In January of 2010, things were finally starting to look up for our business. After a year of diligently plugging away at our online business, we were able to grow our revenue to the point of earning a couple hundred dollars a day, not a lot by any means, but enough to convince us that our “4-Hour Workweek” dreams were coming true.
At the time, we had one main niche site that we’d started with, along with a couple dozen exact-match domains that we’d built out, complete with crappy articles written by overseas workers. This was all pre-Panda, and rankings were good (we were ranking #1 for “cheap liposuction” at one point). We monetized all these sites through Adsense, and for the first time since we started, money was coming in, and it actually felt like we were running a business.
Then we got banned from Adsense.
Anyone that’s been banned by Adsense can tell you that the experience is terrible. There is no warning, no explanation, and very little recourse. And when you are banned, you are banned for LIFE. To make things worse, they closed not only our business account, but the personal accounts of me and my business partner as well. And we lost the $400+ we had accumulated in our account that month.
We filed multiple reconsideration requests, pleading with Google, but all were denied with automated responses (to this day, I still don’t know why were banned, although we suspect it’s because one of our sites was hit by a spammer). We even tried setting up a new account, but that was banned within a month, with us again losing all our earnings.
Needless to say, we despaired. All the hard work we’d built up working long days and nights was gone in an instant.
But then a strange thing happened. Within a few months of losing our Adsense accounts, we were able to turn our business around and earn MORE than what we were earning from Adsense. By the end of 2010, we were able to grow the business to making $500 a month, then $1000 a month in 2011, and $3000 a month in 2012.
What changed? First we started by selling all our crappy Adsense sites on Flippa for $1400, which was a nice windfall.
Then, with all the other sites gone, we were able to focus on our main site. Instead of relying on automated ads provided by Google and receiving pennies per click, we reached out to advertisers directly and negotiated direct advertising deals worth hundreds a month. Instead of just advertising for other people, we began signing up for affiliate programs and selling products for big commissions, eventually creating our own product so we could keep 100% of the profit. We focused on growing our SEO traffic and building an e-mail list so we could create a longterm relationship with our visitors.
So in the end, getting banned by Adsense was the best thing that happened to our business.
If you think about it, Adsense is the middleman of online advertising. Sure, it’s easy to setup and start earning, but Google takes a cut of every click you generate. And the people that are advertising through Adsense are earning even MORE money (otherwise they wouldn’t keep advertising).
The way to maximize your online revenue then is to cut out the middleman and work with advertisers directly, or eliminate advertising entirely by figuring out how the advertisers are making money. That’s where you’ll find the highest revenue potential.