Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Friday, December 7, 2007

AdSense And Robin Good: The First Italian To Earn His Living From Google - The 7thfloor Interview

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In January of this year while attending the first Romecamp I was approached by a tall gentleman. He showed me a bunch of fancy looking issues of a new magazine called 7thfloor. As I later discovered, 7thfloor is a beautifully designed print magazine distributed free to over 1,000 companies in Italy. Its tagline is "Share your Vision for the Future" and its contents cover a broad range of topics from new media to organizational management.

Photo credit: Lorenzo Maccotta - Location: Art Gallery Marco Rossi Lecce, Rome

The tall guy, was the editor and publisher of the magazine itself, Andrea Genovese, whom I had never met before. He was after me, because he had heard of my online independent work and wanted to do his next issue while giving feature coverage to my story.

The feature got published, and thanks to this, lots of people here in my country, who did not know anything about me, discovered who I was and where all curious to learn more of the how I had been able to do so well in an area everybody considers economically unsustainable. Last but not least someone at Google itself read this story and has written me a kind email asking me whether an English version of this interview existed somewhere.

It didn't. Until now. Here below in fact is the fully translated, updated, edited, extended and revised English version of my original interview with Andrea Genovese of 7thfloor, which took place in February of this year.

I owe both to 7thfloor and Google a great deal of gratitude for the good things they have brought my way. But it is with the intention to share further my own story, as a trigger for others that may be hesitant or skeptical about becoming online publishers themselves, that I have taken the time to take up Mr Genovese original account and make it into this new story of Robin Good which you can read here below.


Robin Good interviewed by Andrea Genovese, Editor of 7thfloor

The art of blog publishing and how to use Google AdSense to increase your visibility, to create an alternative revenue stream and to become your own boss.

7thfloor meets for the first time Robin Good, a micro publisher of an online "daily" devoted to new media, communication skills, strategies and new tools that could allow small online publishers to become independent of their daily 9-to-5 routine doing some work they don't even care about.

Robin runs the business almost all by himself, he publishes its contents in four different languages, and while being able to make a good revenue at it (not bad at all!) he is able to devote his best energies to what he cares about the most: enabling the small guy via the mastering of new media tools, skills and technologies.

Robin's, who also says he is originally from Sharewood (the place where people "share"), has an interesting motto prominently displayed on his Master New Media site and which reads: "be smart, be independent, be good".

Who Is Robin Good?

Andrea Genovese: Who is Robin Good?

Robin Good: Robin Good is a 49-year old guy who has chosen a personal path to do what he likes the most in life and to escape the 9-to-5 work system most everyone gets subjected to in todays' world.

I am a person who has spent considerable time studying and exploring the use of new communication skills and technologies from different angles while always striving to uncover new ways to use these new media to communicate more effectively.

I am also a strong supporter of civil and social rights and support individuals who want to take personal responsibility, act and who want to realize themselves by doing something they really like.

I would like to think of myself of someone who helps others being agents of change. Give power to the small guy to help change big things too.

Why the Name Robin Good?

Andrea Genovese: Robin, I am not too comfortable hearing you describe Robin in the third person... your true name is another one... why you have people call you Robin Good?

Robin Good: Robin Good is a name which I have chosen because I wanted to create a strong online identity for myself.

I looked for one that was easy to remember and fit to represent some of the ideals I stand for. I have thought of famous people who did not exclusively go after riches, but who also had a message to share. I have thought at length about this, while using my "internal Google engine"... I usually give it a hint of what I am looking for and then it does the rest... after a few days it comes back with some pretty cool replies. One day it came back with "Robin Good" and right after with the Sharewood forest (opposed to the real Sherwood) : bingo!

I am also a person who is generally adverse to established authority, to dogmatic truths, moral rules; having this strongly rebellious character, Robin Hood seemed to lend the right feel to my new online identity.

Key Experiences

Andrea Genovese: I imagine your decision to become some kind of superhero was not your initial one. Which were the most significant experiences that have taken you where you are now?

Robin Good: Certainly having studied in the United States has made the difference. I was interested in becoming a film director. After the commercial private radio experience in the '70s here in Italy, in 1979 I went to San Francisco and graduated from the hihgly innovative SFSU Center for Experimental and Interdisciplinary Arts, which, at the time allowed to personalize your fine arts major by mashing up anything in between theater, music, broadcasting, film, radio and television.

After that, I went to shoot some documentaries in South America, and then after returning to Italy, I found a position as one of the very first on-air promoters for Videotime, Berlusconi's fast growing television production center in Milan. There, my task was to create station breaks, promosongs and clips that would market the content and the on-air brand of Berlusconi's emergent three-channel TV Italian national network.

Three years later, together with two partners, I founded a computer-graphics and post-production consulting agency, devoted to creating opening titles and TV ads requiring complex visual effects or the need for a competent post-production/digital-effects director-coordinator.

In 1986, I came back to Rome, the city from where I am from, to work on the "look and feel" and information design approach of RAI's news feature (TG2). The design methodology included an extended research and comparative analysis on the best information design solutions adopted by other, major state television news channels around the world.

Later, I abandoned the television and video industry to move more toward information and communication technologies, new media and communication strategy consulting for large international organizations, many of which had their headquarters here in Rome. Among them the World Bank, FAO of the UN, the World Food Program, the Canadian Embassy and IFAD. I worked intensely for these organization from the late 80's till the early 2000's.

It was at the end of the 90's that the first opportunities to write and publish independently via email or the web became a reality for the average person.

This is when I started my first online publication, a text-only newsletter entitled MasterMind Explorer. Sent out weekly via email, it covered all the tools, technologies and skills I had recently discovered in my daily professional work as a communication consultant.

Then, from the newsletter, the desire came to archive online, on a web site all of those news and reviews I was sending out via email. And that's how I started blogging in the true sense of the word.

Having a system that allowed me to easily post online all that content in a professional looking web site was well beyond even my best initial expectations.

The key driver for doing this at the time was exclusively passion and a desire to get greater and deeper reward for the good work I had done, beyond the monetary compensation and professional recognition levels.

Freely sharing with others what I had personally learned while doing my job, gave me much greater sense of having meaningful role in this life than any high-paying contracts could have given me.

Providing other individuals with the means to empower themselves to see "through" and become independent of the system that was somewhat enslaving them was indeed a very tangible psychological reward.



Andrea Genovese: Google 2002 launch of of its AdWords/AdSense services has deeply changed your work, is this true?

Robin Good: When Google first offered to integrate contextual text ads next to your web site content, I immediately thought of trying it out.

AdWords and AdSense are Google services which respectively allow advertisers to buy advertising space on Google search engine result pages as well as on a huge network of associated sites (like mine) via the AdWords service. At the same time AdSense allows web publishers to earn a revenue by allotting screen real estate on their blog pages to such ads and earning money from the clicks that readers will make spontaneously on them.

With AdSense, ads appear contextually to the content you publish and in a fully automated way: there is in fact an invisible program that Google sends out through the Web that reads every article you publish and determines its content topic and consequently the "contextual" ads to display next to it. This is why this form of online advertising is called contextual. Ads present commercial information that is "contextual" to the content and presents therefore products and services in "theme" with your own very article.

If your readers then click on those ads, you make some money. Unfortunately web publisher cannot tell the exact amount of money attributed to them for each click, and a good part of this compensation is kept by Google itself as the equivalent of an advertising agency commission.

Ads payback can range a great deal from a few cents to a few dollars per click on some highly competitive and high-margin product sectors. Thus depending on the topic you are writing about and on the competitiveness of its marketplace advertisers your blog site may have a more or less significant economic return.

Google AdWords represents the other side of the coin, it is the advertising service targeted at advertisers and it is the service through which those companies can buy ads that will appear both on Google search engine pages as well as on your own blog site.

At the end of the month Google wire transfers to your bank account your monthly earnings.

In the first few months I started using AdSense ads the amount I made monthly was not more than a few hundred dollars. But as time went buy, total commissions started to improve significantly.

When they reached a few thousands dollars per month ($3,000-4,000), I started to reduce my commitment to my main professional customers and decreased my willingness to accept new orders.

I pushed on the accelerator and gave the best I had. Have worked for 14 or more hours a day, without interruptions and without holidays until numbers and traffic duplicated and then tripled.

When I reached about $10,000/month, I could not believe my own eyes and finally resolved not to accept anymore external jobs to fully focus only on this new work.

I realized that this was what I really wanted to do and decided to invest further resources and time into it.

I opened a few extra web sites, newsletters, started some parallel experimental projects - not always commercial - and kept working at sharing my best insights and discoveries.

Master New Media editorial profile and content strategy


Andrea Genovese: Let's look closer at your blog, or how should we best call it?

Robin Good: A daily magazine empowering individuals to communicate more effectively with new media technologies.

Master New Media is made up of three key components:

1) The first one is the newsmastering work we do to aggregate and manually select the most relevant news for our readers from a group of about 80 selected news sources. This is similar to Google News but with a very specific focus on independent publishing. I call this curated news stream a news-radar. In my specific case it focuses on key stories that make a tangible difference for those who want to become effective online publishers, following somehow, my own path. Again, not a picking up of all the latest technology-related news but a carefully selected digest of news on that can help online independent publishers learn how to make the best use of their skills and of the growing number of available media technologies. On the left column of the MasterNewMedia home page you can see this frequently updated news digest picked from what I consider the best and most relevant sources around the world.

It is as if a popular print newspaper had on its front page the most interesting news from the Economist, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and all of the top other newspapers in the field.

My goal is to help specifically the small guy, the independent, the artist, the musician, the writer who want to earn from their own skills and abilities. People who want to make a living by doing the things they really love.

This is why I have to touch also upon topics of counter-information that deal with economy, politics, finance and energy issues as all of these really impinge on every individual ability to become truly independent of the present system we live in. For the same reasons I select information sources that provide unique viewpoints and resources that can be immediately put to use by my readers and compile them in this unique news digest.

Doing all this keeps abreast of everything that is happening while saving my readers the need to track over 80 sites (as I pick and choose whatever may be relevant to them when it comes to online independent publishing for them).

Yes, you have understood it right: I am happy to serve my readers the best destinations covering the hot news of the day even though these are not on my site. And guess what... people come back for more... and since I have introduced this new content component the home page of Master New Media has become the most visited page on the site (it wasn't even in the top5 before).

2) On the right column, every single day of the year there is a daily "feature" article. From Monday through Wednesday we generally look at new tools and technologies that become available on the web. We show how they work, how much they cost, what you can do with them and what benefits you can have by putting them to good use. Thursday and Friday we give space to more academic and research-type work on media and its impact, while Saturdays were reserved until recently to counter-information articles (I am about to move all these now to a new site devoted just to this topic). These are the "hot" topics that mainstream media prefer not to touch.

I do not talk only about new media technologies, small business and the latest publishing tools, as I have already decided to leave to the growing number of quality sites out there the coverage of much of the latest and "newest". More so if, like most of the popular tech sites from the US do, their focus is most exclusively on the business and financial potential of the companies creating them.

3) The third key component are the "guides". An example of these is the RSSTop55, a mini-guide that provides lots of useful information about all of the best RSS search engine and directories, vital info for whoever wants to promote his site(s). It is important to know that when it comes to getting visibility and exposure there are not only Google, Yahoo and MSN, but there exist a small army of search engine and directories specifically focusing on blogs and RSS feeds. Every week or so we find a new one and we out it up with a small review providing some useful info. We are now up to 220 and counting. When the Asian Tsunami hit at the end of 2004 I created another set of advertising-free guides that provides access to all of the amateur and professional video news report that emerged during those tragic days.

Staff and Collaborators

Andrea Genovese: Robin, you speak of "us", but I see here no typical newsroom, and other than you and Nico, your nephew, I see no-one else.

Robin Good: Behind this site, there are at least other six people besides me without whom nothing of this would be possible: a great webmaster who takes care of the technical side, two news editors that help me in researching, preparing and writing articles and reviews as well in the selection of the news we publish. Plus the three international editors for the Italian, Spanish/Latin and Portuguese/Brazilian editions.

Together, they now help me do what I was once doing all by myself, albeit on a smaller scale.

The people you do not see, are sitting here, in this part of the screen (Robin points to a Skype window).
Alessandro Banchelli (today Giulio Gaudiano) is the editor of the Italian edition of Master New Media and he is based in Livorno, Italy. Our technical director, Drazen, is based in Croatia, a second assistant webmaster in the Philippines, or our senior technology editor, Michael Pick, who is now based in the north of Japan. Most of them I have never met physically.

Andrea Genovese: Is this then possible to leverage real-time reporting technology from Google AdSense to provide staff bonuses and to set up results-related revenue-sharing mechanism with whoever writes for you?

Robin Good: In principle, yes, and actually this is something that I have wanted to do badly for quite some time. In reality Google doesn't provide us yet with enough channels to track every single article or page we publish and therefore to do this you need to set up some complex scripts to "derive" some of the data you are interested into. But again, it would be absolutely fantastic to be able to track every single page published for revenues as this would allow individual online publishers like me to pay contributing authors and collaborators in ways that directly reward those producing "quality" content versus quantity.

Work Organization and Online Tools

Andrea Genovese: Robin, please describe to us better you editorial work, how you are organized and what tools do you use?

Robin Good: OK. If you look here at my browser there is a tab-set that I keep always open and which gives me a kind of dashboard about everything I am interested in: it tells me how much money is coming in, how good is the traffic coming from the web, how many new visitors we have gotten today and a lot more.

Let me try to describe it to you in more detail.

1) The first browser tab is Google AdSense. It tells me a very important thing: how much money I am making, hour by hour. For example it is now 5pm and it says $300. Keep in mind that Google is in Mountain View California, and that the day ends there when here it is 9am. So my money counter counts a day from my 9am which is midnight in California. Between now and tomorrow at 9 there are still many hours to go (16) and the numbers look good... it is likely I will reach close to $800.

It is also possible for me to see which specific pages, and which specific ad strips are making me the most money, which is a tremendous help. For example I can see right now that my Italian edition site has already made $102 while the Spanish-Latino edition, which is 6 hours behind the Italian one is down still at $32.

2) The second tab is about my real-time traffic statistics. It is provided by a paid commercial service called Hitbox Professional. These stat bars here below in blue are the page views done in the last hour: 1008 pages read. Unique visitors in the same hour have been 601. Those who come to read MasterNewMedia read on average nearly 2 pages each while staying for about five minutes.

In the last few hours there has been a traffic drop... I can tell by the yellow line. That represents my average traffic level, so if I am below, it means something is not going right. When this happens I ask my tech guy for an immediate check. My servers are physically in Pittsburgh where I have two dedicated Linux machines. Hardware infrastructure and connectivity are best in the US and I spend around $350-400/month to lease each one of these beasts.

As far as bandwidth is concerned I have now over 600 GB available per server, and each page I server weights on average 100KB or more... you do the math. The provider is

(In the meanwhile Robin's webmaster is responding via text chat on Skype to the checkup request relating to the apparent traffic drop.)

My webmaster works only for me, six days out of seven and I have never met him in person! I have found him thanks to a free-lancing agency online called, where you can find specialists ready to work in any area and connecting from just about any part of the world... say a spanish-language chief editor for a month at a specific price.

3) The third tab allows me to go to Technorati and to see the "buzz" around my site. In simple words, Technorati allows me to see who is "talking" or mentioning my work and on which site or blog she is doing it. Technorati provides me also with a custom "authority ranking" inside the blogosphere, that is inside the universe made up of all blog sites.

Theoretically, Technorati indexes all blogs on the planet, now in excess of 60 millions. From his ranking score I am ranked in the first 1000 blogs, around position 600. In the past I have been as high as 250, but it is very difficult to stay up there. This ranking is in fact dynamically calculated on the basis of how many incoming links a site has received in the last six months.

Overall (that is without imposing the last 6 months limit) there are over 11,500 links to my site and certainly that keeps my promotion going almost automatically.

4) Then there is Alexa, a worldwide web traffic analysis information site which provides traffic information and trends for each web site on line based on the web behaviour patterns of the users of the Alexa toolbar.

While there is a lot of mistrust in Alexa's data reliability (as well as proof that it can be easily gamed), it still provides overall interesting trends and figures which can be quite helpful in gauging a comprehensive picture of how your site is doing. For example with Alexa you can compare traffic and visitors trends between different sites and over different time ranges. You can see most popular sites by country and a lot more. According to the Alexa index, which is much larger than Technorati's, I am around the top 10,000 web sites online.

5) The last tab is Bloglines, which besides being a great web-based RSS feed aggregator allows me also to monitor citations and links to my site from other bloggers. Once you are logged into Bloglines (free registration) select the Citations search under the Search Options. Place there your web site home page URL or your name, and whenever anyone of the millions of blogs tracked by Bloglines talks about you, you will see it there in a matter of hours.

If you are wondering why I replicate the Technorati search also on Bloglines it is because by doing this across different blog search engines you can discover many more interesting things.

News and Content Research Methods and Tools

Andrea Genovese: How do you organize your news and content research activity? What tools do you use to do this work?

Robin Good: To check and monitor the incoming news-streams and to organize news into specific channels to publish online I, and the other editors in my "virtual newsroom" perform a task we refer to as "newsmastering".

Newsmastering consists in the selecting, editing and publishing of the most relevant news for my readers out of a huge number of sources and posts. Doing this produces a so-called "newsradar": a hand-created digest of news, generally on a very specific topic or theme.

Newsmastering is something that news publishers will have to learn to do sooner or later as the information network as a whole needs now more intermediaries, more news hubs filtering out some of the noise and not relevant information out of their inboxes and feed readers.

To do newsmastering I use a professional online service called MySyndicaat. It is one of the very few turnkey solutions that allows you to aggregate, filter, edit and re-publish all of the news you want while fully leveraging RSS feeds and a powerful database.

The great thing is that with this type of tool you can start discovering news sources you didn't even know about but which are covering the topic and issues you are interested in. It's great!

One of the key methods to do a good job in newsmastering is using so-called "persistent searches". These are nothing but normal searches run on major content or news search engines but which keep running indefinitely while sending you any new result that comes up for your assigned query.

This is not something most people are familiar with but it is a unique powerful way to tap into the power of RSS while leveraging the information breadth of the many different search engines now available.

As I have said, basically, to create a "persistent search" you go perform a normal search on any major search engine, but by subscribing to the RSS feed of that search, this keeps running indefinitely for you while bringing back home to you any new results appearing in its periodic checks. This allows you to search for specific content on an ongoing base and to automatically discover new information sources you would have otherwise never met.

In practical terms, if you want to aggregate some of these persistent searches you need only use MySyndicaat internal capabilities which include the ability to create persistent searches on any of major web and news oriented search engines.

In turn this places you in the position of being able to create and publish news channels in RSS, JavaScript or HTML, or thematic sections on any topic you are interested in to embed within your blog.

For example: say you want to create a newsradar, as I call it, about Tennis. You first go online to your main newspaper and you go to their sport/tennis information section. If possible I then subscribe via RSS to that news section or I create a special feed for it myself. Then I repeat this process over other major sport newspapers and magazine, until I have a good compilation of sport news sources all covering Tennis. A system like Mysyndicaat, then mixes all these news feeds into one, while leaving you in control of selecting which specific news stories go out and in which order. You can filter out duplicates, specific keywords and anything not in your selected language.

It is like being in a traditional newsroom in front of an ongoing news feed that is actively collecting for you all of the news coming out on a specified topic. You select the ones to re-publish with one-click and can also edit any news story in any way you may want.

By mixing specific selected news sources with persistent searches on selected topics you can get an ongoing flux of relevant news on the topics of your choice. Add to this a "newsmaster", or a team of them, who sits to select, check, edit and publish only the very best among all these news, and you have a fantastic new way of crating news value for your readers while being fair and good to the news sources you use as well (you are also sending quite a bit of traffic to those too.)

This is something that in traditional newsrooms they have only dreamt of. At the same time you become a sort of news jockey. What I define as a newsmaster.

My virtual newsroom is always active, and being the news editors geographically distributed across different time zones, there is always someone up around the clock.

Individuals in the newsroom sync up via Twitter, email, instant messaging, though the tool that we use the most is without doubts Skype.

For example, in the morning, when I publish the "Feature Article" of the day, I immediately notify the other editors taking care of the international language editions of the availability of the new content and of its size so that they can start immediately planning their translation and publishing work.

Master New Media Content Management

Andrea Genovese: Not bad Robin. I seem also to understand also that this MySyndicaat service is free, at least to use for basic-level newsmastering.

...We haven't talked about of your Master New content management system. What do you use Robin to manage and publish all of your great content?

Robin Good: Well, as a content management system I use Movable Type, one of the best and most popular professional blogging platforms. It requires little or no technical knowledge for general maintenance and publishing chores, and while it may not be the most advanced of these online publishing systems I am quite happy with it. It allows you to better manage your publishing workflow, to prepare articles by leveraging our geographically distributed newsroom, to coordinate different editors, to moderate readers' comments, to even integrate video, audio, slide shows and other media within the standard content publishing framework. .

Other online publishing tools that I would recommend to newcomers are TypePad, Blogger (owned by Google) and Wordpress which allow you to further simplify your needs by hosting themselves your blog, while costing you nothing.

AdSense Revenues - some data

Andrea Genovese: Let's talk about numbers now. Money. How much money can you make with your online work?

Robin Good: For a web site like Master New Media, notwithstanding Google AdSense contextual advertising program which provides over 85% of revenues, money can come from a lot of different directions. Direct advertisers, sponsorships, licensing of content, e-book selling, affiliate commissions, merchandising and more give small independent online publishers a plethora of monetization options that they can play and experiment with.

The AdSense program automatically displays contextually relevant ads inside my content article pages and, in general, when readers click on any of these ads, the site makes some money. It may be a few cents or up to a dollar or more per click, depending on the advertiser industry, the level of competition and other factors. As a publisher I don't get to know how much each click brings me nor on which ad it was made, but I do get a constant, near real-time update of all the clicks done, the ability to track more precisely where these are done and the money being made.

For those who have some familiarity with advertising metrics I can say that we have been seeing some very high clickthrough rates, often higher than 20%. The eCPM value, which indicates how much each thousand units of ad inventory costs an advertiser, can be as high as $15, $20 or even more for the topics we cover.

To be noted is also the revenue "progression" I have made over the last two years, especially if you consider the micro-size of this company:

  • August 2004 - $ 3500 (month revenue)
  • December 2004 - $ 6000
  • June 2005 - $ 10,000
  • December 2005 - $ 14,000
  • November 2006 - $20,000
  • January 2007 - $ 23,000


Andrea Genovese: What about the costs?

Robin Good: Key costs are people. And considering that I provide a living to at least 3-4 of my collaborators, while supporting another 5 or 6 besides me, the situation is not so bad.

If Italy's had a better and more incentivating tax scheme on small entrepreneurial companies like mine, one could do a lot better without so much frustration, but for now this is where we are at.

Here a bit more detail into the actual running costs of an online publishing outlet like mine:

a) a good full-time webmaster can make from $1,500-2,000 depending on where he is located and what kind of skills he has. Here I am referring to technically capable individuals working out of a second world country like Romania, India or out of one of the new Balkans states. For now I have one full-time person on this front, and I will soon need a second one.

b) writing and publishing editors are rare to find and if you expect any blogger to be able to do this job you are going to be sadly surprised. After training a guy in this area can cost from $1,000 to $3,000 or more depending on the load you give and the level of prestige and revenue of your site. I have one or two editors at any given time helping me prepare, write, select and format content for my English edition.

c) editors of international editions in other languages receive 50% of the advertising revenues we accrue on their language specific version of Master New Media. For some, of the the editors living in places around the world where life is not so expensive, these revenues have provided tremendous opportunities and a level of income difficult to reach in those countries.

d) technical infrastructure services like leasing a dedicated server and its related maximum bandwidth, paying for traffic monitoring services, newsletter distribution services, and other complementary support tools may tax you from a few hundred dollars to a thousand or more depending on your traffic size. In my case I am definitely above $ 1,000 / month.

To keep my costs under tabs I maintain an online shared document with each one of my collaborators. We call it "rolling bill", and it allows every one in the newsroom to update in near real-time its completed assignments and the relative compensation. Each production item has a value and there are generally evident proofs and records of the assignment having been executed. This allows me to see at any given time how much each collaborator has already made and how much it is due to her when the end of the month comes. Obviously this helps also keeping maximum transparency with team collaborators and to be able to spot ambiguities, errors or wrong-doings much earlier in the game.

Anyone in my distributed newsroom is allowed to work from anywhere she wishes and to earn relative to her capacity.

Deadlines are decided by those who will be responsible for execution and highly collaborative practices are strongly encouraged.

Last but not least, I make all my online earnings visible and pay all required taxes on it. I value so much this new professional work niche I have created for myself that I wouldn't want to be penalized or to have to give it up for having tried to be a "smart" guy when it comes to taxes.

I prefer to sleep well at night and have to worry only about the topic of my next review.

Andrea Genovese: Robin, what recommendations would you give to those who would want to follow your tracks by trying to make some money online? How should they go about making money with online advertising?

Robin Good: You need to select a topic on which you are very competent, or passionate about and verify whether there is a market of products, services and advertisers behind it. To verify that, simply search on Google for a few keywords relevant to your selected field of interest. If in the search result page you do see advertisements appear above the main search results as well as on the right side column, then that tells you that your selected area of focus can be indeed monetized.

In other words, if you did the above test, you now know for a fact that there are advertisers in your area of interest wanting to talk to avid passionate readers interested in their stuff. Your role as a potential independent publisher is to generate unique valuable content for this audience, and place yourself in the ideal position to relay to your targeted readers (since you focus on a very specific topic) the very advertising and commercial information messages advertisers are waiting to deliver.

Besides Google AdSense contextual advertising program, you should look into the Amazon Associate program and the many different monetization opportunities that it now offers. Check out Chitika, Adbrite, Blogads, and the many other content monetization opportunities available out there. Consider selling on-demand print books, DVDs, e-books, and even promotional merchandise by leveraging the power offered by services like or Open an online store and fit it with the very best products and tools you would have in a brick and mortar store at zero cost to you with online services like

And there are more. Unfortunately I would need to space of a full article to talk only about other online content monetization and making money opportunities.

Considering that most sites still make most of their revenues by placing highly intrusive traditional full-size banners on top of their pages, I think there are tons of other, more interesting, less distracting and more useful ways to leverage reader monetization opportunities .

Andrea Genovese: Thank you Robin. Before closing this long conversation, and took a few pictures next to Adrian Tranquilli's Batman, do you want to tell me who is the Nottingham sheriff?

Robin Good: The bad guys? Who are they?

In general, I think the bad guys are all those who don't pose themselves serious questions about themselves and life. They go on watching too much mainstream television, reading newspapers, running the same daily routine over and over, and not being able to snatch out of this looping mechanism that appears too "enslave" way too many of us. An endless run to try to make enough money to pay everything at the end of the month and with the "tacit" dream that one could one day then live the life sHe had really wanted.


If we are to change things, we are to change it from the inside.

People's minds today are so busy, so distracted, so numbed, they can't even ask themselves anymore the right questions.

Add to it, web 2.0, new gadgets and technologies and there is an ocean of individuals that is just floating above the real issues and what should matter to us all, if we are to make our future a sustainable one.

Yes. Many of us have lost track the reasons for stopping and asking the right questions. Business and profiteering is now often done at the expense of some other individual or group just like you.

Corporations have gotten a business soul of their own, and where the interest for making money has surpassed the real motives for working and creating new goods, we invisibly become victims of our own money-making greed.

The consequences of this at the social, economic and ecological level are disastrous.

It is for these very reasons that it is very important for me to show and help others learn how empowering knowing how to use these media can be for them. Through the Internet individuals who have something to say, knowledge to share, great stories to uncover, can potentially free themselves from traditional work slavery, while learning, sharing value and finding like-minded people working in their same direction.

This is why helping others realize that they too can become economically "independent" through the Internet is so important.

It is important because it will be the voices, the ideas and the actions of these small individuals that will self-coordinate to become the real change-force of the future.

Inside and outside the corporate world.

Maybe now you better understand my tagline: be smart, be independent, be good.

Andrea Genovese: This machine you have built is a really nice toy Robin, apparently simple, and of which you talk so openly with me and my readers.

This is quite rare... thank you Robin.

Originally written in Italian by Andrea Genovese for 7thfloor. Translated, updated, edited and revised by for Master New Media on Dec. 7th 2007 and entitled "AdSense And Robin Good: The First Italian To Earn His Living From Google - The 7thfloor Interview"

Readers' Comments    
2007-12-23 22:59:22


Hi Robin,

Supercool interview.

I find personal stories & experiences much more interesting and useful than raw tech news. Keep up that way.

2007-12-15 08:39:23

Robin Good

Hi Kasper,

yes that is true both ways. Lots of textual ads mean that the topic you have searched for has a lot of advertiser competition.

AS an advertiser that means a tougher route to get visibility, while for an independent publisher like me it means more opportunities to monetize that topic via contextual advertising and direct sponsorships.

2007-12-14 16:03:12

Kasper Sorensen

Hi Robin, interesting interviews indeed. I was wondering if you do a search on Google, and it returns a lot of textual ads on the right hand side. Doesn't that suggest that your are in for some really hard competition in regards of driving traffic to your site via those keywords?

2007-12-10 11:34:21

James Bruni

Great interview. Well deserved coverage. Robin, you are a true Italian revolutionary.

posted by Robin Good on Friday, December 7 2007, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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