A few weeks ago I stumbled across a thread on a discussion board discussing the success of a website owner who was claiming that he was earning $15,000 per month ($500 per day) using the Google Adsense program – not only that but he had released an E-book about it. The guy being discussed was Joel Comm, the owner of the successful Worldvillage.com, blogger at joelcomm.com, co founder of ClassicGames.com which was bought by Yahoo and is now Games.yahoo.com and author of What Google Never Told You About Making Money with Adsense and Chitika eMiniMalls Secrets“>Chitika eMiniMalls Secrets (aff. links). Joel is a net entrepreneur who has been making a living online for 10 years and who has a story that inspires me every time I read it.
The more I read about Joel the more I wanted to interview him for this blog. Whilst he’s not making a living from his blog – Joel has a decade of experience from making a living online and has a lot of great advice for bloggers trying to make money from their blogs.
ProBlogger – Joel thanks for giving us your time this way – can you briefly tell us a little about yourself? Who is Joel Comm?
Joel – I am a 40-year old computer enthusiast from Illinois, happily married since 1989 and father to two beautiful children. I got bitten with the computer bug at the age of 16. I remember my mother asking me, “What in the world are you going to DO with a computer?” Many years later, she finally understands! I remember dialing out on my 300-baud modem (the kind where you have to place the phone receiver on the the modem in order to use it) and thinking that I had “arrived”. Little did I know what the coming years would bring, as computers became more a part of my every-day life….
ProBlogger – Can you list the web projects that you are currently involved in? Which is your major focus and how did you start it? Did you start it with a commercial venture in mind or other motivations?
Joel – I have dozens of web sites, but a few that my main focus. In 1995, I launched Worldvillage.com as a family-friendly alternative to much of the “unfriendly” content that was beginning to sprout up on the world wide web. We primarily featured software reviews and downloads, but eventually expanded to clean chat rooms, regular articles, shopping, freebies and a whole lot more. I did have a business model in mind when I started the site. I saw opportunities for publishing free content and supporting the site entirely with advertising, a model that has persisted to this day.
ProBlogger – When did you start monetising the site? What are the main methods of generating an income from it that you use?
Joel – I have tried just about every kind of income method that isn’t immoral or illegal. You won’t find any gambling, tobacco or porn ads on my sites. But I have used a slew of banner networks over the past ten years. I have participated in hundreds of affiliate programs, becoming one of the early adopters to Amazon’s associate program (back when dirt was new!) >From CPM, CPA and CPC to banners, popups and popunders, I’ve done just about all of them. I rode the wave of the web from 1997-2000 and I survived the crash of 2001-2003. I am pleased to say I am riding the wave once again, and hope it stays this way!
ProBlogger – do you have a favorite banner network or affiliate program that you can tell us about that might be suitable for bloggers?
Joel – I am very pleased with TribalFusion.com, though they do have minimum requirements for traffic as well as an editorial grid. I like websponsors.com and lynxtrack.com for CPC and CPA offers. But Adsense is still the BEST deal of all for publishers, in my estimation.
ProBlogger – You run a blog at joelcomm.com – How and when did you first discover and enter into blogging? Why do you blog? What advantages do you see in blogging as opposed to other online mediums?
Joel – I started blogging in mid-2003. My sites certainly had my own personal flavor to them, but blogging allowed me an outlet to speak my mind and share thoughts on whatever I wanted. Whether discussing politics, presenting a movie review, or just sharing some cool links that I find, I love the ability to instant publish in the blog format.
ProBlogger – You were half of the team behind ClassicGames.com (which was bought by Yahoo and is now Games.yahoo.com) – how long did it take to build this site into an entity that you could sell? What was the process of selling? Ie did Yahoo approach you, how did you decide how much it was worth to sell for?
Joel – I approached a young programmer in late 1996 when I discoverd that he had created the foundation for a great java-based game site. It was a functional site that allowed people to play hearts, spades, bridge, checkers, chess and a couple other games in a multiplayer format. It was a hobby for the programmer, so I asked him to join me in a partnership to expand the site, and develop it into a premier game room. He took me up on the offer and ClassicGames.com was launched. In mid-1997, we were experiencing fantastic growth. We had over 600 concurrent users logged in at our peak, so I began shopping the site around to the leading search engines. The majority of them were still stuck in the “we’re a search engine” mentality, not having the vision to see where the portal business was heading. However, Yahoo was the one site I did not contact. On the contrary, they contacted me and inquired as to a joint venture with ClassicGames.com. After a meeting in San Jose, we negotiated a deal and they bought the site, along with my partner who became their Chief Game Yahoo! for seven years.
ProBlogger – Is the building up of websites for eventual sale something that you are doing with Worldvillage.com? Would you recommend this as a way to earn an online income – what advice would you give to bloggers (and other website developers) wanting to develop sites for eventual sale?
Joel – Worldvillage.com is my baby. It would take a SIGNIFICANT offer to buy it from me, more because of its personal worth to me than to its actual worth to someone else. I have fielded offers for other sites and sold a few, but most people aren’t willing to pay my asking price. With the exception of ClassicGames, I have never really developed sites for the purpose of selling. I see them more as playthings that I can mold in my hands, creating something new and hoping people enjoy it. If they do, the site creates an annuity that allows me to live the kind of lifestyle I enjoy, as well as give back to others who are less fortunate.
ProBlogger – What is the best and worst thing about earning an income online?
Joel – The BEST thing about earning online is there is no limit to what you can make. If someone works hard, produces quality content and is willing to tough out the rough times, a person can make a LOT of money. The downside is the same as any entrpreneurial work. There is always the risk of failure. Let’s face it. There is NO job security. If Google or the other search engines drop you from their listings, there is big trouble. I try to diversify my properties significantly and am always building new sites. That way, if one revenue stream ceases to flow, there is always another to try to take its place.
ProBlogger – You’ve just recently brought out an Ebook titled What Google Never Told You About Making Money with Adsense – can you tell us a little about your experience with Adsense? How long have you been using it? Why do you like/use it? Apart from getting your E-book – what advice would you give to bloggers wanting to use Adsense?
Joel – I started dabbling with Adsense when they launched their program in June 2003. My earnings were pitiful, so I didn’t pay much attention to it for several months. When I heard what some of my associates were making with Adsense, I revisited my code and began testing and tweaking a variety of different code placements, ad colors and ad blocks. What I discovered blew my mind. I added Adsense to more and more of my pages, all the while watching my revenue increase. Over a period of three months, I went from making $30/day to over $500/day! I began sharing my newfound discoveries with some friends an associates. When they saw their Adsense income take off, they suggested that I compile my tips and tricks into an ebook, which is exactly what I did! “What Google Never Told You About Making Money with Adsense” has been on the market since January 2005, and is already helping HUNDREDS of site owners to increase their Adsense income. I get email every day thanking me for sharing my tips. It’s very rewarding on several levels.
For bloggers, I highly recommend using Adsense on all of your pages. Banner networks are looking to advertise in certain niches, but Google’s context-driven ad delivery system is no respecter of content. It is such a brilliant idea, I wish I’d have thought of it! It doesn’t matter what your topic is, Adsense will display ads relevant to your particular focus. If you aren’t using Adsense on your blogs, you are leaving money on the table. And if you are doing Adsense incorrectly, you are probably not maximizing your revenue. Again, this is why I wrote the ebook.
ProBlogger – Have you found writing an E-book to be a worthwhile and profitable experience? Do people buy them?
Joel – The ebook has been extremely popular. I think its success is due to several factors. First of all, the Adsense topic is hot. Thousands of site owners see the opportunity to enjoy an income stream just from putting a snippet of HTML code on their sites. With Adsense on the rise, my ebook is a perfect example of entering the right market at the right time. Secondly, my story is true. People want to know that the ebook can provide them with useful information that they can apply immediately. My Adsense report is on my web page for all to see, lest there be any skeptics. My success can become anyone’s success, if they apply what I teach. There are way too many “get rich quick” ebooks on the market, and they certainly sour people’s attitude on the ebook. But I believe delivering a quality product at the right time is a sure key to success. Finally, I have partnered with many other site owners who have introduced my ebook to their audience. A good affiliate program is a MUST for ebook sales to prosper.
ProBlogger – Where do you see your online activities as being in 5 years time?
Joel – Well, I have made it ten years, so five more doesn’t look that far off. The face of the Internet does change rather quickly, so there is no telling for sure. Ideally, I will have built a growing empire of sites that continue to provide quality content and attract a large audience.
ProBlogger – As someone who has been in the business for 10 years – what advice or encouragement would you give to bloggers with a dream of earning an income online?
Joel – “Follow your passion. Discover what topic or cause excites you and write about it. Soak up as much information as you can on your topic and devote yourself to becoming an expertin that arena. Whether your gift is humor or insightful commentary, hone your writing skills and blog DAILY. Involve your readers in the discussion by soliciting their input and comments. Many years ago I read a book that was titled “Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow”. While not universally true (there are many underpaid teachers who love their jobs), I have found this principle to be true for myself and many others.”