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Should New Blogs Have Ads?

Posted By Darren Rowse 21st of May 2005 Advertising 0 Comments

Jacob asks Should New Blogs Have Ads? He has decided not to put ads on his new blogs for two main reasons:

  1. Not much money – it takes time to build readership and in the mean time it doesn’t really earn much
  2. Bring in the Audience – ads can put off a potential audience. When you’re working on establishing yourself you want to give your visitors as few reasons as possible not to come back

Both are legitimate arguments that are well worth taking into consideration when you start a new blog.

I however take another approach to Jacob:

1. Not much money is better than no money – of course this rule can’t be applied to everything (I’m not obsessed by money) – but in general its true. A dollar a day from a blog isn’t really much in the scheme of things – but over a year its $365 – and if you had two or three blogs it’d be $730 or $1095. If someone were to offer me any of these amounts I’d take them. I have a few blogs that earn very little per day – but when I add them together and look at them over a longer period of time they add up to be significant money.

2. Don’t change the Rules halfway through the game – have you ever been playing a game with someone only to have them change the rules midway through? It is a pretty frustrating thing. This is a risk you take if you start a blog with no ads and then suddenly transition it to one that has numerous ads. It won’t impact all of your readers but it turn off some. Jacob talks of keeping his blogs ad free to attract readers until they get to a point when he’ll put the ads on. Problem is at that point – any readers he’s attracted by having an ad free blog are likely to leave – and some of them could leave badly (I’ve seen some nasty fights over ads being added to a site where community has been built on a commercial free site).

3. Adding ads later can mean a redesign – these days when i start a new design I think as much about where I want potential ads to go as where I want other aspects of the blog to be put. I attempt to think ahead about where ads will go immediately but also where they could go down the track if the opportunity arises for different types of ad campaigns. I’ve noticed in working with a couple of bloggers recently that they initially designed a blog that was ad free – but when they came to put them on they did not have any spaces suitable. This meant redesign which took time and money. This could have been avoided with a bit of forethought and by simply building ads into the initial design.

For me what it boils down to is knowing the purpose of the blog and setting it up that way. For some blogs it is just not suitable to run ads – that is fine – for others the purpose is commercial and in those cases in my mind it makes some sense to allow them to be commercial in nature. In these cases there are different degrees in how disruptive the ads can be – but with a little subtlety and clever thinking you can produce a blog profitable but well designed blog.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • Hmmm, those 2 opposite arguments of yours and Jacob is really making me re-consider putting ads….


  • Absolutely, Darren, some of my fave blogs have ads on them. But that doesn’t mean you have to. It’s better to have a clear aim for your blog, one that keeps you focused and alive ~ many bloggers seems to be dead :-). If that purpose is commercial, excellent, just do it well. Make some money, for God’s sake! If not, it may be non-profit, like mine, but you can still sell something on the blog. My new book, “Blogging with a purpose” goes into detail about this. But it’s not on sale yet. Keep up to date on SYNTAGMA.

    You see, you don’t have to have ads to advertise!

  • As someone who has a pretty successful site that put in ads mid-stream I can say that were I to do it over again I’d have ads since day one. I didn’t really have that option back then (there was no AdSense) but if I had it, I’d have used it.

    A) I would have started making money a bit sooner.
    B) I’d have saved myself a whole lot of grief. Both of the points you make were true for me. I had design issues and I caught a bit of flack. Neither of which I wanted to deal with. I want to focus on content, discussion and community, not defending or talking about my business strategy or working on design tweaks to accomodate my advertising.

    The funny thing is, I’m putting AdSense into my RSS and expect to go through a bit of that real soon now. At least this time, I’ve already set the president.

  • well for me…most important is content. if its good, then why not help out the website owner with some clicks on related ads. BUT strictly not a clicking spree

  • dean

    one theory, and a good point of avoiding ads on your site, is that you may avoid the google sandbox effect, or shorten it, if you dont put adds on your site.

    many have tested it and claim it works, i.e. adding ads later. i have one site, no ads/adsense and google has quite a few, if not all the pages, indexed now.


  • I generally put ads in on day one when I launch a site, although I am conservative at that stage (no pop-unders or animated ads) to help build readership.

    My reasons agree with your #2 and #3. Additionally, it fits in with my philosophy that every site should be profitable from day one. Even a few cents a day is at least a start.

    One more reason: At some point, traffic will increase, and it may happen suddenly. If I don’t have time to drop everything and add advertising to the site right then, I’m losing money… having the ads already there means I’ll benefit from any traffic bursts.

  • dean: I’ve used ads from day one on many sites, no ads on a few others, and have noticed absolutely no effect on the “sandbox”. It seems to happen to just about every site regardless of ads.

    Especially when we’re talking about AdSense, I can’t imagine Google restricting a site for having ads…

  • I’m grateful that I started out using ads on all my sites simply because being able to check Adsense stats was an encouragement to me. It wasn’t until I started watching my CTR that I got excited about the idea of really trying hard to develop my sites and place ads well. The dollar-a-day for me was a necessary stepping stone to everything further – I might have quit without it.

  • dean

    it has been proven by reliable sources that putting ads immediately on your site will possibly sandbox your site longer than normal by all se’s – yes even google (or get flagged for human review as spammy site by se’s).

    point is to put ads, yes, but wait till site is indexed by all major se’s….

    if you are going to have a blog, especially one that gets all content from syndication, them, waiting a month or two will be in your best interest….

  • My experience from nonblog business sites is that when I added ads I added credibility. I began to get less curiosity calls and emails and more real business. With a blog, where the point is probably more to build readership than to build responses, but the lesson here is that a site someone stumbles upon may appear more credible to the average consumer if it has ads. To the average consumer, even Google Adsense ads may create an automatic impression that the blog is more professional and that adds credibility. Of course, having ads with no content won’t hold that impression for long. And if you are in an anticommerce niche, that won’t apply, but in that case you are going to run into issues no matter when you put the ads on.

    As far as search engines, FWIW, I hit a PR of 4 in less than a month with a blog that had Adsense ads from day one…I tend to take all the SEO stuff with a grain of salt and just do what I know works. You shouldn’t spam the SEs, but you can’t live your life by them either. Put out good content that people will want to link to and get it in front of the web’s opinion leaders and you will get on the SEs.

  • I just wrote a rebutal to they naysayers of ads in RSS feeds, but my feelings remain the same on ads in general. I am doing what I like doing. Not that I do not enjoy other things, or nor because I am lazy. I am not the evil because I put advertisements on my sites, the ideology of a real job that I go to from 8 in the morning to 5 at night is the evil. It prevents me from spending time with my girlfriend, my family, friends and enjoying life in general.

    If someone proposed a way for me to get paid doing what I like that doesn’t involve advertising I would be more than willing to hear it. But until then advertising will always be a great thing for both blogs, and thier readers. I mean sure, I would still write even if I wasn’t getting paid…but the thought of some day making it a living gives me more incentive to do it better and more frequently.

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  • I am currently thinking about putting ads on my blog ( There are definately pros and cons. I am not sure if a buck a day or even 10 bucks a day makes sense (at least to me)

    I think building readership and a community feel is much more valuabale and if in fact there is value, the money will come.


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  • I’ve been thinking about putting ads on my site. Personally I don’t mind them. I certainly don’t find ProBlogger’s ads annoying. My site’s not that big, (it’s more of a hobby) and I don’t get many hits, but if I was being payed by ad revenue, I might be more hardcore about it.