Making Money Online is About Getting Big (and Not About Jamming Ads on Your Website)


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I see this far too often:

  • Guy reads on some blog or website that it is possible to work from home and make thousands of dollars from the Internet.
  • Guy gets excited and creates a website or blog.
  • Guy starts getting some traffic, and right after he jams his website with all kinds of ads. CPM banners, 125×125 buttons, Google Adsense, Kontera and so on.
  • Guy wonders how come he is just making $100 monthly after a lot of hard work

When I come across those small websites hammered with ads I get the impression that the owner is trying to milk every last penny out of the visitors that are coming there, instead of trying to grow the site itself.

Sure depending on your luck and skill you might end up making a couple of hundred dollars every month. But is that what you are aiming for? Even if you manage to reach $1,000 monthly. Is that your ultimate goal?

The problem with this approach is twofold. First of all when you pack your website with ads all over the place, you will damage your reputation. Some readers will think that you are just trying to make a quick buck, and they will probably never return.

Secondly, when you try to make as much money as possible from a website that is not even getting 1,000 uniques a day, you automatically start with the wrong mindset. You adjust your goals accordingly, probably limiting your growth potential.

Now you might ask: “what about sites like TechCrunch or Mashable that also have ads all over the place?”

Well, those websites already have a very big audience, and huge credibility on the market. Once you are at that stage, you probably can pull off an ad-heavy layout without facing too many problems. But I am sure that when Michael Arrington started TechCrunch his main goal was to make the blog an authority on its niche, and not to squeeze money out of his early visitors.

Note that even those large websites never blend ads with the content, or use intrusive forms of advertising like pop-ups and in-text ads.

The takeaway message is: if you want to make money online, aim to get big and credible first, and then monetize it.

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49 Responses to “Making Money Online is About Getting Big (and Not About Jamming Ads on Your Website)”

  • SEO Genius

    That has been my aim all along however after 10 months of developing my website. I am still lacking traffic and have no money coming from the site at all, what advice could you give someone who is starting to become demotivated because their site is not moving forward fast enough?

  • Nimble

    Excellent piece of advise.

    I have experienced this that when I visit a small blog if I find too many ads (every where on left right and in text), I don’t go there next time.

    On large sites, I notice that they present their ads in a very nice way and they don’t insert ads on every place. Their content and ads are clearly separate.

  • Anil Gupta

    Great thoughts..

    There is something here to learn for every popular as well as new blogger like me

  • betshopboy

    Hi Dan

    How do you classified a site/blog as “ad-heavy layout”?
    Should the number of ad placements be relative to the reader base?

  • Blog Marketing Journal

    Yep, too many people have that “get rich quick” idea in their head and the internet is to blame for it…. too much junk claiming exactly that!

  • Karl Staib – Your Work Happiness Matters

    I agree. The only way to make money is with high traffic. The advertisers, your sales, and however you generate money it takes thousands of readers to do that.

  • Rob

    Good advice, and your business plan, if you have one, should have already clearly found that making money from banner ads is a poor route. After doing a market analysis for your site I am betting banner ads will completely fall out of the equation. It’s an uphill battle getting traffic, and massive ad displays is like putting your car in neutral.

  • Cigar Jack

    I prefer to do a balancing act. I have an ad in each column and an ad at the end of each post. While I don’t make much money it does help keep costs down and helped me pay for advertisements for my site and some contest prizes, that can help promote the site.

    But I do draw the line when it comes to ads that are annoying or distract from the content. No Pop up or full page ads that block the site (The Skip This Ad… ones) and the worst is the in text link ones like Kontera. I HATE those so won’t subject my readers to it.

  • Winning Startups

    Really? you think you need a thousand hits a day to start making money? I’m doomed!

  • Rajaie AlKorani

    I knew how it was from the beginning, so I’m still focusing on networking and gaining a large readership on my blog before starting to expect the $$ to start coming in 🙂

  • Ramiro

    Another great post. I do not like to visit a blog with ads all over the place. Content is king, no ads. We should concentrate on writing good and original content. Thanks for the tips.
    Sorry for my englsh. I am from Portugal but I visit your blog everyday. One of the best.

  • SJL

    Thank you Daniel

    I knew this allready, but the reason for thanking you is that, because you sayed it, alot more people will “hear” it.

    I have seen alot of good sites ruined because of the ad flood. I have even sent email about it to few bloggers/webmasters, but all I have gotten is “f*off” basicly. (or no response)

    I hate to see good startups deserted, just because the admin didn’t understand this.

  • stetoscope

    I totally agree on your point.

  • Max Forlani

    Well, you posted the right articl on the right time. I was just considering to replace the design of my blog with the Thesis theme.

    Not that I want to fill my site with adds. There are two main reasons for my design consideration: for of all I want to make it stickier and put on the top right a ‘most popular series’, and I want to have the ability to have 125×125 ads on a nice spot.

    And for the past two days, I’ve been weighing the pros and cons of changing my design.

    So by all means, do go have a quick look and share your expert opinion on the matter. Would this design change be a good or bad move?

  • Steve

    Absolutely in 100% agreement with you. Personally I get tired of seeing every blog plastered with ads, many of which ahve scant content of any value.

    It’s the biggest cliche in interent marketing but CONTENT IS KING. Without great content you don’t have a long term business opportunity. You might make the odd few dollars but long term you need to be offering real value to carry the ads on your site.

  • Todd Andrews

    Build an audience and let the monetization come later. Its a fundamental rule for longterm success.

  • Ultimate Blogging Experiment

    I completely understand where you’re coming from on this post. Too many people think they are just going to get rich quickly by throwing some ads on their blog. This is not how it works though. I have developed two blogs that have over 20,000 subscribers each and I completely started out using no ads until I had around 10,000 subscribers. My newest blog has rounds 3,000 subscribers and I only have one ad on it and it really isn’t that noticeable. I recommend that you just build a religious readership and then you can place ads on your blog later.

  • Dexter | Tech At Hand Dot Net

    Well said Daniel. I personally believed that new site should focus in their content and not monetizing it very early. A new blogger should create his brand .

  • Casey

    @ Moise Levi
    I agree with you too, I like Google AdSense most of the time, and I think quality ads can actually ADD to your site.

  • Casey

    What is with you people? I totally disagree.

  • Writer Dad

    My only goal right now is to grow my site, and fill each post with the best writing that I can. I plan to do affiliate sales as well as my own material at some point, but I don’t think I ever want to do ads. I want my readers to enjoy a lot of white space and clever and/or thoughtful words. If you’re worried about ads before content, then you’ll never be one of the big guys.

  • Rarst

    I started with single adsense banner… Just to inform users that there are banners in my blog. Making a statement I guess. 🙂

    Not going to add any until (if 🙂 ) I build up nice traffic.

  • HOBO

    I love your said last paragraph.
    : )

  • Moise Levi

    I agree with you. But its also why I only use Google Adsense ; the ads will match my content all the time.
    So my readers actually find something else to look at (usually of quality) after reading one of my posts (financial blogging)

  • Sheila Sultani

    I agree with you, but I also think that if your ads are tasteful, if they go along with your site and are products you recommend, it’s ok – It’s when when I can’t even find the content that there seems to be a problem ( you know when you open a page and the top half is google ads!)

  • DjFlush

    Couldn’t agree more Dan

    The first goal is to make traffic and once that goal is achieved, one can dream of making some real big money

  • Young

    Wow, never dream of money when you are big enough.

  • esvl

    Just this morning I started taking my ads off. I totally agree with you, sometimes we stuff our sites with ads before it is successful. Then we wonder why the people dont come back. So true.

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Paula, I mentioned that on the article. Once you are big and has credibility, though, it is easier to put many ads around and still have visitors coming.

    It is like the visitors will bear with the pain of the ads because the content is good and credible.

    A small website needs more time to convince visitors about that though.

  • Paula

    It’s not only the small websites that do it. I have seen some of the biggies with ads plastered all over their site and then every second blog post will be an ad for something. Not sure how they keep gettng the traffic. It turns me right off when the site has become one big ad with very little quality content.

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