So you’ve decided it’s time to start monetizing your blog. It’s taken up a lot of time and hard work, and it’s about time it gave something back to you. And chances are someone told you (or a Google search told you) that displaying ads on your blog is the best way to do that.
They’re wrong. (Or Google is, anyway.)
Monetizing your blog with ads is a terrible idea. Your blog is not a public billboard, in existence only to direct people onto the next site. It’s a well of information and/or entertainment for a carefully cultivated audience. Your blog is the END point, not the middleman.
Not convinced? How about I walk you through the 5 specific points on why ads are terrible to monetize your blog with.
1. Ads pay nothing.
Contrary to popular belief, ads are not some type of golden goose that gets you rich quick. As a marketer myself, I love ads because they’re so cheap for me to use!
Ads generally work on a pay-per-click system, which means I get to display my ad on your site for free, and only pay you when someone actually clicks the ads and leaves your site for mine.
Additionally, I typically don’t work directly with the sites themselves. I’ll work with Google or Facebook, or another middle-man site, who then does most of the ad operating for me and you. And using that 3rd party system, the ads are STILL dirt cheap for me. With Facebook, I might spend $.20 a click. And remember, that Facebook gets a cut of that 20 cents.
So in order to make any money with this system, you must be getting a high volume of readers to your site every day. After all, at 20 cents a click, you’d need to have 500 people click an ad on your site to make $100 a day (before Facebook takes it’s cut.)
And let’s add one more shocker into the mix: the conversion rate on display ads is around .1%. That means only 1 of every 1000 visitors is clicking an ad (your visitors are more likely to become navy SEALS than they are to click your ad).
So in order to make $100/day off ads (before Facebook takes it’s cut), you’d have to 500,000 visitors to your site every day. Which as we all know, is a LOT of traffic. A LOT.
Seems like kind of a rip off, right?
2. Ads take visitors away from your site.
I didn’t even mention yet that ads are giving you almost nothing to take your valuable traffic away from your site. You worked hard to get readers interested, just to have them pulled away from you to go to someone else’s site. That’s hardly fair. And it’s hardly a way to build a loyal following.
3. Ads make your site take forever to load (and make sure a lot of visitors never even see your site).
Ever been on a site (particularly a mobile site) that won’t stop loading because new ads just keep popping up on the site? Or you start to read the first paragraph, and the first paragraph disappears because suddenly there’s an ad there instead? Yeah, it’s the worst experience ever. I usually close out of those sites unless I’m really, REALLY invested in the title. And even then, I maybe have about 45 seconds of patience in me. It’s the online equivalent of seeing a mall kiosk salesperson approaching me with samples.
The worst part about how ads do this is that these ads aren’t even making you money. You might be fine with losing a reader for $.20. But are you fine with losing readers for free? Because these readers aren’t even clicking an ad. They’re just not coming in.
4. Ads prevent readers taking the next action you want them to.
If you’ve built an audience up, chances are you’ve done it by encouraging them to take some type of action on your page to stay engaged with you. Typically this means you’ve gotten them to join your email list.
Every digital marketer knows, in order to get someone to take an action on an online page, it needs to be clearly marked and the only thing on the page for them to do.
Ads destroy any possibility of achieving those two things. After all, when you display ads, you clutter the page so it’s difficult to clearly demarcate any one thing. Plus – ads become other actions you want your readers to take. So now you’re asking them to click the ad, give you their email, and read another post. It’s so much confusion that most readers end up doing none of those things and just leaving your page.
5. Ads are out of your control.
Before ads, you had 100% say in what happens on your blogs. Once you’re serving ads, you lose a lot of the control you had previously.
Especially if you’re working with remarketing or in a partnership, you don’t have control over what ads even appear on your site. You have the potential to serve ads to visitors about unethical companies, products they hate, potentially even porn ads. When working with Google, marketers choose YOU, and you have very little say in that. If you’re in the remarketing network, there’s no say really by either the marketer or the publication – which is how you can accidentally serve up porn ads on your site if you’re not careful.
So then how on earth do I monetize my blog?
Don’t worry – there are definitely ways to monetize your blog without resorting to ads. One way is to embed referral links throughout your blog.
The best way, however, is one that actually specifically defies all 5 of the points I mentioned above: transactional articles.
Transactional articles are articles about products and their companies that have places embedded in the article where readers can buy what they’re reading about right out of the article. A transactional article can be written in any type of way that suits your blog – it can be a story, a review, an interview, anything. (Here’s an example of one!)
When you work with a company like VendViva, we give you complete control over what appears on your blog, to the point that you can write the Spotlight if you want. The Spotlight appears as an article on your blog, so it doesn’t take any more time loading than any other article, and it adds to your collection of posts. You earn a commission on every purchase that is made, and you receive customer’s email addresses. That means you don’t even have to have an email sign-up form on a Spotlight article page if you want. You can clearly direct people to take the single action of purchasing right from the article itself.
What other ways have you found of monetizing your blog besides ads? What’s worked well and what hasn’t?