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.
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.