Okay I think we are life now
So let me put my coffee way and let’s get going so
Welcome to another session of ask me anything Sunday.
Boy do we have to talk about stuff today so this was a strange and a sad month for me. So first off I started this block in 2019. I have already had a passive income stream of about $500 a month from my apps. I develop Android apps and I put some AdMob advertising on them. That was how I generated most of my money.
I also have a few applications on the Play Store which I do sell. They do not contain any advertising so those were my revenue streams. I was starting this blog to build up my the number of passive income streams that I have. I spent most of my time the last three months on building out this blog. Coming up with E.g. AskMeAnything Sundays and starting to use Pinterest and tailwind.
The name of the game is to provide value
Providing value to everyone who is interested in earning a passive income stream. That’s what I want to do and I want to basically focus on a lot of the ‘things‘ out there. For example making money from a blog or from ads or from whatever. Most of the times when it sounds too good to be true it truly is too good to be true.
My blog http://MakeMoneyOnlineForLife.com mainly focuses on trying some of those programs out there and see what the results are. Now as I said I started the blog in September. In October I started using Pinterest and in November really is when I started Tailwind. With Pinterest I drove a little bit of traffic to my site. Let me give you a couple of statistics here.
I received about 12,000 Impressions for all of October. It is December 22nd today and I received about 30,000 impressions from Pinterest in December.
The Engagement on the other hand went from 304 engagements in October to 656 engagements also great. I more than doubled the number of engagements and it’s most likely due to me utilizing Pinterest much much more through Tailwind.
The more important number actually are the clicks. The number of clicks for all of October were 61. As I mentioned, I just started this blog so I’m not surprised that this number is really low. In December so far it’s 160 clicks. This is good as it is almost triple of what I had in October which is great. However November and December are the month with a lot of holidays and people may be more active online.
The other thing which I tried in November was to sign up for AdSense for this blog. I was flat-out rejected. AdSense rejects about 96% of all new applicants so a lot of the pins and a lot of the blogs that you see out there are completely wrong. They will tell you to go and sign up with Adsense and then make a few bucks here there. This no longer true. It may have been true a couple of years ago but AdSense has become much more strict and they reject now most blogs.
Too much content already exists
Interestingly the reason that they provide in rejecting blogs is because there’s so much content already out for this topic. Or put it in another way, AdSense thinks that we don’t need anymore new content on the internet or no more new providers on the Internet. Whatever we currently have is more than sufficient. So the Internet has reached is its peak. I think that’s where Adsense is going to. With that said, the Adsense rejection obviously didn’t stop me to try to test out other monetization paths. I signed up with Media.net. It is very similar to AdSense.
Media.net still allows you to sign up and I hope they don’t change their policy in the future. You can currently sign up regardless of how small or big your blog is. You can start adding advertising onto your blog. The ads look a little different than the ads from Google because they require a two-step click before you actually get paid for a real click but they also have a CPM which is cost per thousand visitors.
Unfortunately in all of December when I started with Media.net I only gathered about 930 impressions from my website. This goes back to the low number of clicks that are received from Pinterest to drive traffic to my website. Of course traffic from Google is doing much worse. I barely get any traffic through Google directly. I have earned $0.00 so far from Media.net and I will keep you up-to-date of my progress. Let’s see if I can turn this around and maybe earn a little bit of money using Media.net.
Wind in my tail
The other thing which I did in late November and the beginning of December, I signed up for Tailwind. I went for about a week with the free account and then reached the limit of the free subscription. I then shelled out about $105.- for the one year tailwind subscription. You may be wondering why is it only $105,- instead of $120,- and that’s because I found a promotion which I used to sign-up.
I’m using tailwind now to pin between 16 and 32 pins each and every single day now. Most of those pins are not coming from my website. I go through the article of every PIN I publish. I read through it or skim through it as good as I can. Only when I find a quality article am I going to put these PINs up on the different group boards and add them in onto my boards as well.
I spend a lot of time on social marketing and YouTube like today as well as fixing things. I don’t have a lot of time to actually to create content which is a problem. That is why I don’t yet have enough content to spread it throughout Pinterest as much as I would like there to be. I’m working on it so stay tuned there will be more in the coming months. I am really working hard and growing this blog to providing the best value I can.
Fiverr post series
I wrote a blog post about utilizing Fiverr to help with some of the tasks that bloggers are facing and that has panned out quite nice. This blog-post describes pretty well what Fiverr is good for and what is it is not. I also hired two writers to write about their experience using Fiverr to earn money. You can find one of those blog-posts already on my website http://MakeMoneyOnlineForLife.com and the other one is coming shortly.
The experiences are in general very positive and they are able to earn quite some good money through fiverr. Fiverr on the on the other side is also earning a lot of money using their services. In case you don’t know Fiverr keeps about 20% of the income somebody receives. They also scoop up money from the people ordering the gigs. Fiverr is making out like a bandit.
How blogging has changed the past 20 years
I want to talk a little bit about how blogging and the Internet has changed in the past say 20 years. I’ve been doing this for a long time. I had my first website in 1996 so that’s over 20 years ago. Back then you simply had a website and you would write about whatever is on your mind. I don’t recall when WordPress was created ( Note: initial release was in 2003 ) but probably around the same time or maybe slightly before then but it was not as big of a platform as it is currently of course.
I personally I hand coded handcrafted HTML pages when I wrote my blog or diary as it was called back then. Somewhere along the way I started using Adsense. Back then AdSense was open to anyone, which is no longer true. I put Adsense on most of my websites which I have because it was simple. It was a couple of pennies here and there. Every couple of years I would get a check when I crossed the $100,- mark. I started earning real money passively when I started to use AdMob which is also owned by Google and is connected to your AdSense account.
AdMob into AdSense
The way that you receive payment for AdMob is through AdSense. You earn money through AdMob-Ads inside your Android apps. That means you have to have both accounts in order to earn money. Any AdSense income and your AdMob income is combined into one lump sum which is being paid out. Over the last couple of years I really built out my Android apps. I bought some Android apps from Flippa.com and then improved their capabilities or I completely rewrote them, enhanced them and added features to them.
I started making some really good money using AdMob to the point of where I got last year on average about $500,- each month. That was a good passive income stream. The reason why I started this blog is because I wanted to communicate how you can start earning passive income as well and see what other ways there are to create a passive income streams.
The AdSense termination
On December 16th I opened my gmail account and I got an email from the Adsense team telling me that my account has been terminated. The reason why it was terminated was because I supposedly have done “Incentivized traffic”. In case you don’t know what Incentivized Traffic is, I certainly did not know, “INCENTIVIZED TRAFFIC: As stated in our Program policies, publishers are not permitted to place Google ads on sites or apps with content related to programs offering incentives to click links or ads, read emails, or surf other websites. This would include, for instance, auto-surf sites, pay-to-read email networks, and sites comparing various pay-to-click programs.“.
I have never done any of that so this sounds completely arbitrary. Where and how Google would flag me for this is a mystery to me. I never paid for anyone to click on ads and I never will. Having actually written blog posts about not doing this because it is against the terms of services. The really sad thing actually is that there is no way to contact the Adsense team and figure out what’s going on.
They did not supply any more details like which of my websites or which of my apps is causing issues. I don’t know because both accounts are connected the email isn’t very in specific. It simply states your AdSense account in general. Since there’s no way to contact AdSense there is really not a lot I can do now. The one thing that they provided though was a link to an appeals form which I promptly filled out and sent back. I have not heard back from them yet.
The only other thing that Google actually does is that they have an outsourced community support. Meaning people not working for Google answering questions from and with regard to AdSense and other things. While this service is great and it seems to be working they do not have any information or any influence on what’s going to happen with your account. If you go there, and I really highly recommend you going there, and search for “Adsense termination” or reading through some of the comments that they leave.
While a some from the support team will let you know what may be causing issues, you will also see that they can get really condescending at times. If you read through some responses having somebody saying things like “I lost all my income revenue from Adsense that’s really devastating to me” and the response would be along the lines of “well you’re using Adsense why don’t you go and build an International ad agency yourself right and see how easy it is to earn money with your content”. Basically paraphrasing here a little bit. This is something where you see that an employee type personality responding to an entrepreneur type personality by basically saying we don’t care. I think that’s the overarching theme I see here from from Google.
Google Ads support vs Google AdSense support
I have been using Google Ads, where I pay to get additional installs for my applications. If you go to the Google ads console, you’ll see there’s a contact form. You can email them, you can call them there are very easy ways to get in contact. With Google AdSense, where they pay you, there’s no way that you can contact them. There’s nothing, except for this contact support forum and that is really really sad. With that said I’ve been using AdSense for since 2006.
13 years with AdSense is a long, long time. You would think that after all this time there would be some way of saying that something went wrong. Let’s say whoever looked at it, I assume it’s an artificial intelligent program that looked at it, there’s something not right. The partnership has been going on for 13 years the total revenue I’ve earned was about $13,500 over these 13 years. That is good money for me and it was good money for Google. After all Google keeps about 40 percent of the ad revenue it receives so if I earned 13,000 that means Google earned $9,000 off of this relationship.
You have been terminated
Simply terminating it without telling me why or how is a sad sad story. I utilized the money I received from AdSense partially to pay for my Google-Ads advertising. Of course if I don’t get any money I can no longer spend any money on Google-Ads. So I had to basically stop all my Google-Ads. This ends up costing Google another $200,- a month roughly which I would have spent. Not only that google AdSense earns 40% of the value I provided to them, which is about $500 a month, now I also stopped paying $200 a month to Google-Ads. The total loss that Google receives is actually far higher to them.
I’m just flabbergasted how you can treat a business partner like this. Google doesn’t seem to care too much about it. When this happened I was devastated. Reading the email I tried to figure out what was going on and what did I do wrong. This really put me in in a very very bad mood. I wasn’t depressed but I was just very, very sad because it was a constant stream of passive income I was very, very happy about. This was the only additional money out of my nine-to-five that I earned on the side.
Believe you me, I checked my AdSense account multiple times a day. Simply because it gives you this rush, this really great feeling that you’re building something of value you are providing to the world and you’re getting reimbursed for that value. It took me three years to build these apps and three years of spending every waking hour of my spare time working, coding, bug fixing, answering questions . It is real work it’s not like you have an app and it’s just a hobby.
If you’re being kicked out from a passive income stream that is a hard pill to swallow. I saw this as a business and I took it serious as a business as you have to. Getting basically terminated or fired by Google Adsense is a big hit. I did a lot of research, I dug into Google Analytics to try to figure out what went on. I found some spikes on my websites and first I thought, well maybe some bot network went through my websites and they for some reason clicked on Google ads.
Looking further into it and digging through, comparing it to the server logs, I eventually found out that this traffic was actually coming from Google. The Google BOTS or whoever, whatever in Google went through my websites. All of these sites had AdSense-Ads. Google polled all my web pages and they looked through it and something triggered this termination from Google.
At this point I’m still very very confused as to what I may have done wrong. It’s not really a good sign if a company just tells you you violated our Terms of Services, we are not going to tell you why, we are just gonna say it is ABC. In my case it was Incentivized Traffic but it could have been something like you were sitting in front of your computer and laughing too loud. It doesn’t matter we are going to terminate you and keep your account balance. Obviously in their terms of services or in their rules they say they will try to reimburse their advertisers but as I said I’ve been doing Google ads for many years and I have never received a reimbursement.
The loss of a passive income stream
I’m fairly certain that Google just keeps the money. $1,000.- for me is not the end of the world. $1,000.- is not even pennies for Google but it is a big, big thing. I was expecting to get a paycheck of about $640.- this month from Google for the income from November; that’s gone. I already earned up to $400.- in December when this happened; that’s gone. So you know losing that money certainly hurts a lot. Not just because it’s $1,000.- but because it’s the loss of a passive income stream.
If somebody took something very important away from you and you did nothing wrong, or if there’s anything that triggered a termination for any reasons you may not be aware of, it hurts. I certainly did not go out and find people to click on any ads or make promises any way shape or form. I still hope that at some point Google will answer my appeals form hopefully in the positive so that I can get my passive income stream back. Though I don’t know since there’s no way to contact Google and it’s just it’s just one of those things where a large company just gives you the middle finger and you have to take it and there’s nothing you can do about it.
I could go to court but I don’t want Google to block me out of all their other services. That was also something I read on the support forum basically threatening one guy, I believe he was from India, that if he continues to complain Google would just simply terminate all access to YouTube to Google Docs or to anything that he would ever want to use from Google. Now that is a scary thing. Think about it, if Google does not give you access to their platform you’re an outcast. If you work in the IT industry, if you’re a developer, if you are an entrepreneur, there is no way around utilizing Google.
Alternatives to Google
With that said though, there are other options. One of the options I’m currently looking into to replace my AdMob income is to go through MoPub. MoPub is a mobile publishing platform which was bought by Twitter in September 2013. It has similar numbers for the various ads. I will obviously give this a try and see what comes of it.
For my AdSense on my web pages, I removed all of them because I only received about $1 a month from all of my six web pages combined. I removed them in case the appeals form goes to a human being and they are going to look at my account again. There should not be anything that they will see on my web pages because it’s all gone from my web pages.
To give you an example, I had a personal web page which I started in 1995 / 1996. There is a DVD authoring tool which I did for Linux. I spent about a decade, 10 years, developing this application. Then there are multiple other WordPress bogs which I did. Plus my WebOS which had a single advertising on the main page.
I removed it all so I’m completely AdSense free currently. I just want to see if I can get my AdMob account re-instated to be able to continue to earn passive income through my apps. If that doesn’t work I’m going to move all my apps to MoPub and see how that is going. There are also multiple other options to replace native ads in Android apps. I start with MoPub because it simply seems to be the next in line after AdMob.
Privacy from Google
The other thing I’m doing now, I went through the privacy settings of my Android Phone ( Google Pixel 2XL ). Quite frankly I disabled a couple of settings where I was sending a lot of data to Google. I would recommend you do the same. Does Google really need to listen to everything you say even if you don’t use your phone. I think not. Does Google really need to know what you are searching for even if you don’t go to any of the results from the web-search or your YouTube search? I don’t think so.
My recommendation is go to settings if you have an Android phone go to your privacy settings and have another look at it. I also am going to switch from utilizing Chrome in Android to Firefox. Again Google knows way too much about what people are doing. This is a simple way of returning the favor. If Google is not a reliable partner, then I don’t want Google to have all the information that it currently gets from me. I will never get to the point where Google does not know anything about me but I will try to limit my exposure of data.
I made another change, I started to utilize a WordPress plugin called WordPress analytics. Unlike what I had before it does not send the the data to Google or any other platform. The data is stored locally and it is a really nice plugin. You can see certain information easier and it provides more information in certain aspects. It may not have all the bells and whistles otherwise but I do like it already much better than the Google Analytics dashboard which I was using before. So definitely going to look at a replacement for all of my websites. I think it’s important to be able to view what’s going on with your websites even if I don’t currently monetize them.
I will definitely keep an eye on them and and see what else I can do to limit my exposure to Google so you know moving from Chrome to Firefox’s is one thing moving from default search from utilizing Google to DuckDuckGo.com or maybe to Bing, which is Microsofts search engine, or utilizing Yahoo.com
This episode has definitely taught me that Google is is looking at you know in a very strong way and and I don’t like being pressured or dependent on any single company. Will I give up my android phone and switch over to Apple iOS ? I don’t think so. I think Apple in many ways has similar issues. But if you think about it, there are only two companies controlling the smartphone market. There is Googles Android and then there is Apples iOS. That is a scary thought I certainly wish we would have we would have more options in getting our cell phone operating system
Let’s take a look at the money that I have spent this month on my blog. I spent $39.- on Fiverr for the two articles that I talked about before. This is a good investment into the site, I do not see this as an expenditure. I also spend $105.- on the one year tailwind subscription. It was only $105.- as I mentioned in the beginning because I got a special offer to cut down a couple of percentage points for the sign-up. Next year when I want to renew this subscription, I will have to pay $120.- a year for tailwind.
I do use tailwind publishing tool quite heavily. If I take a look at my publisher scheduled pins I have about 100 pins currently scheduled which are over the next 5 days. I am also a member of five tribes which I also update when I have new contents. Let’s see how this pans out before I do another renewal one year from now.
I certainly see that I do get some traction and it’s early on for http://MakeMoneyOnlineForLife.com. The blog is only three month old but I need to see some return on that investment. $120 is a lot of money for a blog which is currently not providing any income. I spend currently all of my time on my blog and on cleaning up the AdSense mess. Trying to figure out what’s going on and trying to find replacements for what I have lost takes a lot of time and cost a lot of energy. Thankfully it’s the holiday season and I have one week off. I can spend much more time now on sorting these issues out.
Exercise it up
The other thing I started which I can highly recommend is that I started doing some physical exercise again. For those who don’t know I am over 50 by now and I started up my P90X program again. I do his every once in a while. I just had my startup week which basically means I do a couple of those exercises and give my body enough rest more rest than usual. If you haven’t done P90X in a while it hurts 🙂 . If you are as old as I am your body needs more time to recover. Now that the startup week is over my plan is to go all the way, 90 days and and do P90X-Classic.
What a month
This month was devastating for my income stream. I was expecting to receive about $640.- from google AdSense and that went down to $0 and the only income that I received is from the sales on the Google Play Store, when people buy my apps/ They actually pull out their wallet and they buy it with their own money. However this income is usually between $10.- and $20.- a month. So it’s it is passive and it’s great but it is far of the advertising income that I used to receive through Adsense. Not a good month and certainly I hope that the following month will be better. Well, we will see how it goes.
I am in a very interesting position. I believe that things don’t happen to you but things happen for you. Lets see how this pans out. I certainly learned my lesson with regard to reliance on Google and building partnerships with large multinational corporation. I do believe that ads should be seen as a small piece of the overall passive income streams you build up. It is important to diversify to have multiple income streams. I was in the process of doing just that when this AdSense termination happened.
I will talk to you soon. You can follow my blog http://MakeMoneyOnlineForLife.com and read on what is going to happen next. This is a December 2019 let’s see where I’m going to be next month, let’s see where I am going to be December 2020. Definitely some interesting times ahead of me now.
Remember if it happens to me it probably can happen to you. You don’t need to do anything wrong, you don’t need to try to push the envelope. It just happens one day you have passive income through one stream and the next day it’s gone because of something that happened for you.
With that said I wish you all good holiday season and a happy new year.
Here is the recording of the AskMeAnything Session from December 22 2019.