Should New Blogs Have Ads?

    May 21, 2005

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.

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Darren Rowse is the founder of, a blog about the many ways of adding an income stream to blogs.

Darren owns and writes a variety of blogs including Digital Photography Blog and Camera Phone
. He is also a co-founder of the Breaking News Blog Collective.