What kind of revenue can content publishers really make?
I first started making money online when I was 18, in the early 2000s. I created a website using the earliest versions of WordPress, hired content writers from around the world and created a revenue-sharing system.
I took a simple and fair approach to revenue-sharing. I simply placed the contributors’ Google AdSense ad code on their own posts, and I only took the sidebars (don’t underestimate the value of sidebars in the pre-mobile world). My contributors were motivated to create content to earn more money, and as they earned, I earned too.
As I was consistently feeding Google’s indexes with fresh content, my website quickly started to receive 20,000 visits a day, and everyone happily worked.
But, of course, Google is not the only potential source of income when you are publishing quality content and you have an audience.
Here’s a screenshot of an email that I sent in 2008 to a different ad network to monetize my website effectively.
And since then I haven’t looked back. For the last 12 years, I have been creating and monetizing websites with either through content ads or affiliate links. Some websites failed, others succeeded, but together my online portfolio made a nice side business to pay the bills.
Reading Shelby Church’s article (below) on how much YouTubers earn from their content, inspired me to share how Google AdSense pays for 1,000,000 pageviews.
Before I start, I would like to remind you that adtech uses a complex algorithm and that revenue for 1,000,000 views, on YouTube or elsewhere depends on many factors.
You are likely to earn more by giving tips to small business owners than for sharing what to watch on TV this weekend. Aside from the topic, content length, ad placement, user engagement, seasonality, and visitor location are all criterias that affect how much Google will pay you for showing ads.
Let’s look at the numbers.
Here’s a website that falls in the education category:
As you can see from the stats, the site received 1M page views and reached 4.6M ad requests.Content length on this website is usually between 400–700 words per page.
As you can also see, the US accounted for 54% of total traffic and 78% of revenue. Looking at the share of revenue and page/impression RPM (revenue per thousand views), we can conclude that the US traffic is quite profitable.
Here’s another website in the beauty category:
Similar to the first example, the majority of traffic is from the US. While I served more viewable impressions than in the first example, it did not increase revenues. RPM is just $3.69
And one last example is from the entertainment category:
As you see, this website has x2 more ad impressions than the previous two websites, but we aren’t seeing double the revenue. So it is clear that ad impressions alone do not equal more revenue.
The reason why I have x2 more ad impressions on this site is that the articles are much longer, at 1500–2500 words. This website made $4.73 per thousand page views compared to $4.37 in the first example and $3.69 in the second.
Shelby, in her article, said on average she made around $2,000 to $5,000 for her videos that have over 1,000,000 views.
Three of my websites that are in different categories made between $3,500 and $5,000 per 1,000,000 pageviews.
But this does not mean that we can simply conclude that textual content generates greater revenue than video content, because there are so many factors at play. However, be can say that they offer similar value, and creating text-based content often has lower overheads that creating quality video content.
Also, once you have produced quality content in any format, you can take the create once and publish everywhere approach by generating video from an article or vice versa using tools such as Lumen5 or inVideo. For example, I can talk about this article in a video and monetize it on Youtube. Needless to say, there are other lucrative monetization possibilities such as affiliate links and sponsorships, too.
“To begin, begin” says Wordsworth; either textual or visual the first step to making money online is to start creating.