This isn’t a how to guide, nor an argument for whether or not you should have ads on YOUR blog. This is my story. A tale of how one girl woke up one morning and found that her blog made her car payment most months. That she still loved writing it. And it turned out she hadn’t really sold her soul to the devil, but to the accountant.

It all started last year after I left my job. I wrote most days, sharing my ups and downs and theories and plans. I was doing a couple of blog makeovers a fortnight and things were ticking over ok, other than the whole savings account being sucked dry type situation. Knowing that sponsored posts were few and far between I hatched a new plan.

No strategy. No research other than a post about how much people would pay. No, freaking, idea. It turns out that most people don’t even open ad spaces until their blogs reach in excess of 20,000 page views a month. Most don’t charge as little as I do. And most use ad management type systems to manage it for them. I handle the emails, uploads everything my self. But it works. Mine is a small-scale operation with lots of hands on contact. I like that. It’s actually most of my favourite parts.

When I first started selling ads, I had to change my sidebar around a bit to make room. I had to flog it a bit in posts and on my social media channels. I found that more often or not I was ad swapping with friends or giving away spots in exchange for something. Then as it started to grow, less and less of that happened. I had more enquiries and less vacant spots. I opened up larger ads and then a super size one. I started booking my own more often than not.

All the while I had my Nuffnang ads running. I have three available spots {a leader board, mid rectangle and skyscraper – their names, not mine} and sometimes they would be all full. Sometimes not. The best part about it is that when they didn’t have ads running collapse nicely on themselves and take up no space at all. Each single ad used to earn me about $10 – $15 a week then. Now they are metered which does much better. Working together with my ad spots, this leads to an ok income.

In combination with sponsored posts, of course. The ads alone at this level are hardly anything to write home about. That will come, I think. I talk to blogger’s who are more successful than me and ask them about their revenue and where it’s derived from. They all answer. Some coyly, some matter of fact, all business. I ask because I’m curious. Which is, in a lot of ways how this post started. I wanted to share my story, so it’s out there for those who, like me, are curious.

What I’ve learnt is that it does matter a little how many page views you get. The price matters and so does the size. I learnt that saying no is ok. But so is saying yes. I learnt how to code the HTML and centre it. I learnt how to make the new pages pop out from my own so that visitors then have two tabs open. I learnt that the money really isn’t that good at this stage. But for me, it’s worth it.

So there you go.

Shameless plug coming right up… For more information about the ad sizes on this blog {its fabulous, isn’t it} or to book for August go here or email me at melissa@sugercoatit.com. 

  • Thank you for sharing Melissa. I have been thinking about ads on my blog – which doesn’t get anywhere near 20000 pages views per month! – but could be just the thing for specialist niche (Christian products & events) – and I thought could be part of a package combined with advertising in our quarterly print magazine. You have given me more food for thought, much appreciated xxx

    • As you can see form my story here, there are no hard and fast rules. Manage your advertisers expectations on clicks etc and ads at any level are worth something.

      Good luck!! And I’m glad you found this useful.

  • This is an awesome post. I do a combination of all of the above too. When I first monetized my blog just over two years ago I only had 12,000 page views a month (it’s now averaging 180,000). Even at 12,000 there were smaller advertisers interested – and the prices were lower too. By far the biggest income stream for me is sponsored posts, then speaking gigs, banner ads I sell myself, affiliate sales (growing income stream!) and then Nuffnang banners. When you have a number of income streams it does start to add up as you gain momentum with it – and of course someone landing on your blog and seeing that you already have advertisers is a sure fire way to attract more!

    • Thank you Nikki. And thanks so much for sharing your experience here too. 🙂

  • Such an interesting topic to read. I’m glad you wrote this. I’m currently between jobs and trying to work out what my next move is. I just want to burry my head under the doona so I don’t have to make decisions, but I know as soon as I want a a new oufit I’ll be wishing I gave it more thought sooner.

    • Haha. SO true. It was when I decided a really, REALLY needed some cash for ‘fun’ stuff that my plan got put into action. And by plan, I mean haphazard series of events. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  • So what you’re saying is you can make it work for you, whether you’re a small, medium or big time blogger but it’s about being realistic about your expectations of who will advertise with you at various times during your growth.

  • river

    I’m curious, but not enough to start putting ads on my blog. I’d rather have it stay a happy little hobby. I don’t get that many visitors and commenters anyway.

    • That’s the beauty of it. You can do exactly what you want. Until what you want changes. Or it doesn’t.

  • Great post, and thanks for being so open.

    • You’re welcome Johanna. Great guest post over at Nikki’s blog. A conversation starter, for sure.

  • I really need to speak with you about this, I need to sort out how to do it properly…..

  • CassandraHodges

    Thanks for posting this Melissa. I’ve just recently started offering ad space in my side bar and have been doing pretty much the same as you have mentioned… and so far it’s working 🙂 So I must be on the right track 😉
    I’m still trying to convince my niche market to jump on board, but it’s early days… fingers crossed that will all pan out in time.

    • You’re welcome. Good luck with your ads, and yes, it takes time every single month to make sure that you have the sidebar full. I’m sure you’ll do great!