Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Why Earnings Increase and Decrease So Crazily at Revenue Sharing Sites

Here are 20 factors affecting the rise and fall of earnings on revenue share articles (before you read this, read the introduction on page 1, 20 Non-SEO Reasons Earnings Go Up & Down at eHow, HubPages & Other Revenue Share Websites):

  1. Your click-based pay varies.  A lot.  The CPC (cost per click) you see in the various keyword tools might give you the misleading impression that avertising bid amounts are fixed, and that how much you will earn on each click is predictable.  Nope.  The data is just a broad estimate.  How much money you earn changes all the time - because on a day-to-day basis, advertisers' bid amounts change, too, and by fairly wide margins.  Revenue from Google AdSense is based on bids by advertisers, who set daily budgets.  These budgets get continually adjusted by the advertiser and according to the internal algorithms of Google AdWords.  For example, advertisers set their advertising budget over a period of time - say a day or a quarter and even over a fiscal year.  During this time span, their bids go up and down as they figure out how to optimize their campaigns and, toward the end, run out of allocated funds.  We writers earning by revenue sharing see the effects of these fluctuations daily as lower or higher earnings.
  2. The ads on your content pages change.  Even with excellent keywording, the ad relevance - how well suited the ads are to either the content of the article or the visitors' interests - changes depending on various uncontrollable factors, like changing Google AdSense algorithms, new advertiser networks entering the program, and the presence or absence of advertiser competition.  So if your click-through rate goes down, it may be because the ads your visitors see (which are not necessarily the ads you see) are not as tempting and "juicy" as they were.
  3. Weather events affect the geographical regions they hit, and beyond...and also the behavior of Internet visitors.  Winter storms, floods and the like mean not only power outages in some areas, but also people in the nearby environs being watchful in case they are affected.  This means little or no "shopping" type of internet use in that region.  If you have your own Google AdSense account, you can test this one by studying where your earnings and visitors are coming from using Google Analytics.  For example, I noticed by studying Analytics that during bad weather on the East coast, I had fewer AdSense clicks than normal on my HubPages from the Eastern U.S. regions.  
  4. Newsworthy events affect Internet visits.  When there is political unrest, a major crime, or any particularly juicy news item, some people who would normally be reading our articles and shopping choose to spend their time keeping up with the news.
  5. Other events occupy potential web visitors elsewhere, such as sporting events, holidays,  and major television awards ceremonies.  Wondering why both your impressions and earnings are down?  Check out the national and international news to see what celebrations and fun events are going on elsewhere in the world.
  6. The day of the week affects earnings, and it varies for different niches.  For example, some writers report lower earnings during the weekends, while others notice their earnings peaking on weekends.  Plot your earnings daily over the course of months, ideally broken down by niche, and see what your trends are. 
  7. The time of year affects earnings.  Seasons, holidays, college and school terms and breaks, and financial cycles affect when money is spent in different sectors.  This again varies by niche.
  8. Different article websites seem to use different timelines for their earnings calculations.  Some follow strict reporting schedules (the Amazon Associates affiliate program, for example), whereas others that rely on reporting from more than one advertising program (like eHow) are more irregular in their earnings reports.  This doesn't mean they're not accurate - just that the earnings will appear more erratic from day to day.
  9. Google AdSense itself doesn't always report in real time for all regions.  There are occasional delays which might possibly be attributed to variations in the performance of the different servers they have worldwide, regularly scheduled updates, and unscheduled downtime.
  10. Google AdSense earnings reflect the quality of a web page's (or website's) traffic.  Pages that were earning well suddenly stop earning so well, depending on how valuable the advertiser found the traffic coming from them. Smart pricing is not a myth - it's real.  So, it seems, is "stupid pricing" - my name for what happens when a page gets an unexpected increase in eCPM.
  11. Backlinks to your articles appear and affect your PageRank.  When your articles receive good backlinks from high-ranking Web pages, you may notice a marked increase in visitors and/or in earnings.  This can happen  suddenly when the traffic increase is due to people following the link en masse, or over time when the traffic increase is due to a rising PageRank.
  12. Backlinks disappear or get devalued.  As quickly as they can come, backlinks to your articles can disappear if taken off of the linking Web page.  Or Google Search might start valuing some backlinks less (something I think is only a matter of time for author-originated backlinks posted on major article sites like EzineArticles or sites designed to provide backlinks, like RedGage or SheToldMe.)
  13. Articles get de-indexed temporarily or permanently.  It happens. 
  14. Articles get shuffled about in the search index.  New articles get a shot at getting noticed on the front page briefly, shoving more established articles behind them, then fall back and have to rise naturally to their more-or-less fixed status (actually, more of the less, since very little is fixed on any search engine - usually, any article's search engine position is only temporary).
  15. The way your articles are indexed can change dramatically when the various search engines make major long-term changes to their indexing algorithm.  The changes are rolled out differently in different geophysical locations  over different time periods, producing what can look like a seriously wonky effect from person to person.  The so-called "Caffeine" changeover is one such change. It's not a ranking algorithm, but it can indirectly affect how pages appear in the SERPs.  The Mayday algorithm change is another.
  16. How your web page ranks on the SERPs (search engine results page) and the way ads display on your web page can change dramatically when, say, Google Search starts using personalized search for everyone or when Google AdSense starts using better contextual matching.  Keep up with the search engine and advertising blogs to understand the major changes going on.
  17. Traffic from social networking sites like Facebook, StumbleUpon, Digg and Twitter can skew a writer's impressions-to-earnings ratio.  Impressions coming from links at social marketing sites do not lead directly to earnings, typically - this is not generaly considered "high quality traffic" in the marketing sense of the word.  Indirectly, it may help earnings by increasing the ranking of the page, or, theoretically, it may hurt earnings by lowering the eCPM of the page and getting it "smart priced."
  18. Competition will spring up, almost guaranteed.  You may have "owned" your keyword up till now.  But that was just until something better or newer came along. You can't stop competition, but you can improve or add to your Web page, file DMCA complaints if they have copied your content, or just wait it out until the newness of the competing content wears thin.
  19. Your earnings may not really be fluctuating as much as it looks like, because your statistical sample may be too low.  This one's a bit abstract, but it boils down to the fact that your numbers may be too low to approach statistical accuracy.  In other words, what looked like regular earnings might not have been.  Even when you've been observing a pattern that seems as regular as clockwork (such as $3 to $5 per day for two weeks straight), you may have too few articles, or articles that have been up for too short a time or that get too little traffic, to tell what the pattern really is.  So when one day occurs with earnings of just $0.85, you think, hey, something must be up! Well, no. In general, the rule is, the fewer articles you have, and the shorter a time period the've been up, the less steady your earnings will be, and the more extreme any day's variations will look when they do show up.  For example, let's say you have 100 articles posted and they've been up for two months, and get about 500 visits per day, and that you earn $2 per day on average, give or take $1.00.  You  suddenly have a zero earning day even though you have the same number of impressions.  Although the change looks dramatic from your perspective, it might not be statistically significant - meaning the change is within the normal expected change for that volume of articles, with that volume of traffic, over that period of time, in that niche.  When you have more articles - say, 1,000 - and better traffic, and they have been up a full year, you are better able to calculate a reliable standard deviation and be able to determine exactly when a variation from the norm is statistically significant.
  20. The economy is changing.  We are in an economic depression.  What happens on Wall Street and in the international financial sector affects advertiser spending and earnings from Google AdSense as well as affiliate programs - both directly and indirectly, and both for the worse and for the better.  This is stuff out of our control.
You May Also Enjoy...
Here's my primer on how search engines think.  Some of this may be obvious, some new, and some debatable.  Read it now: How to Optimize for Google, Bing and Yahoo Without SEO: A Philosophical Guide for Writers

Why Opportunities for Earning a Living From Writing Online Aren't Going Away Soon discusses a case for a permanently changing economy and why taking the time to write online can be a good investment in a world where job security is nil.

Copyright Nerd Writer Mom

1 comment:

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