2010 blog finances

2011-03-24

in Daily updates, Economics, Geek stuff, Internet matters

For most people who put content on the internet, the deal provided by one company or another is this: you provide the content, we will put ads beside it, and we will pay for the servers and bandwidth necessary for hosting a website. More sneakily, sites like Facebook make their money by selling the personal information of users, in addition to selling targeted advertising (which is increasingly the same thing).

Some sites do all this earning and paying indirectly, with the people running the site outside the advertising/hosting cost loop. Alternatively, it is possible to do both yourself: sell ads and pay for hosting.

Lately, this site has followed the latter model. I pay for hosting and I have revenue from automatically-generated Google AdSense ads. The costs largely balance out. Between 1 January 2010 and 1 January 2011, this site and BuryCoal.com collectively received C$296.38 in advertising revenue. During the same span, I paid US$249.70 collectively to DreamHost and Flickr.

Would people feel more comfortable if this site was hosted by a third party that kept the advertising revenue, rather than self-funding in this way? One consideration is scaling hosting to demand. With a third party they would handle it, but I couldn’t choose to pay for performance improvements. For instance, moving to a private VPS account on DreamHost would cost US$15 per month, but would probably make the site quicker and more reliable.

[Update: 11:36pm] I have always encouraged readers who disliked the ads to use Firefox with the AdBlock Plus plugin.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Tristan March 24, 2011 at 11:34 pm

I enjoy this site a lot. I would pledge 15$/year towards it going add-free.

Antonia March 25, 2011 at 7:04 am

While I agree that this site is of value which could be put in financial terms and is deserving of support, I don’t have sloshing about money to put in myself (as I sadly wave goodbye to the NYTimes for similar reasons) and I’m happy with the current ad situation, and the flexibility it gives, as long as it suits you.

R.K. March 25, 2011 at 10:09 am

I would prefer a site with no advertising, and with no visitor tracking, but I would not be willing to pay for it.

Padraic March 25, 2011 at 10:51 am

I see no reason to depart from the status quo.

Matt March 25, 2011 at 10:37 pm

I don’t notice the ads in the least. Most machines I use have ad block, but on the ones that don’t, I don’t find the ads intrusive.

BuddyRich March 26, 2011 at 11:20 am

Go with the status quo… Adblock and noscript stop the ads and tracking respectively and given the numbers you have provided, you’ve actually turned a small profit.

After tax on that small profit, you can buy yourself a meal and a pint at a local watering hole. Go capitalism!

Milan March 26, 2011 at 5:27 pm

I think I am going to go ahead and pull the ads for now – as a further assertion of the political neutrality of this site.

The ads were selected by Google’s algorithms, not be me. I didn’t even look at them, as I use AdBlock on my own machine.

Milan March 26, 2011 at 5:30 pm

A couple of snips at custom_functions.php and it is done. (This is mostly to remind myself how to re-undo it, should it ever seem appropriate to do so.)

Milan March 26, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Oh, and for anyone needing to edit PHP files on a Mac, here is an entirely unsponsored endorsement for TextMate. TextMate! For when you need to edit HTML, CSS, and PHP files in something better than TextEdit!

Tristan March 27, 2011 at 6:54 pm

The site looks great!

Milan March 27, 2011 at 8:02 pm

If you prefer websites without ads, you really should use AdBlock. It transforms YouTube utterly – no display ads, and no advertising videos before the videos you want.

oleh March 30, 2011 at 1:47 am

Congratulations on having over 15,000 visitors on your blog for what I believe is the first time in a month.

. March 31, 2011 at 8:38 am

NEW YORK—In a move that media executives, economic forecasters, and business analysts alike are calling “extremely bold,” NYTimes.com put into place a groundbreaking new business model today in which the news website will charge people money to consume the goods and services it provides. “The whole idea of an American business trying to make a profit off of a product its hired professionals create on a daily basis is a truly brave and intrepid strategy,” said media analyst Steve Messner, adding that NYTimes.com’s extremely risky new approach to commerce—wherein legal tender must be exchanged in order to receive a desired service—could drastically reduce the publication’s readership.

oleh April 1, 2011 at 7:53 am

Correction and further congratulations : actually 16,600 visitors in the month of March. Why is there such high traffic and volume of reflective comments on this blog?

. April 12, 2011 at 10:18 pm

According to the latest smear campaign, I’m the new Howard Hughes. Sorry to disappoint you.

By George Monbiot. Published on monbiot.com, 5th January 2011.

Regular readers will know that I have a thick skin. In view of the response I get from the army of trolls and astroturfers who spend much of their time attacking me, I need it. But even by their usual standards of viciousness, the attacks have taken a particularly nasty turn over the past few months. Now a new meme is circulating: that I am a millionaire, living alone in a vast house like a reincarnation of Howard Hughes. I’m painfully aware that if you don’t address such myths, they quickly spread, and become established as facts. So I’m going to take an unusual and risky step, and lay out the extent of my wealth.

It won’t take very long. My only valuable asset is my house, which I bought in 2007 for £278,000. That’s very expensive by the standards of most countries, but not in the UK, where house-prices are ridiculous. In 2010, the average house price in this country was £246,000. Not all of it is mine: the bank owns part of it.

. April 27, 2011 at 8:09 pm

In the digital era free is easy, so how do you persuade people to pay?

To compete with piracy, content providers need clear value propositions that don’t conflict with the product

. September 25, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Clive Thompson on the Problem With Online Ads

At first, Maciej Ceglowski looks like any other web entrepreneur. He created a clever bookmarking service, Pinboard.in, that lets you organize links, see who else has saved them, and even cache copies of entire web pages. With 20,000 users, it’s a tiny, scrappy competitor to Delicious, a long-established site recently spun off by Yahoo that does many of the same things.

But there’s one big difference: While Delicious has always been free, Ceglowski charges people roughly $9 to join Pinboard and $25 a year if they want to make cached copies of sites.

On the surface, this seems suicidal. Why charge money when your massive competitor is free? Ceglowski has a one-word answer: advertising.

Since people pay him money, he doesn’t need to run ads to “monetize” his customers’ attention. He doesn’t have to do all the things that typically ruin the experience for people—like clogging pages with distracting banners or breaking them into smaller chunks so users have to click around a lot. “It’s like a moral hazard,” he says. “Once you’re not just charging people straight up, you get into all these murky ethical things. You have to sell their eyeballs.”

. October 3, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Going Naked
September 29, 2011

This is why I’ve declared my financial interests, and why I believe other journalists should do the same.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 30th September 2011

Journalists are good at dishing it out, less good at taking it. We demand from others standards we would never dream of applying to ourselves. Tabloid newsrooms fuelled by cocaine excoriate celebrity drug-takers. Hacks who have made a lifetime’s study of abusing expense accounts lambast MPs for fiddling theirs. Columnists demand accountability, but demonstrate none themselves. Should we be surprised that the public place us somewhere on the narrow spectrum between derivatives traders and sewer rats?

Milan July 31, 2012 at 12:24 am

In March 26, 2011 I pulled the automatic Google-generated AdSense ads from my site.

Now that I am returning to student life, I am re-activating them.

There is no sense in the site costing me money to run, when it can generate enough traffic to at least be revenue neutral.

I’m just going with two widget-based sidebar ads for now. I may re-introduce the old custom_functions.php code, as well.

Anon July 31, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Ads are so ugly.

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