Should we monetize the blog?

We need your help!

FGA mentioned that we might be able to start advertising now.  Something about a Google Page Rank of 4.

However, we’re on a free wordpress.com site and we’re a bit … I think overwhelmed is the best word for it.  And Google is just making us even more confused.

We both like money, but we don’t have a whole lot of time.  Since we didn’t start out with a paid blog, we may not be ideally set up to just add advertising.

Then on top of that #2 shares a distaste of advertising with many of our academic readers.  (#1 figures it’s the price of freedom.)  But if there’s real money involved, her scruples can be bought.

Also, neither of us wants to lose money.

So here’s our questions:

What exactly is it that we have to do to change a free wordpress blog into one that allows advertising?  We think it involves paying money to wordpress (something like $17?), paying money to a domain name place (something like $10), and paying money for hosting (we have no idea how much this costs).  There may be other costs we’re missing.

How much is this going to cost?

How much effort will this take?

Will people be able to find us with the new domain name (or is that what we’re paying wordpress for)?

How does one get advertisers?  And if one does, how does one control them (so they’re not icky ads)?  Does one have time to negotiate with individual advertisers?

What complications are we missing?

Is it worth it?

(help!)

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42 Responses to “Should we monetize the blog?”

  1. bloggerclarissa Says:

    I think you definitely should monetize. WordPress allows popular blogs to monetize in a really easy and hassle-free way that makes seeking out advertisers completely unnecessary. I recently requested permission from WordPress to monetize my blog and I described the whole process here: http://clarissasblog.com/2011/06/30/advertising-with-wordpress-com-skimlinks/

    As a WordPress.com blogger, you can use both AdSense and Skimlinks to derive profit from your blog. Turning both on is extremely easy and after you have done it, all you need to do is sit back, keep blogging and wait for the checks to come in. WordPress makes the whole process super easy. It cost me absolutely nothing to turn in advertising. Just follow the instructions on the post I quoted and you will be ready to monetize in no time.

    You have a fantastic blog that should start making you money. I’ve already made money off my blog ($95, but, hey, whatever small amount is helpful) and I believe you should do, too.

  2. Kellen Says:

    I certainly wouldn’t be bothered by ads on your site. You can always start with adsense and then try and replace the ad blocks with direct advertising from more related items (say, other bloggers who want to advertise on your page.) For some reason, direct ads always seem a little less “commercial”, because they’re actually a related site that your readers might like, but they actually pay more money.

    I’d say, follow Clarissa’s advice, and turn on an adsense plugin for your current website. Having your own domain, under my webhost, costs $10 for the domain per year, plus $10 for privacy protection per year (to keep people from seeing my name and address as the owner of the domain), plus close to $200/year for the monthly hosting. That sounds like it might be a little higher than you were looking for. (My host is bluehost.com, and then you install wordpress code through that… )

    AND if you switch to a private domain, you’d have to work at it for awhile before the pagerank is up where your current domain is (although I’m sure you would get there quickly.)

  3. Comrade PhysioProf Says:

    Don’t do itte. The amount of money you will make is de minimus compared to the amount of hassle you are going to have to deal with when readers start complaining about exactly what ads they are seeing and you start feeling uncomfortable about what ads your blogge is displaying. Itte’s just one more thing you’re gonna have to think about in life, and you aren’t gonna make shitte for dicke money offe itte.

  4. Everyday Tips Says:

    It is totally up to you. Ads are all over the place- even when I go to Yahoo Finance and such, so I almost expect it. You guys wouldn’t make it look all spammy.

    WordPress.org is free. You would have to pay for hosting (under 10 bucks a month) and buy the domain name, which is pretty cheap. (I would do that anyway just in case you want to expand in the future, before someone else snags the name just so you will have to buy it from them.)

    You can set the rules as to how much you want to monetize, and you can do it gradually. Doesn’t have to be all or nothing. :)

  5. First Gen American Says:

    As far as I know, you need $10 for a domain name and pay a about $100/year for a hosting service. That’s about it.

    I don’t advertise much on my blog just yet and since I don’t really “need” the income I can be selective about what I choose to put up there. Google adsense has made me all of $42 since I put it up 8 months ago. It only is worthwhile if you have an article get picked up by a major site and you get loads of hits in a day. I just hired BFS to help with finding people that fit with my blog. I don’t have the time or inclination to do it myself…yet I do not want to leave money on the table either so I thought that was a decent compromise.

    Hopefully some other bloggers who make real money will chime in. I personally hadn’t focused on it at all when I was page rank 0 as the offers and money potential were not worth the effort.

    I’m personally okay with ads, and I prefer sidebar ads versus “Sponsored” Posts.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We will never do a sponsored post. Well, if they offer us a million dollars we might, since our scruples can be bought. But the price on that is pretty high. (Actually we’d probably do one for $100K so long as we were allowed to note it was a sponsored post. Less than that I don’t really see us doing.)

      • First Gen American Says:

        What if it is a product your really believe in and love like Powell books or LIbrary thing? Is it still evil, would you still say no? For example, there are certain products I LOVE, like Zout stain remover (my kid’s clothes would be a mess without it) I wouldn’t do a sponsored post for shout or oxyclean because I know Zout works way better. However, I would do one for Zout. If it’s a brand I never heard of, I’d have to try it first.

        The only one I did so far was for a coupon code finding site, and I do use those all the time, so I was okay with it.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        If we were going to do a post on something we loved, we wouldn’t take money for it.

        I’m pretty sure #2 is ok with doing reviews on things people send us for free (she does this for LibraryThing), but they might not be good reviews if the item is no good.

  6. Perpetua Says:

    I think CPP makes a really good point about the time investment issue, and I think he’s broken it down in the most useful way – do you think of the blog as a very rewarding hobby (forgive the term “hobby” – I know it over-trivializes) or something you might want to change into a business? There’s nothing wrong with trying to make money off the blog – I have nothing but respect for the bloggers I read who advertise and make money, especially the women because they get so much sh*t about how “mommy” blogging isn’t “real” work that shouldn’t earn them money – but I think it might change the purpose of the blog for you, practically as well as perhaps philosophically. Historiann had an interesting post a while back about why she *doesn’t* monetize.

  7. Holly Says:

    I definitely would monetize…

    No offense to the advertisiers out there, but we’re coming to the site for your content and an ad in the corner will barely be noticed. The public is so bombarded w/ads that many of us are ‘immune’, I think.

    I know they say that ads are absorbed by our ‘subconscious’ minds, but I think that only happens if you allow your thoughts to be compromised.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Ads bother me (#2). That’s why I run the Adblock Plus plugin — it makes the web quieter and helps with the signal-to-noise ratio. I guess if EVERYBODY ran it, we could have ads to our heart’s content…

  8. Dr. Sneetch Says:

    I’ll chime in about the time investment issue. That is a big one. But it sounds like you make have already thought about it.

    Also what about anonymity? Once you get a domain name you are no longer anonymous. It is easy to find out going to whois or some other similar service.

    It would help to know how much some of the more popular bloggers are making on science blogs and scientopia etc.

    • Cloud Says:

      Actually, there are services that will hide your identity for you while giving you a domain name.

      I don’t have much to add to what other people have said. I’ve played around with AdSense and other monetization schemes, and my opinion is that unless you want to invest some time, you probably won’t make much money. So you probably aren’t talking about enough money to buy off anyone’s scruples.

      If you want to go beyond AdSense, etc, there are ad network sites that handle some of the business stuff for you- e.g., Parenting Blog Ads. I suspect there are more general ones out there, too. But from what I’ve read, those aren’t worth pursuing unless you’re getting more than 1000 unique hits per day.

    • MutantSupermodel Says:

      Want to clarify. I own my domain. You pay extra and they keep your identity a secret. Which is what I did.

  9. Comrade PhysioProf Says:

    “passive income”

    Itte’s easy to say thatte, but difficult to achieve as a reality if you move to an ad-based profitmaking model. If you really want passive income, then just put a paypal donate button on the blogge. I droppe about $500 per year donating to various bloggers whom I read daily.

  10. MutantSupermodel Says:

    To qualify for the WP program where you don’t have to do all your own crap, you have to have over 25,000 hits a month. Do you guys have that?

    I have an Alexa ranking toolbar and you guys are listed at 251,380. I’ve heard it’s good to break 200k. FGA, for instance, has a ranking of 152,513. I, tiny blogger that I am, have a ranking at like 1.1M. GRS is ranked at 11,350.

    I personally don’t think you can earn much more from advertising than hosting costs unless you work at your blog like the Comrade is insinuating. If you qualify for the free service Clarissa mentioned, do it. Another option is to do affiliate links and sign up with affiliate services. You don’t have to go out of your way to create affiliate-linked posts but you might find affiliate links relevant to your posts. It’s the route I’ve looked into because it doesn’t really take much effort.

    I hate sponsored posts. Even sponsored giveaways bug me and I only enter if they’re awesome and useful. I’ve won a couple of free books on Goodreads but wasn’t obligated to review them on my site or even on their site. Like you, if I love something I’m going to talk about how awesome it is without a company prompting me to. Now, if I wrote a glowing review or recommendation and the company noticed and sent me a thank you gift, that’s different and I wouldn’t say no ;)

  11. bloggerclarissa Says:

    People who blog on a free WordPress.com platform are not allowed to do sponsored posts. This will get your blog closed down in no time. The only possibility to monetize that will not get your blog shut down is AdSense and Skimlinks and only after you get WordPress’s permission. You can’t establish any affiliate accounts on your own. It’s not allowed. The good thing is that SkimLinks is completely unobtrusive and doesn’t fill your blog with ads.

    Buying your own domain on WordPress.com doesn’t change anything in terms of advertisement. If you want to be able to insert any ads you like, you will have to self-host on WordPress.org and move your entire blog there. It’s quite expensive and complicated. I’d only do that if I were completely sure that ad income would make it worth it.

    • MutantSupermodel Says:

      I should’ve clarified. I was thinking of Amazon affiliation which is completely ok with WordPress.

      http://en.support.wordpress.com/advertising/

      http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/affiliate-link?replies=89

      Regarding self-hosting, Go Daddy has services specifically catered to WordPress including hosting plans at a variety of levels. The cheapest plan is the Economy plan at $3.99 a month for 36 months but that’s a big commitment for blogs; it’s $4.49 a month for 12 months ($53.88). Their “Ultimate Plan” is $11.99 for 12 months and the Deluxe is $6.49 a month for 12 months.

      http://www.godaddy.com/hosting/wordpress-hosting.aspx?ci=15005

      I should mention, I’ve heard great things about self-hosting a WordPress blog and it’s my next step (one day) even if I don’t monetize. The flexibility and the support are supposed to be absolutely fantastic. I’ve seen some transitions go absolutely perfectly, some go mostly perfectly, and some go pretty badly. :) BUT they all seem to be fine once they pass the initial transfer period.

      • Frugal Forties Says:

        Just FWIW, I would NEVER EVER EVER EVER host a blog with GoDaddy. I have all my domains registered with them, and I think they’re great as a registrar. But hosting? Run the other way.

  12. Louise Says:

    People underestimate how much you can earn with a well monetised blog, especially those that haven’t done it. my blog used to be PR 4 and in my best month I earned $600 from adsense and sponsored ads combined. It took some patience to test out the best ad placements over time, if you put some effort in you could earn some money here.
    with advertisers you set a price for a monthly or a yearly text link or banner ad on your blog, usually about $20 $40 a month. the problem with adsense is that they can just freeze your account if they feel like it and thats what happened to me, they keep over $600 and then they ban you. you can appeal, but when you ask what you did wrong they tell you that they cannot divulge that to you. There are thousands of these stories online, so if you go with adsense just be very careful to read every update of their TOS & accept it can be taken away in an instant.
    I made a decision to remove ads from my blog. I wouldnt accept payday lender ads and they are the main people who want ad space. They recently had a big promotion on a popular finance network with sponsored posts about how great payday loans are, they poppped up all over the place, for me, well, I don’t visit those blogs anymore.
    so it can be done, it’s up to you, I guess I’d just say don’t lose your unique voices and work out what you’ll accept and won’t accept before you start.

  13. Lindy Mint Says:

    There’s a WordPress plugin called OIO Publisher that automates the process of self-hosted ads, taking a lot of the time factor away from the blogger. It costs $47, and you’d most likely have to move to self hosting, but it might be worth looking into if you want control of the ads you run yourself.

  14. Rebecca Weinberg Says:

    Ads only work on… everybody (it’s just a stochastic process). Particularly people who think they don’t work on them. If you accept ads, you’re partially morally responsible for what the consumption patterns that change as a result. So don’t put up skeezy ads.

    If you start advertising for things I would ultimately be happier to have in my life (perhaps books for kiddos?), I will like the advertising. But I don’t need more stuff. I don’t need more unhealthy food. I don’t need more teevee. I certainly don’t need payday loans. I don’t need 99.99% of the stuff that people tend to advertise.

    Keep in mind, your content is valuable. I’d never argue you shouldn’t monetize on those grounds. I’d just rather pay a dollar a month on paypal then get ads for more crap.

  15. Spanish Prof Says:

    I would investigate how much effort it will take, and whether you are willing to make that effort or not. I have Google Adsense, just for the sake of it (if I like writing my blog, and have readers come to my site, why not put it?). At this point, it makes a whooping 8 bucks a month, give it or take. I couldn’t care less. When I cash my first 100 dollars, it will be gone in a few days buying more books. I don’t think anybody reads or stop reading my site because of the ads. On the other hand, I don’t care about aesthetics very much, so if the ads look a little tacky, so be it.

  16. Comrade PhysioProf Says:

    If you putte uppe a paypal donate button, I’m in for $50 per year (assuming your blogge doesn’t start suckeing asse).

  17. Sandy @ Journey To Our Home Says:

    Eh- who knows. I know Hubby put adsense on my blog and we only ‘made’ $11 in one month- however, you do have a much better page ranking than I do.

    I personally don’t mind the ads on other blogs! Good luck with whichever way you go!

  18. Funny about Money Says:

    When I first monetized FaM with AdSense, it made a couple hundred bucks a month. Then Google changed its algorithm, dropping FaM’s page rank one step, and revenues were halved (so, we’re talking “from not much to not worth the effort”). Over a year or so, the page rank rose back to 4, but the revenues have stayed the same.

    IMHO, it’s hardly worth the effort.

    First, you’ll have to move your site off WordPress.com. This means you have buy your domain name (or rent it, if someone has already grabbed it out from under you, which they probably have) and pay for server space somewhere else. It also means you have to migrate your content, which is easier said than done. I hired an expert to do the job; she ran into trouble and called in help. The two of them needed days and days to get the thing onto Bluehost, and though they certainly did better than I could’ve done, the site still lost a fair amount of content. I ended up having to manually repost entries that were more than a year or two old and then finally just gave up. So, many archive entries are missing, and most of the older posts have lost their images — even though the images remain in the media library, their links are broken, so that to get them back online I have to track them down and repost them.

    To make any money off affiliate links, you really have to push the products, and probably you need to get your friends to buy stuff they need through the links on your site. Over the time I’ve been an Amazon Affiliate, I’ve made a grandiose ten bucks or so. This works out not to minimum wage but to pennies per hour for your time.

    You’ll be inundated with offers from people who want to “give” you so-called guest posts (“FREE OF CHARGE TO YOU!”), which are actually vehicles to carry paid links. You don’t get paid — these alleged freelancers do. What you get is a hit against your page rank. You also will be approached by people, some of whom are bloggers whose names you will recognize, brokering paid links. They will call these things “advertising” and promise you great riches.

    Paid links are not advertising. They’re a form of black-hat SEO. Google punishes them by negating the publisher’s page rank. You may make a few bucks at first, but after your PR drops to zero and searches for your site name or for titles of posts bring up sploggers’ sites, these folks will abandon you and then you will be earning nothing, either from the link peddlers or from Adsense.

    It appears that to make money at blogging, you need to maintain several sites with respectable page ranks, cut your own deals with real-world advertisers (if you can), engage several avenues to monetization, and sell your services to other bloggers who are paying for freelanced posts. You’ll make lots more waiting tables and probably have more fun.

    I’m keeping Adsense on my site because a few bucks a month is better than nothing. But I’m just letting it sit there, not doing anything proactive to crank cash from it. What it earns covers the hosting costs, pays for a few office supplies, and helps support my assistant editors (who work for the part of the business that actually does earn a few shekels). Occasionally I remind myself that the reason I started FaM was to entertain myself. Get into trying to make your site earn money, and the entertainment value quickly evaporates.

  19. Back online...sort of | Funny about Money Says:

    […] Wandered over to Nicole and Maggie’s place yesterday, while idling time between classes, and came across a call for advice on whether they should monetize Grumpy Rumblings of the Untenured. […]

  20. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Thank you so much everybody for your input. Much better than trying to sort through all those Google sites and way more informative. It looks like the general consensus at this time is that we should not monetize. Gone are the days of super-easy money (though yay for free blogging). We’re down with that. Money is good, but less work is also good.

    As for CPP’s request to give us money… after a long discussion we are considering adding a paypal button, but only because we sense that CPP has too much. Perhaps by allowing him to throw it at us we’re helping to keep him out of trouble. We totally do not need your money and will most likely use it to buy more books or cheese or both. First we have to figure how much effort such a button will take.

  21. Why do we blog? « Grumpy rumblings of the untenured Says:

    […] a whim.  Apparently one of us wanted money, though that has not happened (or not yet happened).  Money takes effort.  And possibly some dirtying of the […]


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