I constantly receive questions about Google Adsense from people who just start blogging. They say things like, I want to start making some money from my blog and would like to know how to integrate Google Adsense.
For anyone with the same questions, I recommend that you read Penelope Trunk's latest post, "Reality Check: You're not going to make money from your blog." She writes,
Almost everyone should forget about making money directly from blogging. It's so unlikely that it's a total waste of your time trying. I am actually shocked at how ubiquitous the idea is that blogging is a get-rich-quick scheme. Or even a get-rich-slowly scheme. It's not.
Given the time that blogging requires, and the near complete lack of monetary return, it's amazing to me that so many people blog. I have never known anyone who earned substantial money from his or her blog.
I admit that last week my ears did perk up when I heard that Dooce makes $40,000 a month from advertising. And that my two friends Michael and Laura Moncur make enough from their Quotations Page to stay at home. But they are rare exceptions, not the rule.
Jane makes about $60 a month from her BlogHer ads. I've managed to fill my sidebar with about 10 ads, which has helped pay for things like car repairs, a bicycle, my taxes, and other ancillary expenses. However, I would never rely on my blog for primary income.
Blogging can be an SEO/visibility tool for highlighting a product or service on your site. I received about 15 WordPress consulting freelance jobs over the past 6 months simply from my little WordPress Consulting button and my occasional posts on WordPress. However, since I work full-time at a company, I don't have enough time to really pursue freelancing or to do it well, and the whole 25% taxes on top of the 2.5% Paypal cut makes the jobs less worth it.
Since my blog's focus is technical communication, I doubt I'll ever grow the audience I need to tap into serious page views for ad revenue. About the only money I can count on with blogging is that it's an asset to my career's growth.
Penelope constantly asserts that "Blogging is a great career tool for creating opportunities for yourself." And I agree. By writing an active professional blog, you'll stand out above other candidates, convince potential employers that you're enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and win the confidence of others through the voice and personality of your writing. In that sense, blogging can benefit you monetarily in the same or better way as perhaps an extra degree or 5 years of work experience.
In the end, though, you have to find other reasons to blog -- outside of career growth and any monetary income. Most likely you'll blog because you enjoy writing and interacting with others online. The blog provides a space to publish your thoughts and an audience to provide feedback. The connections you make on a daily basis through comments, pingbacks, and other feedback will give you enough reward to convince you that your endeavor is worthwhile.
I'm a technical writer / API doc specialist based in the Seattle area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out simplifying complexity and API documentation for some deep dives into these topics. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me.