It’s going on several weeks since the last update — a few of you have no doubt been following along on my hiking blog, now carefully targeting the needs of Bay Area hikers. Any day now, a few Bay Area hikers will show up and start putting it to good use.

One thing I experimented with was adding Google ads to all my pages. The income was so trivial — two bucks a day if I was lucky — that I had to confront the fact that the time spent fiddling with my ad settings worked out in such a way that I was essentially paying Google to put the ads on my pages. Not a complete waste of time, but very near it.

It’s not that all my hiking and picture taking and blogging wasn’t turning into a paying proposition: When I showed all this content to the head of the features department at the paper, she promptly put me to work writing a hiking column for the entertainment section. A month’s worth of hiking columns equals a year’s worth of Google ad revenue; only one of them involves walking in the woods, so which would you choose?

The difficulties entailed in making money off online ads are stunning, and depressing: an advertiser, on average, is willing to pay is $4 for 1,000 ad impressions (an approximation of how many times an ad will be seen by an actual user). Say you’re a college-educated professional earning a good living in a place with a sane cost of living, and you make $4,000 a month. You’d need a million ad impressions a month to make the same money from ads on your blog. That’s 30,000 readers a day if you’re selling only one ad per page; sell five ads per page and you can get by with 6,000 — still a far, far cry from the 200 folks a day stopping by my hiking blog.

People do make money blogging, if they work very hard, zero in on popular topics like celebrities, porn, politics or technology and never take any days off. The market tells you the dollar value of your efforts in unsparing terms: zero if you can’t draw a crowd.

I was much happier blogging for free because I could write what I wanted, whenever I wanted, and take weeks or months off with no consequences beyond continued obscurity; I figure hey, if I was going to get rich and famous by blogging it certainly would’ve happened by now.

So, let the rest of the blogosphere fret over shaking loose a living from this. I’m in it for my own amusement and nothing more.