How does paid blogging work?

I’ve been hearing for years about paid bloggers. If people are getting paid to write their crap down in an ad-supported industry, it seemed like it might make sense to throw some ads up on this very site to see what happens. I’ve had Adsense running on this site for a few months now and the short answer is a whole lot of nothing. Here’s what the earnings look like since 1/1/2009 (my Adsense account is much older than this site; I put the banner ads up around Fall of 2009):

Basically, in a year I’ve “earned” under $20. That doesn’t even pay for domain registration & DNS for a year. And since Google doesn’t actually pay you until you have $100 in earnings, this is fake money anyway.

Now I didn’t have any illusions about making money from this site, I just put the ads up as an experiment to see if this is a realistic way to earn a dependable income. From what I can tell, it can be, but only in certain cases, basically coming down to how much traffic you can generate.

  1. You’re already famous. If you’re already a “celebrity” in your field (whatever that field is) then people already probably want to hear what you say.
  2. Your subject matter has mass appeal. If you write about discoveries in quantum physics, you may have a decent following, but it’s still only going to be the people who care about quantum physics. If you write about Jersey Shore you have a much larger pool of possible readers, because everybody loves watching a train wreck.
  3. What you say actually matters. This is related to the first point. If Joe Shmoe (or Evan Hoffman) rants at the top of his lungs, it’s just some guy complaining. If Ben Bernanke makes an offhand comment about interest rates the stock market tanks.

I’m sure there are some other cases, but as far as I can tell a tech guy writing about things that annoy him doesn’t fit any of these criteria. I’m tempted to remove the ads altogether, but it’s too interesting seeing what ads Google puts up on some of these pages. The first few months, the ads were all for some rabbi’s circumcision service. Not sure what that was about.

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