Making Money Online is About Getting Big (and Not About Jamming Ads on Your Website)

By Daniel Scocco

I see this far too often:

  • Guy reads on some blog or website that it is possible to work from home and make thousands of dollars from the Internet.
  • Guy gets excited and creates a website or blog.
  • Guy starts getting some traffic, and right after he jams his website with all kinds of ads. CPM banners, 125×125 buttons, Google Adsense, Kontera and so on.
  • Guy wonders how come he is just making $100 monthly after a lot of hard work

When I come across those small websites hammered with ads I get the impression that the owner is trying to milk every last penny out of the visitors that are coming there, instead of trying to grow the site itself.

Sure depending on your luck and skill you might end up making a couple of hundred dollars every month. But is that what you are aiming for? Even if you manage to reach $1,000 monthly. Is that your ultimate goal?

The problem with this approach is twofold. First of all when you pack your website with ads all over the place, you will damage your reputation. Some readers will think that you are just trying to make a quick buck, and they will probably never return.

Secondly, when you try to make as much money as possible from a website that is not even getting 1,000 uniques a day, you automatically start with the wrong mindset. You adjust your goals accordingly, probably limiting your growth potential.

Now you might ask: “what about sites like TechCrunch or Mashable that also have ads all over the place?”

Well, those websites already have a very big audience, and huge credibility on the market. Once you are at that stage, you probably can pull off an ad-heavy layout without facing too many problems. But I am sure that when Michael Arrington started TechCrunch his main goal was to make the blog an authority on its niche, and not to squeeze money out of his early visitors.

Note that even those large websites never blend ads with the content, or use intrusive forms of advertising like pop-ups and in-text ads.

The takeaway message is: if you want to make money online, aim to get big and credible first, and then monetize it.

Monetize Your Site


49 Responses to “Making Money Online is About Getting Big (and Not About Jamming Ads on Your Website)”

  • Paula

    It’s not only the small websites that do it. I have seen some of the biggies with ads plastered all over their site and then every second blog post will be an ad for something. Not sure how they keep gettng the traffic. It turns me right off when the site has become one big ad with very little quality content.

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Paula, I mentioned that on the article. Once you are big and has credibility, though, it is easier to put many ads around and still have visitors coming.

    It is like the visitors will bear with the pain of the ads because the content is good and credible.

    A small website needs more time to convince visitors about that though.

  • esvl

    Just this morning I started taking my ads off. I totally agree with you, sometimes we stuff our sites with ads before it is successful. Then we wonder why the people dont come back. So true.

  • Young

    Wow, never dream of money when you are big enough.

  • DjFlush

    Couldn’t agree more Dan

    The first goal is to make traffic and once that goal is achieved, one can dream of making some real big money

  • Sheila Sultani

    I agree with you, but I also think that if your ads are tasteful, if they go along with your site and are products you recommend, it’s ok – It’s when when I can’t even find the content that there seems to be a problem ( you know when you open a page and the top half is google ads!)

  • Moise Levi

    I agree with you. But its also why I only use Google Adsense ; the ads will match my content all the time.
    So my readers actually find something else to look at (usually of quality) after reading one of my posts (financial blogging)

  • HOBO

    I love your said last paragraph.
    : )

  • Rarst

    I started with single adsense banner… Just to inform users that there are banners in my blog. Making a statement I guess. 🙂

    Not going to add any until (if 🙂 ) I build up nice traffic.

  • Writer Dad

    My only goal right now is to grow my site, and fill each post with the best writing that I can. I plan to do affiliate sales as well as my own material at some point, but I don’t think I ever want to do ads. I want my readers to enjoy a lot of white space and clever and/or thoughtful words. If you’re worried about ads before content, then you’ll never be one of the big guys.

  • Casey

    What is with you people? I totally disagree.

  • Casey

    @ Moise Levi
    I agree with you too, I like Google AdSense most of the time, and I think quality ads can actually ADD to your site.

  • Dexter | Tech At Hand Dot Net

    Well said Daniel. I personally believed that new site should focus in their content and not monetizing it very early. A new blogger should create his brand .

  • Ultimate Blogging Experiment

    I completely understand where you’re coming from on this post. Too many people think they are just going to get rich quickly by throwing some ads on their blog. This is not how it works though. I have developed two blogs that have over 20,000 subscribers each and I completely started out using no ads until I had around 10,000 subscribers. My newest blog has rounds 3,000 subscribers and I only have one ad on it and it really isn’t that noticeable. I recommend that you just build a religious readership and then you can place ads on your blog later.

  • Todd Andrews

    Build an audience and let the monetization come later. Its a fundamental rule for longterm success.

  • Steve

    Absolutely in 100% agreement with you. Personally I get tired of seeing every blog plastered with ads, many of which ahve scant content of any value.

    It’s the biggest cliche in interent marketing but CONTENT IS KING. Without great content you don’t have a long term business opportunity. You might make the odd few dollars but long term you need to be offering real value to carry the ads on your site.

  • Max Forlani

    Well, you posted the right articl on the right time. I was just considering to replace the design of my blog with the Thesis theme.

    Not that I want to fill my site with adds. There are two main reasons for my design consideration: for of all I want to make it stickier and put on the top right a ‘most popular series’, and I want to have the ability to have 125×125 ads on a nice spot.

    And for the past two days, I’ve been weighing the pros and cons of changing my design.

    So by all means, do go have a quick look and share your expert opinion on the matter. Would this design change be a good or bad move?

  • stetoscope

    I totally agree on your point.

  • SJL

    Thank you Daniel

    I knew this allready, but the reason for thanking you is that, because you sayed it, alot more people will “hear” it.

    I have seen alot of good sites ruined because of the ad flood. I have even sent email about it to few bloggers/webmasters, but all I have gotten is “f*off” basicly. (or no response)

    I hate to see good startups deserted, just because the admin didn’t understand this.

  • Ramiro

    Another great post. I do not like to visit a blog with ads all over the place. Content is king, no ads. We should concentrate on writing good and original content. Thanks for the tips.
    Sorry for my englsh. I am from Portugal but I visit your blog everyday. One of the best.

  • Rajaie AlKorani

    I knew how it was from the beginning, so I’m still focusing on networking and gaining a large readership on my blog before starting to expect the $$ to start coming in 🙂

  • Winning Startups

    Really? you think you need a thousand hits a day to start making money? I’m doomed!

  • Cigar Jack

    I prefer to do a balancing act. I have an ad in each column and an ad at the end of each post. While I don’t make much money it does help keep costs down and helped me pay for advertisements for my site and some contest prizes, that can help promote the site.

    But I do draw the line when it comes to ads that are annoying or distract from the content. No Pop up or full page ads that block the site (The Skip This Ad… ones) and the worst is the in text link ones like Kontera. I HATE those so won’t subject my readers to it.

  • Rob

    Good advice, and your business plan, if you have one, should have already clearly found that making money from banner ads is a poor route. After doing a market analysis for your site I am betting banner ads will completely fall out of the equation. It’s an uphill battle getting traffic, and massive ad displays is like putting your car in neutral.

  • Karl Staib – Your Work Happiness Matters

    I agree. The only way to make money is with high traffic. The advertisers, your sales, and however you generate money it takes thousands of readers to do that.

  • Blog Marketing Journal

    Yep, too many people have that “get rich quick” idea in their head and the internet is to blame for it…. too much junk claiming exactly that!

  • betshopboy

    Hi Dan

    How do you classified a site/blog as “ad-heavy layout”?
    Should the number of ad placements be relative to the reader base?

  • Anil Gupta

    Great thoughts..

    There is something here to learn for every popular as well as new blogger like me

  • Nimble

    Excellent piece of advise.

    I have experienced this that when I visit a small blog if I find too many ads (every where on left right and in text), I don’t go there next time.

    On large sites, I notice that they present their ads in a very nice way and they don’t insert ads on every place. Their content and ads are clearly separate.

  • SEO Genius

    That has been my aim all along however after 10 months of developing my website. I am still lacking traffic and have no money coming from the site at all, what advice could you give someone who is starting to become demotivated because their site is not moving forward fast enough?

  • O. Messaoud

    Eventhough my site already has some ads, that I try to keep non-intrusive, the absolute prioritry for me now is to increase traffic. I am trying hard to provide better content, on a more regular basis.

  • Hillel

    Those kind of sites were very common and successful up until a few years it seems like more people are begining to use their brains and understanding the correct way as to how to make some nice money online.

  • web resourses

    i think this is easy said and hard done. but good post though.

  • Phil

    How true. Especially for the long term. I read recently in the NY Times online of the MD who founded and he just gave up his practice as his site income exceeded his six figure medical practice. He said the key was TRAFFIC. Build traffic with quality content, and the money will follow. His site is now about 6 years old.

  • Zackatoustra

    Ok, great.
    If I want to make money online, I just need to get big.

    I just missed the part where it’s said how every lambda blog/site owner can get big as easily as 1 2 3.

  • Pras

    Hi Daniel, Well said. I have also come across lots of blogs filled completely with ads. Most of these bloggers will be newbies. They try to make lot of money just after few months from their start. I dont find any point in monitzing a site with little content.

  • Melvin

    Yes yes yes daniel… this is what most people are forgetting so much… theres no shortcut///

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Zackatoustra, you missed that part because it was not there. In fact, blog or site owner can get big as easy as 1 2 3.

    It is hard work, and takes time.

  • Daniel Scocco

    @SEO Genius, if after 6 months you are no where close to your goals, I would consider starting over again.

    I will write a post about it soon.

  • Greg Ellison

    I think it is OK putting one or two ads on your website someplace. I would say don’t plaster the ads everywhere. I like kontera because it is non-intrusive. It just makes a word a link, and if they click the ad you make some money. If you are not big your not going to make a lot from Kontera. It is only pennies which is the bad thing about it.

  • Online Dividends

    I disagree with this article. As a reader of many blogs what I typically pay attention to is the quality of content. If the article that I am reading is really good i don’t care if there are 1000 ads even in text ads.

  • SEO Adsense Wordpress Themes

    I’m glad most of us are in agreement that traffic is KING.

    When it comes to newbies, the request for ad placements and management is always a priority. But hey, if thats what they want …

    But IMO, priorities should be given to SEO-optimisation, content presentation, ease of navigation, content exposure, related content reach … well, you get the idea …

    In fact to hell with all of that when you’re just a newbie. My friendly advise is to just start blogging or writing. Put on the thinking cap and just write away. Good unique content, no matter how sh*t the website it is in, goes a long way.

  • Kyle

    Like everyone else, I agree. Everyone dreams about making a large residual income with a blog/website, but it’s really tough. I just started a blog about WordPress and it will remain ad-free for a LONG time. Check it out if you want.

    World of WordPress

  • Cambodia news

    When will we can place ad on our blog? we need to wait for the high traffic?

  • ArticleAlley

    I couldn’t agree more – I spent three years building traffic on my article site – its only been in the last 12 months that I started to believe it was ready to monetise. I get around 20,000 uniques per day.

    I started with a single Adsense panel – now have two plus Kontera.

    I don’t think I could have grown traffic if I had been focussed on revenue instead of visitors.

    Got to be the way to do things


  • Codrut Turcanu I Amazon Associate Program

    Hello Daniel!

    U have delivered a mind blowing thought.I like the way in which u have delivered such an honest thought.

    I personally think that today we find thousands of websites who are just a tool of earning money and they do not deliver any value at all.

    Even if i go to any website and i find lots of ads on that website i would definitely not want to proceed with it.Moreover it gives a clumsy look to the website.

    Earning money online is not bad.But the important thing is that what strategy u r opting to earn money.The strategy should be such that u earn money as well as u deliver value to the audience through ur website.

    Keep up the good work Daniel.

  • Aleh

    Just this morning I started taking my ads off. I totally agree with you, sometimes we stuff our sites with ads before it is successful. Then we wonder why the people dont come back. So true.

Comments are closed.