Tagged: adsense

Ramsay Ramblings 5/6/2008

There are lots of little things to talk about this week, so here’s another dose of Ramsay Ramblings!

May 5th was Children’s Day

Mami and I have a little boy, and this year was his first Children’s Day. Thomas wrote all about Koinobori, Japanese Carp Streamers, so I’ll skip the detail and get to the photos:

Japanese Carp Streamers - Koinobori

Our Koinobori – Japanese Carp Streamers

Children\'s Day Kintarou Cake

A Kintarou cake

Mochi rice cakes wrapped in kashiwa

Kawashi-mochi – rice cakes wrapped in oak leaves

Rikuto enjoying his first Children\'s Day

Rikuto celebrates his first Children’s Day at the park

Those bloomin’ berks at Bloomberg published the suicide gas recipe

Of all the dumb things I’ve seen, Bloomberg published the “recipe” to the poisonous concoction of household cleaning chemicals that people have been using to kill themselves in Japan lately. Shane kicked up a storm and we all pitched in. In the end, Bloomberg edited the dangerous parts of the article, so hooray for us! 😀

Making a start on WritingWorkbooks.com

I had a good response to the post about my dot com lifestyle, and was encouraged to talk more about what I do for a living. It seems I’ve inspired a few people to earn some money online, including my mum, so I’ve started some behind-the-scenes work on a joint project with her, taking advantage of her experience as a primary school teacher.

The idea is to make a large number of handwriting practice workbooks for children, each book based on an elementary school subject, such as dinosaurs and weather. Each page of each book will have a traceable general knowledge fact about a chosen school subject, and the books will of course be for free.

I already have a website in the “handwriting” niche, so WritingWorkbooks.com should complement it well. My mum is the perfect partner since she knows so much about the curriculum and knows exactly what teachers and parents need for their children.

In picking this topic for a site, I considered:

  1. Do I know enough about the topic? – Including my mum, yes.
  2. Will people find it useful? – My mum thinks so.
  3. Will it cost me anything? – $10 for the domain name. I already have the $100 fonts.
  4. Will it need ongoing work? – Not after it’s finished.
  5. How will I monetize it? – Probably with Adsense. Decide later.

The beauty of a site like this is that it requires no maintenance. A blog always needs new material, but sites like this can be built and left alone. That leaves you free to build more and more. That’s why I don’t worry too much about its earnings potential. Once you’ve got your starting costs back, it’s pure, passive income.

Jason got hitched! Congratulations!

Jason Irwin, has tied the knot. He had a long-distance relationship for nearly two years with his bride-to-be, Reiko, but after a succession of trips between Canada and Japan, they finally live together as husband and wife in the same city as me, Kakamigahara. In a related post, Jason poses the interesting question, is the distinction between the online world and reality fading?

Ramsay, Mark 1 launches into cyberspace

Speaking of online relationships, my brother, Mark, has discovered the internet for the first time. He is a complete newbie, so I’m helping him learn all the basics (left-click, right-click, drag and drop) before he joins me on our joint project, VirtualTripping.com. He’s already taken to the net like a duck to water, managing to watch 652 YouTube videos in his first four days online! It should be fun blogging with him on VT, so swing by and join the Ramsay brothers as we send blog “post” cards from Google Earth.

If Older Than – WordPress Plugin

It’s been a while since I made a WordPress plugin, but today I had the urge to put some ads on my blog, in places where my regular readers won’t see them. I could have used a plugin such as the Shylock Adsense Plugin, but it has far more options than I need. Instead, I made a little script to do this:

If Older Than WordPress Plugin Example

My plugins are WordPress Old Skool

NO fancy customization options in the admin panel, NO widgets, NO user support! My plugins need you to open your theme editor and paste some PHP into your template. If you can do that, you are old skool, too! 😛

Download from my WordPress Plugins page

Visit my new WordPress Plugins page to see what I’ve made (most are taken from my old website, Nice4Rice.com).

Ramsay Ramblings 1/30/2008

Today’s ramblings cover Japan’s desire for foreign workers, a Japanese alternative to Adsense, the latest on JapanSoc, and an unexpected present.

Japanese businesses gearing up for foreign workers

I’ve just been watching my wife’s favorite TV show – no, not Aura no Izumi! – actually, she turns on the telly every night to watch World Business Satellite News, possibly the only news show I can stomach watching. The first segment on the show was about how companies are preparing themselves for foreign workers and what more could be done.

I was pleased to see a positive approach to the inevitable influx of foreigners. The program introduced a company developing language tuition software to help foreigners learn Japanese, and suggested following Germany’s lead by giving lessons on culture and history to help ease the transition into Japanese society. It also discussed the need to make finding accommodation easier, and talked about how nurses may be hired from the Philippines if they pass the same exams required of Japanese nurses.

There was also a documentary about airlines and how JAL is cutting costs by recruiting and training flight attendants from Thailand, another sign that companies are willingly hiring foreigners, regardless of whatever position the government takes on the immigration issue.

MicroAds – an alternative to Google Adsense

I was over at Ameblo the other day, a popular online blogging community in Japan, and noticed the following ads. They look remarkably like Google Adsense adverts, but obviously a Japanese competitor of the big G. They belong to MicroAd, which is obviously doing quite well to score a spot on Ameblo.

Microad - Adsense competitor?

I was going to study the Japanese MicroAd homepage and give you more details, but I figured they would only be useful if you blogged in Japanese and had a Japanese-reading audience, which rules most of us out. 😕

Japansoc updates

JapanSoc is buzzing with activity, and I’m enjoying looking through the articles people are submitting. You’ll notice I’ve set up Top Users page with ranks us by “karma”. The current karma formula is based on votes and submissions over the last 7 days, so now you know how to increase it! If any of you are having problems uploading an avatar, just email it to me (nick AT longcountdown DOT com) and I’ll put it in manually. Finally, don’t forget to include the JapanSoc voting button in your blog posts if you want more ‘socs.

A big thank you goes to Nipponster.com for including a JapanSoc submit button on the Nipponster toolbar. More on this in a later post.

Buy someone a chair, get a desk in return

About five years ago, I bought a friend a big black “President’s chair” for his office, and today I was surprised to receive a nice new desk in return! It was probably the best present I could have hoped for since I was actually looking to get a new desk anyway. So folks, remember, if you want to make someone happy, buy them some office furniture! You never know, you might just get a big filing cabinet or a fancy new desk in return! 😀

Earning with Adwords

I’ve been using Google Adwords to advertise my websites for over a year now, but I’ve kept my advertising budget as low as possible. However, I’ve been experimenting this month with different sized advertising budgets to see what effect it has on the number of visitors to my sites, and how much I earn through Google Adsense.

What I’ve noticed is that if I spend more on advertising, I make more. I’m not only getting my money back, but I’m seeing profits exceed what I was previously earning. Now, considering that I’m not selling anything, and the only money I make is through contextual advertising, I’m led to believe that I’m profiting from what’s known as ‘Google arbitrage’.

Arbitrage in this case is when you pay an ad with Adwords, and profit when someone follows your ad to your site and earns you more by clicking on a higher value ad. Of course, not everyone is going to do that, but the profits are large enough (in my case anyway) to make it worthwhile.

Earning money through arbitrage was not my intention though. I was actually hoping to speed up the process of getting my websites recognised. Currently, 20-30% of my visitors come back again, so by increasing advertising, I can rapidly increase the number of repeat visitors. Not only that, but I can get more ‘free’ advertising when people link to, or blog about, my sites.

The more popular my websites become, the higher they climb in search engine rankings. This will naturally result in more organic traffic which will eventually allow me to cut my advertising budget. Once I’m high up in Google’s rankings for the search terms my visitors use, then I can sit back and relax.

That goal is very achievable. I don’t consider making a fortune on the internet a pipe dream, but a realistic aim. It’s quite clear now that I can get closer to achieving that goal by spending money and bringing people to my sites as soon as possible.

I you’re reading this and you have your own website supported by Google Adsense, you may be interested to know that during my advertising campaigns, my earnings per click has increased. I figure this is because traffic coming through Adwords is highly targetted, making those visitors more valuable to the advertiser.

I’ll keep you up-to-date on how things develop. Oh, by the way, when I talk about my websites, I don’t mean this one. This is just my little corner of the web where I can freely express myself – not so easy to do in my Japanese world!

Money DOES grow on trees.

I didn’t come to Japan for the money. No, really! I’d love to say I came to experience the culture, learn the language and teach English, but if truth be told, I came for a girl… but that’s another story.

So, although I wasn’t here for the money at first, it has become a big reason for me to stay. Contrary to popular belief, I find the cost of living in Japan far cheaper than back in the U.K, and my teaching salary is enough to live on. Having enough to live on though isn’t much fun though, is it? For me, there’s always something new I want to splash cash on, whether it’s a plasma TV, a DVD camcorder or a new computer. I must admit that since I turned 30 and got married, I’ve been more concerned with saving for a house and having enough left over to pay exuberant health insurance fees.

Trying to earn some extra green has always been on my mind. When I was in secondary school (J.H), I would spend my lunch money on candy and snacks in the convenience store before school, then sell them for a profit from my locker. That was working great until a school bully broke into it and stole the lot. Among a plethora of part-time and temporary jobs while in college (H.S) and university, I tried selling double-glazed windows door-to-door. The commission was good but I only made two sales in two weeks!  

Then I came to Japan. The most obvious source of additional income as an ESL teacher is to teach students privately, cutting out the middle man and earning anything from 20 to 100 dollars an hour. The legality of teaching on the side while employed by a school is questionable though. An alternative which I tried and failed miserably at was network marketing, or perhaps more commonly known as multi-level, or pyramid, marketing. There are a lot of MLM companies trying to break into the Japanese market, and they tend to target foreigners because they speak English. Very few are then able to market the products to their Japanese friends because of both the language barrier and cultural differences.

Another common part-time job for foreigners is working in a bar, but that never really got my interest. Instead, I would look out for one off opportunities to make some extra money. The most memorable are: Clapping my hands and chanting “One potato, two potato” etc. as part of a musical experiment at a university to compare how westerners and Japanese clap; and the other being part of a blood-clotting medical experiment in which I had to give blood, urine and a stool sample! Don’t worry, it was all above board and I think I’ll save that story for another day. The first of those little jobs earned me about $100 for ten minutes clapping, while the second got me $800 for two trips to the clinic.

After a few years in Japan, the internet really took off, and the day I switched to a broadband connection was when I really started looking at making money on the web. I failed at selling Pokemon cards on eBay, and my attempt at recording a “101 Ways to Learn English” audio CD for sale on Yahoo auctions and from a website also bombed. I couldn’t earn anything with the Amazon affiliate program, and although I sold loads of “I am not American” t-shirts through Cafepress, I had to end that little adventure after receiving numerous complaints and eventually a ‘cease and desist’ order for breach of copyright!

I had a brief stint writing language-learning software to help with my Japanese studies, and even got one of my programs listed on a Monash University professor’s website, but nothing to earn me that extra income stream.

In 2005, I started on a program to rival StartWrite – a popular piece of shareware for teachers wanting to make handwriting worksheets for their students. To grab market share, I decided to offer it for free on the net. Getting my new website listed on Google was a long, slow process and I was becoming increasingly frustrated. I had worked really hard on it and nobody knew the website even existed! So, not really wanting to spend any money, I figured I’d advertise using Google Adwords, a cheap way to get seen at the top of Google’s search results. I probably only spent $20 in that first month, but it was enough to get some visitors to the site…. and then they kept coming, and I started getting emails thanking me for it. Then, I guess those teachers told their co-workers and they told their friends and it all started snowballing.

It’s funny when I think back because the frustration that led me to Google Adwords set me on a path of discovery. I learned about Google Adsense, affiliate programs, search engine optimization, and a whole host of technical tricks and marketing techniques.

One year on and I’m pulling in a very nice monthly bonus from Google. Okay, it hasn’t replaced my teaching salary, but it has continued to grow every month since I started. I probably spend less than two hours a week checking things are all running smoothly, but other than that I just leave it alone while it works it’s magic, and every morning I wake up to see how much money I made while I was sleeping!

They say money doesn’t grow on trees. I say it does. You just have to plant those trees yourself.