Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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On “Monetizing”

I read ProBlogger pretty regularly, as well as a number of other blogs about blogging and videoblogging and so forth. And a lot of the advice about building a community of readers and a more interactive audience is very valuable and worth reading. Certainly, I have a thriving audience over on my LiveJournal, and I’d like to build a solid readership here at the mega-blog.

However, the majority of the legitimate “make money from blogs” ideas I’ve read seem to fall into a couple of main categories:

  1. Use Google AdSense to put ads on your blog. Readers will then click these ads and you’ll make money.
  2. Use a non-google ad system to put ads on your blog for readers to click.
  3. Use Amazon.com affiliate program to…. put ads on your blog for readers to click then buy (because just clicking gets you nothing with Amazon affiliates).
  4. Get paid by your employer to blog about your employer’s stuff (essentially turning your blog into an advertisement that people have already clicked).
  5. Get paid by a blogging syndicate to blog about their topics. Usually, these syndicates have a structure where you…. let them put ads on your blog, which readers will click and you will make, get this, half the money you would have gotten if you just put ads on your own bog.
  6. Put an ad for reader-motivated donations (a tip jar or, for the more cynical-minded, charity)
  7. And of course, build readership and search engine hits so that more people will come to your blog and… click the ads so you make money.

This seems to me to be a very bad strategy, because it revolves around selling advertisements. I don’t want to sell advertisements. For that matter, I don’t really want to sell stuff. Aside from my books, which I really only want to sell to people who want them, I don’t have any interest in selling stuff to other people. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I wouldn’t mind selling some of my stuff, because I have too much stuff. The chances are, you have too much stuff, too, though, and I probably like you, and wouldn’t want to foist my stuff off on you anyway.

Advertisements are another form of “stuff” that I have too much of, they’re just not always physical stuff. Nowadays, they’re more like “mental clutter.” The reason advertisers pay per click is because each time their ad is experienced (seen or heard), it piles another item into the audience’s “mental stuff.” As I clear my mind of mental clutter by putting my calendar and to-do lists into an organizational system, I realize that it’s still full of “stuff.” And when I look at that stuff, I find that it consists of little piles of advertisements. The more these advertisements pile up in my brain, the more compelling they get. After all, there’s nothing else in my brain to fill the rest of the clutter space.

For instance, if I hear the John Basedow commercial jingle one more time, I might actually buy the Fitness Made Simple videos, just because there’s a pile of messages in my brain telling me that John Basedow can show me how to get fit and lose weight. A whole stinkin’ pile of advertisements, glommed off of the television, that reinforce to me that this system just might work. It’s absurd. These videos are no better the tenth time I watch the advertisement than they were the first time, and yet repetition has made me vulnerable to their siren call.

I would like to share with you some of the things I do to avoid advertisements:

  • I use Tivo, so I can “steal” television.
  • I listen to audiobooks on my iPod in the car, so I don’t have to listen to news radio and the 100th ad for home mortgages they’ve played this hour.
  • I’ve become blind to anything with a grey background and blue text on a web page.
  • I don’t read magazines.
  • I use a pop-up blocking web browser.
  • I use an aggressive challenge-response system to block incoming spam.
  • I use an aggressive spam blocker for comments in my blogs.
  • I rent movies (from a local video store) and skip past the previews. If I can’t skip them, I flip the TV over to Tivo and watch TV until the previews are done.
  • I read blogs in an RSS reader, so I can get away from all the blog template ads (there are still ads in some feeds, but they are rare) .

I think I’ve come to agree with the CEO of Craigslist who, at the last board meeting, told board members that Craigslist would not be putting ads on the site because readers had not asked for them. I like that strategy. My audience isn’t currently looking for ads, so I won’t put ads here. I’ll continue to have the ads for my own books on my blog, because hey, it’s my book and people come here in part to hear about my book and blogging and videoblogging. And when I link to a book or movie in my posts, I’ll use an Amazon affiliates link, because it’s already set up in my blogging client to do so. If I could write a script that would change those to a less commercial destination, like LibraryThing, I probably would.

As for how I’ll make money off of my blog? I guess I won’t, or maybe I’ll put out a tip jar and hope people drop a few Paypal receipts into it (and yet, that’s an advertisement for Paypal, too, since they take a cut from every transaction in my “merchant” account). Or maybe I’ll come up with the brilliant plan for making money off of my blog in a way that doesn’t require selling advertisements or doing any extra work at all. If I do, I’ll let you all know what it is.

I’ve never been keen on the word “monetize” anyway. It’s just a buzzword way to say “profit,” now that “profit” and “make money” have become dirty words.

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5 thoughts on “On “Monetizing””

  1. I also hit the “printer-friendly” button before reading newspaper and magazine articles online. It’s a better, ad-free reading experience.

  2. FYI: while checking this post on the blog-site instead of on LJ to see if it had any interesting comments, I noticed this:

    Help my blog? Shop here: FREE Multi-Room DIRECTV System (with a link to ‘http://us.offerforge.com/ez/dymhmcxbows/&p=31’) tacked under the comment form. If you were clearing the adverts off the blog, you missed that one!

    Also, I think that part of the commented-out Google ad code on the comment page here is messing with your sidebar: there’s close-comment tags showing, and the formatting’s a little screwing in Safari.

  3. Thanks, John! That’s one I added myself last month, before I re-thought my ad strategy. I’ll find and remove it (I see it right now in the comments form!)

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