought I would get an alert that you responded to my message by email, but it didnt. I am soooo glad I went on here and saw that you had responded. I THANK U SOOO VERY MUCH. I am on facebook and have been for years. And what prompted me to blog was because i found my desire to post stats had become very lengthy and full of passion. I enjoy writing and being myself...with flaws and another thing I wondered aside from the it a way to block people from your blog if there is some unwanted posts?
      • RE: Make money online, part 1: Introduction to Google AdSense

        @Famray4 There are some methods of blacklisting people, but the best way is ultimately to moderate your comments and just delete the ones you find unfavorable. Most spam messages can be filtered out automatically via blog plug-ins (if you use something like Wordpress or Blogger), and you can also enable abilities like denying comments from being posted that contain certain keywords of your specification. Lastly, I'm fairly certain you can go so far as blacklist IP addresses from certain commenters. Here again, though, keeping up with your comments and moderating them as often as you can is ultimately the most effecting thing you can do to nix unwanted comments.

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  • You inspired me to write blog to earn

    Stephen Chapman thanks for you all advise. Because of you i started to written a blog to the name of Now I am getting around $300 per day. In starting it is really a painful and i was getting around $1 in a week. Soon I started R&D & check user's behavior and now i am getting maximum click because of google adsense adds position.

    We are aware that content is a King but position & type of adds will help you to become a real king as soon as possible. If any one wish to check add position, he/she can check my website and please suggest that how can I make much better for more click and revenue.

    I am not satisfy & started two new blogs and for more revenue and my target is $1000 per day.

    Soon i will share my all experience and tips with all of you through , please share your views and suggestion with me.