LarryD517

Blocks and binds

16 posts in this topic

Everyone has their opinions on using blocks, but here's a spin I'll bet no one ever thought of.

Many (most?) yoga web sites (including this one) are free. Anyone wanting to learn can quickly visit any of a number of sites and spend hours or days absorbing content generously provided by the community, but mostly the top quality content comes from the site owner. The owner puts in a lot of time an energy to provide the knowledge that we all gather to consume. When the content appears free of charge, the owner makes $0.00 for each post, blog entry or Instagram photo/video. Added up over time, and doing a little bit of math, in a 30 day period, the owner can post 100-200 pieces of information and earn a cumulative $0.00 (before taxes).

So, how does the website stay in business (running a web site isn't free...visiting web sites are free... but running it comes with a lot of expenses). In addition, the time site owner is spending time creating content is time not spent at a typical 9-5 job pulling a paycheck.

As such, the site has a few options.

  • Charge a fee. Most web surfers are so used to free web sites that they'd probably never pay a fee to visit a web site. People spend 10 hours a day at Facebook, but I'll bet if there was a ten cents a month fee to use the service, half of the users would disappear.
  • Display ads. Sites earn a few pennies for every view and presumably a few more for every click through 

This brings us back to the topic of blocks. Some tech savvy web users employ "ad blockers" which turn those intrusive ads into blissful white space.

It also makes the stream of income the site owner earns from displaying the ads disappear into thin air.  So, the trade off that site owner uses to keep content free...is taken away.

Site owner has expenses to maintain the web site. If it costs $100/month to run a site (just making up the numbers here) and the ads generate $100/month, the site basically runs itself. Now take away the ad revenue and the site (and the site owner) is in a bind

NBC can pay billions for the rights to broadcast the Super Bowl...and we get to watch the game free of charge, but in exchange, we're asked to endure a few commercials (okay, Super Bowl commercials are fun!). Would you want to pay $50 to watch an ad free Super Bowl, some might, but most would accept the commercials in exchange for free viewing.

Why are web sites any different?

Bottom line...I don't install ad blockers. I don't mind seeing ads because every time I look at one, I think that a few cents will go to web site owner's pocket (or purse). In addition, I know that clicking on an ad will generate even greater revenue. 

So LarryD517 says...if you like your free web...support free web by avoiding ad blockers.

If you like your ad blockers...be prepared to see some web sites disappear or charge a fee.

Pick your poison!

 

APPLE Software Update Brings Ad Blockers Along With APPLE NEWS Sponsors... 

Software 'could threaten free Internet'...

YogaByCandace likes this

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It doesn't have to be an all or nothing choice - the extensions in web browsers allow you to whitelist the pages and domains you support and block the other ones that are invasive (not sure if the Apple software has this feature).  Some sites only monetize based on click through rates - if you are not the type to click on ads anyway, not seeing them doesn't contribute to revenue loss. Others sites display a reminder that they earn money from ad exposure and ask to pause the ad blocking software. (Sidenote: Candace, if this is affecting you a lot, you can ask your developer to add this as a gentle reminder for people to support you if they forgot to whitelist your page!)

Regardless, this is a good reminder to support the smaller sites by either pausing the ad blocking software or whitelisting that domain!

YogaByCandace likes this

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This topic has been in active discussion on Security Now recently (an in-depth tech-y computer security podcast). If anyone is interested, here is the podcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dB9zKOJJYaI.

I do see the issues involved, however I would much rather have a means of sporting content producers directly without having to deal with the noise of advertising.

The big point which was raised on Security Now was that the owners of websites who display ads have little to no control over what those ads are, they could be obnoxious or utterly irreverent, the owner has no control.

Google contributor (https://www.google.com/contributor/welcome/) seems like a good idea, it allows you to pay directly to google who then pays to sites when you would see an ad. However it pays directly without you seeing the ad.

My point of view is that I'm hyper-sensitive to moving content, if there is any animated content at all on a text based page this makes the text unreadable as it's constantly detracting me. Because of which I use multiple layers of blocking, and use NoScript to disable JavaScript (as it's what runs most animated content). Without these measures the web today is un-useable.

As above, I'd love to have a means of supporting sites directly. For example If there was a visible donation option at the beginning/end of posts, or mentioned by Candace in the videos, that would be great.

I will not sign up for any kind of repeat-payment subscription period, no exceptions. The reason is that these can VERY easily become 'financial leaks' if you stop using something but forget about it. Also said services frequently aim to lock you in, and make it hard to get out. It is much easier to just not go there at all.

My finances are limited, which is a chosen lifestyle as I value time over money, and use that to do volunteering in the local community. This is only possible as I'm extremity careful to avoid non-functional drains, and basically don't buy anything unless it serves an immediate, non superfluous, function to me. Website content may, and often does, fall into this category.

The world would be a better place if things where based on trust instead of force, i.e. truing that people will donate/pay for something they find useful/interesting. It's a paradigm shift, and I feel lack of infrastructure is probably the big issue here.

Edited by robert

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These are such interesting points you raised that I didn't appreciate before. True, the site owner isn't in direct control of the ad content, so we shouldn't punish the site owner directly for having obnoxious ads.  

Google contributor is a neat idea, but it just says "lighter ad experience". I wonder how much one has to donate each month to be close to ad blocker experience, or, if it can still work with ad blocking on. I'm assuming it only works for sites using AdSense, so, the obnoxious ads smack in the middle of the page can be powered by Yahoo (I only know this cause my brother told me that's what he was working on a few years ago, *sigh*or other providers.

Now I better understand other reasons why webpages set up store fronts - not to be capitalistic goons, but, to offer a chance for direct support rather than passive advertisements. I remember a web comic artist explicitly said he doesn't take donations, but instead, asked readers to support by buying a t-shirt in the store (maybe that's easier for taxes and income reporting issues?).  If we don't want clutter, there are digital content options similar to those Candace already offers.  These are good reminders that there are alternatives to keep supporting but maintain control of our privacy and browsing preferences - and yes, it's completely based on trust.

robert and KristiSmithYoga like this

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I don't know what Candace's costs explicitly are, but I'm a blogger and I can tell you that there are a ton of costs associated with running a blog. Web hosting, email, design (I do my own, but I have to pay for plugins, services, themes, storage, and trade a LOT of my time), video and editing software and equipment, etc. I have to be honest in that I strongly dislike advertisements and sponsored posts on blogs, and they do negatively influence how much time I spend on blogs that employ them (including YBC). I totally understand why bloggers go the ads and sponsored posts route, though, and never hold it against the blogger. I am out of the loop and didn't even realize that I could block the ads! [Disclaimer: I won't be blocking ads, despite now knowing that I can].

I like how upfront Sarah Wilson is about how her blog earns money: http://www.sarahwilson.com/2012/11/soul-selling-my-position-on-sponsored-posts-advertising/

And I love Chris Guillebeau's approach (and his blog!), which is limited to his own products and affiliate linking to products similar to his: http://chrisguillebeau.com/lessons-learned-in-my-first-90-days-of-writing/ But he doesn't hold it against bloggers who earn income from ads: http://chrisguillebeau.com/art-and-money/

Like everything else, readers (consumers) will ultimately dictate the direction that blogs go in terms of ads. I don't like the advertisements but I love Candace's content and come back for that. I've also spent a chunk of change here buying HER own products and services <a href=http://www.freesmile

I do like the suggestion to make a donation option. A lot of website plugin developers add this option in order to support their free but valuable services, and I don't see why bloggers shouldn't, either. I'm with Robert about the subscription service for the same reasons.

robert likes this

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I just discovered the following posting which I found interesting, http://scripting.com/2015/09/19/advertisingIsUnwanted.html

To quote:

I think of advertising as "unwanted commercial messages."

  1. The unwanted part is key. I do a lot of seeking of commercial information using the web. We all do, all the time. That's how business works on the web.

  2. It seems to me that news orgs have to figure out how to make people come to their sites seeking commercial information. They are in the information gathering business after all. Let some of the information you seek pertain to me spending money wisely or in fun or gratifying ways.

  3. What if I could go to my local paper to buy a house. I'm always interested in buying real estate. If they sold me a house, then they would make money from the sale. A lot more than a few cents they make off me every year for the ads I ignore.

  4. Maybe not a house. How about Internet connectivity. Or a movie date. Someone interesting to go to a baseball game with. These are things I pay money for. I pay a lot of money to go to games. How much I enjoy it is directly proportional to who I go with. All these things involve connecting people with people. So much money to be made here. Why doesn't the news industry help me meet interesting people?

  5. Maybe that's why Facebook makes so much money. Just sayin.

  6. I also am always in the market for better Internet connectivity. Could the NY Times help me there? We all live in the same city. They help me find good restaurants. Maybe if they helped me find better Internet, or if they can't, because it doesn't exist, if they helped to bring us better Internet by constantly beating the drum for it, which is something they can do and seem to like doing -- that would be worth paying for. Beat the drum for new commerce, and then make it possible to buy the thing through your site?

  7. There are honest ways to make huge money on the Internet. I think the message you're getting from your readers is that advertising is dishonest. The ads you show us net-net are junk. Jokes. Sad. Please stop this.

  8. Maybe the more distilled message is this: Stop talking so much. Listen.

It raises an interesting point, in addition to the discussion it sparked between Steve/Leo in the latest episode of Security Now on content blocking in IOS. Sites should be working to create useful content which people would be willing to pay for, rather than pushing noize-content on people.

There are some things which I have noticed that YBC does very well, the first that comes to mind is how well the content is cross-linked. When I first found the site, I was looking for information on yoga poses, though I forget what exactly, and ended up spending ages on the site following cross-links between content.

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This follow-up article to the one quoted above also makes a good point about ads being detracting noise:

http://scripting.com/2015/09/20/whyIveNeverRunAdsOnScriptingNews.html

 

People often ask why I don't run ads on Scripting News. #

Basically, I don't want to compete for the attention of my readers. #

A story to illustrate. Imagine you're a car salesman. You have a customer doing a test drive. In the car, the engine is running. This is the moment you prepared for! You're about to close the deal and be a sales hero for your team!#

But first, you turn on the radio and play a Starbucks ad. It offers a special price on a latte if they drive to the store. Great, you just sold them a $3 drink, but I was going to sell them a $35K car. #

I see running ads on my blog as picking up loose change that's fallen out of peoples' pockets. I want to hit a home run. I'm swinging for the fences. Not picking up litter.

 

I think a decent model to have is for sites to interact directly with advertisers to provide ads for products which are relevant to the content of the site, which Candace does do in part. That provides vetting, keeping it relevant and non-obnoxious.

Edited by robert
KristiSmithYoga likes this

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Yes, I do appreciate that the ads on this site are smart - either location based or based on browser history so it's relevant to me.

But, site owners can't feasibly approve / pre-filter all of these. I wish I had taken a print screen of this offensive ad to me that was on the YBC forum, but it pointed me to "MAX Workouts" with the tag line "Why you should NOT be doing yoga".  In reality, it just wanted to make the case for more weight lifting and not to just be doing "one thing", but, how is that not offensive for a yoga website!?

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It's hard across the board to earn money as a blogger so I thought maybe I'd just quickly touch on a few things mentioned in this thread. I can't speak for any other bloggers, but I always think of everything I do as little revenue streams. Especially as a relatively newer blog, it's very hard to have just one large revenue stream. A small ad above the fold may not bring in a ton of money but if someone doesn't block it, it's a little stream each month. 

Bloggers can earn money via affiliate links but the trouble with affiliate programs is that there is often a pay threshold and you won't be paid until you hit a magic number. Sometimes, if you don't hit that magic number, you'll be kicked out of the affiliate program or you just have to continue to wait until the threshold is hit. It's a tough place to be if you're not a fashion blog driving sales all the time. 

The YouTube channel is another small revenue stream - all those ads you click out of at the beginning of a video is like a quarter of a cent for the content creator which isn't a lot but if you have a lot of subscribers, it adds up. 

Sponsored posts can help pay the bills - and I understand that's not everyone's bag, but I do really try to focus on working with smaller businesses whose products I truly like and think health conscious people ought to know about. It really makes me so happy when I hear back from the businesses we've featured on the blog saying that they woke up to a number of orders from their little blurb on the blog. One woman in particular comes to mind. She owns a make up company and literally makes each product by hand in her little studio. When you see someone toiling away on an awesome product trying to bring their dreams to life and I have a chance to give them the spotlight and it pays off? Well, I just love that. Maybe I'm taking it way too seriously but it just warms my heart and I feel like I've done something good. I think of sponsored content as a win-win-win for everyone involved. The companies get the word out about their product, and maybe even make some sales. The readers learn about smaller businesses they can support if they choose to the next time they're out and about at the store, and have a chance to win one of the giveaways. And I get to earn a little to go toward bills which truly do add up between hosting costs, camera equipment and editing programs, web developer costs, etc, just as @Kristi said. The downside of working with small businesses is that the price needs to be small business friendly, so that can be tough when you're trying to cover all the bills and maybe start paying yourself (I only just started paying myself last month). Sometimes I get an opportunity to work with a bigger brand which I have taken some slack for (someone told me on Facebook that they would never visit the site again because I worked with Kohl's during their last quarter campaign). The truth is that the bigger companies have bigger budgets and that might sound like a sell-out thing to say but my husband essentially had a career ending injury and I had a blog I'd started that began to make a little money, so I ran with it. Despite that, I do always look at the overall message of those bigger companies and if it's in line with the YBC vibe, and if the products they are selling are something I would buy anyway, I will accept the partnership.... within reason. (You won't find me working with coca-cola even though they recently acquired Suja.) I'm definitely not saying that anyone is saying this here - but it's not uncommon to hear people say things like 'bloggers should get a real job.' This is my real job. I work at least ten hours a day on this and pour my heart and soul into it because I believe it can really be something more than just a blog. The community that's developed from it makes me so happy and I feel really grateful to do what I love. But I keep the ads up because they're a small stream that flows into a bigger revenue river. (Ok that was cheesy, sorry.)

Recently we've tried to branch out with monetization to include the Mantra Box, the YBC App, consults, downloads, soon a few video bundles, and of course the retreats because as our readership continues to grow, so do the costs of maintaining the site. Of course these efforts have had some negative feedback as well (see comments here) but what are you gonna do? We also have something major in the works that I'm excited to share but can't just yet. That project, too, will be off the blog for the most part. I figure if we can really gain traction with these 'off the blog' revenue streams, we might not have to rely so heavily on sponsored content and ads. It is an uphill battle to continue to grow but I keep reminding myself we are still at the beginning stages, and we're only a few people working on this. We really only started monetizing last year, so there is a lot of trial and error, seeing what works and what doesn't, and working on the continual growth of all the streams so we can evaluate where we should focus. Your feedback is appreciated, respected, and will always be considered. But at the end of the day, this is a business for me. Don't get me wrong - a business that I love, eat, breathe and sleep - but I do need to figure out how to pay the business' bills and earn a living with it if it's to continue. 

At no point do I think we'll ever do a subscription based model for the site because the whole reason I created YBC was to offer something I couldn't find anywhere else - high quality, free wellness and yoga tips and videos. (Side note: the reason we did a subscription base for the app is because it offers videos not seen anywhere else that you can access even when you don't have internet service.) So while the tips and videos are essentially 'free' on the blog - we do get paid from readers' exposure to the YouTube ads and ads on the blog. 

We have thought about donations but it just doesn't feel right to me on the blog. There is, however, a 'support button' (donate) on the YouTube channel on the right hand side on the side bar. Thanks in advance if you donate. It is not expected, but it is greatly appreciated.

Some other things one could do to show support for YBC would be to:

-share content you like with other yoga-loving friends/family who might also like it. Nothing is as powerful as a word-of-mouth recommendation from a friend.

-subscribe to the youtube channel 

-download the app and review it (helps it with the algorithm for suggested apps when people download or search something similar)

-comment on the posts you like on the blog and on Facebook (facebook's algorithms are always changing and part of the reason they make so much money is because small businesses like us keep having to pay to 'boost' our posts so they're seen by the people who have 'liked' our page. Unless those people are constantly interacting on the Facebook posts we put up, they won't see them at all). 

-purchase a product we offer or attend a retreat

-just keep participating on the forum. You are such knowledgeable and kind people and I appreciate so much when you jump in to help newbies or people with questions, and it's a great help as I travel often and don't have consistent and reliable internet. 

At the end of the day I know that I can't please everyone but I hope that this helps to explain a little bit about how YBC (and other blogs) earn money for the work they put out. And thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being a part of this little corner of the internet, for being kind and welcoming to the other forum members, for sending messages to me with your input and ideas (although I apologize that I can't always respond in a timely fashion), and for just being all around awesome in general. I appreciate each and every one of you. <3

scottcraft, robert, Kerri and 2 others like this

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Ok, so Candace's response is way too long to quote, but I appreciate that she (you!) took the time to write it! I'm going to address Candace here for simplicity.

  1.  I hate the ads and I am quite sure that many others do, but you create a ---- ton of high-quality free content. Because of this, I and presumably many of your other peeps tolerate the ads and will continue to do so (me without blockers...but man, they would be nice, lol).
  2. No matter what you say, when you have a sponsored post many folks are going to second-guess whatever it is you are telling them. When that sponsored post comes from a big company like Kohls, it's going to generate even more of that. But, you can't make everyone happy. For me, I don't get irritated with sponsored posts, but I rarely read them...but I also usually check back in with YBC or whatever blog it is within a day or two to see what has been published since that sponsored post. I probably would read it if I knew that the company was a tiny home-based-make-every-face-cream-from-scratch-in-her-kitchen sort of thing, but unless it jumps out at me like that...
  3. I know from experience how labor-intensive it is to blog and create videos (my 30-minute sequence entailed well over 10 hours of work...hence why I only did this once!)  and it is a real job. You don't need to defend the legitimacy of your work to anyone!
  4. I'd like to offer a suggestion because I think that doing so will disarm most of those who give you a hard time about monetizing your blog...not that you need to (see #3). Sarah Wilson has a great post that is easily accessible (link is in my first post in this thread) and she unapologetically tells the world that her blog isn't a public service and that she earns income off of it by doing x, y, and z. She is able to blog because she earns money and she makes this very clear. Also, her being so upfront about it makes it easier to swallow the whole sponsored post and ads issues that creep up. I think it would be great if you did something similar. You are offering something that is readily construed as a public service, but you are trading 10 hours of your day to do so...and your time is just as valuable to you as your readers' time is to them. I don't understand why people think that yogis should donate their services when everyone else trades theirs for green pieces of paper (in the US, at least) that can be used to obtain groceries and avoid having bills sent to collection agencies...but you could educate them by producing your own similar post.
  5. Some bloggers focus on products so that they don't have to use ads to generate income. Maybe you've already thought about this, but the quality of your videos is top-notch, and you cue very well. And not that it needs to be said but you are beautiful (which I know isn't supposed to matter but we all know it influences peoples' decisions, etc...right?!) and that works well in your favor. I know that if you wanted to eventually switch directions that you could absolutely create products that would earn you more than your ads! I feel kind of lame recommending blogs about blogging to you because your blogging is way beyond mine, but I'm going to anyway <a href=http://www.freesmile Problogger.net and chrisguillebeau.com have tons of great resources for free or cheap about this subject (Guillebeau has a manifesto of sorts called 279 Days to Overnight Success, where he made like $45-50k/year off of his blog - no ads - 279 days after he started blogging...he documents what he did in around 79 pages if I remember correctly...his books came after this, and he is doing VERY well...I'm assuming he's surpassed 6 figures from his offerings). James Wedmore talks about the difference between free and paid content (it was in an email I received yesterday, but it's up on YouTube because he entirely focuses his business on YouTube traffic), and I just kept thinking about YBC when I was watching it! Anyway, I just wanted to mention those resources in case you didn't know about them.
  6. I share your blog with my friends and on my own blog a lot. I buy your products. I don't watch your videos very often because I do my own thing, so it's not likely I'll see the donation button on YouTube. But, I still think that you would benefit from a donation button in your sidebar. Just saying.

Anyway, that's my 6 cents. I love your blog and I may not represent the average reader. I love seeing new readers on this forum - it's a great community space! Your app is great (but what happened to the website link???), and knowing why reviews help you I will write one. I  was just being lazy.

Btw (and finally!), I'm glad to hear that you are now starting to pay yourself!

scottcraft likes this

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It's hard across the board to earn money as a blogger so I thought maybe I'd just quickly touch on a few things ...

amazing post (where do you find the time?)

 

As originator of this thread, I admit my goal was to help internet users focus on the difficulty raising revenue when you're offering something for free. I'm not bothered at all by the ads since they are relevant to me (although I haven't seen any ads for funeral homes yet, so I'm okay with that!). I do click on them happily understanding that a tiny "ka-ching"  can be heard.

one tip I might offer, when I search for yoga information  (a near obsession these days) I will put "yogabycandace.com " in the search engine query box. Searching for a pose can reveal a few thousand options as there is no shortage of folks wanting to show you how to do a pose, but the additional search term (the site name) will focus the pose search to pages within the domain. I imagine that might help SEO rankings (really not sure, though), and I prefer to keep the traffic in house.

 

 

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Thanks, @Kristi, for taking the time to comment and share thoughts. What's tough to me about products is that they take time to create and I already spend a lot of time on creating content for the blog. We are creating those products, though, but until they come out and we see how they do, I think that's why the ads are so attractive to me. They're a simple way to monetize what's already created. But like I said, we have some projects in the works for 'off the blog' and hopefully if they take off there won't be a need for the ads. I read the link to Sarah's blog and I sort of feel I spoke to that here. Thanks, as well, for the blogging links. I will check them out. We are doing pretty well, but keep reinvesting back into the business as you do when you're growing a biz :) 

@Larry, thanks for starting this thread! I'm not sure that searching with the term helps SEO, but traffic certainly bumps up ranking so it's all positive in my book. Thanks again! 

KristiSmithYoga and scottcraft like this

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You so did speak to it already - I totally forgot about that post! My bad :)

No worries! Oh, and I forgot to mention - we took the website link out of the app because it was causing the app to crash. The website is too rich for the capabilities of the app. When people were opening up the website through the app it was making it go through one more thing to get the viewer the information and therefore loaded paiiiiiinfully slow and would often crash. 

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One woman in particular comes to mind. She owns a make up company and literally makes each product by hand in her little studio. When you see someone toiling away on an awesome product trying to bring their dreams to life and I have a chance to give them the spotlight and it pays off? Well, I just love that. Maybe I'm taking it way too seriously but it just warms my heart and I feel like I've done something good. I think of sponsored content as a win-win-win for everyone involved. The companies get the word out about their product, and maybe even make some sales. The readers learn about smaller businesses they can support if they choose to the next time they're out and about at the store, and have a chance to win one of the giveaways.

Supporting smaller businesses is a great idea, and I commend you for doing so.

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