This issue frequently gets batted about without settling anything. Ads are tacky. Ads pay the bills. Does having them compromise your integrity? If you leave them off, are you missing an opportunity? There will never be one right answer to this question, because there isn’t one motivation for blogging shared by all bloggers.
Recently Susan Harris brought this question out in the open on Garden Rant, sparking heated debate without arriving at consensus. Read A Post about Pay-Per-Post to see how bloggers in the gardening community are wrestling with this issue.
I’ve struggled with this issue myself at Cold Climate Gardening. My blog started out as a way to find and connect with other gardeners, and putting ads on my website seemed as incongruous as inviting a friend in for a cup of coffee and then charging for it. And let’s face it: displaying ads will always involve a compromise with aesthetics. The only question is to what degree you are willing to compromise. Ads were not for me.
But the more seriously I took my blog writing and the more time and effort I put into getting everything right, the more my blog felt like a magazine. I was no longer chatting over the fence with a fellow gardener. I was writer, editor, and publisher rolled into one. I was blogging in a professional manner, and professionals get paid.
Furthermore, between rising gas prices and rising food prices, the gardening line in the household budget got cut. Here I was, a garden blogger, and I couldn’t afford to buy plants, tools, mulch–you name it.
I needed monetary compensation from blogging, and ads are one way for me to achieve that. I’m not making a living from blogging; I’m not even earning minimum wage, but if I see a plant I want, I can buy it. (Well, within reason.) And all my website costs are covered as well.
I also picked up some freelance writing assignments, thanks to my professional attitude. An editor from a major gardening magazine came across my blog and offered me the chance to do book reviews. I’ve worked with that editor on several more assignments, and gotten brave enough to query other editors, resulting in other work.
I still don’t like ads. I’m still figuring out what kind of ads, from which middle men, are right for me and my website. And I want to make sure my fellow gardeners always feel comfortable enough to stop by for a virtual cup of coffee and a good chat–without feeling like they’re being charged for it.