The Google Adsense program pays out hundreds of millions of dollars to its publishers every single month, and there is a very wide and differing variety of all the webmasters and bloggers that currently make use of this contextual advertising system. Each of the publishers follows different rules and methods when it comes to using Adsense, and the members of each group all earn a different amount of money.
I have been a participant in the Adsense program for a few years now, and a significant chunk of my monthly income comes from this program. I have talked with dozens of different webmasters and publishers and seen thousands of different Adsense sites, and from my own experience I have found that there are really five different levels that Adsense publishers fall on. I will describe each of these levels, and if you yourself are an Adsense publisher then it may be fun to find out where you fall on the spectrum.
First Level of the Adsense Spectrum: Monetizers
Not to over-generalize, but older people that have trouble using Windows make up alot of this category. I find that some of these types of people remind me alot of my mother: very kindhearted with good intentions but they type at 10 WPM and they do not have a clue about computers. And they are happier than a kid on Christmas when they log into their Adsense account and see a whopping $0.23 for their daily earnings.
Second Level of the Adsense Spectrum: Wannabes
The second group is the 'adsense wannabes.' I actually feel a bit sorry for this group because they usually end of failing miserably at being an Adsense publisher (that is if they can ever get accepted into the program!) and they accomplish nothing except lowering their already low self-esteem. I can deeply empathize with this group of folks because this is actually where I started out. They approach the Adsense program with a type of 'get rich quick' mentality, sometimes due to the exaggerations of an ebook writer and sometimes because once they begin to learn about the Adsense program their brain has trouble accepting the fact that this is an actual business.
I mean come on, a business is where you work 60 hours per week to make somebody else rich, right? There is no way that you could build up a high 4-figure monthly income from this crazy Adsense thing, is there? Well I hope you know better, and this is the level of thought that these people are stuck at. These are the opportunity seekers, the people that will sign up for a new network marketing 'business opportunity' once per quarter and then whore themselves out to their family and friends because they have failed at everything else and are always jumping back and forth so that they never succeed at anything.
But I do not want to be overly critical, because like I said this is the level at which I started out. These are the people who have been convinced that this is the next big thing and that once they set up a single website they will make enough money to retire. Most of these types will fail to generate any real income and will move on to the next 'big thing.' But those who do start off at this level and stay at it long enough will move up to the third level.
Third Level of the Adsense Spectrum: Noobs
Statistically speaking, if you are reading this then there is a chance that you are an Adsense Noob (short for newbie). It is by far the largest category of Adsense publishers. This is not something to feel bad about, and in fact I consider it to be something to be proud of because you have demonstrated your devotion to learning this new business and actually making a decent residual income with it. If you were not devoted then you would still be at the penniless level of the wannabe, so take heed noob for you are on the path to success.
I define an Adsense Noob as someone who makes less then $300 dollars per month. They are probably pretty intelligent people and are very web-savvy, and they probably read tons of material and ebooks related to Adsense and internet marketing, but they simply cannot seem to get past this invisible threshold that is keeping them from higher profits.
I was stuck at this level for longer then I care to remember, and if you are at this level then please allow me to offer some humble advice that may allow you to advance to either level 4 or 5 depending on your personal preference. If you are really trying hard to make your Adsense earnings high enough to live off of and make a big change in your life (maybe quitting your job) and you are frustrated because you simply cannot figure out what you can possibly do to earn more money, then please for the love of all things good and sacred in this world pick a single website and stick with it!! This was my biggest mistake that kept me at the level of a noob for far too long, because I would pick a new topic and make a new website, and then a few weeks later I would do the same thing to the point that it felt like I was running in place.
If you are like me, sticking with a single website or blog as opposed to trying to build up many different ones simultaneously will be a real turning point for you. Think of it like this: when you go out of your way to focus all your attention like a laser on one single project, you will be building this one website up to a 5 instead of building 5 websites up to a 1. Not only that, but you are literally building up an asset because if your website was making you $2,000 per month on a fairly reliable basis, there is a good chance that you could sell it for 8-14 months of revenue.
Another factor that goes into graduating from the noob level is having all of the information you have been reading about Adsense, traffic generation and internet marketing to sink in on a subconscious level. This can take a while, because you need to read or hear something at least seven times before it will really sink in. But once you keep reading and absorbing information for a long time then it will eventually become habit and you will find that you are able to build highly optimized pages intuitively, and it is at this point that you should be able to move on to level 4 or 5 if you wish.
Fourth Level of the Adsense Spectrum: Empire Builders
Empire builders are the people that approach being an Adsense publisher from the perspective of building a business. They do not mess around, and they spend a decent portion of their mental energy focusing on the cold, hard numbers. The empire builder has many websites, and he/she focuses on things such as finding profitable keywords, improving CTR, discovering which websites topics tend to be the most profitable, testing page configurations and traffic generation methods, and so on. If this does not sound like fun to you, it certainly isn't, and that is what separates the empire builder from the noob.
But just because focusing on improving CTR and split testing page layouts is not exactly fun does not mean that it is hard, and the potential payoff can seriously be worth the inconvenience of taking the time to do it right. There is an important paradigm shift that needs to take place in your awareness if you want to be a successful empire builder: you must realize that your profession is literally to connect advertisers with people who are interested in what they are promoting.
By creating content sites around a certain topic, you are drawing in people who are interested in that topic, and then you are 'giving' those visitors away to other websites that may not be as good at marketing as you are. The main thing to be aware of here is that even though you are building up a base of website visitors with the intention of having them leave your website by clicking on relevant ads, they will be leaving some money in your virtual tip jar as they go! If you are an empire builder, it is important that you do not get too attached to your websites and spend most of your attention focusing on how you can connect your visitors with relevant advertisers.
Fifth Level of the Adsense Spectrum: Adsense Whores
By my choice of words you may think this is a bad thing, but it's not and it can potentially be extremely profitable to be an Adsense whore. The business model of the Adsense whore is to have one single website and have ads appearing on potentially millions of pages on the site. The key distinction here is that most of the time the single website that this person focuses on will be a community site or a networking site, and there will be thousands of members that effectively create unique content each and every day. And with all of the unique pages that your member base is creating, you can place your code on nearly every singe one of them.
A forum or a social networking website are great examples of websites that can make a killing using this type of business model. Many sites that are powered by user-generated content will employ an ad rotating script so that their adsense ads are rotated continually with other types of visual ads, so that the visitors do not become 'banner blind' and ignore the ads completely.
When you have a popular website and a member base numbering in the thousands or the tens of thousands, a 6-figure monthly income is not out of the question when you are able to monetize the vast number of pages that are being perpetually created. This level is out of reach for most people because it usually requires an extensive knowledge of web application programming and you will usually have to hire skilled programmers to work on the back end of the site and make sure that it is secure. This can be costly, and there is a chance that you will also need to hire people to moderate the content that users are creating. It is a full-on business, and it pays accordingly.
As you can see, Adsense publishers come in all types and sizes, and I hope this has been an enlightening aside on your journey towards higher profits.