You Can’t Make Money With Adsense Unless Your Site Sucks (Or Avoiding The Abundance Trap)


So I'm doing some work for a guy who wants more visitors to his blog.

"I want 1000 readers a day." he told me.

Now that's reasonable.

But the truth is: it's not that important.

In this day and age the numbers don't matter.

Influence does.


Everyone talks numbers.

Television shows obsess over ratings.

Movies obsess over box office receipts.

Bloggers obsess over page views.

But all that's backwards.

In a multi-media, million channel universe, your numbers are really not that important.

What's important is your influence.

I might visit a dozen car sites but the one I buy from is the one that matters.

I may visit a dozen news sites but it's the ones I trust that matter.

If I am visiting a site I like then the last thing I'm going to do is click on an ad.

Because I don't want to leave.

The way the system is set up now, you are rewarded for being boring.

People make money with splogs because people want to get the hell off the site as quickly as possible and go.


You can't make real money with adsense unless your site sucks.

Here's the dealio.

Everything has changed.

Some folks just don't know it yet.

In an age of abundance, abundance doesn't matter…

Value only comes from audience influence.

No matter the size.

Forget the numbers.


Explore posts in the same categories: advertisers, advertising, advertising agencies, Army Of One, authenticity, blog networks, influence, movies, television, trends

38 Comments on “You Can’t Make Money With Adsense Unless Your Site Sucks (Or Avoiding The Abundance Trap)”

  1. Andy H Says:

    So how is the monetization of ‘influence’ going? 🙂

  2. Roy T. Says:

    Adsense if it is boring huh…someone tell that to Jason Calacanis =)

  3. Roy T. Says:

    Adsense if it is boring huh?…someone tell that to Jason Calacanis =)

  4. chartreuse Says:

    let’s really look at this.

    Let’s start with some basic assumptions:

    Everything is going small. Niches will become the dominate form of media. (I think it can be argued that it has already happened but that’s beside the point.)

    The value of a niche is not in the size of it’s audience. It’s the niche itself.

    What I am saying is not really new. (Long Tail.)

    I just gave it a headline.

  5. This is too simplistic. I know people who make boatloads with Adsense while being interesting at the same time. The best way is to offer solutions to problems. “To fix this you have to buy a Widget and apply some Secret Sauce to it.” And the Adsense ads will of course offer Widgets and Secret Sauce.

    Here’s the solution, here are the tools you need, click-click.

    And when I said boatloads, I mean it. Go read some of these case studies:

  6. VampireFeet Says:

    I don’t think I agree but I understand your reasoning. Why would a person want to be interrupted if they like the site? Maybe they are done reading it? 🙂

  7. Mr Angry Says:

    It’s a good point but can’t ads on a good blog work the same (or better) than ads on a good tv show? Advertisers want to get their name in front of a desired audience and on a blog at least this audience can move straight into buying mode, even if it might not happen all that often.

    I (think) I get that you are mainly venting but isn’t a flaw in your argument that people will only visit a splog once (so only click on an ad once at most) but they’ll visit a good blog many time, therefore having many opportunities to click?

  8. Liz Strauss Says:

    Ok, let’s sort here. Gadget sites make money from adsense as do other product sites. Let’s set them aside. We know that’s NOT what we’re talking about HERE.

    Here we’re talking about ideas. The abundance of ideas. Char is right if you listen in that context, Char has nailed it. You need the right ideas to hold the audience. The right ideas buy you influence, capture them. The influence can sell anything.

  9. Andy H Says:

    The Long Tail still has a head. The head is still where the major bucks are.

    I love little niches as much as anyone. But the money from a little niche is little, right?

    Or are we not talking about money here? 🙂

  10. > Gadget sites make money from adsense as do other product sites. Let’s set
    > them aside. We know that’s NOT what we’re talking about HERE.

    The title of his post says “You can’t make money with Adsense unless your site sucks.” This is demonstrably false. Not just with gadget sites, but with discussion forums (Joel Comm), self-improvement sites (Steve Pavlina) ad infinitum ad nauseum. I have a friend who runs a Flash games site that makes tons of AdSense moolah. He doesn’t even write a blog.

  11. Adam Elend Says:

    Your right, Char, but it’s not a function of boring sites, it’s a function of boring ads. Make adsense contentsense and everyone wins. Why shouldn’t your ads add value on their own, rather than addvertising.

  12. candice Says:

    >I love little niches as much as anyone. But the money from a little niche is little, right?

    Not necessarily. Go ask someone who runs a niche porn site, for example.

    I would think it’s better to make money indirectly via blogging, by building up expertise, image, and trust and have people pay you for that, rather than tying onto some other company’s advertising star. But that’s me, and I have about zero interest in putting advertising on anything I run at the moment.

  13. You need people to notice you before you get influence – isn’t that the point of getting the initial numbers?

  14. Clyde Smith Says:

    AdSense ads make money if a lot of people find your site by surfing (and you don’t fit their niche needs) or if your site is in a strong niche with high rates and interesting advertisers.

    Or if it’s one of those sucky sites that successfully games the search engines.

  15. Roy T. Says:

    Lets be honest, at least in my opinion, most sites who are in it for the long haul dont care much for maximizing on adsense. I, like many others, want the sponsors.

    Whats good about adsense is that it displays ads related to the content on the site, so it doesnt look out of place, but at the same time, relying on it as a “business model” or as the main stream of income is just stupid.

  16. DudeAsInCool Says:

    Chartreuse is right about the niche thing. Content remains king – but the rules have changed and now segmented content is the way thing are going. That means, that each of those niches have different tastes, so for advertising to work, it has to compliment that niche’s interests – or be of interest to that segment. That said, I’m not sure what he means by influence – because influence has become a trendy thing, and like fashion, what is in today, will not necessarily be in tomorrow.

  17. I am really not sure if anyone in the world is actually making money off AdSense other than big websites. I have tried it a number of times, but have failed to achieve the $100 landmark.

  18. Reynold Says:


    I think this is a fascinating subject with much to be said on either side of the argument.

    However, I think the most interesting thing here is the concept of audience influence. What if we turn this on its head? Consider the concept of the “influential audience” instead. These are the people whom Malcolm Gladwell describes in his book Tipping Point – the connectors, mavens and salespeople who “tip” ideas and products towards success because of their ability to persuade lots of other people. This would certainly be a very profitable niche audience and some folks have already put in place a way of reaching them.



  19. Hmm……I agree with one thing in your post – Numbers don’t matter. The influence does and so does the quality.

    But for the rest of your post…. Nup!

  20. chartreuse Says:

    A lot of interesting points here. Most of them much more insightful than mine.

    First to Andy (he’s an SEO expert in case some of you didn’t know. Highly recommended.). I think we are getting to the point where small niches are more valuable than large ones. Example: If you are a camera maker, which is more valuable to you as an advertiser, a gadget site or a camera site? Which would you expect to pay more to reach?

    Adsense (imho) rewards sites which fail to provide the audience with compelling enough content to get them to stay.

    I think Adam has a great point with his contentsense idea. Since we are fundalmentally talking about an advertising issue, the idea of advertising providing more content is a good one.

    Lot’s of good stuff from everyone…

  21. Brian Says:

    Char, you might experiment with AdSense in your archived posts… search traffic is pretty worthless otherwise, especially since you write about celebrities so much that I doubt the searchers are actually looking for insightful new media commentary. 🙂

  22. drhaisook Says:

    Not really… because the Ads on your blog are related to the content, and thus, people who’re interested in the content might find the ads interesting too, so they click,.. and the circle goes on.

  23. Shirley Says:

    You’re invited too. Please read my post from today. Don’t miss the comments. 🙂



  24. Mr. Chartreuse is right. Oh, oh, he’s probably going to bar me from commenting, I’m almost making him sound respectable.

    Anyhow, when you interact with some of the big people in blogging and on the Internet, they say a lot of the same things.

    For example Guy Kawasaki says that on his blog he has a hard time making money, but people love his stuff.

    Darren Rowse of problogger also says that the site most people know him for, really makes hardly any of the money that he takes in.

    Another site called gets over 28 million visitors and he doesn’t attempt to sell anything on the site, he uses it to send them somewhere else.

    Steve Pavlina mentions that he only makes around $3,000 a month because of the very reason mentioned by Chartreuse. He wants to remain true to his message and won’t compromise on it. With over a million visitors, $3,000 is very little.

    Most people that do sell things online know that they are supposed to reveal only a little of their knowledge for the purpose of enticing their viewers to buy more, which of course they have available to offer.

    It is true what Chartreuse says concerning poor sites. Most people knowingly create them ‘dumb’ for the very reason being said: so that people will click on the ads.

  25. Sonnie Says:

    What a great discussion!

    I agree with the value of influence and trust. That’ll be a long term “business opportunity”.

    Though I don’t disagree with Adsense, personally, whenever I visit a blog with ads, I felt like I was being led their purposely so the blogger can earn. In some layout, you would not notice that the links are already ads. Or perhaps am just stupid for not knowing.

    Likewise, in some vendors offering free blogs, you don’t have control over the ads that will be place in your blog. They will earn out of your rumblings and mumblings. Though this is not necessarily bad as they are providing the blog for free.

  26. fred Says:


    but the way to increase your influence is to be abundant

    that’s why i love it when people syndicate my blog posts, and not just the headlines

    i could care less about the traffic i get but i want my ideas out there as much as possible


  27. […] Here’s the truth about blog traffic. […]

  28. J. F. Says:

    You’re right. Influence means more. So why not use that influence to recommend a product instead of using AdSense?

    Forget AdSense.

  29. beau peep Says:

    welcome back asshole. where have u been all these days? don’t tell me u ended up in a gay pen (courtesy the conservatives of GWB admin).

    u suck because not because u write, because u get lost. lemme find u some day and i will root u

  30. Craig Says:

    interesting concept, makes senes too. Mind you Google accused me of clicking on my own ads so I can’t have adsense on my blogs

  31. Can’t say that I necessarily agree with you. I got my first adsense payment the 2nd month after I added their ads to my site and so far I have managed to earn at least the $100 minimum each month so I have managed to get a payment each month from adsense.

    I just think that it comes down to the question of content on one’s site. Like they say “Content Is King”

  32. truth be told…if it’s boring,they won’t come.

  33. tom Says:

    my sites the best

  34. Работа Says:

    Ой, классно 🙂

  35. Сенкью, полезная инфа! 😉

  36. thank you for useful information about will help me to earn some extra money with adsense

  37. thank you for useful information about will help me to earn extra money

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