I’ve done a few things with monetization on the EntreCourier website. Some affiliate stuff here, sell a few things there. So far it’s seemed like nickel and dime work. A few dollars here, a few cents there.
I’m okay with that. This is the long game I’m playing here. I look at a lot of that revenue as being a lot like visitors when I got started. A few here, a few there, don’t panic, it’ll grow.
Okay, what about advertising?
My hesitation with advertising
I wasn’t exactly drug kicking and screaming into this idea of advertising on my site.
But I didn’t go easily, either.
I know I’m not alone, I’m annoyed by all the stuff shouting at you to get attention. I didn’t want to be that guy that just added to the mix.
I’m sure you’ve experienced sites like I have, where the pop ups and slide in ads get too much in the way of what I’m there for in the first place. The worst are the ones that are constantly resizing because of some ad materializing out of nowhere, and now I have to scroll up or down to get back to what I was reading.
I don’t want to make my website something that people regret visiting.
Is there nobility in NOT advertising?
That’s a question that’s probably worth a lot more thought. Maybe I should jot that down as something to write about someday. I’ve struggled with that question.
I am far less likely to ever go the advertising route on Paradigm. Okay, that was my thinking about EntreCourier when I started it.
I think the decision comes down to what you’re trying to do with the website. Right now, Paradigm2 is about accomplishing a mission. It’s something I want to do because I feel like it’s needed.
EntreCourier is accomplishing a mission as well. But it’s different. I want to help people understand the business of doing gig economy delivery work. But the question becomes: how willing am I to do it for free? I’m willing and ready to do Paradigm on my own dime. However, part of the bigger picture for me is to let EntreCourier develop revenue that will allow me to focus more time on Paradigm.
So I could probably turn that around to anything you do: Is there nobility to volunteering your time? Absolutely. Does that mean working a job and getting paid for it is a bad thing? Not at all.
Weighing advertising against my mission
I had to ask the questions:
Does advertising hinder what I’m accomplishing on EntreCourier? How would it help what I’m trying to do?
I realized that a lot of sites I frequent have advertising. It’s a lot like advertising on TV, you tend to tune a lot of it out, unless it gets to be too much.
A lot of my audience is coming to the site to look for answers to specific questions. I came to the conclusion that ads tastefully sprinkled through the site wouldn’t get in the way of that, as long as those ads aren’t getting in the way of what they’re looking for.
And if the ads are paying well enough, that income frees me up to put more time into other projects.
But, can ads pay well enough?
That was a big question for me. I’ve read so many places that ads are not a substantial revenue source for bloggers, they just don’t pay out much. You might get enough to buy a cup of coffee or something.
But then I saw a video of a talk someone gave at FinCon about his revenue streams. The video’s not publicly available or I’d post the link, but he talked about how when he got to over 100,000 page views he was able to get advertising that pad $20 for every thousand page views on his website.
My ears perked up at that. EntreCourier had about 40,000 page views the month before and was on pace for more. 100,000 was within reach. 100 times $20 is $2,000.
That’s more than a few cups of coffee.
Okay, but is that realistic?
Researching advertising options.
Okay, but how do you get that kind of money? And how do you do it without getting obnoxious?
I learned that an important search term when researching was eCPM. That stands for Effective Cost per Mille (or thousand). I’m sure there are a lot of different ways the term is used, but I came to understand it as, this is what you get for every thousand page views.
I read a lot of articles. I found a lot of reviews. I learned that there’s a lot I don’t know about advertising. That’s okay, there’s a lot I don’t know about a lot of things.
Of course, there’s Google Adsense. You can insert the code for ads throughout your content and you can get paid based on views or on how many people click through. I’ve heard of some who get some decent earnings from that. But generally the cup of coffee thing I said earlier? As I researched all this, I get the impression it’s Adsense that inspired a lot of that impression.
I found a number of others out there. Some were more well known for the popup and intrusive ads. These are the kind of ads that you see on the spammy sites that draw you in and you have to click a gizillion times to get to what you were looking for. No thanks.
Narrowing it down
I’m sure there are others that are also very good options, but the two that I saw rising to the top for people who were serious about their content on their sites were Adthrive and Mediavine.
I get the impression from a lot of things I’ve read that AdThrive is sort of the gold standard for advertising for bloggers. The person whose video I watched uses them. I’m not there yet, but I’m getting closer.
But I also read some who preferred to stay with Mediavine (50,000 minimum) once they reached that 100,000 page threshold.
I wasn’t sure if EntreCourier would be accepted by MediaVine. They focus a lot on lifestyle blogs, but I decided to go ahead and apply. They make it clear that it takes a few weeks for them to evaluate everything.
A test run with WordAds
While waiting, I decided to turn on the advertising option through Jetpack since I had that plugin with my hosting. It’s known as WordAds. The nice thing is, it’s pretty easy to turn it on and see what would happen.
Remember what I was saying about buying some coffee?
I think the first day up I got about 40 cents. I’m hitting about 2,000 page views plus, and I made 40 cents. Over time it moved up slowly. It settled out to a buck and a half to two bucks a day.
You know, it’s funny. There’s one side I think, that’s not much. But then it’s like, $500 per year for just turning on the ads? That’s $500 I wouldn’t have otherwise.
MediaVine Approval and Questioning the value of my site.
I know there’s a lot of things involved with advertising. There’s the value to advertisers, and some are willing to pay more for certain sites.
My traffic is made up of gig economy workers. They’re generally not high income earners and may not have as much discretionary income. Is that part of why WordAds from Jetpack was paying so low? Or was there something with the structure of my site?
About three weeks after applying, I received a request asking for Google Analytics data. I was giddy. It was kind of like landing that second interview for a job – I knew they wouldn’t ask for it if they weren’t interested. Over the next few days there was some back and forth, and then…. the official approval.
I was accepted. Woohoo!
Trying to manage expectations
After not being able to cross the $2 per day with WordAds, I was seriously questioning everything about whether any of these platforms would pay much at all.
I seriously had no idea what to expect. How much would I be happy with per day? Somewhere along the line I felt like, okay, $5 to $10 per day would be a good start. A really good scenario would be getting to $500 per month. I expected there would be some ramping up to do. They explained that it would take time to fill the ad spaces.
My thinking was, get the ads up, see what it looks like, and then start learning what I could to improve whatever I need to improve to increase payouts.
I was on vacation with my family when I got the acceptance letter. They sent me a list of instructions to start preparing. I’d jump through the hoops, let them know when it was done, and wait. The next morning, a couple more things. I’d do it. And wait.
And then it was ready. Monday morning (earlier this week) was when it would go live.
It was like waiting for Christmas. Wondering what you were going to get.
And then, it was live.
You don’t know how many times I went to my site to see what ads popped up. What was it going to look like? Was I going to hate it?
At one point I think I had five ads from GoDaddy showing up on my site. I wasn’t sure what to think. It was the same ad, five times. That was a little odd, but…. there were five ads on my site. That had to be good, right?
One thing that crossed my mind was, I don’t hate it. I worried a bit, to be honest, if they would be the kind of ads that would take over. Would they keep bouncing my content around when people were trying to read it? Would they be distracting? What kind of ads would pop up? Am I going to get the dancing character ads that advertise some kind of aid that Trump is going to provide or the “Colorado drivers will be shocked by…” kind of ads?
I haven’t seen that yet. The ads are there but they don’t feel like they’re in the way.
But what were they going to pay?
Tuesday morning, I got my first chance to find out. I pull up the report for the previous day and I made $4.63.
Not bad for 2/3 of a day. Right at the lower end of what I’d hoped to see, but… not bad.
Holy Cow, MediaVine
Today is Saturday. Monday was the first day I went live.
I’ve been talking with my wife about some of the income potential. When I told her that 100,000 page views at $20 per thousand adds up to $2,000, she raised her eyebrows a bit. We’ve talked about how there was some potential to raise some income through the blog, but this was something kind of tangible. Or it had the potential to be tangible.
Each morning we sit out on the patio drinking coffee to start the day. Wedesday morning, I pull up my report for Tuesday.
In one day I’d made more than what WordAds had earned in 3 weeks.
I showed my wife.
I could see the wheels of the internal calculator spinning. Not bad. I was happy.
Okay, I was ecstatic. After all the doubts building up, on the second day the numbers had already crushed my earliest expectations. $37 for about 2400 page views, or about $15 per thousand.
I’d been hesitant to think I’d be looking at more than $10 – I’ve gotten my hopes up on a lot of things in the past, so you get a bit cautious after awhile, you know?
But it wasn’t a holy cow moment. Yet.
Each morning, we continued the routine. I’d pull up the report, then show her.
And then I showed her this morning.
$97 for one day?
There’s got to be a mistake. I’m supposed to have a LOT more traffic than this to be anywhere NEAR that much.
Trying to process this.
I’m not sure what to expect going forward. I don’t know why it’s paying so well, to be honest. Right now, I don’t expect that it’s going to stay up there.
I mean, it would be sweet if it did. That’s $35,000 a year in ad revenue. For a guy like me who thought it would be cool to get a few hundred, that just doesn’t seem possible.
Right now I’m expecting it to settle down a little. I’m wondering if there’s a mistake somewhere. On the one side, it helps me realize that the $35 to $50 per day isn’t unrealistic, and that’s exciting just in and of itself. But I don’t know, somewhere along the line it has to settle down. Doesn’t it?
And if it doesn’t, what do I do with that? Because all of a sudden, I’m looking at a lot more serious income than I expected to see, at least for a few months. Do I double down on the site? Is this the point where I can suddenly transition to full time, or near full time?
I’m a little blown away. Maybe overwhelmed.
I think at this point I’m expecting it to settle down a little. I’m not going to set expectations that it will continue at this pace (though to be honest, it’s sure hard not to). Instead, I’ll just see what happens as this advertising thing settles in. If a month from now it’s still pretty steady, maybe then I can start making some decisions.