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How quickly after starting a blog should I put ads on it?


A number of readers have asked the above question in the past few weeks and so I thought it was time I shared my own approach to the decision of when to start running ads on a blog when launching.
There are two dominant camps of opinion on this question – both of which have things going for them:
1. Run Ads from Day 1 – The basic thinking behind this approach is that if you’re thinking of running ads at some point you might as well integrate them from day one. The reasons include:
  • Reader Expectations – starting a blog with no ads and then adding them later means running the risk of disillusioning readers whose expectations are that the blog is and always will be ‘ad free’. Some readers feel very strongly about this and to change the rules mid stream can cause problems. Start with ads from the beginning and you set the expectations from the start and don’t have to manage a transition from no ads to ads later on.
  • Consistent Design – running ads from the beginning of your blog means that you design your blog (or have it designed by a blogger) with ads already integrated into it. This means that you don’t need to do a redesign later on to add ads but already have them built in.
  • Earnings – my first blogs were ad free for almost 18 months before I discovered AdSense. While in the early days I didn’t do massive traffic I was doing some and those blogs could well have earned a little money each day. Of course a little each day for 18 months can add up to a significant amount. Put ads on your blog from the start and you’ll begin to see money from the early days. it might not be a lot but you might be surprised.
  • Ad Optimisation Education - run ads on your blog from day one and you begin a process of educating yourself about how to make money from advertising earlier – you also get your blog optimised well from the start. Most of us learn best ‘on the job’ rather than by just reading ‘theory’ or experiences of others. The great thing about starting early with advertising is that you can experiment and try different techniques without too many people seeing the mistakes that you make a long the way. This means that by the time the traffic does role in you can have your ads optimised well already – something that’s sure to pay off.
2. Establish Readership and Then Run Ads – This argument is basically that if you put ads on your blog from day 1 that you potentially turn people off your blog because it will look too commercial or too much of a money grab.
The thought is that you can gradually add advertisements later once you’ve established a sizeable readership and Search Engine presence.
While I understand the reasoning behind bloggers taking this approach I don’t use it myself. For the reasons I’ve outlined in the first approach above I tend to add ads from day 1.
Having said this when I do this I tend to take a pretty subtle approach with ad placement and design in the early days. You can see this with my AdSense placement over on my newest blog Digital Photography School where I use a blended approach and limit the number of ads per page to 1, unless it’s a longer page where I have two.
This may well change as the blog establishes it’s readership (currently it’s sitting on around 1000 visitors a day). In the months ahead I plan to introduce a purpose built professional design to that blog and will use that opportunity to reposition ads in a slightly more prominent position where they are likely to perform a little better. In the mean time however they are there and readers know that they are a part of the site – they also have earned me a nice little income from day one and have taught me a thing or two about what does and doesn’t work in terms of placement and design on this blog.
Ultimately the decision to add advertising to a blog is one that can only be made by an individual as they look at their blog’s goals. My approach will not work for everyone.

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