The topic of ads is one I always find interesting. There’s a fair bit of negative stigma attached sites that run ads, and that’s what I wanted to discuss today. I wanted to clear the air on the subject and explain it from the perspective of the blogger, or website owner.
I tend to use the word blog and website interchangeably when writing. For the sake of discussion, I mean no difference between them.
Bad Ad Setups
Ever been to a site that ran like eight different ads all over their site, plus one that floats at the bottom, and often a pop-up when you leave, or a pop-under as you’re visiting?
Hell yes you have; we all have.
Those sites are often so slowed down by the amount of ads they are delivering that you give up on reading what you went there for, and you just bail out to never return. Sometimes it’s on a website you enjoy, despite the metric-ton of ads, so you install an ad blocker. That way you can visit the site and not get bombarded with ads.
While, as you’ll see below, I’m a proponent of running ads on a site, there’s a line that many sites cross in their pursuit of monetization. It’s the old adage of “If one is good, two is better!”, but multiplied by 5 or 6.
If done well, ads should be integrated into the site such that they do not interrupt the user’s experience. A slow loading site because of too many ads is indeed interrupting the user experience. Ultimately these sites are hurting themselves because they are missing out on traffic as people leave the site in frustration.
Suffice to say that a lot of sites don’t do ads well.
Good Ad Setups
As I said above, a good setup with ads will be a relatively seamless thing. The ads should blend in, while still being noticeable – a contradiction I know! You should be able to read the article you came for without being disturbed by ads.
There are a lot of principles on good ad setups, but since that’s not the goal of this article, we’ll leave it at that.
Why Blogs Run Ads
This is where the misconception comes in with ads. While some people run blogs with the sole intention of making money, of getting rich – or at least making a living, that’s not why most of us do it. So, why run the ads then? Let me explain.
Since you’re reading this article, it’s safe to assume you’re probably a small-time blogger like me. I had started my blog Creative Twilight as a way to promote commission painting I was doing at the time. I eventually burned out on commission painting, but I kept the site and began blogging about Warhammer 40K. Eight years later, here I am, still blogging about 40K.
Over the years I have had to pay for my blog. At first, I was hosting in a shared environment, which was affordable, but not great when your site starts getting more traffic. I had to upgrade to a VPS (virtual private server) so that I could run Creative Twilight, and the other sites I have, like this one. Eventually, I had to upgrade the VPS package too as the traffic kept on coming, and I had to keep the site working optimally.
I’m not mentioning that for the technicalities, but because – as you’d have expected, the hosting of my blog is not free. Every month I pay for the VPS I have to run my sites. I also have to register my domain name (URL) every year. Occasionally, I will run ads on Facebook. Facebook is a fickle beast. They really do force you to spend money to get any true value from them. The thing is, it’s often worth it if you can afford it.
So, I have expenses to run my blog. Long story short, I run ads to try to cover my expenses.
Time, Energy, and Value
There is another part to this though, the reason blogs will run ads, and one seldom mentioned.
If you have never blogged, then you may not be aware of the amount of time that can go into an article. One article can be hours and hours of work. If the article is a tutorial, then I can easily spend 6-10+ hours working on the article and taking pictures. I will later spend hours more promoting the article and trying to draw traffic to it.
A great article should have value to anyone who reads it. Many of us try to create resources and guides for the readers. We, the bloggers, are trying to create value in what we write. Not everything we do is a masterpiece, but now and then we will create something we’re very proud of.
Many of us have sites we frequent, and articles we have saved for reference. Whatever it is that draws you to a particular site, or article deserves to be rewarded, right? Between the time, energy, and hopefully value, of the articles that bloggers create, getting some recompense is not unwarranted. Basically, getting paid for your time.
I can’t speak for everyone else who blogs, but I know that I enjoy being rewarded for my efforts. In my case, and the case of many, those small financial gains we may get through ads are just being pumped right back into the site to cover expenses anyway.
We’re not getting rich, that’s for sure. However, it does help keep us around to continue creating the content you enjoy consuming.
Now, we dive into the meat of the matter, ad blockers.
Hopefully, I have helped you understand why some of us run ads on our blogs, and those reasons sound rational to you. See, people who run ad blockers are hurting smaller sites like mine where we’re trying to cover expenses. I get it if you’re visiting some big and nasty site that optimizes ad abuse. However, consider adding exceptions to your blockers for the smaller sites you enjoy. That $1 a day a blogger makes on ads can honestly be the difference between their site being there one day, and gone the next.
I get that ads can be annoying, I really do. Try to understand where the blogger is coming from who is running the ads though. I can honestly say that I would rather not run ads on my blog, but I have little choice in the matter. I’ve tried other monetization strategies, and so far none have come close to matching what ads do.
I did also want to say that there are also niche bloggers who, as noted above, run blogs to make money. Once upon a time I would have shunned this notion. However, I’ve come to realize the amount of work and effort that goes into a quality niche site.
So, I understand those sites running ads to try and make a living. Honestly, someday I wish I could make a living off my blogs. Maybe someday I’ll move beyond trying to cover expenses and into covering my cost of living 🙂