Part of my passive income strategy is running ads on this site. I never used to, but WordPress was putting them on my pages and even telling visitors that these were my ads so eventually I decided, screw it, let’s try Word Ads for a year and see how it goes. That was August 2020.
It was really easy to set this up on my WordPress.com site which has a unique domain name but is still hosted by WordPress. I had some reservations about the whole thing because I didn’t want my site to end up like one of those godawful recipe sites.
You know every recipe site ever, where you Google “ice cream recipe” and click on a result, then the page takes several minutes to load because of all the popups and videos, and suddenly you’re slamming your hand on your laptop’s mute button like you know the Countdown Conundrum because one of the many bloody videos has decided it’s not enough to zap your bandwidth and stop you being able to read this recipe, it also wants to SHOUT AT YOU ABOUT SOMETHING. And you couldn’t care less what it’s banging on about, you just wanted to read an ice cream recipe and why is someone shouting at you?
I definitely didn’t want my site to be like that. There’s a lot of local news sites like that, too. I was glad I could customize ad placements and tell Ad Words what kind of ads I was comfortable showing (I’ve just looked at the settings again and found this seems to be no longer possible, they just show ads wherever they feel, which wasn’t what I signed up for). I thought I’d try it and see how much some subtle ads brought in.
At first I was amazed and excited at the amount of money they were generating, and I worked really hard to increase my traffic to my blog using a content strategy which I explained here. I was making about $50 a month which was amazing, but although I doubled my traffic in a month in November, I noticed my site’s advertising income hadn’t gone up! What? But that makes no sense.
So I looked into this a bit more and found that, gradually, as my traffic increased, the amount I was being paid per ad went down. So although I was showing more ads than ever, I was making less every month!
Okay, don’t jump to conclusions, I told myself. Maybe it is just a coincidence that my traffic went up at the same time that advertising price went down. I decided to wait and see.
That was in November 2020. At that point, the income had gone down to $0.47 per 1000 ads instead of $0.63 per 1000 ads (which it had been in August and September 2020). In March I was getting $0.23 per 1000 ads. Now, in April 2021, with more traffic than ever, I am earning $0.13 per 1000 ads. That is a quarter of what they were originally paying me.
As you can see from the graph above, the whole reporting thing is very misleading. At a glance, you would think those blue bars were the money I’m making, but they’re not. Those blue bars are the amount of ads they have shown on my site, in thousands.
By hovering over particular days, you can get a breakdown of how much I made. The “Avg CPM” is the average cost per mille, or the money I made per 1000 ads on that day. The “Revenue” is the total money I earned that day. As you can see, it’s quite poor.
WordPress shows ads on my site whether I like it or not. To take control of the ads on my site, I have to pay WordPress an annual fee (a “plan” as they call it). If the ads continue to drop in price, soon it won’t be worth the $70 a year I’m paying them to take control of the ads.
That means this is so bad, it’s not a profitable form of passive income.
My conclusion is that I don’t think it’s worth it to get into Word Ads right now because of their sneaky sliding scale which just goes lower and lower the more traffic your site gets. If this gets any worse I’ll basically be paying them instead of the other way around! Maybe this will change in the future.