The Short Tale: Much Ado About Not Much


Talk about unintended consequences, all I wanted to do with “A Review of My First Year of Blogging” was provide some factoids about my blog. However, this tidbit became quite the topic:

Total advertising revenue: approximately $3,350 = $1.39 cpm. (This assumes that I can get Google to pay me. I’ve tried several times during the year to get my snail mail PIN so that I can get paid, but I’ve never received it. I don’t mind Google getting the float…)

Things started to heat up because of Chris Anderson’s entry called “Don’t Quit Your Day Job.” Various reactions followed:

  1. AdSense sucks for bloggers.

  2. Nobody can make money blogging.

  3. Guy’s clueless about AdSense and advertising.

  4. What link bait! Guy is so sly… (I wish I was this clever.)

So here’s more info about my advertising revenue and this whole drama:

  1. “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” This was one factoid in a list of ten. It wasn’t the focus of the posting. Certainly my intent was not to get sympathy, position myself as clueless, impugn AdSense, or find advertisers—all of which happened! Several kind people even offered me great advice about how to increase revenue—the blogosphere never ceases to amaze me.

  2. The $3,350 is for all the revenue I got for the year (actually, the total is now about $4,000 because I found some checks) from all sources: AdSense, BlogAds, Federated Media, and Feedburner. I used AdSense for only a couple of months when I just started.

  3. I don’t take advertising revenue very seriously. It’s one way to keep score in blogging (Technorati is another), and I’m all for making as much as I can (to pay for my hockey), but it’s not the reason I blog.

  4. In case you’re interested, the reasons that I blog are:

    • To increase the likelihood that “two guys/gals in garage” with “the next Google” will come to Garage for funding.

    • To help companies and people that I (a) like, (b) have sometimes invested in, (c) am sometimes advising publicize their products and services. This is also known as “alignment of interest” as opposed to “conflict of interest.”

    • To be able to tell Web 2.0 entrepreneurs how full of shiitake they are if they think that advertising is a slam-dunk business model. Essentially, a Web 2.0 company would have to be 10,000 times better at selling advertising than me before it gets interesting.

    • To test ideas with “reality checks.” How many guys have 30,000-person focus groups?

    • To tap the “wisdom of the crowd.” For example, ideas for my next book. How many guys have 30,000 people providing new-product ideas?

    • To make meaning and fulfill my mantra of “empowering people.”

By |2016-10-24T14:23:00+00:00January 7th, 2007|Categories: Blogging, Books|Tags: |42 Comments

About the Author:

Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is also the author of The Art of Social Media, The Art of the Start, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.


  1. IndianaYones January 7, 2007 at 11:33 pm - Reply


  2. Vijay January 8, 2007 at 2:58 am - Reply

    These are as good a reason as any to blog… in my view any business that starts out using Advertising as the ONLY revenue model has it all wrong… unless they are Google of course 🙂

  3. Fedafi January 8, 2007 at 4:09 am - Reply

    I agree advertising is never a good model to build a big/substantial business, or a way to raise VC. But there are thousands of people who just want to ‘sack the boss’, for them getting $3000 a month from advertising would be enough to do that and so for them it is a viable model. Monetizing a blog is in a way the new ‘mom and pop’ business model.

  4. Gerry Riskin January 8, 2007 at 5:07 am - Reply

    Guy, I am a true fan of your blog and this post is validating.

  5. Des Traynor January 8, 2007 at 5:32 am - Reply

    Advertising only sucks depending on who your visitors are. My blog gets more traffic than my web application Bigulo. Yet, my blog earns about 1/10th of what makes in Google Adsense revenue.
    The reason (imho) is that Bigulo serves schoolkids, and college students who click on things like “Free Ringtones!!!” and “Free Insurance for Students”. My blog serves tech nerds who couldn’t care less about “Microsoft ISS Support, 24 hours” , or “Learn C++ in 2 hours on at”.
    I think tech users just don’t click ads all that much.

  6. oniijin January 8, 2007 at 5:35 am - Reply

    Ditto the amen. As long as the blog is contributing to the world in some way, I feel that as reason enough to type the words. (as opposed to those that seek sympathy for a crappy day at work/school/sitting around)
    Thanks for the insights

  7. Josh January 8, 2007 at 5:39 am - Reply

    I agree with the above comments.
    However, today, with all the news this weekend, I was wondering if Guy could offer any insight into the FilmLoop situation? Why did it fail? Did the investors want to pull out?
    I think entrepreneurs can learn lessons from the mistakes of others. Thoughts?

  8. Shefaly Yogendra January 8, 2007 at 6:42 am - Reply

    Whatever various people think of the ad-revenues Guy makes or does not make, is there no way to monetise blogging apart from ad-revenues? Surely there is some Web 2.0 wisdom lurking on this blog which can show us the light.

  9. Rohit January 8, 2007 at 7:41 am - Reply

    Ahem. Small typo I think — “…Essentially, a Web 2.0 company would have to be 10,000 times better at selling advertising that me before it gets interesting…”

  10. An Observer January 8, 2007 at 8:03 am - Reply

    Your reality cheque must have bounced then, what with TechCrunch putting FilmLoop in the DeadPool?

  11. ketyung January 8, 2007 at 8:08 am - Reply

    Tech users don’t click on ads at all. I myself is a tech users. Once i see adsense on a website, I always be careful and avoid accidentally clicking it! Somemore, tech users are too good, they can just click on the raw RSS feed and read the blog content, so there is no ads to click anyway!

  12. Mark Bernstein January 8, 2007 at 8:09 am - Reply

    While I agree entirely that the blogosphere places too much faith in advertising, this is a bad data point.
    We’re one of Guy’s advertisers, and we were very happy with our ad. We’d have bought more. The agency told us that this blog’s entire inventory was sold out.
    My guess is that, if Guy were living in a garret and needed the ad revenue for groceries rather than hockey, that he’d have noticed this. So, your mileage may vary.

  13. Valeria Maltoni January 8, 2007 at 8:31 am - Reply

    Alignment of interests is very powerful. It makes like-minded people more likely to do great work together. Mind you, we’re saying like-minded not same-minded, it’s an important distinction.
    Blogs can be good places to have a *respectfully* divergent opinion and make something happen as a result of the ensuing discussion.
    And you’re right, 30,000 people make for many diverse perspectives for a knowledge base that can potentially change the way we operate in the world.

  14. Timothy Chan January 8, 2007 at 9:16 am - Reply

    Well Guy maybe you’re too defensive, after all , we all know that you’re not in for the checks. Talking about Adsense, I’ve just inserted the tags 4 days ago although my account was approved 3 months back. Fact is we must know our end game, and to each it’s own. And for those whose aim is to make money from Ads, why not? It’s a decency way of making money anyway. Go ahead and chase the clicks if this’ your end game. But while you’re busy chasing do have the decency, wisdom and courtesy to acknowledge that fact that not everyone is created equal.

  15. Eric Xu January 8, 2007 at 9:25 am - Reply

    Can you let us know how many ad clicks you had? Is adsense paying you reasonable $ for each click? I heard different stories about adsense. Some people are saying adsense is paying miserable for each click (< 1c), while others are getting dimes and $s. My personal experience is on the bad side. 🙁

  16. hugh macleod January 8, 2007 at 9:29 am - Reply

    “To increase the likelihood that “two guys/gals in garage” with “the next Google” will come to Garage for funding.”
    Heh. What other reason do you really need? Not that the other reasons aren’t also perfectly valid, of course…
    Why do I blog? A year ago, it would have been for similar reasons to your own. Nowadays, it’s more like “To keep the monster fed”.
    Never mind 😉

  17. Bruce January 8, 2007 at 10:03 am - Reply

    How many other CEO’s are blogging? Do you know where I can find a list? Are there other reasons besides yours that drive corporate leader to blog (PR, Customer Relations, brand building)?
    “Blogging CEO” is largely an oxymoron…and for good reason. Most CEOs are incapable of interesting writing because they lack the insight, ability, or afraid to tell the truth in a blog. A CEO who can blog well is very rare.

  18. Shashi Bellamkonda January 8, 2007 at 10:21 am - Reply

    I don’t care why you blog. I read your blog because what you write is interesting. I do wish you got some ad revenue (Be it for pocket money) I try the products you mention and “Alignment of interests” is ethical.
    I wish I had a idea that everyone in China is going to buy so I can pitch it to you 🙂

  19. Patrick Havens January 8, 2007 at 10:34 am - Reply

    You made the points I had talked about in the original post. I still think I’d love an easier way to get at those posts you thought where missed, besides you commenting on them.
    And for making money on advertising I know a number of people who make comfortable amounts of money, and it is possible with a tech related blog. You will have a number who block ads, but in most cases it doesn’t block adsense… just graphic ads. So like buying a house, it’s all about placement.

  20. Marcus Kazmierczak January 8, 2007 at 10:42 am - Reply

    Thanks Guy, it is good to hear the honest reasons behind why you blog. Keep it up.

  21. Daniel Foster January 8, 2007 at 10:43 am - Reply

    Bruce, the most comprehensive list of blogging CEOs I’ve encountered is at: TheNewPR Wiki

  22. Daniel Scheerer January 8, 2007 at 11:17 am - Reply

    I assume that the Google AdSense earnings are not the only advertising revenue from your blog. What about the book recommendations linking to I would expect total earnings from these affiliate placements to be way below your AdSense earnings for 3 reasons:
    a) They are positioned way worse then your former AdSense Ads (all the way to the bottom of your page).
    b) Amazon is as far as I am aware only offering a CPA/CPO based compensation model (i.e. the only compensate for sales not for users simply clicking on their ads)
    c) Everyone is expecting Google AdSense to be the number one revenue driver in Ad Revenues these days.
    It would be great to see these different sort of earnings via your blog in comparison to the Google AdSense earnings.
    I could be wrong and the Amazon-links work perfect / better than expected as the books you recommend are very good matches for your audience (like me). And that would maybe ‘proof’ that the key driver for ad revenue in a blog is less advertising in general but the most relevant ads (like your book recommendations).
    Thoughts on this?

  23. Living in the Whine Country January 8, 2007 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    Guy Kawsaki talks about his low Ad earnings

    Talk about unintended consequences, all I wanted to do with “A Review of My First Year of Blogging” was provide some factoids about my blog. However, this tidbit became quite the topic:
    Total advertising revenue: approximately $3,350 = $1.39 cpm. (…

  24. Louis Columbus January 8, 2007 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    Asking for Guy to quantify his earnings from a blog that delivers such superior value compared to the self-absorbed blog content so many others produce is like asking your wife how much she spent on the shampoo she used before your first date. Do you care? Is it relevant? To both questions: No.
    So here’s the question: if Guy was somehow unethical or underhanded wouldn’t it have come out by now, after twenty years of being at the forefront of an industry? Of course it would. His books kick ass; that’s why they sell – if they sucked a million links wouldn’t do any good for their sales.
    But I want to remind everyone that he started this blog as a Mensch – a man wanting to give back more than he has received. So respect him for that.

  25. Ted Rheingold January 8, 2007 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    I think the numbers you found in revenue are what I heard from anyone else trying to test revenue with their personal blog in the last couple years. (though yours are better 😉
    It’s pretty clear that a blogger has to have massive amounts of visitors and page serves to get money our of relationships with adsense, blogads, etc. Getting half of a small amount does not add up, unless of course you are adsense and blogads which is better than being the bank in Vegas.
    There is a very likely a future method for personal blogs and creators to generate meaningful revenue and that is through micro-sponsorships programs. Not the vain-glorious kind Kottke did, but the member-rewarding fun method Ze Frank and his GimmeSomeCandy does.
    It’s akin to donating was in 2003, but included publicly displaying your support. You become a patron of the arts so to speak and it’s rewarding to both parties
    I’m a big proponent of the modern cottage industry, where writers, musicians and creators can make enough money (not millions or hundreds of thousands mind you) but enough to quit their day job or at least stop losing money on their talents. I expect to see micro-support making some really neat things possible in the coming years in the way contextual network ads never could.
    Anway, keep up the great work with the writing and the industry insights. It’s been very refreshing reading and learning along.

  26. Please Eat My Pies January 8, 2007 at 7:18 pm - Reply

    Great post, Guy. Another one for the bookmarks.

  27. Chris Saad January 8, 2007 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    You have caused quite a stir Guy!
    Manual Trackback:
    It wasn’t my intention.

  28. larry chiang January 8, 2007 at 10:50 pm - Reply

    Guy is good cuz his feet are on the street.

  29. Pamela Slim January 8, 2007 at 11:33 pm - Reply

    For whatever reason, I have never been very hyped up on the whole ad thing for my blog. I don’t mind that others do it, and certainly think it makes sense to make as much (ethical) money as you can while blogging about entrepreneurship. I still am confused as to how Steve Pavlina makes 30-40k a month, but maybe I just don’t get the whole picture of his online biz.
    The value you provide as a blogger is gigantic … especially when you think about how some of your specific advice and exposure has helped others grow their careers or business. And the value to your brand, network, exposure, etc. is truly priceless.
    There is something intensely satisfying about using your life to create real value. I have a feeling that ad revenue is the last thing on your mind when you get up in the morning, or sweat over editing a really juicy post.
    As one who has benefitted greatly from your word-of-mouth and savored your advice, all I care is that you keep blogging.
    In the big picture, I don’t think your headstone will read:
    Guy Kawasaki:
    He was a great blogger, but only made 4k from AdSense.

  30. st_labrat January 9, 2007 at 3:09 am - Reply

    If you charge fee per “comment” on your blog, you might be rich (at least more than $4K)…

  31. Stephen Fowler January 9, 2007 at 6:47 am - Reply

    Hi Guy
    Some good honest answers there. While I am here I wonder if you have any comments about Filmloop which you supported at the time.
    I suppose you cannot win them all, saying that I still love Jajah, it has been a life saver for me.

  32. Moridin January 9, 2007 at 1:24 pm - Reply

    I am interested in this blog because you have an honest attitude and that is not often it is seen today with all the blogs about politics, creationism and such.

  33. kota January 9, 2007 at 2:55 pm - Reply

    It’s quite obvious that Guy is currently bootstrapping with his blog; I think he shouldn’t get funded and keep it as is 😉
    · Didn’t you miss “I blog because I like it”?
    · To prove Chris Anderson right, my experience: I know your blog since last Summer, and I have already purchased The Art of The Start. I suppose I’m not the only one =)
    · You’re making meaning on me, and I’m currently empowering people around me. Thanks for that.
    Cheers, kota.

  34. Wil Schroter January 9, 2007 at 8:11 pm - Reply

    Other than a handful of people who are making money, why would anyone think that you CAN make a lot of money blogging? I’m not sure where this rumor came from.

  35. Josh Bickford January 9, 2007 at 9:35 pm - Reply

    I really enjoy reading your blog, and appreciate you putting something behind your mantra.
    I love how blogs can be used to attract what you desire, it’s the high tech application of the law of attraction!

  36. Muskie January 10, 2007 at 12:50 am - Reply

    Perhaps I should have read all the posts in my RSS feed before commenting, as Guy seems to have mentioned some of the things I commented on previously.
    Oh well, my heart was in the right place. That should count for more in today’s world.

  37. broadstuff January 10, 2007 at 5:39 pm - Reply

    The link between broadband, online commerce and online advertising

    Interesting question.
    Advertising is fairly tightly linked to GDP at a fairly constant % in the medium term. A large part of the GDP is increasingly being created online. This is being driven by broadband penetration.
    Some projections from the IAB a

  38. Marketing January 10, 2007 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    I’m sure I’m going to draw a ton of fire for this comment, but there is no wisdom in crowds. The wisdom of the crowd is otherwise known as a herd mentality.
    “How many guys have 30,000 people providing new-product ideas?”
    With all due respect, who cares??
    The challenge lies not in collecting the ideas, but in knowing a great one when it comes along. Just ask Fred Smith’s Yale economics professor (whom I presume saw many).

  39. Gubatron January 11, 2007 at 10:45 am - Reply

    The Short Tale: Much Ado About Not Much

    Hi Guy Kawaasaki!!!,Trackback from on The Short Tale: Much Ado About Not Much at

  40. Evert Bopp January 21, 2007 at 8:11 am - Reply

    Blogging is all about exposure and marketing yourself.
    You make money the way people have always been doing; by working.
    To expect to make (a lot of) money just by blogging is like expecting to get paid for just going to a job interview.

  41. james January 23, 2007 at 9:06 pm - Reply

    wow nice blog !!

  42. wowgold January 25, 2007 at 9:16 pm - Reply

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