Saturday, February 04, 2006

Blogging for Dollars?

This is just a quick blog to post some thoughts on the pros and cons of blog advertising.

I just did a quick survey of the VC blogs I read because I was curious to learn how many of them post ads on their blogs. Several of the most prominent VCs blogging including Brad Feld, Will Price, Guy Kawasaki, Venture Voice, Bill Burnham, Fred Wilson, Paul Kedrosky and Jeff Nolan all advertise. This surprised me and my overall estimate is that roughly 50% of the VCs blogging that I am familiar with display adds.

Bill Burnham reported his blog's quarterly revenues at $168.64 for Q405 off of 71,772 page views and expenses of $44.85. Paul Kedrosky writes that AdSense generates about a buck a day for him. Guy Kawasaki has written (some place I can't find right now) that his blog was generating about $10 per day.

In my opinion the ads are a distraction, albeit only a small one, from the content and navigation of the blogs. Given that we are talking about small dollars going to relatively wealthy people, does the cost/benefit really pencil out? My initial reaction was no, VCs shouldn't advertise on their blogs. However, I do think its legitimate for anyone to want to cover their costs of blogging, whether its for a hosted service and/or blog software. I personally use Blogger which is a free service, so my costs are only the personal time I invest and so far I'm enjoying this pulpit. My next thought was that I am personally free riding on the system. If everyone used Blogger without ads, as I do, then Google would discontinue offering the service. Also, I've read that many of the VC bloggers donate the proceeds of their blogs to charities, which is certainly a reasonable thing to do. [UPDATE (2/18/06): Fred Wilson is now using FM Publishing to advertise on his blog because he hopes the ads will be more relevant to his content. Also Fred confirms here that he does donate all of the advertising proceeds from his blog to charity.]

Hmm, I'm not sure exactly where I stand on this issue.

However, I would say that Jeff Clavier seems to have found decent medium. Jeff has adds for the books that he is reading and/or recommends on his blog. As these books are usually helpful recommendations, I find this much less of a distraction. In fact, I'm very interested to know what business books the VC I read... are reading. For example, Jeff is currently reading Naked Conversations which is about blogs and their marketing impact. (I am also reading this book and after several chapters, I'm not impressed UPDATE: Finished the book and thought is really sucked... can't understand why anyone liked it.) That said, I don't care what they are listening to and I find the music recommendations to be a distraction.

I'm not quite sure how I can place book recommendation ads on my blog, but if/when I figure this out, I probably will put them up so I can heap praise on the authors that have helped me and reduce my free riding on Blogger. At this point I believe that AdSense is too much of a distraction to put on my blog, however, if my startup doesn't get funded check back for the new Paris Hilton optimized version of the Entrepreneurship Blog!


At February 04, 2006 8:51 PM, Blogger Brad Feld said...

My guess is that for most VC bloggers this is more about "the experiment" and understanding how this works than about making money. In my case, I've been playing with as many different technologies on my blog as I can - the whole thing is one giant laboratory for me. At some point, given enough readership, the data starts to be very interesting and have real meaning.

At February 04, 2006 10:37 PM, Anonymous jeff nolan said...

Typepad makes it really easy to add an advertising sidebar. It doesn't generate much for me, but it does help offset my hosting costs. In my new blog,, I am thinking about running blogads.

At February 04, 2006 11:30 PM, Anonymous james said...

Thanks for your comment about the Treo. As far as blogging for bucks, my experience is similar to brad's. I put the ads up to learn more about how it all actually works. It hasn't generated much money, but it has started to provide a little insight on blog readership.

At February 05, 2006 12:12 AM, Blogger Andrew Fife said...

Brad and James are clearly on to something.

I reviewed the portfolios of the VCs I listed and Brad Feld, Guy Kawasaki, Jeff Nolan and Fred Wilson all have made investments in companies hoping to monetize page views through advertising. Will Price expressed a strong desire to learn more about RSS advertising in one of his recent blog postings and judging by Bill Burnham's top software trends 2005 Celsius Capital will likely be interested in the area also. While Greg Galant (Venture Voice) isn't really a VC he is the CEO of RadioTail which hopes to facilitate podcast advertising.

Thanks to Brad and Jason for there interesting insights!

At February 05, 2006 3:31 AM, Blogger rightbacktoyou said...


I do it for the experimental value, but I give all the proceeds to charity.

Right now it amounts to about $500 a month in revenue but I hope it will be more soon.

I feel like its an important new way for me to give back and I feel really good about it.

At February 06, 2006 2:49 AM, Anonymous Jeff Clavier said...

Andrew> I agree with you in general, ads are not adding value, quite the contrary. I have never put adsense on my blog, but like Brad, I am interested in testing the efficiency of different types of ads.

The books I have read are sort of relevant to my trade, and I am plugging Naked Conversations to help Robert and Shel.

At February 08, 2006 11:02 AM, Anonymous John Koontz said...

You could easily sign up for an Amazon Associate account. Just post affiliate links when you write about the books.

At April 18, 2006 9:42 PM, Anonymous Dharmesh Shah said...

I concur with the "it's an experiment" comments from the other (much more successful) bloggers.

I would further add that when would-be Internet entrepreneurs claim they will use "advertising" as a primary revenue source, it's surprising how little empirical data they have on what kind of traffic it takes.


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