With adsense you are basically being paid by businesses to send traffic to them. Yes Google sends you the check but ultimately the real person paying out the dollars is a business using advertising through adwords. Google gets a nice slice out of that pie and controls everything (including how much you make and whether they want you to continue making it). You don't get to set your price and terms. You are entirely at their mercy and the businesses that ultimately pay you are paying through their nose for clicks while you get pennies.
In addition to that unless you are very fortunate you work for a long time while making VERY little IN THE HOPE that once you rank a number of sites you begin to be paid by businesses for your rankings.
It strikes me that the difference between doing SEO for businesses as I do and the adsense guys isn't that huge when it comes to who pays us and why.
Its the same kind of business owners ultimately writing our paycheck.
The main difference is I work directly with the businesses that want traffic from Google in the organic listings. I set my fees. I generally get paid upfront or very soon to proving myself to the business owner. Google might influence me by where their algo makes sites rank but they can't terminate me. If I deliver results for these clients they tend to stay with me for a long time.
I have no sites to setup.
I don't have to setup most of my customers content
I can't be terminated from my entire business.
I get paid better.
I get paid faster.
I can increase my income with a few more customers.
and if I rank 20 30 sites I don't have the reward from google that my sites all get banished from the program but instead I improve my reputation among the same business owners and get more jobs.
Many people trying to make adsense fly would make more money by getting clients at $199 a month and start making it in a week to a month or two.
Sure there are guys making tens of thousands doing adsense but most of those are not doing MFAs and frankly for everyone making good money with adsense there are 100 and probably more making nothing but pennies.
So know SEO enough to rank sites and choose adsense? maybe you are just being suckers. Why not learn to go straight to the business owners themselves who pay the bills for both of us and cut out the middle man boss Google?
based on the points above adsense is a TOTAL waste for most IMers. Even Affiliate marketing is more versatile. There I said it and I can back it up because its the pure truth.
PLEASE NOTE: I am not saying that doing SEO is the only viable business model outside of adsense. I am merely comparing them because of the similarity of who is actually paying for both models - businesses looking for traffic.