I’ve been blogging for nearly 5 years. When I started the blog in 2009, I opened an Adsense account & had a textual type ad in the sidebar. I received a click here, a few cents there, but really nothing to even justify the ugly ads. I ended up removing them completely around a year later, after seeing so many irrelevant ads pop up, and getting sick of looking at them. In 2011, I read this blog post from Simply Stacie on how to increase your Adsense earnings.
I switched over to nice graphic ads and placed them where she recommended. The clicks rolled in and the income started to add up. In August 2011, I was invited to monetize my YouTube channel and I was thrilled. I was creeping towards the $100 minimum payout and I held my breath. I’d read so many stories of people reaching the payout threshold only to have their account closed.
Sure enough, December 2011, while nursing my 1-week old baby at the keyboard, I received the following email:
I never clicked my own ads, I never asked anyone to do so, I never incentivized clicking ads.
I read over all their guidelines and couldn’t find anything I had violated or was “at risk of” violating.
I appealed. I received the following message:
They will not give any information as to what the invalid activity was, what the IP addresses involved were, the time period, nothing. In fact, they closed my account because my account “poses a risk of” generating invalid activity, not that actual invalid activity occurred.
I was understandably pretty upset. They claim that they refunded that money to the advertisers. Really? Mmm hmm. So even though actual invalid activity didn’t occur, they took the $100 I earned, and refunded it 3 cents here and 20 cents there to advertisers who received clicks over the past two years? In the meantime, I advertised for them completely for free, using space that I could have otherwise sold. Most of all, I was baffled as to why they would wait until I was about to receive a payout, rather than when they noticed whatever was so suspicious. Of course, I assumed that they held every blogger’s first payout to look for any reason not to pay it. Naturally, I really have no clue since they won’t tell me.
Since I switched to WP Engine managed hosting (affiliate link), my blogging expenses have increased dramatically (totally worth it by the way.) On good months, I earn enough to cover my hosting expenses, fees for my newsletter and RSS services, prizes, shipping and other expenses. Nearly all of that is earned through affiliate sales. When you shop through one of my affiliate links, I earn a small commission. If you sign up for some of my favorite affiliate programs, I also may receive a commission.
I do have a few blog sponsors that also pay for ad space but I want to tell you that if you like a blogger, do not ever, ever click on an ad you’re not interested in. (edit: I understand an accidental click – I’ve done that on blogs myself! I meant clicking something one or more times to “help.”) Yes, a blogger’s click through rate matters for ads, but it looks mighty fishy for traffic to come from a blog & immediately bounce, never resulting in a sale. Additionally, some ads may be charged by the click, which is unfair to the advertiser. If you see an ad that catches your eye and you’re interested, by all means click. Just know that you are not helping a blogger by clicking an ad you’re not interested in, and may in fact be hurting him/her. I don’t think that’s what happened to me, or they would have said that suspicious activity had occurred, not that I was at risk of it.
P.S. If you subscribe to a newsletter or emails from a blog or store, and then change your mind, please use the unsubscribe button rather than marking it as spam. When you mark it as spam, it increases the risk of all emails from that address going to spam, and people who really want it, not seeing it. The only way you can get on my list is by signing up and confirming (double opt-in) yet people mark it as spam. If you’re no longer interested or just signed up for the giveaway entry, cool. Use the button. Too many emails? Switch to weekly emails instead.
All these years later and even thinking about Adsense makes my blood pressure rise. There are plenty of people who just love Adsense and make tons of money from it, but I think they stink (Adsense, not the people who like Adsense, ha.) To this day I have no idea what it was that made me seem “at risk.” If it was simply the sharp increase in earnings, I could have told them exactly what caused it. It was the switch to graphic ads, following Simply Stacie’s placement advice, and monetizing my YouTube page.
Has anyone had their Adsense account disabled and actually been told why?