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The Internet Is Making Me Rich

February 2005

I’m raking in the dough since creating my own web site, JimKarpen.com. My first great inspiration was to become an Amazon affiliate in 1999. Whenever someone clicks on the Amazon graphic on my web site and purchases a book or other item from Amazon, I get a percentage — anywhere from 5–15%.

I have now earned a grand total of $12.

My next inspiration was the Amazon Honor System. This is cool. You put an Amazon ad on your site that lets a person easily make a donation using his or her Amazon account.

The ad even looks for an Amazon “cookie” on the person’s computer and greets him or her by name: “Hi, Jane. Support this site today! Click to give.”

This was going to be my path to riches. Imagine all the people who, having come to my site and received valuable information, would be motivated to make a small donation.

Total revenue to date: $0.

Then came Google Adsense. I was starting to feel pessimistic, but I gave it a try.

Google Adsense is doubly cool. In a few minutes you sign up, select the ad style you want, and then paste the code they generate for you into your web site. Voila, you now have some ads on your site.

But these are not just any ads: they’re perfectly related to the content of the page that the ad appears on. Whenever someone clicks on a link to access a particular page on my web site, Google does a quick scan of that page and picks ads that are the most related. People are apt to click on them because they have information my visitors are looking for. I get money each time someone clicks on an ad.

I put four small Google text ads on the front page of my site last June. After about a month I checked to see how much I’d made. Grand total: $0. But then a few months later I looked and found that I’d made $6.

This got my interest. I put the ads on a few more pages. By the end of the year my total was up to $11 – some $5 in December alone. I made as much in six months using Google Adsense as I did in five years using Amazon!

OK, enough of the silliness. My traffic is minuscule, averaging eight visitors a day. What if someone had a bit more traffic? A colleague put Adsense on her site that includes some tips and tricks related to a specific software program.

The checks began rolling in. With a little tweaking of the ads, she said she expected to be bringing in $200 a month. That’s not a lot, but as she said, “It’s nice to have money coming for something that I’d be doing anyway.”

What about a web site that has a substantial amount of traffic? A friend that I do some work for has a web site with many thousands of visitors per month. The site serves a range of purposes, but the site itself had made very little money in four years. We kept thinking that there must be a way that we could capitalize on our content.

Almost as an afterthought he placed some Adsense ads on the site, and immediately began earning $60–90 per day. He hopes to make at least $30,000 in the first year.

An article in the January issue of Discover told about Matt Haughey, who created a weblog related to his TiVo video recorder. The day after he launched his web log, he signed up for Google Adsense. Not long after, he checked his reports and found that he was making as much as $150 per day. He couldn’t believe he was pulling in that kind of money for “sitting around in your underwear writing a stupid blog.”

Enough. I’m not fixated on money. It’s not about money. The beauty of it is that it’s about meeting people’s needs. Google has always excelled at this. As Steven Levy said in a recent Newsweek, Google’s ads aren’t based on what you want to watch (and therefore somewhat intrusive) — they’re pegged to what you want to know.

Everybody wins. You click on an ad, as I’ve done many times, because it’s the thing on the page that most meets your needs. You get the information you want, and Google and the person who created the page get a little cash. It’s elegant. Just like everything Google does.

(Note: the Adsense ads on my site don't seem to show up in Safari for some reason.)

© 2005 by Jim Karpen, Ph.D

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