Online advertising: Another piece of the pretirement puzzle?

Should I fill Pretired.org with ads?

EPSON scanner imageWhen I threw this site together back in March, I had some things to get off my chest and I wanted to keep my mind sharp as I began my life as a semi-pretired stay-at-home dad. In my mind I pictured my two teenage nephews listening attentively to my every word and learning how to be financially independent and living rich, full lives. In reality they couldn’t give a crap about any of this so they’re more like me at that age than I like to admit.

It started as a very personal blog. I never really expected to have, you know, readers. So to make it look the way I wanted and to best represent the clean, efficient approach that is the secret to financial freedom, I chose the most minimalist blog theme I could find. Ample white space, lots of of clean lines, minimal decoration. And no ads. I was so sure I would never put ads on my site that I chose a layout that doesn’t even have a natural place to put them.

I’ve enjoyed sharing what I’ve learned, including even my dumb mistakes. It’s thrilling to think there may be a few people out there that could avoid some of my errors and live happier lives because of words I threw up on the web in the middle of the night. I’ve also enjoyed getting to know some of the other financial bloggers out there. Best of all, by exploring the world of personal finance a little more deeply, I’ve been learning even more.

But now I feel like a chump. And a hypocrite! I’m supposed to be writing about how to live without a corporate job and I’m ignoring a potential source of side money! Almost every site I visit now has a nice mix of ads and affiliate links. Many (like this one) have also been sharing their monthly earnings and I feel like I’m missing out! The traffic to Pretired.org has been continually growing over the past four months. I never thought I would have this kind of audience. Feeling all these eyeballs on me makes me want to take this more seriously. It makes me want to write with more care, explore new topics and put myself out there a bit more (never easy for introverts such as myself).

Will you still come by?

If I put online advertising on my site, I don’t want it to turn people away. I’m still going to write first for myself, but every writer craves an audience most of all. Of course I would avoid anything too annoying (you’ll never see a pop-up here). And I would do my best to restrict spammy garbage ads from the site, realizing that’s always an imperfect science.

My other concern, of course, is to place ads where they’d be seen, yet unobtrusive. Somehow I need to find nice, little places on my site to tuck the ads in where they won’t upset my chi when I look at my own site. Naturally I’d disclose when a link is an affiliate link so you can take what I’m saying with the appropriate grain of salt.

I guess my other worry is that I don’t really want to become a servant to Pretired.org. I’ve been having fun, but if it becomes a job then it starts defeating the purpose. I in NO WAY consider blogging or other online moneymaking activities to be truly passive income. But, if you’re semi-pretired or pretired and just want a little extra side money, why not put some free time into sharing what you know? That’s where I want to keep it. If it becomes drudgery, I might as well go back to an office job and make the big coin again.

What works and what doesn’t?

While I have a lot of experience in all manner of online marketing and communications, one thing I haven’t done a lot of is generating money via blog ads. For those of you who are already quite successful in this area, what’s working for you? How much effort is it taking each week to keep the money rolling in? Any other tips for a neophyte such as myself?

Sorry to go meta twice in a row! I do hope those of you who have explored online advertising on your own sites will share your thoughts in the comments! 

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41 Thoughts on “Online advertising: Another piece of the pretirement puzzle?

  1. Great post! For my site, everyone says that they hardly notice my ads. And for my affiliate links, I only tout an affiliate if it is something that I have used and I know that it works.
    Michelle recently posted…What Is Your Pet Worth? How much would you spend on a sick pet?My Profile

    • Pretired Nick on June 13, 2013 at 6:31 am said:

      That’s good to hear. I, also, would only use affiliate links for things I support. I’m psyched that you’re hearing people aren’t bothered by the ads!

  2. Excellent post…can’t wait to see the tips other bloggers have. I also haven’t added ads or much affiliate links…but a lot of that is because I don’t know what I’m doing. I was actually thinking the other day that I like your minimalist clean design. I think properly placed ads that aren’t distracting will be fine.
    Andrew@LivingRichCheaply recently posted…The Tipping ConundrumMy Profile

    • Pretired Nick on June 13, 2013 at 6:33 am said:

      Thanks, Andrew! If I decide to go for it, I’ll put a lot of effort into trying to keep them unobtrusive. I was just thinking I liked your design, too — probably because it looks just like mine! (:

  3. I don’t think that the ads bother people. In my opinion, blogging takes way too much time and effort to do it for free! There’s nothing wrong with monetizing your site. There’s nothing hypocritical about it either.
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted…Saving Money Post GradMy Profile

    • Pretired Nick on June 13, 2013 at 7:29 am said:

      Thanks! Yeah, that’s what I meant: I think It’d be a hypocrite to NOT do it since I’m here talking about money. Appreciate the feedback! What’s your best advice for monetizing your site?

  4. I think you are debating the fine balance. At first I thought I might put up some ads on the site so it would at least pay for my hosting but then I was surprised that it brought in a little extra money. I actually appreciate well placed affiliate ads in certain context from authors I trust. For instance, if an author is talking about a book, I like it when I can just click the link to get a little more info and check out the reviews on amazon. I don’t really like people who just use affiliates to promote things to make money. There are not a lot of good resources about ‘how much’ you can expect to earn from ads because google doesn’t want you to discuss it but other bloggers can let you know.
    Stephen at SE recently posted…The Free Digital Envelope SystemMy Profile

    • Pretired Nick on June 13, 2013 at 9:01 am said:

      Yeah, I totally agree with your perspective. I don’t want to be salesy. I’m really here to share the little bit that I know, not to make a ton of money, but I’m certainly not against having a little extra coin rolling in.

  5. I need to know more about this. I have yet to figure out how to monetize my site.
    Savvy Financial Latina recently posted…Never Burn BridgesMy Profile

  6. I monetize and people visiting my site are increasing. I just have two adsense blocks and am thinking about taking them down because they don’t bring much in relation to the visual pollution, the rest of ads you will barely notice and they bring in more. Anyway, I think it is better to give away free content with ads than to make people pay for ebooks or e-courses when they don’t know the quality of your content.
    Pauline recently posted…Easy Spanish tortillaMy Profile

    • Pretired Nick on June 13, 2013 at 9:03 am said:

      That’s good feedback on the adsense. I’ve heard they’re not very lucrative so I may not go down that road. Still thinking about what I should do…

  7. Nice post Nick! I agree with Holly in that I think the ads really do not bother most readers. That is unless you’re going pop-up crazy which I don’t like. I think a lot of us struggle with this as a site starts to grow and you see the possibilities. I decided to put affiliate ads on my site a few months ago as the traffic warranted it. In terms of what I put up 90%+ is something I have personally used. The others are ones that I am very familiar with but may not have used yet. Ultimately, I think it comes down to providing value to your readers and pointing them to something they may find of value because you have found value in it.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted…The Gift of Financial LiteracyMy Profile

    • Pretired Nick on June 13, 2013 at 9:05 am said:

      Thanks, John! I have to admit I’m not really bothered at all by most ads I see out there. The exception to me is anything that covers what I’m trying to read. Super annoying! The affiliate path seems like a better route than some others I’ve been thinking about. How much traffic were you getting before you decided to go with ads?

  8. As a reader, the only ads that turn me off are the ones that pop-up in your face randomly. Personally, I won’t hold it against you to add ads :)
    Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The Loans recently posted…What Does It Mean To Be Rich?My Profile

  9. As you know, we recently added it up (ha). I’m playing around with adsense, affiliate stuff, and I’ve been contacted on some direct advertising but I’m unsure of that scene. At some point, you’ve got to make money. I think affiliate is the cleanest way to do so, but none of it should offend readers at this point in time…
    Jacob @ Cash Cow Couple recently posted…The Cost of Addiction – In DollarsMy Profile

  10. As a reader, I don’t mind ads at all as long as they don’t constantly pop up in my face. I’ll choose to ignore them if I don’t find them interesting. As a blogger, ads are a way to get paid a little bit for the hard work you’re putting in. It may not make a ton of money, but anything helps.
    Jake @ Common Cents Wealth recently posted…Photo Thursday: God’s CountryMy Profile

    • Pretired Nick on June 13, 2013 at 12:32 pm said:

      That’s pretty much how I feel about it, too. In fact, I’ll often click an ad on a good blog as a “thanks” for the great content. Particularly if it’s something I’m interested in.
      We need to get you over to Gravatar and get you a proper picture for commenting!

  11. No problem with ads here Nick! Its your site and I come here to read and support your site. If I see an ad and its something I want or want to know more about I will click on it. It like watching the NBA playoffs, I dont stop watching just because there is a nike commercial.

    As for what works I know a lot of people who say their readers don’t pay the ads any attention but they the have it all over the place either. Long as they are the ones that pop up all over the place Ill continue to come back for more.
    Thomas recently posted…Stats Update, Side Hustles, and Post ScheduleMy Profile

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  13. Hey, if you have traffic, you have the right to place ads. Come on – no one’s gonna stop reading your awesome stuff just because you plop a few ads up. But if you put too many ads (which you probably won’t), then people will start to reconsider visiting your site. A few is good, too many is bad.
    Troy recently posted…The Future of Investing in Pharmaceutical CompaniesMy Profile

    • Pretired Nick on June 14, 2013 at 6:12 am said:

      Yeah, I definitely don’t want it to be overwhelming. I’m thinking about ways to do it in a subtle way right now.

  14. I’m still cautiously navigating this as well. Sometimes, it does seem counter-intuitive to advise people to save money and then promote a product. Therefore, I think the choice of what to promote is very important.
    Greg@Thriftgenuity recently posted…Reflection Friday: June 14, 2013My Profile

    • Pretired Nick on June 14, 2013 at 8:01 am said:

      Exactly right, Greg. I don’t want to look ridiculous showing ads for SUVs on my site, but if I can somewhat control what shows to somewhat complement my content, I think it could be a win.

    • I agree with this as well. Like certain bloggers say get out of debt, but then they have a big credit card banner on the home page. IT doesnt make sense, but I guess they have to pay the bills at any cost.
      Rich Uncle EL recently posted…Strive for MoreMy Profile

      • Pretired Nick on June 21, 2013 at 6:56 pm said:

        Yeah, it’s a balance. And sometimes you don’t have much control over what shows. We’ll see how it turns out (if I ever get time to work on it!)

  15. Nick, I think it’s great that you’re exploring new money making opps with the blog! I wouldn’t be offended by ads at all, unless they were super evasive and made it hard to read the blog posts. The other thing is, by learning and sharing about how to make money this way, you can teach others. Sounds like a win/win to me. :-)
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted…Some Great Articles and a Busy WeekendMy Profile

  16. Nicholas,
    After blogging for several years, this has been my experience.
    1. Site ads are so common, most folks don’t think twice about seeing well-placed ones.
    2. Pop-ads still annoy me, and as feedback tells me, most visitors to a site as well.
    3. Your initial Adsense ads will be about amazingly incongruous subject matter like belly fat or contact lenses, but that tends to correct itself quickly.
    4. Amazon links work best if applicable to the post or subject matter–targeted and informational. For instance I bought a Norpro cherry pitter and it was the best I had used, so I blogged about it and provided a video link of me using the product, as I shall guilelessly share with you here: http://tallcloverfarm.com/6605/summertime-and-the-pittin-is-easy
    5. I didn’t have much luck with affiliate ads, but then I have to admit I did a sloppy job of it, so I removed them.
    Hope this helps Nicholas, I say a couple ads never hurt anyone and you being the site neatnik that you are, have nothing to fear. I mean any blog that ask me to confirm I’m NOT a douche bag, is okay with me. Oh, and for the record, I am not a douche bag (or so my good friends have assured me).
    Here’s to your site’s success and continued pretirement joy.
    Tom
    PS-I’ve sought advice from BobWP and I like his blog advertising. He uses a widget that keeps it sweet and simple and clearly states “Products I trust” so his advertising is a like a Whitman sampler, well placed, neat, trusted and tested. BobWP’s blog as an example: http://www.bobwp.com/blog/
    Tom | Tall Clover Farm recently posted…Tom’s Bee Movie: Gone With the SwarmMy Profile

  17. If you figure out how to make more the $.03/day from ads, please do fill me in!
    Mr. 1500 recently posted…Ask the Readers: Garage Sale or Thrift Store?My Profile

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  19. I’m new to your site, but thought I’d still chime in here: I love the clean, crisp look of your site (which really makes me realize that I erred with the theme I chose for mine, but that’s besides the point…), but I personally would have no issue whatsoever with you or any other website owner trying to monetize their site.

    There are people who are so overt about it that it turns visitors off and they usually “vote” with their mouse and never come back. I assume you’d do it tastefully, and that would be just fine.
    Brad recently posted…Term Life Insurance is the Best Bet for Your FamilyMy Profile

    • Pretired Nick on June 19, 2013 at 9:32 am said:

      Thanks for the vote of confidence, Brad! Glad you stopped by! I will definitely be as careful as possible to keep the site looking clean as I give advertising a try!

  20. YEs this is a great post and the suggesstions are helpful to new bloggers. I guess I can’t be of much help to you because I have not experienced the get rich slowly growth with million dollar offers for ads. I will say this I get direct emails from pay day loan companies to promote on my site. I shut them down immediately because they do not align with my values for my site.
    Rich Uncle EL recently posted…Strive for MoreMy Profile

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