Apr 27, 2020 - 06:31 PM
It’s safe to say that the heyday of profitable blogging with AdSense is over. Then again, even at the height of the fervor, relatively few bloggers ever achieved the dream of high passive income with AdSense. Is that dream even still possible now?
The Reality of Making Money with AdSense
The hard truth of making reasonable money with AdSense is that it requires extremely high traffic. AdSense is free and easy to set up, but the real work lies in figuring out how to get the traffic that makes it lucrative. So the true question is: can you still get high traffic on a blog or website in 2020?
The answer is yes - but very few people succeed at it. There’s more competition for online attention spans than ever before, and methods for driving traffic to a site are more complicated than they used to be.
So, while the answer is technically “yes,” let’s take a deeper look at the caveats.
Building Traffic Is a Time Investment
You can’t set up a well-performing AdSense site in a matter of days or weeks. It takes a lot of time and effort to build traffic.
You’ll need to design and set up an appealing website, but you’ll also need to create content to fill it (more on that shortly). That content must be high-quality and needs to come in steadily, so you’ll sink a lot of time simply into writing and publishing. The work never ends - you can’t simply write a bunch of content and then call it a day. You need a steady influx of new posts to keep visitors coming to your site.
SEO is another time-consuming demon to conquer. Today’s SEO world is complex and constantly changing - which is why many people make understanding SEO their full-time job. If you want to make money with content and AdSense, you’ll need to single-handedly become both an SEO expert and content creator (unless you can afford to hire out for those tasks).
And at first, none of your time spent is paid. Building a well-trafficked site takes many hours before you’ll see your first AdSense paycheck - and that first check will probably be tiny. You’ll effectively be taking on an unpaid job on the hope (not the guarantee) that it will eventually lead to steady income.
You’ll Need Lots of In-Depth Content
To answer your “how much content” question, the short answer is: a lot. And not only must you create a lot of consistent content, but it needs to be accurate, long-form, and in-depth to please Google’s algorithms (which are essential to your traffic).
According to HubSpot, if you want to maximize organic traffic, you should post three to five times per week. And, back in 2016, Neil Patel wrote that you’d need at least 400 posts before your traffic became sustainable (that number is almost certainly higher now). So, according to the experts, you could post a blog every day for a year and still not see sustainable high traffic. Some people have found success with fewer or less-frequent posts, but it’s not common.
Your content won’t be quick and easy to write, since each post needs to be SEO-optimized, well-written, and detailed enough to make Google happy. Low-quality, too-short, or keyword-stuffed posts can actually hurt your traffic.
Trying to single-handedly create that much good content before getting paid is not realistic for many people. And that’s just content for your own site, assuming you’re not also building traffic by writing guest posts or social media posts.
The Right Niche Is Hard to Find
Good niches are both popular and unique - they attract specific audiences, and are different enough from the mainstream to stand out. However, it’s extremely hard to predict what will become popular online.
Trying to target profitable niches is largely a matter of guesswork. Many famously profitable blogs and sites are in niches that are now saturated, such as food or parenting. If you want to make money in those niches, you’ll need a really unique angle and amazing content that resonates with a specific audience.
The best niches also include things that people regularly search for online, and target readers who have money to spend. For example, an AdSense site about luxury home decorating might make money, if the traffic is high. But a site about bedroom decor for teenagers isn’t likely to become very profitable even with high traffic, since teenagers don’t have much money to spend.
Lastly, the right niche will be something you’re already knowledgeable about. If you pick a niche you’re unfamiliar with, you’ll double your labor, since you’ll have to become an expert on the topic in order to create content about it.
There Are No Guarantees
Even if you do everything right with AdSense, there are no guarantees.
You can learn all about SEO, pick a great niche, build a beautiful site with amazing content - and still never get the traffic (or the money) you hoped for.
Building a popular, money-generating site is partly a matter of luck: you have to strike on the right subject and tone at the right time. If there was a guaranteed path to success, many more people would be on it.
Other things outside of your control can influence your success, too. For example, someone currently trying to monetize a travel website may find that the coronavirus pandemic puts a dent in their traffic that’s hard, if not impossible, to recover from. Events like this can impact a site’s success in ways no one can predict.
Should You Try to Make Money with AdSense?
Even if you can build enough traffic, it still takes some strategizing to make AdSense profitable. You’ll need to entice visitors to actually click on the ads, for example, and you’ll need to learn to attract high cost-per-click ads.
So, while making reasonable money with AdSense isn’t impossible, it’s a high-effort long shot.
Should you give it a shot at all? Only if you want to make the blog or website anyway, regardless of AdSense profits.
In short, don’t build a site simply on the dream of making AdSense money. But if you want to start a blog or site about something you’re passionate about anyway, you may eventually try to monetize it with AdSense.
Considering AdSense Alternatives
Even if you’re able to build a high-traffic site, AdSense is no longer the most appealing way to make money online.
In addition to the drawbacks listed above, AdSense comes with many rules you’ll need to carefully follow to avoid getting suspended or banned. If you’re doing well with AdSense, you’ll still want to diversify your income streams, because a single mistake or unexpected Google update can cause a once-successful AdSense strategy to crash and burn.
Plus, there’s the simple fact that AdSense just doesn’t pay as well as other online revenue-generating techniques. If you do use AdSense, you should partner it with more-profitable alternatives if you want to make reasonable money. Things like affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, and selling info products can lead to much higher revenue than AdSense.
So, you can technically still make money with AdSense, but with so many caveats, it’s not worth striving for. If you wanted to make a blog or website anyway, go for it, and sign up for AdSense while you’re at it. But if you simply want to generate high passive income, don’t invest your energy in elusive AdSense revenue.