Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Monetization Experiment - Final Chapter

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My experiment with monetization was interesting, but hardly profitable.  I could make it more profitable by turning this blog into something different.

After year of monetizing my blog, I am now $2585.79 wealthier than I was before.  This works out to about $215 a month, on average, or about $7 a day.   With an average of one blog posting a day, each taking maybe an hour to write (maybe - some readers have taken me to task for my plethora of typos and hurried writing lately) this works out to minimum wage.   I could make more money working down at the Circle-K.

And although I had a lot of hits early on (during the campaign season) where some months the lucre was over $300, the payoff has been less and less lately, dropping down to under $200, with last month's take being a paltry $149.

One reason my blog doesn't make money is the click-through rate is shitty.  And this is probably because I routinely decry the sort of "bargains" advertised on the Internet, if I do not in fact say outright not to click on the ads on my site.   I could make a lot more money blogging, if I promoted things like payday loans, leasing cars, airline miles cards, Bitcoin, or refinancing your house.  If I suggested shitty financial practices, my click-rate would soar, as only idiots would read my blog.

Bitcoin - don't get me started.  So many of the ads on my site were for Bitcoin.  Anything advertised on the Internet is a raw deal.  Bitcoin is heavily advertised on the Internet (or companies wanting to "train" you on how to use it, or whatever).  Do the math - it's all a scam!

A reader opines that I could make serious coin at blogging - a hundred grand a year or more.   Maybe that is true, maybe not.  It was not what I set out to do.  I just wanted to write about personal finances, at a time when the economy was in peril and my own financial situation was, if not in peril, at least pretty screwed up.

And I have been able to turn my own financial life around.   When I started this blog, I had two mortgages, six cars, two boats, and a need to stay on The Money Train to keep it all going.   And I had this sense that the money train was going to stop pretty soon.   My job skills were rapidly becoming obsolete and my brain and body were aging.   In Patent Law, you have to keep up on the latest changes and developments - which is why law firms competed to hire me after I had two years experience at the USPTO and why I was a hot property after graduation.

The law business in general is staffed by alarmingly young people.  Supreme Court decisions aren't written by the Justices, but by the law clerks - many of whom are fresh from law school.   Once you get older, you either end up as a Partner, supervising those young associates who make all the money for the firm, or you find something else to do.  But I digress.

I was able to re-structure my finances and learn to live with less (but still a very comfortable lifestyle) and retire early with enough money in the bank to live comfortably, but not extravagantly, for at least 30 years.  Not a bad "happily ever after" to be sure.

I never thought that others would read my blog, and indeed, today even blogging is sort of quaint and obsolete, like my legal education.   The hot thing now is to tweet bullshit at 140 characters-per-second.  What people want is outrage and controversy.   What they want is simple, pat answers to complex problems.  What they want is for me to say, "You're Approved!" to lease a new Buick. 

And I can't do that.

Sure, I could gin up the numbers in a number of ways.   I could SEO (Search Engine Optimize) my blog entries by putting in more keywords, putting links to my site on other people's sites.   You go to other sites and enter the URL in the comments section, for example.   I could enable comments, which would allow for more user interaction and thus more "engagement" as the evil marketers like to call it.

I could start shilling for products.    Yes, people will actually be more attracted to a blog that gushes over how such-and-such a product is really keen and how you really need to buy it.   I don't do that, and my numbers are down as a result.

I could also start censoring myself.

Hello,This is a warning message to alert you that there is action required to bring your AdSense account into compliance with our AdSense program policies. We’ve provided additional details below, along with the actions to be taken on your part.
Affected website: livingstingy.blogspot.comExample page where violation occurred: required: Please make changes immediately to your site to follow AdSense program policies.
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 Violation explanation

As stated in our program policies, we may not show Google ads on pages with content that is sexually suggestive or intended to sexually arouse. This includes, but is not limited to:
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I have received a number of threatening e-mails from Google, claiming that my blog will be taken down or something, because of an innocuous post I made which argues (correctly) that the sex drive is the one primal urge or program in our brain that drives all out other urges.   Understanding this, and you understand yourself.   It was hardly "porn" in any sense, other than the R-rated photo at the top of the page. 

But Google threatened me, so I put the posting into "draft" mode.   I found myself censoring myself.   And I also found myself thinking about what posts would generate more clicks and thus more money, even on a subliminal level.

With monetization comes corruption.   Readers accused me of shilling for Wal-Mart or various products I had used and talked about.   It is not hard to understand why they think this - every other site out there does it.

It isn't that I am better than others, just that I'm too damn tired to do all of that, and it literally smacks of effort.   For example the "Mr. Money Beard" guy claims to have "retired" at 30 or some such nonsense, and he gets quoted in the paper now and then.   But he runs a blogsite with ads and a curated comments section.   That has to take more than an hour a day to do, right?   So he really isn't retired, is he?

When you engage in any pastime in exchange for money, you are, by definition, not retired.   But that doesn't sell blog views and click-through revenue as much as "I retired at 30!  Read my blog and see how you can, too!"

Not interested.   Retirement is retirement, and anything else is working.   This blog is a hobby not a job, and the monetization experiment was just that - an experiment to see how monetization affected how I wrote things and what it lead to.

And experiment, I am happy to say, is over.

This is not to say that ads won't appear with my content - that is another bugaboo about this whole thing.   You see, others simply copy my content and then throw up shitblogs with my postings.   Trying to get these taken down is like playing whack-a-mole, as for each blogsite taken down, ten more pop up.   And Google doesn't give a shit, as they get a cut of the ad revenue for each of those sites.

And taking down copycat sites is an arduous process.   Google requires you send them the URL for every single blog posting, which means having to cut and past over 3000 URLs, if you want the whole copycat site taken down.   I suppose if I was making serious coin on this blog, that might be worthwhile.   But then again, it would be a full-time job, and I would have to hire someone to do this - and that is what the big-money bloggers do, too.

They have whole staffs of editors and researchers and "copy writers".   One reader suggested I hire an "editor" to review my postings.   At $149 a month, I can see that is a distinct possibility!   I just write stuff that comes into my head.  I am not interested in being the next Sooze Orman or Mr. Money Beard or whatever.

Besides, that sort of shit has already been done.   And I'm retired.  Not fake-retired, real-retired.  Shuffleboard and all!

* * *

If ads still appear on this site, please let me know.   For some "funny" reason, Google AdSense, like any good Casino, makes it easy as falling off a log to get in, but obfuscates how you get out.   It appears the ads are no longer appearing on my site, but then again, maybe Adblocker plus is just blocking them (as it should, and you should use it, or another ad blocker program!).  So, please let me know.

UPDATE:  When I try to remove ads from my site, the following message appears:

We apologize for the inconvenience, but we are unable to process your request at this time. Our engineers have been notified of this problem and will work to resolve it.

When I use the "layout" page to remove AdSense "gadgets" the gadgets do not appear on the layout (but do appear on the "preview") so I can't remove them there, either!

Google AdSense is very, very tricky - and sticky!

UPDATE:  Removing Google AdSense "gadgets" isn't intuitive.  They do not appear on the layout screen as Google's Help page suggests.  However, if you click on "view blog" the ads appear with a little toolbox logo next to them.  Click on the logo and then scroll down to "remove" the gadget.   Google's adsense "help" pages are all woefully out of date.  The page that comes up with the Number 1 hit on "how do I remove ads" gives advice that is flat-out wrong and instead leads you to a page to ADD MORE ADS!

I also cancelled my AdSense account.   The fact that it was so fucking hard to remove AdSense (it is like a virus!) just confirmed in my mind that I needed to remove it.  I can say "fucking" now, too, without harsh words from Google.

You watch, now, they will simply close down my blog.   That's how the system works!

Never fear, though, some Indian copycat site will keep my stolen content alive.....  :(

P.S. - sidebar and banner ads are just fucking annoying, don't you agree?  Mom's hate them!  Click here for this one simple trick!