13 Reasons Why Blogs Ads Suck for Monetizing Your Site (And What to Do Instead)

13 Reasons Why Blogs Ads Suck for Monetizing Your Site (And What to Do Instead)

This is the dream, right?

You get out of bed, stretch, and make some coffee.

You settle in on the couch and start your work day – in your pajamas.

(You’re a professional blogger, so nobody gets to tell you what to wear).

You open your laptop, check your email, and see dozens of notifications: “You’ve Been Issued a Payment.”

Overnight, you’ve made hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars.

Money literally appears in your bank account while you sleep.

And what’s the secret to this coffee-swigging, pajama-wearing lifestyle?

Advertising, of course! Those little ads waiting patiently in your sidebar to earn you money while you whip up your next mochaccino.

Well, prepare yourself for a shock…

Why Advertising is a Foolish Strategy for Serious Bloggers

Want to know something surprising?

If you really want to live that dream, full-time blogger lifestyle, putting advertising on your blog is the last thing you should do.

Regardless, many bloggers believe they can install WordPress, throw up some ads in the sidebar, learn a few traffic tricks, and then sit back to watch the money flow in.

But in reality, it doesn’t work that way.

Too many bloggers are wasting their precious time with a strategy that’ll never pay off the way they hope.

The following reasons finally dismantle the myth that advertising is a smart way to monetize your blog.

1. Blog Ads Pay You Peanuts

You want to make money blogging, and you want to do it quickly.

But the funny thing is, advertising is actually a painfully slow path to monetization. Until you have serious traffic, the amounts involved are so small it’s almost embarrassing.

Let’s look at the typical case – most of the ads you see on blogs are generated by Google AdSense.

Many factors affect how much you can make through Google Adsense, including the topic you blog about, the specific ad displayed, how much traffic you have, and what percentage of that traffic clicks.

The average “click through rate” (CTR) varies by industry; however, the average is around 0.1%.

Let’s say the average cost-per-click (how much you earn when somebody clicks an ad) is $0.50.

That means you would need around 1,000 unique visitors each day to get even one ad click and earn $0.50 for the day.

If you enjoy 1,000 unique visitors each day to your blog, you can do a lot better than $0.50 per day in income.

The bottom line is that advertising requires a ton of traffic to be worthwhile, and when you have a lot of traffic, you have much better ways to monetize it than through advertising.

2. Blog Ads Are… Look – Squirrel!

As a blogger, you’re constantly trying to discover ways to hold your readers’ attention with your content.

And it’s not easy! You craft the perfect introductions to your posts to draw readers in. You hold their attention with crisp and clear writing packed with engaging and quotable snippets of information. You write closings that make them want to jump up and take action.

In other words, you work hard for every second of your readers’ attention.

But advertising competes for that attention by drawing their eyes away from your content and onto the ad.

Think about it. Advertising is designed to distract readers from the content you want them to see – the content you worked your ass off to create for them.

3. Blog Ads Are a Conversion Killer

Smart bloggers always know what they want readers to do next.

It might be to share the post they’ve just read, subscribe to an email list, or read another relevant post.

So they’ll prompt readers to take that next step by including a clear “call-to-action” like a button or a link.

But the problem is, blog ads are also a call-to-action.

And if a visitor is acting upon Google’s call-to-action, that means they aren’t acting upon yours.

Advertising affects conversion and retention because it gives readers another option – to click a tantalizingly worded ad – instead of doing what you want them to do.

4. Blog Ads Undermine Your Blog’s Goals

What is the goal of your blog?

Most bloggers want to build an audience. And the best way to do that is by providing value to their readers.

But blog ads undermine that goal because they don’t provide value to the audience at all.

In fact, many readers feel that ads are annoying and devalue a website.

Consider the other goals that advertising conflicts with on your website. For instance, the whole point of an ad is to have a reader click it, which takes them off of your site.

So if the ads are successful, they encourage your readers to leave your blog.

On the one hand, you want readers to stay on your site. On the other hand, you want to make money from ads.

Experience shows that the blogs that grow the fastest are those with every element perfectly in tune with every other element.

Just like a company needs to stay true to its vision and mission, bloggers need to stay true to their goals to build cohesive, successful brands.

5. Blog Ads Make You Look Sleazy

When a visitor lands on your blog and sees that you have ads, they feel you are immediately trying to sell them something.

Transfer that situation to the real world. What would you think of someone who tried to sell you something within a few moments of meeting you?

You probably wouldn’t trust them. You’d probably be suspicious of them. You’d certainly be wary of developing a relationship with them.

Like it or not, blog ads are a constant sales pitch living on your blog.

And when visitors see ads on your blog, they subconsciously trust you a little less. Which is unfortunate because trust is the cornerstone of a popular blog.

When you lose trust, you lose influence. Readers may see any recommendations you make in a different light.

You can find other ways to make an honest buck from blogging, but blog ads always look a little sleazy.

6. Blog Ads Force You to Work for “The Man”

Bloggers are entrepreneurs, right?

After all, you’re building something for yourself. You’re  your own boss. You have the control. Right?

Well, not exactly, if you run ads on your blog.

When you run ads, the ad platform (e.g., Google Adsense) is your boss – and not the type of cool boss you’ve always hoped for.

Don’t like the per-click commission you’re getting? Too bad. You can’t ask for a raise.

Want to get paid regularly? Not so fast. Your earnings are withheld until you reach a minimum.

And if you don’t read the fine print? This horrible boss can wipe out your earnings if you accidentally infringe their terms and conditions.

Just when you thought you were on your own, blog ads put you at the mercy of somebody else.

7. Blog Ads Are a Dangerous Distraction for You Too

Hosting ads on your blog seems like the easiest form of monetization.

You just post the ads, wait for people to click them, and then count the cash, right?

And while that does sound easy, it is not the reality.

Advertising is a huge distraction for you, the blogger.

If you want to optimize your earnings, you must take time to test, monitor, and manage the ads.

So you end up effectively working as a part-time advertising manager instead of working on your blog.

However you look at it, blog ads pull you away from what is truly important: creating great content and providing value to readers.

8. Blog Ads Risk Your Reputation

You see a lot of different products and companies advertised online, and I’m guessing you wouldn’t personally vouch for every one of them. In fact, some of them you definitely wouldn’t recommend, or even want to be associated with.

So how would you feel if an ad for such a product or company popped up on your website without you knowing?

Now, how would you feel if, when the ad popped up, your readers thought you were actually recommending it? After all, it’s on your blog; you must have approved it, right?

As a blogger, you’re more Internet-savvy than the average reader. You know that blog ads are selected by Google’s algorithm not the blog’s owner, but many people won’t see that distinction.

And when you host ads on your blog, your face could appear next to a product or company you don’t endorse, or even like.

You could just be one rotation away from a negative juxtaposition that sends your reputation into a tailspin.

9. Blog Ads Make Your Blog Ugly

Studies show that when you go for a job interview, the interviewer decides within 10 seconds of meeting you whether you’re right for the job.

And that first impression is formed based on your appearance.

The same goes for your blog. Your visitors will know within seconds of visiting whether they want to stick around. And their first impression is based on your design.

So it’s important to have an attractive site. After all, 94% of people apparently say a bad design is a reason why they don’t trust certain sites.

But including ads on your blog taints your design.

It’s like showing up to that job interview wearing a nice suit but with a “Enjoy Coca-Cola” T-shirt underneath.

Sure, you could adjust the ads to better match your design, but do you really want people to think that other people’s products are an integral part of your site?

10. Blog Ads Put Your Blog in the Slow Lane

Did you know that if your website does not fully load within three seconds, most visitors will leave?

It’s true. Many factors can slow down your blog, from plugins, to hosting issues, to – you guessed it – ads.

Yes, ads slow down your website. A test done by Steve Souders, website speed expert, author, and Google employee, proved it.

Why give readers another reason to bounce from your site?

11. Blog Ads Sell Your Readers For Cents

Many bloggers who turn pro do so by transforming loyal readers into happy customers of their products or services.

But if you try to monetize your blog through ads, your readers are the products. And you’re selling them to Google for a few cents on the dollar.

What message does it send to your readers when you treat them as a commodity? That your blog is really just the front end of an operation to traffic readers to the highest bidder?

You’ll struggle to convince your readers that you truly care when your blog proves that you’d give them up in an instant.

A blog’s readers are its most precious asset. Don’t throw that away under the banner of “covering your hosting costs.”

12. Blog Ads Force You to Give Up Control of Your Content

Most successful bloggers are control freaks. At least when it comes to their blogs.

And you’re probably the same way.

After all, your blog is your baby. You’ve worked hard to build it to where it is today, and to do that, you need to have full control over it, right?

Well, advertising forces you to relinquish some of that editorial control.

Because when you place ads on your site, you don’t control the look of each ad, the copy on the ads, or where the click takes you.

It’s like giving a stranger your WordPress login and hoping they only post content you like.

Putting ads on your blog compromises your power. It puts responsibility for some of your content in the hands of someone else. Someone who couldn’t give a damn about your blog.

13. Blog Ads Make You Look Like an Amateur

A big part of growing a popular blog is building relationships with influencers.

Influencers give you reach far beyond your own audience and can help you grow your blog faster than you could by going it alone.

But influencers are smart people, and most recognize that blogs ads are a huge waste of time for all but the largest of blogs.

So when you reach out to those influencers, what happens when they visit your site and see it’s plastered with ads? Will they still view you as credible?

Not likely.

Approaching an influencer when your blog has ads is like attending a networking event and handing out business cards with a coupon for a local steak house on the back.

Chances are, any influencer will conclude one of two things:

  1. You’re naive to think that advertising is a good strategy for a blogger.
  2. Your blog can’t be successful if the few dollars you’ll make in a month from ads are so important that you’re willing to endure all the disadvantages.

Either way, if influencers don’t see you as credible, they won’t want to build a relationship with you. They won’t share your content or interact with you either.

Building a popular blog without influencer relationships is like trying to climb a steep hill wearing shackles. It’s possible, but it is far more difficult.

Ads make you look like an amateur. And influencers aren’t impressed by amateurs.

So Blog Ads Suck. How Can You Monetize Your Blog Instead?

So, you’re convinced that putting ads on your blog is a terrible idea.

Does that mean you have to absorb the costs of running your blog and continue working your tail off, never to earn a dime for your hard work?

Fortunately, no.

The truth is, the vast majority of truly successful bloggers have built careers from their blogs without resorting to blog ads. At least not ads in the usual sense.

How do they do it?

Well, instead of selling your readers through advertising, sell to your readers. Be involved in the transaction – don’t hand it off to a stranger.

Sell something you’ve built yourself. Use the bond with your readers for good not evil. Build something for them, not around them.

Luckily, you have plenty of ways to do just that.

Idea #1: Offer a Service To Get Your Audience Unstuck

The easiest way to help your audience and start monetizing your blog without ads is to offer a service.

Services are the fastest track to earning good money from your blog because they don’t take much to get up and running.

Two popular services offered by bloggers are:

  • Coaching: Jon Morrow has offered one-to-one coaching in the past, and this is how many bloggers choose to monetize their blogs initially (including myself).
  • Consulting: Naomi Dunford, the blogger behind IttyBiz, offers small business consulting to her base of loyal fans.

Offering a service to your audience is also a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of what your audience needs and wants while still earning money from your blog.

Idea #2: Create a Product Your Audience Will Love

Since you’ve spent so much time getting to know your audience, why not create your own products to meet their needs?

That may be an information product, such as:

  • E-books: The popular travel blogger “Nomadic Matt” from the blog of the same name has monetized his blog by delivering information to his readers through e-books.
  • Courses: His Royal Awesomeness Jon Morrow creates courses such as his popular guest blogging program, Guestblogging.com and Blog Launch Formula for his followers.
  • Membership Sites: Corbett Barr from the popular blog Think Traffic partnered with two other bloggers and rolled his blog into the popular membership site for entrepreneurs, Fizzle.co. Jon has Serious Bloggers Only.

Or maybe you could offer a physical product, such as:

  • Books: Many bloggers publish books as a form of monetization, like Jeff Goins has done with his new book, The Art of Work.
  • T-Shirts: Scott Dinsmore of Live Your Legend created a t-shirt line based on inspirational sayings voted on by his readers.
  • Accessories: The husband and wife bloggers behind the popular DIY blog Young House Love created a line of home goods which are sold at Target.

With the right research, you can create a product that sells like crazy from day one.

Idea #3: Sell Someone Else’s Awesome Product

If you don’t want to offer a service or develop your own product, another popular form of monetization is acting as an affiliate for products and services you love.

Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income does this extremely well (as you’ll note when you see his income reports) by acting as an affiliate in an honest and trustworthy way by only promoting products he genuinely believes in.

Idea #4: Get Creative By Monetizing Your Unique Skills

The best part about blogging is that you run the show. Many bloggers have unique skills beyond writing and blogging, so why not find a way to use those talents to monetize your blog?

There are hundreds of examples of creative ways people did just this. Consider:

These are examples of what other people have done with their skills. How can you use your unique skills to monetize your blog?

Abandon The Ads and Monetize Your Blog the Right Way

You’re a serious blogger.

You work hard on your blog and you deserve to be rewarded.

That’s why you’re looking for ways to monetize.

And nobody can blame you for thinking that advertising might be the answer – it’s a common belief.

But now you know the truth – advertising is a terrible way to make a living from your blog.

It’s distracting for you and your readers, it makes you look like a cheap amateur, and perhaps worst of all, the amount of money it pays is almost embarrassing.

So if your blog has ads for products and companies you don’t know and certainly don’t endorse, it’s time to strip them out.

Instead, offer something of your own. Partner with someone you trust.

Because if you’re going to use your valuable blog space for something other than content, it had better be something you’re proud of.

And it might just give you a shot at that lifestyle you’ve been dreaming about.

About the Author: Sarah Peterson is the author of Unsettle.org, where she helps people stop settling for “okay” lives and careers and start acting on their ideas. Get her report, 10 Free Tools That Reveal the Product Your Audience is Begging For to finally start making money from your blog… the right way.


  1. Andrew M. Warner
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 10:02:23

    Hey Sarah,

    I agree with you about advertising. They’re not only distracting, but really don’t pay off unless you have large amounts of traffic each day. And for me, right now, that doesn’t work.

    And being a person that’s about building their list, as we all should be, you’re right that it takes away from your intended CTA … which is the last thing you want to do. You don’t want to work hard to get someone one your blog ONLY to have them click away seconds later to that ad. No bueno.

    I love point #11.. It’s such a bad look to your readers if you do that. And it’s true. That’s what you;re doing to them when you have those ads on your site. Selling them for pennies on the dollar.

    Now, I like the ideas you have to monetize a site. I’m in the process of monetizing my site and coaching/consulting is definitely an option. But, some of the other ideas are awesome as well — and any of them would be better alternatives to putting up ads on your blog.

    Awesome post.

    – Andrew

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 14:00:26

      Hey Andrew,

      Thanks so much for reading and leaving such a thoughtful comment!

      I agree that many of the other ideas are better alternatives than putting ads on your blog. Coaching and consulting – any service really – is the easiest way to monetize, by far, because you don’t have to develop a product or anything.

      Good luck on your monetization! Pop back in a few months and let us know how it went.

  2. Akshay Sapkal
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 10:24:30

    This was a pretty good share!

    I agree to the innocent and lame ways of blog advertising. I myself have practiced this thing and really it disappoints when a handful of traffic is not able to pull up the dreams of $$ flowing in your account.
    Can u share out some more ways on advertising a long-term blog!
    Would be a great help!!

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 14:02:16

      Thank you, Akshay! I am glad you enjoyed the article.

      I’m not sure I understand your question – do you mean ways of monetizing a blog that has been around for a long time, or do you mean ways of monetizing that will be a long term solution?

  3. Tim Brownson
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 10:24:43

    LMAO at this “Blog Ads Are… Look – Squirrel!”

    I used Adwords for a couple of years ago back on 2009. I had fairly good traffic and still never got to the $100 I needed to earn for Google to pay me out (they still have my money!).

    Now I try to have a clear call to action just to sign up for my newsletter, not send people away when I have worked my butt off to get them there in the first place.

    Good article and hopefully you’ll also help make reading a more pleasant experience.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 14:03:28

      Ha! I’m glad you found that funny – I was hoping I wouldn’t be the only one laughing at my own little joke.

      Sounds like you’ve got the right idea – that minimum can be a huge pain!

  4. Marissa Anwar
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 10:34:03

    I’ve fallen into that of blog advertising mostly because I had room in my sidebar. That said, I saw the light when one of the PR agencies representing a big client emailed me to let me know that the ads on my sidebar were showing the competitors’s products.

    Smart ad buy for the competitor, but embarrassing for me.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 14:04:11

      Wow, that is really unfortunate! I didn’t even think of this downside. If you’re working with brands one-on-one this can be a problem. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Raspal Seni
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 10:46:29

    Hi Sarah,

    If you wish to make money in your pajamas, that doesn’t mean you slap a few ads on your blog and you’re done.

    It’s true ad networks like adsense pay peanuts. (it’s much, much lower than $0.50 in second and third-world countries, if you know) That’s one reason I never even tried them. Why waste your time?

    When we myself hate ads on other blogs and websites, should we even think of putting them and troubling other people?

    Sure, popup a few ads as soon as I come to your blog and I’ll say bye bye to your blog forever.

    Ads are like kicking your visitors goodbye, the moment they get inside the door.

    On occasions I like to read a post, published on a blog that has ads, I just use Evernote’s Clearly browser extension with a single click. Poof! All ads gone and instant, distraction-free reading. Cool, isn’t it?

    I agree, blog networks, just like social sharing networks, slow down your blog.

    I love #2 — creating info products like e-books and courses. Some people earn far higher with affiliates, than even in a year of displaying ads.

    Thanks for the helpful post, Sarah. I’ll point my friends here when/if I see ads on their sites/blogs.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 14:07:02

      I didn’t know that about ads in developing countries. Thank you for passing that on.

      I’m with you – I think if we don’t like to see something on another blog, we should assume that our readers feel the same if we have it on our blogs.

      I do like the fact that ads can be blocked but not everyone is as savvy.

      Thanks so much, Raspal!

  6. Erik Bobbink
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 10:50:04

    Completely agree with you John that blog ads suck if you only have a small audience.

    Will not install ads on my site since I think it is easier to build the back end and keep all the money myself 😉

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 14:08:57

      So true, Erik – thank you for reading 🙂

  7. Jonathan Holowka
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 11:01:13

    I’m going to weigh in on the opposite side of this spectrum and say that I’ve actually had a quite a bit of success running a blog and using ads as a form of payment. About a year ago I started my website, What to Do When Bored and monetized it with Google Adsense, just as an experiment.

    Month one I didn’t do that great, only $11.
    Month two things started to pick up, I made $140.
    Month three it was $244.

    At the highest I made about $400 in a month off of Adsense, which I thought was pretty cool. Unfortunately I started working full time at that point and just didn’t have the time or energy to devote to it every day. But the amazing thing is, I’m writing maybe one blog post a month for it and still making at least $100 off of it every month even now.

    I was having some pretty exponential growth for a while. I’m wondering if I didn’t start working and had just continued writing how it would have gone. I’m hoping to get back to it some day.

    • Tom Southern
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 11:29:13

      Sounds interesting Jonathan. Is your blog adult-focussed or child-focussed? I think Adsense is all about topic and placement, e.g. where your Adsense ads are placed on each page of your blog.

      • Jonathan Holowka
        Mar 12, 2015 @ 11:33:43

        Demographic is 20’s and 30’s I’d say.

        It’s not so much a professional blog though as it is an entertainment blog. That’s what I’d say the main difference is to being successful with ads as a form of monetization. It’s much easier to drive the large amounts of traffic needed for ads when your content is focused solely on entertaining your audience with viral types of content.

      • Tom Southern
        Mar 12, 2015 @ 14:07:57

        Blog looks good. Can see why you get good results.

    • Carol Tice | Make a Living Writing
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 13:31:06

      If $100 a month makes you happy, John, then AdSense is for you. It’s just not a way to make a robust income, because it does not build loyalty in your audience, and it drives people away. Sure, they clicked once, and you got a few pennies…and then you have built no relationship with them, and you never see them again.

      • Kurt Frankenberg
        Mar 12, 2015 @ 13:33:24

        Right you are, Carol! I have to agree that RELATIONSHIP is the key to business, not the one-time transaction. Especially when the person responsible for your income is gone forever.

        Keep Stepping,


      • Jonathan Holowka
        Mar 12, 2015 @ 13:50:37

        I think you have to consider the type of website I have adsense on though. It’s not a professional blog like yours and Jon Morrow’s where I’m teaching people how to do something. I’m basically pushing out buzzfeed style content. The intention is too have high volumes of traffic which is sustainable for running ads. I want to have the time to devote to it and make far more than $100/month, which I could do if I wasn’t working 9:00 – 5:00 elsewhere.

        I have my professional blog too and that’s where I don’t use ads. Unfortunately, I don’t have that monetized at all right now.

      • Andrew M. Warner
        Mar 12, 2015 @ 16:23:53

        Completely agree with this and with what you said, Carol. It does drive people away and at the end of the day, can you build a business that way? Heck no.

        You have to build solid relationships with people. That’s what it’s always been … that’s what it always will be.

        – Andrew

      • Sarah Peterson
        Mar 13, 2015 @ 05:14:47

        The difference between an audience and a visitor. The cool thing about an audience is that you can nurture it and they’ll come back and want more from you, if you provide value.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 14:12:01

      Hey Jonathan!

      I’m so glad that ads worked so well for you – you’re definitely earning more from your ads than most bloggers ever will. You might be in the right industry for it. I would encourage you to look at how much you might make if you found another profitable form of monetization.

      For instance, $400 is a great income from ads, but could you make $2,000 a month if you offered a product or service instead?

      Just food for thought. I love different perspectives 🙂

      • Jonathan Holowka
        Mar 12, 2015 @ 16:13:53

        Thanks for the reply, Sarah.

        It’s definitely food for thought. Worth thinking about how I could do that by offering some type of product. I’m wondering if I could offer to write blog posts for anyone who enjoys the content I already produce? I’m thinking my website definitely serves as a portfolio at the very least.

  8. Greg Strandberg
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 11:12:08

    I’m not very impressed by this article. First you browbeat us into believing that ads are bad. Then you give us examples of what we can do instead, one of which happens to be ads, though affiliate.

    What happens if we try to monetize and we fail? Is that it, or should we keep trying? How long should we keep trying? Should we go back to ads while we try?

    Not everyone is you, Sarah, and this approach doesn’t work for everyone. Advertising works for a lot, however. Even huge and trusted newspapers use advertising, and huge blogs do it too. We see it, we trust it, we ignore it.

    I’m sorry, but I’m not very impressed by this article.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 15:34:25

      Hey Greg,

      I’m so sorry that you didn’t like the article. Affiliate advertising and traditional blog advertising are very different, I think, in that with affiliates you can stand behind companies you truly believe in. With traditional advertising, this isn’t the case.

      If you try to monetize in a different way and fail, I think there may be one of two problems at play:
      1) The blog doesn’t have a big enough audience just yet or..
      2) The blogger chose the wrong type of monetization for the audience.

      Advertising works for big newspapers because they have a lot of traffic, and because that is the traditional model of monetization for a newspaper. But bloggers and newspapers aren’t one and the same – in fact, they are very different forms of publication.

      I do appreciate differing opinions, however, so thank you for sharing yours.



    • David Michael
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 17:35:58

      Also, ads are not a requirement for earning affiliate income. Just ask Pat Flynn.

      • Sarah Peterson
        Mar 13, 2015 @ 05:16:49

        I think what gets people tripped up is that affiliate is traditionally called “affiliate marketing” and marketing is associated with advertising. But it’s very different, as you are saying. I think affiliate advertising is far more ethical and you can recommend products/services that will truly benefit your readers. All this to say I agree!

  9. Joy Healey
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 11:14:07


    I made the mistake of putting Adsense ads on one of my earlier blogs but ran into all the problems you mention (competitors ads etc) and the final insult was that my Adsense account got closed because I’d presumably missed something in the T&Cs (I never found out why!) – and they still have my money:-(

    So – only the strategies you advise for me. It’s slower, but at least when I make a sale it’s more than 50c.

    Great article to show clients who think they’ll earn big from Ads on their blog.

    Thanks, Joy

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 15:37:41

      Hey Joy,

      It’s a blessing in disguise, I think. I’m sorry you had to go through that, but you’re right – you earn more than $0.50 when you make a sale on your own product or service 🙂

  10. Angela
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 11:17:31

    Another great BBT post! On an older blog, I’ve been tempted to place ads, but didn’t feel comfortable for the reasons you mention. Thanks for the listing the types of blog monetization in one place, definitely a resource I’ll return to. Thanks!

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 15:38:41

      Thank you, Angela! And good luck on your monetization quest!

  11. Jake Mcspirit
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 11:23:53

    Hi Sarah,

    Great post. The points you’ve made here are solid. Distracting visitors, annoying them, and showing them where else to go will never help conversion rates.

    Every professional blog you go on lacks ads. I’m sure a lot of that is to do with the reasons you’ve listed here. They’re focusing on turning their visitors into worthwhile supporters.

    Thanks for the read.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 15:39:44

      Hey Jake,

      I think so too, except for the huge publications where the only thing that makes sense is ads. But those publications aren’t bloggers 🙂


  12. Jakarri
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 11:30:05

    Hmmmmm. While all of these things the author said can be true, it’s just not the case for everyone. I think the best thing any blogger can do is simply be an entrepreneur.

    This means to map out a monetization strategy that works for you personally. Ads might very well work for you or they may not. Just like ebooks could possibly work .or you could suck terribly at ebooks.

    I’m waiting on my traffic to hit 10k monthly subscribers before I even think about what I’m going to do to make money with it. I’m waiting to see exactly what my websites turns into and really let it tell how to monetize based on the demographics of those that decide to stop by.

    However, some people can’t afford to do this and making a couple of hundred dollars a month might be key for some of you. Go ahead and do it until you can do better. The most valuable skill a person can learn in blogging is to tune out all of the noise and focus on what works for you

    There are so many experts vying for your attention and regardless of what gets said, they all have a motive. Even if it’s truly to help you, it’s still a motive if you think about it. So be your own expert and don’t be afraid to listen to your own voice.

    • Lorraine Reguly
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 11:46:50

      I have to agree with you. Blog ads can be used sparingly, and still make you coffee money!

      I use Adsense. However, I don’t put ads on all of my posts for the reasons listed in this one, but I do have some on my top posts, for which Google sends me about 600 visitors a day. So I make a few bucks. 😉

      I will, however, say that I tried Infolinks and people told me they hated them. Plus, they really did make my site look cheesy. 🙁

      I closed my account after two weeks.

      I also tried another system… that Darren Rowse from Problogger used. It starts with C. I can’t recall the name. But they sucked as much as Infolinks did, so I removed them.

      I like the control I have with Adsense, so I’m sticking with that.

      And that’s it! My various services are what keep me going, anyway. 😉

      Writing, editing, blogging, and helping others turn ebooks into print books are my top services… in case you were wondering. 😉

      • Sarah Peterson
        Mar 12, 2015 @ 15:45:36

        Hey Lorraine,

        Infolinks are pretty bad. I’m not a huge fan of Adsense (obviously) but you have to do what works for you.

        And hey, it seems as if you’re looking into other forms of monetization, so hopefully soon those will far outpace what you make through ads anyway 🙂


    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 15:42:34

      Hey Jakarri,

      I think it’s a great strategy to wait until you have 10,000 subscribers before thinking about monetizing. That will give you a great base to find out what your audience wants.

      I have to agree with your statement to be your own expert and not be afraid to listen to your own voice. Ads can be just very short sighted. Like cashing in on $1 now because you can’t wait for $100 in the future. You know?

  13. Tom Southern
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 11:35:47

    This is a comprehensive and helpful list, Sarah.

    I think it’s interesting how bloggers who use the ads you suggest make their ads as dominant, or more so, than Adsense ads. I think it’s all down to design and placement on each page of the blog. Also, the bloggers you mention advertise a lot. But they do so in their posts (which can be as intrusive in it’s own way as Adsense) and in their emails.

    The best advertising is your readers feeling confident in you enough to ask you to sell them something.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 15:46:36

      Hey Tom,

      I love that last line you wrote: “The best advertising is your readers feeling confident in you enough to ask you to sell them something.” -I so agree. When your readers trust you enough, they start asking you to offer products or services. It’s awesome!

  14. Laurel Bern
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 11:43:50

    I loved the article! @ Greg Strandberg, with affiliate marketing, YOU can control what ads you put up. Adsense. no. no control.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Sarah. I can see my ads and some of them are pretty and some of them are down-right fugly and that is why I just took mine down. [it’s only been up a few weeks.]

    I loved all of your suggestions and am working on many of them. But I’m getting so much more work now because of my blog and that is money in the bank for sure!

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 15:47:37

      Hey Laurel,

      Getting work because of your blog is definitely a form of monetization, even if it’s not direct. Great job!

  15. Anna
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 11:45:16

    I make a full time income from ads (plenty more than I made teaching), and I monitor them so they don’t advertise things I’m uncomfortable with. I also paid a professional designer to create a design I’m happy with and make sure my ads don’t take over my site. With my ad income I can afford to buy what I need to create great (free) products for my readers, thuss building my audience and making even more money from ads. I do believe, though, that I should diversify my income, which is why I’m working at writing ebooks and doing better with affiliate sales.

    • Janet
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 12:34:41

      I work at an ad network for bloggers. Thanks for representing our audience. Ads are not evil. They are a legit strategy that works for many bloggers.

      The thing is, once someone buys your book or your programs, there is still a lot of inventory space left for ads. We let you control how many ads to show and work with bloggers to optimize them.

      Many in our network, like you, make a pretty good income! You do need to have decent traffic though. Check out Pinch of Yum and other blogger’s income reports (like Pulling Curls).

      Blog on!

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 15:50:47

      Hey Anna,

      Do the members of your audience really click on the ads? Or is it more just search engine traffic and one-time visitors? I’m just curious. The data I’ve seen shows that it’s the bouncing visitors that click, but maybe it’s different for you.

      Thanks for your comment!

      • Anna
        Mar 13, 2015 @ 09:33:48

        Sarah, I get paid by impression, so it’s not necessary that people click on the ads. Since I get about a million pageviews a month, that’s a lot of impressions.

  16. Carol Tice | Make a Living Writing
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 11:45:54

    I’m constantly explaining this to new bloggers who are asking me why their ads aren’t earning. Few bloggers will ever have the mass traffic required to make that strategy work!

    There are so many better ways to earn from a blog.

    The one ad exception I use is to have *one* sidebar ad at a time, for something you’ve hand-picked of your own or someone else’s. Like, say, your “how to grow your blog to six figures” banner here. I find that works fine. But who even stays on blogs where there’s a big nasty top banner, and AdChoices lines interrupting the post, and scads of ads on sidebars to either side? It’s all such a turnoff.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 15:52:18


      Thank you so much for reading and leaving a comment.

      I think it’s a totally different thing to advertise your own product or an affiliate product that you truly believe in. It’s not misleading your audience or breaching their trust.

      I definitely agree that big, flashy ads are a turnoff!


  17. Fru Godwill Fru
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 11:47:25

    Great post you have linned up here Jon, such hiddem facts you’ve opened my eyes to. Thanks a bunch. It is indeed true that ads dont really pay off deserving amounts for bloggers efforts, not even Adsense itself. I like the way you have it lined up here.

    Thanks Again,

  18. Emily
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 12:03:52

    Great list. I figured all this out for myself, never even inquired about an ad.
    The last Ezine article I wrote was about cheap-‘n-sleazy psychic practices, ads and sites. Ezine put the most wonderful examples of all the things I listed all around my article. How amusing for the reader, but not for me.
    The affiliate suggestion is wonderful. That’s different. I was thinking of just making a link to Amazon where these marvelous teeny-tiny tarot cards are sold, but thanks to you I will look into being an affiliate for them. I think the many serious visitors to my Tarot blog will be intrigued with these, as I am.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 15:56:06

      Hey Emily,

      If the cards are something you’ve used and really like then I don’t see the harm in referring your readers to them. Especially since it sounds as if they will provide value to your reader as well!

  19. Anil Agarwal
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 12:06:42

    Blog ads don’t convert well. They piss of your loyal readers. And they kill your website conversion rates. It’s better to focus your time on creating useful products or offering your blog services to start making decent income from your blogging efforts.

    Thanks for sharing such an amazing post. Great share bud!

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 15:56:36

      Hey Anil,

      I wholeheartedly agree. Thanks for reading!

  20. Jennifer King
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 12:15:28

    You’ve got some solid points here, but as always, it depends on your target audience for your blog. I run a coupon and deals blog, and so my readers get a lot of targeted coupons served to them through AdSense…which is what they’re looking for in the first place! I’d be doing my readers and my self a disservice by eliminating the ads.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 15:57:53

      You’re right Jennifer, it definitely depends on your target audience – or whether you even have a target audience. Some blogs have target markets rather than target audiences, so it’s more transactional.

  21. Sue Anne Dunlevie
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 12:16:53

    Best post I’ve seen explaining this issue!

    I explain this to every beginning blogger that contacts me about how to make money with their blog.

    Now I have this resource to send to them. Thanks, Sarah.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 15:58:32

      Hey Sue! Thanks so much for your comment!

      I’m glad it was helpful and that you’ll be able to use it in the future 🙂

      • Sue Anne Dunlevie
        Mar 12, 2015 @ 16:05:13

        I just linked to this article in my blog comments today when one of my readers wanted to know why he should or shouldn’t do Adsense!

  22. Brandon
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 12:18:56

    Disagree with this article–mostly the introduction of it. A 1k visitor site you state will make $0.50/day with Adsense, but my experience is that number of visitors would be closer to $30/day ($10k a year). This is important to point out because it has been my best monetization strategy thus far (will vary by industry), and this article would have misled me into losing a big opportunity if I read it earlier in my website days.

    With that said, I will give you most of your points are valid. Advertisements can be ugly, take away from your business (if you sell something), and there are likely ways you could make more money with your blog. But I think it’s important to note that blog ads can be done tastefully and still make good money, and anytime you monetize (with your own products) you risk alienating your visitors. Also, ads are easy and hands-off.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 16:00:24

      Hey Brandon,

      The numbers were strictly coming from averages, and perhaps you’re in an industry where the payout is far higher.

      $10K a year sounds like a lot for a blog monetization strategy, but I’d just encourage you to think about how much more you could make if you took a different path. Many bloggers make $10K per month from offering products and services. It all depends on the blogger and the blog, though.


  23. Christopher
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 12:19:24

    I am so glad that I found this post. I actually took my Google Adsense ads on my blog down as I was making hardly anything with Google Adsense with the amount of traffic I get on my blog. I also felt that it cheapened my blog. I did not like the appearance of the ads at all on my blog. I thought they were very obtrusive.

    This article has made me rethink whether I’ll ever put Google Adsense ads up on my blog. There are definitely ways, as you have discussed, of monetizing a blog without putting up a bunch of ads.

    Thank you so much for this excellent post. I have shared it on both my Twitter and Facebook page.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 16:01:01

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Christopher! I hope it gave you some ideas of how to monetize without ads.

  24. chris
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 12:26:41

    Hi I do agree blog ads are such a pain in the ass when you read a post and it keeps intruding. I have tried putting some google adsense ads but it is not very encouraging. I am currently trying other forms and hope it will be more worthwile….

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 16:01:42

      Hey Chris,

      With the right research and idea, other forms of monetization will surely be worthwhile. You just have to find the right one.

  25. Mark
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 12:33:11

    absolutely agree – ads just make your site look like every other cookie cutter site out there. You can’t control the tone or content and it negatively affects your site’s image – no thanks!

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 16:02:10

      So true, Mark. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment!

  26. Niladri Chatterjee
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 12:34:55

    And on the other hand there is Amit Agarwal, India’s top blogger making money mostly from AdSense. I believe affiliate marketing is really a good way to earn, but you can’t ignore AdSense. Anyway enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Carol Tice | Make a Living Writing
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 13:29:24

      I can and have been ignoring AdSense throughout my blog’s 7-year history, and I believe I earn far more because of that strategy.

      I think if you scratch most blogs that earn well with AdSense, they have a LOT of traffic, and they started a long time ago.

      At this point, the blogosphere is super-cluttered and competitive, and I think ads are a major detriment — and that few new bloggers will get the traffic volume that would make that strategy work.

      People look at Pat Flynn and think, “Yeah, that’ll be me, making $5K a month selling BlueHost off an ad” — but mostly, it won’t.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 16:04:32

      Hey Niladri,

      There are a lot of people making money with Adsense. But how much more could he be making without? And, like Carol said, top bloggers make money from ads because they have a lot of traffic. I think ads are on their way out as a viable monetization strategy.

  27. Carol Amato
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 13:16:25

    Hi, Sarah,

    I couldn’t agree more! 🙂

    I messed around with CrankyAds a few years ago, and never felt REALLY good about having an ad in my sidebar. Those days are long gone for me.

    You’re created an excellent resource for me to point my students to as you’ve explained it far better than I ever could.

    Thanks so much!
    Carol Amato

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 16:05:22

      Hey Carol!

      Thanks so much for the kind comment. I have never heard of CrankyAds but I can relate to not feeling good about having ads in your sidebar. I once hosted ads on my first blog too, and it didn’t sit well with me.


  28. Donnie
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 13:32:25

    I agree with most of this but the $0.50 per 1,000 visitors is not accurate. Last month my wife had 364,000 pageviews and we made $1,200 from ads. That’s a small(ish) percentage of the $11,000 we made in February and we are looking to phase out ads but I don’t think the situation is as dire as you portray. Here’s our site btw: http://justagirlandherblog.com

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 16:06:49

      Hey Donnie,

      That calculation is based on averages, and like I said, there are a lot of factors that go into how much you make per click or impression with ads. And 346,000 pageviews is great! She could be making far more than $1,200 in a month with other monetization strategies.

      Thanks for your comment and for reading 🙂

  29. Bellaisa
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 13:38:24

    I do think that for many blogs ads are not worth it. But I really think it depends on the niche.

    My relationship blogs have always done better with ads. I find people looking for dating advice are not really looking to buy too many products, but clicking out on ads is never a problem!

    Even my lists have never been too responsive to products tailored to them, likely because there is so much dating and relationship advice online that they are more inclined to search for an answer than buy a product. (Dating sites are an exception.)

    That said, I think with the right product or service, that provides a lot of value for them, that may change. I just haven’t created that perfect dating product or service yet! So until then, my dating blogs get ads.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 16:08:32

      Hey Bellaisa,

      Fascinating niche you’re in! I am interested to see what you come up with, when you do decide to create a product or service. Keep us posted!

  30. Oumar Dieng
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 13:46:00

    Thanks for the post. This is a good reminder for me.

    Here is the sad part: most bloggers know this but struggle with the idea. The promise of easy money while you sleep is just too hard to resist sometimes I suppose. When I dropped ads from one of my sites, it was a painful action for me to take. But the truth of the matter is that a service or product, though the correct approach, won’t sell unless you can get the traffic in the first place.

    I think the first step for most bloggers is to focus on getting the audience first, and then monetize. Otherwise, you will fall into the trap of working on a blog that is never finished and a moving monetization target.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 16:51:13

      Hey Oumar,

      It can definitely be painful to say goodbye to passive income. You’re right with the idea that bloggers should get the audience first, then monetize. It’s all about trust and providing value, after all!

  31. Daisy Luther
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 14:28:51

    Hi Sarah!

    First, very well written post. You have such an engaging style that I savored every word.

    However, I have to disagree to some extent to the premise. I make great money via Adsense, every single month, and I have for years. Sure, there are ups and downs. Yes, I have had the ironic incident of a Nestle baby formula ad popping up on an article about how unhealthy Nestle baby formula is.

    But I think we have to give the readers a little more credit. They KNOW that the information they’re receiving is free. They KNOW that it costs money to run a website. And by-and-large, readers have become somewhat “Ad-Blind” and many of them hardly notice advertisements on a website.

    I refuse to do the pop-up ads because they’re highly annoying, and I think those DO tick off readers to the point that they never return, but a few ads in the sidebar can net you a tidy income so that you, the writer, can focus on doing what you do best.

    ~ Daisy

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 16:54:51

      Hey Daisy,

      Thank you so much for the nice compliment 🙂

      I chuckled a bit when I read about the Nestle ad situation. That’s a bit comical!

      I don’t know that I agree that most readers know these things. I think, as bloggers, we’re far more savvy in this sort of thing than most people, and I have surprised a lot of people when I tell them that running a blog does cost money.

      But who knows, maybe your readers are a bit more savvy than the average internet population.

      In any case, thank you for your thoughtful comment and I do think it’s good to see the other side of the coin.


  32. Laurie
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 15:17:10

    Wow, you took my thinking and stood it on its head. Several times I’ve come close to pressing that AdSense button but never did. Maybe deep down, I knew it wasn’t right. I have two novels in the works and hope to eventually sell them on my blog. I also love the idea of merchandising. Thank you for the great advice.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 16:59:00

      Hey Laurie,

      So cool that you’re working on novels! I’m inspired by you 🙂


  33. Sarah Peterson
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 15:54:40

    Hey Anita,

    It sounds like you’ve found a strategy that works for you and that you’re comfortable with.

    Thanks for commenting with your perspective. 🙂

  34. Kashif
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 17:54:21

    Blog ads are the easiest option to monetize a website. A quick look through keywordspy.com shows some of the top sites with their daily ad budget and average CPC:

    Amazon $1,008,915 ($0.67)
    Target.com $388,980 (0.56)
    Local.com $121,110 ($0.71)
    Google $93,843 ($1.34)
    Business.com $9,191 ($1.12)

    In my opinion, blog ads are best to monetize micro niche websites that are built and kept alive by a periodic content drip (may be once in a week content piece).

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 19:05:20

      Hey Kashif,

      I see where you’re coming from, but I would argue that micro niche websites and blogs are not one and the same. Niche site owners and serious bloggers who are trying to build careers from their blogs don’t always have the same goals. So I would make that differentiation.

      • Kashif
        Mar 13, 2015 @ 02:11:45

        I agree with your point, Sarah. One needs more than CPC/CPM ads (blog ads, as you call them) to monetize an authority website. Also, removing the ads , and obtrusive third party offers, makes your content more stand out and shows that your intention is to help the readers, not sell them off cheaply.

  35. John Detlefs
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 18:07:29

    Ha.. you know it was only near the end of your post that I realised that it wasn’t Jon doing the writing.. and that’s about the best compliment I can think to give to a blog writer. 🙂

    Thank you for the engaging writing and great advice Sarah, this has gone into my “for future reference” file.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 12, 2015 @ 19:05:56

      Hey John! What a nice compliment! Thank you for making my day 🙂

  36. Colleen Milne
    Mar 13, 2015 @ 00:19:25

    Just cancelled my Adsense account! This is a great article and I totally agree with all of your points, in particular the one about how ugly it makes my site, which I am trying to make beautiful. I want the beauty of my photographs to be the focal point for my readers, leading them to read my content.
    Thanks for a very inspiring read, Sarah!

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 13, 2015 @ 05:11:27

      That’s great! And I’m glad it made things “click” – the focal point should definitely be those photographs, because what else will make your readers drool and rush out to make the recipes? Definitely not an advertisement distracting them from the pictures.

  37. Sue
    Mar 13, 2015 @ 06:24:14

    I have to say that I find Affiliate Marketing just as annoying as AdSense. I have lost a ton of interest in some big bloggers because every post has a link to buy something…. FoodBabe, 100DaysofRealFood, WellnessMama, MarksDailyApple, etc… Even bloggers who claim they “don’t sell products” still have affiliate links like Courtney Carver did recently with books and The Minimalists did with a blog hosting service. I find that the blogging world is going the way of MLM and making a bad name for itself. I don’t mind if people want to sell their own products or services, because that is why most people go to blogs… to learn something, but once I see a blog post has a link to selling something, I immediately suspect that the blog post isn’t 100% sincere from the author and I completely tune out. In a comparison to the corporate world, I would consider Affiliate Marketing a conflict of interest to a blogger.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 13, 2015 @ 10:52:42

      Hey Sue,

      I think that affiliate marketing can definitely be taken way too far and it can be done poorly. Though there are a lot of people who do it really well. I find it less intrusive than traditional ads. But I can see how annoying it would be when done poorly.

  38. Emily
    Mar 13, 2015 @ 07:57:22

    Thank you for the great tips.
    I have currently started a blog and tips like these that I can use to grow and monetise my site and still be a great informative site for my readers is most helpful.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 13, 2015 @ 10:55:25

      Thanks for reading, Emily! I’m glad you found the post helpful.

  39. Bryan Collins
    Mar 13, 2015 @ 08:04:28

    Great post Sarah. Well-researched with lots of great points. I really liked your sub-heads too!

    Like many, I don’t like ads on blogs and I’ve noticed almost every influencer avoids them.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 13, 2015 @ 10:55:59

      Thanks Bryan. I’ve noticed the same 🙂

  40. Amar Ilindra
    Mar 13, 2015 @ 08:16:03

    partially agree with your article. Not all Ads are bad. Choosing a good ad network like AdSense or direct Ads will pay a good amount. And not all bloggers can create e-book, products that converts.
    Between, a very detailed and informative article.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 13, 2015 @ 10:57:02

      Hey Amar, I’m not sure I agree that paying a good amount equates to good in general, but it may not be possible for everyone to write an eBook. Luckily there are a ton of other ways to monetize!

  41. Pat @ Posting For Now
    Mar 13, 2015 @ 10:55:53

    Sarah, I’ve been on the edge for awhile about removing my adSense ads. Your post convinced me! Thanks for sharing all of the points you’ve made!

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 13, 2015 @ 10:58:17

      Hey Pat, I’m glad I could help you make your decision 🙂

  42. Renayle
    Mar 13, 2015 @ 19:03:44

    Thanks for this post! I was wondering if I should add blog ads to my site, and I’m so glad I read your post. Especially when there’s not that much money you can earn, and it can scare off visitors.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 14, 2015 @ 06:05:42

      Hi Renayle,

      Thanks for commenting and reading – I’m glad the article provided some clarification for you 🙂

  43. MMO
    Mar 14, 2015 @ 05:50:37

    All these points are your opinions though. Blog ads works and they don’t necessarily have to be what you said. That depends on the strategy you put in place.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 14, 2015 @ 06:01:04

      Hey MMO,

      Thank you for you comment! They may sound like opinions, but they are well researched and the general consensus among many influencers and serious bloggers in the blogosphere. Whether or not you decide to host ads on your site definitely does depend on the strategy in place.

      Whether blog ads work depends on what your definition of “work” is. They work to monetize a site yes (though you simply don’t make as much with ads as you would with other methods of monetization unless you have a ton of traffic) but they don’t work to build an audience, be your own boss, and develop trust and expertise in the blogosphere.

      So in that sense, I agree – it depends on what your strategy is. 🙂 Thanks again for leaving a comment and reading!

  44. Darren
    Mar 14, 2015 @ 06:46:48

    This was a great read, and certainly resonated with me since I am building my blog offline and wanting to launch it as clean looking as possible.

    It does seem silly to put ads on your site in the early days since you’re getting paid only pennies to ultimately lose the traffic you’ve worked hard to send to your blog. Why let visitors use your blog as a stepping stone to get to another part of the internet? It’s ridiculous to let that happen.

    John Chow made a similar comment years ago when he was talking about blog ads. Of course, there comes a point where critical mass makes Adsense feasible, but if you are building a rep you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the Google ad review center blocking advertisers you don’t like.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 15, 2015 @ 03:40:59

      Hi Darren,
      I’m glad the article resonated with you! So true about building a reputation. Thanks for reading!

  45. Faisal Khan
    Mar 14, 2015 @ 09:16:49

    Great Article. I really impress.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 15, 2015 @ 03:41:27

      Thank you for reading, Faisal!

  46. Kim Owens
    Mar 14, 2015 @ 13:31:10

    Hi Sarah,
    As someone who is at the very beginning of this journey, in my head, I always saw myself using adsense…one on each page. However, your article has me completely re-thinking that strategy. Thank you for the compelling read.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 15, 2015 @ 03:42:01

      Hey Kim, I’m glad the article helped you re-look at your strategy.

  47. Heather @ My Overflowing Cup
    Mar 15, 2015 @ 00:22:03

    Thanks so much for the wisdom in this post! I agree completely.


    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 15, 2015 @ 03:42:21

      Thank you, Heather! And thank you for Pinning, as well!

  48. Anson
    Mar 15, 2015 @ 02:51:59

    This was really helpful as I was thinking getting approved by AdSense was my greatest achievement as a blogger…now I’m on my way to developing and selling my first e-product.


    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 15, 2015 @ 03:42:56

      Awesome, Anson! Let us know how your first e-product works out!

  49. Lisa Steele
    Mar 16, 2015 @ 11:11:51

    I guess I’m the exception to this rule. While I do have an adsense ad at the very bottom of my blog, its my sidebar ads that earn me a living on my blog. They’re not pay per click ads, the advertisers pay me monthly rates regardless of any sales or clicks or anything. But quality always must come first – in content and advertising. My main concern is great content, secondly only promoting companies I trust and personally recommend. That combination earns me six figures from my blog a year. After just 3 years of blogging. Nearly 7 million page views. By running ads on my blog.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 17, 2015 @ 13:45:39

      Congrats on your success with ads, Lisa! Sounds like your model is a bit different from traditional display ads. If you can choose which companies show up based on the fact that you trust and personally would recommend them, then you’re far ahead of traditional ads. However, have you considered looking at becoming an affiliate for those companies? You may be able to earn more. Maybe not though, I think it depends on industry.

  50. Tor Refsland
    Mar 16, 2015 @ 11:12:04

    Great article, Sarah!

    You have put all my thoughts regarding Ads on blog on paper 🙂

    I totally agree with you.

    Tell me, can you really read my mind? 😉

    I really liked this sub headline – 6. Blog Ads Force You to Work for “The Man”.

    Well done, Sara.


    • Emily Sandstsrom
      Mar 16, 2015 @ 12:08:47

      Well put. I had the same feeling when I read this article. The article seconded my contemplation that an exception to that is to get a link to one article on Amazon that visitors to my blog would enjoy seeing, an object they would be crazy about. Mine is a Tarot blog, and a tiny postage-stamp size deck of high
      quality Tarot cards is something it was made to present.
      The author is right: This is the kind of ad to put on a blog.

      • Sarah Peterson
        Mar 17, 2015 @ 13:47:47

        🙂 I wish you success with affiliate marketing – it can be very profitable while still allowing you to retain control.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 17, 2015 @ 13:46:21

      Ha – thanks Tor! I’ve been accused of reading minds a lot lately 🙂 Glad you enjoyed.

  51. Xermaine
    Mar 17, 2015 @ 09:22:19

    An axiom I’ve created for myself is:
    “Don’t put your success in someone else’s hands.”

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 17, 2015 @ 13:48:20

      Yes! I love this. For everything. Thanks for sharing, Xermaine!

    • Katherine Swarts
      Mar 17, 2015 @ 15:39:28

      Put that on Twitter!

  52. Jack
    Mar 18, 2015 @ 16:08:35

    I agree with the people that say your math is a little fuzzy in section 1. I run enough niche sites to know that 0.1% CTR is low. $0.50 per 1,000 visitors is really low.

    I’d love to write up a rebuttal to this article if I had more time.

    “13 Reasons Why Blog Ads Make More Sense Than Affiliate Marketing”


    Overall, good article. You make some interesting points (aside from the math in section 1). Nice work!

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 18, 2015 @ 21:33:23

      Hey Jack,

      Thanks for your feedback – as I said, the math is based off of averages only. There are definitely many industries that make more than $0.50 per click – and many that make less. There are a lot of factors that go into how much you make from advertising like Adsense 🙂

  53. Donna Merrill
    Mar 18, 2015 @ 16:23:16

    Hi Sarah,

    I’m so glad you wrote this post! Blog ads are one of my pet peeves! For a few cents, one ruins their brand and yes, it looks very cheap. So much so, when I see them lined up on the sidebar the first impression I get is “Oh boy this person is desperate”

    The only thing I put on my sidebar is my own product/services and will give a CTA to them 10% of the time. I do believe our blogs are You.Inc. and we must keep it that way for branding and attraction marketing.

    Thanks so much for writing this. I’ll pass it on for those who need to be enlightened.


    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 18, 2015 @ 21:33:49

      Hey Donna,

      Thanks so much for reading and for your thoughtful comment. I couldn’t agree more!

  54. David Gillaspie
    Mar 18, 2015 @ 18:25:37

    Hi Sarah,

    Loved the article. Monetization is a cart and horse thing for me. I review people and places and email them links to the post. Then…look, squirrels.

    Thinking I need a better idea, like sending queries first? Way to stir the pot.



    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 18, 2015 @ 21:35:20

      Hey David,

      Oh definitely – I think so many bloggers monetize too soon so it’s good that you’re focusing on steering the horse right now.


  55. Sherman Smith
    Mar 18, 2015 @ 18:44:56

    Hey Sarah,

    This is the hard straght in your face truth for a lot of us bloggers but hey it is what it us. Unless you’re getting 19s of thousands of visitors to your blog then you’re going to earn peanuts. At least my own experience.

    If you have a lot of ads them it will definitely be a big distraction for your visitors. They came to your website to gain value aND solutions. with a buck of ads you’re setting your visitors up like am octopus on rollerskates. They’ll have the info but won’t go too far with it.

    Thanks for sharing! Have a good one!

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 18, 2015 @ 21:36:19

      Hey Sherman,

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I laughed out loud at the octopus on roller skates visual. Never heard that one before!

  56. Daniel
    Mar 18, 2015 @ 22:11:39

    Great Article. I am always very interested in your posts. I subscribed and look forward to reading more articles. I blog about ‘living my dreams’. Your advice is very helpful for building my new blog.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 19, 2015 @ 09:53:23

      Thanks Daniel 🙂 I’m glad it was helpful!

  57. Matija
    Mar 20, 2015 @ 06:13:16

    Now again… extremly powerfull, comprehensive and useful post. My sincere congrats. Will share on all my chanells and determined even more not to put any ads on my blogs. Working on monetization other way. Regards, Matija, Slovenia

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 21, 2015 @ 22:00:05

      Thank you, Matija! Good luck with your monetization strategy.

  58. Satrap
    Mar 22, 2015 @ 20:12:44

    I am gonna have to disagree with the blanket statement of “ads are a wrong monetization strategy for every blog.”

    There are many, many situations where traditional ads (AdSense, for example) work much better than selling a service or product of your own or someone else.

    It depends on your niche.

    Also, let’s not forget that not every single visitor who comes to your site is going to subscribe or buy. I have no statistics (just look at your own site’s conversion rate) but I’d say most visitors will leave your blog without subscribing or buying a product/service for you. Ads offer an easy way to monetize such traffic.

    The very second year of launching my first blog, I cleared $100K thanks to ads (mostly Adsense & selling ad space to individual businesses/websites). That said, I also built my list and made $50K that same year.

    Sure, I might have been able to make more with my list if I concentrated more on it, but I was still knew and learning, so Adsense offered an easy way for me to monetize my traffic until I was able to build my own product(s) and sell them.

    Even now I use ads as a way to generate additional income on most of my sites. Because I know certain percentage of my visitors are not going to subscribe or buy. No matter how much I try, I am not going to convert 100% of my visitors into subscribers and buyers.

    Sure, I now focus more on building my list and promoting my own stuff, and I use ads in a way that doesn’t push would-be subscribers away from my site, but the few ads I have, do create a nice income that otherwise I wouldn’t have.

    Now, let me be clear, I wouldn’t put ads on my sites if the extra income was going to be a few hundred dollars a month. That to me is not worth risking your list size. But if putting ads create a substantial amount of extra income, then it makes sense to do it.

    Again, I agree that in some niches, it makes much more sense to promote your own stuff. But the blanket statement that ads are bad for all blogs, is what I disagree with (as I disagree with most blanket statements).

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 23, 2015 @ 10:23:04

      Hey Satrap,

      Thank you for your opinion and for leaving such a detailed and thought provoking comment. And congratulations on your success with ads. It certainly is rare to make so much from your blog on ads in the first year so you must be doing something right.

      I don’t think the goal is to convert 100% of your traffic to a subscriber, however. And I would argue that those people who visit and don’t subscribe or end up sticking around are not always going to click an ad, either. So I’m not sure where the argument is with that point, except to say that I expect that maybe more people would become subscribers if they didn’t see ads on a site. That’s my experience and I think the experience of many readers, as well.

      But you’re right, it depends on the blogger, their goals for their own websites and what they are trying to accomplish 🙂

  59. Sri Varshan
    Mar 23, 2015 @ 04:44:33

    Hmm, that was an interesting angle you have got here but let me tell you my view, I totally agree that Ad’s don’t pay you huge, but they still “pay you”. For a new blogger, it’s like finding water in Mars, those little pennies into his account, well that means a lot to him and that’s what keeps him motivated and keeps him on track.

    I also perfectly agree that Ads may annoy the reader (only if it is placed in the wrong place) but i don’t think i will lose my reputation just because an Ad is displayed. Today’s readers are far more intelligent than the content creators 😉 and IMHO they perfectly know what they are up-to. Have a good day.

    ~ Sri Varshan

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 23, 2015 @ 10:26:39

      Hey Sri,

      Yes, you’re right, ads still pay you – they just don’t pay you very much and so the argument isn’t that they don’t pay, it’s simply that they aren’t worth all of the bad things they bring.

      And certainly I agree that readers are smart and I’m not disputing that. That’s why ads break their trust – they can detect “sales” from a mile away. They’re smart people! But the beauty of blogging is that it’s your blog, so if you want to host ads, then that is the choice of the blogger. Thanks so much for your comment!

  60. John
    Mar 24, 2015 @ 19:47:10


    I can’t say that I agree with all your points about ads. I will say that traffic is the key to any success. I currently have 3 product review blogs in 3 different consumer areas. I started out blogging on a broken shoestring and have been very cautious is what I invest in to make myself a better blogger. I just invested in new themes for all my sites and they now have a far more professional look than the niche site themes I was using. i do use affiliate marketing and AdSense and am constantly tinkering with my article content and design. I have confidence that I will be making the money I want from these 3 sites. A lot of that will involve testing ads and affiliate markets. I agree that consulting is a good thing to shoot for which I am doing. And I must say that I’m a far better writer today because of all the work I’ve done developing my sites. I originally had 7 but cut it down to the core three. I will give it 6 months to see how things work out. But even if I don’t agree with all you’ve said, you have provided some additional food for thought. And I appreciate that. Thx

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 25, 2015 @ 17:58:50

      Hey John! Thank you for respectfully sharing your point of view. Product review blogs are a whole different animal – though I have no doubt that, if done right, you’d be able to make a lot more through affiliate marketing than traditional blog ads.. but I encourage you to try what makes sense to you and see what works!

  61. Tom Coleman
    Mar 25, 2015 @ 07:45:39

    I really impressed by reading your article. very nice and informative. thanks again for sharing this wonderful post.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 25, 2015 @ 17:57:07

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Tom 🙂

  62. Brockenflabel
    Mar 25, 2015 @ 20:44:12

    I kind of feel like I need to go take a shower after reading this article because
    I don’t have a service or product to sell yet!

    • Sarah Peterson
      Mar 30, 2015 @ 20:12:27

      Well, sounds like you have to develop one 🙂

  63. Srinivas Venkataraman
    Mar 30, 2015 @ 12:38:32

    Great piece of Advice, worth trying seriously right away.

  64. Nayan
    Apr 02, 2015 @ 07:52:03

    Lovely article Sarah.
    I was just searching about ways to make money through my blog and got this page.
    I am using adsense right now but its not even peanuts.
    I am gonna try coaching,consulting and may be sell some products or ebooks.
    Thanks anyways for such a lovely blog.

    • Sarah Peterson
      Apr 02, 2015 @ 12:12:18

      Hey Nayan,

      I think that’s a great way to start.:)

  65. Adam Bryan
    Apr 08, 2015 @ 01:08:52

    This is so true. Although I currently have ads on all my sites, the amount of money is chump change. Once I start creating some great products, I’m definitely ditching adds for good. It’s just so stressful constantly checking your Adsense page. Great article btw!

    • Sarah Peterson
      Apr 08, 2015 @ 19:00:40

      Hey Adam,

      Yeah, I hear you. You just don’t earn enough on ads to make them worth it.

  66. Daphene
    Apr 08, 2015 @ 17:39:58

    Sarah, so glad this article and your blog came up in my search, “Do have to have ads on my blog?”

    Am presently stepping into the scary waters of blogging. I detest ads on blogs and was fearful that I would just have to blog and bear it.

    Thanks for helping me to understand that not only do ads on my blog not feel right, but they are actually counterproductive.

    I feel motivated to blog (for the first time) knowing that I can connect with potential customers (to my retail site) by providing information focused on their interests.

    Thanks so much for clarifying. You have earned a loyal reader.


    • Sarah Peterson
      Apr 08, 2015 @ 19:02:11

      Hey Daphene,

      That’s great to hear that it came up in your search – there are always ways to monetize without ads and you never have to do anything you don’t want to do on your blog 🙂

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the article and it clarified and/or demystified the blog ad world.


  67. Fru Godwill Fru
    Apr 18, 2015 @ 06:40:21

    I buy your idea on this one…really from a personal point of view i have spent so much on blog ads with no reasonable returns…however, this fact is not that its a stupid advertising strategy, its all about finding the right blog that will convert for your business….studying a blog well before paying for adverts is my personal opinion

  68. Jon Bowes
    Apr 30, 2015 @ 21:12:02

    Sarah, I was going to write a post about this, but you’ve summed it up far better than I could. Thanks for that and your post will be my standard place to send people who talk about advertising. Bleh.