I’ve been blogging on vitualizedgeek.com for five years and have debated taking ads for five years. My thoughts continue to evolve. At Interop 2015, held in Los Vegas, I ran into fellow Chicagoan and Blogger Chris Wahl. Chris has been very successful blogging mainly on deep technical topics such as designing and configuring a management dashboard. Prior to Chris’ session, I got a chance to pick his brain and get some advice. At the end of the day, he convinced me to at least attempt to take on sponsors.
Why I hadn’t accepted ads
A good place to start is why I hadn’t taken on ads prior to my conversation with Chris. First, my content isn’t as technical as some of the most popular virtualization focused blogs. I tell myself this is one of the reasons I don’t get as much traffic. I believe my content is a bit more niche.
It is a reflection of where I am in my career. I don’t get to turn many knobs in my day-to-day job. I spend my day sitting between the business and technology. I help ensure that technology selection and deployment meet the business objectives. I believe consumers of my content are in similar positions and respect my independence. I’ve traditionally felt that taking ads would either affect my independence or cloud the image of independence.
Point blank, I needed to get past my concerns of independence. Ultimately, an analyst can be trusted just as long as consumers understand where potential biases lay. Advertisement and content have been tied together as long as there has been creative content.
Secondly, I don’t believe in banner ads. Banner ads have been the primary method I’ve seen bloggers monetize their content. I don’t pay much attention to them on websites I visit. The click-through-rate (CTR) is the number of times an ad is clicked versus shown. A good CTR is three-tenths of a percent (.03%). That just doesn’t seem like an effective value-add for my readers or advertisers. Isn’t the whole point of advertising to connect consumers with products and services they are interested in buying?
Blogger for money?
The goal of my blog was never to make money, at least not directly. My desire is to give back to the community. Helping engineers become better engineers and purchasers make better buying decisions helps the overall industry grow. As a side affect, I get opportunities to make side income and gain elevated access to vendors. Virtualizedgeek has led to freelance writing assignments and invited to speak at conferences. I’ve also benefited from getting premium access to technology vendors through Tech Field Day events.
Deciding to take on sponsors would need to lead to added value to the community. It costs me a few hundred dollars a year to host VirtualizedGeek and support my small lab. The extra income should expand my capability to share information. I’d love to upgrade my recording setup to improve my TechTalks and add more complex labs.
I also expect that taking on sponsors will add to my personal bottom line.
I’m a fan of native advertising. I wasn’t too familiar with it until a friend of mine recommended I checked out sites like Storygize. Doing some research did help, as I know a lot more about it then before. Native advertising blurs the line between content and advertisement.On popular technology podcast <This Week In Tech, host Leo Laporte spends time each podcast going into a deep dive conversation about his sponsor. This conversation may last about 3 to 4 minutes. In written mediums such as blogs, this may take the form of sponsored posts. I don’t know if sponsored posts written by sponsors are the way to go. I believe readers/viewers visit VirtualizedGeek for my voice. So, I’m willing to write on topics sponsored by vendors.
Of course, I expect to provider disclaimer. I’d love to hear feedback and thoughts around the monetization of content.