A beginner’s experience of Google AdWords

Most of my transcription clients are from Japanese universities. Right now, it’s their summer holiday so things have been pretty quiet on the transcription front.

With the extra time that I’ve had, I decided to give advertising a go. It’s not something I’ve ever had to do before. Most of my work comes through word of mouth, friend of a friend type stuff. So this was something entirely new for me.

I ended up using two different approaches. Here’s my experience of them.

A one-off targeted ad

First off, I placed an ad with HotPod, an e-newsletter about everything podcasty – news, reviews, in-depth analysis. It’s a great resource and I read it voraciously. I’ve been listening to podcasts since I lived in China (that’s a damn long time ago). Me being me, I can’t like something without reading everything there is to know about it, so that’s why I’m a HotPod subscriber

The ad was a short text classified that ran in just one newsletter. I wasn’t hopeful – it’s a one-off display ad. However, I immediately signed up a new client which has turned into an ongoing gig. The return on investment has been pretty good in that regard.

Scattershot Google AdWords

If placing an ad in a newsletter was a whole new world for me, imagine what Google AdWords was like! Marketing is a whole skillset, and I admire the people who have it. But it’s a steep learning curve when you’re a stranger to it.

Having said that, AdWords has turned out to be surprisingly easy to navigate and use – after a few bewildering moments at the start – and in its own way it’s quite addictive. Watching which keywords attract the most impressions, monitoring click-through-rate, setting the daily budget, seeing your analytics increase. Well, it’s quite thrilling.

I learnt a pretty important lesson early on, though. Be careful about what keywords you use. I put ‘video’ in as a keyword for the transcription ad, and watched as pervy jerks clicked on my ad after searching for… well, pervy things. Each click costs me money, so I cut that keyword out.

The Verdict?

As fun as Google AdWords has been, it hasn’t yet delivered a conversion. The single well-placed targeted ad netted me a long term client immediately. Maybe that’s down to dumb luck, but I’d say there’s something to be said for a well-placed ad.

Sure, AdWords is not costing me very much, and possibly I need to finesse the ad and throw more money at it. It may also just be that it’s summer in the northern hemisphere, and all the people who might be shopping around for a transcription service are still at the beach.

I’m not going to put the ad on hold just yet, though, because I’m learning A LOT from it. And, me being me, I’m sure I’ll learn a whole lot more before I’m done.

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Nat Newman

Nat Newman is an award-winning writer of short stories, content, podcasts, feature articles, drunk text messages and, soon, a novella.


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