Jason Falls

Jason Falls

I’ve had a couple of discussions with colleagues at South by Southwest about the monetization of blogs. I’m also asked to comment on monetization strategies when I speak about blogging. While I have a cursory understanding of the topic, I don’t practice blog advertising or affiliate marketing myself, sans some Google ads on my personal blog.

The decision to remove advertising from Social Media Explorer (I had them once) was made because I subscribe to the, “Because Effect,” philosophy coined by Doc Searls. I don’t make money from my blog. I make money because of it. The thought leadership platform attracts emails, phone calls and opportunities for me, Kat and David to connect with potential new clients on behalf of Doe-Anderson. The absence of advertising probably makes for a cleaner user experience as well.

But here are some arguments I’ve heard from friends this week as to why I should incorporate advertising on SME:

  1. You can better advise clients about affiliate programs, pay-per-click advertising and blog monetization.
  2. You’ve reached a level of traffic that could put a little spare change in your pocket and you deserve it.
  3. You could use the money to improve the blog, invest in email marketing tools, supplement what you’re doing on a volunteer basis for Social Media Club and more.
  4. You of all people will do it in a fashion that won’t offend your audience.

And here are my thoughts in return:

  1. I can do more research on those type programs and perhaps play with them on my personal blog, though I don’t have much time to push content there.
  2. Unless I leave or lose my job, spare change from my blog isn’t necessary. Sure, I’ll take all I can get, but unless I have a need to meet my personal bottom line.
  3. Having the ability to afford some extra marketing tools would be nice, but I’ve made it this far without them.
  4. Sure, but does the switch from giving away my thoughts to monetize them not deteriorate my credibility in some eyes, even if minutely?

Honestly, until these conversations popped up, I hadn’t given advertising on Social Media Explorer much thought. Regardless of my real job, my hope is SME will always serve as a place where you can get insight, analysis and opinion on social media tools, technologies, programs and strategies. Advertising wouldn’t change that.

But this blog is as much yours as it is mine. Would ads, and I would insist they be relevant to the general topics we cover, turn you off? I’d love your thoughts.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog and signature Explore events. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments & Reactions

Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • Cheapsuits

    Ads on your , or any blog, wouldn't offend me but honestly how effective are blog ads these days? I can't remember the last time I clicked on an ad or an ad made me aware or broadcasted something I didn't already know. I would be more apt to click on a link in your post(as an ad) then have an ad here be the least bit effective for me. So to answer your question, would blog ads here turn me off? No, not at all, but wouldn't turn me on either.

  • Cheapsuits

    Ads on your , or any blog, wouldn't offend me but honestly how effective are blog ads these days? I can't remember the last time I clicked on an ad or an ad made me aware or broadcasted something I didn't already know. I would be more apt to click on a link in your post(as an ad) then have an ad here be the least bit effective for me. So to answer your question, would blog ads here turn me off? No, not at all, but wouldn't turn me on either.

  • http://www.DowellTaggart.com Chris Dowell

    Wouldn't offend me. I use reader to read most blog post and I don't see the ads. I'm not sure that ads on blogs are effective.

  • http://www.DowellTaggart.com Chris Dowell

    Wouldn't offend me. I use reader to read most blog post and I don't see the ads. I'm not sure that ads on blogs are effective.

  • http://humanvoice.wordpress.com tomob

    Jason:

    This is a business & agency blog. Good for thought leadership, lead gen and personal brand building. Advertising is irrelevant to it's core purpose. One new client for the agency blows away any $$ that would be contributed by ads. Don't do it.

    TO'B

  • http://humanvoice.wordpress.com tomob

    Jason:

    This is a business & agency blog. Good for thought leadership, lead gen and personal brand building. Advertising is irrelevant to it's core purpose. One new client for the agency blows away any $$ that would be contributed by ads. Don't do it.

    TO'B

  • http://chrishemrick.wordpress.com @chrishemrick

    I can see both sides of the issue — thanks for throwing it out there. I think if it was done as sensitively as you suggest, it wouldn't be a problem for me if you had ads. Just keep them relative to the subject matter, unintrusive, and ensure they don't affect your opinions/writing. Like you said, you never want to lose your integrity or you've lost everything.

  • http://chrishemrick.wordpress.com @chrishemrick

    I can see both sides of the issue — thanks for throwing it out there. I think if it was done as sensitively as you suggest, it wouldn't be a problem for me if you had ads. Just keep them relative to the subject matter, unintrusive, and ensure they don't affect your opinions/writing. Like you said, you never want to lose your integrity or you've lost everything.

  • http://www.ignitingtherevolution.com jer979

    The ads themselves aren't offensive, particularly if you are delivering good quality content. I think the challenge becomes that of a “slippery slope.” Why are you doing it? I think your reasons are right on and others, with more short-term focus, would start looking for others way to milk their readers…and thus cheapen the experience.

  • http://www.ignitingtherevolution.com jer979

    The ads themselves aren't offensive, particularly if you are delivering good quality content. I think the challenge becomes that of a “slippery slope.” Why are you doing it? I think your reasons are right on and others, with more short-term focus, would start looking for others way to milk their readers…and thus cheapen the experience.

  • http://www.budgetpulse.com craig

    Based off of your responses it doesn't sound like you want to start advertising, you use the blog to monetize in other ways, as do other marketers from their blogs. I don't buy the reasoning for having good ads that can help people. I don't know if I've ever been helped because of advertising in that way. I also don't think you would lose credibility, at least not in my eyes. People who are blog readers have already developed their opinion of you and your level of expertise and I don't think they would have an issue with you trying to make more money. You are also in a position where your blog can bring you other revenue, you don't use your blog to directly make money. Most niche blogs aren't like that and people would like to make a bit of side income off of selling ad space on their blogs. I don't think there is anything wrong with it, hopefully it is more targeted and placed in relevant spots.

  • http://www.budgetpulse.com craig

    Based off of your responses it doesn't sound like you want to start advertising, you use the blog to monetize in other ways, as do other marketers from their blogs. I don't buy the reasoning for having good ads that can help people. I don't know if I've ever been helped because of advertising in that way. I also don't think you would lose credibility, at least not in my eyes. People who are blog readers have already developed their opinion of you and your level of expertise and I don't think they would have an issue with you trying to make more money. You are also in a position where your blog can bring you other revenue, you don't use your blog to directly make money. Most niche blogs aren't like that and people would like to make a bit of side income off of selling ad space on their blogs. I don't think there is anything wrong with it, hopefully it is more targeted and placed in relevant spots.

  • http://blog.ecairn.com laurent

    Jason
    Keep it without advertising. My mailbox, my personal email box, my daily musing of online media is filled with advertising. I think ads may be a necessary evil for consumer brands where there's not much to say about the product (cleaning supply, dog food ….lol). But your blog is fairly technical thus an ad wouldn't fit in its style.
    Just my humble feedback as I stop by.
    L

  • http://blog.ecairn.com laurent

    Jason
    Keep it without advertising. My mailbox, my personal email box, my daily musing of online media is filled with advertising. I think ads may be a necessary evil for consumer brands where there's not much to say about the product (cleaning supply, dog food ….lol). But your blog is fairly technical thus an ad wouldn't fit in its style.
    Just my humble feedback as I stop by.
    L

  • http://www.jamexpo.ca mona lee

    Hi!
    Jason i agree with your thoughts there is no need to be in any kind of difficulty or making your job tough just do your research work …keep it up

  • http://www.jamexpo.ca mona lee

    Hi!
    Jason i agree with your thoughts there is no need to be in any kind of difficulty or making your job tough just do your research work …keep it up

  • http://www.hoodboard.com Tobias Eidem

    It would not offend me, but I think you have a point saying that you make money because of you blog. It might be that your credibility would be questioned. “Is this or that actually something he thinks or is it some kind of advertorial?” “Has he written about this subject because the company had an ad on his blog the other week?” and so on.

  • http://www.hoodboard.com Tobias Eidem

    It would not offend me, but I think you have a point saying that you make money because of you blog. It might be that your credibility would be questioned. “Is this or that actually something he thinks or is it some kind of advertorial?” “Has he written about this subject because the company had an ad on his blog the other week?” and so on.

  • http://toughsledding.wordpress.com Bill Sledzik

    As with every other question in PR, advertising or marketing, the answer lies in the outcomes you seek — your objectives. In your case, you seek — and I think have achieved — a position of thought leadership in the social media space. The revenue from ads isn't required, and may lead some readers to question if/how it influences blog content. So it's not strategically sound for you to do it.

    But for bloggers who serve more of a journalist's role — the linkers vs. the thinkers — advertising may be a great fit. It would offset costs and maybe even improve overall content. But I would agree with most others who've commented, ads wouldn't offend me — unless they're promoting cheap whiskey. And I know you'd never allow that :-)

  • http://toughsledding.wordpress.com Bill Sledzik

    As with every other question in PR, advertising or marketing, the answer lies in the outcomes you seek — your objectives. In your case, you seek — and I think have achieved — a position of thought leadership in the social media space. The revenue from ads isn't required, and may lead some readers to question if/how it influences blog content. So it's not strategically sound for you to do it.

    But for bloggers who serve more of a journalist's role — the linkers vs. the thinkers — advertising may be a great fit. It would offset costs and maybe even improve overall content. But I would agree with most others who've commented, ads wouldn't offend me — unless they're promoting cheap whiskey. And I know you'd never allow that :-)

  • http://www.lemonade-life.com Allison Blass

    I've been thinking about the exact same thing for my blog!

    For your blog, personally, I wouldn't care since 99.9% of the time I read via RSS – the only time I've been to the site is to comment (such as now). My main problem with ads is when they are big and flashy, and get in the way of the actual blog material. I think if you can organize the layout in such a way that the ads are viewable but obnoxious, then you'll be fine. I think it would be cool if your ads were for unique products and services, like start-ups and individuals who are getting started, instead of lame Google ads that don't say anything interesting. I think having an editorial policy for ads would be good too, same as bloggers who have editorial policies for pitches and the like.

  • http://www.lemonade-life.com Allison Blass

    I've been thinking about the exact same thing for my blog!

    For your blog, personally, I wouldn't care since 99.9% of the time I read via RSS – the only time I've been to the site is to comment (such as now). My main problem with ads is when they are big and flashy, and get in the way of the actual blog material. I think if you can organize the layout in such a way that the ads are viewable but obnoxious, then you'll be fine. I think it would be cool if your ads were for unique products and services, like start-ups and individuals who are getting started, instead of lame Google ads that don't say anything interesting. I think having an editorial policy for ads would be good too, same as bloggers who have editorial policies for pitches and the like.

  • http://disruptivethoughts.com Fraser

    I think that a well placed ad, integrated cleanly into the site, is at worst neutral. I hope that the community here wouldn't measure your ideas any differently if ads appeared.

    And if you don't need the money you can do something even better – donate the proceeds to charity! Fred from avc.com does this and is able to donate > $30k / year to good causes. Talk about a positive impact!

  • http://disruptivethoughts.com Fraser

    I think that a well placed ad, integrated cleanly into the site, is at worst neutral. I hope that the community here wouldn't measure your ideas any differently if ads appeared.

    And if you don't need the money you can do something even better – donate the proceeds to charity! Fred from avc.com does this and is able to donate > $30k / year to good causes. Talk about a positive impact!

  • http://www.theviralgarden.com Mack Collier

    Great topic that doesn't get enough debate, IMO. I've never attempted to monetize my blog, but am about to add an affiliate link, simply because it's for a product I use and believe in, and one I would promote regardless. I always go back to 'what value will this add for the reader?' Any monies I might get has to be considered after I answer the first question.

    But that's just me, and for the record, I have no problem whatsoever with bloggers monetizing their content, as long as readers can also get added benefit. And it's VERY tough to find a solution that benefits both. But a worthwhile goal, IMO.

    My advice for you would be to wait a couple of weeks and see if your thoughts/feelings change.

  • http://www.theviralgarden.com Mack Collier

    Great topic that doesn't get enough debate, IMO. I've never attempted to monetize my blog, but am about to add an affiliate link, simply because it's for a product I use and believe in, and one I would promote regardless. I always go back to 'what value will this add for the reader?' Any monies I might get has to be considered after I answer the first question.

    But that's just me, and for the record, I have no problem whatsoever with bloggers monetizing their content, as long as readers can also get added benefit. And it's VERY tough to find a solution that benefits both. But a worthwhile goal, IMO.

    My advice for you would be to wait a couple of weeks and see if your thoughts/feelings change.

  • http://bryceraley.com Bryce Raley

    Use ads if you like. Won't offend me. The new media, new web, new world online wants everything free. Everybody is scared to make a profit. Last time I checked the purpose of business is to make a profit. If your goal is to make the world better (like many tout) then awesome- still takes money that came from a profit made somewhere.

    Showcase really neat products or services you believe in-even if you're an affiliate. Showcase products or services that really relate to this blog. Maybe I'll need them, try them, like them and recommend them to others as well. That used to be a natural progression.

    Love your posts!

  • http://bryceraley.com Bryce Raley

    Use ads if you like. Won't offend me. The new media, new web, new world online wants everything free. Everybody is scared to make a profit. Last time I checked the purpose of business is to make a profit. If your goal is to make the world better (like many tout) then awesome- still takes money that came from a profit made somewhere.

    Showcase really neat products or services you believe in-even if you're an affiliate. Showcase products or services that really relate to this blog. Maybe I'll need them, try them, like them and recommend them to others as well. That used to be a natural progression.

    Love your posts!

  • http://www.patrickokeefe.com iFroggy

    Won't offend me at all. I want you to make more money.

    Patrick

  • http://www.patrickokeefe.com iFroggy

    Won't offend me at all. I want you to make more money.

    Patrick

  • http://www.larakretler.com larak

    It definitely wouldn't offend me and any income would be well-deserved as you have a stellar blog. That said, I do love a “clean” blog and always appreciate advertising-free space. Perhaps that's because I come from a PR background – maybe I'd feel differently if I was in advertising.

  • http://www.larakretler.com larak

    It definitely wouldn't offend me and any income would be well-deserved as you have a stellar blog. That said, I do love a “clean” blog and always appreciate advertising-free space. Perhaps that's because I come from a PR background – maybe I'd feel differently if I was in advertising.

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