Why AdSense may not be the best way to earn revenue on your site

So, you’ve got an idea for a website that you think can eventually earn some revenue. Perhaps showing contextual advertising is one idea you’re exploring. Google Adsense makes it so easy to start displaying ads it’s tempting to dive in. But maybe it’s not the best idea for making money from your site.
Let’s delve into some of the reasons why AdSense may not be the best choice, and then look at some other ways websites can make money for their owners.
The ads may detract from the perceived value of your brand.
You’ve created a great site with content that others want to read. Then, BAM, one day, there are ads everywhere. It looks like you’ve sold out, and your site loses its coolness. This is one reason Mark Zuckerberg reportedly resisted advertising in the early days of Facebook, and still keeps it to a relatively small part of the site’s layout.
You lose some control over what’s published on your site.
While contextual advertising means that any ads displayed on your site should be related to the content you’re publishing, you still give up control over what shows on your site. You may even wind up with ads from your competitors, if you also offer a direct product or service on your site.
Your content may end up overshadowed by the ads.
If your pages showcase ads prominently – and they probably have to in order to gain a volume of clicks – it means your content will become a bit harder for readers to find and read.
Maybe you make them scroll down the page further to see your content, maybe you’ve got your articles wrapped around ads… either way, readers will find themselves distracted and working harder to gather the information they hoped to find when they clicked to your site. You could lose readers who otherwise may have become loyal fans of your content.
That’s unless you have enough traffic that you can get away with showing the ads in a very unobtrusive spot. TheNYTimes.com example here shows they can do with just one lone ad on the bottom third of the page.

You may be disappointed in the level of income generated by AdSense.
Too often, website owners think they’ll put up some ads and then watch the dough roll in. Truth is, most AdSense users will tell you it rarely results in the level of income that is going to let you quit your day job. At least until your website is generating a huge level of traffic and ad exposures.
So, what then? Try some other revenue models, like these site owners did.
Rather than planning to use solely Google Adsense or other contextual or flat-rate advertising programs to monetize your website, consider some alternatives that will add more value to your site’s users. They might take more work, too, but they can add more value to what you offer and perhaps eventually make you more money.
Subscription-based marketing
MissusSmartyPants.com combines subscription-based revenue with affiliate marketing. Women subscribe to fashion advice and clothing recommendations geared toward their body type for a monthly fee. And all the clothes recommended in the weekly reports earn the site owner Leslie affiliate income, to boot.
AllRecipes.com offers all the recipes and cooking ideas you’ll ever need, all reviewed by members and complete with nutritional information. For a nominal fee, you can access special features that make meal preparation easier.

E-books and informational products
You can sell select subsets of your content in e-books, or even re-sell those created by others for an affiliate fee. Because these are digital products, the margin is often quite high. They carry the added weight of a personal recommendation from you, which AdSense links can’t provide.
Sell products related to your topic
The FlyLady.net offers a wonderful free service where she encourages her readers and teaches them how to keep their homes and lives in order. Instead of cluttering up her site with ads to earn revenue, she runs her own online store that carries products she has tested and can recommend herself. It’s clear that the content is what drives her loyal following, but her fans also can’t get enough of her products.

Affiliate marketing
Perhaps offering a combination of approaches will work for your site. A ways down the home page on Nick Usborne’s CoffeeDetective.com, you’ll see both Adsense ads and an affiliate ad displayed. He also offers an ebook for beginning coffee enthusiasts.
As you read this article, you probably also saw AdSense ads on this page. I should add that we’re all just looking to make our way, and for some AdSense may be the way to go. Just don’t dive into it without considering the implications or alternatives.
Any other great models for earning revenue from a website you’d like to share here?


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