Focus: Value First – And Then Money. Whaaaa?

I seem to have stumbled across a kindred spirit on my prowls through the blogosphere: Enough With The Adsense!

I really really don’t see the allure of Adsense. Aside from a few of the most popular blogs, I doubt many of you are making very much from it, probably not even enough to pay for your webhosting, assuming you even *need* to pay for webhosting. Who actually clicks on the ads? Several web browsers come with a plugin where you can turn off third-party scripts, and that includes Adsense, of course. Most of the bloggers who post their monthly Adsense revenues earn less than $20/month. Some people seem to think that more ads = more money, and one can scarcely find their content for all the ads, reminiscent of an about.com page.

I LOL’d at the about.com page reference. Really Loud. Cause it’s so damn true :lol:.

I’m not a superfan of Adsense. Anyone who’s followed SuperAff for any length of time knows that. But I don’t begrudge anyone trying to earn a buck or two or million for themselves online. If someone feels Adsense is their Holy Answer, rock on.

However if Adsense isn’t used respectfully and a webmaster or blogger insists on shoving the ads in my face for their better return rather than my better experience–I just don’t come back. I view adsense as an updated version of the popup ad when it’s done In-Your-Face style. And I think if blog readers and visitors feel the same way I do, they really need to back out and not revisit. That’s the only way the silliness stops. Hurt the wallets.

But this post isn’t going to be about all that–I’m interested in a juicy reference she pointed to: On greed and speed from the “I Will Teach You To Be Rich” blog. At first I thought it was going to be some lame internet marketing super guru type blog. And how refreshing and suprising that it isn’t like that at all! It’s an AWESOME blog! Added to my feed reader ;).

Here’s a pattern I see a lot:

1. Somebody launches something
2. He tries to make money
3. Then he tries to make it valuable and useful

What a funny way of doing things.

I don’t think he’s talking about the typical bait & switch technique (fill a site with value–then drown with monetization once it takes off). But Ramit is saying something we forget about sometimes:

Focus On Providing Value–NOT Making Money

Everybody seems to be in a big fat hurry to make money. I call this greedy, but not in the traditional sense of the word. It’s greedy because I don’t think it should be the first thing on anybody’s mind. This kind of thinking is short-sighted, often self-defeating, and ultimately results in less money.

Hmmm. That’s a bit contrary to what a lot of the pros and gurus advice is saying (and selling) isn’t it. He discusses Adsense and blogging:

Second, I knew that once I put ads up, I’d focus on optimizing the ads rather than creating content. In other words, I’d focus more on trying to make money than actually improving the site.

Nails it IMO.

(Incidentally, the dirty secret of bloggers and AdSense (or other ad solutions) is that most bloggers are making very, very little.)

And then:

Make the right long-term decisions, not the ones that give you $10 and some gummi bears
Next time you have some opportunity, STOP THINKING ABOUT HOW TO MAKE MONEY OFF IT IMMEDIATELY. PLEASE!!!!!!!!!

Actually I could c&p his entire post. How about you check it out yourself: On greed and speed – I Will Teach You To Be Rich

Think Long Term: Adding Value to the Web. Am I doing that and how can I do it?

Interesting concept isn’t it ;).

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I've been trying to find my way online for more years than I care to admit.

10 thoughts on “Focus: Value First – And Then Money. Whaaaa?

  1. Next time you have some opportunity, STOP THINKING ABOUT HOW TO MAKE MONEY OFF IT IMMEDIATELY. PLEASE!!!!!!!!!

    Obviously the words of a socialist! 🙂

    I say that with a smile, but the reality is that the want for money drives not only motivation, but innovation.

    In other words “if you want to remain a hobbyist who spends a lot of time for the enjoyment of it, fine, but don’t slam those who try to make a buck and at the same time contribute”.

    There’s two ways to look at it.

    You could look at your website like a book group, where you all sit around and discuss the book for the enjoyment. Then again you could look at it like Oprah, where you do the same thing, but she’s recommending and selling the books as well.

    Capitalism baby, it’s where it’s at!

  2. I don’t think there’s a right way or a wrong way to chasing down a dollar online (as long as it’s legal of course), but it depends what you’re wanting to build. Some of us like the fast cash/quick opps and some of us gun for long term presence, or high value user experience (for repeat traffic, WOM, etc.). Some of us mix in both circles.

    While I was reading Ramit’s post, I was thinking about Google. They didn’t have a sniff of monetization for years, they were all about providing real value to their users. Now–it’s a different story :lol:. But back then, nada. Part of the charm that Google had was that it was a lean, mean, clean, search engine. Loaded fast and you weren’t dodging banners and junk. It was all about providing the best user experience. Now they pretty much own search and are making billions off that. Pretty huge.

    Make the right long-term decisions, not the ones that give you $10 and some gummi bears

    Goog didn’t settle for the gummi bears in the beginning, they focused on first building Google Fans–and it paid off.

  3. Just because you build something that adds value doesn’t mean people will show up.

    You called getting visitors to new and valuable content sometimes “exhausting.”

    However, I have many personal experiences where I can build something with little value and people show up, or even do something by accident (misspell something) and get lotsa traffic.

    “(Incidentally, the dirty secret of bloggers and AdSense (or other ad solutions) is that most bloggers are making very, very little.)”

    Is that a justification for them to quit trying to make money or to poke fun at them? That is a secret?

    “Second, I knew that once I put ads up, I’d focus on optimizing the ads rather than creating content.”

    I don’t believe the assumption that once somebody puts ads on a site they quit creating content, LOL.

    “STOP THINKING ABOUT HOW TO MAKE MONEY OFF IT IMMEDIATELY. PLEASE”

    Is there some magic, subjective, moment when it’s “OK” to start thinking about making money? As long as it’s not the first thing you think about it’s ok?

    The articles mention opinions on making money, that’s all.

    I vote for whaaa! 😉

  4. As for you google example, “They didn’t have a sniff of monetization for years”. Not so.

    If I’m correct, they had monetization from almost day one in the form of licensing their technology. I remember when yahoo search was powered by google (that’s how I found google.com and liked it better).

    I don’t think they lacked advertising for reasons you think they did, rather because the ppc model wasn’t very popular then, and their business model was for licensing their technology, in which case you wouldn’t want (or couldn’t have) your technology covered in ads.

  5. Just because you build something that adds value doesn’t mean people will show up.

    You called getting visitors to new and valuable content sometimes “exhausting.”

    That works both ways Mark, it’s hard getting a new site traffic whether it’s full of crap content or good content–if you don’t already have built in resources elsewhere (to provide links, traffic).

    However, I have many personal experiences where I can build something with little value and people show up, or even do something by accident (misspell something) and get lotsa traffic.

    Is that recent experience for a new site that has no inbounds? I have 4 test blogs from this spring/summer–months with 0 traffic (or close to). I could jumpstart the blogs with inbounds–these blogs would get traffic too. I’m making a choice not to do that, has nothing to do with good or bad content or user experience.

    Is that a justification for them to quit trying to make money or to poke fun at them? That is a secret?

    I didn’t read it or see it as poking fun, more of pointing out how easy it is to settle for immediate small gains rather than focus on building good user experience and hold off for something bigger down the road.

    As for you google example, “They didn’t have a sniff of monetization for years”. Not so.

    If I’m correct, they had monetization from almost day one in the form of licensing their technology. I remember when yahoo search was powered by google (that’s how I found google.com and liked it better).

    Not for their users though…the traffic. As far as users (searchers) were concerned, they found a place that was useful, meaningful, valuable…without having to sign up for anything or dodge ads or install popup blockers.

    Is there some magic, subjective, moment when it’s “OK” to start thinking about making money? As long as it’s not the first thing you think about it’s ok?

    I guess this option or train of thought isn’t everyone’s cup of tea :lol:.

    I don’t think they lacked advertising for reasons you think they did, rather because the ppc model wasn’t very popular then, and their business model was for licensing their technology, in which case you wouldn’t want (or couldn’t have) your technology covered in ads.

    You could be right, neither of us really knows what goog’s intent was at the time. I recall discussions ‘way back when’ of how different Goog was to Yahoo! (yahoo surrounded their search experience with content and advertising). Whether goog did so with full purpose or not, it still made an impression and resulted in a bigger payday for them in the end (hardcore goog fans and wiping the floor with Yahoo! and MSN).

  6. Ultimately making money online comes down to Traffic.

    You can have a smoking site, excellent resources, great content–but no traffic = no cash. We know that.

    What this post was about:

    Instead of cashing in on the first flush of eyeballs, why not hold off? Wait till the users trust your site, repeat visit, spread the word around and recommend, get pointed to and linked to as a quality resource. Let the traffic build organically. Allow your website to settle in and gain a good reputation. Build a fanbase. Establish for itself a firm chunk of territory.

    In other words: Build strong value and experience for your visitors.

    If a site smells too commercial–it’s harder to get it to fly (unless it’s purpose is commercial of course, like a shopping site).

    For me, the message clicks.

  7. Thanks for the responses terry, I completely understand the point you and they are making.

    Yes I may have used a poor example quoting your last post.

    Google has and still wins not because of ads or a lack thereof, simply because they have provided better search results from day one. If it was because of lack of ads people would have left when they introduced ads, and they didn’t. When somebody else gets more relevant I’m sure people will switch, regardless of whether the site has an ad or not.

    The points just didn’t click with me (and still don’t), I thought “Whaaaa?” was inviting responses and I made a poor attempt at one.

    😉

  8. As for the PPC model Google eventually adopted, it had been in full swing in the adult community for years. The main problem was click fraud at the time and there was not a “legit” solution around so most mainstream advertising networks stuck to the CPM model (and they required you to have nearly a million impressions a month to even talk to you) which is much easier to prevent fraud with. Prior to Google the adult advertising solutions would just randomly crop off clicks it felt were fraudulent with no explanation and no real recourse for the publisher.

    As for building up a community of returning readers, the fact is that when you add advertising later you will hear an outcry from those readers and traditionally return readers don’t click the ads anyway. So what is the point in waiting until later?

    I’ve dabbled in both sides, long term and “quickie’s”, for quite awhile and while my long term sites pay off well above the “quickies” the majority of their success is due to “the long tail” and people coming through via search engines and other websites linking in. These visitors will probably never return to my site again. They come looking for an answer to a question, commentary or clarification on something or a story and then they go away.

    You can have a balance between advertising and good content. They are not mutually exclusive. To suggest that someone who researched a topic, put together something informative and placed advertising on it should omit the latter simply for some moral philosophy is ludicrous.

    The author’s assertion seems to come down to the point that information sites that aren’t continuously growing have no right to place advertising. I wholeheartedly disagree with this ridiculous notion.

  9. I mostly agree with the article. I have ads on most of my blogs, and I put them there early on. And optimizing them DID distract me from creating content. I totally get that.

    Also, AdSense never worked for me. I eventually eeked out one check, but other ads fared much better. So if people think they can blog about a keyphrase and toss AdSense on there and have a check rolling in every month, that’s highly unlikely. It takes work to build traffic, to create content AND to optimize the ads (find the right ones, find the right placement, and so on). There are no shortcuts.

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