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Earning a Buck On The Interweb…

By Stephen Spry

Even though I’ve been online since 1995, earning a buck on the Internet has not been easy… and it still isn’t. Not really!

The early days of web design were a lot like the days when desktop publishing was introduced, where absolutely “anyone” can do it!

Heck there were (and still are) software packages available through my son’s primary school for 8 year olds to do their own web pages… that’s how “easy” it is supposedly… Not!

Anyone that “knows” understands that building a web “site” is but only one variable in the much bigger, complicated equation of getting a business online.

But you can’t really tell the public that, and my competition was hotting up, with the “kid-next-door” and “Joe Blow” all able to supposedly do the same thing I could… and they could do it for peanuts too!

But you know what you get when you pay peanuts don’t you? 🙂

So one of the reasons I started setting up my “network” of sites/directories in the first place was to earn money from people who were interested in paid advertising.

Well good luck with that! LOL!

The Internet was, and still is, essentially all about “free”! Even though there are more people around now who might be interested in paying for advertising… they are still basically as scarce as hen’s teeth if you are a small publisher.

If people think they can get something for nothing, they’ll be reluctant to pay money for something they see as “similar” – even though you and I both know it probably isn’t!

So things were a bit slow income-wise on that score, but I was building lots of pages and traffic on the handful of sites I had. Something must happen soon…

And it did!

Google’s Adsense program

This was launched in mid 2003, and I jumped on that bandwagon in the July. At first, I put ads on just a few pages of my Careers OnLine site to “see what might happen”.

It didn’t take me long to put those little ads on EVERY possible page on that site! Actually within a couple of days, that’s how significant this program was!

And then – I worked to change ALL my other sites to include this new form of advertising, designed it seems, especially for small, struggling web publishers just like me!

I finally had some reasonable money coming in – for once! Within two months I had a regular US$1000+ coming in! And within 6 months, that was up around $3k+ every month and continue like that for quite some time!

Adsense was my saviour! Especially when the Aussie dollar was running around US$0.75c – the conversion was excellent! (not so now… almost have parity, so no extra “bonus” from exchange rates.)

But the Adsense income fluctuates far too much for my liking!

One month I pulled in US$3800 (my best ever) and then shortly after, I was lucky to get $2100.

For most of the first few years, it simply “hovered” around the $2.5 – $3k mark… despite my continued efforts to build new sites to my network, and have mechanisms in place to add new content to my existing sites (and NOT by scraping other people’s work).

For many years, Adsense has allowed me to be a stay-at-home single dad, and not worry too much about going back to a “real” J.O.B.

But ever since the 2008 G.F.C. (that’s Global Financial Crisis) began, I could see a SIGNIFICANT drop in earnings through this program.

For most of 2010, I’ve been lucky to score $1800 a month from it… despite the hundreds of thousands of page impressions that still get served up every month.

So for the last few years, there’s been a very real need for a “Plan B” to supplement my income long-term, instead of leaving all my eggs in the Google basket!