A very simple way to make money online

Today I wanted to share with my readers a super-simple strategy to earn money online.

It’s called “direct linking via PPC“.

What does this mean? Let me explain with a simple example:

Let’s say there is a company called “Papazon” (I already check, it does not exist) that sells, among other things, laptops. For example, they sell the model “Cherry Air” at their website at papazon.com/cherryair

So when people go to a Search Engine (for ex google) and search for “Cherry Air laptop”, at the very top is your ad, linking to papazon.com/cherryair BUT with your affiliate link. So if the customer purchases, you get a commission, and you didn’t even need to build a website or send an e-mail.

Everything you did was:

  • Grab your affiliate link
  • Bid on that search engine (Google, Bing…) with very specific keywords
  • Create your ad (with your affiliate link as destination URL)

And that’s all 🙂

Obviously, you have to pay for every single click, so you are expecting to make more money than you are paying.

This works much better for digital products, since they usually offer higher commissions (as opposed to physical products where the commission is much lower).

Now wait a minute, you say. This sounds too good/easy/simple to be true.

Of course, it has some caveats:

  • Many brands do not allow you to bid on certain keywords (most of the times trademarks)
  • Many companies do not allow direct linking at all. Amazon did in the past (before 2009), and many affiliates were making a killing.
  • Most search engines do not like this (although there is nothing wrong per se)
  • You are paying for every click, regardless of whether it makes you any money or not
  • This is not a sustainable, long-term strategy. You are not building any assets (the merchant might be building a list, but not you). If you get banned from the merchant (or the search engine), there is no business any more.
  • As stated above, your account/s might get banned. Back in 2010 I got my Adwords account banned for doing this (in all honesty, I was promoting a product that was built to cheat Google; I should have seen it coming, but I was doing between $1000-$2000 a month with literally 10 minutes of work – total time, not monthly)

The upsides are:

  • Simple & Easy
  • If you bid on the specific keywords, many people are in buying mode, meaning they are likely to buy
  • Traffic from Search Engines (especially the top ones) is usually pretty good and reliable

So, you ask, have I done anything like that in the past? Mmmm, I already said too much 😉

As I said, this is not a sustainable business, but it can be a great way to make some extra side money.

A simple strategy could be as follows:

Go to Clickbank and find a product that is selling properly (for ex, anything with gravity over 10). For the sake of example, let’s say the product is called “The Spanish Miracle” and their website is http://thespanishmiracle.com (with that name it would probably be a spanish course)

Then you would go to either Adwords or Bing Ads and create a new ad.

The ad text would be something you come up with (be creative and compelling)

The display url would be thespanishmiracle.com

The destination url would be your Clickbank affiliate link.

Then you could bid on the following terms:

  • the spanish miracle
  • spanish miracle
  • spanishmiracle
    • (and other misspellings you can think of)
  • http://www.thespanishmiracle.com
  • http://thespanishmiracle.com
  • www.thespanishmiracle.com
  • thespanishmiracle.com
    • (and any other url variations)

So people searching for anything of the above would see your ad and (hopefully) click on it.

Google Adwords has a much higher traffic, but on the downside they are a bit more strict and expensive than Bing Ads.

Optimizing is a bit harder. Some keywords will convert, others not that much, so you would need to know which keywords are bringing you the money, so you can wipe out the non performers. To do this, you would need a tracking system (like prosper202), which will keep track of that, but we’ll leave that for another time.

What do you think of this system? Have you ever tried it?

Some of the Highest AdSense Earners websites worldwide

In case you are looking for some inspiration, here are some of the top revenue generating websites in the world.

I’m not writing this so you can copy everything they are doing: as always, look for inspiration but develop your unique approach.

However, nothing stops you from checking their ad placements, colors, keywords… You can be sure that those sites have spent time and money optimizing, so you can get an idea or two (obviously they also have millions of daily pageviews, which is harder to get).

Here are the sites (in no particular order, since earnings can vary over time):


Mashable is a blog focused on media, entertainment and technology.

Estimated Adsense earnings: $650.000 per month.

Digital Point Forum

Digital Point is a forum focused on SEO marketing (and in my humble opinion not very good looking). It was founded by Shawn D Hogan at the age of 19.

Estimated Adsense earnings: $550.000 per month

Plenty of Fish

This dating website combines Google Adsense with paid ads.

Estimated Adsense earnings: $350.000 per month


If you have been around the Internet for the past years, you have probably heard of digg. It is what it’s called an “aggregation website”, where people can share specific urls and people will comment (that’s the base idea, but it has grown to be much more).

Estimated Adsense earnings: $250.000 per month


EHow is a website about how to do things. Literally. It has how to guides for almost anything, with some nice Adsense ads along the way.

Estimated Adsense earnings: $240.000 per month


Techchrunch is one of the most popular technology blogs in the world.

Estimated Adsense earnings: $240.000 per month

Perez Hilton

Even when there are some websites that make more money monthly than Perez Hilton, I had to mention it. It really puzzles me that a website about celebrity gossip can make that much money. Really?

Estimated Adsense earnings: $150.000 per month

So what do these websites have in common?

I can see some common patterns here:

  • Tons of traffic (yes, you need traffic if you want to make big bucks)
  • Lots of content
  • Niche (or niches) with a lot of potential visitors (apparently there are many people interested in celebrity gossip)
  • Focus on the user/visitor (meaning, the sites are created to help the visitors)


Where to find writers for your site?


When it comes to adding content to your site, you have basically 4 options (well, actually 5, you could also copy/steal content, but that is probably going to take you nowhere):

  • Write your own content
  • Hire a writer
  • Use a content creation service
  • Have guest blogging

Let’s have a look at the options

1. Write your own content

If you are on a budget, this is the way to go. Start writing the content yourself and at the same time learn the process along the way.


  • If you are a reasonably good writer, you will have high quality content
  • No need to manage anyone
  • Save money


  • You are constrained by time (and this is a biggie)

2. Hire a writer

If you have some money to spend, you can also hire someone to write content for you.

Ideally, you want to find a native speaker, but those are usually more expensive, so if you are on a budget you can try to find someone with good language skills.

As usually with outsourcing, you’ll have to test 10 people to get 1 or 2 who are good (and sometimes you can’t even find a good writer out of 10).

These are some recommendations from my own experience:

  • Send people a test job. Ask them to write a couple of articles with different styles/lengths
  • Ask for samples (those can be faked though)
  • They way they communicate can give you feedback


  • Very escalable


  • It will take you some time until you find a good writer
  • Money investment
  • Sometimes people disapper without a trace, so you need to start over again

Here are some places where you can find writers



3. Use a content creation service

Instead of hiring a single person, some pages have a buffer of writers that you can use.

It’s  not as personal as having a dedicated person, but on the other hand if you have just one writer and he/she gets ill, or goes missing, your progress gets halted, whereas if you use a service like this you always have someone ready for the job.


  • Plenty of people ready to work


  • Usually more expensive than having a full (or part) time writer
  • Less personal communication
  • You can get a mixed quality depending on the particular writer

Some of these companies are:



4. Guest blogging

In case you never head the term, guest blogging is when somebody will write a unique article for your site, and instead of money, they will request a backlink to their site. It’s a way for them to get some extra traffic (and backlinks).

This can be a great strategy since you are basically getting content for free, but you will need a established blog before you can ask people to write for you for free.


  • Free


  • You need to have a certain amount of traffic before you can request a guest blogger to write on your site

There are 2 ways you can find guest bloggers

a. People will approach you and ask to write a guest post

b. You proactively find someone for it

When looking for someone, you can browse their personal sites or use a service like blogger link up or MyBlogGuest


Do you have the courage to launch your own business online?

Courage is not the absence of fear

It was just a few days ago that it dawned on me.

If you do something and you are not afraid of it, that is not courage.

Courage means acting in spite of fear.

I always thought that people who try extraordinary things were not afraid, since that was natural to them. However, I have realized that most of the times they are afraid, BUT they act anyway.

And being scared is a good thing. If you are scared of starting a business, trying a new thing… That means that it’s probably worth trying!

So, if things like starting a new website, trying a new business idea, launching a new PPC campaign scare you, that’s good!

Just accept it, and do it anyway.

You’ll be thankful you did.

How to create a Forum with WordPress and monetize it with Google Adsense

If you are building a community site and think that it might benefit from having a forum, this could be a great thing, and the main reason is that you don’t need to create any content, other users will do it for you!

The only thing you need is to keep them engaged, posting regularly and you got yourself a winner!

Now the only negative side is that CTR in forums is usually low, but this can be some extra income.

Here are the steps you need to do:


Install WordPress

Skip this if you already have a WP site.

Install and configure the bbPress Plugin

This is the best Forum software for WP

Use a theme with bbPress support

I recommend you go to Themeforest, and search for a theme which works fine with bbPress

Create the forum list

You can also create subforums and categories if needed.

Install this free plugin to add Adsense units

It’s called bbPress Advert Units, and it lets you choose where you want to add your ads inside the forum.

Add your Adsense ad units and decide where to show them

These are the options you have:

  • Between posts
  • In the body of the first post
  • At the top and bottom of topic pages
  • On individual forum pages
  • On the top level forum page

That’s it! As long as you have a reasonable amount of users who post in the forum, you should get more and more content (meaning more and more visits), and your revenue should go up


Everything you need to know about Adsense Arbitrage

This is the definition of Arbitrage:

Arbitrage is the practice of taking advantage of price differences between markets

So for example, if you could buy an iPhone in Canada for $600 and sell it in the USA for $700, you are practicing arbitrage.

Applied to Adsense, the idea is this: you are going to pay for traffic, expecting to make more money from Adsense than you are expending in traffic.

To make it simple, it could be like this:

  • You build a website and put Adsense ads
  • You spend $500 a month in Facebook ads driving visitors to your website
  • With that traffic, you make $1000 a month with Adsense

So, at the end of the month, you are making $500 with that site (Income – Expenses)

In the past, people used Adwords to drive traffic (for example, they would bid in a cheap keyword, and redirect it to a page related to another, more expensive keyword), but Google was not happy with it, so if you are going to do this, I recommend you use a different traffic source (for example, Facebook ads).

The most important thing here is knowing your numbers. You need to know how much each visitor is worth to you, so you know how much you can spend to get that visitor (actually, you need to know these numbers for any kind of business you might be in, not just arbitrage).

Let’s say that out of every 100 visitors, 5 of them will click on your ad (5% CTR), and each click is worth on average $1 (EPC).

So out of those 100 visitors, you made a total of $5, meaning each user on average made you $0.05.

Now if you can get visitors at less than 5 cents, you will be making money. If they cost you exactly 5 cents, you are breaking even, and anything over 5 cents, you are losing money.

(That’s why it’s really important to know your numbers)

So if you can drive traffic from Facebook (and assuming the conversions stay the same, since different kinds of traffic can have different conversion rates) for less than 5 cents, you are in business!

The next step would just be scaling up. If you are driving 1000 visitors a day, each of which costs $0.03, and each one makes you $0.05, you are earning $0.02 per visitor, so the math would be:

1000 x 0.02 = $20 / day

Now if you can scale up to 10000 visitors a day, all things being equal, you would be making

10000 x 0.02 = $200 / day (which is a much nicer number)

And then the sky is the limit!

Of course there is much work involved:

  • You need to create content regularly
  • You need to test beforehand to know your numbers
  • You need to test your ads. If you are using Facebook, for example, you need to split-test the ad image, title, text…

So like with most things in Online Marketing

  • The idea is simple
  • You need to work hard, test and learn a lot before you can make it profitable

Top 10 Adsense alternatives

In my opinion, Google Adsense is the best paying advertising solution for your site.

It has the highest number of advertisers, and the bids are usually higher than in any other network.

However, it is not the only solution.

Here are some reasons why you might want to use another alternative:

  • You like testing
  • Your Adsense account has been banned (yuck!)
  • Your website does not adhere to the Google guidelines
  • Google is the devil and you do not want to get near anything that starts with a G.

For those cases, here are the best alternatives:


It gives you access to the Yahoo! Bing Network, meaning lots of advertisers. The downside is that they are a bit strict, and that they need to approve each site you want to place ads on.


They have what is called “In text ads”, meaning they will highlight certain terms in your site and add a link there. It has good reviews, and it’s one of the biggest networks.


They are a big advertising network. You can get paid via Paypal, and the minimum payout is $10.


They have multiple ads formats. They won’t approve every single site you submit, so it might be a bit hit or miss. Minimum payout is $50, and pay via Paypal or check


You can get paid via clicks or conversions. The advertisers bid on the sites they want their ads to appear. The minimum payout is $10, and you can get paid via Paypal, check or wire.


They are specialized in popunders. Approval and account creation is a pretty simple process. The great thing is that you can claim your payment any time you want. If you earn at least $5 a day, you can even get paid daily.


Similar to PopAds, they have a ton of inventory in many countries, with desktop and mobile traffic. You can get paid via Paypal, Payza and Paxum.

Vibrant Media

Good company with a catch: your site must receive a minimum of 500.000 page views (not visits) per month, and getting approved is not so simple. They offer different kind of ads, like popups, banners, in-image…


A bit less strict than Vibrant, you can get approved if you get 50,000 page views a month. Minimum payout is $20, and they have popunders and other ad formats.


A very popular network with pop-unders. They sspecialize in the following niches: entertainment, videos/movies, games, dating, finances, software, gambling and more, which to be honest, are not the best friends with Adsense, so if you have a site related to those niches, give it a try.

Amazon Display Ads

They have what they call “Amazon Native Shopping Ads”, where they show contextual ads (similar to Adsense), with Amazon products, based on the keywords of your page. But instead of getting paid per click, you get a commission from every sale (this is good if most people purchase, not so good if they don’t).



What is Adsense Smart Pricing and how to avoid it?

Back in april 2004, Google introduced what they call “Smart Pricing”.

Before that, advertisers had to pay their bid price for each click, regardless of whether they made money (ie, a sale) from that click, which means some of them were receiving tons of clicks, but not so many sales.

So, in order to avoid people fleeing from Adsense and moving into other platforms (Yahoo back then [Bing Ads these days], now Facebook, etc), they did the following: for pages that were giving advertisers few sales, they lowered the price of each click, which means that advertisers pay different prices depending on where the click comes from.

Before Smart Pricing came in, the only thing us (publishers) had to focus on is sending as many clicks as possible, but after that, we need to take into account the quality of those clicks if we want to get paid more, simply put.

The thing is, since Google is so opaque most of the times, we don’t know for sure what affects Smart Pricing, so the only thing we can do is try to get quality traffic. However, these premises seem to be correct:

  • Smart Pricing is calculated across the whole Adsense account,  so if you have some high quality sites mixed with low quality, your ad prices might go down overall.
  • Smart Pricing is evaluated on a weekly basis, which is good, since that means that if you fix what needs to be fixed, your earnings can go back up quickly.
  • Smart Pricing is tracked with a 30 day cookie, so sales for an advertiser can come within 30 days (the visitors don’t need to purchase straight away).

So what can you do if your earnings are getting lower (with a similar amount of clicks)? I can recommend 2 things:

  • Try to see if one or more of your sites (or pages) might be causing this. If so, temporarily remove ads and see if after one week your revenue goes up. If this does not help, check with other pages, until you find the culprit, then remove ads from that page altogether.
  • If you are driving paid traffic to your sites, stop that for a week and watch again your revenue.

Here are some tips on how to prevent Smart Pricing

  • The main thing is, try to keep advertisers happy. If they make money, you make money (and Google on the side), everybody is happy.
  • Make sure to have high quality content on your site (which is likely to attract “better” visitors)
  • Try to get most of your traffic from high quality sources (search engines being the best)
  • Keep your content relevant

So that’s it! Since Google does not give away too much information, we can just guess, and do trial and error.

What is Adsense for Search?

When you think about Google Adsense, probably the first thing that comes into mind is the typical text or image ad.

But there is another way to earn money from Google Adsense: adding a search box to your site.

How does it work?

With the code you get from Adsense, you will add a custom search box to your site. When users use that box to search for content, and click on the ads that appear, you make money. So simple!

So adding this serach box is a nice way to complement your ad units. The great thing is that some people who might not click on your ads, will perform a search (using their own terms) and might generate some extra revenue for you.

Of course, it’s not perfect; it has some disadvantages  too:

  • You have no control over the keywords that the user enters (they might be entering low paying keywords when searching)
  • Instead of 68%, you make 51% of each click

The bottom line is this: you are most likely to make money out of the usual ad units, but you can use Adsense for Search to make some extra revenue out of those people who arrive to your site and can’t find what they are looking for, so definitely have a look and play with it a little.

What is Keyword Research and why is it so important?

This is Wikipedia’s definition:

Keyword research is a practice search engine optimization (SEO) professionals use to find and research actual search terms that people enter into search engines. Search engine optimization professionals research keywords, which they use to achieve better rankings in search engines.

The only thing I disagree with that definition is the part about SEO professionals. Hey, I’m no SEO professional but I also do keyword research 🙂

Basically, when you are doing keyword research, you are, like our useful Wikipedia says, finding out which terms are people searching for (and since Google is the most used Search Engine, most keyword research focuses on Google).

You are usually trying to find both sides of the equation:

a) You are looking for terms that people are searching many times (so you can get a lot of traffic) and

b) You are looking for terms that have little SEO competition, so you can rank them with ease.

Of course there is more to it, since some terms are better than others. For example, if you are building an Adsense site, some keywords pay more than others, so in this particular case, it might be better to find a keyword that has 1000 searches a month but pays $1 per click, than another that gets 5000 searches a month but only pays 1 cent per click.

Then there is something called user intent (sometimes called customer intent) that you must take into account.

To understand this, look at these examples of keywords that people might enter in google:

  • Coffee machine
  • Best coffee machine under $100
  • Buy DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica Super-Automatic Coffee Machine

What can you deduce from what the user is looking for in each case?

In the first case (coffee machine), the user is in what we might call “information mode”, he just wants to know about coffee machines, maybe how they work, different types…

In the second case (best coffee machine under $100), you can deduce that the customer is in “research mode”, meaning he wants to buy a coffee machine, but he hasn’t decided which one.

In the third case (buy DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica Super-Automatic Coffee Machine), the user is in “purchase mode”. He has his credit card ready and he is just trying to find out where to buy it; maybe do a price comparison in multiple stores…

In general terms, you want to attract visitors who are in purchase mode, so you can make more money:

  • If you are a store owner, you can sell that item to them
  • If you are an affiliate (ie, Amazon affiliate), you want them to click on your link so they will purchase and you make a commission
  • If you have an Adsense site, you want them to be willing to click on ads, since they are ready to buy.

So why is keyword research not only important, but crucial for your business?

Because if you target the right keywords, you are way ahead of your competition:

If you pick the right keywords for your site, you will attract better visitors, and maximize your earnings.

If you find valuable keywords with little SEO competition, you will rank much faster

All in all, keyword research is something that you must pay close attention to, especially if you are focusing on getting SEO traffic, so I’ll be talking about how to do proper keyword research this week.