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Thoughts on Ads on the 100K Blog?

by Chad Ludeman on July 10, 2008 · 30 comments

in Press and News,site updates

This is a question I never thought I would be asking myself or our fellow readers, but lately we have been entertaining the idea of experimenting with advertisements on the 100K House blog. Honestly, we never thought so many people would be so interested in what we had to say hear. We are approaching 500 subscribers on the blog and can’t help but think about the possibility of actually generating some revenue from the blog.

I know there will be those of you out there that always be against ads of any kind on any blog or site. That’s OK. There may also be those that think ads are fine, but not fitting on our blog for one reason or another and there may still be others who think it’s fine or just don’t care. Since this blog is about transparency and opening up pretty much every idea for comment, we thought it best to do the same with the topic of ads. Below are my thoughts from both ends of the arguement:

The Case Against Ads on 100K

The 100K blog is all about disseminating free information that is not usually divulged in development projects. The object is to primarily educate for free and secondly to entertain those that may delight in our failures and successes. Why would we foul that up by placing ads and trying to turn a profit off of the site with those goals in mind? Also, ads are ugly and take away valuable real estate that could be used to recognize team members, collaborators and other blogs we love.

The Case for Ads on 100K

One of the goals and differentiators of the 100K House brand is to provide quality, green housing at an affordable price to average working schmo’s in Philly. If we were able to actually generate some revenue from our blogging, that could enable us to explore more opportunities to lower our profit margin as a developer and pass the savings on to our clients in the form of even more affordable housing.

Let’s take the current M&M 100K Plus house and its clients. Postgreen is slated to make about $5k from that project for a heck of a lot of time and effort. We’re not complaining, but it’s not a business model that we could implement for every project we build. While we’d love to build a whole bunch of 100K homes for clients like M&M, we’d either have to raise the cost or build standard projects with higher margins in between working with these clients. This would limit the amount of people we could offer this more affordable process to unless we had another source of income.

OK, let’s take this concept one step further. If there are any other developers reading out there, they may shoot me for writing this next idea. Luckily, I’m pretty quick and educated in the art of dodging bullets. What if we were able to generate enough revenue as a development company through ads on our blog(s) and through other means not related to actual sales of real estate so that we could reduce the development profit margin on each project for Postgreen to ZERO? Crazy! It frightens me to type it. Could we pull it off? I doubt it, but the concept still intrigues me.

Enough of my thoughts. What do the readers think?

If you enjoyed reading this post I can promise you'll love our new writing over at Postgreen Homes. Yeah, we know that's the same thing your favorite band said and their new album is nowhere near as good as their early stuff, but seriously, we are actually still getting better.

There also isn't much conversation to be had here . . . at least not with us. So come on over to the Postgreen Homes Blog and tell us what you think of our new(ish) digs and crazy ideas. We will be sure to tell you what we think of your opinion.

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Bookmarks about Ads
October 19, 2008 at 7:45 am

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mark Schoneveld July 10, 2008 at 8:14 pm

I wouldn’t mind them if they weren’t just crappy Google AdSense text ads. I wouldn’t mind knowing about cool new eco-products, though. Anything in moderation is good, and if it helps your project, then why not?

2 mob July 10, 2008 at 8:28 pm

You should do what you have to do. Ads sometimes give people a profit. Nothing wrong with that – even in a green world.

3 Troy K. Schneider July 10, 2008 at 9:42 pm

Ads wouldn’t bother me in the slightest. But as someone who’s spent a bit of time in the online publishing business, I think you’re over-estimating the potential ad revenues!

Syndicates — whether Google AdSense or some green/building-specific network — don’t pay enough to generate real dollars unless you’ve got 50 or 100 times the readership you mention above. And I’m assuming that you don’t have the time or desire to get into the ad-sales business yourself.

So by all means add the ads. But don’t go slashing your core-business profit margins just yet! :)

Love the blog, by the way. I put both a Radiantec radiant heating system and Paperstone counters into our house when we renovated. (I think you considered both of those at some point…) If you ever want to compare notes, just let me know.


4 Nick July 10, 2008 at 9:47 pm

Hi Chad,

I think appropriate product related ads could work on the site. My site’s not strong enough to warrant selling individual banners so I’ve gone easy with Adsense.

But, an ideal I think – have some cool product ads where they write a feature article about the product, run the ad and then I presume get revenue from them (top right of their page), kind of endorsed / partnership ads.

What about making money from the projects off-line, away from design build, yet with synergies.

Now it’s not Friday so my wine induced super-ideas aren’t coming but what about:

- billboarding the Northern/road facing facades?
- whacking on enough arrays to make money from solar?
- rental space in the front as a shop?
- maybe a singe carpark in front for downtown projects?
- not selling but using one house as a showroom for eco-products?
- middle man for products/materials for other builds?

Just some thoughts…

Keep it up, I love checking for new 100K posts in the morning!


5 Ray Hernandez July 10, 2008 at 10:07 pm

I think that even ads that aren’t relevant are fine. People are so used to seeing them on every blog they read. They click them or they don’t. I really find this blog useful, and wouldn’t mind in any way if you had ads on the site.

But that’s just me.

6 chad July 11, 2008 at 12:58 am

Thanks for the tips Troy. Like I said, I don’t think we could pull it off, but it’s an interesting comment to keep in mind. We would have to do a lot more than just throw up ads on the blog to generate enough income outside of development. Not sure what that could be yet but we’ll keep pondering.

7 Preston July 11, 2008 at 1:37 am

Do it. Contextual ads can be helpful sometimes. I’ve found several projects that way. It’ll at least cover the cost of running this website, plus a little more.

8 Jarsh July 11, 2008 at 11:21 am

Nothing wrong with a few ads. I agree with Ray in that people are pretty used to ads on sites that most aren’t really a bother. Some are actually helpful, as long as they are relevantish(is that a word?) to your site. So I am for it, just as long as they aren’t the “Shoot the monkey” type…I hate those..poor monkeys. But that is what Adblock Plus is for, right?

9 The Wallbanger July 11, 2008 at 12:03 pm

Ads are great, but not many regular readers are interested in clicking through. Maybe you’d be better served through contextual ads, product placement/endorsement, or other direct sponsorships?

10 RenovateDSM July 11, 2008 at 12:39 pm

I think monetizing this blog would be a great idea, particularly if it is part of a comprehensive strategy to make your product even more affordable to the buyer. Definitely agree with the comment above regarding direct sponsorship – it is a much more lucrative venture than something like Google Ads. However, it also takes more time to run (you have to sell ads!).

In regards to the idea of offering your development services for “free”, the Wikinomics blog has some great exploration of the idea. One article is here:

11 Janis D. July 11, 2008 at 2:05 pm


Thank you for the blog – a very thorough and extremely useful resource. During my research over the past months, have not found anything better online than what you are doing.

I think that ads per se are not evil and, thus, have nothing against you using this method to see if they actually generate any significant revenue. The problem that I have with most websites that have them, is not the very fact that there is advertising, but that it is obnoxious, intruding, and irrelevant. Things like pop-ups, flashing banners, and shoot them up monkeys (as mentioned above) make the web experience worse.

I look at your blog daily and I particularly like the very clean look and layout of it. Thus, while I definitely think that pursuing a possibility of implementing ads is a good idea, I hope you can find a way to do it without deteriorating the overall look and feel of a great thing that you have on your hands here.

I think you are definitely on to something when it comes to the idea of creating affordable green housing model that is different from what we are used to. Knowing how thorough you are in analyzing all the pros and cons and then making educated decisions, I think that you probably have a good chance in making this work if you put your mind to it! As you probably realize, it is not something that you can pull off in a day or two, but I feel that there would be very many grateful people if you did figure out the way to make this work. Plus, who said that the status quo is the best that we can do ;)

Good luck!

12 chad July 11, 2008 at 2:19 pm

Janis – Thanks for the comment and the kind words. I couldn’t agree more with your last sentence!

13 The Modernist July 11, 2008 at 2:30 pm

We had finished our very modern house plans and were ready to build our dream home. Just a little problem. Three days after we took our plans to our contractor he called to let us know that our project was a little more then he had thought it would be by $180k to $200k or so!! So here we are with a piece of property, that has a FABULOUS ocean and mountain view and we can’t afford to build on it. We’re in Washington State so your affordable green housing won’t help us. But, if you can help someone else build an affordable green home I say do what it takes. A few ads won’t bother me.
P.S. We wanted to build as green as possible and were told every step of the design phase that going green would cost us lots of green. So our costs didn’t include many earth friendly components. Maybe it was better we didn’t build it??

14 Rob July 11, 2008 at 3:32 pm

Wow, I am suprised at all of the “put up ads” people. I guess it makes sense then that I would fall into that group as well. Although I am not typically a fan of ads ( it has to do with the application, as others have stated), I see nothing inherently wrong with putting ads on this site. Especially if they happen to be of great interest to this crowd or say products that you have already mentioned i.e. Method cleaning products. Good luck! Hopefully you can prove that being earth friendly IS a profitable business. Oh and if you can help people along the way, more power to you! ;)

15 chad July 11, 2008 at 5:51 pm

Great feedback. I am overwhelmed with the encouragement for testing ads out.

We have not wasted time and you can now our first Google AdSense ads in the right sidebar below all of our current content. I know Google is boring and plain, but it’s the easiest way to get started and test this Ad thing out.

I actually spent some time trying to get the formatting to fit with the site design and I don’t think it turned out half bad. The next step is to determine whether we want to use a 3rd party service for obtaining prettier and more profitable ads or if we want to try and design and sell them ourselves. Stay tuned…

16 lawless July 11, 2008 at 6:56 pm

As Troy mentioned above I think you are overestimating the income generated by Google Ads. You don’t even get a check until you hit a minimum amount so Google gets free ads on your site for a very long time until they are actually forced to cut you a check.

Once they are up they don’t really require any effort on your part as the blog owner so it’s worth a shot.

Another option would be to offer ads to companies whose products your are using in turn for a discount on their products. They would be hitting an extremely targeted market and may likely write off product costs as advertising. You may be able to score some free products which would definitely cut the bottom line costs.

I read the posts through my RSS reader, so I only click through to the blog on maybe 1 out of 5 posts. So the ads don’t really bother me either.

17 brandon July 11, 2008 at 7:07 pm

Why not use the image or video ad format instead of the text links? They look a whole lot better and you should be able to fit a 200×200, 120×600, or 160×600 without problem. It might help to attract more attention which could mean more click-thrus which could lead to increased revenue. Also look into FeedBurner. It can help draw a lot of traffic to your site which again can increase revenues. Plus it’s owned by Google and ties directly in with AdSense.

18 chad July 11, 2008 at 7:24 pm

Thanks for the tip on Feedburner. I didn’t realize that was possible. It’s implemented now. I’m going to look into and experiment with the image and video ads also but just wanted to get something simple up first to test…

19 chad July 11, 2008 at 7:58 pm

Image ads are up. We made our first dollar!

20 Brandon July 11, 2008 at 9:27 pm

Nice, looking good! Careful not to overload the page with ads though. I’d stick with a single 250×250 on the right side and run an alternating ad on the left side, mix up the image ads and the text ads. I wrote a simple PHP script which will randomly pick between text or image ads based on a random number. You can see the example here. Refresh the page a couple times and you’ll see it switch between image based ads and text based ads. If you want to use it you can download it here. I pulled the AdSense Javascript straight from your source code so I don’t think you’ll need to change any of that. Should just have to copy and paste the PHP part.

21 tracy July 13, 2008 at 8:56 pm

Sustainable building and green living are both still evolving so, personally, I love when there are like-minded product or service brands linked because that’s one of the tools I use to learn more. And while ads on TV are more about hitting you when you are half-hypnotized and so more vulnerable to suggestion, ads on the web are more about an exploration someone is already on and so a more active engagement vs. passive. Ya know? :)

22 chad July 14, 2008 at 2:33 pm

Thanks for the advice Brandon. I am going to look into your code soon when I have time. We are already working on ideas for the selling ad space ourselves nearer to the top for added revenue.

We made $14 over the weekend! At this rate we should more than pay for the cost of the site and I can now tell my wife that I am actually generating income!

23 brandon July 15, 2008 at 9:05 pm

$14 is a good amount of money for just the weekend. At that rate you’ll definitely be able to cover the cost of the site and probably quite a few other small things. That is really great!

Every time I come to the site now I click on at least one ad so I’m trying to do my part to help your project do well. I don’t ever ever ever click on ads but I think you have a great thing going here so I’m more than happy to support it in any way I can.

As far as that PHP script if you decide to use it and have any questions or suggestions just let me know.

24 Shawn Busse July 17, 2008 at 12:35 am

It seems to me that the ads (especially the ones I’m seeing now for “get more traffic to your site”) are at odds with the Modern design movement.

In other words, these ads are exactly the OPPOSITE of the tenants of modern design – they’re visual clutter that gets in the way of function and form. They represent the “norm” on the internet and only serve to detract from what’s important. Sure, I like to learn about new products and services too….but from what I can tell, you have little control over what hideous ad graces the pages of your site.

Not that all ads are bad. On the contrary – a well designed ad can be quite elegant. Unfortunately, banner ads and keyword ads (the current paradigm on the web) are just about the ugliest manifestation of advertising out there.

$14 seems like a silly price to pay for the integrity of your efforts and elevating the standards of design and quality.

Look at it this way – If I offered you $500 a year to put a cell tower in front of your new building, would you take it? Of course not! Cell towers are ugly and would be a blight on the design of the building.

Banner and keyword Google ads are the same thing in the digital world. If we’re going to walk the talk, then let’s apply a higher standard to all of our design efforts – not just to our buildings.

It’s easy to complain about things, so I’m going to offer a suggestion: why not take control of your advertising? Insist on a level of quality that at least matches your site design. Or, even better, partner with businesses that would benefit from the 100k audience. Craftspeople and vendors who produce the products used in your project, for example.

It’s tempting to accept Google’s Faustian Bargain, but I see little financial benefit and a tremendous compromise to the project’s ideology.

25 chad July 17, 2008 at 1:46 am

Thanks for the comment Shawn. I have been waiting for someone to take the other side of the argument.

I certainly don’t disagree with you. We have been talking a bit about taking control of the ads ourselves to ensure that the design of the site remains appealing to us and our readers. We also hope to help out local businesses we like as well as emerging green businesses whose products or services we believe in as we slowly get to the point where companies are willing to pay us for regular ads.

This all takes time though, so Google AdSense is the easiest way to test out if ads work at all and how effective they can be. I made it a point to keep them all in the sidebars below all of the sidebar content so as not to take away from the important content on the site. This also keeps them well below the fold so many views will not see them regularly.

I also have to admit that after not making a dime for over 9 months, it is nice to bring in some revenue, even if it is only $20 a week. This will easily pay for the site and may lead us to better and more profitable use of ads in the future.

26 chad July 17, 2008 at 1:48 am

I also just realized that the only reason we are seeing the “get more traffic to your site” type of ads is because we are talking about it so much in this post. If you click on the homepage or any other post, you will see ads for green or modern products. Other that this post, I have not seen ads that I find repulsive yet in the least.

27 The G-Man July 19, 2008 at 1:38 am


Site looks great – keep it going, my friend. Great suggestions from Brandon, and they give the site a nice feel, as the visual ads have some cool images. I believe you should keep the ads going, and generate as much revenue as possible to offset the costs of the site, and pay for a nice dinner once a month for you and your wife.

28 Kevin D August 25, 2008 at 4:25 am

The ads are fine. Shawn has valid points about visual clutter, though. I think the little keyword ads are therefore better. You’d get more potential clicks in the same space, too.

29 sandrar September 10, 2009 at 9:31 am

Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

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