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How Much Traffic Should a Blog Have Before Running Advertising

Speed-Postingiamluc asks “How much traffic should you have to offer advertisements on your blog?”

“When should you put advertising on your blog?”

Funnily enough I’ve been asked this question four times in the last 24 hours so it’s probably a good time to answer it.

Before I answer the question though – let me say that there are numerous approaches to this question and if you ask a variety of ‘pros’ you’ll get a similar variety of responses. Here’s how I do it:

I put ads on my blog from the day it launches (actually they go in before it launches). My reasons for doing this largely come down to two reasons:

It’ll earn you a little bit from day 1 – even if it’s a dollar or two a day that does add up to a few hundred dollars a year and I don’t know about you but I don’t mind a few extra hundred in my mortgage at the end of the year.

It gets readers used to ads – most people who don’t put ads on their blog early on tell me that they make this decision because they want to build readership and community first and add ads later.

I understand this on some levels, they don’t want to put off new readers with advertising, however I’m a little skeptical how many people are put off by websites with advertising and wonder if there could actually be more problems when you change the rules later on and introduce ads onto a site that people have become used to being ad free.

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?

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. Thank you Darren.
    Creo que es mejor poner las cosas claras desde el inicio. (is better to set the rules from the start)

  2. Lulu says:

    I was one of the askers, and Darren replied very kindly. My issue is that I’m so pressed for time that I can barely keep up with generating regular posts, so I was wondering at what level of traffic I should invest the time to research advertising. The post Darren linked to above was very helpful for me. I came away from that post with the following answers to my question:

    1. With a new blog a good option is to start with just one add and not worry about placement too much. I can do that without spending a lot of time on it.

    2. Since there are arguments both for and against starting ads early on, I shouldn’t worry too much about it, and just do it when I do have some time.

    3. When (and if) I start getting triple digit daily traffic, I can think about really investing some time and thought into monetization.

  3. MrCooker says:

    I recently started with blogging, and decided I use advertisement on the blog from the start.

    And like Darren mentioned. If my blog grows (which I hope it does) my readers will be used to them.

  4. I just put up this new blog, I’d seen the argument about working on your content and getting a good readership first and well it sounds right in some sense.
    But for me I just felt I wanted my readers to get used to the look and feel of my site right from the beginning.
    I wouldn’t want them visiting at some point and seeing ads up that weren’t there before.Just doesn’t seem like something that’ll go down well with a lot of people.
    So for me its not about the extra cash ( not like there’s a lot of that ) its about maintaining the consistency of my site’s look and feel.

  5. Bash Bosh says:

    Well, i think that anyone anytime can run own advertisement plans on their blogs. It’s not really matter if you run self ads on your site at beginning or later.

    You will get customers if someone finds it useful or good. It can be now or later. So i recommend to make advertisements plans for your site (at beginning not too expensive) at beginning. You have nothing too lose anyway!

    Note that more visitors to your blog means also more potential customers for ad spot on your site. While your site grows, you can easily rise the price.

  6. Ryan McLean says:

    I start using ads early, mainly because it starts to create some cashflow from day one (however small) and when you want to become a full time or part time blogger cashflow from your website is a must have.
    So I would definately advertise from day one…just maybe don’t put one million ads on your page at first. Try not to let it get in the way of content too much

  7. Brad says:

    It would certainly be nice to have a dollar a day in revenue for a blog, I run 4 fairly new ones and barely make that.

  8. For me it’s day one, and there’s not even a question about it. I don’t care if the little AdSense monsters make me a whole lot of money right off the bat or not. The blog is going to have them eventually anyway, so I might as well put them up there and get an idea of how it all looks together. At the same time, of course, I’m helping my readers get used to them.

    The only thing I see changing over time is the type of ads we’re running. Right now I only run AdSense, but that’s because I have not found reason to put a lot of resources into that part of the business at this rather embryonic stage of it all. I started blogging again a week ago, so there’s certainly other areas where my energy is better spent at this point. As traffic grows, though, some of the AdSense units will definitely get axed in favour of other types of ads. On our bodybuilding blog – which to a degree is fairly product oriented – we’re probably going to keep having quite a lot of AdSense (but coupled with other stuff), but on the other two blogs I see myself moving to other types of advertising and possibly eliminating AdSense altogether – at least from one of them. Nobody knows what the future holds, of course, but at least that’s the plan I have for these babies right now.

    Depending on the type of blog you have, I don’t think advertising on it is really going to be harmful at any stage as long as you do it correctly. It might even be beneficial in a way: a new reader to your blog (and remember, not all of them are bloggers or know much about blogs or other types of websites) may subconsciously decide that she is visiting a professional website seeing as there is advertising on it. This may again subtly influence her to be more likely to spend more time there and / or return or even link to it. As long as the design looks professional and the content is well written, I think there is a definite possibility of this occuring. After all, we humans make subconscious decisions all the time, and in this case someone might simply assume that a website with ads is a website with traffic – after all, nobody bothers to put ads where nobody sees them, right? And if the page gets traffic, it probably does so for a reason. And what others do, we tend to do, and hence the reader may (subconsciously) decide that the site is worth spending some time on. After all, all these other people seem to be doing it. :) This is just a theory, but considering how the human mind works I actually don’t think it’s too far fetched. Therefore: ads may very well serve you in more ways than one. :)

    (Regarding the the fascinating ways we humans can be influenced to behave and think the ways we do: Read Robert Cialdini’s “Influence; The Power of Persuasion.” It’s a terrific, fascinating and even practical book, whether you are a salesperson, a leader, a consumer or – perhaps – even a blogger. My above theory relates to the ‘Social Proof’ section of the book. Check it out.)

  9. Akilies says:

    I totally agree with Darren. Start advertising from day one if you are going to advertise at all. People will get used to seeing ads and I don’t think it really turns them off.

  10. boostranks says:

    My view is ads from adsense after you have 40 hits per day, I *think* if you try and sign up too early to adsense and don’t generate enough traffic, they might suspend your account. Or might not allow it to start with.
    That’s for your very first site. After that, it depends on the type of site, if you intend to put ads on at some stage, then put them on from the start.

    I also spent time optimising my sites for (adsense, or other) ads, and my (adsense or other) ads for my site to ensure a decent ctr.

  11. I agree with Ryan above. I would not want any ads to get in the way of your readers (keeping them off to the side) and I also think starting with ads gives the blogger a chance to learn about advertising statistics from the beginning.

  12. Frugal Dad says:

    Like Darren, I doubt many potential readers have been chased away by advertisements. It does help to keep them in the sidebar and not too flashy, but anything within those parameters seems to be fairly acceptable. I wish I had monetized earlier because as Darren said, even a dollar or two a day adds up over time. In the very beginning I didn’t pursue advertising because I figured it was a waste of time. I was wrong, and probably a couple hundred dollars poorer because of my pessimism!

  13. I was using ads at day one. Here is why:

    1. Like Darren I believe changing the rules later is risky.

    2. When your readership is very small it is ok to rearrange the layout of your blog, and ad placement requires a lot of rearranging. Better to change layouts at the beginning than later.

    3. Legal issues: think about all of those Flickr pictures you grabbed that were not supposed to be used for commercial purposes… uh oh… Now you should really go back and change them, or notify every photographer you borrowed from.

    4. It takes time. Adding ads latter will take time, that you may not have, because your readers are expecting a post a day. To get ads up you may have to sacrifice your posts.

  14. Lightening says:

    Lulu – I totally agree with the conclusions you’ve come to.

    I made the mistake of not really using advertising to begin with and when I went to add it, I made the additional mistake of asking my readers their opinion. Doh!!! Of course people prefer to read sites without ads. I think ads really can detract from the appearance of a site. BUT, since I added ads to my site, I haven’t noticed a decrease in my readership or comments or anything like that.

    So, I tend to agree. Even if it’s just a simple affiliate graphic, it’s a good idea to start with some kind of advertising sooner rather than later. It doesn’t have to be EFFECTIVE advertising necessarily. Just there so it’s considered a “normal” part of your site.

  15. Lightening says:

    I forgot to add – I also think it’s a good idea to build up gradually. New sites that are plastered with ads put me off too as it says the blogger is interested ONLY in making money from me rather than a more balanced “give and take” relationship. It’s still got to be about balance.

  16. Gary says:

    I’ve been holding off on runnings ads. I do believe there is a negative to ads, especially for sites which plaster them everywhere.

    I’ve been slowing adding ads, at the bottom to start, and then moving them up.

    I think if you have good content, your readers will understand and not object to ads.

    I’m holding off on serious ads till i get 750 RSS subscriptions and 500 viewers per day.

  17. Lulu says:

    Lots of informative comments here. Reading through them, I’ve realized that there’s two versions of the question at hand:

    Q #1: “How soon should a new blog carry ads?”
    and
    Q #2: “How soon should a new blogger put ads on their (obviously new) blog?”

    I’m a new blogger, so I was actually asking question number 2. Between the techie details of installing WordPress, plugins, themes, etc, and the continual effort of networking and posting, I just haven’t had time to also look into ads. It may not be particularly difficult, but it’s still hard to find the time.

    Once I’ve got some more experience, then yes, I’d probably run ads right away on any new blog I started. Which is the answer to question #1 that Darren and most of the commenters have given.

  18. Lulu says:

    @Lightening

    Thanks for the reassurance and some additional ideas!

  19. Rajaie says:

    Putting ads on your website isn’t something you should do sneakily, there is absolutely no problem with earning money with your site as long as you are working hard on it and providing good content.

  20. I think these days just about every website has some sort of advertising no matter how small or large it may be. I believe we are used to ads in everyday life from the magazines we read to the TV we watch so why not on the sites we visit.

  21. Michael says:

    I had ads on my blog from day one, but I am glad that on any given page I only have two ads, one 468×60 ad and a single text link in the sidebar (a link to amazon with my affiliate code in it).

    I am actually almost offended when I look at some blogs (like TechCrunch) that are just COVERED with ads.

  22. Jimson Lee says:

    With the exception of pop-ups for email opt-ins, I find most users are blinded by the ads, and don’t mind at all, as they just want the free content or videos.

    On a paid site or paid forum is a different matter.

  23. I never considered the whole “getting use to it” concept, but I like it.

  24. Luc says:

    Thanks for the quick reply Darren. I’ve put up adsense since I launched my blog. My blog is pretty new but it’s getting attention to the design community. The traffic I get is not much, about 7000 unique visitors a month. I’ve been receiving some advertisement offers but I was thinking if I accept to place their ads on my blog, do I have to maintain or grow the traffic? Since my blog is really a personal blog, I don’t work much on marketing or promotions. The traffic I get really is from design galleries where my site is listed as well as other bloggers who blog about me. Should you give guarantee to the advertisers?

  25. When you have traffic and you have many devoted readers you can make your site full of ads.. look at John Chow’s site and many other sites..

  26. Tom Hanna says:

    I generally use ads from the start and I have one other reason for doing it. Professional ads, like Adsense or Yahoo Publisher Network, actually add credibility. When people visit the Washington Post website or Yahoo or other big publishers, they see ads. There’s an implicit “endorsement” when people see “Ads by Google” or “Ads by Yahoo,” which is one reason why some publishers are rejected for the network and others are booted.

    Properly done, having ads also says to the average reader that the publication is a serious professional effort, not just an amateur “diary” about the topic. Most average readers don’t check Alexa ranks or visit every page of your site to see how far back your posts go – they look at the content they were searching for or the page they followed a link to. Having advertising gives the impression of a mature, or at least complete and professional, site.

  27. Brad says:

    If ads are getting in your readers way, then you aren’t probably putting them in the right spots. Darren did an excellent post back in December on ad placement. http://www.problogger.net/archives/2007/12/10/wheres-the-content-positioning-ads-on-your-blog/

    Boostranks> They don’t suspend your account for lack of traffic. After I flipped my old blog I went for more than two years without even accessing my account much less having a single page impression and the day I started up again last fall with just a trial blog it was there waiting for me.

    Lightening> as a reader why do think you should be getting something for nothing, which is what content without advertising amounts to.

    Michael> Why offended by ads, do you get pissy when you go into a store to look at something and find they have thousands of other products they are trying to sell you? I am trying to understand what your offense is here. The same question I asked Lightening could easily apply to you as well.

    I am going to agree with you Jimsom that most people are not going to see the ads unlike 13 years ago when I was designing for a living. Back then no one wanted to see any advertising on the web even from corporate sites for their own products. Most site owners were too stuck on how great they were for putting up a site that no one else’s name should ever grace it, much less put advertising on it.

    Now though the web is just like any other medium of information out there. Advertising adorns it because you as the reader are getting something for nothing. 15 years ago if you wanted the kind of tips on building readers or showing yourself to the world you bought newspapers, journals, newsletters, magazines and books or watched on cable tv all of which cost someone money. Seeing advertising is simply the trade off you make

    I also agree with Tom that ads give you the credibility of at least trying to be serious in your efforts rather than having some vanity blog that hearkens back to the days of old when anyone with a geocities website thought they were a webmaster and knew it all.

  28. Fabien says:

    Darren, this has always been a bone of contention for me. I’ve tried and tested with several different forms of advertising on the blog, but sometimes my love for the community just gets the better of me and I remove the ads.

    I think that I will definitely have to do something about getting some ads in some long term positions very soon. The problem with me, is that I rarely give an ad the chance to succeed, I keep changing them around and I never actually allow them the time to convert.

    I will be changing my motto now, given your advice, and I am going to try and find some quality ways to monetize the site and make them stay there for the long haul. I appreciate your advice on this matter and as usual, your answer was quick, straightforward and very easy to understand.

    Being a teenager, it does not make life any easier at all. I am only 16 years old, and most big companies out there have an 18+ policy – so I rarely bother applying. That being said, I’ve successfully been granted access into a few companies, now I need to find offers and ads that will convert well with my clientelle.

    I also need to bump up the traffic and popularity of my blog, I am certainly doing better than last year, I’ve moved from a couple of hundred uniques per months to a couple thousands – which is great improvement given my time constraints. Thanks again for answering the question Darren.

  29. Lara Kulpa says:

    What I’d like to add to this is that putting ads on your site isn’t about just throwing up some AdSense from day one and then readjusting later on once you have traffic and so on.

    These things need to be PLANNED OUT.

    If you’re thinking that someday you’d like to have the 125×125 box ads, put them there NOW, but instead of putting “advertise here” on all four or six blocks, put up affiliate links to related programs or products. The reason for this is two-fold: It makes it look like you already have advertisers, which might entice new ones, and it also prevents ad-blindness because when you change them out for new ads, people will take notice. Remember, images are very important in blogs and design when writing posts, but they are also important on sidebars and overall blog design.

  30. Fadzuli says:

    It’s better to be rewarded than no rewards at all. That is how I look at it. At the end of the day its still the content that the readers will look at.

  31. Planet Berry says:

    Format is very important. Consistent look and feel is very key from a marketing perspective on the site. But content (CTPM) is the ultimate answer. We practice 30 Pages of Content (web site example) before we monetize a site. Then we have a base and in most cases (if we follow the process carefully) we have viewers. So from a blogger perspective you can think of 20-30 topics of well written (human readable) themes as a goal.

  32. Darren, I’m with you on this one. When it’s your creation there’s no need to be ashamed about running ads on a blog or website from Day 1. Also, for all those bloggers who use Entrecard, they are already doing free advertising. Why not make some extra money with monetized ads?

  33. Farfield says:

    Actually I read a post on Zen Habits that adviced not to put a lot of ads on your blog in the beginning, just so it will look more friendly and I must admit, whet I stumble upon a blog with a lot of ads and just a few or uninterested posts I’m very sceptical and I wonder why this blogger is doing it.

    I took the advice and removed all ads from my blog. Of course I like the look of it better when it’s ad-free, and I didn’t really get clicks on my adsense account, so for a few cents, I’d rather have a clean blog.

    And I think when your blog becomes more popular, readers will understand it when you activate the ads again. Especially if you just are honest about it and tell them why you do it in a post.

  34. Pentad says:

    I see everyone’s point on the day one thing. I started out with Adsense. I just don’t see how advertisers are going to want to advertise on sites with low traffic.

  35. Planet Berry says:

    Key to the success of any blog or web site is traffic. The bids per page/second is going to be much lower for sites with lower PR than those that have advanced in popularity. We went ad free with planetberries.com for about 30 pages or so and then added them to our look and feel.

    Looking back I think I should have waited to hit the 100 visit per day minimum (sustained). But now my ad dollars per day is improving nicely (no retirement yet).

  36. Brad says:

    Pentad> With adsense it is about page impressions. A person who sees your ad on at 2 hit a day blog is just as likely to click on it as they are one that receives 20,000 hits a day.

    In retrospect they might be more likely to follow an ad out of a 2 hit a day blog in fact if there is nothing else of interest on it.

    Farfield> Most of the time you see that particular advice it isn’t because they have your best interests at heart. I just wrote a post on that bit advice actually. So to avoid me saying something I shouldn’t to a few people I I am bowing out of this one.

  37. I’ve found a compromise:

    I don’t run Google ads on “current” pages. The ads start when the page is five days old.

    This might not work for everyone, but I get a lot of search engine traffic on my older posts, so the ad income is significant. By not running them on new posts, my regular readers don’t have to see them.

  38. Rajeev Goel says:

    Darren,
    Great discussion. I tend to agree with you that it makes sense to set the tone from the start by having advertising on your web site.

    At PubMatic, we’ve found that direct ad sales are one of the strongest revenue creators for a web site, generally much stronger than ad network sales (no surprise there of course). So it’s good to put ads on your site early on as you never know when even a small advertiser might want to buy sponsorship on your web site. If you don’t have ads up, then advertisers will assume that you won’t accept any.

    If I can now make a shameless plug – we recently beta launched the PubMatic MediaKit widget to PubMatic publishers. We partnered with Alexa, Compete, and Quantcast to gather data about millions of web sites and package that up in a ready to go media kit widget. Just open a PubMatic account (free) and drop a few lines of javascript on your site (free) and you have an instant media kit to attract advertisers. Check it out at http://pubmatic.com/publishers/mediakit.html

  39. This is an excellent question — I have a further, follow-up question: all of my ads (see my blog http://adsensestrategiesadsense.wordpress.com) are “concealed”, by which I mean they are clickable through blue bits of text either within my post texts or in my sidebar blocks. I am doing this to avoid the look of being too commercial (I also believe I read that text links are far more successful than banners, etc., for attracting clickthru). Do you think this is a good strategy.

    Thanks for this blog. I will certainly be coming back (curious about the Mom blogs post for one thing!)

  40. al says:

    Great Blog Darren: Traffic is key to advertising of course, readers need to be accustomed to seeing advertising on your site or blog, it can also help build brand awareness.

  41. I totally agree about putting ads up on the site from the beginning. You got to set expectations for people. If you get a following because you don’t have advertising then there are going to be some problems whey you do start advertising. In short, set the expectations from the very beginning. I just started and I just created “advertising looking” links to get people familiar with the site design

  42. shea says:

    Darren,
    I agree. You get used to seeing something as a reader and if its add free it’s a turn off if all of a sudden they are there, but if they’ve always been there, then it’s not even noticed. It’s a kind of psychological conditioning. Although I’ve never made it yet to a pay out, I have adds on my blogs, even this one that’s newer.
    I’d like to see you do a quite long post on all of the different add programs and which are best. I know you’ve done one before, but there are so many knew ones and plus you could put links up in the post where you might get credit for it.
    Have a Happy New Year!!!

  43. sassy says:

    I am just starting up a really interesting blog but it deals with adult themes – I am a lapdancer. Many of the advertising options say they can’t go on mature content pages ie; GoogleAdSense. How can I get around this?

    I don’t want porn adverts, just normalish relevant ads.

    Ideas?

  44. Linda says:

    Most readers are so used to ads they tend to ignore them. I certainly do I’m more interested in the postings and taking part in discussions.

  45. Korikkar says:

    Hi,

    But, google adsense for instance will require your website to be active for atleast 6 months. So, a beginer like me will have to wait till a good blog is built to attract adds.

    Thanks
    Korikkar

  46. HappyMedium says:

    Hi,
    I just put my blog up 2 weeks ago, and have only had one visitor who also has a google blogger spot. I applied for adsense immediately, and immediately saw ads on my blog that were relevant to my blog content, which consisted of about 3 posts at that point. Visit me at http://themodernwife.blogspot.com/