Have you weaned your blog from AdSense yet?

Many bloggers are strongly against AdSense. To be fair to Google (and staying away from some silly reasons to hate AdSense), it’s not so much AdSense that’s a problem rather than the way you need to use it to get maximum revenue from it.

If you do not want to turn your blog into an ad clicking machine, then you’ve probably explored alternatives to Google AdSense. At this point, 2 things happen to 99% of the people looking for alternatives to AdSense:

One, they find out that the alternatives don’t pay as much in their niche.

Two, they realise that the alternatives are not as easy to implement – whether because of more work required on your part (affiliate / own products) or because of ad network requirements (minimum monthly pageviews, etc).

While Google AdSense has been a good friend to me on Soccerlens, In the last few months I’ve made a move away from it. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • CPM ad deals push you to aiming for pageviews / new visitors – which, in some niches, means that people spam news aggregators and social media sites (not to mention search engines) in an effort to build their pageviews count. In the football niche, it’s NewsNow that bears the brunt of this spam.
    In my view, this just replaces the need to grab clicks with the need to boost your pageviews – in both cases, there is space for abuse.

  • Affiliate products work best on a product-oriented blog – it is best to setup a separate blog for affiliate products if your main interest in news or how-to stuff.
  • Paid reviews and text links are a good, short-term way for increasing revenue, but they can hurt you in Google. Once again, going after this stream of revenue forces you to run after Page Rank, which is a whole different can of worms.
    Sometimes people sell reviews / links based on their blog’s search rankings – once again, this *may* cause problems if not done discreetly.

  • Consulting is an excellent way to make money off your blog (directly / indirectly), although it takes time to build up your reputation.
    Tip: If you’re running a successful niche blog, you can offer consulting in that niche to other businesses looking to set up websites / blogs.

Currently Soccerlens has 5-6 different income streams, I’ll list them here in order of revenue:

  1. Google AdSense
  2. YardBarker (CPM-based sports ad network)
  3. Direct Ads
  4. Affiliate Programs
  5. Vibrant Media
  6. Adconion

AdSense, YardBarker and direct ads bring in 90% of the site’s income, and bring in roughly the same amount of money each.

If I had been relying on just one ad network, I would have been earning roughly 1/3rd of what I’m earning now. So, lesson #1, diversify your income.

Also, I spend only a couple of hours a day on the site at this point, partially because I’ve outsourced a lot of work and also because of the work I’ve put in building search rankings and courting guest bloggers in the last 18 months or so.

If I was using just one income stream, be it direct ads, a CPM network or AdSense, I’d have to put a lot more time / money into the site to make the same amount of money. For example, I’d need 3 times my current monthly pageviews to earn the same via CPM ads.

Soccerlens is not AdSense-free, but neither is it living solely off AdSense. Through diversification, I’ve not only made more money from the site but I’ve also managed to reduce the time spent working on the site.

So, have you weaned you blog from AdSense yet? What alternatives are you using, and what lessons have you learned?

This article was originally written on 24 Nov 2007 for Performancing.com.

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