It is now about 3-4 years ago that I started the Beamtic website, and doing this time there has been both ups and downs in AdSense earnings. As far as I remember, I used to reach the payout every third month or so — briefly I even made it to every other month — but this was when I was also in the YouTube Partner program. These days it is more like every fourth or sixth month; earnings has just plummeted for no apparent reason.
This year I made 34% less than last year, and when comparing 2019 with 2018 I see a similar drop in earnings. I miss logging into my AdSense account and seeing a positive change.
Some time ago I also had technical problems with blank spaces showing instead of ads, and possibly also ads not showing due to a broken GDPR implementation; I never really established if these things had a negative impact on my earnings, but now that I fixed those bugs, it is strange that earnings has not normalized or increased.
I think the question is this: is it even possible to make money with Adsense in 2020?
I know some people must be doing it. The problem is, we probably need hundred of thousands of visitors per month to make decent money, and it is not easy to attract visitors to a largely unknown website. A decent article might attract between 1000-2000 visitors per month, but the majority of my writings, even when well-ranked, might only attract a few hundred visitors at best. High-traffic content pieces are rare and tend to be far-between, and also tend to rank lower with time.
The truth is, you are most likely not going to make money on "just blogging" in 2020. I am not making money on Beamtic — I am actually loosing money at the moment.
The internet is now dominated by small "tutorial" websites, and many of them are not even very good ones. Some have simply copied information from other websites, and others will only contain very short "reference" type of articles — but they will still be ranked higher in the search engines. I have noticed a few larger Indian sites like this, and they are often full of spelling errors, and build with simple CMS platforms like Wordpress.
Should you create a blog?
Blogging is not something you do to make money on ads. The business model is just not very realistic. You could still create a tutorial site, but the problem is that there is already numerous of such sites; including "wiki" pages, official documentations, and small personal websites.
The process of reaching compliance with GDPR, and even Google's own terms, can be so expensive that you will loose thousands of dollars on this process alone. There are plugins to popular platforms to help you, but you need to be sure that you understand the technical aspects, and that they are actually implementing cookie consent mechanisms properly.
If you do manage to reach compliance — maybe because you are a developer and can do everything yourself — then you still need a very high amount of monthly traffic to make money. My AdSense account typically generates around 10.000 views per month on around 600 articles; it seems a lot of my visitors are disabling ads somehow, since my actual visitor count is much higher (according to my server-side stats). But, the number of views I get also seems to be decreesing, and that is despite publishing a lot of new content over the last year.
If you plan on creating a tutorial site, then you can expect it to be your full-time occupation, with almost no reward in terms of visitors or making money on ads. It just does not seem worth it anymore.
Besides these low-quality spam houses, you also got to compete with Q/A sites like Stack Overflow. Unlike what one should think, these sites are actually not really "competitors" in a typical sense, since they belong to their own category, and provide users with a different service. A lot of the time, sites can also co-exist without being direct competitors; but nevertheless, Stack Overflow does compete on some level, and their users are not afraid to plagiarize your content and re-post it as responses.
AdSense better suited for community sites?
This is pure speculation, but I have sometimes wondered if the best sites for AdSense are more like Q/A type of sites, where you have your users create the content instead of doing it yourself; I always disliked the idea of profiting on other peoples content, but the idea might not be so far-fetched..
Google used to be very strict about what types of content they allowed. I remember getting in trouble just for owning a blog that had a few spam comments on it. It forced me to manually approve all comments before allowing them on the blog, and it cost me a lot of time implementing a comment approval system.
These restrictions has since been loosened up a bit, but it might still effect earnings negatively if a user has posted spam on a page — so we probably still want to manually approve everything.
Alternatively, we could get users to moderate our website, but that is probably going to be difficult; I mean, how do you even convince a user they should help your site?
If we can create some way for users to interact more with our sites, like commenting on articles or voting on polls, then we might give them more of an incentive to come back and spend more time on our sites.