Create Value, Then Profit

Shane, an attendee from the first Elite Retreat, posted about why it is not best to monetize a blog right out of the gate:

So, your focus at the beginning has to be on attracting and retaining readers. You do that by having a great site, and nothing turns visitors off more than a brand new blog with just a handful of posts and ads splashed everywhere. It says to them that you’re more interested in making money than you are in providing good content. Who wants a site that’s all sales and no substance?

Tim O'Reilly noted that the failure of satelight radio is largely because they failed to put the customer first

Just remember how Google got their edge. It wasn't just pagerank and better search results, it was refusing to go the portal route, with intrusive advertising, and instead trying to figure out how to create a better user experience with advertising. Making ads non-intrusive and useful to their real customers was one of Google's biggest breakthroughs. (They will forget that at their peril.)
Today, you need to ride the wave of commoditization in both hardware and software, and build your value in new ways. Understanding those new ways is the heart of Web 2.0. And a big part of that is putting the user first.

Joel Spolsky recently wrote a great article offering Seven steps to remarkable customer service.

And, here I was, on this planet for forty years, and I couldn’t believe how much the three words “it’s my fault” had completely changed my emotions in a matter of seconds.

Seth Godin followed that up with a post titled Starting over with customer service:

I think the single factor that is killing this process and that is under the company's control is this: the desire to perform all customer service in real time.

Published: February 22, 2007 by Aaron Wall in marketing


February 22, 2007 - 1:14am

The question is at what point do you start growing your advertising content on your site.

Each niche has its own tipping point that advertising will turn the customer away. If you are writing strictly for a financial site, like credit card applications, you may get by with adding the hard sell right off the top, because you are not really building a long term reader.

But if you are targeting a high end item such as a long term financial plan to include eliminating the clients debt, having them refinance there home and open an investment portfolio, a hard sell will drive them away before the page has even loaded.

February 22, 2007 - 4:23am

I do like to always have some form of advertising on a new site. It says 'this site is advertising supported' and stops the visitor feeling cheated when you move to a more full advertising funded model.
It doesn't need to be anything serious - a narrow adsense links bar somewhere not too conspicuous is generally sufficient.

February 22, 2007 - 12:14pm

If there is one thing I have learned from both the dotcom period (where I narrowly held on to my job while my friends constantly lost theirs all around me) right up to now is you always need to monetize early and well for the sake of your business. If your visitors are put off by you earning from your efforts you are attracting the wrong type of visitors.

February 22, 2007 - 12:24pm

I don't agree that you always have to wait or that you always have to monetize early. I think that it mostly depends on the subject and the nature of your web site. Some sites should monetize early, some don't.


February 22, 2007 - 12:24pm

But there has to be a balance to it. I think if you start off as a hobbiest while having another job that should give you enough time to build up your credibility and learn the network. Then you monetize more aggressively.

Some ideas fail not because they weren't monetized right away, but more often because the owners wanted to make the market use their monetization method when there was no demand for it.

February 22, 2007 - 12:27pm

Another way I look at it... is if you garner the right market exposure and lots of it you will be able to do many tests and see how they react to it quickly. Many sites undermine their authority by "optimizing" for maximum AdSense income before they have any authority.

February 22, 2007 - 12:31pm

And to look weird by making the third comment in a row (what the xxxx am I a comment bot? hehehe)...I totally agree that much of it is subject and business model based.

A lead generation site obviously has to be monetized right out of the gate (unless you create an industry hate site or humor site which later turns into the #1 ranking site after purists link at you - then you later switch it to lead generation).

But given any business model you still have to be able to clearly define your unique business proposition before you can create much profit.

Basic Guide to SEO
February 22, 2007 - 9:16pm

"Create value then profit", I agree, I'm doing an experiment with it myself right now with a blog, I have no ads in it, I just keep adding quality, unique, targeted content to it to build credibility, build up link popularity and good places in SERP’s. After that I will start monetizing it.

February 23, 2007 - 5:35pm

I think it's more about how much you can push the envelope when you first start a blog. A new blog shouldn't be annoying or it may not get anywhere. An established blog, like John Chow's, can plaster ads all over the place, annoy readers, and still maintain a strong base.

So rather than not monetizing a new blog at all, I'd suggest monetizing it discretely at first. This way you get a feel for ad placement and can collect some data while you're ramping up.

February 27, 2007 - 12:56am

Well I think it is often OK to seek some profit right from the beginning. It is true that too much advertising on a site can turn people off. But at the same time a little targeted advertising can actually point your visitors to places to obtain the products you are posting about.

March 5, 2007 - 9:41am

It is important to build your profile then start build web sites and when traffic is important start add advertising. The big name do the same thing but most people did not accept this idea and thing that there are same magic tools or techniques that can let them make money quikly.

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