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How quickly after starting a blog should I put ads on it?

A number of readers have asked the above question in the past few weeks and so I thought it was time I shared my own approach to the decision of when to start running ads on a blog when launching.

There are two dominant camps of opinion on this question – both of which have things going for them:

1. Run Ads from Day 1 – The basic thinking behind this approach is that if you’re thinking of running ads at some point you might as well integrate them from day one. The reasons include:

  • Reader Expectations – starting a blog with no ads and then adding them later means running the risk of disillusioning readers whose expectations are that the blog is and always will be ‘ad free’. Some readers feel very strongly about this and to change the rules mid stream can cause problems. Start with ads from the beginning and you set the expectations from the start and don’t have to manage a transition from no ads to ads later on.
  • Consistent Design – running ads from the beginning of your blog means that you design your blog (or have it designed by a blogger) with ads already integrated into it. This means that you don’t need to do a redesign later on to add ads but already have them built in.
  • Earnings – my first blogs were ad free for almost 18 months before I discovered AdSense. While in the early days I didn’t do massive traffic I was doing some and those blogs could well have earned a little money each day. Of course a little each day for 18 months can add up to a significant amount. Put ads on your blog from the start and you’ll begin to see money from the early days. it might not be a lot but you might be surprised.
  • Ad Optimisation Education - run ads on your blog from day one and you begin a process of educating yourself about how to make money from advertising earlier – you also get your blog optimised well from the start. Most of us learn best ‘on the job’ rather than by just reading ‘theory’ or experiences of others. The great thing about starting early with advertising is that you can experiment and try different techniques without too many people seeing the mistakes that you make a long the way. This means that by the time the traffic does role in you can have your ads optimised well already – something that’s sure to pay off.

2. Establish Readership and Then Run Ads – This argument is basically that if you put ads on your blog from day 1 that you potentially turn people off your blog because it will look too commercial or too much of a money grab.

The thought is that you can gradually add advertisements later once you’ve established a sizeable readership and Search Engine presence.

While I understand the reasoning behind bloggers taking this approach I don’t use it myself. For the reasons I’ve outlined in the first approach above I tend to add ads from day 1.

Having said this when I do this I tend to take a pretty subtle approach with ad placement and design in the early days. You can see this with my AdSense placement over on my newest blog Digital Photography School where I use a blended approach and limit the number of ads per page to 1, unless it’s a longer page where I have two.

This may well change as the blog establishes it’s readership (currently it’s sitting on around 1000 visitors a day). In the months ahead I plan to introduce a purpose built professional design to that blog and will use that opportunity to reposition ads in a slightly more prominent position where they are likely to perform a little better. In the mean time however they are there and readers know that they are a part of the site – they also have earned me a nice little income from day one and have taught me a thing or two about what does and doesn’t work in terms of placement and design on this blog.

Ultimately the decision to add advertising to a blog is one that can only be made by an individual as they look at their blog’s goals. My approach will not work for everyone.

When did (or when do you intend to) add ads to your blog? How did you make that decision?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. I’m in the camp of adding ads to your blog from day 1, which is what I did for my blog. I did this for basically each of the reasons that Darren mentioned, however the most important reason to me was probably the advertiser education.

    The sooner you learn how to optimize your ads (which I’m not even close to yet but I’m getting there), the better off you’ll be in the long run if you are serious about making money in my opinion.

  2. I added them from Day 1 for me, basically for all of the reasons that Darren has outlined above. However, out of this reasons, the main one I was looking at was learning how to optimize your ads. While I have a long way to go in this area, I really feel that if you are planning to make money from your blog you need to be testing and learning as soon as possible.

  3. JeremiahB says:

    I agree with the day 1 approach. It’s better to get the kinks worked out with a small audience and have things going smoothly when you have more readers.

  4. A.B. Dada says:

    The biggest downside to trying to monetize from day 1 is if you try to over-monetize and your first readers look at it as splogging.

    How many readers come because they also write on the subject, find you via a blog search engine, and then won’t trackback to you from their blog because of your over-advertising? How many readers will come, see ads, then see your archives don’t exist, and never come back? How many readers will tell others if you’re focusing more on ads than on content?

    I think, initially at least, you’re better off NOT monetizing your latest articles and just throw up ads on the oldest articles in your archives. If you’ve been writing for 2 months and have 40 pages of content, put ads on the original 10 or 20 and leave the latest ones un-monetized. If you continue this until you actually have regular reads and content, you’ll gain more readers by NOT looking like someone just out for a buck.

    The positive gain here is that when you do monetize everything, your readers will be used to the ads on the older articles and may not even notice the change.

  5. I added ads to my blog right from the start (or actually 10 days after the start). I agree with the reason of Reader Expectations – that adding ads later on can scare off readers.

    My main concern with running a blog with ads is that the majority of my readers read my posts via RSS feeds where I do not have any ads.

  6. Dave Dash says:

    I debated this when I started my technical blog. At first I watned to use it as a jumping point for services and an update site for my web apps, but then I decided that I should add some ads tastefully. I figure, later on I can trim some of the ads, but people will go to a sight for content, not ads or lack thereof.

    Although I must admit being intrigued by ad-free sites, but not enough to make me favor those over others.

  7. Ross Runkel says:

    From Day 1 is better, for the reasons Darren gives. If you have useful content, then ads are not a distraction, and they often provide readers with other relevant resources.

  8. CypherHackz says:

    I decided to sign-up for adsense after one of my friends told about it. Hmm…about after 5 or 6 months after I blogging, I submit the apllication for the adsense.

  9. Netwalker says:

    In my blog I expected to have a good amount of daily visitors (500 daily toook me 6 months) to put the ads.

    And it didn’t affect the visits in my blog, I have been increasing the daily visitors since I put the ads.

    In the near future I’ll start a new one, and I’m planning to be with ads since day 1. So I’ll have some point of comparison.

  10. Joe says:

    Hey Darren,

    As a novice, I started just using affiliate ads (that’s how I actually started blogging).

    Once I grew up a little, I got rid of those ads because I was just pushing their program, not writing content.

    I think that some new bloggers would not want to use ads just because of the splog thing. I know that is how I felt with the affiliates I was affiliated with. Now, I just use ads that are relevant to my site.

    If I knew then what I know now, I would have started with something like adsense because the ads are directed at your content, not your content directed at the ads.

    Joe

  11. Joe says:

    Hey Darren,
    I just wrote a comment, and it didn’t show. Don’t want to repeat myself so I’ll just say, if I knew then what I know now, I would have put “real” ads on my blog from day 1.

    Joe

  12. Bah, my connection screwed up and I thought it didn’t post the first time, so I tried again. Feel free to delete one of my two comments above =).

  13. Ohad says:

    I’ve also put ads in at day one reasoning that ads should be tested before the masses start hitting my blog (that hasn’t happened yet) and should anyway be blended into the site’s template so as not to be obtrusive.

  14. I implemented ads a month after starting my site, when traffic was relatively low. I now think that they are quite subtle to the ‘average’ user and in no way impact usability – so I’m more than happy with them.

  15. truongn2 says:

    I would prefer the ad on the 1st day because your audience know what to expect.

  16. WTJ says:

    day 1 too.. as some readers might feel that you’re actually blog for money (which we are) if your blog before is ad-free

  17. I put them in from day one, usually. If you’re worried they’ll turn off readers, I’d be much more worried about turning them off on day 180 than one day one.

    Also, it’s not just ad education – it’s a baseline and an indication of how the site will do compared to others. I expect the traffic to increase, but the average CPM on AdSense the first days tends to be a good indication of future earnings.

  18. Pewari says:

    I put in ads after 3 years of blogging. Not totally in the plan from the start :)

    I’ve been fairly anti-ads up to now, but seeing that it can be done subtly and unobtrusively, and can be relevant I’ve gradually been won over (no small thanks to sites like problogger for hints and tips).

  19. I also put ads online from day one. I won’t start a new blog without ads already positioned, in fact.

    While I didn’t get a single check for several months after starting blogging, and indeed didn’t even get enough traffic to think much about optimizing the ads in the beginning, I’ve learned a lot since then. Now other bloggers ask me to help them optimize their AdSense layouts.

    If I hadn’t had ads on from the very beginning, I would have missed the opportunity when I got my first real surge in traffic — after having written a post a year ago almost to this day — to monetize the blog. I made $9 that month (I wrote the post near the end of the month), $82 the next month, and it’s been steadily climbing ever since.

    If I hadn’t used ads from day one, there’s no way to count how much I might have lost.

  20. Martin says:

    and then there is 3rd option, add ads at the beginning because you got a huge readership base immediatelly after the start :) 13 000 visitors on 3rd was very good for me ;)

  21. ynse says:

    I also put ads from the beginning. I risk loosing many readers by having not much of a content and few ads here and there, but I believe that good and timeless content should atract people for a long time. Ads may scare them away – posts may get them back.

  22. Ben says:

    I thought about adding ads from day 1 but I chose not to because I want people’s attention focused on the business around the blog. The blog is there to drive traffic to the business, and I thought that ads would distract from that.

    I’ve only recently added 1 small ad, mostly as an experiment to see what happens. So now I’m attempting to monetize the blog after it’s been in existence. Of course the blog’s only been there since January so it’s almost as if I’m doing it from day 1. I don’t think the ad I’ve got there will distract from the focus of the blog, and the goal of driving traffic to the business (rest of the site).

    I may do more with ads in the future, but since the blog in and of itself is not there to make its own money (at least not as it’s #1 purpose) I don’t want to overdo it.

  23. Jason says:

    While I am writing about creating multiple streams of income in the internet age, I did not want people thinking that I was using the blog to generate income rather then as a forum for educating people on how to create additional income streams on the net.

  24. Andy says:

    I put ads on my blog from day one. They’re pretty small so I don’t think they’re very distracting. I make pretty good money from adsense considering how little traffic I have.

  25. Fendi says:

    It’s much better to add ads right after you built your site..Mine I added after a few days to make the visitors get used to it..But I didnt really pay much attention in my ads coz I was still doing lotsa works like codings and posting..I just started putting mch attention when I started having good traffic..

  26. I think there´s absolutely no problem you put ads from day one. You will not become rich but at least you can understand in this way how this business works and be prepared to earn more money you will have more experience (and visitors specially…)

  27. myblogclub says:

    I don’t see any advantage to waiting before you put your ads up.
    —————–
    myblogclub.org: http://www.myblogclub.org
    —————–

  28. Louis says:

    I added ads from day 1 but I don’t have enough visitors to have a CTR yet, therefore, the negative CTR on that new blog has probably an impact (smart pricing) on my other more profitable sites at least theorically May was a better month than April in Ads revenue but then I added content on my profitable sites too.

  29. Rob says:

    A reader above mentioned visitors hitting the content through RSS; this veers slightly off the topic, but it puzzles me why people don’t just go ahead and monetize their own feeds.
    It seems people are waiting for a big player in the industry to bring out a product like Adsense for feeds before they make the move to monetizing their own feeds, which they have every right to.

    Basically all that needs to be done is put your ads (affiliate links, banners or whatever) inside a display:none div in your posts.
    The rss feed won’t read your style sheets so the ads display in feed readers but not on your site itself.

  30. Coopz says:

    I have just started a blog and my thinking was more along the lines of, what would it hurt to put up some ads and then learn how to use them correctly.

    There was a time when I was tossing up whether or not to go with the advertising but my curiosity won out in the end. I just had to see what the fuss was about.

    I have no readers currently but it is interesting to see the differences that my posts make to the ads……….see I am learning.

  31. I have had an ad-free blog for a couple of years (preceded by a homepage!). I don’t run ads on it because I feel it compromises my consulting business. However, I recently started another blog that does have ads. It’s new, so I just slapped up some ads and I haven’t made the site pretty yet. I just wanted to get used to my Adsense account. The ads are pretty obtrusive right now, but I will address it soon. I don’t trust sites with ads everywhere and I doubt visitors would either. But I had to trade off to learn a little about optimization. I think that period’s just about over.

  32. Must Love Goblins says:

    I’ve always had better luck getting free links to sites that aren’t commercial, so sometimes I wait to add ads until I’ve done some link building. But more than that, it just doesn’t seem worth it when there’s only a handful of visitors a day.

  33. Lea says:

    I always put advertising on a site from day 1, if I intend it to run advertising at all. My main motivation is reader expectations.
    But, I generally only put on a thin adlinks (per Adsense) strip in while the site is very young – I think too many advertisements while the site has little content is… well, in bad taste!
    A side benefit is that the progress of the site is very easy to monitor through URL channels on the adsense site.

  34. Thilak says:

    I prefer to put ads from Day one too, because if you put ads later we may loose readers.

  35. Kashif Aziz says:

    I have placed ads on couple of my sites here and here from day 1. The response is good on former and low on later.

  36. I think if you are planning to place ads on a site then you might as well do it from the start to avoid the change in viewers minds later on. Maybe just start with smaller or fewer ads and then build up over time.
    Also, you may find additional advertisers as time goes on instead of just adsense. Sometimes it seems fewer ads works better anyway.

  37. A LOOK FROM THE OUTSIDE

    the first time i visited Problogger a few weeks ago, i spent 10 seconds, then left.

    Eventhough the content is what i was looking for.

    The reason, Ads. I even mistook your resource at the top for adds.

    That’s how people outside the Problogging circle think, now that’s no problem for you because probloggers are your audiance,

    but i don’t have ads on http://30dayartist.com , because i think it turns readers away.

    Not only are the readers of 30dayartist new to art, sometimes they are even new to blogs. So i’m fighting a hard fight, but your blog has helped me be in a better place to do that.

    The reason i’ve subscribed darren, is

    1.because many of the blogs i read link back here, so the ads soon became invisible:)

    2.the education i got from, http://copyblogger.com, that made ads more acceptable to me. I was so ignorant, I dismissed some very good blogs because i saw they had ads.

    hope i’ve been helpful:)

  38. fmsra says:

    I did not wait.

    I was not sure how to use those Adsense adverts at that time, and thought that I should do it before people come to my page.

    I don’t see how it impact or help with getting readers there.

  39. Candy Addict says:

    Day 1. I thought the site might make a little money, but wasn’t sure – I figured it couldn’t hurt to try.

    Brian

  40. Daniel Fluck says:

    It sounds like there are really only ProBlogger’s around here and no greenhorns just starting. When I launched my blog this February there were so many things to think of whereas putting ads up and running was definitely not the most important thing to do.

    Platform, tools, content, writing, layout, technorati, statistics and so on and so on. Maybe if you are already an experienced blogger day one is ok. Otherwise I would say this takes to much effort and you just distract yourself from the more important stuff like good content.

    I still have no ads and I’ll wait till I get a reasonable amout of daily visits until I start with them.

  41. Giovanni says:

    Hello Darren,

    I started my blog less than two months ago, and 5 days after starting, I applied for an AdSense account.

    I did not wait any longer because I wanted to blog for social, communication and business purposes, so the commercial ads provided by AdSense fit perfectly into the game.

    Also, I really believe in the freedom of expression (otherwise, why blogging?), so if I feel that something is appropriate to the action I am performing, then I’d better express it, without being too much concerned about traffic results, don’t you think?

    Thank you for your continued blogging efforts,

    Giovanni

  42. Leroy Brown says:

    I implemented adsense from the beginning on each of my sites, to varying levels of success. One in particular ( http://www.greenllama.net/smartphone ) has been performing quite well, while another performed quite poorly. I ended up removing all advertisements from the poorly performing one, as it was not a benefit in that case.

    I’m glad I implemented ads in the beginning, so I could gain the experience, and learn what does / does not work. While far from an expert, I do have some better ideas now than when I first started.

  43. Lefty says:

    >”How many readers will tell others if you’re focusing more on ads than on content?”

  44. Bald Man says:

    I’m in pre-launch on a new blog right now, and I plan to run ads from T-0. In fact, I’m being very up front about the use of ads. Honesty and forthrightness are top on my list of values.

  45. I am in the camp of adding adverts straightaway. Apart from the consistent design thought, I also think that seeing a gradually increasing advert revenue can encourage the blogger to write better and better articles.

  46. Simon T says:

    I started with no ads, and wasn’t planning to introduce them for quite a while until I had some traffic. Then after only a few weeks of blogging, and only a hundred or so visits in that time, I suddenly had around 6,000 visits in one day. Wish I had put the ads on sooner. Will I ever get that many again?
    Now I’m off to sign up with adsense, or someone.
    (The traffic spike all came form stumbleupon, by the way).

  47. Dee says:

    I recently (2 days ago) started a blog providing information, tips, and advice for independent trainers, consultants, and contractors.

    I, from the start, included ads on my blog for a couple of the reasons you mentioned above (1) My readers (when they do come:-)) will know what to expect each time they visit (2) I won’t have to redesign the site later for ad placement.

    With that said, I’m a fan of showing all from the start. We’ll see if that’s a good thing or not in about 6-8 months:-)

  48. James Kesn says:

    I did start to put ads when my blog ( http://www.atheex.com ) opened, but the real question you should all ask yourself is:

    When do I start to optimize these ads clicks!

  49. Darren I think we should put Ads from the first day. If we do not put Ads from first day then it may happen that later if we start putting Ads, tweaking their placements and appearance, it may annoy the visitors. But if we put it from beginning then we have ample amount of time to tweak our Ads (Basic Placements not performance tweaking). What do you say?

  50. I agree with doing it from day one. I would be pretty ticked off if I was enjoying a nice clean site for weeks, than bam ads thrown in. It is nice to know ahead of time. This posting is good information, I am considering adding a Blog to my site.

    http://www.G-bags.com

    Peace.

Trackbacks

  1. Jason Haley says:

    Interesting Finds: May 31, 2006 AM edition

  2. [...] How quickly after starting a blog should I put ads on it? [...]

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  4. [...] Further Reading: I expand upon this topic a little in a previous post – How Quickly After Starting a Blog Should I put Ads On it? [...]