This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Day 2 With Google AdSense

Some folks like Johan Sundstrom have suggested that I blog my experience with Google AdSense, since it might be useful for them to see if it works for me or not. If things like this make it easy to be independent open source hackers then it's useful for everyone in the field.

I set up everything yesterday in the afternoon; my best friend Michael Eakes helped me down the right path, since he had already spent alot of time figuring out how to do this himself. I was a total newbie.

Michael had me do two major things:
  1. Set up a Google AdSense account. You have to wait a short period before they approve you, which in my case was just a few hours. Once I was approved, I filled out their section on validating your bank account and setting up automatic electronic payment.
  2. Get a Google Analytics account. This is an amazing site, purchased by Google recently from Adaptive Path (the folks who coined the term Ajax, btw) (Update: Ryan Williams informs me that Analytics doesn't come from AdaptivePath, but a company named Urchin). It helps give you traffic cross sections of your site. They give you a small amount of JavaScript that you put at the bottom of all your HTML pages, right above the end BODY tag. I went through my site and added it at the bottom of my blog template, republished all my old blog archives with it, and put it at the bottom of various other static pages on my site.
This was all prompted when Michael noticed that I have a very high page rank, using a cool site called CheckPageRank. This site lets you plug your web address in, and it computes what your Google Page Rank is from 1 to 10, where 10 is the max and 1 is no one knows you exist. I'm at a 6, which evidently is very good.

My ultimate goal the last year and a half and with Google AdSense and independent consulting is to make enough independent income that I can freely create open source innovations, pursue ideas in the public interest without an employer wanting to control them, and create a more balanced lifestyle than is possible in a traditional computer job. This is why I created things like coworking, btw.

Michael had me bookmark two important pages: a report page on Google AdSense that tells you how many clicks and impressions you have had, and the total amount of money so far; and a page on Google Analytics that is the Executive Overview that gives alot of good info. I've been hitting these regularly.

At 1 AM last night, when I was up testing and hacking on the HyperScope HTML transformer and surfing the blogosphere, I noticed that I had received my first click, for a grand total of 3 cents! By 2 AM, I had received two clicks, which must have had a much higher value, bringing things to about 20 cents.

Google Analytics has been great as well; this morning when I woke up I found out I have had 4 click throughs, about 1 dollar. I went through Google Analytics to find out what was bringing folks in. While my blog brings in a lot of people, about half were coming in through Google searches, from all over the world -- the Google Analytics map showed people coming in from parts of India, China, and towns I've never heard of!

I discovered a very surprising thing I didn't know: most people were coming into an Ajax Tutorials page I put together about a year ago, but haven't been great about updating. This page lists some of the Ajax tutorials I have written on my blog. A huge number of people were coming into this page by typing 'ajax tutorials' on Google.

I went to Google and typed this, and found out that I come up first for this search term! Holy cow! I had no idea.

My plan now is to clean up the Ajax Tutorials page up and turn it into a full area for advanced, interesting Ajax tutorials. I think one thing I'm going to do is start writing higher quality tutorials for my own site instead of submitting them to places like the O'Reilly Network and IBM DeveloperWorks. I have a million ideas on cool, interesting Ajax tutorials, and I'm tired of the red tape and low amount that places like O'Reilly pay. They just don't pay enough to justify creating fundamentally new content and ideas. They only pay from $300 to $500 an article. I pour a tremendous amount of time and energy into my articles, making them as high quality as I can with new code thats not available elsewhere, and I haven't been able to rationalize creating them lately because I couldn't support myself on the income from them. I love writing and teaching, though, and I think I can make more income by putting them on my own blog. I'll definently share my experience on this blog throughout the process.

Right now I have to get back to work, though, and can't tinker with the blog for a bit. The great Engelbart project, HyperScope, I've been on the last 8 months has been a dream come true, with great folks like Eugene Kim and Jonathan Cheyer, but we are a nonprofit and run out of money the end of this month, so I have to find other consulting. What a fabulous project it's been; I'm going to be very sad to not be able to work on it full time for awhile. We're out doing the fund raising process with places like the NSF, but it takes awhile for that process to happen; hopefully we will get a nice grant for a Phase II. During the interval I'm working on proposals to put together my next consulting gig. For most of them I'm pitching user experience, usability, and product design instead of straight Ajax architecture and implementation. It will be fun to put the user experience hat back on.

Comments:
Google Analytics is not based on the Adaptive Path product (you're probably thinking of MeasureMap, which has yet to see the light of day as a Google Product AFAIK). Analytics came out of the Urchin acquisition.
 
Google Analytics is more Urchin than Measure Map, although both were acquired products.

You should check out tools like Google Sitemaps to see stats about search pages your site appears on, and terms most likely to lead to a click-through. You can break it down by country, blog or web search, and more!
 
Thanks Ryan; I updated the blog post with the correct info.
 
Try sitemeter too. While Analytics has more ways to view the data I LOVE sitemeter. It's ugly but it works REALLY well and I trust the numbers more.

Also.... it's MUCH faster than analytics. You can bookmark the pages too which I don't think you can do with analtics.
 
I like Google Analytics so mush ...
I'm using it to monitor my website Ajaxlines
 
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