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When Should I Put Advertising on My Blog?

In this post Daniel Scocco answers to a question by Warren:

I started a blog about Professional Lifestyle a little over a month ago. It already has gotten 16,000 visits, has almost 100 subscribers and has a google page rank of 4 (somehow). Should I put up advertisements at this early stage?

Ah, the ever controversial question of when should one start to monetize his blog. If you ask 100 bloggers what they think about it, I am sure you will get 101 different answers.

Instead of trying to come up with a definitive answer, or a fixed number of months that you should wait for before bringing up some ads, let’s just evaluate the Pros and Cons of monetizing a blog early in the game as opposed to waiting a longer period.

Before getting on with the arguments, though, we need to define what is early and what is not, right? I would say that an early monetization strategy is one that inserts ads on the blog from day 1, up to 6 months of its existence. That is, if you plan to insert ads after 5 months, that would still be considered an early monetization strategy for the sake of our discussion. Anything over than 6 months will be considered a long term monetization plan.

Pros of Monetizing Early

1. Your readers will know what to expect
If you bring ads early in the game, all the readers will know that apart from the joy of writing, you also expect to earn some money along the way.

2. Might contribute to the credibility
If you manage to get some respected companies as sponsors, or if your banner ads look really professional, the credibility of your blog might increase. All the major portals and mainstream websites have ads around, so a first time visitor might even think that your blog is more established that what it really is after seeing the ads.

3. Increased motivation
Different people get motivated by different factors, but you can’t deny that getting some money for expressing your ideas and sharing your knowledge on the Web is pretty exciting. Sitting in front of your computer day after day with the need of coming up with quality content might become a burden for some people, and the money factor might help them to stay consistent and engaged with the blog.

Cons of Monetizing Early

1. Some readers will get annoyed
Whether you like it or not, most Internet surfers hate ads. Sometimes they will bear with the annoyance: if the content is really good, and if they have been visiting a site for a long time. Guess what, with a new blog you probably don’t have that many loyal readers, so the ads could actually make you lose potential ones. Even if your content is top notch, some first time visitors will not give you the benefit of the doubt. As soon as they see the ads jammed around they will go somewhere else.

2. Might hinder your success with social media
Users of social media sites like Digg or StumbleUpon can sniffle a “let me load this with ads to make some bucks” websites from miles away. If you are planning to use social media to promote your website on the early stages, the presence of ads, especially too much of them, might hinder this strategy.

3. More difficult to find your voice
Blogs are all about conversations. Many people read blogs, as opposed to traditional mainstream media, because they want to see the facts from a different angle, with some clear opinions mixed once in a while. That is, they want to see the voice of the author of the blog. Defining your own voice is particularly important on the first few months, and bring advertisements might work against this objective. Some people, for example, might conclude (wrongly or not) that because you are running ads right from the start, your goal is mainly to make money, and that you will write whatever you need to in order to achieve this goal.

Pros of Monetizing in the Long Term

1. Focus on growing the blog exclusively
As soon as you bring sponsors or AdSense on your blog, you will start spending time and energy tweaking the ads, thinking about how to increase your earnings, managing the advertisers and so on. If you decide to go ad free for the first few months, on the other hand, you will be able to focus exclusively on the content of the blog and on its promotion.

2. More time to figure what monetization method will work better
If you start playing with advertising and sponsors after 6 months or so, you will be in a better position to evaluate which monetization methods will work, and which are not suitable for your audience or content type. Bloggers that start with ads early in the game, on the other hand, constantly switch between AdSense, CPM ads, direct sponsors and what not, mainly because they don’t know their audience well enough.

3. More monetization options
Apart from having more time to understand your audience, a long term plan will also open the doors to more and better monetization options. With a new blog that has small to average traffic levels, for instance, it would be difficult to find direct sponsors or to get accepted inside high paying ad networks.

Cons of of Monetizing in the Long Term

1. Some readers might react down the road
If you start your blog without ads and keep it that way for a long time, some readers might think that they finally found a pure soul that does not to want to get corrupted by the bloody moolah. Guess what, once the ads start popping in they might consider that you sold out, and some criticism will appear (Robert Scoble knows a thing or two about this…).

2. Money left on the table
If you decide to go without ads in the beginning, and after a while your traffic starts to grow consistently, you will inevitably wonder how much money you are leaving on the table.

3. Design problems down the road
Bloggers that start using ads from the beginning will probably design their blog or choose a template that is suitable for their monetization strategy. Bloggers that use a long term monetization strategy, on the other hand, might find down the road that their layout is not really compatible with ads. As a result they will either be forced to redesign or be limited in the monetization options.

Over to the readers

When do you think a blogger should start monetizing his blog? Is there a rule of thumb for all blogs, or it must be evaluated on a case by case basis?

Daniel Scocco is the author of Daily Blog Tips, and he is currently running a Blogging Idol contest. If you want to compete with fellow bloggers to increase your RSS count, check it out.

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Comments

  1. Roger says:

    I personally started out with no advertising and gradually added
    as I grew.

    I think I already have all the advertising I want. I’m using Adsense,
    Bidvertiser, Amazon, and WidgetBucks.

    I also think the tendency is to overdo it.

  2. I agree with Ingmar de Lange on this. Although in circumstances of larger, well known sites, it makes sense to advertise… it makes more sense to offer a small portion of your site’s content at a price… or request donations… your loyal readers will most likely be happy to donate to you.

    Doing something like this is no longer complicated at all… and there are services on the web that help you do this for free. For example Ingmar’s company… and also FatFreeCart.com which is a free copy-paste shopping cart and BuckDrop.com.

  3. amelia says:

    well aside from writing some stuff its also a good thing that you earn also coz you deserve to earn for yourself.

  4. Daniel says:

    With my blog it started out on wordpress.com so I was not able to anyway. A year and a half later I moved over to self hosting and this year started with adsense ads and was instantly surprised at the amount of money that was coming in.
    6 months later it has made the whole site in my opinion look more professional and has payed for the cost’s of hosting already so that has made me happy.
    In August the site will turn 2 years old so now i just need to think of what the next venture might be. Private sales? I dunno about that though.

  5. Honestly, I think that if you are going to have advertising you really should have it from the beginning in at least some form. I think everyone that surfs the web has gotten to the point where they do expect some sort of ad on a page. Just make sure not to overdo it and that it is tasteful.

    -Alfred

  6. Misssy M says:

    I came to the very agonising decision to unleash the Adsense onto my site, The Misssy M Misssives a couple of weeks ago. Reasons?

    My blog is starting to get really popular, I’m being mentioned in national newspapers, climbing up blog charts and a post of two has been selected for publishing. People started to ask me why I didn’t try to make money from it. I started to think the same. And I even talked to my accountant about it. He thought I was mad not to take ads!

    I also figured that since I earn my salary from freelance writing (mainly commercial/e-learning and educational) and radio shows that I should stop thinking of my storytelling personal blog as being separate from that. I thought I was being naive by thinking of the Misssives as a “hobby”.

    I took the plunge. Only one reader has openly thrown a strop about it, but I wonder how many others have thought I’ve sold out. UK blogs rarely carry ads- UK bloggers are really snippy about ads on blogs. Yet look stateside and they ALL have ads. No-one has a problem.

    Dooce could give up her job because of ads on her blog. And Dooce writes a personal blog. So I don’t think just blogs with targeted, specific content had the power to earn their writers money.

    Yet, I still feel uneasy about it. Part of me thinks I’m being enterprising, but another part worries that I’ll drive my UK readers away.

    Yet if the content stays good, why should I worry? Eh?

    And also: why shouldn’t bloggers make money? Everyone else does!

  7. Misssy M says:

    I forgot to say: I was two years in before I put ads up.

  8. Dee Langdon says:

    I’ve been blogging almost a month now. It is so fun! I put ads on my site from day one also. My thinking was that the ads are a part of my blog and although some ads can be annoying, (flashy or noisy or worse-popups! – which you will not see on my site) I don’t know any sites that do not have ads. And being a BloggerNewbie, I didn’t really give it much thought that ads were a question, they just were.

  9. I say you can monetize (through ads) your blog as long as you keep it tastefull and it doesn’t take away from the content. I use Google Adsense to advertise on my blog, I keep it tasteful, and I’m able to pay the hosting costs through advertising. Beyond that, I’m not concerned about makeing money.

  10. Oh yeah, forgot to mention that I’ve been blogging for 4 years and have about 250 subscribers and an average of roughly 1,150 visits per day, and growing.

  11. dag says:

    Seems like the general consensus is that we all like the idea of making money from our blogs, but we want to do it tastefully. I’ve enjoyed most of the comments to the original blog. I’ve even learned thing or two, so thanks to the community for sharing.

  12. Austin says:

    I put ads on mine from day one. A lot of sites have ads on them and I dont find them that annoying. I dont have a lot so its not over the top.

  13. I put ads on the site from almost day one, and they make enough to pay for hosting if I choose to switch from blogger (which i will). I think people are used to seeing ads, and there is really no problem with having them as long as they don’t take over your site.

  14. Amir Helzer says:

    Like others said here, I think is mainly depends on the purpose of the blog.

    If you have a blog that’s mainly used as a product announcement, like our business blog, there’s no room for any advertisement in it. Even if it doesn’t make it look cheesy, you’ll still be advertising your competitors, when your visitors go to read YOUR news.

    However, if it’s a content site, which is the same thing as a TV or radio show, people take it for granted that there’s some advertising around. As long as you don’t trick people into clicking on ads as organic contents, it’s a healthy thing to do.

  15. Uncle Che says:

    Believe me or not. At times, the ads are just for fun. I earn less than $5 per month, yet i still keep the ads. ha ha ha

  16. Rebel Zen says:

    I think it is important to start any blog with a clear plan of where it is going to go. If it is the sort of blog that is going to have ads eventually, you should try to incorporate them into the design as early as possible.

  17. Teri Tynes says:

    I started my blog nearly a year ago, and soon after, I added AdSense. I would agree that the ads, discreet as they are, gave the blog a certain legitimacy. Because I write so much about New York and for an audience interested in the city, the relevant ads – hotels, restaurants, tours, etc., add value to the site. I didn’t earn too much in the first several months, but with the year’s growth I’m seeing a definite move. I’ve also recently set aside just a tiny budget for a focused AdWords campaign, and I can now see a boost in traffic that I think will help in the long term.

  18. “corrupted by the bloody moolah” HAHA….

  19. BS store says:

    “corrupted by the bloody moolah” HAHA….

    agreeeeeeee…all about moneyyyy

  20. MarkOlson.ca says:

    Why not advertise from the gettie up pony … if it doesn’t look too out of place? I am not a blogger who slaps adz all over because I need money type of person … I have a job and make money … and enjoy blogging for kicks and giggles and whatever else it might do for me. Maybe it has something to do with one’s expectations … and I don’t expect to make any money. The ads are more about giving the blog … this might be important or popular kinda look.

    I place adsense on my site … because it was incorporated into the theme … and doesn’t look that bad. In fact, it looks kinda good AND more importantly goes with my … i don’t advertise theme I was doing in my youtube videos.

    That is just my 2 öre.

    – mholsonproject

  21. Amol says:

    I think that if you put google ads on your blog , not many people would click on it…and the credibility of the blog would also reduce.

  22. I just started my blog, howigotajobinorangecounty.blogspot.com, about a week ago and am not sure when I should start to monetize it. I have thought about it however. Maybe it’s time I start to really consider it.

  23. Nathan says:

    I like the strategy of using ads in the short term as long as they are well picked and placed. I had some problems with that on my own blog and as I continue to learn more about monetization I understand the importance of building a brand and a long term strategy over short term pocket change. Good post.

  24. Tracey says:

    I put google adsense on my blog from the beginning. I have three blogs, and in a month or so, it told me which one to keep and the other two I gave up on.

    I have about 5000 page impressions now, and 10 subscribers (learnt about that part just in August). I am looking for ways to make money on this site. It’s page ranking is 2 million something, so I am slowly climbing down. Thanks for the article.

    I agree, if you have ads, you should have it from day one so that people know what to expect, if your blog suddenly changes, might turn some people off!

    T
    http://www.hooponoponoworks.blogspot.com
    http://www.lovablecanine.blogspot.com

  25. MySite says:

    I put google adsense and amazon on all my sites and racking like $500 per week.

    Just put them, you never know…

  26. uwak says:

    too many consideration…….just put and get the money….haaa, thanks

  27. Daral says:

    It is very good strategy of using ads in the short term as long as they are well picked and placed. This post is a Good .

  28. I started out with no ads and slowly as I learned about them started adding them. I was fortunate to check out BlogHerAds one day when they were accepting new blogs. This is my most prolific earner to date. I think you just have to decide what you want to do, and do it. I think it’s silly that people wouldn’t read my blog just because I have ads on it. I spend enough of my real life trying to make everyone happy so on my blog I practice just being me, without trying to please every single person that visits. Can’t be done, no sense trying. This was a very helpful post!

  29. Silence Nogood says:

    For goodness sake we live in America and the idea of not monetizing your blog seems silly. I think if someone is investing time putting together a blog there is no reason that they should not be compensated for it. In fact there are many blogs were I find the ads more interesting then the commentary.

  30. I’m all for monetizing early. Your readers will know what to expect from the start. Though, it’s pretty much accpeted these days.

  31. mary says:

    Is it possible to get a blog free and put your own ads on (not google adsense) as i thgought it would be easy but i am having trouble finding a blog that will let me do this free. Any suggestions as i don’t really want to pay but i will if i have to.

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