Jason Calacanis writes that by optimizing their Adsense ads Weblogs inc have just raised their daily Adsense earnings to $1400 per day (it was just $1000 per day a week or two back). He asks Adsense experts for advice on how to take it up a notch (he wants to get it to $2000 per day in the next couple of months) and offers a free dinner for those who are willing to help and whose advice works.
Paul takes offense at Jason’s post writing:
‘To me this is just insulting. The guy is making $1400/day (min.), which he equates to $511,000/year and wants free help to get to $730,000/year (min.) along with Amazon help. Does this seem strange to anyone else or am I missing something here? For helping him earn an extra $200k/year I can get a free dinner. Awesome.’
I have to say that I had some similar thoughts as I read Jason’s post – although I probably wouldn’t word it quite as strongly as Paul does.
I guess the question it leaves me wondering is – ‘At what point should someone start paying for the advice or sharing the benefits that they receive from the input from others?’
Whilst the strength of blogging is the free exchange of information, transparency and sharing of lessons learned – some are obviously taking such freely shared information and profiting from it more than others. Whilst on one hand I have no issue with this (I do it myself) – is there some sort of a line where those earning a living from blogs have a responsibility to share the gains they make from advice from others who generously give what they know?
I’m actually not sure of the answer to this question or how one would find such a line but would like to think that there is a place for us all to move a little beyond the free advice approach.
As someone earning a living from blogging I would generally opt for the following approach:
1. Look for the information for myself first in the free options – as Paul writes there is a wealth of free information online when it comes to Adsense. There are numerous forums for Adsense publishers as well as sites like this one with categories full of tested advice. Yes it takes time to sort through the advice and work out what works – but it is where I’d start.
2. Watch what others are doing who are making a go of Adsense. It goes without saying but there is a lot to be said learned from doing a bit of surfing and seeing what others are trying.
3. Ask for Advice with those you have good relationships with. I know of 20 or so publishers that I feel I have a good enough relationship with to ask a question of. I wouldn’t just pick someone randomly for free advice.
4. Search out the services offered by ‘experts’ and pay for advice. I’ve done this on a number of occasions. There are just some things i don’t know enough about and will pay for if it will help me increase my earnings enough or save me a lot of time and energy. I also believe that at times you get what you pay for and that the advice might end up being better by purchasing it.
From time to time I do ask questions on my blogs – but increasingly I’m feeling more and more uncomfortable to do so if it will directly benefit my earning capacity to know the answers. I’ve found myself deleting or modifying posts a number of times recently for this very reason.
I know that my readers know I earn $100,000+ per year from blogging and feel a little hypocritical asking directly for free advice when I am probably in more of a position to pay for it than others. Recently when I’ve asked for advice or help from other bloggers I’ve been willing to pay a little for their time – I think this is fair if it will increase my own earning capacity.
I also think that those of us who have found how to make a few dollars from blogging have something of a responsibility to share even more than others.
So how would I approach wanting to optimize my adsense ads if I were in Jason’s position? If I’d exhausted the above options and still wanted to post something on my blog I’d probably word it a little differently. Rather than ask for free advice for me and my network I’d probably start a post inviting people to share with each other (and me) what they’d been learning. I’d want to be open that I was interested in the answers for my own benefit but suggest we all discuss it openly and publicly so that we could all benefit. I’d also be willing to share pretty explicitly what I’d already done to increase my earnings so far so that it was not just a one way street of knowledge sharing.
This is not too different to what Jason has actually done in this post although I’d probably reveal a little more about what he’d found the ‘better spots’ for their ads to be and be a little more inviting of a public discussion.
This is just my personal conclusion and something I’m currently grappling with. I don’t have ‘the answer’ and suspect there isn’t one. Entrepreneurial blogging is still in its infancy and there are not any blueprints to follow so its really up to each blogger to make their own calls about what their responsibilities to others might be.
I’m interested what others think about this?