Making a Website for AdSense Income

Jerrold Foutz, the publisher of the SMPS Technology website, was featured in a video podcast interview and article in the Money Section cover story "'Gray Googlers' strike Gold" in USA Today, the number 1 newspaper in the USA.

You can view the USA Today Talking Tech video podcast interview with Jefferson Graham by clicking here. (You will see a 30 second commercial first.)

The article features other 'Gray Googlers' making as much as $120,000 a year and as little as $5 a month using Google AdSense. You can read the article on the USA Today website by clicking here

CBS2/KCAL9 News called after the publication and wanted to do a follow up on Gray Googlers for a news slot. I suggested that we had a great Senior Center in Rancho Cucamonga with a computer room active with seniors taking classes and using computers. They thought it was a good idea and it was taped November 7, 2007 and shown on the 12 noon, 2 pm, and 8 pm news. The program included an interview with the Rancho Cucamonga mayor, a filming of a class in session with comments from seniors about their reaction to computers, and the interview with me, along the lines of the USA Today article. Sorry I can't provide a link. It was in the CBS2 video library for November 7th for a couple of days but I can't find it now.

This web page expands on the article and interviews by providing my blueprint for making money on the Web, with the focus on Google AdSense. As explained below under monetization, I will explain exactly how I monetized this page and how much money it made -- this update gives the results of the first week.

The interviews have resulted in quite a few emails and phone calls that convinced me there is quite an interest among seniors in how to do it. To answer these questions in more detail than below, I have started a blog, Websites for Seniors.

Is Making Money with a Website and AdSense Hard?

The mechanics are easy. That does not mean you don't have to work hard at it. There is no free lunch. Also, it takes time. Starting from scratch, you might see a trickle of income in three months, but it will take a year to gather income momentum. If you already have a website with good content and some traffic, you will start seeing income your first month with AdSense. And yes, there are exceptions on a faster track, but you should not count on being one.

The most difficult thing a newcomer will face is how to spend their time doing the right things instead of chasing butterflies. I'll discuss three approaches -- and it should be clear that the last one is the one with the maximum chance to succeed with the fewest wasted motions. It is also the best-value approach, and the lowest cost approach that will get you to the vital tools you need to be a success.

All three approaches require a common ingredient. Passion for the subject of your website.

Passion for Your Website Subject

The basic philosophy of Google is to find the best-quality content on the Web for any search phrase and present this to the user of the Google search engine. Quality content with good traffic is the foundation of making sustained income on the Web through AdSense. That means that you have to be able to write quality content (or find other sources for quality content) about some subject month-after-month. If you don't have a passion for that subject, you will not be able to sustain the flow of quality content. And if you are passionate about your subject, your passion will show through in your writing.

So your first task it to list your passions and then select the one most likely to successfully make you money.

The "Just Do it" Approach

The "Just Do it" costs between $45 and $85 a year, plus your Internet Connection. If you are using email, you probably already have connection to the Internet through an Internet Service Provider (ISP). If not, it will cost another $100 or more per year depending on connection speed. All approaches require this ISP connection expenditure.

Besides being the cheapest approach for a hosted domain, it's a lot of fun if you like learning new things. But you are going to waste a lot of time learning the ropes this way and income will probably come later, rather than earlier.

The "Just Do it" approach is how I got started. I had a passion, power supply design, and wanted to pass on to others what I had learned over the years, material not usually found in text books and technical articles. For a couple of years I had been putting this information into hypertext, the language of the Web, even before the Web. I retired from Boeing in January 1994 and when the local computer show at Fairplex (Los Angeles County Fairground) gave a free seminar on writing a Web page in HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and publishing it on the Web, I decided to attend.

Stormy Knight gave a two hour free seminar at Fairplex where she taught enough HTML to bring up a website. With the exception of using a style sheet to make things pretty and a float command to better place ads, the HTML she taught is all I used to author this page. Since then she has become a friend and her websites, which you can get to through Business web site and widget development by Net 101 show how far you can go beyond the simple basics -- but the basics will get you started and you rarely have to get fancier.

I attended the seminar on Saturday, and on Sunday I had my website up on the free website space provided by my $8.95 a month Internet Service Provider.

My first website sold a product. My consulting services. In 1998 I decided I needed to present a more professional image, so I purchased a domain and switched it from my free hosting to a world class hosting service. The cost was about $85 per year for domain name and hosting -- and you can do it for almost half that through other services. This website was very successful in selling my consulting services. A single sentence in my resume buried deep in the website brought in all the consulting work I wanted.

You also need a source of information on how to do things on the Web. I got mine by years of belonging to the various mailing lists of the HTML Writers Guild. Later, when I started to make websites for others, I needed a better way. I found a book, costing less than $20, and required my Web client to buy it. Then when they had a question, I just had to point them to the place in the book with the explanation. The book was by Ken Evoy and you can now get it for free at But there is a better way, discussed in the last approach I will discuss, which is also free.

Then the change came. In August 2003 I decided to sign up for AdSense. My expectations were to recoup my $50 to $85 hosting costs over a year. The first pay check was for over $800 and the next month was a few dollars more than my Boeing retirement check, the largest of three retirement checks I get. I was flabbergasted! And income stayed equal to my Boeing retirement check year-after-year, with little work on the website.

The trip was fun, but notice that it took over nine years -- and I already had written a lot of the content before I went on the Web.

Is there a better way? Yes

The "Throw Money at It" Approach

This approach is going to cost you a thousand dollars or more and may yield you nothing. A few minutes with a search engine will net you many information products that promise you quick success on the web. You will see some of them on ads on this website. Mostly, they give you some information and then try to up-sell you to a more expensive product that promises more. A few of them are legitimate, but most, after you have spent your money, leave you pretty much where you started -- a website that is not generating you any income. The legitimate ones usually require hard work. You might generate a years income in a couple of months, but you will probably work harder than you have ever worked, over 80 hours a week, doing things mostly outside your comfort zone.

The problem is finding one that might work for you at acceptable risk. Finding that product is not easy. I may recommend in this section a product or two that I believe in. Stay tuned. But until then, the only advice I can give is try to find out all you can about the product, talk to those that have successfully used it, and make sure you are getting value for your money each step of the way.

I consider myself hard to scam, but a convincing sales letter has enticed me to buy into these products to the tune of about $1,000 over the years. Some have been useful, but most of them have not increased my income and have wasted my time. Your results may be different. I know some of these products deliver, even over deliver, on their promises. Investigate them if they appeal to you -- but be wary.

The "Site Build It" Approach

This is the approach I recommend. SBI (Site Build It) cost is $299 per year, which includes your domain and hosting, and tools, information, and help worth far more -- if your goal is to make money on the web. If what you read below convinces you that it is the way to go, here is the order-form landing page.

The Site Build It blueprint is simple and highly effective. Select a niche small enough to avoid the big boys but big enough to make money. Then write content for highly focused pages for that niche, bring traffic to the website, presell your product, and then monetize the website. Content => Traffic => Presell => Monetize, ( C => T => P => M ).

I have an SBI website, but I have not monetized it yet. I use it in an unusual way. I think of the $299 a year as tuition in the best school in the world for a small business to make money on the Internet. I apply the knowledge and the tools to my other websites. The knowledge is in an Action Guide, which walks you step-by-step in setting up a Web business, access to the best Internet forums in the world, a newsletter that keeps you up-to-date on the latest proven techniques for making money, and an almost bottomless pool of proven tips. Tools you need for success are available to you inside SBI that, if you subscribed to them outside SBI, would cost more than your SBI hosting.

And the best part is that the Action Guides are free. if you know how to access them outside SBI. But beware, when you open them up you are going to be faced with hours of reading or watching video to learn the things you have to know to be successful in a web business. Here is where you will find the written Action Guide in PDF Form and here is where you will find the Action Guide Videos. I suggest listening to the videos first, picking the female voice. Then read the more detailed PDF version.

The above will take you a long way to understanding what you need to know to make money on the Web. But you are going be missing some critical tools you need to determine supply, demand, and profitability of keywords and the invaluable help you get in the forums. Also you will have read the Action Guides, but still have no Web business, which you will have if started with a purchased SBI system. I recommend joining SBI and start sooner rather than later, taking advantage of the money back guarantee if it doesn't work for you. If you are not ready now, then ...

Take a look at the free material, then if you want further convincing, read and listen to the videos on the Site Build It website. I suspect you will want to buy it after you have done this homework -- if not before. The 30-day money back guarantee, with a prorated refund after that, protects you if you decide it is not for you.

Again, if you decide to buy Site Build here is the link to the order-form landing page.


Robert V. Cialdini

I'm often asked what is the one book I would recommend to someone who wants to make money on the Internet. My answer is surprising, since the book doesn't mention the Internet or Web. The book is Robert V. Cialdini, Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion. When I first read this book, I bought a dozen copies, gave a copy to my three children, and several to my closest friends. The rest I gifted to those that I helped bring up business websites with the advice to read it first and to then insert the lessons learned into their websites as they built them.

This book is so important that I think that everyone should read it before their 18th birthday.

Why this strong recommendation? Because it describes the weapons of influence that salesman use to make the sale. We have built into us social triggers, that if triggered, almost compel us to take certain actions. Good salesman are adept at using these triggers. But this book is unique in that it is aimed at the countering these sales techniques. Hence, the recommendation that the book be read before the age when signing sales contracts becomes binding -- and earlier is better. If you read it later as an adult, the examples in the book will resonant with your life's experiences -- and you will see how you have often been persuaded to do things, including buying things, that you would not otherwise ordinarily do.

The weapons of influence are:

If you can weave them into your website content, your success will improve dramatically.

Buy Cialdini's book. Read Cialdini's book. If you don't think it is worth your money or your time, I won't give you back your money or time, but I will chat with you on making money on the web for a half an hour. 909-989-0487 and ask for Jerrold Foutz.

Joel Comm

The USA Today article quotes Joel Comm and mentions his book, The AdSense Code. On the right you will see the book displayed with my Amazon affiliate link. If you buy it from the link, you have left me some money.

This is all I said about Comm's book in the original of this page. Thirty-four of you clicked on the book the first week, but no one bought it. This in spite of an excellent book description and reviews on Amazon.

Why? I think it was because I did nothing to presell the book before the reader went to Amazon -- and the content on Amazon did not do the job. Joel Comm is a friend and it was difficult not to say something more about the book on the original version of this page. I own and have read the book and followed its advice. It is all that is claimed to be -- a strategy to multiply your income through best practices of using AdSense on a web page. When you get to the point of adding AdSense to your website, buy the book and see how its advice improves your income. Better yet, buy the book as you are building your website and use the information to influence the build so you will make the most from AdSense.


Monetization is the jargon used in the website world for the techniques used to make money from the website. To make money, you first have to have quality content on your website, then you need traffic, then you need to presell the reader on what you have to offer -- usually by building trust, and then you can successfully monetize the website.


So what was done to bring traffic to this page? First, being written about in USA Today generated a lot of traffic to the smpstech website. How much? Using Google Analytics, one of the tools the Google provides to make your website better and more profitable, we can look at the numbers. On Thursday, the day before the USA Today article, there were 452 visits to the smpstech website. This shot up to 1,490 on the Friday the article was published and then tapered down to 601 on the seventh post-publication day. In this seven day period, there were 6,600 visitors to the website viewing an average of 2.03 pages per visitor, with each visitor spending 2 minutes average on the website. For those viewing this web page, you spent an average of over four minutes reading it. Most of visitors got to the website searching on either smpstech or a power supply topic or my name. No one got there by searching on AdSense, USA Today, and making money on the web. So how did they get to this page? Almost all incoming views for this page were either from a link referring to the USA Today article at the top of the smpstech home page or direct links, coming from a newsletter I sent to my power supply design newsletter list of 1,968 names. Lists are very powerful tool to monetize a website. These 6,600 visitors drove 1,481 page views to this page, a 22.4% conversion rate.


The USA Today article did the presell. This page tries to augment the presell a little more by giving more details than could be provided in the USA Today article or video. If you are convinced that making money on the web is real and not just hype, then the presell was successful.

Monetization in Detail

This web page used both AdSense and affiliate programs to generate income.

AdSense Income

AdSense income was generated by placing two ad units (three allowed) and two link units (three allowed) on the page. The color and style of all of the ads are selected to blend in with the design of the page. The first ad unit is a 300x250 rectangular block, on the left of the content and even with it, appearing above the fold. This is the sweet spot and this ad should generate the most income on the page. A similar ad block was placed below the fold. Only two were used at first so the ads did not appear to overwhelm the content. Since I am adding content now in this update, I just placed the third ad unit to left. One of the link units is placed just below the logo. I'm not sure why people click on this, but they do -- it may be that it looks like a navigation bar. The second link unit is placed at the bottom of the page, to give people who have read this far, somewhere to go next. Are these the best positions? You can only tell by A/B testing (testing the results from two different ads), but they are a good starting point.

So how well did the AdSense ads do? For just this page, the AdSense income for each ad placement was:

1st Week 1st Month 1st Quarter 1st Year
Above Fold $5.34
Below Fold $1.78
Below Logo $1.56
Bottom $2.59
Total $11.28

This may not look like much, but over 52 weeks it would be $586.56 and if you had 100 pages doing as well, it would be $58,656 per year.

But this is not the whole story. The USA Today article increased the AdSense income of all pages on the website by $84.98. So the bottom line is that we made $96.26 income from AdSense in one week due to the USA Today article.

Affiliate Income

There are two affiliates used on this web page, SBI and Amazon.

SBI sales made from this page totalled $766.09 CA in the first seven days generating $191.52 CA in commissions. But this released other income from past sales that is not released until you make new sales. This brought the total up to $304.74 CA or $319.92 when converted from Canadian to US dollars.

The Amazon affiliate program yielded zero income. The USA Today article quotes Joel Comm and mentions his book, The AdSense Code. I displayed the book to the right of this paragraph and explained that if you buy it from the link, you have left me some money. In the first seven days, The AdSense Code book by Joel Comm ad displayed got 34 hits, but no one ordered the book. In this update I added a second book, Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion and added a few more words about the AdSense Code. I think these will generate some buys. If they do, I will give my explanation why.

Total Income

The total income from all sources for the first week from the USA Today article and this page was $416.18 and it will keep generating income into the future.

Bookmark this page and come back in a month for a description of additional things I'm doing to monetize this page and why I did them. (You are interested in making money on the Web, aren't you?)


I want to thank my good friend Barbara Feldman of, a website of what's wonderful and educational on the Web for kids, for recommending me for this USA Today article and to USA Today reporter Jefferson Graham for his professionalism and making the interview and video podcast fun to do.

Original: October 26, 2007, Revised: November 30, 2007

Webmaster and editor: Jerrold Foutz