$1,000 a Day from AdSense

This is the first article in what I hope will be a series of articles on different online business models.  In talking with at least a hundred successful online business owners the past few years, it has become apparent that there only a very few basic building blocks of an online business.  As with DNA, though, there is an endless array of how those building blocks can be arranged.  So while I may not necessarily endorse a particular model, I think it’s really useful to see how others are making money online.

Today’s article comes from Elizabeth Cutten.  She helps run FindBizCards.com, a business blog, as well as a resource to find the best small business credit cards.  Before I agreed to post this, I checked up on Elizabeth to make sure she had actually implemented this idea and wasn’t just presenting a theory.  She was able to back it up.

If you’d like to feature your successful model, just let me know!

– – –

Everyone’s dream is to work at home, make lots of money, and be able to cash in the checks while sipping piρa coladas on the beach. While this situation can happen, you’re going to have to understand that it’s going to take time, as well as effort and motivation.  If you have a goal, ANYTHING can happen, and I truly mean it.

First, let me tell you a little bit about myself.

About a few years ago, my husband and I came across the AdSense program.  How is this, we thought?  Draw traffic, get legit clicks and get paid.  Yes, while it was really hard that the beginning, I look back now and just thank the lucky stars that I’m still doing it today.

Here’s how I did it:

#1 Screw the man hours you put in – At the beginning, you’re going to put a lot of hours into your work, and get nothing in return.  This happens, and what ticks me off is when people say, “Hey! I worked 98 hours and received $1.39″  You have to throw this mindset out the window right now.  Count on making pennies your first 6 months!

#2 Content is king – This is a simple formula that I came up with when it came down to AdSense, and it works really well.  What you’re going to want to do is find out a content based site that you can create that will easily create at least 5,000 to 10,000 pages of content.  For example, you could do a “job description” site.  There are easily 5,000 jobs you can write a separate page about.

Now, with this formula, you’re going to get 2 views each day for each page that you write about.  So, if you have 10,000 pages of content, you’re going to get 20,000 views each day.  Now, let’s say your average eCPM (price per 1,000 views) is $16.  You’re going to get paid $320 based on those 20,000 views.  (20 x 16).

Now, while my $16 is low balling, you’re going to find that with 25,000 articles, you can make very close to $1,000 a day.  Take that 25,000 articles over 5 years, and you have to pan out 416 articles a month.  This brings me to my next point…

#3 How to get your content – Now, you’re probably thinking, “How the heck do I write 25,000 articles to get to my $1,000 per day?”  I’ve found that I can’t personally write 30-40 articles a day, and this is where outsourcing comes in.  Keep in mind that you will have to invest into this business to get a great return.  I will let you do further research, but the best place to outsource for writing is the Philippines.  I have over 20 writers that work for $225 a month each!  Yes, I get around 250 articles per writer per month for that price tag.  There are many various ways to find them.

I know, everyone has their own formula out there, and if you don’t like mine, that’s fine.  While you will still want to build links to your site for authority reasons, this trick really works well.  Not only that, you will find that over time, your numbers will consistently grow.  As long as you outsource, the sky is the limit!  Good luck!



  • Shane

    January 13, 2011
    at 12:51 pm

    This is definitely a viable model on its own, but I personally would view it more as a starting point. I’ve said before that AdSense is great for getting a site off the ground, but you’re leaving so much money on the table if you never move beyond AdSense.

    What I would do is get a site like this up and running and then focus on fleshing it out into a richer site and discovering better ways to monetize it. If you had built to just $250/day in AdSense and were able to double your pageviews and CPM (neither of which would be hard to do), you would instantly be at $1,000/day in income. I could live on that πŸ™‚

    That’s just me, though. The important thing is that you find what works for you.


  • Liz

    January 14, 2011
    at 9:33 am

    I guess I should have added some more things. Let’s say that you do get to that $1,000/day. If you add more affiliate branded programs into your site, you can EASILY get to 2k/day.

    With that job example again, you could add Monster, SnagAJob, etc, and gain $$ through the leads. While it’s a lot of work, it does pay off HUGE in the end πŸ™‚

    Thanks again Shane for posting!


  • Jason

    January 14, 2011
    at 9:37 am

    This is a great post, but isn’t there a linking component that’s missing? With all the time and effort spent on content creation (not necessarily a bad thing) is there an equal amount of effort spent on linking?

    Also, how good are the writers in this example? I have heard a lot of bad things about the writing of non-native english speakers.


  • Shane

    January 14, 2011
    at 10:35 am

    Great questions, Jason. Thanks!

    I’ll let Liz answer the linking question, but I imagine since most of these terms are so extremely long-tail that it doesn’t take much linking at all. In fact, I would imagine that the linking, in this case, would be more to get Google to spider every one of the pages more than it would be about ranking — i.e. getting them to actually spider every page would be the toughest part.

    I can answer the English question, though, as that was my primary concern. It’s actually surprisingly good. When you read the writing it’s clear that they aren’t the most accomplished of writers, but it wasn’t anywhere near what I thought it might be.

    I look at it like using a starter log to build a fire: You’re only going to use it in the beginning, and it quickly disappears to be replace by real wood. That’s how I would utilize this strategy.


  • Tim

    January 26, 2011
    at 4:20 pm

    My concern would be with the estimated $16 eCPM. This sounds very, very high. I have many sites using AdSense and most average $1.00 eCPMs. Granted this is per ad unit, so multiple ad zones would equate to a higher eCPM. But $16??


  • Shane

    January 26, 2011
    at 4:27 pm

    Great point, Tim. It definitely depends on the content. A $16 CPM definitely isn’t normal and can’t be counted on for every topic. $16 is definitely possible, but it would take some experimentation with various topics to see what kind of CPM you could get.


  • Liz

    February 3, 2011
    at 11:22 am

    Sorry for the delay on this.. been busy!

    With links, yes it does take a few links, but with my strategy I will send a majority of my links to the root URL, while I will also send links to my popular pages. I generally find this via Google Analytics. So, sure links do play a role, but like Shane said, you’ll be amazed with most of the long tail.

    As for the $16 ecpm, this by far my middle average. Just about all my sites average it here. It’s not that hard to think of a good topic that would yield a great ecpm. Think about it. If you’re writing about video games.. it’s going to be low. Job searching / Grants on the other hand will yield something high. Again like Shane said, you have to experiment.

    This strategy does work very well and while you may be hesitant with non-english writers, you will be VERY impressed with Filipinos, trust me.

    I know it would be a lot of work, but even tweak with 1,000 articles. As long as you have a tight based subject and you’re not all over the place.. it shall work! πŸ™‚


  • Jeff

    February 19, 2011
    at 12:08 am

    That last comment hinted at what I was wondering about, Liz. Does the “tight based subject” factor make it easier for individual posts to rank, as oppossed to something more like a general article directory type site? Also, may I ask what internal linking plugins or strategies you’re using in this scenario?

    Thanks for sharing such an insightful post.


  • Todd

    March 7, 2011
    at 5:54 pm

    Any suggestions on best places to find Filipino writers? Elance? Or are there better places?


  • Joanna

    March 12, 2011
    at 7:48 pm

    Liz, with your formula, the writers from Philippines provide you with 5,000 articles per month for $4500 in total.
    Take that 5,000 articles and they will make you $200 per day according to calculations. So what a sense to spend $4500 in order to earn only $1500 a month?
    Probably, it’s better to start the Internet business and invest that $4500 in a good product or website that provide some services, eg., copywriting? Your writers offer very cheap rates for their services and just being their manager on the specific market you could earn more than $1000 per day very easily. What you think? πŸ™‚


  • Shane

    March 13, 2011
    at 3:55 pm

    Joanna, I’ll let Liz answer you, but I wanted to take a stab as well.

    First, you made a mistake in your math. According to Liz’s formula, 5,000 articles would net you 10,000 pageviews/day. At a $16 CPM, that’s $160/day. $160/day across 30 days nets you $4,800/month, not $1,500.

    The other thing to consider is the cost of making that monthly income. Even at $1,500/month, I think it’s a great deal. Here’s why.

    On the surface, spending $4,500 to make $1,500 does seem odd. Within 3 months, though, you’ve broken even. Within 3 more months, you’ve doubled your money. In just 1 year, you’ve quadrupled your money — and the number keeps growing. That’s a great investment.

    The real advantage of this model, though, is that the $4,500 in writer cost is largely all you have. Managing a team of writers might bring in more revenue, but the expenses of managing a team that could bring in $1,000/day are significant.

    To that you also have to add the fact that you’re having to actively manage them. There is constant stress involved in doing that, and that’s a component that people like me would work hard not to have to deal with.

    And if you’re having to actively manage a team in order for revenue to come in, you have to work for every dime that you make. If you stop working, the money stops coming in. In Liz’s model, the money comes in whether you’re working or not.

    There’s no model inherently better than any other, though. You may enjoy the active model much more than the passive.

    Fundamentally, it’s not about making money. It’s about enjoying what you do.


  • Joanna

    March 13, 2011
    at 4:43 pm

    Shane, thanks for the answer.
    I was not wrong in math, you did not understand it. I have written the ending result without deep calculations. But I will explain now more – with 25,000 articles someone can make close to $1,000 a day as Liz said. At this moment her writers provide her with 5,000 articles per month that is 5 times less than 25,000 articles.
    So $1000/5 = $200 per day for 5000 articles. Right?
    The total costs are $4500 per month (salary to writers).
    The gross revenue per month is $200*30 =$6000
    So the pure profit is $1500 per month.
    I understand that Liz probably returns her $4500 at the end of the month and earns at least $1500 per month, probably.
    But my question was – what a sense to spend $4500 (though they are returned) in order to earn only $1500 a month? She could invest money in more profitable and attractive to her model to get more profit in return.
    I do not actually agree that in this model the money may come in whether you’re working or not. There are many factors that can influence the earnings – changes in Google Adsense policy, changes in users’ tastes and behaviour on the site, changes in SERPs, competition, number of clicks and so on. And you MUST work and control this process and it can not be 100% passive like just relax and get your money. If it would be so, then each one already was a millionaire. πŸ™‚
    To my mind, it’s far better to invest $4500 each month as Liz did in a good service (like http://www.plentyoffish.com) or product, or membership website, or service like I offered -copywriting, and then outsource administrator and to be really passive and get money to your pocket each day. It will be a good business model.
    And it’s not only about enjoying what you do because the article from Liz was offered by you like a sample of the successful business model, right?
    In one of your articles here you have written that several million dollar business ideas are far better than one million dollar business idea. So my comment is also about that.


  • Shane

    March 14, 2011
    at 8:34 am

    I’ve been broke, and I’ve been rich. I’ll choose poor and happy over rich and miserable any day (and have). Money can make you happy, but not for long.


  • Tim

    March 14, 2011
    at 9:17 am

    Joanna. It’s not $4500 per month. It’s a one time investment of $4500 for the initial content. You’ll break even at the 3 month point. Then it’s pure profit each month after.

    That is…if it works. Be careful with this strategy. Google is doing its best to find and penalize “content farms” and they will continue to do so.

    Be passionate about the content you are writing and be sure to make it great and engaging. Otherwise, you are right, create a business that offers a real service, value, etc…. A real business. Don’t chase quick money.


  • Joanna

    March 14, 2011
    at 9:28 am

    Tim, it’s not one time investment – it’s a monthly investment of $4500. Pure profit is $1500 per month. Please reread the article.

    I do agree with you that it’s good if it works – constantly. Too many factors can influence that.


  • Shane

    March 14, 2011
    at 11:05 am

    You’re still not understanding this model as Liz has outlined it. The cost to have the articles written is a one-time cost; you don’t have to keep paying it. Once they’re written, they continue to generate revenue. The articles you paid $4,500 for — at least according to Liz’s model — generate you $4,800/month. If you spend any more money, it’s to create more articles that will generate more revenue. You’re not having to pay for the same articles over and over again.


  • Yulia

    March 15, 2011
    at 1:23 pm

    What type of CMS system should I use If i want to create site with lots of pages? and where can I get templates?



  • Shane

    March 15, 2011
    at 3:26 pm

    There a lot of different CMSs to choose from, but I prefer WordPress. Check out Retire In Five Years for details on one way to use WordPress for a content site.


  • Zach

    April 10, 2011
    at 9:38 pm

    Hey Shane- great blog. I am loving it. 2 questions:

    1- Niches/Topics – This is the place where I have struggled is not knowing a profitable but realistic niche where you could create something like this. Any thoughts on niche selection?

    2- Pilipino writers- where are you finding them and how much effort is required to find them – I see how the magic works once you have the 25 writers, but I don’t know how much time/wading through writers had to happen at first.

    Appreciate any thoughts you might have.


  • Shane

    April 11, 2011
    at 8:56 am

    Thanks for the kind words, Zach, and great questions. I’ll let Liz answer #2, but I’ll tackle #1.

    The first thing to do is just to keep your eyes and ears open. The easiest way to find niches that you can do something with is by looking for topics you’re already around on a regular basis.

    I would also check out Auto Niche Income. The splash page is so cliche it could be a parody, but I got to preview the product behind it, and it’s really cool. They listed topics I never would have found on my own. I don’t get anything for recommending them; I just genuinely think it’s worth taking a look at.


  • Zach

    April 11, 2011
    at 11:02 pm

    Thanks for the feedback. I like the idea of picking niches that you are familiar w/ and like. But.. for example, my first website was a travel one covering b&bs of a certain country. It’s how I taught myself SEO- we ended up getting great rankings, but small profits b/c there was not enough volume in the niche to support the profit we got on one booking. Then I worked as an SEO on a tour operators site for the same company & the guy killed it b/c of his rankings/traffic – the reason…. he had a high margin product that needed less conversions for a win. So same niche – tourism in country x, one model did nothing, one model took off.

    I am ready to ante up and commit a couple of years of plowing on a site, but I am afraid that I will create a dud again b/c of not hitting the niche correctly. My other idea has been to create lots of smaller sites and shoot for $50/mo each on adsense and then just scale them.

    I will check out that niche income product. I look forward to reading more from you! Thanks for your effort in this site.


  • Shane

    May 3, 2011
    at 2:50 pm

    @Zach: I’m having trouble thinking of anyone I know who is successful who didn’t just stumble into the niche where they ended up making it — big names and small names. I mean, look at anybody — Aaron Wall, ShoeMoney, John Chow — they all happened into something that worked and then fed that fire. Now, some guys (like ShoeMoney) were then able to go into new niches and also have success there, but the real struggle is in finding something that works the first time.

    For that reason, I definitely like the strategy of trying a whole bunch of things until you start to get traction on something. Once you find something that’s starting to work, you can then go deep.


  • david

    May 18, 2011
    at 3:56 am

    Good on you for making money. I find the production of mindless worthless content just so one can get people to look at it for profit to be deeply disturbing for some reason. It seems like Its production of a useless good, but because theres an advertising algorithm involved, the normal market response of no one wanting the useless goods and thus not paying you is circumnavigated. A clever way to avoid being any sort of benefit to society while still making bank. I guess thats the american dream these days.


  • Shane

    May 18, 2011
    at 9:32 am

    On what are you basing your assumption that it’s “mindless worthless content”?


  • david

    May 18, 2011
    at 12:34 pm

    I suppose on the basis of it being written by phillipino contractors for 1 an article, and on the basis that each writer is putting out 250 articles a month, or 8 articles a day. Given that the writer are not native speakers, likely not experts in any field, their work isnt peer reviewed, the volume of the work they put out, and the fact that the author is banking on 2 page views per day, not anyone benefitting or reading all the way through the articles, it seems at least highly likely that the majority of what these guys are putting out is good only as filler material for an adsense page, thus the necessity of tens of thousands of articles to get a half decent number of hits. Popular blogs, websites, magazines, etc. all get tens of thousands of hits by delivering top quality content. Here quantity of articles and ability to find them in google is far more important.

    Basically my point is this. Normally one writes something because either one has an interest in it, one is an expert in it, or one feels it is an issue that should be explored. Here, not only do the writers not care about what it is they are writing, but also their “editor” (who i can guarantee you isnt editing or even reading the 5000 articles she gets each month.)

    I am sure some good content comes from this, but i have never seen a writer able to produce 8 well researched, well written, and interesting articles a day, every single day. When it comes to writing, quantity nearly always results in a drop in quality. Ive read a ton of worthless articles with no real argument, no particular interest, just a page of filler material written on a subject likely to get a couple hits a day. Show me a site with 25,000+ concise well written articles that are a valuable online resource.


  • Shane

    May 18, 2011
    at 12:56 pm

    Thanks, David! Definitely valid assumptions; thanks for laying them out.

    I wrote in the first part of this article, “Before I agreed to post this, I checked up on Elizabeth to make sure she had actually implemented this idea and wasn’t just presenting a theory.” What I also did — and thought I wrote — was verify that the pages weren’t just junk littering the web.

    I think the first misconception is that these are articles — much less “well researched, well written, and interesting articles.” Not all content is an article.

    The second misconception is that low page views implies low quality. While that can certainly be true, there are plenty of exceptions. Take a job site, for example. One job may not get 2 page views in a week, much less a day, but that doesn’t mean that the job or the content is low quality.

    I shared your concern about the Filipino contractors. It was one of my primary concerns (second only to the concept of creating content in volume). The content they’re creating was actually quite good, though, and definitely on par with much of the writing I see on the web.

    As for creating content in volume, Liz found a niche where the content could be both valuable and created quickly. I can’t tell you what it was, but the job site analogy applies here as well. (I use that because it’s what I know best.) There are plenty of sources for details of real, open jobs. Creating those on another website would literally take seconds each.

    And while I think it would be great if people normally wrote “because either one has an interest in it, one is an expert in it, or one feels it is an issue that should be explored,” most people who get paid to write would tell you it’s sadly not the case. As much as they enjoy writing, they write to make a living.

    Your assumptions are all valid, and there are plenty of sites littering the web with junk content, but it’s possible to use the same model without creating junk.


  • david

    May 18, 2011
    at 1:04 pm

    That was an excellent response. I suppose it really would depend on what sort of content is being created. Job boards seem like an area that any writer could bang out 8 solid pages a day, so i see your point. Your site is a good example of one that is interesting and makes you money, so i salute you for that.


  • Shane

    May 18, 2011
    at 1:08 pm

    Your response was great, too! It gave voice to what I’m sure most people were thinking. Thanks for taking the time to do that.


  • Jan

    November 14, 2011
    at 7:40 pm

    So what kind of articles do you get for less than $1 per article? Must be of rather low quality and value for the user. I for my part am rather annoyed by these type of sites. I do believe I am not the only one and the search engines will alter their algorithms to filter them out sooner or later.


  • Shane

    November 14, 2011
    at 7:58 pm

    Jan, read my comment just 3 comments above yours where I address that. That point can’t be addressed enough, though, because that kind of stuff does litter the web (in my opinion) and absolutely is already actively being filtered out by Google. (That’s what Panda was all about.)


  • Saad Farooq

    April 3, 2012
    at 7:02 pm

    Hi, This article has very good information but i wanted to ask you, shane, what topics should the website be in order to gain alot of views. Also how should the articles capture the reader’s interest?


  • Shane

    April 5, 2012
    at 10:18 am

    There are a ton of resources that discuss how to choose a niche/topic. I cover one of my favorite methods at http://www.RetireInFiveYears.com, but it’s definitely not the only way.


  • Matt

    August 23, 2012
    at 2:01 pm

    Shane and Liz,

    Its August 2012, there is all this talk about social media and that the next wave is on the social media front and Facebook is well positioned to be at the forefront of cashing in from advertisers.

    With that said, my question: do you think the Adsense model still works as outlined by Liz and how long do you see it being around for? I really would like to invest in this business model, but at the same time I dont want to be the guy who gets to the party two minutes before it is shut down.

    Your thoughts and insights are more than welcome.

    best regards



  • Shane

    August 23, 2012
    at 2:09 pm

    GREAT thinking, Matt. I don’t know how well this model will do today, especially in light of Google’s changes this year, but the foundational thing to remember is that it’s not a complete business model — at least not a long-term one. It’s purely one way to get there. It lets you make enough cash to keep you going while you turn it into a real business. From that standpoint, it may still be worthwhile. I don’t know.


  • Matt

    August 23, 2012
    at 2:24 pm


    Thanks for the swift reply Shane.

    Your intriguing response has triggered one more question. So knowing what you know now, and you were starting off from scratch, is this one business model that you would invest in, to lay the foundation, while building up for a “real business”?

    Sorry to put you on the spot mate.


  • Shane

    August 27, 2012
    at 8:57 am

    Ha! Happy to be put on the spot πŸ™‚

    It’s hard for me to say, though, because I never started from scratch. I actually entered this business from two different directions. The first was from a job I already had, and the other was from a friend who pushed me in a particular direction. I never had to pick a direction and start walking; I just woke up one day and found I was already on the path.

    I definitely think when first starting out, though, the best strategy is to try lots of different things until you find a few that a) you like/are good at and b) that seem to be working. You can then start focusing your time on those and building them bigger.

    There are any number of ways to get started. This is the best advice I can give you right now: http://www.askshane.org/features/just-get-started.php


  • Vince

    September 19, 2012
    at 2:31 pm

    Great post Shane, and to all those who commented because the discussion was helpful. I’ve tried to make money out of adsense but it is not as easy as written on pages. I guess due to the fact that I am a freelance writer and spend most of my time writing articles for people instead. Like you mentioned it, I write not because I love it but to earn a living.

    I still write but I’ve decided to do less of that as I put up a team of 3 writers who are doing fine at the moment and the money I get from them actually clears my bills. πŸ™‚ -so i have enough time for adsense.

    Thanks for your article I have actually got a lot of useful info right here though my strategy is a little bit different from yours. I plan to come up with smaller sites with less than 20 articles each in different niches.