"Master Dayton" might be humorous, (I mean if Ph.Ds are called "Doctors," shouldn't MFAs be called "Masters?") but in all seriousness I have made a living freelance writing and after several years I have tons of information I want to share to help out my fellow writers, regardless of age, experience, goals, situation, or background. This blog isn't pretty-but it will help if real freelance writing information is what you want.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Making Money with Adsense: Freelance Writers Beware the Smart Pricing Mark!

Passive Income for Writers: Some AdSense Warnings

Freelance writing takes some time and effort to break into, and for most of the last three years and change the majority of writing for money that I've done has been the "normal" type where you write, get paid, and that's more or less it. A lot of this has been online writing and ghost writing because there's an extremely high demand for both, and anyone who knows my story, from near bankruptcy to the car accident that busted both my legs to some periods of homelessness (or near to it) can see why sometimes I worked for less because I needed cash now. Somewhere in the middle of all that mess I figured out how to become a great freelance writer (enough to make a living writing) and returned to and finished grad school despite a really negative environment, considering my situation.

There is another type of freelance writing that online writers can do to make money, and that's earning passive income. While writers can make passive income with some more traditional writing at websites like ehow and Associated Content, but this doesn't offer the same level of passive income that more Internet marketing based writing can make. The one program that is almost the definition of passive income is Google AdSense.

The early disclaimer: I've been getting into AdSense part time for only a few months. So I'm nowhere near a Guru or Expert level, but I've followed the advice of some of the AdSense/SEO experts who share their secrets and make a full time living with AdSense (I'll include their links later in this post) and even with the relatively little time I've been at it, I've seen their strategies work first hand and the percentages for me shooting up like crazy.

Many people give up on AdSense after a few months, and online forums are littered with "I only made $1 in a month" or "I made only $5 in four months," stories of people quitting, thinking there was some magic bullet to passive income. AdSense, and most of what it takes to build actual automated income, is going to fall more under Internet Marketing as opposed to Freelance Writing. Part of the reason is people have unrealistic expectations early on. Check out this great blog post about quick easy ways to make money to really get a good sense of how the beginning process of making money online takes place.

Does a freelance writer have an advantage? I think yes, if he/she knows who to learn from and can adapt quickly to the style needed to maximize writing earnings. If a person refuses to learn how online search engines, traffic, and Internet Marketing works, then $1 a month only, or $5 a year might be all that a person can make from AdSense.

As part of the agreement to be part of Google AdSense, there are a lot of stats I can't reveal, but I can give you a look at monthly earnings:

  • May - $0.00 (didn't even have traffic every day - I was a total noob)
  • June - $1.21
  • July - $3.99 (pathetic, but sadly more than many make)
  • Aug- $12.40
  • Sept- $22.95
  • Oct- $28.52

Now before anyone starts scoffing: I did virtually no gathering of back links until recently, until September it was all from one blog I barely wrote any posts for, and a lot of the later stuff was from joining Hub Pages, which splits impressions and clicks. How much time do I spend on this passive income? Not nearly enough. Maybe 1-3 hours a week, and after doing a lot of reading, I realize most of what I've done the past few months is wrong. But this is encouraging, because I'm just short of averaging a dollar a day, and that's if I don't do anything.

Unless I Get Smart Priced.

"Smart Pricing" is when you fall below a certain percentage of clicks per impressions. Based on conversations I've had with friends and other online sources, the general consensus seems to be that the smart price line is probably around 2.00%. This is the point where instead of being worth 25, 58, or 70 cents (and yes, I was a newbie starting out, so I chose areas where the pay outs aren't as good as they could be) a click, they're suddenly worth 3, 4, or 7 cents a click. Not good.

Smart priced, I'd only be looking at $6-12 a month if I never did anything and never improved my stats. Without smart pricing, I should be able to earn $35 or more in automated income. For never doing any work, and having yet to come close to dominating a niche, this isn't bad. Knowing what Justin, Vic, and Grizz teach, I know how to go about doing this.

The problem is, let's say hypothetically Mr. MD has sites that are getting more and more traffic, but for some reason the click numbers are declining at the same time. Even though Mr. MD's total history with Google he is still above that hypothetical 2% line to get the better compensated clicks, there are a lot of people noticing, like Mr. MD, that if at the beginning of a month there are a few bad days to pull you down below 2%, then you get smart priced.

That means a really bad start to the month can badly dent the earnings numbers.

As far as I can tell, aside from a few very out of the way forums, no one has talked about smart pricing as a monthly thing. This is something to keep in mind, especially when trying to start from the beginning. This is the quick note to new freelance writers looking for passive income: be aware of this stumbling block, and don't let it get you down, and don't let it scare you off.

If anyone knows of other "hypothetical experiences" detailing this same finding for the month, let me know in the comments about other things you've "heard." As far as my hypothetical friend Mr. MD, he's going to keep plugging away and applying the lessons learned from the experts to figure out what he's doing wrong and fix it. Hundreds or even thousands of people make a full time living out of AdSense, so he knows he can, too!

That's an update on another potential nugget of knowledge that could help you if you decide to go into the Google AdSense program. Best of luck, and here are the links to these guys' blogs:

Grizz's Make Money with AdSense Blog

Vic's Make Money with Niche Stores

Justin's Make Money Online Site

If you want to learn how to make money online with AdSense, blogs, affiliate marketing, and niche stores, these are the guys you need to learn from.

Next time: Helium.com review, and a possible stay of execution. I'll get more into their recent announcements and why that might barely be enough to keep me from blasting their site to the netherworld of the Internet...maybe.


  1. Freelancing is the best way to make money online. Ad sense added to free lancing is very useful and the gains will be very high comparatively. But all that we need to be careful is about picking a good project with smart pricing mark. This post willl help for that purpose.

  2. You're making a lot with AdSense compared to most people that I know. How many Hubs do you have? I have quite a few, but they have actually been taking far more of the AdSense views than they are supposed to, so it's been close to nothing.

  3. Thanks for the comments, guys. Shepherd, I currently have 37 Hubs on Hubpages. Previously these were about 80% of my clicks, most of which came from 1-2 hubs, but recently I've seen the clicks go way down, so I'm trying to figure out what's up. Smart Pricing is definitely a **** :) I'm plugging away. It seems I'm getting a lot less clicks from Hubpages, but I can't tell if it's a slow time for clicks, something wrong with the counting, or I did notice Google changed the ads on my best hub (and they're less of a match than the previous ads). It could very well be a combination, but that's the next task for me to figure out. Based on the end of October I figured I was on the way to a $50 month, but one step forward, two steps back. Thanks for commenting!

  4. As a further update now that it's well over a year later, I can say that based on experience, this is a problem that affects low volume earners more than high volume earners. In my experience, once you get a lot more traffic and daily clicks, the 2% line isn't a very big deal anymore, so don't get discouraged early and just keep at it!