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5 Lessons in Blog Advertising

June 18, 2008

Ah, to advertise or not advertise, that is the question.

Snook posted about his “SideBar Ads” from the gang at SideBar Creative the other day, and it reminded me of the different things I tried here on my blog. Over time I’ve had two different iterations of ad support:

  1. simply running Google Ads; it worked reasonably well
  2. text links; ultimately I removed them and got out of the text link game.

I may or may not go back to it, but I thought I’d put a few ideas out there as to why I got out.

Lack of Automation

Lesson learned: ensure that all payments to you are done through some type of automation — even a simple recurring PayPal payment would sort this out.

The problem I had with automation was very simple: the group that had placed text link ads on this site wasn’t fully automated. While their side of things was in terms of placing the ads on the site, they weren’t automated in terms of payment. For a stretch, I went 6 months without receiving a payment.

At that point, I had to simply ask “what’s the point?”

Ease of Integration

Lesson learned: just like any project, get the requirements from the client first, have them look at a prototype to see if it meets their needs and revise your ad integration code.

Placing the code on the site was easy as pie.

The first time.

After that, there were several emails where requirements seemed to change: “Can you please add this bit of code here?” or “We need you to add an image before your code and it has to be something like this.”

Yes, I’m being kind of vague, but my impression of what happened is that they put something out there and then were responding to requests from their advertising clients in order to make them happy. And by doing so, they were actually making me unhappy.


Lesson learned: do everything you can to provide just one point of contact for site owners so that we are not left wondering who to contact.

Over the course of running the text ads, I had contact with at least four different people and it was very unclear to me which person I should be contacting at any given time.

Account manager? I honestly can’t tell you. Should I contact their tech person or someone else if I have integration problems? What about payment issues? account manager or the accountant?

It was completely unclear to me and it contributed to my overall dissatisfaction with the entire experiment.


Lesson learned: If the ads aren’t of value or relevance to your audience, there isn’t much point.

Ultimately there was no value in it for me as I wasn’t getting paid. That aside, what really concerned me was that there was zero value in it for the readers of this site. Zero.

I like what Snook and others have done – the ads that they run are relevant to the industry, not simply text ads that appear to be there for page rank purposes.

If you can provide relevance, then you can provide a good reason for the ads to be there. If you can’t, in my opinion, it isn’t worth it. Even simple Google ads are great at attempting to deliver on the promise of relevance.


Lesson learned: if it looks like spam (even if it isn’t) it is still spam in the eyes of readers. If you’re going with Text Link ads, make sure it doesn’t look like your site has been hacked — you need to integrate it into the site so that it looks and smells like and ad. It needs to be obvious!

James Craig said to me “Dude, your site has been hacked – there are all kinds of spam links in the footer.”

That sealed the deal for me. I needed to get out of this advertising gig for now.

My page rank had dropped quite a bit, though I can’t say for certain it was because of the text link ads, I wasn’t getting paid due to the lack of automation, and ultimately I questioned the value of the ads for anyone reading the blog.

Interestingly, I received an email from the text link company saying they could help me get my page rank back. Their solution? Send a message off to Google explaining things and resubmit the site using Google’s Webmaster Tools. In their “instructions” on how to go about doing this, they mentioned that several of the sites that they had in their ad network had similar Page Rank problems! Here’s another excerpt that made me cringe:

Please note that this form is usually used for webmasters that may have been involved in “black hat” SEO techniques and have “spammed” the engines to some degree and been blacklisted. Although that is not the case with your site, you still use this form to resubmit your site to get your page rank back.

Ah, right.


August 14, 2007

It has been quite some time since my last post (Swimming, Biking and Running Scared), but thought it appropriate to give a quick update on how the IronMan went.

The bottom line? We did it! We even created an entire site dedicated to the trek: ironfeathers: swim. bike. run., the new home for all of our thoughts about IronMan, triathlons, training etc. Hope to see you over there!

A visit from Glenda Watson-Hyatt

March 6, 2007
Book cover for I'll do it myself by Glenda Watson-Hyatt

Glenda Watson-Hyatt is one of those people that I’ve seen on various accessibility mailing lists over the years but have never met. Glenda is a web accessibility professional, a member of the Guild of Accessible Web Designers, and is dedicated to making the web more accessible for everyone, regardless of their ability.

Glenda has cerebral palsy.

While we still haven’t met, I feel like I know her a little bit better after reading (most of) her book: I’ll do it myself. In celebration of her writing and publishing adventure, Glenda devised an ingenious plan: a virtual book tour. She’s visiting 40 blogs in 40 days, and I’m very pleased to have her visiting here today.
Continue reading A visit from Glenda Watson-Hyatt

Two Years Ago, Today

June 3, 2006

June 3, 2004

calling midwife; strong contractions, stronger than before…
midwife here (again); stronger contractions, every 3 minutes;
getting the pool ready; strong strong contractions
starting to push; this shouldn’t take long…
it’s a boy!!!

Continue reading Two Years Ago, Today

Ten Smart Moves to Improve your Business

May 3, 2006

Ten things that can improve your business:

Continue reading Ten Smart Moves to Improve your Business

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Comment Spam or Branding?

February 14, 2006

There are a few ways to get your blog “discovered.” A common strategy is to find the blogs that you like that discuss topics in which you’re interested, leave comments, hope people click on your name and visit your site, like what they see – ultimately resulting in them linking to, and commenting on, your site. This is not rocket science.

As blogs gain popularity the way blogs are used is changing. In particular, strategic blog comments are changing. Now we see commenters that are:

  1. using their URL with their name (Comment by: David Hasselhoff –
  2. using a key phrase with, or in place of, their name (Comment by: David Hasselhoff – swimwear consulting and strategy)
  3. using what amounts to a “signature” file at the end of their comments like they would sign an email (All the best, David Hasselhoff,, Swimwear consulting and strategy)

Continue reading Comment Spam or Branding?

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January Round Up

January 27, 2006

There’s a whole host of things I’ve wanted to talk about for a while, and I’ve not been able to put them each into a full post. Rather than try to write a full entry on each, here is the executive summary version of what’s been going on recently and what’s coming up:

Business and Blogging

In the final quarter of 2005, I discovered that I was getting a few clients (or at least prospective ones) via my blog. That was new to me for two reasons:
Continue reading January Round Up

Four Things

January 24, 2006

Andrea tagged me with this meme so I figured I’d better play along and then pass it on. I’m looking over the questions and my answers and they seem pretty boring to me. Nonetheless, here are my four things:
Continue reading Four Things

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Social Networking Diseases and Disorders of the new Millennium

August 31, 2005

Contact Flickritis

Symptoms: general uneasiness, sometimes accompanied by mild headaches and sweaty palms; often characterized by feelings of deja vu and that feeling you get when you meet up with someone you think you know but can’t remember their names.

Continue reading Social Networking Diseases and Disorders of the new Millennium

Dockable Comments: Intelligent DOM Scripting

May 23, 2005

About a month ago I wrote Browser Elitism and Browser Elitism Part 2. These posts saw fairly high traffic and got quite a few comments. So much so in fact that I didn’t find it very easy to comment properly and address the points that people were making in their comments. A few days after I set out to “solve” that problem, only to find out weeks later that Jonathan Snook had done something similar in his post Experiment with position: fixed.

Cool that we came up with similar ideas at almost the same time. Spooky that we only live about 10 minutes from each other. I love that the fixed comment form was integrated into Jonathan’s 78th redesign. I, on the other hand, am not quite ready for a full redesign, but wanted to implement the functionality right away. So, here it is – dockable comments.

Continue reading Dockable Comments: Intelligent DOM Scripting