I try not to blog about blogging too much, but there are a few topics I want to quickly cover. When WordPress featured a recent post in their Freshly Pressed feature section, they also emailed me to suggest that I reactivate WordAds. WordAds is the advertising program available to sites hosted by WordPress. Initially, I had been invited to join the pilot program, and accepted. I turned it off after awhile because of very low revenue, and some weird formatting issues (the ads didn’t seem to be totally compatible with the template I was using). But then, as the Freshly Pressed post was getting tens of thousands of hits per day, I received this email:
I noticed you’re part of our WordAds family, but at some point had disabled WordAds on your blog.
With the recent spike in traffic driving to http://jdmoyer.com/2013/08/14/40-days-without-booze/ you might want to consider re-enabling it, as you could make quite a bit of revenue.
Also, if you deactivated WordAds before because you were having problems, I’d love to hear about them so we can get things fixed.
I wrote back with some questions. How much revenue is “quite a bit”? I received some polite but nonspecific answers. Not being one to like leaving money on the table, I decided to give the WordAds program another try.
Honey Nut Cheerios
After I turned on WordAds, short commercials started appearing at the bottom of my posts. The ads generally seemed like reasonably high quality mainstream TV commercials, interspersed with a few PSA type ads. Nothing offensive and nothing sleazy. Some were even funny.
None of my readers complained (though admittedly my contact form is somewhat buried), and site traffic stayed about the same. I didn’t yet know how much revenue I was earning, but WordAds didn’t seem like a disaster. I’m not philosophically opposed to advertising as long as it’s not intrusive or pernicious (see the previous post for a subtle example of the latter), and I like the idea of making back some of the money I pay WordPress to host this blog (and possibly more; the ad rep had mentioned “quite a bit” of revenue).
Then Kia told me I should turn off the ads. Like, now. She had just finished reading this post about the psychological effects of some artificial food dyes on children, and found an ad for Honey Nut Cheerios at the end of the post. There are worse foods than Honey Nut Cheerios, but at the end of the day my paleo/health/nutrition blog was showing an ad for junk-food sugar cereal.
I left WordAds up for another few days, so I could complete the month and see how much money I had earned. Then I turned them off.
I made $162.19 over a roughly 10 week period, based on about 70,000 ad impressions. Site traffic during that time was probably about 120,000 views.
Not a lot of money, but nothing to sneeze at either. Having spoken with people who know much more about internet advertising than I do, that amount of revenue for that much traffic is on the low side. I could probably make more with Google’s AdSense program. However, WordPress hosted blogs don’t allow the option of AdSense; it’s WordAds or nothing. I could of course use the WordPress software on a 3rd-party hosted site, but I really like the WordPress hosting option. The software is great, the prices are reasonable, and traffic spikes are never an issue.
So earnings could be higher, but that’s not my main complaint. If WordPress would add one additional feature, I would turn WordAds back on.
When I’m logged in, I would like to see a small control next to each ad that says “Don’t show this ad on my site.”
That’s it. If WordPress added that feature, I’d be back in.
Obviously advertisers get to choose what kind of blogs they want to display their ads. So why not give bloggers a little control as well?
I think I would use the feature rarely. I didn’t even mind the rum ad. “0K” runs. Sleep yoga. That’s funny!
I have one other gripe. I think the $100 minimum payout is way too high, considering the low amounts of revenue being generated. That’s just a way for WordPress to keep money. As a music label owner I also have small royalties that I haven’t paid out at any given time, but I don’t have a minimum payout. If I owe an artist thirty cents and they ask for it, I’ll pay them. It actually pisses me off, the more I think about. WordPress should just pay their bloggers what is owed. There is no legitimate business reason to make $100 the minimum cutoff.
Why Do I Blog?
Bringing money into the equation forces me to reevaluate why I blog. Is it to make money? No, the main reason is to help people live well, both as individuals and also collectively, as a species and planet-wide civilization. I also use jdmoyer.com to mouth-off about whatever I’m thinking, and to promote my music releases. Eventually I’ll promote my novels here as well.
But do I like passive income streams? Of course I do! Don’t you? Doing something you enjoy and getting paid for it called getting away with it. It’s one of my main life philosophies.
My alternative to WordAds will be a recommendations page of some sort, where I will link to products and services that I already use and enjoy. Then, if any of the companies behind those products and services want to get in touch with me to run a more official advertisement, they can do so.
If you use the internet, you should be aware of the plug-in AdBlock Plus. If you don’t like seeing ads, AdBlock Plus will do the trick. I use it in general, but turn it off for sites I like to support (like reddit).