Your Business versus Your Community

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In the world of blogging, there are two types of people. There are those who tell you that they despise you to the core if you place a popup on your website, and there are those who put their name and email into the popup and join your email list. There are those who leave comments degrading your existence if you place an advertisement in your content, and there are those who click on those advertisements and make hundreds of dollars in revenue for you at the end of the month.

Some bloggers and internet marketers go after those clicks and those sign ups and some go after those who they feel are the loudest, most participatory members of their community. Which is the right answer?

Both.

Your Business versus Your Community

It’s proven that you can make money by shoving a product in someone’s face online, but if that product or newsletter is worthless then you’ll end up with a high unsubscribe rate and a plethora of people hitting the spam button when you send them something.

When I get so much as just one spam complaint on my newsletters, I hate it and I think about what I can do to improve it, but others don’t care. If they can use their impersonal, unwelcome newsletter to generate so much as one additional sale then they’re happy.

As community builders, our initial reaction is to reject popups, in-content ads and any other form of revenue generation that we consider to be spammy even though we know that these forms of passive income are powerful. Don’t think I’m justifying them. I hate them as much as anyone. I want a pleasant, uninterupted experience as much as the next guy.

So what’s the answer? How can we profit from our industrious online careers without interrupting our users experience? The short answer…you often can’t.

A Multi-Million Dollar Example

I love watching music videos on YouTube. Though if you read the comments, people seem to hate YouTube for the way they present their material. YouTube places advertisements at the top of the side bar, they show an advertisement randomly before some of the videos and they place wrap around ads around the video box.

Sure they get rude comments, but they’re making millions of dollars in profits as a result and they’re continuing to see growth at their site. Those rude comments aren’t going to compel the operators of YouTube to start hating money enough to remove them. Those millions of dollars speak a whole lot louder then a few random disgruntled viewers.

The same is true of television commercials.

And of radio commercials.

They are a necessary evil. They are the financing behind the content that we all enjoy.

So the lesson here isn’t that we should overload our sites with advertising. But rather, just as the Greek maxim would suggest we should enjoy all things in moderation. Balance is the key.

It is altogether appropriate to place advertisements on your site if that is a part of the business model that you’re using to finance your online ventures if you can provide good enough content to continue building your community and connecting with people.

Again, balance is the key and the quality and usefulness of your content is your trump card.

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About Nicholas Cardot

It's my personal quest to enable every person that I can to unlock that dormant potential concerning their online influence. Also, I'm a geek.

33 Comments

  • Dino Dogan says:

    lol…way to take a stand Nick :-)

    I agree of course…balance IS key. Having said that, Im the dude that NEVER watches a video on youtube thats on the VEVO channel (plays commercials).

    Speaking of which, theres a firefox addon, I think its called ad remover, that kills the pre-roll on VEVO channel. Hope that helps someone regain their balance :-)

    • Nicholas Cardot says:

      I the ads there too but I have a playlist of songs on YouTube and love being able to listen to my music at work, on the road or anywhere and I don’t mind an advertisement or two from a company that has created a business model that allows them to serve me that content for free.

      Letting them display their ads is the least I can do in gratitude for letting me watch the music video for Pink’s latest song called Perfect.

      But even despite that fact, the point is that as a business model it works for them regardless of what the naysayers moan about in the comments.

    • Lisa says:

      OMG Dino, you are a lifesaver! I love VEVO and hate the annoying commercials in the beginning. THANK U!

    • krish says:

      That’s a good example that money can be successfully earned on either side of the house. I also know folks who make a killing from advertising who have never installed so much as one affiliate ad.

  • Jeanie says:

    What about Karol Gajda ridiculouslyextraordinary.com ?

    He made $250k – affiliate sales in 72 hours with no ads…just pure, raw, awesome stuff, which…has changed MY life into something radically free.

    • Nicholas Cardot says:

      That’s a good example that money can be successfully earned on either side of the house. I also know folks who make a killing from advertising who have never installed so much as one affiliate ad.

      The point that I’m trying to make is that you can reasonably try either business model and if it works…it works.

  • tushar says:

    great work nicolas..
    i swear everybody needs to read this piece of article..
    P.S. i am one of those who never sign up for newsletters anywhere

    • Nicholas Cardot says:

      I don’t sign up for them either, but I have a close friend online who is making over 100k per year on his site and he’s using a popup as a part of his business strategy.

      Who do you think he’s going to listen to? A visitor who dislikes his strategy or the checks being deposited in his account?

    • Jeff says:

      Ahhh…I know what you mean!

      As I’ve said before, I steer around about 99.998% of ads and pop-ups while on the ‘net. And when I actually consider an advertisement, I typically google them rather than click-through an ad.

      It’s sad, but there are too many “scam ads” that use deceit or trickery on reputable websites (including weather.com) that have put such a terrible taste in my mouth concerning banner ads and pop-ups.

  • eric says:

    I know what you’re saying. I think my goal is to please those that actually speak up. The ones that comment and the ones that ask questions. If they tell me I have to much junk in my side bar I usually remove it. If I add an advertisement and my readership drops i remove it.

    Side note – I thought YouTube was still in the red?

    Love your blog!

    • Nicholas Cardot says:

      If you’re readership drops then you definitely should remove it, but if you’re building a community of folks who only have that freebie mindset and simply expect you to give, give and give some more without ever generating any income of value from your labor then you’re building the wrong kind of friends.

      We seem to live in these online communities where folks make us to feel morally accountable for the way that we distribute information. We’ll go to WalMart and pay to purchase a book on cooking by Rachel Ray but if we read the same material online and the online author places and advertisement there so that they can deliver it at no cost to you then we leave a comment berating them for the advertisements.

      Again, however, if you ugly up your site and if you don’t have content that’s compelling enough to keep people there then it’s still the wrong answer.

  • Roberto @ Psychbits says:

    I agree. In your face advertisement diminish your brand. The best advertisement is when you blend the information with content. Avoid breaking the flow of your communication.

    • Nicholas Cardot says:

      I don’t necessarily agree that they do diminish your brand. In the world of webmasters and bloggers, we’ve grown a disdain for them but in other niches like automotive repair, bicycling or underwater basket weaving, people often jump at the opportunity to find new products through the advertisements that they see or to sign up for updates about that subject with the popup newsletter sign up form.

    • Jeff says:

      The best advertisement is when you wrap the content around the product. The key, though, has got to be centered around credibility.

      SiteSketch101 is centered around blogging, so I expect articles on “how-to” concerning hosting and themes, and the next best thing would be the most trusted companies offering such services (i.e. elegantthemes).

      On the other hand, I’m not going to click on a facebook ad about the “Secret Google Search Code” or the weather channel ad about the “Acai Berry miracle diet.” They are not in that business, so what do they know?

  • John Doe says:

    You have great content and all, but I hit the “Reader” button on Safari instantly when visiting here. I cannot stand that social media rectangle stuck on the left-hand side of the page. Maybe it works for you, but it’s a complete turn-off and a major distraction.

    • Nicholas Cardot says:

      Which is my exact point in this article. Since installing that on the side, I’ve had retweets and facebook shares go way up and I’ve seen a significant improvement in traffic and as a result, comments as well.

      So although you are louder in the comments, the extra tweets, shares and traffic are much louder at the end of the day.

      Plus I’ve actually gotten a lot of feedback from people who like it.

      • eric says:

        Digg Digg? It does wonders. I had to remove mine because of plug-in compatibility issues. Will be hard coding it one of these days…

        By the way Nicholas – I am the book guy different email and the blog is up since we last spoke. I am still interested.

        For those who have not read the book. I highly recommend it!

  • Seth Waite says:

    The key here is to not market your business to anyone but your customers.

    Too often instead of focusing on your customers you get caught up in people that don’t actually buy your services or products. These are distractions.

    The people who buy your product/services matter first. They are your community and your clients.

    So the complainers are often not the purchasers. Smart businesses don’t make decisions based on people who aren’t buyers anyways.

  • Gabriele Maidecchi says:

    From a user’s point of view, most of the trouble from ads can be prevented with a couple of clicks. Nowadays, every browser has got an adblocker plugin, and they became so efficient they effectively removes any ad from Youtube and Facebook, just to cite two popular examples.
    Regarding the short promo message in some Youtube video, they can be indeed annoying, but overall I didn’t find too many videos starting with an ad so far. After all, I accept that as a necessary evil, as you say. Better to watch some ad every now and then than not having Youtube at all, if you think about it.

  • Lisa says:

    Oh Nicholas, and this, alas is why I love you!!

    I had ads on my site when I first started, then I read all the “I will kill you” if you place an ad on your site articles. So, I removed them.

    Then I thought long and hard about my business model and what I wanted to attain with my blog. Bottom line? I provide quality content and I am not a splog….therefore I choose to operate my business the way I see fit.

    I have incorporated ads again…and they are very un obtrusive. At the end of the day, it’s about the blog owner and the mission of their blog. It is quite possible to create a balance between reader and revenue.

    Cheers,
    Lisa

  • John Soares says:

    Two thoughts Nicholas:

    1. I personally do not like pop-ups on websites. They interrupt me from reading the blogger’s content. I do understand that they increase subscriber rates, at least in many niches. I wonder, though, if the people that are turned off by the pop-up might be a better customer than the people who fill them out, at least in some cases.

    2. I use Firefox with the Adblock Plus Add-On. I don’t see ads on Youtube, Google searches, or just about any place else, except in blog sidebar widgets.

  • Ryan Critchett says:

    You make an interesting point here Nick. It used to feel a bit unsettling to me having any kind of ad on any of my content.

    But then I realized, yea, you can’t watch a YouTube video anymore without a Google Ad on the bottom of it. It’s necessary and becoming an integral part of any platform or website from which people consume content.

    Now, I think of it like TV, like you said. Because the net is taking over as the main source of content consumption, it’s exactly the same thing as commercials.

    Great part? You don’t have to be interrupted! I can read that whole blog post without being interrupted by the elegant themes image on the bottom, which happens to be an awesome place to get templates.

  • anthonynlee says:

    well said. balance IS key.
    i would mention, however, that i believe we are seeing the death of interruption advertising.
    a new breed is taking over. so, perhaps the ad balance conundrum is becoming more Un-balanced.
    content is proving to be king…but, i wouldn’t suggest that you should listen to every troll that has something derogatory to say about you.
    your community can be finicky, so, it is necessary to find a balance….and it isn’t always easy.
    on the one hand, every copywriter i read says that you need to produce content that your audience WANTS…and yet, i am reminded that the absolute funniest comedians i ever heard tell jokes that often only THEY find funny.
    unrelated….i don’t think so.
    yet another situation where you should probably find balance between the desires of your constituents and the desires of your SELF.
    thanks for the thought provocation. cheers.

  • Dan Keller says:

    Good point Nick. I try to live my life like this…balance is definitely key. In regards to pop ups, I recently wrote a post about popup domination and there were many comments that weres trongly against and not one single comment on the pro side.

  • ah hong says:

    Ads are the neccesary evil, I couldn’t agree more on this point. Just take a look on Facebook revenue stream, all from the ads served from the sidebar. It’s well balance towards the content of the side and no one complain about it :D

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  • Greg says:

    I think you hit the nail on the head there Nic, it’s finding that balance between using ads to finance your content and the upkeep of your site, and making sure the content is worth reading.

    When is the best time to start using ads? We don’t have any currently but I want to make sure they are unobtrusive to the reader so was thinking of starting with Google Text ads?

    Any advice would be massively appreciated

    Cheers

  • Kavya Hari says:

    We should give more importance to the content, its my point of view Nicholas because advertisement has to be distract the customer to read the article so please avoid ad on that. But most of the folks are using the ad for earning the money.And, it’s one of the great article and i could get the data on here, Nicholas.

  • Brankica says:

    I don’t like seeing blogs swamped with ads in every free inch of the page but I actually do like seeing some of the ads, banners and recommendations on a blog.

    Why? Because I understand that everyone is trying to make money and if I want to buy something, I like to buy it through an affiliate link rather directly at the source.

    I pay the same price anyway, but this way I help someone make a small commission.

    So bottom line, I am totally OK with all sorts of ads on the blog as long as it isn’t all over the place, and if the products they recommend are tested and good.

  • Chris says:

    Right, Balance is the key. Nice post. A must read article.

  • Brad Harmon says:

    If I’m being 100% honest, I cringe when I get the pop up on this site, Nicholas. To your credit, you’re not obnoxious about it and it’s well worth putting up with the pop up for the amazing content you provide.

    What I’m just now realizing is that you have adds all over the place. How I’ve missed the big one at the beginning of your posts is a testament to my ability to miss the obvious. Yet, it all seems to be perfectly balanced somehow.

    I know you’ve put a lot of effort into placement and design of your ads, and it shows. I’ve always been gun shy about placing advertising on my sites. There’s some, but not nearly enough to make money on. This post is helping me to rethink my approach.

    • Nicholas Cardot says:

      Brad, if I’m honest, I’d have to admit that I hate popups as much as the next guy. I despise them, but I made enough to pay my mortgage last month, my phone bill, my electricity and more from that and a few ads around here. I make so much money and that popup seems to convert so well that I can’t not use it. Of course, I work as hard as I can to make it so that these ads don’t cut into the quality of the experience, but in the end a balance has to be made between the user’s experience and the potential for profit. Thanks for being honest with me. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • Danny Bans says:

    I’m really enjoying your website, nice information you’ve shared. Thanks!

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