In 2004 while still labouring under the illusion that I was any good at web design – my main web site was www.jmcwd.com . 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 ni-photos.jmcwd.com. 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 – irishviews.com . 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 – ppcni.com – I was no longer able to devote the time needed to increasing traffic to irishviews.com. 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 money-from-photos.blogspot.com .
- 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 irishviews.com – 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…
Some Sample Photos From irishviews.com
If anyone has any questions, comments or similar experiences, I would love to hear your comments (did I say that already?)…read more
Just for the benefit of people in the UK and Ireland:
“Google AdWords Conversion Optimiser”.
Here is the official Google Link:-
Which has some pretty useful information.
It can be a fantastic time saving tool if you have any AdWords campaigns that have had 15 or more conversions in the last 30 days, and more often than not – it can get your more sales or leads with less effort than if you are using manual bidding on your Google AdWords campaign.
I also read an article recently by Perry Marshall where he said (and I tend to agree) that CPA bidding is here to stay, and online advertising will increasingly move towards this model.
The documentation on Conversion Optimizer makes it pretty clear that it can use historical conversion data on an existing campaign to target a specific CPA (one-per-click).
OK, that sounds logical. So it can tell from historical data how well certain keywords convert for you and use that to target a certain CPA. It can also tell (if you re targeting more than one country in a single campaign) how well each country converts, and again use that data to automatically decrease bids in countries where your conversion rate is not so good.
BUT (and this is what I could not find any information on), what if your campaign has never been opted into the content network? Can you just turn the content network on for that campaign, and expect Conversion Optimizer to do a good job of getting you extra conversions on the content network even though it has no historical data about how your campaign performs on the Content Network? If you do just turn on the content network, how long will it take for Conversion Optimizer to learn enough to give you good value for money?
ALSO (another thing I could find no information on), what if you have a campaign that converts much better on the Search Partner Network than it does on Google Search. Using normal CPC bidding (as far as I know) your hands are tied in that you cannot have separate CPC bids for Search Partners, so you just have to let Google waste a lot of money on your behalf on Google Search where you are not getting good value conversions. So…. if you turn on CPA bidding, it will now be in Google’s own interests to get you as many conversions as it can (more conversions for you means more money for Google). So……will Google now automatically increase your position in the Search Partner results to get you more conversions?
Since I could not find any definite information on either of these two scenarios, I decided to test them out on one campaign of a very understanding client.
Here are the results*:-
First, with regards to Conversion Optimizer being able to quickly work out which content network sites will convert well for you, well…. Lets just say that it doesn’t do a great job of this if it has no historical data to go on. It looks very much like it doesn’t “cheat'” by looking at conversion data that it already has for sites similar to yours. So, unless you are prepared to set a *very* high Max CPA for ad groups to start with, it is more likely than not that Conversion Optimiser will give up trying to get conversions on the content network before it wastes too much of your money….
NB – if you are in one of the (few) niches where the content network works well for you, then, no doubt, the story would be different, but if you are in a niche where you have really struggled to make the content network work for you with CPC bidding, then Conversion Optimizer is not a magic bullet..
Secondly, with regard to Conversion Optimizer being able to get you more conversions on the Search Partner Network by giving you more impressions there and less impressions on Google sites, the results seem to have been much more impressive:-
Before Turning On Conversion Optimizer
After Turning On Conversion Optimizer
You can see that the campaign is now receiving around 4 times as many impressions on the Search Partner Network as on Google Search. Prior to turning Conversion Optimizer on it was only getting around 1.7 times as many impressions on the Search Partner so… (as you might say on Twitter #win !)
*This is only one campaign, targeting one country, over a short period of time. Results will almost certainly vary wildly, and you always need to test things out for yourself (but I still think it these are some very interesting observations)…
If anyone else has any interesting observations regarding Google Conversion Optimizer / CPA bidding please leave a comment!read more
There was an interesting article on PPCHERO recently:-
It made reference to a Google White Paper on the subject.
The thing that I found most interesting was that out of all the countries they looked at, the UK gave the worst return on investment when using the Adwords Content Network.
“the median advertiser in the UK has an average Content Network CPA 6.2% higher than that of search.”
I certainly agree with that. I don’t know what the reason is, probably partly:
1. Nearly everyone in the UK sets their own campaigns up and just leave the content network turned on without really understanding what it is.
2. People in this country are much less likely to buy something they are not specifically looking for on impulse…read more