As discussed previously at Blogercise, monitisation is nothing to be ashamed of. Most of us could do with a little extra cash in our life to make things easier.
So if you are going to try and earn an income from your blog, is it better to start including adverts right from day 1 or is it something you should add over time? We answer this question in our series of 29 debates bloggers have about blogging.
Designing Your Blog
The famous Blogercise 10 step guide to building a website contains a page dedicate to designing your blog layout – if you haven’t already done so, check out this page for some tips on getting your layout right.
To be honest the temptation to tinker and improve your site’s layout will never go away, and in fact I would encourage you to continuously improve your site’s design. With the best will in the world it is something you won’t get right first time and is something that will need to be refreshed periodically anyway.
Reasons to Monitise from Day 1
This is my recommendation, although later in this post we will discuss the reasons why you might want to wait for your blog to be established before beginning to add adverts and affiliate links.
Here is why I would monitise my blog from the start:
- If you plan to monitise your blog then why not start as you mean to go on. If you are ashamed of putting ads on your site or believe that this somehow cheapens it then that’s very honourable. But if this is the case surely this whole question is irrelevant to you as you will never be putting ads on your site.
- You’ll miss out on a lot of early income if you chose not to host adverts on your blog. Sure, a new blog is unlikely to make hundreds a day but even low traffic sites can bring in a pound/dollar or two. Over a year this adds up!
- As your blog grows you will find that some of your old posts become big traffic winners. By ensuring these contain relevant affiliate links from day one you are ensuring that you’ll never miss out on any potential income.
- Ironically, well placed visual adverts can make your site look more professional. After all if people want to get their ads onto your site then it must have some value. Of course anyone can sign up to Google’s adsense or Amazon Associates but the majority of web browsers have never even heard of these schemes.
- Your readers will get used to seeing adverts on your site and won’t accuse you of “selling out” the day that they go up. Some of your readers may place a lot of faith in you because of your lack of ads and when this ends they might kick up a big fuss. Blog readers are used to seeing adverts and affiliate links on sites and most of them understand why they are there and will tolerate them in small doses.
The other question I would pose to those who plan to monitise later is: when would be the right time to start making money from the blog? It seems totally arbitrary to me! When you get 1000 visitors a day? Why not when you get 500?
Why Should I Start with an Ad free Blog?
There are two main reasons that I read for wanting to keep a blog totally ad free in the early days.
- It Makes a Site Look More Attractive to Readers: The idea here is that by being ad free your site hold a higher degree of authority and an air of enhanced respectability. This blog doesn’t need to sell out – it provides unbiased high quality independent content. If you take this approach, my advice is to stick to it – if you monitise later you’ll look like a chump. That said, your site would probably survive and you’d find an excuse for the change of heart – increased server costs or something. A lot of readers will see right through you but hey ho, that’s the risk you’ll be taking.
- Search Engine Optimisation: There is a school of thought that suggest search engines penalise affiliate and advert rich sites. So in the early days of your blog there is a chance that your content is thin on the ground and Google etc will think you are just trying to make a fast buck. Now I think there might be some truth to this but the solution is easy! Make sure your blog doesn’t look spammy! Search engines want to rank high quality content sites in their results, this is their one and only goal – and Blogercise is all about building such sites. So just take an honest look at your site and ask yourself if it just exists to game the system. If the answer is yes then you can’t really be surprised if your site falls flat on its face!
If you plan to build an income from your blog then don’t be shy, start building it into your site as you go. You’ll learn many lessons as you do and doing so when your blog is emerging will be far less risky than when you are depending on the income!