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Blog | How To Make £20,000 From Some Average Photos & The Google Display Network (AdSense)…



How To Make £20,000 From Some Average Photos & The Google Display Network (AdSense)…

In 2004 while still labouring under the illusion that I was any good at web design – my main web site was . That year, I bought a Nikon Coolpix 2100 2 mega pixel digital camera with a massive 64 MB memory card! I started taking a few sunset and landscape photos, and used them on my own desktop as desktop backgrounds / wallpaper.

I decided to share these early (pretty average) attempts at digital photography with the world – and created the sub-domain Looking at server logs in 2005 – I saw that there were a hell of lot more visitors to the ni-photos sub-domain of the website than there were to the main web site, so I pasted a bit of Google AdSense code on the photo pages to see if I could make any money from it. Initially, earnings were nothing to write home about. Here are the AdSense earnings for the first 2 years  :-

But I kept adding new photos to the site on an almost daily basis, and some of my images started to feature on the first page of the Google Image Search Results. Traffic really started to take off, resulting in the following earnings for the second year (June 2006 to June 2007) :-

Since traffic and earnings were increasing at a healthy rate – I decided to aim for an amount that seemed achievable at the time – $3,000 a month – and document my progress here – The $3,000 A Month From AdSense Project and here – Make Money From Photos Blog.

Here were my earnings for the next year (June 2007 to June 2008) :-

At this point, I reasoned, the traffic and the AdSense earnings were high enough to warrant a move to a dedicated domain – . I had read enough about changing domain names to know that it had to be done correctly (301 redirects set up etc.) I followed all the advice given and the results, as far as Google ‘Web Search’ went were 100% with no loss of rankings at all. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the Google ‘Image Search’ results which was where the majority of my traffic came from. These took over 12 months to recover fully which (at a guess) cost me well over £1000 in lost earnings! Further details on the 301 redirect debacle are here.

Traffic did eventually pick up again, so, to cut a long story short – here is the summary of  AdSense earnings from June 2005 to June 2011 :-

In 2011, as I was working full time on my own business – – I was no longer able to devote the time needed to increasing traffic to  I mentioned this on the thread at web pro world. Craig Walenta from Irish Sweaters saw my post, and purchased the site off me In June 2011 for £5,750!


  • If was doing things over, and AdSense earnings were my priority, I would not have chosen a photo web site. (Hint – have a look at the Google AdWords traffic estimator tool to see how much people will pay for each click on different keywords). I also wouldn’t have created / spent so much time on .
  • If you make photos available on the internet – they WILL be used without permission on other web sites. These web sites will sometimes rank above your own web site in the SERPS, and unless you have an inordinate amount of spare time on your hands, there is very little you can do about it. (This is something I feel that Google should be much more proactive about.)
  • Most of my photos are average to say the least. But the fact is, if someone needs an image of ‘Mountain Road, Portaferry’, and you are the only site on the internet that has that image – it only has to be a half decent photo to make someone click through to your web site.
    Similarly, if someone is looking for a ‘blue sky with clouds’ photo – your photo may only be one of a thousand other similar photos, but yours may the one that suits a particular web site / brochure better than all the others.
  • If you are an absolutely outstanding photographer who wants to make money from existing photos, it may be better to submit photos to the major stock photo web sites. This was definitely not the case for me (partly because of intense competition – but mostly because I am a very average photographer).
  • I didn’t keep proper track of the time spent on – but I have a feeling that if I did add up all the hours spent on it – them I would probably have been working for the minimum wage :-)

*Speaking from my experience – which is far from being all-encompassing.

If anyone has any questions, comments or similar experiences, I would love to hear your comments…

Links For Reference
Google AdSense
Make Money From Photos Blog
The $3,000 A Month From AdSense Project

Some Sample Photos From

If anyone has any questions, comments or similar experiences, I would love to hear your comments (did I say that already?)…

  1. I’ve always wondered if this actually worked. Great article, throughly enjoyed reading it.

    If I had the time I might dabble with this to see if I can actually get anything from it. We’ll see.

    Congratulations on the sale of the site.

  2. Thanks Stephen.
    So long as you have a load of traffic – it’s not too difficult (it’s the getting a load of traffic that is the difficult bit).

  3. Jordan,
    Have been following your words over a while now and have been thinking of trying a few more adwords ideas.
    Call me sometime to talk it over.

  4. Hi Gerry.

    If I ever start a new photo web site – then your photos are the ones I want to put up on it first! :-)

  5. Hey,

    I read your 301 debacle some time back in 2008. And now, when i searched something about adwords..I came to ppcni, your curious post title made to click on this link in the related posts. Bought back the memories of my early adsense publisher days. Thought of leaving comment…subscribing your blog too :-)

  6. Vasu, thanks for commenting…

    Yes, brings back memories for me too…

  7. Hi Jordan,

    Great to see the learning curve with adsense you have went through. In particular the tips you mention on what you would pursue if to start it again. Adsense CPC as I’m sure you’ve found is particular low, and needs the volume of traffic to make it worthwhile. Sites which make the most money online from my own experience, are the ones which sell something, and I’m surprised you didn’t have a go at offering licensing the photos for a nominal fee, or partner up with one of the stock photo websites to take a cut.

    Anyway, such is the benefit of hindsight.

    I’m currently experimenting with affiliate marketing and dropshipping, using the experience in SEO and marketing a content site (which doesn’t monetise particularly well) to see where it ends up. Looking forward to following along with whatever side project you decide to pursue (which I’m sure you will) – and congrats on the sale.


  8. Thanks Paul.

    To cut a very long story short – the vast majority of my traffic was looking for free photos (majority from Google Image search). I did sell some hi-res photos now and again – but it probably wasn’t worth the hassle, and I found that AdSense was no hassle at all – and gave me the best earnings out of everything I tried*.

    Good luck with the affiliate thing (drop shipping is a great invention).

    *I didn’t try everything…

  9. This is part of my new model which in my head I call ‘adsense’ empire. I had bought and linked it to and is linked to

    In terms of financing, I financed the project 50% equity/50% debt through a new LLC. Rate of return on all nominal sums is 30%, considering ‘leverage’ – calculating based on MY money invested, its in excess of 60%, that is just on the adsense too.

    The ecommerce goes into my other LLC and irish-sweaters will be ready soon for ecommerce, we will see how it does….

  10. Hi Craig.

    Thanks for the comment.

    For anyone wondering, I think ‘LLC’ is more or less equivalent to a ‘Limited Company’ in the UK…

  11. Amazing to see how much adsense works, its definately good for so many types of websites and is a great way to keep content free to the user.

  12. Andy – we need to work on a new AdSense project together – with you doing all the hard work (web design), of course :-)

  13. Hi Jordan,
    The first pic is simply stunning. Where was it taken?

  14. :-)

    Flattery will get you everywhere.

    It was one of those rare days in N.Ireland when the sun was splitting the trees, and I stopped at Carrick A Reed rope bridge on the Antrim North Coast, and took that photo from the car park. It took me all of 2 minutes out of my way…

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