Why do I have AWS free tier charges?

The short answer: you left a light turned on somewhere in the world. Turn them all off and you're done.

The longer answer:

  • The AWS free tier covers you for one (1) machine running all month. If you leave one machine running all month, and then have a second machine running for a day, you will pay for that day.

How to incur AWS Free Tier Charges by Mistake

There are 2 easy ways to do this by mistake:

  • You are testing multi-server deployments. With 2 servers running, your free tier is just half the month. The second half of the month will cost you about $15+VAT. As soon as you turn on a second machine you risk overrunning your free tier quota. If like me you accidentally leave 3 or 4 machines switched on for most of a month, then your 'free' tier has suddenly cost you $50.
  • The second is that you have machines in more than one region. Your typical console view hides shows only one region so you can easily forget that you have machines switched on elsewhere in the world.

How do I stop it?

Turn off your machines with Right-Click — Terminate in the EC2 Management console.
If you're repeatedly spinning up test machines, don't forget to do this every-time you finish work.

Google AdSense and Amazon Affiliates

It takes about 30 minutes to get started with google adsense. For the cost of some space on your website and some effort to get the code in you can for little effort earn ... well, possibly peanuts per year depending on the popularity of your site.

But I don't want grotty adverts on my site! I hear you cry. Quite right too. By default google makes its best effort to work out what your page is about and serve relevant ads, but you can also restrict ads by keyword. Google text-only ads are not very intrusive and you can specify an exact colour scheme to match your site.

If you want more control over what you advertise, a better plan might be joining Amazon affiliates, which allows you to advertise a specific product on Amazon's site. That, or go into business yourself.

Of course the fact that I mention these two big names is yet another example of the winner-takes-all nature of internet business: the bigger you are, the bigger you get.

WordPress blocks Affiliate Links? (Close but no cigar)

iframes, WordPress, affiliate networks

One of the difficulties with wordpress is the security restrictions which blocks iframes. Thus, including this iframe:

<iframe src="http://rcm-uk.amazon.co.uk/e/cm?t=cafeencounnet-21&o=2&p=20&l=ez&f=ifr&f=ifr"></iframe>

may result in a blank space thus:
Empty Space!
instead of :

You could have run afoul of one of these gotchas:

  • If you're wordpressing on a hosted service, security restrictions may simply stop you doing it. Not much you can do about that except move.
  • You may have AdBlock or some other ad blocker switched on in your browser – and hence block your own links! Right click on the page and see if you have 'Block an ad on this page' and "Don't run on this domain" in your menu. Choose "Don't run on this domain" to exclude your own site from adblocker. Similarly with other adblock technology.

Why would you want to have iframes on your site? If you're an Amazon affiliate, or part of some other affiliate network (google affiliate network, doubleclick and a host of others) then your link to the network is usually via an iframe or a javascript tag.