The other day I had an enlightening e-mail exchange with one of my blogging friends. The main topic of discussion was when it was appropriate to include ads on a new blog. Needless to say, we had conflicting views on the matter.
Basically I was at the point where my blog was almost ready to launch, but first I wanted some feedback from other bloggers. Overall the feedback was quite positive, but one blogger was quite adamant that I should remove all ads. His reasoning was that new blogs shouldn’t be allowed to monetize their blog until after about 6 months of posting. Say what?!
Personal Blogging Freedom
While I didn’t completely disagree with the concept, I didn’t feel that it was a one size fits all rule that should be applied to all blogs. Since blogs can cover virtually any topic and are written by people of very different backgrounds, should there by any clear-cut ‘rules’ that should be followed by all?
Of course if you want search engine traffic, it is best to abide by their terms of service. Beyond that and anything illegal, I think a blogger should have free rein to setup their blog however they want. After all, isn’t blogging about reaching people with your own personal message in your own personal style? Since my blog is focusing on personal finance, shouldn’t I be setting a good example and properly monetizing my blog from the start?
Bait And Switch Tactics
Part of me just didn’t feel right purposely avoiding including ads early on when I had every intention of monetizing this blog. I do hope to get some monetary compensation for all the time that I dedicate to producing a quality, helpful blog. What difference does it make if I post those ads from the start or wait a set period of time?
In my eyes, it is the classic bait and switch tactic, where you deceptively offer one version of something to start, with a plan of later switching to something that you deem is less desirable. I’d rather present my blog in a more honest fashion with the setup that I intend to follow going forward. It seems sneaky to try to build up a big following as an ad-free blog and then suddenly put up ads when you’ve hooked enough people. It is essentially acknowledging that your personal beliefs are that ads are a negative component. I do not share those beliefs.
Ads Are Not Necessarily A Negative Component
Perhaps I have a different view than others, as someone with a website marketing background. I may have a better understanding of how the web revolves around advertising. At the same time, maybe that experience clouds my judgement about how the average visitor may perceive ads. So I did read up on what others are saying regarding this decision. There were a bunch of bloggers who have decided to wait for blog monetization, but it didn’t seem like the popular choice. Here’s what one of the blogging leaders, John Chow wrote about placing ads on a new blog.
It seems that as internet users get more experienced using the web, they become more accustomed to seeing online advertisements. Some even subconsciously train themselves to block out ads and only focus on the content. When such a high number of sites display ads, it is natural to become more accepting of this practice.
I suspect that the advice to avoid ads to start is an old rule of thumb, passed down from a time when more blogs did not have any ads. Back then, you didn’t want to look like a ‘sell out’. These days it is more about being business savvy.
I think in many cases it is more about what kind of ads are displayed and in what manner. Take popup ads for example…I think most people would be at least slightly annoyed at that kind of advertising, as it actually degrades the user experience. The same goes for irrelevant ads. If it doesn’t suit your blog’s focus, those ads may come off as a distraction.
So the ads I have chosen for Modest Money are only ads which I truly believe can help people save money. At the time of writing this post, both ads in the sidebar on the right are for services or products that are actually free to sign up for. Both of them can be used to improve your finances. I intend to eventually write a blogpost about each of these advertisers and how they can help you.
Ironically the bloggers who seem against ads seem to have sketchy loan ads and ads for overseas loan companies. It’s a tad hypocritical to preach against ads and then serve up ads that are not in your visitors’ best interests.
When It Is Better To Avoid Blog Ads To Start
While in my case, I decided it was best to go ahead with ads from the start, in certain cases I could see it being good advice. It mostly depends on the blogger’s experience level. You wouldn’t want to discourage a new blogger by telling them to put up ads right away and not see any income for a while. Instead those bloggers would stay more motivated basing goals on subscriber totals, traffic levels and comment activity.
Also it may waste too much of their time trying to figure out effective monetization. That time may be better spent learning the ropes of writing posts and basic marketing strategies. For me personally, it didn’t take a lot of time to find some quality advertisers that I had faith in. It took even less time to set up the ads. So for a blogger who is brand new to blogging and internet marketing, I think avoiding ads to start may be a good idea.
The niche of your blog plays a role too. If a lot of established bloggers in your niche do not use advertisements for monetization, you may want to be more careful with the decision. The prevalence of ads on related blogs may signal that the target audience is less accepting of ads. Going against the common trend in your industry may reflect poorly upon your blog. That also holds true for the number of ads and their placements.
Deciding how to monetize a blog is not something to be taken lightly. It definitely can affect how others perceive your blog. There very well could be people who immediately get turned off by the sight of any ads. Really though, why bother inflating statistics with people like this? That is unless stats are more important to you than actual income. Those same people stand a good chance of unsubscribing once they see a sudden influx of ads.
So I recommend being honest with yourself and with your visitors from the very start. It will give you more time to test ads and also possibly bring in some income early on. Just keep in mind situations where it may be best to wait or even consider avoiding ads altogether. Try to avoid letting ads ruin the user experience.
What is your opinion about ads on blogs? Do you see it as a bad thing that gives a blog less trust?