Thursday, June 01, 2006


I have never thought of myself as a potential entrepreneur. It takes ambition, guts, a willingness to take risks and work too hard. Right? Not my defining characteristics. Recently, however, I have participated in low-intensity entrepreneurism. Like millions of people around the world, I am doing this with a most interesting advertising company, Google.

About 6 years ago I wrote 2 tutorials, Cisco Router Configuration Tutorial, and IP Subnet Calculations. I published them at That was before I had a domain. I promoted them a little bit by registering them with the major search engines and linking to them, when appropriate, in posts on news groups and mailing lists. I did this for a number of reasons. One was to build professional credentials. Another was to give back to the Internet community that had answered so many of my questions. And another was to do something well that often isn't, technical writing.

Traffic to these tutorials has built over the years. Since the beginning I have gotten a kick out of the global nature of the readership. I have also been gratified to receive thanks in email, requests to translate the documents, requests for permission to use them in university classes. Makes me feel good. Now its also making me a little money.

This is not about getting rich. Right now, however, I am surprised to find that it is a modest addition to my income. In february of 2005 I got curious about Google ads on websites. I checked out how it worked, and it was stunningly easy to signup for an account and place Google ads on my web pages. You can play with add style and placement as much or as little as you want. I put some banner ads across the top and waited to see what happened. To my surprise, those ads immediately started generating about $100/month in advertising revenue, paid to me by Google. They deposit straight into my bank account. Cool. Remember that this is money generated by advertising on web pages I had created 5 years prior. The work was done.

In March of 2006, around the 1 year anniversary of my starting with Google ads, I decided to spend a little time playing with ad style and placement. This is all the work I had done in the year since first adding the ads to the pages. I did a little experimenting, and by chaning style and placement of ads boosted the monthly average to over $300/month. That has held so far.

I've decided to create more content. This is more risky, in terms of ROI, than just putting ads on pages that were created years ago. This means doing new, real work, in hopes of increasing revenue. Hey, look at me, I think I'm an entrepreneur.


matt dick said...

That is tremendously cool.


JimII said...

Tremendously cool indeed. Do you have any way to regulate the type of adds you get?

Josh Gentry said...

No, you do not have control over what type of ads you get. There is some mechanism for blocking ads for businesses you feel are competitors, but I have never looked at it.

Google produces some javascript code that you cut-and-paste into your web page. That script is executed when the page is loaded. Google selects the ads and serves them up from their servers, which the javascript talks to. They try to automagically match ads to the content in your page.

What you can do is choose between some sizes, styles, colors, etc., of the ads.

Cool Hand Luke said...

Google is good at this too. I've seen their ad placement based on search content and often it is right on target. I'm sure the same algorithms apply to ad placement based on page content.

Anonymous said...

This is awesome. I'll be very interested in seeing how this plays out for you. I have been toying with the idea for some time too. Kudos for taking the next step!