In this episode of the Digital Publishing Podcast (which you can find a full transcript of below), I cover 4 different topics, including why you shouldn’t rule out AdSense and how to grow your social media following through YouTube.

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You can also listen to the episode online by clicking the play button on the player below this. (If you don’t see the player, click here.) It’s about 16 minutes long.

  • 1:03 – 1. Don’t rule out AdSense
  • 5:17 – 2. Little tweaks that add up
  • 7:45 – 3. Get more social media followers from YouTube
  • 9:24 – 4. The Listserve
  • 11:36 – Pick of the week

DPP030: Retrying AdSense, Getting More Social Media Followers, and 2 More Great Ideas

Hey, I’m Tristan Higbee, and this podcast is all about the things I see and would like to see in the world of digital publishing, from blogging to ebooks to video creation and more, plus things related to internet business and online marketing. At the end of the podcast I’ll mention my pick of the week, so be sure to stick around for that. You can find a full transcript of each episode of the Digital Publishing Podcast online at

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OK, I’ve got 4 topics to talk about today, so let’s get started.

1. Don’t rule out AdSense

Google AdSenseI think that AdSense gets an unfair treatment in the world of people who want to make money online. We think of it as amateurish or as a last resort, or as something you can only make money from if your site gets millons of views a month. For most of us, it’s not a serious way to make money online, not like membership sites or infoproducts. I don’t know if you think that way, but that’s pretty much how I think, or at least how I thought until last week.

One of my sites has been underperforming financially for the last couple months. Some things happened that were beyond my control and the amount of money the site was making went down significantly. I’ve just been dealing with it and lamenting that it happened, but then last week I thought what the heck, I’ll put some AdSense ads up there and see what happens.

Now for those who may not be familiar with AdSense, it’s Google’s ad platform for publishers. It’s a way for website owners to make money. You sign up for it, choose the size and type of ads you want on your site, and paste the ad code into your site. Every time someone clicks an ad on your site, you make some money. The amount of money you make depends on how much advertiser demand there is for the kind of things that are being advertised on your site based on the content of the site itself. If a site’s page is about things to do in Italy, the person viewing the page will be shown ads that have to do with Italy. If there are a lot of companies that want to advertise their Italy-related products or services, they’ll be willing to pay more for ad placement, and you’ll also therefore get paid more money each time someone clicks on one of the Italy-related ads.

So back to my site that I added AdSense to. On the first day, I added a single ad to the sidebar and ended up making a couple dollars that day in clicks. That’s more than I thought I’d get. I thought I’d get like 15 cents per day. Then I added two more ads—because Google will let you have up to 3 ads on each page—and it went up to about $5-$6 per day. I only just started doing this last week, so that’s the point I’m at now, making at least $5 a day from the AdSense ads.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty thrilled at the prospect of having a couple hundred dollars every month at the expense of literally zero additional effort or time spent on my part. Now the plan is to keep an eye on the performance of each ad placement and see where the ads are getting clicked the most. The ads are currently at the top of the sidebar, at the bottom of the sidebar, and at the end of the posts. If the one at the end of the posts ends up getting more clicks, I’ll remove one ad from the sidebar and put it next to the other one at the end of the posts. I’ll also be experimenting with having ads in the header and at the top of each individual page or post.

The short term goal for the next month or two is to make $10 a day from the site from AdSense. I definitely think that’s possible as I optimize the ad placements and as I make concerted efforts to drive more traffic to the site, which is something that I haven’t done much of at all recently. And I think that making $20 and even $30 per day is possible before the end of the year.

The moral of the story here is to not dismiss AdSense as worthless. Put it up on your sites and see what happens. Sure, you might only make 10 or 15 cents per day, but you might realize that you’ve got some money keywords on your site and you’re getting a dollar or two per click. If that’s the case, it can add up quickly.

2. Little tweaks that add up

One of the sites I run is That’s my free Kindle book site, and the “fkb” stands for “free Kindle books”. Last week I added a Facebook like button to each new daily post. Before that, when I’d post updates to the site’s Facebook page, each new post would get about 8 likes there on Facebook. Once I added the like button to the actual site itself, each new post was getting about twice as many likes. Twice as many likes just by adding the button, which I admit I should have done a long time ago.

32 LikesThen I added a “Please like this” request at the beginning of each post, plus a link back to the site at the beginning of each post. I did that because I know that a lot of people subscribe to the site updates via RSS or email, and they won’t see the Like button there in their email. But now they can easily click through to the site itself and click the Like button. Because of those tweaks, I’m now getting about 30 likes per update. It’s awesome. It’s like what I was talking about with AdSense. Adding the Facebook like button and making those tweaks takes me zero extra time once they’re set up, and the payoff is noticeable and significant.

I love this kind of stuff—these little tweaks. Take a look at what you’re doing online and see what little tweaks you could do to make things better, to get more traffic or make more money. They’re things that can add up pretty fast to significant improvements.

This applies to more than just websites or blogs. It applies to ebook authors, too. I know that several of my Kindle ebook listings are sub-optimal, and their descriptions don’t take advantage of the array of formatting options available. Changing a book’s description on Amazon or changing the category it’s in is something that can potentially make a big difference in the number of sales.

If you’re a podcaster, I’ve heard about people that have gotten more downloads when they’ve changed the category that their podcast was listed in in iTunes. Again, little tweaks and changes like this can add up and make a noticeable difference.

3. Get more social media followers from YouTube

Social mediaYou might have noticed a trend over the last several episodes of me talking about YouTube. I’m really into YouTube these days, both from a viewer standpoint and a creator standpoint. Earlier today I subscribed to a new channel on YouTube, and it’s at It’s the channel of a young guy named Marques Brownlee, and he does pretty awesome reviews of tech stuff, like phones and tablets. Really high quality videos. I noticed something he does in the descriptions of his videos. In each description, he’s got the normal stuff, like a summary of the video and any relevant links. But at the bottom of the description for each of his videos, he has links to each one of his social media profiles. He’s got Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram links.

I’m sure I’ve seen other people do this before, but this is the first time I’ve really realized what I’m seeing. Who knows how many people click to expand the description and then make it down to the bottom and click on these links, but I’m sure some do. I did. This is something else that follows what’s turning into the theme of this episode, which is that little things that don’t require too much additional effort on your part can have good results.

4. The Listserve

The ListserveI ran across a really interesting idea this last week. It’s called The Listserve, and it’s at It’s a daily email newsletter that anyone can sign up for. Each day, one subscriber is randomly selected to send an email to the list. So in other words, the daily email that you get when you sign up for the newsletter is written by one of the subscribers like you, and it’s a different subscriber doing the writing every day. If you’re picked to send the email, the email can be about anything, or it can be a link to anything (though I imagine there are probably some rules like no porn allowed). Now, I’m not actually signed up for The Listserve because I don’t really want to have something 100% random in my inbox every morning, but I think that this is a really compelling idea for a specific niche or topic.

For example, let’s say I’m into traveling (which I am). I could start a travel-related newsletter. Every day, I would choose a different subscriber and ask that subscriber to write or share something about traveling. It could be about their favorite place in the world, their least favorite place, some kind of travel tip, a story, an app, a gadget, a website—anything related to traveling. That’s the kind of thing that would be interesting for me to read as a subscriber. That would be something I’d look forward to. Not something completely random, but random as long as it relates to an interest of mine.

Let me know if you know of anything like this, or if you think this is something that would work in specific niches. And of course, the newsletter doesn’t have to be daily. It could be weekly or twice a week or three times a week to start out with when you don’t have a ton of subscribers. If you don’t have an audience already, you could buy Facebook or Google ads and send that targeted paid traffic to a landing page, or you could partner up with a blogger or other person or entity that does already have an audience.

Pick of the week – Zinio

And that brings us to my pick of the week. This is where I pick one useful thing to share, and it can be an app, a website, a podcast, or just about anything else.

ZinioMy pick this week is a service called Zinio, which you can find at Zinio is like the Kindle platform of magazines (as opposed to ebooks). What I mean by that is that you can subscribe to magazines through Zinio and use the Zinio apps to read them on just about any device, just like how you can buy a Kindle book and read it on a Kindle, on your computer, or on a smartphone or tablet with the Kindle app installed. Zinio’s the same way. There are mobile apps for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry. There are also desktop apps for both Macs and Windows PCs. I installed the Zinio app on both my iPhone and Kindle Fire and it worked perfectly. You can also read them online in any browser on the Zinio website.

So the service itself is a magazine newsstand. You subscribe to magazines on Zinio (or you can buy individual issues, which is pretty expensive), and you can then read the issues on whatever device you want. The best part about this is how slick the subscriptions are. You pay one fee, which is for a yearly subscription to the magazine. You get notified when each new issue is available for download, and you can cancel anytime in that yearlong period. So if you cancel six months into a $10, year-long subscription, you’ll be given $5 back. That’s really nice.

I subscribed to Climbing magazine and will get 10 issues for $10.47. I read the whole of the first issue I download entirely on my iPhone. One great feature—and I don’t know how many magazines do this—was the text-only view. I could switch from the traditional view of the magazine to a view that showed me only the text of the article, with no other formatting or images around. That was especially nice on the small screen of my iPhone.

Not all magazines are in the Zinio marketplace. Most of the ones that I could think of and that I would be interested in are in there, but not all of them. They had Climbing magazine, for example, but not Rock & Ice, which is another climbing magazine. And they have The Atlantic and The Economist, but not The New Yorker. So it’s a little bit hit and miss, but the odds are good that they’ll have what you’re looking for.

Again, you can check it out at Each subscription costs a different amount, or you can choose 3 subscriptions to eligible magazines for $5 a month. If the individual subscriptions are cheap, though, it might actually be cheaper to subscribe to them individually and not do that $5-a-month thing. If you’re into entrepreneurship, both Inc and Fast Company are available at around $7 for a year-long subscription that includes 10 issues. I think I’m going to subscribe to both of those pretty soon here.

All of the individual Zinio apps are free, by the way, and if you sign up for a free Zinio account you can read some magazines for free and get a feel for how the reading experience is on your device before you actually pay money for anything. I’m not associated with Zinio at all, it’s just a really slick service that I’m a fan of. For someone like me who travels a lot and who doesn’t have access to print magazines, it’s especially great.

And here’s another little tip that is only tangentially related to Zinio. When I decided to talk about Zinio on the podcast, I realized that I didn’t know exactly how it was pronounced. Was it Zinio or Zeenio? An easy way to figure this kind of thing out is to search for the company name or product name on YouTube. See if you can find an official video by the company. I did this, found the Zinio channel, and confirmed that it is, in fact, pronounced “zin-ee-oh” and not “zeen-ee-oh”.

Final words

And that’s all for episode 30 of the Digital Publishing Podcast. Be sure to check out for complete transcriptions and other blog posts there at the blog.

Please don’t hesitate to email me any question you might have regarding digital publishing. I love talking about this stuff, and I’d love to help you out. You can follow me on Twitter by going to That will redirect you to my Twitter account, since my name is a bit tricky to spell. If you do follow me there, be sure to say hi. And again and as always, I’d really appreciate it if you went into iTunes and rated and reviewed this podcast, and thanks for listening.