College student's journey to full independence and $30+/day with Adsense


Jul 17, 2008
Heeellllloooo BHW!

Alright, I've been a lazy f**ker for the last few years, so now it's about time I get some serious internet marketing business up and running here.

I'm currently an international student at a college in the USA studying business.

Since I'm on a student visa, I can't work much here. All the money I earn is from summer jobs in my home country, and even though they pay good, I really hate applying for jobs, getting references, and the whole process. I really CRAVE full independence now, and I don't feel independent working for someone else (you fellow IMers probably relate to this feeling?).

My long term goal is to have my own business after graduation (summer 2015) which provides me full-time income.

All my previous results in IM have been insignificant, or very temporary. My last serious website was penalized by G, and I have dozens of projects which I have started-and-then-given-up before they were even done.

This time I decided to start a journey to get some social pressure in order to keep working, stay motivated and avoiding shortcuts.

My first goal is $30 a day. That would give me $10k+ a year, which would free me from needing a summer job.

To get to $30 a day, I plan on creating a niche site, rank it, and monitize with Adsense.

I have not decided on the niche yet, but I have a few in mind. I'll do some research first before my final decision. I will probably keep my niche a secret anyway.

The website will be in Norwegian which is my first language, because keyword competition is less. I assume the general knowledge and implementation of SEO strategies is lower in Norway, and it will be a lot quicker/easier to rank and see results since many of my competitors won't be building links (maybe I'm wrong, we'll see). I will use Wordpress with a Bluesense-similar-theme to increase clicks. The potential niches I have in mind have high CPC, and would be extremely difficult to rank first page for in English.

For SEO, I will try to follow some methods I consider to be on the safer side. I will create all tier 1 links manually, and I will have to create a system to keep track of all logins, etc, so I have full control over the majority of the links to my site. I'm going to be very careful not to get penalized, and build a long-term income source here.

1. Niche and keyword research
2. Domain search and registration
3. Start outlining ideas and writing articles for my site
4. Gathering free/cheap/relevant stock photos

This thread will be updated regularly as I get work done.
I will try to work and update it every day, but I probably won't always do that since I am often busy studying and doing assignments the night before the deadline.
Seems like you have a nice plan! I am not really into adsense but I can give you some tips:

- stay away from spam backlinks
- pick a high paying term ( travel / weddings / jewelries )
- always keep an eye on your competitors backlinks
- always check if someone is doing negSEO on your site

Good luck!

whats your method to find keywords?

i am really bad at this,and i am not sure which service on bhw to take to actually get something good i can work with

by the way,good luck i am on the same boat as you :)
Sirmatthew, thank you, appreaciate the tips and support.
Adsense is my plan to monitize at the moment, but I will probably test other ways if the earnings are lower than I expect. The niches I'm considering have earning potential with affiliate and CPA as well, so we'll see.

Greenbird, thanks for the support. I will cover the steps as I get the work done and will tell you here what I have done and how, so just follow this journey.
Also, if you're bad at keyword research, I can highly recommend going through this journey thread, especially looking at the keyword part
I followed it last year and created a website, but got lazy and outsourced my linkbuilding and got penalized by Google, and it still is.

I have to run to evening class now, and I will update this journey again tomorrow after I have gotten some work done.
Best of Luck with your Journey. After Many Days I see Some adsense Journal. Once again Good Luck.
well man,i was expecting more from you :p

no updates?
Hi GreenBird, don't worry, I have not given up. Sorry for the late update, and good to see you're still following this journey

Best of Luck with your Journey. After Many Days I see Some adsense Journal. Once again Good Luck.
Thank you, safex. Very good, the more people following this, the more social pressure I will feel and get the work done

First of all, as I said in my first post, I'm in college and sometimes I have assignments and won't be able to work or update, but I'll try to keep you updated once I have done some work.

What I did yesterday
I completed all my school assignments, went to 7/11 to buy 2 pizzas and 1 gallon of coke (trying to be healthy) and then home. Now I had food for two days, so I locked the door and started on my journey, where I did the following:
- Niche research
- Set up website
- Found some free stock photos.

Since GreenBird requrested my method for finding keywords, I will spend some time on the details here.

Niche research
I went to Google Keyword Planner, looked for keyword ideas, put location and language to Norway/Norwegian and just searched for basic high paying keywords in niches like travel, loans, education, etc. In a small country of only 5 million people, I don't have to dig so deep, because both searches and seo competition is low.

To check competition, I search for the keyword/phrases, see top 10 websites, If they are homepages with thousands of links and PR 4-6, I stop and try another keyword/niche. If top10 are simple posts or PRn/a, or PR0 to PR2 and/or have bad on-page SEO to target those keywords, I start analyzing them through majesticseo. If some websites have only a few backlinks (could be that they have hidden them), I might start considering them. I found that keywords with over 1500-2000 monthly searches usually have very high competition if they also have high CPC.

I picked one niche which I have an interest in, which is good, because then it is easier for me research and write content. I highly recommend picking something you're at least a bit interested in, since my last website was boring and needed a lot of content to fit all the different keywords, so I spent a lot of money on outsourcing article writing and link building. Another tip: Don't go after a niche where you'll have to write hundreds of posts to target each post to one specific keyword. Like "Keyword in new york city", "where to find keyword jacksonville FL", "looking for keyword Vermont".... etc... etc... Too much work, and building backlings to all those posts is a lot of work as well.

The one I picked has a few different keywords and variations being used to search for the same niche, and they are all below 1000 monthly searches. The good thing about this is that I can create a few pages, 4-8 perhaps, and each page can target multiple variations of the same keyword.

Example: If my main keyword is "golf clubs" and has 1500 searches, and I see that "best golf clubs 2014" have 350 searches, and "cheap golf equipment" has 200, I can combine them by targeting "the best cheap golf clubs and equipment 2014" which will be the title of my page, and my goal is to have my website to be found in the results for all searches, so I really target 1500+350+200 searches for one page. Also, "golf clubs" is the most difficult to rank for, and maybe it will take 1 year to rank for it, the others I can rank for quicker and get visitors earlier. Each page will try to rank for a phrase that is made up the main keyword and a variation of different keywords. The real art of this is to find and combine those MAIN KEYWORDS with those LOW-COMPETITIVE-VARIATION-EASY-TO-RANK-FOR ones.

Now that is just ONE PAGE. I find other keywords in the same niche, for example "golf lessons", then I create a new page around that MAIN KEYWORD, and find similar low-copetition keywords that includes variations, so perhaps the title will be "find cheap golf workout lessons with trainer".

I learned this from, so go check out the videos there to learn more if you want.

I realize that niche and keyword research is harder in English since there is a lot more competition. Then you'll need to dig deeper. Learn to use Market Samuari (you'll find a trial here on BHW, find tutorials on youtube), and spend a lot of time to find those gems and analyze the competition. It is kinda fun when you get the hang of it.

Set up website
Hosting: I have already 3 years prepaid hosting with bluehost. I have the cheapest package which allows unlimited domains. Works fine to host multiple low-traffic websites. It has one-click wordpress install which saves time.

Domain: Found a domain name which is relevant to my niche, without being an EMD of my main keywords. However, the words in the domain name does have a few hundred searches each month though, so it will be easy to rank for and it alone will probably bring some visitors.

WordPress theme: I uploaded a theme which is based on the bluesense theme. I used to spend too much time picking themes and making it look "perfect", but it's a waste of time. Realize that the exact theme does not really matter, as long as it converts visitors. Get a clean, simple, minimalistic one, that will make the ads the most noticable thing on your website. You can only know how good a theme is AFTER you have gotten visitors and analyizing your performance report, and then trying out few different ones. My previous website has an average CTR between 8-12% each month.

WordPress plugins: Contact Form 7, Login LockDown (prevents login/hack-attacks), Quick Adsense, WordPress Database Backup (just in case), WordPress SEO by Joost de Valk, WP Super Cache.

That's it for website setup. Next, I will have to organize the first pages I intend to rank, put up a privacy policy page, disable comments on everything so I don't get spammed down.

Found some free stock photos
I don't know why I did this. I wasted too much time searching through and gathering, thinking I would need them. I realized it is too time consuming doing that without even knowing if I'll use them, and I don't even know which resolution size I need to download. It would just be better to search for them when I actually need them. Lesson learned.

$1.96 -- 2 clicks -- 11 pageviews
These earnings are from the previous website I created. I earn on average $0.6 a day from it. I will include the earnings from that website in this journey, because it counts toward my goal of $30 a day, and when I start earning from this website I'm creating here, the total sum of earnings in Adsense will include earnings from both anyway.

- Finish setting up the website
- Start creating simple pages and getting them indexed (the content will wait)
- Start writing articles for web 2.0
- Create a strategic plan for my tier 1 linkbuilding.

This was a detailed update to give an insight for those who are just starting out or don't know much about this process.
In the future, most updates will not be as detailed as this one. However, I can probably refer you to resources where you can learn more about it.

Now I gotta run an errand for my girlfriend (damn, I've become her bitch now?... gotta reflect on this, it threatens my independence, lol), and then work some more.

--2rst1 out yo
man,really great to hear updates from your journey (about something related to what i am intending to do in the summervication :p)

well i have the final exams,so i cant do much now

do you intend to write all the articles + content by yourself ?
like 300~500 words articles for each web 2.0
Interesting journey. Followed. I'm on a similar journey, only with a higher target though. I currently make about $20/day on the site, $35 on good days. The goal is to hit $50/day and then $100/day in 3-4 months time. Good luck!
A Norwegian site? I think it is a bit risky, only 5m potential readers but the only good point is that is a high earnings per capita country. The top of the pyramid strategy is good for dropshipping or direct selling, but if you want to monetize only with Adsense you have to find anything more popular (what are Norwegian young people on? What retired people looking for?)

And the main question, do you have anybody in Norway monitorizing what ads are being shown in your site when you visit it from Norway? Because if the Adsense ads in Spain are mostly bullshit like buy an iPad for $17 or lose weight and we are talking about a 45m people country, I don't want to imagine what kind of ads Google can provide to a 5m market.

I think that a site about tips for college students that want to pass a term abroad in US (burocracy, how to act, what to visit, where to buy, where to eat, tips for saving in books, food,...) maybe multilingual Norwegian/English could work better. And when you are out of ideas for writing, you can find a lot of college anecdotes and funny topical situations to write about.
Hi and good luck.
Is your website like a blog or static pages?
Hi Dzilsi, thank you. Right now it's a static page. Will perhaps try a blog layout later.

A Norwegian site? only 5m potential readers but the only good point is that is a high earnings per capita country.... And the main question, do you have anybody in Norway monitorizing what ads are being shown in your site when you visit it from Norway?I don't want to imagine what kind of ads Google can provide to a 5m market.... I think that a site about tips for college students that want to pass a term abroad in US... Maybe multilingual Norwegian/English could work better.

Hi andreaissabel, valid concerns and good questions. The niche I am in has a good CPC and Adwords reports that the competition (bidding) is mostly medium to high. If the ads are not relevant, or my CTR is low, I have backup options. I can use CPA, email list, affiliate products, or create my own info-product. Even if I advertise English stuff, I can still target Norwegians as they have no difficulty with the English language. I will only consider multi-lingual if nothing else brings in cash. I have looked into the college student niche but too strong competition. I don't plan on having a website which requires too much writing and updates after the main content is done.

Today I have written two short articles that I will use for tier 1 blogs, but I have not published them yet. It took me around 40 minutes, but I want to improve that. I don't know the word count, it's not very long, but I don't focus too much on that. When the article is done, it is done.

I'm not a very creative writer, and I just write some bullshit stuff. For blogs and stuff, there's no need to make it complicated in my opinion.

I will try to have more short and productive writing sessions where I can burst out 2-3 articles every now and then.

My website is indexed, some keywords are already ranking in the top 100, but none of the the main keywords yet.

Recent earnings (still only from old website)
May 25 $0.53 -- 12 page views -- 2 clicks
May 26 $1.55 -- 14 page views -- 6 clicks
Today $0.10 -- 5 page views -- 1 click

CTR from my old website seems to be pretty good, some days there are no clicks, but RPM is over $100. Targeted traffic, that's the power of SERPs. My website is sandboxed, and only a few REALLY LOW SEARCH keywords which have no competition brings vistors. Perhaps I'll try some on-page changes to see if it improves, or look for more of those low-search-low-competiton.

I have a paper I have to write for college for the next week, so it may be a few days between updates. Since you all feel sad about that, I'll add this smiley to cheer you up: :cheerlead
hey man :p
whats up,nice updates
i have a simple question for you
you just did on page seo and you are doing web 2.0 tier 1 with one article per blog\site ?
or you also doing tier 2 ,if yes what you are doing for tier 2?

and can i ask you whats your tier 1 strategy ? :p
Hey I'm also a college student, hope that you haven't abandoned this journey :(
Give us an update!
Ok just two thoughts:

1. How serious is your $30 day goal ? Because you can easily make this today with freelance jobs and other work online, or writing texts, or gigs on fiverr, AND THEN AFTER YOU EARNT YOUR $30 FOR TODAY you can focus on creating passive incomes ! So thats why I ask how important is your goal ? This is the most important questions of all and will show if you will put in the work or not.

2. Focusing on adsense is very risky they can just take all your income away with one click.
Good luck. Although, I'd shoot for more than $30 a day. You cant live off of $30 a day.. Shoot for at least $100 / day
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