A few of you probably notice that I started running ads on this blog a while back, say around February. I also recently turned them off two weeks ago. I wanted to give you all a little background into what went on with the WordPress WordAds program that I ran for a bit.
This blog is hosted by WordPress.com. That means that they control all the admin stuff like code updates and server locations. All I do is log in and write. This is great for people that don’t really care about the dirty stuff under the hood and would rather spend their constructive time writing. That’s what I wanted to do for the most part. Sure, I miss out on all the cooler things, like using Disqus for my comments or hosting other plugins, but all in all I am very happy with the service provided by WordPress. The major thing that people will tell you that you’re missing out on with a hosted solution is advertising. WordPress reserves the right to run some advertisements on your blog when you hit a certain traffic level. Beyond that, there won’t be any ads on the site if you are hosted by WordPress. That is, until the advent of the WordAds program.
WordAds is a program designed to allow WordPress-hosted blogs that meet certain criteria to run some limited advertisements. There aren’t many requirements, other than you must be a publicly visible blog with a custom domain name, such as networkingnerd.net as opposed to networkingnerd.wordpress.com. Since I met the criteria, I jumped in and got setup for WordAds. This was mostly as a trial run, as I knew that I wasn’t going to make enough money out of my little experiment to quit my day job and become a globe-trotting playboy. I hoped to collect a bit of money and use it to do something like pay for additional WordPress upgrades or maybe even move to a self-hosted solution at some point down the road.
The setup for WordAds is fairly easy. Once you’ve indicated your interest in the program and you’ve been vetted by WordPress, all you need to do is log into your control panel and check a box to display your ads. You can choose to display ads to all your visitors or just the ones that aren’t logged into WordPress. I set mine up to display to all users. Once I had selected my ad impression categories, which were a meager list of technology and geeky-type stuff, I turned everything on and began my grand experiment. The first thing that I noticed is that you aren’t going to get immediate feedback. It took a month before WordPress reported my earnings, and they only really updated the data once a week or so. I knew that my coffers weren’t going to be filling up like Scrooge McDuck’s money bin, but a little more real-time feedback or the option to pull that information from a mouse click might have been nice. The other thing that irked me is that I didn’t have a lot of control over the ads that played. I tried to keep it to something my audience wouldn’t mind seeing, but it seems that the advertising network had other ideas. The primary reason that I pulled the whole thing down was that there was an annoying ad for a vehicle that keep auto-playing on rollover and blasting my readers with annoying sound. Since my readers are my greatest asset, and since I don’t want any of you showing up on my doorstep to punch me for annoying the daylights out of you, I decided to pull down the ads.
The payout structure for WordAds involves PayPal, which isn’t a huge deal since almost everyone that has ever bought anything online probably has a PayPal account at this point. The kicker is that the payout threshhold is $100 US. They won’t cut you a check for your earnings until you’ve hit the magic tipping point. Right now, after about five months of running ads on my blog, I haven’t even hit $50 yet. My first month, I made a whole $2. All that’s good for is getting the paperboy off your back. I know that based on the amount of traffic that I get living off my advertising wasn’t a realistic goal. I also know how often I tend to click on banner ads, so again since most of my readers are smarter than I am I knew they weren’t likely to click on the banners either. Instead, I figured I’d just let the ads sit there until I could pull the money out and use it for upgrades. At this rate, I’ll probably run out of boring things to say before I get to that point. Instead, I’ve decided to turn off the ads and go back to what I do best – writing boring pieces about CallManager or taunting the NAT folks. I’m not worried about making any money off of this whole thing. The little bit that I do have can go back to WordPress for them to buy a round of coffee for the operations team that keeps my blog from crashing every now and then. If I’m really that concerned about sponsors, I suppose I can start wearing a jumpsuit to work festooned with patches like racing drivers. Now I just need to work out my rates for that.