Bigger blogs are able to attract very lucrative private advertising opportunities. The advertisers come to them directly and they are able to negotiate fairly high rates based on the level of traffic that the sites receive. When your blog first starts out, you likely won’t be able to enjoy these kinds of opportunities. At least not right away. The good news is that there is still money on the table for you to grab.

Easily one of the best blog monetization opportunities for blogs of all sizes is Google AdSense. This is the ad network operated by the popular search engine giant and the best part is that the barrier to entry is virtually non-existent. All you need is a website and a Google account.

What Is Google AdSense?

Google AdSense first arrived on the Internet in 2003, completely revolutionizing the way that advertisements worked on the web. In the past, ads were paid based solely on “impressions,” or the number of times that an ad is displayed. With AdSense, the publisher (that’s you) generally doesn’t make much money unless the site visitor clicks on the ad.

You’ve likely seen Google AdSense ad placements on many of the sites that you frequent, from technology sites to personal blogs. The AdSense blocks come in a variety of different sizes and serve not only text-based ads, but also images, videos, and animations. As previously mentioned, the ads generally work on a “per click” rather than a “per impression” basis, though some money can come through through the latter method too.

In addition to the main online advertising that Google AdSense provides for websites, the ads can also be found in other forms like AdSense for Feeds (RSS), AdSense for Search, and AdSense for video (YouTube). Since advertisers “bid” on keywords through AdWords (the advertisers’ side of AdSense), you as a new blogger have a great opportunity at making money. You don’t have to solicit the advertisers yourself.

Getting Started with AdSense

Signing up for Google AdSense is very straightforward and will only take a couple moments of your time. After that, you can log into your account (which can be the same as the main Google account you may already use for Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, and so on) and start setting up your account.

Under the “My ads” tab near the top of the main dashboard, you can click on a button to make a new ad unit. For the purposes of making money from your blog, you will usually start with an array of “banner” ads. These are available in sizes like 468×60 pixels, 300×250 pixels, and 160×600 pixels. The first is a horizontal banner, the second is a box, and the third is a vertical “skyscraper” banner.

From the “create new ad unit” page, you are able to choose the size, ad type (most blogs will want to choose text and rich media ads), color palette, font family, and custom channels. Setting up the custom channels is important, because you can then better track the performance of your ads to see which combination generates the most money for you. Full statistics reports are available through the AdSense dashboard.

Optimizing Your Blog Monetization

There is no such thing as the “one size fits all” model when it comes to making money with AdSense on your blog. A strategy that might work for one blog in one niche might not be as effective with another blog in another niche. There are, however, some common tactics that you can implement in your own monetization strategy. Just remember to tweak your ads to see what combination works best for you.

  • 768×90 Leaderboard: Placing one of these extra wide banners near the header portion of your blog can sometimes be effective. That’s because it will always show up “above the fold” for site visitors and the eyes are naturally drawn toward the top.
  • 300×250 Rectangle: Having your blog text “wrap” around this, either to the left or to the right, can also be effective. Your readers eyes will automatically browse pass the ad, becaus they are reading your blog posts. The ad is right there. Some sites have demonstrated success by placing this ad near the top of the sidebar as well.
  • 468×60 Banner: Placing one of these in between your blog post and the comment section can be a good strategy to try too. Readers will naturally progress from one section of your content to the next and the ad banner is right there for them to click.

Bear in mind that you can have no more than three Google AdSense ad units running on any one page at any one time. Also, more ads do not necessarily result in more money. Sometimes, it is more effective to only run one ad rather than three. Again, experimentation and tweaking are key.

This blog post is part of the Complete Guide to Blogging. Be sure to visit our Blogging Guide for the full break down of all chapters and posts in this series.