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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. I have an adsense account, but I am not putting ads on my site at the moment. For me, there is no point earning pocket money. You should wait until your site is big enough to generate a decent amount of money.

    Also, Forbes recently approached me and asked me to join its blog network, but I don’t think that will work out. Most of the blogs in the network are carrying free Forbes ads right now and not earning a penny.

  2. I have been blogging for about a month now and am planning on putting a few of my own product ads at the bottom of my blog. I will see how this strategy works out.

    I have a freebie sign up form at the top of the page and not much else to clutter the site. Only time will tell. ProBlogger, will you comment on this if you have seen someone use a similar strategy? I’m always interested in what you have to say.

    Thanks,
    John

  3. But Google Adsense is magical because of its huge advertiser base. They never run out of ads..Also one houdl think of monetisation..as it can get you your basic investment back..like hosting and domain money..Plus if you earn extra..reinvest them to buy some blogging tools which can help you increase traffic as well as money..

  4. Robert Barr says:

    I remember a quote from Ken at Ars that it’s ‘perfectly acceptable to show ads for free content.’ As a business person, I feel that any venture needs to start paying for itself ASAP.

    Monetizing from day one made sense for me. While I blog for the enjoyment of it, the enterprise needs to cover its own expenses or it will cease to be an ongoing concern.

    BUT, it also depends on the type of blog you are trying to create so you have to measure the costs vs. the desired effect of the final product (blog).

    While I think most people will want to generate something for their efforts at some point in their blogs existence, I think the better questions to be asked are how much is too much advertising, and how to determine the most successful types of ads to run given a particular blogs content?

    Robert

  5. dag says:

    I’m torn, while I’m not here to make money from my blog, I can’t help think it could be possible. For now, I’ve gone real discret with the ads, and used the blog as a fund raiser for education, rather than a money maker for persoal gain. I get personal joy in blogging, and right now that is what is paying me, not the money.

  6. Shanel Yang says:

    My strategy is simple:

    1. Google Adsense up front.
    2. Wait till I get big enough till the advertisers approach me.

    I tried a few inexpensive things, like StumbleUpon for a couple of months and a month of advertising on a higher traffic blog, but I think I’m done with those for now. Focusing on quality content and comments on others’ blogs seem to work the best for my type of personal development blog so far. ; )

  7. I think that if you look at blogging as a business you could / should put advertising on from the start. But if you are blogging just for writing / fun or as you hobby it’s up to you if you want to get some money to pay your bills for serving (webhosting and so on) your blog.

  8. Paul William Tenny says:

    When do you think a blogger should start monetizing his blog?

    After they dedicate themselves to blogging would be my suggestion. The linked site hasn’t had a new post in almost 11 weeks, and only 3 posts since March. It is neither new nor active, so I think the best advice for Warren would be to go back to the basics before worrying about advertising.

  9. I would recommend focusing on the content for the first few months. That doesn’t mean not to think about monetizing, rather, you can give away the ad spots in a contest or for free, as I did on my blog.

  10. Rohit says:

    That’s definitely not a hard thing to decide over for most of the bloggers.Many bloggers(including me) need money and we bring ads very early into our blogging career.It’s money that’s running them….

    The pros&cons of monetizing in long term are pretty good(very well written),but,very few bloggers out there blog for satisfaction.

    Though the blogger starts with a pure soul,the world is here to spoil him as the temptation caused by “Money left on the table” point dances over him!!!.

  11. Chris D says:

    I would say once the blog has a good flow and has proven to be dedicated, no reason why it should not be an earner….

  12. Raag Vamdatt says:

    I feel that if you want advertisements at some stage, they should be there from the beginning. Two primary reasons:

    1. The ads and the ad space become a part of the layout. This not just means ease of choosing or designing the template, but also means that the users don’t have to adjust to a redesign at a later stage.

    You would have fixed spaces dedicated for ads, and a fixed place for content. And that won’t change after say 6 months.

    2. The readers would know from the beginning that there would be ads. No surprises later.

  13. Sangesh says:

    I think the advertisements placings that you have currently are also rightly positioned. You can, I think, add one more line of advertisement after “About” and before “most popular” & “inside”.

  14. I was advised by a mentor early in the process: Audience first, monetize later. I’m kind of keeping to that mantra. I’m part of one ad network, but I’m much more focused on great, unique content, utilizing youtube to promote videos and other activities that will draw in people and have them return.

  15. Edward Lomax says:

    I think of a blog kind of like a magazine… and magazines have ads. But I think there should be a balance between the ads and high-quality content.

    In the beginning, the focus should be on getting your blog set up correctly, posting high-quality content consistently and growing your readership. Then monetization comes into play.

    But I think ads are only one form of making money from your blog… and probably not the best on. Content that presells hand picked products based on your experience works well when appropriate.

  16. Slevi says:

    I usually introduce adsense ads relatively early, I’m quite pleased with the service and even though it doesn’t pay out in figures to really say wow! about or anything it also doesn’t look too out place. And well yeh, it pays for hosting + domain for one so quite satisfied with that.

    In case of something more professional I think it sort of depends on what you’re planning on setting up but some sponsors for financial backing at that time could definitely be welcome to get a head start.

    The best thing for me as well with placing ads in early is as you mentioned the fact that you can integrate it into the design and let your users know that the site will have ads. Personally also from a user’s viewpoint I find it much less problematic to stumble across a new site which has ads than one of the old sites which I was so familiar with, came by every day and was so used to the design to suddenly see an ad slammed into it. Especially in case it’s an utterly annoying overlay type of ad as commonly seen on the more “professional” sites.

  17. Pachecus says:

    My blog is growing every day, I have more than 50 email subscribers. Once I have arrived to 100 I’ll start to monetizing it.

    I’ think..

    Good Article

    Thanks

  18. You should put the ads from the beginning as long as they don’t stick in front of the readers face and distract the real content of the blog.

    If the content of the blog is of high quality, I believe readers would not mind ads shown in the side bar that doesn’t distract the content.

    Ramesh
    The Geek Stuff

  19. I’ve added the basic google adsense and adbrite to my start up blog (start up in both senses of the word – for businesses and my blogging ‘career’)

    The reasoning is to earn small amounts, I am looking to earn enough to purchase a website and hosting from it (I am currently on a free blogspot account), so I don’t dip into my own companies start up fund.

    I know that purchasing domain names and hosting is far from expensive, but I like the idea of it being entirely self funding and I have no problems with adverts on sites, and I don;t see why anybody should.

    That is not to say people don’t have a problem with it, but providing I keep providing a useful resource for them I can’t imagine that too many are going to feel particularly put out.

  20. Every one need to wait at least 6 to 8 months to understand their blog visitors , then they can include their ads (Google Adsense or affiliate) in to their blog.

    Make sure to include the ads at the bottom of every post instead of top of the banner. bcz some visitors will hate that.

  21. Pachi says:

    I feel it is about striking balance… put the ads upfront but let it remain a second priority… this gives time to analyse the ad placement etc over time.. putting ads 6 months down the line and then thinking about placement and tweaking the template wont do well with the visitors

  22. MyStore says:

    Ads are part of the blogging theme.

    That how I get $$$$

  23. Let’s remember that not even Google monetized its business until the company had been going for about 2 years.

  24. Hello Daniel (and everyone else),

    Nice post. I would like to add another alternative to monetize your weblog, if I may.

    I personally believe in weblogs thoughtfully choosing niches and selling a premium part their (specialized) content for a small fee (something like 80% for free, 20% for something like $0.50 per article).

    I think this will prove to be a valuable alternative to the strategy of trying to find a large audience with generic content and making money from advertising.

    Of course, there’s a lot of talk about freeconomy, and I can understand that many bloggers initially won’t be a fan of the idea of selling a part of their articles.

    To facilitate in this discussion, we collected various articles and arguments on the pross and cons of selling online content. You can find this at knowledge.oronjo.com.

    ‘We’, by the way, are Oronjo.com, a new, free service you can use to sell articles on your blog. I add this in order to be clear about the nature of my involvement in this discussion.

    Best,

    Ingmar de Lange
    Founder
    Oronjo.com

    Sell content on your own site with Oronjo

  25. greven says:

    Good tips again. I had the same dilemma. I decided to put some light google ads at the beginning and even today I only have some text ads.

    After I reached 100K Page Views I decided to start monetizing my blog. The Income is not that great, but my blog has like 1 month – 2 months of activity and I do it for fun only and to share stuff I like with other people. :)

  26. Mark Stevens says:

    If you’re passionate about your writing, there will always be a loyal user base who’ll turn the other cheek to the more overtly commercial aspects of your blog. The key is to convert casual readers into regular readers, not convert people who hate adverts into people who accept them.*

    Besides, most browser-savvy people who hate adverts will have long since installed an array of adblockers and probably don’t see them on your site anyway. When those sort of people are visiting your site in large numbers, then it’s time to decide on more indirect ways to turn a profit.

    *Having said that, I know I’m not alone in the sense that while I’m an AdBlock Plus user, once I become a loyal reader of a blog/web site, I will add that site to my whitelist and actually turn the ads on.

  27. Is this a joke? Warren’s blog was last updated on 04/08/08.

    I doubt all of his claims. 16,000 visits with 100 subscribers.

    Somebody check these people out before you write about them.

    The Masked Millionaire

  28. Sire says:

    I’ve used ads since day one so I don;t really know if I would have been better off forgoing them altogether, but to tell the truth seeing as how they pay my blogging way I don’t really care.

  29. Jarrod says:

    I put ads on my blog straight away. I want to be able to give away more of my free content by having more time and so I make this clear by having ads up to begin with even if it doesn’t earn anything.

    That being said I feel quite conscious about the ratio of content to ads. After all, the main reason I want people to read my site is because I think it will benefit their life.

  30. Todd Andrews says:

    At this point, people have become so jaded by ads that they don’t really annoy people anymore. And anyone who is turned off by the ads probably wouldn’t be a potential customer of yours in the first place.

  31. I’ve made a whopping $11.44 on my Google adsense ads and have had them since I started March 23. I don’t understand these people who make so much money on their adsense ads. I visit lots of sites and have never clicked on an ad, and I have a budget of $50 for others to click on my adwords and in the last month have only had seven adwords hits to come to my site – is anyone viewing adsense ads??

  32. Nimic says:

    I’m going to have to agree with a few other readers and say that the blog this post is about is bunch of BS. It hasn’t been posted to in over 2 months, and it’s already heavily monetized, or at least ad’etized (I made that word up).

    I think it’s OK to monetize your blog in the beginning. However, I also agree that you should be conservative. I chose to go with two adsense ads (text only) at the end of single posts. So regular readers aren’t affected by ads on the front page, and the people who were going to bounce anyhow might bounce to an ad and pay part of my hosting fee.

    I don’t plan on monetizing my blog more heavily until it’s time. When I do, I hope to be picky about the advertisers and choose only products or services I can believe in.

  33. Calvin says:

    This is pretty much subjective and I believe there is no right or wrong answer. We’ve seen enough debates on this issue on the blogosphere – now it times for you yourself to decide.

    As for me I would rather have ads straight away, rather than waiting for ‘the right’ moment to put ads.

  34. QuickGold says:

    So, now I should reconsider on putting ads on my new blog? Both the pros and cons are so true, its up to the blogger to decide which one they think is the best.

    I’ll stay on having ads on my site to generate some revenue rather than losing the money without even trying to grab it.

  35. H.E.Eigler says:

    I started offering ad space right away (really cheap to grow with my readership) – now I’m about 3 months in and am starting to get inquiries for longer term ads – so I must have done something right…..plus, I manage them myself so I can pick sponsors who add something related to my blog topic.

  36. aizal says:

    My opinion, as a new blogger, it is ok to monetize, as long as you keep your passion in posting entries and keep readers enjoy reading. Ads is just like a free bonus from readers, they don’t have to pay to read, and they also can ignore those ads, I think…

  37. Ed says:

    My strategy has been to concentrate on content for the first few months, although I have always planned on advertising. I didn’t want to take on too much work at the one time so by doing this I was looking to get used to WordPress and all it can do and build up the blog. My WordPress blog has been going for about 4 months now so I’m now spending more time researching advertising and expect to start incuding that in the next month or two. Because this was always the plan I decided on a theme that had a 2 and 3 column option so that (hopefully) the look of my site won’t change much.

  38. Martin says:

    I liked the idea by Donncha O Caoimh of WP-Super cache fame, he has another plugin called “No Adverts for Friends”.

    If I am (ever) going to introduce ads on my blog I would start by just adding them to the older archive posts. And not show them to people who have actually left comments.

    http://ocaoimh.ie/no-adverts-for-friends/

    You can build it up from there — the problem with Google Advertising is that its so horribly ugly. Stylish ads are probably too much to ask for.

  39. With all due respect to Daniel – one of my favorite bloggers – I don’t like this kind of blog post. A question is asked and an answer isn’t really given. If I’m a blogger who doesn’t know better, I emerge from reading the article with more ideas but nothing concrete about which solution is truly best for me.

  40. Bob says:

    I decided to put ads on as soon as possible because my blog is a time specific experiment. It is my hope that offering consistently updated, relevant, and current information on a specific topic that I am very passionate about will bring readers this summer. Bringing great articles to my readers is the first priority, but I hope that my ads will appeal to my readers and they will click through. Because of my time constraint, I needed to get going right away. My goal is to use this revenue (if any accumulates) to launch a more long term site this Fall.

  41. INconstantIN says:

    It’s funny that it took an entire post to say something that it’s absolutely obvious. It always depends on a lot of factors and there is not unique success formula.

    It depends on the blogger, it depends on his readers, it depends even on a blog’s design. So the conclusion that is to be taken into account is the following: experiment.

    If you afford yourself “playing around” for some weeks or even months with your blog, taking the risk to loose some of you readers, you might find out in the end what your readers want, you might find out whether the ads you put on your blog bring you any money or not etc.

    Thus, don’t take any advice for granted, just experment by yourself.

  42. Monetizing from the beginning is not always bad. However, there are a lot of bloggers for whome monetizing becomes the primary goal and then the content – this is where things go wrong. But you are right – once ads are in place a huge amount of time is wasted on optimizing the same, finding the right networks etc.

    Also, until you are hugely successful (High PR, 1000s of RSS feeds, a few 10000 of visitors etc) you can’t expect advertisers to contact you. So starting with AdSense, Bidvertiser etc is not a bad idea, according to me.

    Ajith

  43. @Masked Millionaire, the Problogger Question box ( http://www.problogger.net/archives/2008/01/31/ask-problogger-a-blogging-question/ ) was opened in January of this year. That is when people sent their questions.

    Also, I have not based my answer on the numbers mentioned by the reader, so what different does it make :) ?

  44. ChinaMatt says:

    I like the ask 100 bloggers, get 101 answers. And you gave quite a few yourself.

    Really, it all depends on the blog and the advertising. What kind of advertising are you bringing in and how much of it? Will it distract from the content? It’s difficult to decide. I try to keep ads relevant to the blog (i.e. Amazon ad at the end of a book or movie review). I also like the idea of non-profit organization ads on sites (I put one up about a month ago).

  45. Muscle Post says:

    I put ads on my blog right from the start, using a free wordpress theme originally from doshdosh and then changing over to one from DailyBlogTips (which is excellent, by the way).

    In my opinion, the benefits of integrating ads into your site from the start far outweight the negatives, and they also outweight the benefits of waiting to monetize your blog in the long term. I’ve never had anyone complain to me about ads on my site, but I think if I waited six months and then put adds up I might lose some subscribers or turn people off from the site.

    The key is to have a professional looking design and don’t overdo it with the advertising. Keep it simple and keep them BLENDED, don’t try and make your ads stick out like a sore thumb. This will increase your CTR as well as the professional image of your site, meaning more money and more repeat visitors.

  46. Metro says:

    I put ads on my blog from the beginning but they are relevant to my content and a resource for visitors.

    I do product reviews in the form of case studies. Each blog refers to the ads so the visitor if interested doesn’t have to spend time surfing around.

    The ads are targeted and a resource.

    So far no one has made any negative comments.

  47. My blog is about 6 months old, and essentially about finding value in different areas of your life. I started a self-hosted site with virtually no blogging experience so the learning curve was very steep–but worth it. I think the solution is different for each indiviual and their blog.

    I decided to place AdSense Ads fairly early on (at around 3 months), mostly so that my readers would get used to them being there, and so that I could get more info on what works and what doesn’t. Having said that, this is what I did so the site doesn’t have an offensive feel to those sensitive to ads:

    1) I took a lot of time to blend the ads both in colour and in ideal location right into each post. I chose a site theme that facilitates this.
    2) If you look on my front or other main pages, you don’t see any ads in the content.
    3) Although a block of AdSense ads exists in many of the posts when viewed individually, I’ve left the blog page itself as ad-free outlet ie. They can read the latest posts with no ads in the content.
    4) I’ve decided that certain topics of a more serious and personal nature will remain ad-free because I don’t want anything to detract from them or cheapen the experience for my readers.

    In the future, I believe that these rules wiill not change for me. I will likely place a couple of ads in the sidebar from private advertisers with products and services that I believe in and are well-suited to my readers. I will also likely monetize through product/book reviews that meet the same criteria. Since I’m focused on developing relationships with quality readers, I also wonder if donations will end up being a good income stream in the future.

    Thanks for bringing up this topic for discussion Daniel!

    All the best,
    Amanda

  48. I also use a method T-F tree, which is like Daniel Scocco. At last, I choose to put ads. To me, putting ads is also a kind of practice.

    The Ads I selected are all related with my content, which is also key factor for me to choose ads now.

  49. For my blog, AdSense in the beginning. I will reevaluate every 3 to 6 months whether other options may be better.

  50. James Kolacz says:

    I put adds up right away on my site. I’m based around game consoles so people expect to see product adds on my site. I’m willing to bet if i did not have adds it would hurt my site.

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