Advertising Is Not The Lifeblood Of Your Blog

adsYou may have noticed the blog post Jamie published last week concerning placing ads on a blog, “How to add an advertisement when viewing your posts using the visual editor.”

Jamie’s post and this one came about from a conversation I had with a potential customer in a sales email I received.  There was nothing out of the ordinary about the conversation. With one exception.  This particular person said they wanted an easy way to add ads to every single blog post.  Their reasoning was “ads are the lifeblood of every blog.”

I must say, I was rather surprised by such a statement.  However, I probably shouldn’t be because there are still marketing “gurus”, web developers and plugin developers in the internet world who believe this and push this.  They push it of course to sell their products and services.

But, is this truly the right approach you should take for your own blog?  The answer is most likely no.

Please allow me to get to the premise for this post now.  Advertising is not the lifeblood of your blog.  There, I said it.

What is the Lifeblood of your blog?

I started blogging clear back in 2005 when blogging and internet marketing were really just getting started.  Instead of using a blog to make money by selling ads and pushing affiliate “stuff”.  We were using a blog to market our business.  This was a new and strange method of doing things too.  For most of us who were using a blog for marketing, it was new and unexplored territory.  And even back then we struggled with what we were really trying to accomplish.  Who or what were we doing this for.

Just like it was in 2005 and still the case today, the lifeblood of your blog is not advertising.  The lifeblood of your blog are those who take the time out of their busy day to read your content.  The lifeblood you should be focusing on are your readers.

Should you never place ads on your blog?  No, I don’t think anyone is saying this.  But, too many new bloggers make the major mistake of worrying about making money on ads on their blog before they even establish a readership.  And at the same time, too many of these new bloggers either don’t know or forget why they are blogging in the first place.

I know some of you are sitting there reading this and wondering, “how do I establish a readership?”  And even asking “why am I blogging?”

A new series of blog posts

If anything has been accomplish by the before mentioned email conversation I had it is this.  This post and that email have caused me to sit down and hash out a short series of blog posts which I hope help you understand the why and how you should be blogging.  So, in the next few days, I will continue with the first follow up to this post.  In the meantime, please take the opportunity to leave a comment with your questions or ideas on this very subject.  I enjoy seeing what your thoughts might be.

Spread the word!

23 Responses

  1. Grant –

    GREAT post and GREAT timing on the topic. As I teach a WP101 course many of my students inquiry about monetizing the site BEFORE they even have the site up! Just last week someone asked me this as a matter of fact.

    Content is still king in my opinion. Additionally, if the blogger adds “good” content as well as fresh (often) for a particular topic, people will start to follow you. That then builds trust which eventually may lead to a business relationship.

    The blog is part of of a larger picture. IMO.


    • Thanks Adam. And you are right, content is very important. But, that content needs to be usable. We will discuss this in the very near future in another blog post. Thanks for jumping in and adding to the conversation.

  2. I think good and sharable content are the lifeblood of a blog. Unfortunately, that doesn’t guarantee that anyone will read it. Quite frequently, writing blog posts is like if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, did it actually fall? I encourage my clients to keep up a blog to increase their odds of being found, Most of them start off with a bang and then fizzle when they build it but no one comes. Kind of like talking to yourself. I know how they feel.

    • Marcia,

      You can’t just write the content, you need to promote it and engage with it. And that content has to be useful for your audience. If it is, others will spread the word. More to come on this soon. Thanks for participating in the conversation.

  3. Agreed. Sell what you bring to the world instead of what you hope others will compensate you for your lack. It’s taken me a while to learn that any worthwhile profits that might come to me are from my own knowledge and skills and not from pandering meaningless advertising hoping for some income. A good example is a site that I’ve taken to that offers a lot of really great information about blogging and how to be great at it. The last visit to the site brought up a sidebar ad relating to a dating site. That’s a fail in my mind. I’ve done the same thing with some of my other sites, I admit. My focus now is to totally rely on my vision…planning to monetize the site…but with only things that relate specifically to that vision. No more grasping at straws. If I make or break it will be focused on my content. Looking forward to more posts from you.

  4. Great post Grant. You are totally right that ones readers should come first. If one does want to monetize ones blog then quality content should be the focus. I always say that the purpose of a business is not to make money but to provide solutions and add value. Profits are a by product of successfully adding value. I think the same can be said about blogging.

  5. We encourage our clients to have a ‘blog’ or news section on the websites we build for them, and to commit to adding useful and interesting content. Probably 5% of clients actually manage to keep this going on their own.
    As part of the on-going SEO services we offer, we’ve shown that using a blog section on the website to add content (in addition to targeted landing pages) has a dramatic effect on keyword search results. That’s why we believe blogging is so important.
    None of our clients just have a blog or use ads on their sites, and I can’t see this changing.
    What is changing is the number of clients asking us to help them develop this part of their site. As we’re also copywriters, we often write the content for them, but it’s ALWAYS useful, interesting, relevant information their customers will want to read.
    There’s always lots to learn, so we’re looking forward to Grant’s series of posts!

  6. I’m also not focused on ads but on getting good content out. But the important question “How to get readership” is exactly what keeps me thinking about this.
    I think just getting good content out is not getting you readership. Foremost is the problem of getting people to start scrolling or clicking FIRST AT ALL. Content and ranking are not going to deliver that. Websites are in a competitive market on their own right, a Google search returns many results and many sites, about a topic, don’t differ that much at all. So how to obtain readership in this “market” situation?.
    Really looking forward to your series of posts!

  7. no matter how you do it, whether blogging or by other means – its about building trusted relationships, with the people who would choose what you have to offer, material, intellectual or otherwise. To have making money as a main driver is doomed to failure as many now are elevated enough to feel that vibration and are uncomfortable with it, and do not trust……………

  8. Couldn’t agree more. Ads aren’t everything at all. If no one is coming to your site in the first place, then the ads are pointless. I look forward to the new series coming, I could use some help in regaining a steady readership and being more involved in my blog (I started my blog around 2007 but have since been such a slacker at blogging that now I feel like a newbie again).


  9. I think blogging for money is a hard gig. Very few actually have a business plan
    most who make it offer some type of life coaching services. The affiliate marketing become add ons to that service.

    There are many ways to PR a business, that is unique to that identity. I’m not currently blogging, it’s not going to increase the market place for my sites. I’m not really looking for a WP market place.

    I think Affiliate marketing is whole other animal. You create content for that market so it’s useful to the person visiting the site.

    • Don’t discount using a blog to promote and market your business either. We will be discussing more on this very subject very soon right here.

    • It can be a business. But, even better it is a great way to market and promote a business or professional service firm.

  10. … interesting topic. How does one really add value and earn readers without ‘second thoughts’ of money in fact being the primary incentive.

    Certainly, it’s a challenge mentally if you have a desire to blog about s topic you love in order to make a ‘living’ from it… How do you approach that with integrity?

    The point of following your heart / interest when blogging is hardly new stuff but I certainly dig your perspective in this post and I get a feeling that you got some interesting things to share which is not wrapped up in fluffy guru’ish cliches – so am kind of looking forward to your follow up posts on this.


    PS. Discussing readability; fyi the comment design here does not play well on ipad. Thumbs float over content and content aligns quite badly, ie text over comment bottom, timestamps look bad when commenter’s name is short, etc.

  11. Very curious to read the follow ups to this post. There is no one be all answer to how to make your blog profitable, but maybe that’s not the question you’re answering. For me I’d be happy to have the blog just be the source of future clients and customers but I can’t seem to get that working. Maybe my content sucks or I’m not talking about anything that matters to anyone. That’s depressingly possible. Anyway looking forward to hearing more.


    • Thanks Peter for being so honest. But don’t beat yourself up either. We will be discussing a number of topics over the next few weeks which may fit right in with what you see going on with your own blog.

  12. Years of good content (more informational than “a blog post”), years of attempts at generating income with display ads, years of attempts at generating income by offering unique items/services for sale, and finally resorting to Pay-Per-View reading to see if that will finally at least pay the cost of generating the formerly free content. Sometimes it’s just bad demographics …

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