Placing Ads on the Blog for the First Time (in Six Years)

I’ve been running this blog for a while now. I started in July of 2002, and so far it’s been going for a good while. Six years, seven months and 23 days to be exact.

In all that time, I’ve held back from posting up ads or anything along those lines. Mostly because I, myself, don’t like seeing ads on the sites I frequent. They more often than not look shitty, they detract some from the credibility of the site authors, and they tend to interfere with the overall user experience.

The idea of putting ads on here? It’s always sketched me out. It felt… I dunno. Sleazy isn’t the right word, but it’s the first one that comes to mind. It felt a little dirty.

Or should I say that it feels a little dirty. Because right now, I’m working on adding a few Amazon-related links to the site.

So what’s changed, you’re asking? Honestly, not a lot. I guess it’s an urge to tinker, to experiment around. I’ve had the thought for a while now to place ads on the site. I’ve been kicking around the idea for a few weeks now.

A month or two ago, I looked into and applied for an Amazon Affiliate account. I also created a LinkShare account. I didn’t really do much with these accounts, other than create them. I peeked a bit at how the process worked, and more or less left them both alone.

Earlier today, I talked with TJ a bit about ads, and his experience running both his blog and his latest project, CSS Scoop. Turns out, he’s gotten (what I think) is a fairly decent return on the ads he runs on his sites. It’s a modest sum, but to me… it’s a modest compensation for the work and time he puts into running things, behind the scenes.

I also recently saw a very inspiring post by Danny Choo, whose writing I’ve really come to like ever since I first came across his name.

Where Choo was able to pay for an entire house based on Affiliate earnings, I don’t hold any such illusions. My traffic is ok, but I don’t have anywhere near the audience to expect… well, to be honest, I don’t know what to expect.

I’ve kept tabs on my traffic, I’m using Google Analytics, my feed is set up through Feedburner. All that good stuff. But this will be the first time I actually try something tangible, based on all that traffic. Maybe it’ll be a wash, and I sell one thing over the next year. Maybe I’ll sell enough stuff to where I get deliveries of bags with dollar signs on them… I have no idea what will happen.

In looking at things, I guess the ideal would be for me to find some way to become fully self-sufficient, solely from this blog. But while that may be a down-the-road goal, I’m happy to shoot for earning the price of, say, a sixer of beer each month. I think that’d be a good start. And if I can do that, maybe I can get enough from ads that I can pay a utility bill each month. Those are, I think, modest and attainable goals.

I gotta tell you – this is a really big deal for me. As far as I can remember, my philosophy and approach to this blog wasn’t tied to issues of commerce. In fact, there was a tacit understanding (at least from my end) that I would keep the site free from advertisers. As anyone who’s ever run a site can attest – I wanted to own the entire thing, all of it – top to bottom.

A part of me felt, ever since the blog’s beginning, that by keeping this site free of ads, I would be building up a level of trust with you, the reader. Each day I scribble out my little blog posts and upload pictures, and in return… my hope was that I’d get a little of your attention. I’d like to think I’ve fallen on the trustworthy side of things, these past few years.

Right now, my plans are fairly basic: to put up the occassional Amazon Affiliate ads, but only for products that I actually purchase myself. While Google ads are an option, I for one don’t care for how they look. They’re better than most ads, but they still come off to me as intrusive.

My idea for Amazon Affiliate ads is to make them into their own posts – book and DVD reviews, that sort of thing. And my main criteria for posting any kind of an ad is that I have to have purchased the item, and also like it enough to endorse it.

I’ve written and revised this post more times than I care to admit. I sat down last night around 7PM and began writing up my thoughts and feelings. By 10PM, I was still going back and revising. This morning, it’s been an hour or so of re-reading and editing. I still don’t feel like I’m saying everything I want to on this topic.

My original plan was to post this note, and also an actual book review. Who knew I’d spend all my time focused on writing about my approach and feelings about ads?

This will be an interesting experiment – one that I hope doesn’t push anyone away from the site, as that would be the last thing in the world I’d want. While I’m somewhat hesitant to put up ads on a blog I’ve kept running “clean” for six years, I’m also a little excited to see what might happen.

I promise that I’ll keep things as unobtrusive as possible. And I hope that any books or movies or “sellable” things I talk about here will be, like the rest of the entries… worthy of your time and attention. Because in my mind, that’s a pretty valuable thing.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. I think this is great, Felix, and I wish you luck with it! I’ll be curious to hear updates as to how it’s working out for you.

    Allison Reply

  2. I’m a member of the Amazon Affiliate program. I insert links to books & DVDs that people can buy through Amazon when it’s a natural progression of topics I’m already talking about. I joined mainly so I could use their images. That was . . . 4 years ago? Not sure.For every dollar of stuff you sell, they pay you a percentage. When you get a percentage that amounts to $10, they send you a check. In all these years, I have yet to break the $10 mark.Which is OK with me.

    juliet Reply

  3. Felix, no worries. I read daily, and her ads are a bit gratuitous, but I come back because, like your blog, the content is engaging and honest. As if you needed it, you’ve got my blessings, dude. By the by, thanks for posting that poem. Say… when was the last time you sent that sucker in the mail? I’m a reader for Fugue, and I’d be happy to mention to the poetry editor that you’d be sending some stuff our way. No guarantees of course, but I could probably get you moved up the ladder some. Just a thought. And to stroke your ego a bit, I always thought you were the best poet, no nonsense, in the program at Ohio State.

    Zambito Reply

  4. Don’t apologize, Felix. You put a LOT of time into this site, so we understand if you want to get a little $ out of it. And the Amazon side bars are really not intrusive to the reader. I have a few friends who have blogs with tons of ads (a little too much, IMO) and they make $20 here, $10 there, and it helps them out a bit. I think we as readers are so used to being inundated with advertisements on most sites that it will not be a negative thing.

    Layla Reply

  5. no shit! make some money off of us. I, for one, will be clicking every advertisement i see. Have you thought about optional “subscription” requests? I’d pay for EXCLUSIVE content like photos of you in your underwear and juicy tidbits about work and your love life.

    ben Reply

  6. Thanks for the kind words, all. In looking at some of the pricing structures for referrals, I think that whole “bag of cash” concept is pretty much out the window. We’ll see how things go.

    I spent a good deal of time today writing up a new entry on Tropicana and Gladwell, talking about “Blink.” Unlike regular ads (which pay per click or impression), nothing really happens unless someone makes a purchase via one of my links. So we’ll see.

    I’m actually looking over Google’s AdSense a bit more now, believe it or not. Stepping back and looking at the Amazon model, I’m not sure how much activity that will ultimately produce. Impressions and click-throughs may be a better approach for this blog, but man… just not crazy about external ads, even if they are text. Since I never click on ads (or only do so infrequently), I can’t imagine anyone else clicking on them either.

    Juliet – I look forward to cresting that $10 hill with you! Maybe next year!

    Allison and Layla – thanks for the encouragement!

    Zambito – thanks for the flattering words. I haven’t submitted poems in a really, really long time anywhere. Poetry has been way far off my radar, sadly. I may end up picking your brain a bit more about Fugue.

    Ben – I think a better business model might be for me to accept bribes to NOT post certain details about friends and coworkers. Kinda like blackmail, but I’d do things a lot nicer.

    As far as the subscription model goes? Pshah. You guys already get the good stuff for free.

    Besides, if I post all the racy/underwear photos here, I won’t have any content left for the porn site I run on the side. You know – the one where I post all those nude self-portraits. If I put everything here on the blog, what would I have left to put over there?

    avoision Reply

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