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Blogging for Money

Surprisingly I'm not talking about people who are paid to write blog posts on certain subjects... that's better left for another discussion. Instead I'm talking about people that plaster their blogs with ads. I don't get this, I pay for web hosting and domain registration... I consider it part of being a geek... I currently have about 20 domains @ $5.99 USD/year and a $120 USD/year hosting account. I pay these costs myself, and provide my blog (and other sites) without ads plastered all over them. I even provide hosting (web and email) to friends.

So when I look at other people's blogs I have to wonder why they have them plastered with ads. I've complained about ridiculous blog tagging in the past, and others have complained about the large quantities of scripts that are employed on some blogs. Well now I want to gripe about ads. I don't want to point fingers, but a great example of this is Martin McKeay's blog. There are definitely worse offenders, but this happened to be the one I visited tonight that made me think about it. Why do we need to plaster our blogs with Google Ads, blogging is supposed to be about sharing information... originally personal info in journal form and now it's more journalistic... Is that why? We feel that since newspapers place ads, we should as well?

The only thing worse than plastering your website with ads, is placing them all over your RSS feed. Especially those people that provide "summary" articles in their feed, requiring that you visit the site for the full story, yet still insist on tacking an ad below the summary.

I'd love to know why... Do people really make that much money of their ads or are people really that hard up for the few extra cents that these ads bring in? I can get one ad in the side bar, or across the top or bottom of the page, but placing them between each post is excessive and annoying. I'd just love to know why people insist on doing it, especially when I see such little benefit.

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  1. July 17th, 2007 at 23:25 | #1

    Hello Ty,

    To tell you the truth, the google ads on my site are an experiment started a year or two ago. I put them there when Google Ads first started, and I thought I could make some decent money off of them. Since then, I’ve received a check every 3-6 months for about $100 each time. I think I’m actually up to about $40 a month in Google money, just a little more than beer and pretzel money.

    Why are they still there? Mostly because I haven’t taken the time to get rid of them. My writing from Computerworld pays about the same per month as all the money I’ve earned from Google Ads. My video blogging for Podtech pays even more than that. And even if you add all of the different revenue streams together, it’s not enough to allow me to quit looking for a day job.

    Basically, I put the ads in and forgot about them. When I finally get around to redesigning the site, I’ll probably take them out or reduce the number. But until then, beer and pretzel money is appreciated. I’m passionate about security, but a little extra spending money is always appreciated, especially if it comes from a source I don’t have to report to my wife.

    Martin

  2. July 18th, 2007 at 00:03 | #2

    i don’t know for sure why people do it but i have *definitely* been subjected to pressure to do the same… friends and family (or some of them at least), on finding out that i have a web presence (they’re only finding out now?) keep insisting that i put ads on my site or charge money to help people or whatever other remuneration model they can think of… i think the thought process might be a little something like: ‘if you can make a little extra money without any additional effort, why not?’…

    i wish i could explain why not…

  3. July 18th, 2007 at 00:26 | #3

    Martin: As I said, I wasn’t picking on your site… I just happened to stumble across it after already being irritated by other sites and had yours up when I decided to post… For example, I just noticed that Alan Shimel now has ads in his RSS feed… I find this much more annoying than ads on the pages. I can understand the “desire” for beer and pretzel money… I’m just against the idea of using a blog to get that money.

    Kurt: I’ve had the same problem, with people pushing me to display ads / badges. My response is always that I’m blogging to share my knowledge, I want people to get it as easily as possible and the experience to enjoyable. For me, I just like knowing my stuff is read. I’d rather 1000 page views daily than 500 page views with some sort of supplemental income. I dislike forums that draw in users and then plaster ads to make money and I feel that doing it to blog readers is the same thing… You’re asking to be paid for sharing your thoughts… even if your readers don’t give you cash, they are forced to endure the ads and random javascript. That’s generally what I tell people.

  4. July 18th, 2007 at 09:32 | #4

    I really dislike those “click to read more” RSS feeds myself. Google ads can certainly get tiresome as well. They tell a lot about the person hosting them, though. If I run across a blog that has no ads, I may actually notice that and think, “looks like they’re doing this for the love of it, cool!.” Others with ads make me think, “well, I guess they want a little extra out of it.” Some start defining themselves based on their blog rating, visitors, and ad dollars, which is a little disappointing. But I understand there is a place for that, and some people do want the exposure for this or that reason. So be it, I’m not too hard on them.

    What irks me about some ads is their whitespace. They have like 3 ads that are just words and links with transparent white space in between that is clickable. This means if I click in the white space somewhere to get focus or do whatever, I may accidentally click an ad. Definitely hate that!

    Oh, and can I mention forums? Holy crap, forums that embed ads into each post or the first post in each thread are just irritating beyond belief.

    Ads are definitely one of those things I’ll never put up on my site. I’ve had a presence since 1996 before ads were a realized source of revenue (let alone ‘blogging!’ I’d do this even if I didn’t have even one visitor beyond myself. :)

  5. July 18th, 2007 at 11:16 | #5

    I have ads on my site. After one and a half years and 25K spam messages I have generated approximately $30. I don’t apologize about this. I can use the extra cash and, as I have indicated, will use it to attend conferences and training to increase my security knowledge. Security knowledge that I share with the public.

    All that said, there is one easy way to avoid the ads on my website. It is actually a very good security measure I suggest everybody utilize.

    Download Firefox: http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/
    Install NoScript: http://noscript.net/

    Go forth and do good things,
    Cutaway

  6. July 18th, 2007 at 11:16 | #6

    Absolutely no offense take. I’m surprised anyone even pays attention to the ads any more. Heck, I even have them blocked by Adblock and NoScript myself. I have to fire up IE7 to make sure they’re working. By the way, the ads are only after the first two posts, not every post. Minor point of clarification.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with making money off of your passion, otherwise I wouldn’t have done many of the things I’ve done in the last 18 months, such as writing for Computerworld and taking on a podcast sponsor. It’s helped me procure the equipment I need to do a better job at my podcasting and video blogging. It’s also given me the money I need to be less stressed about finding a job immediately after leaving my job in February and leaving StillSecure.

    I understand your point of view, I just don’t subscribe to it. I don’t want to be a starving artist, paying for my craft. I want to share what I find and what I know, but I also want to make a living at it. I don’t see making a profit off of my blog as any different from working a regular job doing something I love. I don’t think it ruins the “purity” of my work in any way.

    I do have to say, earning money off of something I’d be doing anyways is a little different from many sites out there that are aimed at making money first and providing content second. Some of the forums I’ve seen out there definitely fall into that category, with so many ads that you can’t even read a thread without flash overload.

    Last thought: my ads don’t even come close to paying for my internet connection, which costs about $80/month. It may pay for the electricity the server consumes running here at my house, but it’s doubtful. So overall I guess I’m still not breaking even. I could switch to typepad or another hosted service that’s cheap, but I have a deep seated need to control my server myself. Go figure, a security professional with control issues. :-)
    Martin

  7. July 18th, 2007 at 14:40 | #7

    Guys- i heard the same thing about ads originally on Yahoo and other sites back when the net was getting going. Then I remember the same argument when paid for search was starting to get started by the company that Yahoo bought (i forget their names now) and google. Ads are a part of life on the web (and off the web too for that matter). It has nothing to do with ones passion for blogging, security or life. It is a decision you make, as to would you like to try and monetize or not. Guys like Fred Wilson (avc.com) make 30k a year or more off of their blog ads and give it all to charity. Does it make him less passionate or his content less compelling? Of course not. My attitude is to each his own. If you think not having ads makes you some sort of purist, god bless you. If however you think it makes you holier than thou, take a good look in the mirror. I dont think ads are related to quality of content at all.

    I do dislike blog summaries, because i hate having to click out of my RSS reader, but that is another story. I vote on that by not clicking and reading the content.

  8. July 18th, 2007 at 20:08 | #8

    Alan,

    I don’t see it as being a purist or having a ‘holier than thou’ attitude. As I said a an ad or two on the sides or tops of pages isn’t even noticeable.. Let’s take Fred Wilson’s page (since you brought him up.. I’m assuming you were actualy referring to avg.blogs.com)… There are plenty of ads on that page… They don’t bother me in the least. Why? They are down the sides of the page. They don’t break up the content as I’m trying to read. Even Martin’s blog was a fairly bad example of what I meant… However it was ads surrounding the initial post which is what I find irritating but in Martin’s case they are fairly non-intrusive. The giant Symantec flash ad on your page is hideous, but I could even live with that compared to the Symantec ads that are tagged onto every single post on your RSS feed.

    I don’t think ads relate to the quality of content, but I do think they speak to the quality of the page. My opinion, when visiting a site, has always been that the more ads on the page, the less reputable the site is. Previously sites that were plastered in ads were there just to make money, and now people are popping ads everywhere… which makes me think of those “less reputable” sites from days gone by.

    As for people suggesting NoScript/AdBlock… I used to do that.. but these days I’m fairly anti-NoScript… It was great was javascript was a “once in a blue moon” type thing… but not that it’s everywhere it makes using the internet a pain… NoScript makes surfing the net feel like the Internet would feel without DNS

  9. July 19th, 2007 at 01:34 | #9

    Tyler- we agree to disagree. I dont think the “quality of my page” is really at play here. It is my content. If my content is compelling enough you will put up with the ads. If it is not you won’t. I think it that simple. I personally think you are swimming against the tide. As ads get more targeted you are going to see them on more and more blogs. BTW, Fred has taken heat time and again for his ads, but it has not stopped him. He also has ads in his feeds. Fred and Brad Feld were investors in feedburner and I know they use the same ad network I do.

  10. July 19th, 2007 at 09:54 | #10

    Al…

    To be fair, however, have you ever tried to read your site on a mobile device that isn’t IE powered? On a blackberry, I have to page down no less than 60 times given the frame setup to get past your Amazon “ads” in order to read the content…then there’s the giant animated Symantec deal that clogs bandwidth, etc…

    Also, these external ad and feed sources often cause the page to sometimes hang on load (esp. from slow speed connections) due to the normal Internet glut…

    It’s your site and it doesn’t make you a bad person, but I (just me, personally) find it really, really distracting…swimming against the tide or not, I think it’s a point worth listening to even if you choose not to do anything about it.

    I’d love to recover some $$ for the costs of hosting, etc., but I can’t bring myself to display ads for the reasons above.

    My $0.02.

  11. July 19th, 2007 at 10:31 | #11

    i think it’s a question of motives… or rather a question of being able to question motives… the presence of ads opens up the possibility that you’re in it for the money instead of (rather than as well as) providing good content…

    of course no one has to prove anything to anyone about what their true motives are, you don’t have to answer to your readers, only to yourself – but i hate leaving those sorts of questions open…

    then again, maybe i am a purist, and maybe i am ‘holier than thou’ as i’ve recently characterized mainstream ad-driven news media as opportunistic parasites who’ll try to turn any thought trend (even the misguided ones) that makes it onto their radar in to a positive feedback loop in hopes of drawing more eyeballs to their ads…

  12. July 19th, 2007 at 10:37 | #12

    I think ads speak (between the lines) quite a bit when they are not present. When they are present, things get more grey between people who are obviously only posting for the (potential) money vs people who do it for the love and just wouldn’t mind a little extra anything for the effort. Lack of ads pretty much means someone doesn’t really need that $$ motive. Presence of ads, however, may not necessarily mean they are driven by $$.

    And my opinion of ads hasn’t changed in decades…

  13. cutaway
    January 19th, 2009 at 14:20 | #13

    I have ads on my site. After one and a half years and 25K spam messages I have generated approximately $30. I don't apologize about this. I can use the extra cash and, as I have indicated, will use it to attend conferences and training to increase my security knowledge. Security knowledge that I share with the public.

    All that said, there is one easy way to avoid the ads on my website. It is actually a very good security measure I suggest everybody utilize.

    Download Firefox: http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/
    Install NoScript: http://noscript.net/

    Go forth and do good things,
    Cutaway

  14. LonerVamp
    January 20th, 2009 at 09:10 | #14

    I think ads speak (between the lines) quite a bit when they are <b>not</b> present. When they are present, things get more grey between people who are obviously only posting for the (potential) money vs people who do it for the love and just wouldn't mind a little extra anything for the effort. Lack of ads pretty much means someone doesn't really need that $$ motive. Presence of ads, however, may not necessarily mean they are driven by $$.

    And my opinion of ads hasn't changed in decades…

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