The Dry Creek Bed of The Revenue Stream

Dry Creek Bed

Let’s draw back the curtain on trying to make a living as a blogger, shall we?

I mean, let’s face facts. The idea that people would actually pay to come to visit a blog is kind of ludicrous, right? There is just so much good, free content out there. Why would anyone actually spring for some money to read a particular blog?

But ads…that’s a whole different thing, right? People put up with ads all day long, in various formats. Billboards. TV and radio commercials. Heck, pop-up and click-bait ads on their favorite social media sites. They are just a fact of life. So, adding them to a blog…well, that isn’t too bad, right? And if a blogger gets just enough followers – maybe this can turn into something that allows them to do nothing but blog all the time!

The Grand (Failed) Experiment

So, once upon a time, I monetized my web page. I hoped to maybe pay some bills and keep the lights on. A secret part of me also hoped to provide a monetary motivation to keep providing content to the blog readers.

A few months back, I received my first disbursement check from Google AdSense. It worked! was my first thought. Here was $112 for writing blog posts. Hooray!

Then, this morning, I received an email from Google AdSense that made me re-evaluate the whole thing.

“Your revenue dropped by 16%.” was the lead on the email. Curious, I opened the email to check the numbers. Turns out I had 5,363 ads shown during last month. Over 5,000! Wow! And this led to a total revenue of…

$4.59.

Yup, no joke. 5,000 ads viewed by my readers turned into less than five dollars in revenue.

Now, AdSense doesn’t give me immediate access to that money. Of course not. Because that would be too easy. I might go buy a latte with it or something. Instead, AdSense makes me wait until I have over $100 in credit “banked” with them before they will release a disbursement.

So, doing a little back-of-the-envelope math, that means my next disbursement will come in…

20 months.

So, yeah, in June of 2020, to celebrate my 50th birthday, I will have another $100 check from AdSense.

Swell.

The Painful Crunch of Numbers

Intrigued, in the “can’t look away from a car accident” sense, I did a little more off the cuff math.

What would it take, I wondered, to come up with a meaningful amount of ad revenue? Obviously bringing in a full-time salary of 50 grand a year or so was astronomically improbable. But, what about, say, enough to get a $100 disbursement every month?

Let’s look at the numbers.

Between subscribers, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, Misdirected has roughly 30,000 followers. I still think this is an amazing number, and I love every single one of you and wish I could buy you all presents.

But, those 30K followers generated about 5,000 ad views last month. Which turned into (rounding up) about $5.00 in revenue. I am making roughly a tenth of a cent for each ad view.

So, if I want $100 in a month, I am going to need 20x more ad views. That is 100,000 ad views every month.

Let that number sink in a minute.

But the numbers get more impressive. In order to get 5,000 ad views, I have to have about 30,000 followers. So…to get 100,000 ad views, I am going to need…

600,000 followers.

Just for context, a Youtube channel with 600,000 followers is making BANK. Like, “doing stupid stunts involving setting cars on fire” kind of money.

Whereas a blogger using Google AdSense with 600,000 followers is apparently almost making enough to pay the light bill.

Frankly, I am not sure there are half a million people on the planet interested in bariatric surgery and epilepsy stories.

The Final Conclusion

Short version: Google Adsense sucks as a revenue stream.

And this is why sites like Patreon have to exist. Again, THANK YOU to my patrons. Without you, Misdirected would not have hosting, backups, name registration…it simply wouldn’t be viable. And now I understand why Patreon allows subscription rates as low as $1 a month. I could make the same amount from 100 Patreon supporters as I could from 600,000 followers being filtered through Google AdSense.

I’ve bought ad time from Google in the past. I guarantee you I did not get anywhere close to 5,000 views of my writing from spending $100.

Somebody somewhere is making bank off these ad rates.

Apparently, it just isn’t the creators of the content where the ads get embedded.

Considering Standing On a Corner With A “Will Blog For Food” Sign,

  • Jeremy

The Truth Can Be Hard To Face

The Truth Can Be Hard To Face

Another day, another contemplation of an upcoming surgery.

That’s the funny thing about our health, isn’t it? You think you’ve got a handle on it, at long last. After all, my weight is down at the lowest point in decades. I no longer require a CPAP or blood pressure medications. I’ve survived my most recent bout with kidney stones. (Though that is a story in and of itself that I might revisit here at some point.)

And then you drop into the dermatologist’s office and are informed that the mole you wanted to talk about removing is actually a tumor.

Yup. Cancer on the face. How about them apples?

Darkness At The Edge

It started off pretty innocuously – a discoloration on my right cheek, right below my eye. It had been there for years, just another spot on a body covered with them.

Then, two years ago, it started to grow. Eventually, it stood out far enough from my face that I started seeing it in my peripheral vision.

It’s a mole, I thought. No big deal.

Finally, Lor had waited long enough and told me to go get it checked. I misunderstood her concern and assumed (wrongly) that its appearance was kinda grossing her out. I made an appointment with my physician. She took one look at it and told me I needed to see a dermatologist. I grumbled at the delay, took the referral, and made an appointment.

And, once at the dermatologist’s office, the whole tenor of the conversation changed. They needed to take a biopsy. It would take about 2 weeks to get results. After my procedure I would have to come back in to get checked over head to toe.

I left the office in a daze. I remember leaving the parking lot and looking over at Lor, and saying “Wait…so I have cancer?”

Covering Up

The next day wasn’t a good one. I spent some time feeling sorry for myself. I spent a LOT of time staring in the mirror. My face may not be much, but it is the only one I have. And the idea that some surgeon was going to be working on it with a scalpel and an ice cream scoop filled me with fear. I’ve seen the anti-smoking ads featuring survivors of mouth cancer, with half their faces missing. Was I going to go through the rest of my life with a gigantic hole in my face? Covering up the offending wound with a black cloth like a smallpox victim in the 1600s?

As it turns out, probably not. The tumor itself is supposedly not a “bad” one, as tumors go. It is referred to as a Basal Cell Carcinoma. They tend to grow slowly and not spread to other parts of the body. The technique they will be using for my procedure (Mohs surgery) removes thin layers of skin at a time. Those layers are placed under a microscope to look for viable cancer cells. If more are found, they do it again. And again. And again. Until they find nothing but healthy skin tissue.

Of course, they are also looking for non-basal cells at the same time. If they find any cancer cells of the two more serious varieties (squamous or melanoma), then my course of treatment will not be done with the surgical procedure alone. So, you know, a little extra tension to add some spice to the whole process.

At the end of the procedure, they stitch me up, leaving a small linear scar on my cheek. Which, if you’ve met me, you know will probably not even be visible or remarkable given the current condition of my facial topography.

Perpetual Preparation

While speaking with the nurse in charge of pre-op in preparation for my procedure next week, she commented on how calmly I was taking the whole thing.

I joked that the tumor removal was just another item on my “bucket list” of surgeries I wanted to complete in my lifetime. We both laughed. It was a grand jest.

But, seriously now – something ELSE wrong with me? Requiring yet another surgical procedure? Its as if the gods of medical oddsmaking are very unhappy with my stated intention to make it to 50 years old and are just starting to make shit up to throw at me at this point.

On the one hand, basal cell carcinoma is not that bad, as cancers go.

On the other hand, how many times am I going to refer to my latest medical condition as “not as bad as it could be?” How many “not so bads” does it take to add up to one life-altering crisis?

Well, apparently at least one more than I have contracted so far.

Piling On

So, between epilepsy, bariatric surgery, depression, and now cancer, I certainly have a surfeit of maladies to wrap my head around.

I keep asking Lor where I go to trade this body in for a new one. She keeps pointing out that the upgrade process would have to include my broken brain as well, which would just make me a different person anyway. True words, but not terribly encouraging.

So, instead of trading in, I am just going to have to do the best I can with the one I’ve got.

Here’s hoping that my next surgical procedure, my sixth in the last few years, goes as smoothly as the previous five.

We will keep everyone posted via FB and Twitter, as always. And then we will hope for a break between procedures. Is a year between surgeries really too much to hope for?

What’s One More Surgical Scar Between Friends?

  • Jeremy

The Silence of Success

No, really, I am alive. Honestly.

And I don’t mean to shut everyone out, either.

But Misdirected is going through an identity crisis. Let me tell you about it.

What To Say And When Not To Say It

So, the last few months have been insane. I’ve been through two surgeries (Bad.) Tomorrow is the 1 year anniversary of the release of Inheritance (Good.) Lor and I just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary (Totally, stupendously good.) And we’ve just gone through a major disappointment in our personal lives that has left us both completely fragmented (Very, very, totally, bad.)

And what, you might ask, does any of that have to do with weight loss, bariatric surgery, or lifestyle changes?

Not a darn thing, that’s what. Welcome to my problem.

The 30-second Update

A not insignificant number of people have asked: “What the heck is happening in your weight loss journey?” “Why don’t you talk about it anymore?”

So, for those looking for the update, here it is. As of this morning, I weigh 177 pounds. I am in a 34/36 inch waistline pant (depending on the manufacturer.) My resting heart rate is at 58 bpm, and my blood pressure is right around 120/80.

If those numbers sound at all familiar, its because they are the same numbers I talked about a year ago.

So, how am I doing this?

I am on a carb restricted diet of 60 grams of carbs a day. I drink between 64 and 128 ounces of water a day. I perform moderate exercise for 30 minutes or more at least 5 days a week.

So, yeah. Nothing has changed there either.

Do you begin to see my problem?

The Forum Fallacy

I have always been very suspicious of reviews of any kind on online bulletin boards or forums. The reason for my suspicion is simple: Only pissed-off people write on forums.

When everything is working correctly, no one bothers talking about it.

It is only when things go completely pear-shaped that people get riled up enough to talk about their experience. No one ever says that “Windows 10 is perfect and works perfectly 10/10.” No, only the people who want to say something like “Windows is garbage bill gates is the devil I am only giving this 1 star because I can’t give it negative umpty-quintillion” bother getting online to vent.

Without negativity, there is no drama. And, as a fiction writer, I can assure you: drama is what sells.

So…is Misdirected still a website about my struggles and experiences with weight loss when there is no struggle to report?

It bears thinking about.

Opening The Closet Door

Now, mind you, I’ve used Misdirected to talk about other things. Epilepsy, family issues, Depression…all have gone under the microscope from time to time. But at the end of the day, I am supposed to be chatting about obesity and weight loss.

And I simply have not had much to say recently.

I could, of course, prop open the closet door a little wider and let some of the other skeletons out into the light. But, seriously…is “Hi, I am Jeremy, and this is my life” really what visitors are looking for?

30,000+ monthly visitors on Pinterest tell me the answer to that is a resounding “No!” My #1 page on Misdirected is about working out after bariatric surgery. Close behind it is a page about post-surgery eating. Those two pages get thousands of views a month. That is what people come here looking for.

So, I have been quietly and methodically determining my next move. And, while I dither, the place has gone dark.

Turning The Lights Back On

So, with all that said, I will do my best to come up with a solution quickly. I may invite guest authors to share their experiences. I may design some new menus or exercise routines since those subjects seem to be very popular.

In the meantime, if you are struggling with your own journey through weight loss, remember that I am always happy to talk with you about your experiences. My email box is always open. Being part of a community is the #1 thing you can do to achieve your goals. That applies to most things in life, by the way, not just weight loss.

And, if you happen to have any bright ideas about the Misdirected transition, man, I would love to hear them. Some days I am inches away from throwing my hands in the air and returning to writing about video games.

At least then I would have something to talk about, right?

Looking For Drama,

  • Jeremy

 

Making the Bed (And Other Victories)

Making The Bed And Other Victories

For the last week, I’ve been trying to share a meaningful personal victory over depression, and have met with limited success.

I told a friend. They didn’t get it. “Doesn’t everyone?”, they asked me.

I told my brother. He didn’t get it. “Is that a…good…thing?” he inquired, hesitation in his voice.

So, I told my mother, but her encouragement is a given. I could tell her that I eviscerated a live chipmunk and she would metaphorically pat me on the head for what a good boy I have been. Right before she called a mental health professional on my behalf.

It seems that announcing “I made the bed three days in a row!” is not quite the watershed moment for the rest of the world that it is for me.

Rainbows and Unicorns

Last week, I admitted to you all that I have yet to get a therapist/counselor to work through my depression with. This is still true. I have gotten a referral to what I hope is a person able to deal with my idiosyncrasies and will be calling them for an appointment later today.

However, what has happened is apparently the Prozac has begun to kick in.

I will admit, I was expecting a more…dramatic result from the Prozac. I sort of had it in my head that there would be a period where my body got used to the medication. Then, one amazing morning, I would wake up and step into glorious sunshine, surrounded by rainbows and unicorns.

After all, that’s what happens to normal people every day, right?

Instead, I find that I’ve grown a little more stable. I am not yelling at Lor at the drop of a hat. Going outdoors is not causing me to burst into flame spontaneously. I wash the dishes without being prompted a half-dozen times.

And, oh yes, there is the subject of the bed…

The Bed, Unmade

Let me explain how depression works.

A normally adjusted person takes a look at an unmade bed and thinks: “I need to make the bed.” Maybe they get it done, maybe they don’t, depending on how late they are for work, etc. But the acknowledgment is there.

A depressed person takes a look at the unmade bed and thinks: “Why should I even bother to make that bed? I am just going to screw it up in a few hours anyway. Just like I screw everything else up. So what’s the point? In fact, I might as well just go back to my unmade bed and lie there…”

So, yes, the fact that I have been making the bed for a few days in a row is actually significant, though it probably doesn’t look like it to the untrained eye.

To me, a made bed is a victory. A small one, yes, but a victory nonetheless. It also represents potential. “If I can do this,” I think, “maybe I can do something else too!”

In the past week, I’ve completed a few things around the house, managed to get my professional life back off the ground, and even spent some time with my extended family.

All on the strength of making the bed in the first place.

Filling The Spaces

Of course, this is only the beginning of rebuilding a functional life after my depression derailment.

I still need to get back to regular posting here on Misdirected. Today will represent the first time I have posted in back to back weeks in a few months, so we will tentatively chalk that one up as “progress.”

But there are so many other things that I am going to have to start over on. it is literally tiring to think about. I haven’t been to a gym in weeks. I haven’t run over a mile in who knows how long. My personal trainer certificate hangs on the wall gathering dust, as the works I had intended to build around it remain unstarted.

And don’t even get me started on the subject of my fiction writing. I have probably not come up with an original idea since the beginning of the year.

So much remains undone, in fact, that I can actually feel the weight of them bearing down on me. There is so much, in fact, that I can feel the beginnings of a panic attack fluttering in my chest, just trying to comprehend how I am ever going to get it all done.

I just have to sit back for a minute and breathe. In through the nose, out through the mouth, practicing mindfulness, all the things the self-help gurus tell you to do that you are secretly sure aren’t really working. I am just going to have to remind myself that change happens incrementally, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and that all I can do is all I can do.

So, I’ll just wait with one ear listening for the sound of Lor getting out of bed. Then I can go collect my early-morning hug and kiss, and reassurance that someone loves me and believes in me, even if I don’t believe in myself.

And then, I’ll make the bed.

Not Looking Forward To My First Day Back At The Gym,

– Jeremy

PS: Five days left to go on my Epilepsy Birthday Fundraiser over on Facebook. Please consider it if you are looking for an important cause to support!

The Biggest Fire

The Biggest Fire

Yesterday, while surfing through unread Facebook entries, I came across an interesting post. My birthday is coming up later in the month, and apparently, I have the option of asking my Facebook followers to donate to a worthy non-profit in lieu of sending me gifts.

Now, mind you, I don’t think I normally receive birthday presents from 99.9% of the folks following me on FB. But, still, it seemed like a nifty idea, right? Get the folks who follow me on Facebook plugged into the cause that matters the most to me.

Just about then, a problem occurred to me: I didn’t know which cause mattered the most to me.

Which Fire Burns Brightest

Seems like it should be simple enough, right? Just identify which of the causes that I support and advocate for has had the most impact on me. But, how do I quantify the negative effect of the things I care about?

Epilepsy changed my life forever and placed me in the position of no longer being able to hold down a “real” job.

Chronic obesity crippled me to the point that I had to have 75% of a major organ removed to deal with it.

Depression is waging a war against my ability to actually accomplish much of anything in my day-to-day life. Many days, depression is winning that war.

So – which one has impacted me the most, exactly?

Or, put another way, if I had the ability to make only one of these issues vanish off the face of the planet, which one would I pick?

Suddenly, any answer seems fraught with peril.

Weighed In The Balance (And Found Wanting)

Epilepsy affects roughly one in every hundred of us. It takes us out of the driver’s seat of our own brain and turns the controls over to an internal electrical storm. In many cases (like mine) it requires a constant babysitter – tying up two lives instead of just one. It shortens our lives, kills us in our sleep, and ruins our quality of life. So, of course, I should focus on epilepsy, right? Seems like a no-brainer. (Hah!)

Except that obesity is killing us nationally.  Over 35% of Americans are obese. Some estimates suggest that, as a nation, we are spending upwards of 190 BILLION dollars on the societal costs of obesity annually. Do the math, folks: 325 Million people are spending 190 Billion dollars on obesity… That’s $584 per person, every year. Can you imagine what that money could do if it wasn’t being used on the societal costs of weight?

The U.S. trade deficit is 560 Billion, people. Just sayin’.

Yeah, but…depression.

It is killing us, slowly and silently. Around 7% of us are suffering from depression. Depression crushes our productivity and removes our enjoyment from life. And, in many cases, it takes our best and brightest from us too soon. It is stigmatized and misunderstood, And, yet, it is frequently successfully treatable. Getting us to sign up for the treatment in the first place is apparently the major hurdle. (I, for instance, have yet to make my initial appointment to see a counselor. Because reasons.)

So, yeah. Pick one. Go ahead.

I’ll wait.

Negative Paralysis

The problem is that the problems all look SO large, that it seems impossible to choose just one. And, in many cases, that means that we don’t pick one at all.

We go through life ignoring ALL of them, instead of taking a breath and getting to work on at least one of them. The paralysis of indecision keeps so many of us from doing anything about anything.

It is very easy to forget that we can’t solve all of these issues by ourselves. It takes collective action to tackle world-shattering problems. And if small groups of us can get motivated to each work on the issues that speak to us the most strongly, progress gets made on all of them.

The idea isn’t to fix the whole world. It is for each of us to leave the place a little better than the way we found it.

In that spirit, I am going to go ahead and select one. It may not have the highest societal cost, and it may not be the one with the clearest solution, but it is the one I’ve been dealing with for a decade and a half now: Epilepsy.

If you agree with me, awesome. Toss a buck or two in the plate for the folks at the Epilepsy Foundation. They remain one of the major distributors of funds to community groups, education, and epilepsy research.

If not, no hard feelings. But pick something, for goodness sake. The world needs your active involvement in tackling the problems facing it. This is no time to sit on the sidelines and just sort of hope that things will get better on their own. Because we all know how well THAT works in the long run.

Trying To Leave The World Better Than The Way I Found It,

  • Jeremy