In the Trenches: Accepting Advertising
Nearly every small business must advertise to lure customers: It’s a fact of entrepreneurial life. But when should you accept advertising, such as banners on your website or coupons in your monthly newsletter? This is something I’ve wondered about since day one of Cranky Flier.
When I started the Crankyflier.com blog, I figured I’d try to generate some income through advertising. After all, that’s what you’re supposed to do when you write online, right? I created a couple of spaces for Google to place AdSense ads, and I waited for the money to come rolling in. It never did.
Over the years, I’ve tweaked my offering. I began a pay-for-placement travel directory. I moved ad spots around to see whether different positioning on the page would yield better returns. The end result was always the same: I brought in a little bit of money but certainly never enough to live on. (Last year, ad sales accounted for 5 percent of the business’s revenue.)
So, at this point, I’m questioning whether I should continue to accept advertising. I think the directory can stay because it’s a separate, relevant page that doesn’t interfere with readers’ experience on the blog. Of course, since it doesn’t interfere with the reading experience, it also doesn’t bring in much money: I currently charge $25 per link per year.
If I really wanted to sell my soul, I could start hosting pop-up ads, or I could auto-play video clips, or I could do any number of other things that generally annoy people. But I’m not that desperate, and I think it would hurt my credibility — and the credibility of the business — to do so. Thus, I’ve avoided selling those types of ads.
And, once again, I find myself questioning whether I should accept any kind of advertising. Should I consider removing all pitches from the blog? Would a “cleaner” page give me greater cred and help Cranky Concierge?
I never know where to draw the line. In general, I think advertising is fine if it’s not intrusive. It may not make me rich, but it does bring in some revenue for the business. Plus, the limited advertising I host now hasn’t seemed to cause people to flee.
What do you think? Let me know in the Comments field below.
Brett Snyder is President and Chief Airline Dork of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. Snyder previously worked for several airlines, including America West and United, before leaving to create a travel search site for PriceGrabber.com. Snyder did his undergrad at George Washington and earned his MBA from Stanford.