A year ago, I started an experiment with AdSense. I let them put ads on my blog (and some YouTube videos), and they pay me according to how many clicks and views the ads get. Clicks get more money than views.
You can read my first four posts on this subject here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
After one year, I now report that on the most part, it has been a fun failure. This blog has earned me almost $6 over the past 12 months. Woot! Woot! The YouTube portion (which I started later) has also earned me about $6 for a total of $12.
In one respect, that's actually a lot of money, considering I didn't put forth any labor. But then again, if I consider it as payment for putting together blog posts and videos, it's not really that much money at all. I could earn a higher hourly rate working a minimum wage job.
Plus, I'm thinking more and more that the ads don't look good on my blog. They hardly seem to match the subject matter. And as I mentioned earlier, it's difficult to control which questionable ads to turn off. You can turn off certain categories, but often if I see a questionable ad, there's no good way to determine what it's category is, or to simply block that specific ad. (As if I click on the ad to get information, I get penalized.)
The exact amount of earnings is still confusing. If I click on the earnings report, it shows "estimated" earnings. But why can't it be exact? It gives me a sense that clicks aren't registering (technical problems), and/or AdSense decides to negate some earnings for whatever reason ... either way it seems that any error will resolve to benefit the company. And no matter how I look at the numbers, I can never get them to add up to my "current balance." What kind of money voodoo do they do?
When I did my taxes, I was technically supposed to report my earnings during the year even though I didn't receive a payment. But there were two problems:
#1) I had no way to get an exact amount from their website.
#2) They provided no tax earnings report for me. When I clicked on the link to take me to my tax reports, it said "Page not found," implying that there are no forms for me.
No tax report and no firm earnings amount meant no reporting earnings on my tax return. But don't worry, Uncle Sam. You'll get your taxes when I actually get paid.
At the beginning of 2015, I hit the magical $10 threshold. That was kind-of fun. I got something in the mail that contained some secret numbers for me to set up payment information. This meant two things:
#1) I can now get paid my earnings whenever I want them. If it hits $100, they'll automatically send me money. (Though I still have to tell them how to send it to me.)
#2) I now have access to the payment reports, which provide more concrete numbers. It shows how much payment actually got accrued to me. And it shows how much came from this blog, and how much came from YouTube. On a monthly basis, YouTube provides a slightly higher payout. If only I had access to this info when I filed my taxes!
What's up next? As soon as I finish my Justice novel and get it published, I'm planning on removing AdSense from my blog and replacing it with an ad to buy my book. Then I'll have something that actually matches my blog content, and something that will pay more with each click. I will still keep AdSense on my YouTube account, and the experiment will continue.