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Should You Put Ads on Your Blog?

by Krista

Let me skip straight to the point. Yes. Yes you should put ads on your blog. Because you know what…you work hard on your blog. Nights, weekends, mornings. No one probably realizes how much time and effort you put into your site…no one but you!

I pay something like £95 per year to Typepad. So at the very least, the more I think about things lately, I’d really like to break even on my investment. If I think about how over the last six years, I’ve given nearly £600 to Typepad, well, I get a bit upset.

For a while, I was very anti-ads. Didn’t want to bias myself by accepting money from anyone. In hindisght, I think I was overanalyzing the situation. Now that I have the ads up and running, I barely even think about them except when I wake up in the morning and check how much I’ve earned the day before.

So at the very end of June, I started experimenting. I put an ad in my header, an ad in right sidebar, and an ad in my left sidebar. Typepad makes it very easy to put ads in your sidebars, but to get an ad in the banner area, I had to do a little fiddling with CSS. (More about that at the end of the post.) I was curious to see how much, if anything, I’d make. My mental accounting told me I’d be happy with £200 a year.

For the entire month of July, I earned £19.18 through Adsense. (How’s that for being on-target?) Google’s Ts and Cs prevent me from telling you what my click-thru-rates are or other elements of the nitty gritty like how many impressions it took to generate that, so I can only tell you that one macro number. (But hey, you can look at some of my older posts where I include my blog stats…) Interestingly, Adsense is my back-up ad program. My primary ad program is the Six Apart network on Typepad. I made £1.53 on that last month. Yeah. Not going to quit my day job!

So here are some of the things I’ve learned over the past month:

  • Adsense is making me more than the Six Apart Adify network. The CTR is also much higher with Adsense than Six Apart. (Probably because the Adsense ads are more targeted to my readers.) I am going to remove Adify completely very soon.
  • My right-sidebar ad performs best. This is probably not surprising, given that it is higher up on the page than the left-sidebar ad. I am going to try to move the right-sidebar ad even higher and remove my Urbanspoon ranking.
  • When I first started playing around, I ran a banner ad (a “leaderboard” position) above my banner. It annoyed me because it pushed everything down on the page, but it performed pretty well, slightly trailing the right-sidebar ad. Last week, I removed the banner ad and replaced it with text links below my banner and above my navigation (More on how to do that at the end of this post.) Unfortunately, although it’s more aesthetically pleasing, it’s not working well. AT ALL. So I’m probably going to switch back to the top banner. Sorry, dear readers. I know it’s not elegant.
  • Barely anyone clicks on the ads in my RSS feed.
  • Google will only let you put three ads on one page.
  • I should really run the MPU format (the big square-sized ad) but my banner isn’t wide enough so this would require a blog redesign. Apparently, the MPU is the most profitable format.

I had dinner with A Lady in London the other week and she had a good point about ads on food blogs, particularly restaurant blogs. If you are a restaurant trying to advertise yourself, you’re just advertising yourself so there’s no price competition. You can get away with paying very little for your Adsense ads. So people like me–with a restaurant blog–make very little off of the ads on their blog, as opposed to a blog about plastic surgery or loan consolidation. Or you know, like porn. Let this be food for thought: Maybe we should all open plastic surgery restaurant blogs. Or loan consolidation restaurant porn blogs. Forget about the London restaurant blog thing! We are in the wrong business.

I’m happy to answer questions on this topic, so please leave a comment or contact me. For those of you who are on Typepad and want help putting an ad under your banner, there are some instructions after the jump. Note that I have a Pro subscription, so these instructions might not work for everyone.

Typepad has instructions online for how to put an ad ABOVE your blog banner, so I won’t address that here. My instructions are for people who want to put an ad BETWEEN the blog banner and the blog navigation. I’ve since changed this up and gone back to a regular banner, but here’s what it looked like when I followed these instructions…

Ad strip

1. Custom CSS: I added a line that says
#nav { margin-top: 20px !important; }
at the very bottom of the custom CSS dialog box. This put about 20px of space ABOVE my nav bar, making just enough room for the line of Google text ads.

2. Content: Edit blog footer
In the Design area on Typepad, click on Content and then when you’re on the page that shows you all the “modules” that make up your blog design, go down to the blog footer and click the pencil icon on the right. This is where you will paste your Adsense code, but right before the Adsense code, I added a line that says…
<div style=”position: absolute; top: 185px;”>
185px is the lower border on my Londonelicious banner. So I think what this code does is say “Start ad here.” If your banner is taller than mine, then you’d put in 200px or 250px or whatever.

So this seems really easy, but it took me FOREVER to figure out. I’m not a coder! I hope this helps! Wishing you all financial success! If this post does prompt you to add ads, please let me know how it goes!

P.S. Don’t forget about my contest. Leave a comment on my The Many Things I’ll Miss about London post and you could win a great gift box full of American and London-ish treats! Must be in the UK to win.

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6 comments

Neil August 3, 2010 - 10:06 am

Krista,

Nice that you are open, as you say your need to recoup some costs. I agree with ads, as long as they are ‘right’ for you. Google is contextually aware, and targetted (both geographically), and by the user.

Using a service like http://www.addiply.com/ would allow you to solicit/brands to buy direct space, but that might be ‘too’ much for people.

One of my sites brings in ~£200 a month through ads, but it’s very different type of content. The one suggestion I’d have for you is to have ads between the end of the article and your comments.

London will miss you,

An American in London August 3, 2010 - 10:08 am

Love the poll and def let us know what sample size you get. : )

As for ads on blogs – from what little I’ve read (suggesting how little money a blogger makes from ads with 1,000 page views a day), it’s never seemed worth the time/effort of (a) my upgrading to a non-wordpress hosting so I can actually customize my site to accommodate ads; and (b) learning to do any coding of my own to carry out said customisation.

I signed up for google adsense ages ago because Lonely Planet will give you the ad money generated from its blogsherpa programme, but I think because I can’t customise my blog, I’ve never completed whatever process you have to finish to generate any money from adsense.

I share all the above to give a sense of how technologically clueless some bloggers can be (which makes putting ads on a blog sort of a moot point). : )

Interesting post, though, and glad you put it out there.

Tom August 3, 2010 - 10:52 am

Can I cheekily ask how much a well read (but in the scheme of things not a guardian.co.uk) makes on average a year.

As far as I understand it An American In London’s view accords with mine that it is not financially worth it.

And I agree with your points on aesthetics.

That said I would pay an advertising company to fix the template on my wordpress blog and url that we have bought and just haven’t had the time to make look halfway decent.

PS – I am curious what the new name of the blog will be… Jen is actually a Chicago-an-ian so I am sure she will look forward to reading it!

Krista August 3, 2010 - 11:19 am

I'd argue that for £200 a year, it's worth it! I think AiL could easily achieve that, prob more. (her stats better than mine.)

Sent from my iPhone

Krista August 3, 2010 - 12:36 pm

Like the idea of addiply! Will check it out. Thanks!

David August 3, 2010 - 6:04 pm

Nice write up and good to see the results you’ve had. I’m surprised to hear how much you’re paying TypePad, I always thought it was completely free! What exactly are you paying for?

I used to be against all forms of advertising on websites and blogs as I felt it spoils the experience but you’re right, with such high costs, not mentioning the time invested, you should at least get a little something back and most people ignore ads anyway.

I too have been converted to using ads on sites and blogs and haven’t received any complaints.

Comments are closed.