Thoughts on Timing & When You Should Start Advertising on Your Blog

[tentblogger-vimeo 16442877]

[This is a part of the "Getting Started with Blog Advertising" blog series.]

The bottom line is ultimately this: You can start advertising at any point in a new blog’s life and it is completely up to you. You can justify your reasoning all you want or you can just throw up your hands and say “Hey, that’s what I’ve decided to do, ok?“.

But there’s definitely some wisdom in taking the time to consider the two camps of thought as they are typically understood.

As I’ve summarized in the above video, here are the two mainline camps and some of the distinctives:

The very famous adsense check: $133,000!

Advertise Later:

Advertise later foo!

This strategy suggests that it is far better to advertise and put up banner advertisements later when the blog hits a certain point in terms of traffic, engagement, and overall maturity.

Here are 4 key considerations:

  1. Traffic is going to be one of the largest factors here since you believe that you’ll convert and provide more opportunity for sales with a larger community base resulting in traffic.
  2. You value earning your reader’s trust first and foremost and you intimately understand that this takes time since generating credibility, rapport, and consistency are completely dependent on a long-standing relationship. You believe that you will also be able to convert sales and provide more value for your readers who trust you.
  3. You have decided that spending more time on creating content, building the site architecture, and strategy development is a much more vested approach to the growth long-term. Spending sideways energy with advertisements and the related stress of management, expectations, is not in your best interest.
  4. You want more time to think strategically about placements, your blog design, and ultimately the user experience before throwing ads on your sidebar like everyone else. There’s wisdom in understanding your community before pitching them blind.

You ultimately believe that by spending more energy on your content, community, and strategy you’ll be in a better spot in the long run due to increased engagement, trust, and traffic.

Now, for the other perspective…

Advertise Now:

The other side of the coin is advertising immediate on your blog from day #1. In fact, you can do this before you even throw content down on the site! Of course, there are some things to consider here as well.

Here are another 4 to keep in mind:

  1. You believe that by having advertisements immediately you’ll be able to “self-sustain” and pay-off your overhead as time progresses. This appears to be a more conservative and safe approach so that you can cover your costs as you go.
  2. You believe that your community, either by default in terms of the culture, or the one that you’re going to grow, will appreciate the advertisements and “get used to them” earlier instead of shocking them when you throw down the ads later on. By having them encounter the ads early you establish a feeling of acceptability.
  3. You feel that it’ll save you time in terms of design because you know that you’re going to be advertising and want to set up the slots early to fill out your design and user experience. You may even find the blog a bit “bare” without some of those advertisements around.
  4. Finally, you may be a “seasoned” blogger who knows exactly what they are doing with a targeted niche, active community, and a strategy to boot. In fact, the sky rains digital dollar bills on your efforts all the time (or close to it). You ultimately know what you’re doing.

The bottom line here is that you may have a hard time justifying the reason to wait and are willing to jump right in.

What Do I Believe?

I choose to wait!

If isn’t all the proof I need to declare which camp I fall in then I don’t know what would be sufficient!

I personally believe in the “Advertise Later” model.

With this strategy I can concentrate all my efforts on information architecture, developing content, and cultivating the community. My efforts will ultimately pay off when I do drop advertising much later.

It also gives me time to strategize my approach since I know my audience better after having engaged with them directly, which ultimately lets me provide even more strategic value to them.

And that’s always my goal: Provide exceptional value to my readers!

Finally, by not advertising now I have more creative freedom to experiment, zero pressure to perform for my buyers, clients, and partner businesses, and flexibility with content delivery as it relates to my already-busy schedule.

I’m not giving up those freedoms that easily!

If Not Now… Then When?

A natural follow-up question might be this:

So when is the right time to advertise if not immediately? tweet

That simply depends on traffic, growth, levels of engagement, and ultimately your ability to sustain the necessary time required to bring high value to your advertisers. Don’t be fooled, it takes work to advertise. It’s not as set-it and forget-it as you might think (especially if you want repeat buyers).

In addition, if you have some specific business and/or life goals to achieve, that can help determine your time-line as well.

Finally, if you’re new to the blogging game then you have a lot to learn about advertising in general! Better to soak up the information and make the best informed decision before shooting into the dark, right?

In terms of TentBlogger and when this blog will start advertising, you can track with me through as I walk through building out the blog (in real time!) and you’ll be sure to know when I start! (**Update, I’ve obviously have started! Read here!**)

But, don’t forget that it’s up to you and you can do whatever you’d like or feel comfortable with! You don’t have to agree with me (and I imagine many people won’t).

[This is a part of the "Getting Started with Blog Advertising" blog series.]

  • Heath

    Great thoughts John. This is something I have pondered myself especially after having one blog hacked that will have to be rebuilt. On the do-over, I will probably wait, but not 100% sure. I am struggling now with random ad popups when people click anywhere on my site. I am talking to my affiliate programs to see what’s up as it goes against all their protocols. Commission Junction has been slow to respond. There are lots of pros and cons to think about. It does add a whole other layer to things a blogger has to deal with.

    • John Saddington

      sure thing heath! it does certainly add complexity, so you have to think about it from all angles, but there’s always time to monetize.

  • Dano Hart

    It’s all about the audience. Don’t make the audience mad. I’ve consulted many people, got them into an online space, and if you start with ads, there is no shock like there is when an ad shows up that wasn’t there before.

    The major issue is you do not want your new audience to think you want to make a buck off their viewership, and I have never come acrossed that attitude when you start with advertisements. As long as they are placed well and strategically, and they are designed into the layout of your site.

    Now, I have started companies that have been idea, we see if that idea flies, some fly, some fall. So no advertisements come into play. No sense in investing time into placing ads if it will not become a resource for revenue. But when the idea does go on, and gains a following, that is where rules of when should I advertise, applies.

    • John Saddington

      i like that dano. i never want to think that i write for money ONLY. i write because i’ve been writing for the last decade… and i’ve only begun in the past few years to make anything.

      i’ll still do it if all the money dried up!

  • Derek Jensen

    Another way to look at this is when you should monetizing your blog. You should the plans already developed but in terms of initiating them is always the decision. You could sell a product and not just advertise. Its funny Im saying this because I’m studying advertising at Iowa State.

    I believe that creating a product is much more beneficial to you and your blog than advertising in the definite long run.

    • John Saddington

      products can definitely be a good place! that’s one of the upcoming sections. :)

  • Nicole Cottrell

    This post was really helpful more me, more in that it solidified my current thoughts on advertising on my blog. I’m gonna wait and I think, as you listed, for good reason.

    I’m new to the whole blogging game and still have much to learn. I am encouraged to know that what I was “feeling” is actually reasonable and wise as well. Thanks.

    • John Saddington

      sure thing nicole! you’ve got some great content on your blog too. ;)

      your server was acting a bit slow though.. where are you hosted?

  • Blane Young

    This was full of really practical tips!

    After watching the video, I guess I would say that by “ads” you meant 125 x 125 visual ads or Google AdSense, right?

    And I ask because TentBlogger is setup to make money through affiliate links (StandardTheme, Hosting), right?

    I didn’t know how you defined the difference or if there was one.

    • John Saddington

      yes. explicit physical ads, which could be affiliate links.

    • Dave ©

      Love the content so far; keep it up!

      Following up on Blane’s question, does it have to be all-or-nothing? Is time the only factor to consider? If not, will you touch on other factors in future posts?

      It seems like you paint two extremes and yet your actual approach seems to be more in the middle (advertise from the beginning but do so in moderation).

      And sorry if this isn’t coming across right. I’m not trying to be antagonistic. Promise.

      • John Saddington

        i believe i could have been even more explicit here… i was relating physical explicit sidebar ads.

        sure, a mixture of approaches can work too!

        great clarification.

  • Dewitt Robinson

    Very sound nuggets here. Thanks for sharing the rationale behind both camps. It helps with the decision process of ad placement.

    • John Saddington

      sure thing dewitt!

  • Phillip Gibb

    hmmm, good points.
    I feel that my blog has been around long enough and that advertising will be good on such tight niche my blog fits into.
    Having said that, I have tried B&H Affiliate advertising and AdSense – both have yielded enough cash to pay for a slice of gum for the smallest ant.
    I’ve applied for Buy&Sell Ads and have been approved, so it will be interesting to see what happens. I just want to be able to have the blog pay for itself – that’s probably a common motivation.

    • John Saddington

      definitely! i think to price wisely and strategically can do that without being offensive.

  • Josue Izaul

    So true. Like I said before. I guess I’ll be reading on your post on how to monetize (because making some cash flow on the side will be great!) but #1 problem for me is traffic and readership.

    Any post coming soon on that or probably one I missed??

    :) stay awesome

    • John Saddington

      still coming!

  • Stevan

    Thanks John. That was definitely a help. I have been writing all my life but I just started blogging this September so I have been following your blog and soaking it up. I have a lot of goals with blogging and I have been considering ads but I still have so much to learn I think it would just be distracting and confusing right now.

    • John Saddington

      SWEET! thanks for being a part of this community!

  • Daniel Decker

    I agree, build it first then leverage it when the time is right. :)

    • John Saddington

      yes yes!

  • Adam Lehman

    I’f probably give the same advice I give LOTS of people:

    1. Some of you are so profit focused that you’re missing out on community development and creativity. Think of how much more profit you could drive if keyed in on the latter two areas.
    2. Others of you are so community & creatively driven that you shy away from profitting. Think of how much more you could offer the community if you were a little more focused on profits.

    • John Saddington


      wow, i love this fair and balanced dual-perspective. dang.!

  • Josue

    Very true. Thanks for the reminder. I went back and gave myself a reminder with this video. Content First , Traffic Later.

    • John Saddington

      cool man. there’s always time to advertise… but not always time to start a blog well.

  • Chad

    This is awesome!

    I’m currently applying an cobbled together version of the advertise now camp of thought. I actively run three different sites. One site is an affiliate marketing site that is on autopilot, while the two other sites are sites that I actively blog on.

    The autopilot site is in the advertise-now camp and it is doing fairly well right now. In it’s second full month of existence my traffic is on pace to increase by 50%, while my adsense revenues are up from $0.38 last month to $2.78 in just one week! Aside from the adsense ads, I also have a few affiliate ads, plus I use viglink to affiliate any links that are not currently affiliated.

    My affiliate marketing review site is also in the advertise-now camp and it uses everything but viglink.

    My main site, TBA, employs a more passive advertise-now campaign. There are no adsense ads whatsoever on the site; there are, however, adsense ads in my rss feeds. The only other thing that smacks of money are two donate buttons in the right hand column.

    I guess it all depends on what you want, or need, to do. Great post! :)

    • John Saddington

      you, sir, are doing great! that’s awesome!

  • Chad

    Thanks! :) If the adsense revenues keep up the pace, I’ll have two months worth of internet hosting paid for! :)

    • John Saddington

      that’s honestly one of the best goals to have!

  • Ryan Bell

    Thanks for the post. This is exactly what I am wrestling with now. Have a good amount of traffic but just not there yet.

    • John Saddington

      cool! how are you going to get there?

  • Ryan Bell

    good question. That is what I am trying to figure out now. Need to keep writing good content Have been doing a little advertisement, do the twitter and facebook thing and some of our devotions are used by a national magazine on their site so we get a link back for that.

    • John Saddington

      what’s your angle? what’s your focus?

      • Ryan Bell

        our focus is our daily devotions and to have them make an impact on those who read them. secondly we would like to be able to make enough money to pay for the hosting and mailchimp and some advertising and then if there is any leftover that would be great. Is that too vague or not focused enough?

        • John Saddington

          daily devotions… that’s not too unique (but not saying that it’s a bad idea!). how are you differentiating yourself?

          • Ryan Bell

            Not sure how we are differentiating ourselves. We try to keep them short, bible based and to the point, but I guess there are a lot that do that too. We also send out an email every morning. Maybe we need to see if there is something we can do to differentiate ourselves with our devotions.

            • John Saddington

              cool! love to see what you come up with.

  • Milliver’s Travels

    I blogged just for fun for two years on my travel blog before even starting to think about monetizing it. As you said, this kept me free of the pressure to deliver anything but what I was having fun doing. Plus, I wasn’t sure I could stick it out as a travel blogger, but now I know I can.

    You said it when you mentioned there’s a lot to learn! It can get truly overwhelming . . . but at least I’ve gotten better at wading through the hype and learning who to trust.

    I like your site because it’s fun, I feel safe here, you are obviously a friendly person with genuine passion for his work, and you care about your family. I’d much rather learn in that kind of environment than from someone who’s constantly trying to upsell me, even when they claim to be giving “free coaching” or whatever.

    Thanks for all you do. ~ Milli

    • John Saddington

      sure thing milli! i really appreciate that!

  • zimbrul

    Can I ask you a question? When you say “advertise” does it include Google Ads?

    • John Saddington

      sure. i think. ;0

  • Kathy Seid

    Hi John!

    Googled someone who recently contacted us and this lead me to your blog. Going to bookmark your tentblogger. We launched a start-up 6/10, set-up a blog, and my husband has blogged once. I think your tips will be motivational and helpful, though his not blogging more to do with time and his desire to give provide quality customer service than it does with motivation.

    Thanks for your valuable insights…you may even motivate me to write…and writing is not my gift!

    Kathy Seid

    • John Saddington

      sure thing kathy! lots to learn (and i’m still learning)!

  • krlmasonjar

    great article!!!…stop by and check out our site!

    any recommendations are always welcome and appreciated!!

  • Jan Keefe

    I just started my blog over a month ago. I thought I could jump right in with advertising, hoping to make some money right off. I stumbled upon your blog when trying to figure out the technicalities of it. So glad I did! What I’ve realized now is that at this point I am enjoying the writing much more than I thought I would, and also that I need to concentrate more on that, and building my readership before even considering the advertising. That and I can spend more time reading all the great advice and information on your site! Thanks for that. I hope I can make some money down the line, so I can spend more time on the blog, and not getting another paying job on top of my current part time job (as a bookkeeper)!