Brace yourself for a rant. I wish someone had sent me this blog post in 2010.
I send an email on this topic at least once a year because it’s important for newer folks kicking the niche site tires.
So today I was searching whether adding a particular website feature was good for ad revenue and came across several blog posts titled something like “X Reasons Ads Are Bad for Website Monetization”.
I thought to myself “this nonsense is still out there?”
It turns out it’s the usual crowd of folks who publish one Biz Opp site hawking “how to blog” stuff. Their expertise is based on the very same blog they publish all about how to blog. They don’t actually publish niche sites. They publish sites selling stuff to unsuspecting niche site publishers who unfortunately may be led astray.
It would be like me focusing my message and course content regaling you on the merits of selling ads in email newsletters like I do in this email newsletter. I could go on and on how I’m able to sell ads for lots of money with not a huge readership. The thing is, this only works in select niches. I don’t sell ads in my niche site email newsletters (I’ve put programmatic ads in them but I haven’t sold individual ad spots). I suppose I could but they wouldn’t fetch anywhere close to what I get for this newsletter. Plus I’d have hustle and find advertisers. With Fat Stacks, most advertisers are readers so it sells itself.
The reason I bring this up today is to tell you this information is highly misleading. I listened to it for years which was a huge mistake. I only got into using ads on sites out of a “hail Mary” last resort effort to squeeze a few bucks from a new site I launched 8 years ago.
In 2014 I launched what is now my most lucrative niche site. It was going to be an affiliate site because that’s all I knew. All the “experts” said ads were so bad. I grew traffic pretty fast to that site thanks to the Facebook algo back then. Search traffic was starting to come in decently too. Despite all that traffic, the site earned squat from affiliate links.
I had an old AdSense account kicking around so one night I slapped up a few AdSense ads on the site.
The next day I checked my AdSense account and it had earned $176 CAD over night. Yeah, I remember the exact amount because that was the day my entire publishing business changed.
Not only had I found a lucrative way to monetize niche sites but I could publish on any topic I wanted. I could ditch the boring old affiliate content. I could write interesting articles that were good for readers and fun to write. I got to work. I wrote and wrote and wrote for years. The more I wrote, the more traffic and ad revenue I earned.
Ironically, affiliate marketers are switching to ads in droves ever since their “affiliate sites” took a beating in recent Google updates.
I want to be clear here. I’m not saying affiliate sites are bad if they are done right. The landscape has changed. You must do it right. If you do, you can be extremely well rewarded. Do it badly and you’re wasting your time.
I’m also not saying that building an email list is bad. In the right niches it can be the foundation of a huge business.
Lastly, I’m not panning any type of website monetization. If it works, do it. Heck, if adding a donate button to your site works go for it.
What I am saying is that ad monetization is not only a viable way to monetize websites but that in many cases, it’s the best option. Just ask the hundreds or thousands of pubs filling up wheelbarrows with cash every month working with Mediavine, AdThrive, Ezoic and even AdSense.
Do you think the DotDash sites haven’t explored every monetization option out there? DD is a billion dollar publishing outfit with unlimited resources. If there was something more lucrative than ads, they would do that. Actually, they do plenty of affiliate marketing as well but there’s no shortage of ads on the sites.
In fact, most top-tier content sites on the Web monetize with ads.
That’s very telling.
It’s a small minority of sites that don’t monetize with ads (if you don’t include ecommerce sites).
So your “expert blogger” who tells you that ads are the worst way to monetize a niche site really has no clue because they don’t actually publish niche sites. They sell biz opps, which is a totally different type of site.
And I’m not saying selling biz opps is bad either. I’m saying that selling biz opps is different than publishing a website about pet lizards or knitting or MMA.
The main point here is the reason I launched Fat Stacks. Well, that and to make money. To be fair, when I launched Fat Stacks I wasn’t the only person talking about how good ads were. There were some decent courses and blogs on how to make money with AdSense. I certainly wasn’t the first but in the same vein, “pro-ads” bloggers were a minority. When I launched Fat Stacks I was earning great revenue from ads so I had the proof. Moreover, I could see the potential was unlimited. I like businesses that have no ceiling.
Just so you know, my niche site portfolio out-earns Fat Stacks every year. My portfolio has far more upside than Fat Stacks because there really is no limit to how big a niche site portfolio can grow. Don’t believe me? Check out the DotDash website portfolio. That’s hundreds of millions of monthly visitors. Yes, it’s a massive corporation and you’re not going to get there overnight… probably never, but that’s not the point. The point is the potential of the business model.
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.
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.