This is not the first time I’ve lectured about this, and I’m not alone in my thinking either. In fact, I’d challenge anyone to find an experienced publisher who would disagree: don’t litter your site with ads when you have no traffic.
This is probably one of the biggest mistakes inexperienced webmasters and publishers make, yet is probably the easiest mistake to fix.
There is no shortage of sites to use as samples, but for the sake of this article I will use the blog Adam’s Peace, as he was on the previous TylerReview’s list. (Note, for those reading this a few days or more after the posting of this, the owner of the above blog may have taken by suggestions so you won’t see the ads anymore).
Now then, let’s start this deconstruction.
Ads are annoying
Let’s face it, ads suck. Nobody likes them. Even with user-friendly contextual ads such as Google which provide relevant links scouring the web, everybody is sick of them.
But we see them because they make people money, and we accept them, not only because we don’t really have a choice, but because we kind of understand it’s the price we pay for reading free content and using free services.
While people are used to ads, it doesn’t change the fact that people dislike them, which leads me to my next point.
Why put up ads when they only bring in $0.14 a month?
If the point of putting up ads is to make money, then why do people keep them up when they’re only making pennies a month? Even if they’re raking in $20-30 a month, the amount of valuable space they take up is not worth it. It will only slow down the growth of the site. Consider the next point.
Use the would-be ad space to grow the site
Instead of putting up ads that make virtually no money, why not use that space more wisely? For example, let’s take the 120×600 skyscrappers (yes, there are not one but two there!) Adam’s Peace and imagine if Adam had instead undergone link exchanges with similar blogs and sites? Filling up the room of just one skyscrapper’s area, he could probably have fit in at least 15 links. That’s 15 link exchanges with 15 other sites. Let’s imagine that he averages 0.5 clicks per day from each of those sites, that’s around 8 uniques per day he’d receive from those sites, or 240 per month. I don’t know how much he makes from his blog, but I’m guessing it’s around $10 a month. 240 uniques, not to mention 15 related backlinks to your site is far better, in my opinion, than $10 a month. And that’s just ONE skyscrapper!
Traffic Equals Money, Money Does not Equal Traffic
I think most people make the mistake of adding ads too soon because they follow a monkey-see, monkey-do mantra. They see all these successful sites with ads all over them and think that they, too, can do the same. What they don’t realize is that most successful sites start off with little to no ads on them. Take YouTube for example. Obviously YouTube is not the ordinary site, but it still works perfectly in this example.
YouTube never put up any ads, and yet was sold for 1.6 billion dollars. Instead of whoring their site up with ads, they focused on building a community and strong repeat visitor base. They knew that they could always monetize it later, and that’s exactly what has been done.
That is the key. Don’t worry about making $5 here or $20 there, but instead focus on building a quality site and growing traffic, and then once your traffic starts to soar, you can start to ad adds, but gradually as to not scare people away.
I know it can be tempting to put ads up and “see what happens”, but I can tell you what will happen: unless you have a lot of traffic or are in a very wealthy niche such as gambling or finance, you won’t make much.
How do I know when to add ads then?
This greatly depends on a number of factors including niche, type of website (blog, forum, information, etc.), content, etc. And it also depends on how badly you need money. I’d probably say that around the $50 mark would be an okay time to add an ad or two. You can find out how much your site is making by temporarily adding an ad or two for a few days or a week and finding out what that’d be in a month.
If you’re only getting a couple dozen visitors per day though, you’re going to want to wait a while. Don’t forget that an average CTR is usually around 1%, meaning that if you get 1,000 uniques per month, which is 33 per day, and say that you average a $0.10 CPC rate, you’re only going to make $1 a month.