This post was originally sent as an email newsletter on March 15, 2020.
Before I get to the meat and potatoes of today’s email, I want to answer a question a reader asked me. He was wondering whether it’s an okay time to start a blog or online business such as an ecommerce store?
IMO, it’s a fine time.
First of all, you aren’t going to get results immediately. This stuff takes time as in many months (24+) unless you get lucky or know what you’re doing with paid traffic and offers. Today’s environment will not impede you.
Second, IMO what is happening is temporary. The recession may stick around as recessions tend to do, but it too will pass. We had an 11-year bull run. It was bound to end.
As for people already in the online game, “The only people who get hurt on a roller coaster are the ones who jump off!”
That’s a great quote from a good friend and fellow niche site publisher.
Let’s shift gears.
Remember our celeb of the week, Presley Gerber?
I noted how he’s taking a shellacking online for his face tattoo while nobody cares about Mike Tyson’s doozy.
Why is that?
Some people can do anything. The public chalks it up to them just doing their thing.
Other people do the same thing and it’s the worst thing in the world.
Trump gets away with anything and that’s because we expect it. We’re not surprised.
If someone with a pristine reputation did a quarter of what Trump does, they would suffer.
Not fair, but that’s how it is.
It’s the same online.
How you frame or anchor yourself and/or your site sets the tone.
For instance, if I never promoted or sold anything on Fat Stacks for years and then did a promotion blitz, I’m sure I’d hear about it. I’d be called a “sell out” or worse.
However, I consistently sell and promote. Nobody is surprised. It’s unusual if I don’t.
I do my best to promote and sell in an interesting way, but sell and promote I do.
It’s the same with my niche sites.
I’m shameless with affiliate links.
I’m almost egregious with ads.
Visitors expect it. They put up with it to consume the good stuff.
I wasn’t always as aggressive with ads as I am today. Back in the day we were only permitted 3 AdSense ads per URL. A few ad networks could get you 5 ads.
Then Google lifted that restriction.
Now it’s off to the races.
I have tons of ads. The longer the content, the more ads. I just turned infinite scroll on a site where the ads just keep on showing up. It’s a thing of beauty but too early to tell if it’ll earn more money. I hope it does because I like infinite scroll and I think it’s a good fit for the site in question.
If you’re wondering if it’s worth loading up sites with ads, I can tell you that it is. My revenue per 1,000 visitors has never been higher. When the 3 ad limit was lifted, I loaded up and revenue climbed dramatically. Boo ya!
Repeat visitors is stable ‘which means the ads are tolerable. While I have a lot of ads, I have far more content that ads. I don’t use pre-stitials. I don’t paginate after every paragraph. But I do have ads appear throughout the entire length of the content.
Searches for my site’s name is growing. People seek it out directly on Google. Many visit directly in their browser. That means people like it because they return.
FYI, I don’t want to give the impression my niche site enjoys 50% return visitors. It doesn’t. It’s maybe 10%, but for the niche and type of site that it is, that’s decent.
People will put up with ads. They put up with affiliate links.
They expect it as long as you anchor your site as an ad-supported site.
Fortunately the biggest sites in the world are just as egregious as me with ads and affiliate links. They like the revenue too.
When ad blockers hit the scene, many publishers thought that was the end. It’s been a couple of years and ad revenue is fine in most niches. Many people simply don’t bother with ad blockers. I don’t and I’m more technical than most.
Why bring this up?
Because I field questions about ad aggressiveness and user experience. People are concerned too many ads will ruin their site.
One of my missions at Fat Stacks is to spread the word that monetizing with display ads can be a very good business. Many in the “how to blog” space don’t share the same message.
Somebody has to do it and I’m happy to because it works well for me. It’s a model I love.
I’ve read posts in forums by self-righteous publishers who say adding more than one or two ads per page is terrible.
I don’t like reading stuff like that because it influences folks. It’s one thing to explain why they use only one ad but to be so blunt from an authoritative stand-point may steer folks in the wrong direction.
If I had one ad on my site, I’d be working a 9 to 5.
I’m here to tell you that using multiple ads on a site is fine. Obviously don’t have more ads than content, but one ad per page for long form content is not going to feed you unless you own Wikipedia.
Get your online business started on the right foot.
Sell, promote and advertise. It’s a business.
As long as your content is good, interesting, funny, informative and/or timely, visitors won’t mind.
“People prefer good content with ads than lousy content with no ads.”
That little gem of a phrase is money in the bank. It’s my thought of the day.
If you get to 10 million page views per month and want to provide a better user experience with fewer ads, that’s your privilege. You can afford to at that point.
If you’re cranking 300K monthly page views, you need more than one ad per page to make decent money.
Likewise, if you get into a business model with a successful email newsletter, start promoting right away. Mix it up with great content, but don’t hold off selling. If you wait, you’ll have anchored yourself as a purist. When you do go for the bucks, you’ll get an ear full.
Presley is not the face tattoo type of guy. Tyson is.
No, but that’s the way of the world.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes that’s “the best blogging email newsletter around.”
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.