You’re Not a Rock Star

May 12, 2007 Posted by Tyler Cruz

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.

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Posted: May 12th, 2007 under Articles  

34 Responses to “You’re Not a Rock Star”

  1. ToddW says:

    I think in order to decide when is a good time to put ads on your site you have to look at the site and figure out what the goal of it is.

    If the goal of the site is to grow grow grow and make money for the long run then holding off on putting ads up is a good thing. However, if you are simply making a blog to start earning cash I think you could put up some adsense ads with as few as 100 visits a day. If you make an affiliate site for an offer then DUH you are putting ads on that SITE from day one… so yay don’t be dumb đŸ˜›

  2. Idris says:

    It’s never as cut and dry as simply holding off adverts until you are big.

    The division often comes when you consider the fact that once you’ve reached an acceptable traffic there may well be a backlash if you then plaster adverts all over the site.

    Remember as well that the recent increase in these make money style blogs are due to the attempts of many to emulate the few like John Chow. The focus therefore is on earning from a blog as people attempt to get an idea of how much money can be raised.

  3. WallStreetJournal says:

    could this be the first decent blog post in 6 months?

  4. Tyler, when will you put some more add’s on this blog? Aren’t you planning on putting some adsense or other contextual add’s on this blog? Surely you would make some decent money with the traffic you receive.

  5. 45n5 says:

    I responded to this post on my blog and thought you might enjoy the read:


  6. Adam says:

    Thank you for the wonderful critique and the tips on improving. I’m starting to make those changes now.

    I have also created a static web page for the readers of this post to show everyone what the ad placement looks like now… This way, we can all learn what not to do, until we have a larger readership.

    The example page:

    Currently, I’m making an average of $0.50 per month, after a few mistakes early on in the blog’s lifecycle that I’m paying for now. I didn’t fully think out my original domain name, and being too nerdy for my own good, I decided to host my website on my own home computer.

    Because of those mistakes, I am still stuck in Google’s sandbox after switching domain names, and my readership isn’t as good as it could have been, because of the constant server outages in the early days. It is definitely time to market the blog and stop worrying about monetizing it until I have the traffic.

    I’ll still leave one ad on the site in the spot that seemed to give me the greatest conversion rate before, but I’ll be working more on using the sidebar to its full advantage. I won’t increase the monetization until my readership averages about 5,000 visits per day, since money really isn’t the primary goal… it is just a really good perk. đŸ˜‰

  7. Armen says:

    Precisely why I have zero ads on my blog, and I plan to keep it like that for some time.

    Good post Tyler.

  8. I am with you on this one Tyler – until the revenue you can generate outweighs the negative impact of ads on your site, they should be avoided.

    Remember – not only can ads distract visitors from your content, every single ad is a potential exit point from your site.

    – Martin Reed

    • ChrisGuthrie says:

      Agree 100%

      My next forums that I start will be ad free for a while, but the reason why I’ve had some ads on my newer ones is because I was basically taking traffic from one of my big sites and moving it off into another niche site.

      So in other words, it wasn’t like a brand new site. Anyway, I think I agree here.

  9. 45N5 – Ads on small undeveloped blogs/sites drive webmasters, if thats your niche, away.
    1. Webmasters have a lower CTR.
    2. Makes you look like you want to make a quick buck.
    3. They really don’t look that nice, imo.

  10. IBrutus says:

    Thanks for the advice. On my first blog the very first thing I did was put up adsense ads because I had read Joel Comm’s “The Adsense Code” At first I was thrilled to get a couple of clicks a day but the excitement soon wore off.

    I should have spent more time increasing my traffic as you suggested rather than waste space with adsense.

    Now I’m starting a website about my quest to have my script made into a movie. After reading your suggestions I’ve decided I won’t put any ads on it until it is averaging at least a hundred hits a day.
    Thanks for the insight

  11. Rory says:

    After first reading Tyler’s post, I said
    Finally someone understand, as I one to litter my sites with ads to try and break Shoe-Money’s record. After seeing that was going to no avail, and that the majority of my money was coming from ReviewME and TLA (Services where content matters) I came to conclusion that improving my content and putting up grabbers ( RSS icons) inplace of ads would be more beneficial that tons of Free Ipod banners.

    Then, I saw the ironic title in my iGoogle, saying “I am a Rockstar”
    I thought to myself, mhmm whats going on here, and to my surprise its 45n5 challenging Tyler and disproving most of this points.

    I love the Internet.
    I am little caught inbetween both stands, but I did take down most of my ads on my main site to give way to growth

  12. Ed says:

    Since day one I have had a small ad box in the left sidebar above the fold. (102 x 47) I placed 3 or 4 logos of “friends of the site” and their logos loop through the ad box with each page refresh. I dont charge them anything, because to me trafffic and exposure and networking is way more important in the early days.

    At the beginning obviously they had little exposure, but now with about 30000 page views per month between the 4, that is growing to some decent exposure. Now I am a PR5 site, and last week I had a web design site actually offer me money to display their graphic. How amazing for me that my theory is working, and how amazing for them when I agreed to include them in the ad box but not accept any money.

    The reason for this is that I have a traffic figure in mind, and until then I am not prepared to charge a dime or earn a dime from nickel and diming the site. My PR is rising and the longer it goes on, the more convinced I am that I can earn a mint later on – with almost no ads. Just good content and a bit of smart marketing.

    I really dont think most people with blogs understand about business especially advertising. I am not a guru but i have had successful (and failed) businesses in the real world, and for most small businesses, advertising is a deluded short cut, and a one way fast track money drain. (On blogs, advertising seems to be just as bad a concept, if handled incorrectly, but the bad effect seems even worse as it can put off the readers, the lifeblood of blogs, rather than just floating over their heads as it does in the real world As Peter Lever said 75% of advertising is a waste of money, and you never know which 75%)

    (Apart from the occasional one hit wonder or strike it lucky entrepreneur) the only sure fire and economical way to have success in business, in my opinion, is to be good at what you do, be honest and build up a reputation by word of mouth (not by having loads of ads, or by spending loads on advertising) Once you have a sustainable business, then you can think about improving the service in order to add value/charge more. I dont think the internet is much different in principle, but that sort of advice isnt what most people want to hear.

    If you know a humor blogger or web designer who would like a free spot, send them along to me to get in on the theory!!

  13. WallStreetJournal says:

    just to let you know though, page rank is non-linear. it is easier to go from 0 to 5 than 5 to 6 IMO.

  14. […] Tyler has a good post about putting ads on your blog or site. If you are currently running ads and not making any money, or trying to decide if the time is right then go check this post out. […]

  15. ….”YouTube never put up any ads, and yet was sold for 1.6 billion dollars.”

    No, YouTube was using Google Adsense on their pages when they were purchased. Google already had an idea how much revenue YouTube could generate because of this.

    IMO, the most annoying ads aren’t Adsense type ads, but Review Me ad spots. It’s a full-page ad vs. a few tiny links!

  16. […] read a post at titled “You’re Not a Rock Star“. In the post Tyler sites reasons why someone with little traffic (myself) should remove the […]

  17. […] funny thing happened in my pool of blogs last week. First up, Tyler made a post titled ” You’re Not a Rock Star“  that post is basically about “young sites” trying to monetizes too early. As […]

  18. Michelle says:

    Thanks for the reminder, Tyler. It’s so easy to think of monetising early on, even with little traffic… kinda feels like I’m missing out on some money, however little, by not putting up ads.

    But I’m trying my hardest to wait until there’s traffic worth monetising, and trying to work on having decent progress in my projects to blog about.

    It’s just hard in the early days, constantly building but not seeing any money come in just yet… However I am learning A LOT, and know I’ll get into the realm of the big earners in the end, however long it takes (if not with my blog, then with some of my projects).

  19. […] shatters my dreams of being a rock star. Mark […]

  20. […] wise Tyler Cruz I have removed the majority of my ads from the site, Tyler writes about this in his “You’re not a rockstar” article, it’s a good read take a look. I am focusing mainly on payperpost right now for my […]

  21. BigBicepDude says:

    This is ridiculous advice, if you never test and measure your ads how are you going to know what works and what makes money?

    Wait until you are making $50 a month then put 1 or 2 ads on? What? Put 5 or 6 on and make $150 instantly.

    My first month I made $10, according to you I should have removed them. Luckily I instead tested the effects of moving the ad placements and the next month I made $140 – that gave me the inncentive to go on and test and measure further and to continue blogging.

    Most people make little money from their blogs because they use skyscrapers in out of the way places, test and measure find what works for your site.

  22. BigBicepDude says:

    Oh, yeah – I’m not a rock star but I AM a movie star – really. So I do have some experience in this field đŸ™‚

  23. […] my You’re Not a Rock Star blog post, I lecture about how I believe that one of the biggest mistake bloggers and site owners […]

  24. […] their blog hosting)… Make Money at Home (Review) – Yet another person who needs to read my You’re Not a Rock Star post… – Seems to have a thing for Amazon… […]

  25. […] is best explained in my You’re Not a Rock Star post, so take a gander there if you haven’t […]

  26. […] the Cart Before the Horse and more importantly the Swiss_Mouse does need to realize he is NOT a rock star, and needs to alter his blog […]

  27. […] Read my You’re Not a Rock Star post.2. Consider getting a new blog theme or else improve on your current one with some custom […]

  28. […] like to recommend reading my You’re Not a Rock Star post, which explains in detail why I believe putting ads on a small/new blog is a bad […]

  29. […] has been publically defiant regarding banner ads on his blog, telling one reporter “I’m not a rock star yet“. Kontera he says “has enabled me to monetize my blog without distracting my readers […]

  30. […] Read my You’re Not a Rock Star post which explains why I strongly feel that putting a lot of ads on your site when it is small is […]

  31. […] me Nick, you have to remove at least half of these ads or nobody will return to your site! Read my You’re Not a Rock Star […]

  32. Nice i agree i think i need to fix up my side bar im not a rock star yet haha thanks for the tip tyler

  33. […] try and monetize your blog too early, so leave the ads for now, (as Tyler Cruz would say, You’re Not A Rock Star). Keep constantly updating about your chosen topic, and try to make your blog seem unique, stand […]


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