the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Rambling Post to Scare Off New Readers

Sophia had a little “discussion” with me this morning about my constant pooh-poohing of advertising, calling it immature.  “We could always use another hundred dollars to help pay for something like our over-priced health insurance.  It’s not like we’re wealthy people who would refuse money.”  She made me feel a bit ashamed for being such a stickler, like I’m a pampered baby.   I should talk to my therapist about this.  I think this advertising issue reflects on other parts of my life where I fear “selling out,” — where I would rather feel good about my superiority than actually make good money for the family.

Does anyone really think less of Dooce for having ads?  Of course, adding ads to blogs undercuts the whole equality of the blogosphere in my mind.  But the box has already been open for a long time.  And who really cares?  Isn’t each of us here to grab as much as he can get for his family, so they can live the best possible life?  Maybe the whole premise of this Great Interview Experiment is a farce.  Maybe we’re not all somebodys.  If I can make more money than the next guy, I can be a “bigger” somebody!  Isn’t that how most of  people think, anyway?   There is always someone more of a somebody than me!  I shouldn’t be saying we are all somebodies.  Why create a myth?  I should be telling you that I am BETTER than you.  Then you will look towards me for advice, and maybe even pay me one day for the book I will write, giving you more advice.  I should ask people to vote for me as the Best Blogitizer!  I could promote myself and make more money on the blog.  Is that what all these Problogger websites advise us to do?  Isn’t Blogher partly about learning how to monetize your blog?  I’m wondering if other bloggers will actually LIKE me and RESPECT me MORE if I told them that I just bought a new car off of the earnings from my blog?  A hybrid, of course, just to impress the eco-babes.

Anyway, just rambling.


  1. sizzle

    i’m conflicted about this issue too though i don’t have a therapist currently and i’ll never have a penis of my very own.

  2. Neil

    Sizzle — I’m not too sure about that last statement. Don’t you consider what your man has as yours as well? In California, once you get married, it is the law.

  3. will

    I’ve never avaoided a blog simply because of ads. If you can make a few bucks off of this, do it. You can’t pay your hosting costs with good looks alone.

  4. Dagny

    As long as the ads aren’t too big, I don’t have a problem with it. Hmmm. That made me think of something else but I think I’ll keep that thought to myself.

  5. witchypoo

    I was okay with my hosting fees until my traffic called for for bandwidth, which will cost me more. Ads will offset the cost.
    Specifically Blogher ads. Adsense is no sense unless you have huge numbers.

  6. Karen Sugarpants

    I’m not a long time reader, but I will say I don’t have a problem with whatever people want to do on their own blogs. Honestly, I don’t even notice who has them and who doesn’t anymore. If I’m a friend and/or I like the way you write, I’ll be back to visit. I’m here for you, not your layout. Just like when I visit a friend, I’m there to see them, not their clean/dirty house. 🙂

  7. witchypoo

    Durn, delete a for and add a more. Sorry.

  8. Neil

    In the past, I would have taken this post down by now. It’s pretty dumb, and I’ve written this post before. But I think I also had a strong urge to write something neurotic today to counteract all the people coming here for the interviews, just to remind myself what this blog is supposed to be about — personal nonsense and topics of interest to very few, despite the fun of the ongoing interviews. So, writing this made me feel like a dog pissing on a tree to make it his again.

  9. Nate

    I make so little money off my ads that it’s almost not worth doing. But I do feel like if I’ve got these ads bringing in traffic (which, in the case of BlogHer, they have) then I owe it to the people who are at least spending a few seconds on my site to not just crap out whatever comes into my mind.

    Paradoxically, having ads has made me at least *think* about becoming a better writer/blogger.

  10. Neil

    Nate — Do the ads make you feel like more of a “real” writer where you have more of a responsibility to write better? Curious…

  11. psychomom

    How about if you got to pick the ads that are displayed? Would that make it any easier/better? I don’t like the random ads that show up depending on what you write that day?

  12. Diane Mandy

    New reader here thanks to the Great Interview Experiment (I mean, really, how could I not be? There are links to you everywhere.) My feelings toward ads are similar to my feelings on cleavage. If you’ve got it, flaunt it. If you have the traffic to make a few bucks, why not? (Technically, it’s not selling out, it’s cashing in! 🙂 And so long as the ads don’t make your site take minutes to load, I won’t think less of you,

  13. Neil

    Diane — Never in a million years, would I have thought of comparing ads to cleavage, but since you did… this may be the best argument yet! If I had a nice rack, you know that I would show it! Even to myself! All the time! In fact, I wouldn’t leave the house much! So, then the ads on my blog would sort of be like me wearing a low-cut blouse, or me looking like this —


    I’m all for that! Thanks, Diane!

  14. Diane Mandy

    Or without! 😉

  15. Nate

    To a degree the ads make me feel more like a “real” writer, Neil, though I never kid myself that having a blog makes me a writer, ads or not. What makes a person a writer is writing, the craft and practice of it, the dedication to it.

    A professor of mine in grad school said something that stuck with me: “Blogs are basically just karaoke for writers.” Some people who sing karaoke happen to have lovely voices and should be singing professionally. Some people who sing karaoke enter contests and win money, or sing at weddings, or whatever. Doesn’t make them musicians.

  16. natalie

    ooohhhh…scary. i have not ever even considered ads for my blog. i don’t have enough readers to even think about it at this point; however, it doesn’t bother me one bit to see ads in the sidebars. sometimes they actually amuse me.

  17. Bec

    Normally I’m all for making money anyway I can but I don’t know… it depends on what kind of ads… and where… and how much they flash… ooo, I could be more vague!

  18. Nat

    Don’t think it’s neurotic to have issues about the corportization of the blog. But do I think less of BoB Dylan for selling the time they are a changing to a Bank? (wait a sec, I do.)

    Point being it’s your blog. If you want to make a few dollars from ads then so be it. Just try to make them unobnoxious. (Like the 99.9 per cent of ads that I can completely ignore.) And I really hate those banners ads when they appear in my reader.

    But would it make me stop reading a blog… don’t think so.

  19. Neil

    Well, I don’t know if I agree. Did you see the link on my post from yesterday from the New York Review of Books? That was the author’s attitude. I know some excellent musicians who aren’t professional musicians. It’s one think to talk about writing or performing as a profession. But I don’t see why someone writing or making music isn’t WRITING or MAKING MUSIC. Are you saying that a regular “writer” would be spending more time perfecting his writing, doing re-writes, etc. and not just posting quick things. Do you consider journalist and essayist writers?

  20. claire

    If I had your traffic, I’d probably try advertising to see if it was worthwhile. Personally, I never click on those trashy looking ads that clutter sidebars.

    Put some up and see if you actually make any money. If you don’t like them or only make 50 cents in a month, you can always take them off.

  21. Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah

    I’m not trying to peer pressure you or anything, but you wouldn’t feel nearly so conflicted once you got your first check.

  22. Dave2

    And every time you pose the question, your readers overwhelming tell you it’s okay to put ads on your blog, yet you don’t do it, and feel the need to fish for their approval again down the road. I’m no psychologist, but this has nothing to do with money or success… it’s all about abandonment issues, and your fear of losing us readers who love you. 🙂

    Would it make any difference if I told you that THIS long-time reader will stop reading your blog if you DON’T put ads on your blog?

  23. communicatrix

    I didn’t think any less of Heather Armstrong for adding ads–hey, it’s her decision, and she’s able to support her family–but I did stop reading her blog. I felt the ads adversely affected the visual integrity of the blog, plus it just felt off and cheesy to have big, splashy ads on a personal blog. _To me_, Miz Sophia, _to me_. And yes, I’m just to the left of Trotsky, and everything that’s wrong and ungrateful about this country, I know, I know.

    I think it matters less on a topic site, since they’re already more commercial. If you’re writing about food or jewelry or real estate or whatnot, knock yourself out. Even Jason Kottke’s going with ads didn’t bum me out too much, since he mostly provides links, not personal stuff.

    And maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to have the textlink ads we’ve all learned to ignore. I hate those, too, but I realize there’s a price attached to everything, and I’m willing to pay that one.

    As many have pointed out, it’s your thing. If anyone really hates it and leaves, that shouldn’t matter to you, if you’re down with it.

  24. Cat

    I’m thinking it is all about placement. If the ads are smack in the middle of your writing, then that could get annoying. But, say, they were off to the side, then who cares?

  25. blackbird

    (Fyi – I tend not to read comments.)

    We should all have to worry about whether Dooce’s readers think less of her.

    I’m only saying.

  26. Neil

    Dave2 — I think you said the perfect thing to finally shut me up about this topic. Tell me you will leave if I don’t put them up! Ha ha! But then again, you’re an artist. You would never put any of your images on a t-shirt, would you?

  27. Jennifer

    I don’t like blog ads, for no good reason. it makes me feel like a sucker of sorts when I read a blog blazing with ads, like I’m the one who somehow sold out. Yeah, it’s stupid I know. And somehow, I think you having ads wouldn’t bother me, if only because you’ve been so damned conflicted about it. There’s something in that internal conflict that makes me want to yell, “JUST DO IT, NEIL! GO FOR IT!”

    Why is that?

    Must be my liberal heart bleeding all over the comments section again.

  28. Neil

    Blackbird — You don’t read comments?! I write most of my posts so I can READ the good comments.

  29. psychomom

    Heck most of the comments are better than the post.

  30. Neil

    Hallelulah, Psychomom — you speak the truth!

  31. cc

    Ads are there or not there it reallly is up to you. And as far as making money on ads goes, my first check paid for the gas for a week. Without it I wouldn’t have been able to buy groceries and have enough gas to get the kids to school. And right now I’m driving a Honda civic and not our gas guzzling Clifford. So, there’s not been a lot of money, but at the same time when you have no income gas money seems like a lot.

  32. helena

    my two cents (and if you’ll like, i’ll deposit an actual two cents in your paypal account to back this up): as long as you provide readers with an ad-free way to experience your glory, then it’s ok. i do have ads on my site, but i’d not dream of putting them in my rss feed, which i provide full and unabridged to anyone who chooses to use it. i’m such a jerk about this that i will not subscribe to any blog that publishes a partial rss feed, nor will i even visit the site, no matter how awesome its content.

    what makes me a total hypocrite, though, is that i use firefox’s adblock plugin for all my browsing, so be it dooce or my own site, i don’t see any of the ads anywhere on the entire internet, but the only reason i visit any blog is to comment.

  33. Dan

    You haven’t scared me off just yet, Neil. In fact, ‘personal nonsense and topics of interest to very few’ is my stock in trade.

    Nice to meet you.

  34. ali

    you are already 1,000 better than dooce in my books. i left one comment on your site and got a response. dooce didn’t even email me back..ever…not even after i sent the nudie pics…hahaha

    i won’t think less of you if you had ads. hell, i’m sure i wouldn’t even notice.

  35. ali

    oh…also? blog crush of the day? i blush!

  36. HeyJoe

    Fortunately I do not have this dilemma, for in order to consider posting ads, first I would need readers to SEE those ads.

    You see how it all works out for me?! Ha! I WIN!

  37. Chag

    You could always put ads up and give all the earnings to charity.

  38. Cléa

    I’ve been debating the same, though in principle I’m opposed to it. Suddenly a blog becomes like running a business, and that would take the fun out of it for me.

    But I’ll keep watching from the sidelines.

  39. Neil

    Chag, I’m going to email you with my phone number. I want you to call up sophia and suggest this one yourself.

  40. Nate

    That was exactly my point – writing makes a writer. Not whether or not they get paid, etc. But I know some people with blogs who wouldn’t consider themselves writers – I think it’s whether or not the actual writing is what’s important about it to you or if it’s something else that draws you to it.

  41. kanani

    Lately, I’ve been hanging out on a blog called Project Rungay. They have ads, but their content is so engaging, they’re so funny and such good writers that I really don’t notice the ads. The blog is really active –posters comment, talk to one another–in many ways it’s like the old forums. But the two guys do a great job at keeping everyone centered on their posts, that the ads on the side don’t seem to get in the way.

  42. Loralee

    I put ads on my blog so that I could feel more justified in the amount of time I spend doing it.

    Plus, the extra money is nice. I worked hard for it, and frankly? If somebody disliked my blogs for two ad placements, I’d rather not have them hanging around.

  43. Otir

    OMG did I start this all? Now *I* feel somebody! Do *I* get any proceed per comment on the blog? just kiddin’

    Well, some other excellent commenters above stated my point of view, my points of view even, so why would I copy them and hammer on the nail.

    I do believe that anyway value, and above all Neil’s value will never be measured by income, and even worse, thinking that 12 bucks here and there would validate his talent can be rather insulting. That’s the problem in my opinion in trying to measure apples with chairs.

    It’s okey to decide that someone wants to pay for their bandwidth or their platform fee with ads that nobody cares about anyway, but don’t tell me that the blogger “makes money out of his/her blog” then, that’s not what’s happening, what’s happening is that some kind of marketing is taking advantage of this huge network that is not yet exactly knowing how to regulate itself, and there is no economical model there.

    Now, I personally refuse to be bombarded wherever I go with ads, especially on a medium where I am finally feeling that I can control what I read, who I read, and how I read it. That’s why I don’t like ads – when they are definitely not related to the activity of a blog.

    And if a blogger is in need, then I find it normal that his/her community comes to being helpful and show some solidarity and donate something to help, I have already done it, and would certainly be ready to do it again.

    And don’t take me wrong, I am still on for offering flowers to Sophia – and if necessary a coaching session on budgeting to Neil.

  44. Caron

    Can I play the devil’s advocate? Is blogging the most efficacious way for you to earn money from your writing? I’m guessing part of Sophia’s issue isn’t that you don’t make money off the blog, but that you spend a lot of time doing bloggy, twittery things that take your focus away from the writing that actually earns you more than a few dollars here and there.

    Don’t think for a minute that I don’t love and appreciate the way you write and, the way you build and foster community here, because you are an everyday blog destination for me.

    Perhaps the question is one of what brand of writing do you want to focus on right now? If you want blogging to be your occupation, then you are obligated to find advertisers and underwriters. If you’d really rather pursue screen writing, or a book, then you maybe don’t have to worry about ads, and blogging takes on the role of a fun hobby.

    Or, if you pursued knitting like you always say you might, you could sell things at your etsy shop.

    Or, maybe you can be like public radio, and we can all chip in a couple dollars a month, and get a Citizen of the Month bumper sticker. You could stockpile your funniest posts to tease us with during “pledge week.”

    There’s lots of options and lots of folks to stick by you no matter what you choose.

  45. sween

    Honestly, I think you should go for the ads.

    Why do I think it’s not a problem? Because we’ve all gotten so used to ads that WE DON’T SEE THEM ANYMORE.

    I really couldn’t tell you which blogs I read do or do not have ads. So knock yerself out. 🙂

  46. august

    Now, if you started charging us to read your blog… I might not like that so much… but geez loueez…. you are popular dude… you’re getting 200 comments now and if you want to keep blogging, you’re going to need to find a way to support yourself with all the time spent reading and replying. Do the ads. That doesn’t make you a sellout… you know how many people would love to get paid to blog? I don’t know how much ads pay per click but to me, I ignore the ads on my favorite blogs anyway. I was going to add them to mine and only like 3 people read mine. I just haven’t had time to fill out and fax the paperwork. Just do it. Stop obsessing. And write an advice book too while you’re at it. I would buy it.

  47. Avitable

    I’m a relatively new reader, but here’s my two coppery cents of discount wisdom:

    1. People don’t dislike Dooce because she has ads. It’s for many other reasons, primarily that her blog feels like one big advertisement.
    2. Most savvy readers who don’t have Macs use Firefox, which blocks all ads anyway (if you use Adblock).
    3. If it allows you to offset a tiny bit of the cost of blogging and they’re not obtrusive, why not?
    4. You have a very clean design and a few ads in the sidebar should not be distracting to those readers who see them.

    I occasionally consider advertising on my site, but for some reason people have a problem advertising on a site that has a picture of Hitler and the word “pussies” in the title! Whodathunk?

  48. nancypearlwannabe

    Lately I’ve been wondering whether to Ad or Not To Ad. Like you said, it’d sure be nice to have some extra money. On the other hand, do I want to personally endorse any old advertisement Google might throw my way? Probably not.

    Then again, if I were like dooce and getting 950 comments on every post, I’m sure my philosophical debate would fly right out the window while dollar signs gleamed in my eyes.

  49. Jenn

    “To be successful, you must be willing to be uncomfortable” –Gil Eagles (motivational speaker)

    so go for it. be uncomfortable with ads. and start. racking. in. the dough.
    I don’t read blogs based on ADS. I read folks I like. Usually when I’m procrastinating doing my own writing.

  50. Danny

    If I thought you could make a lot of money having ads on your site, even with your devoted readership, I would join Sophia’s camp and urge you to do it. But I’m not convinced that it’s worth it. Why don’t you try it just for a few months as an experiment and let us know the dollars and cents of it. Do you get money for every hit on your blog or do your readers have to click on the banners? If it’s the former, that’s great, I check your blog several times a day as I’m sure many, many people do. If it’s the latter, sorry, sucker, I will not click on any of your stupid ads. But I will happily ignore them and not think any less of you for having them there. (And if you actually make money off of them, your rep as King of the Blogosphere will only grow.)

  51. Erin Cooper

    If I had the comments you do, sure I’d put up ads. I’m a blogger, but I’m also a person trying to pay for health insurance, car payments, and shoe addictions… As long as they aren’t overwhelming, I think it’s a non-issue. Blogging isn’t about any high moral ground…It’s entertainment and information. Since when is it a sacred art? It’s not as though you’re selling sex in the temple… I agree with Sophia. If you’re going to spend all this time writing, you should get something out of it that contributes to the general welfare of your household.

  52. di

    But I link to you and come over and enjoy reading you. I don’t link to the ‘famous’ because… well you know, it’s a whole blog post explanation but you’re still talking to ‘us’ and perhaps they’re not but anyway, suffice to say, I choose you over Dooce, good as she is because I find you better.

  53. Danny

    God love the free marketplace and the fact that bloggers like Dooce have found a way to make a living from their online activities, but every time she’s mentioned on your blog I go over to take a look and I just…don’t…get it. Her current post is about being nominated for SIX “Bloggie” awards, how many has she already won, a thousand? She says it’s crazy and then tells her readers how to vote for her. The next post is promoting her new book coming out in April.

    Why does her blog annoy me so? Sour grapes? Probably. Jealous? Perhaps. But you know what, her ads DO bother me, I barely know where to look on the screen. And why are all the comments closed? That is not a blog…

  54. Neil

    Forget Dooce… she’s been the straw-women for me for too long now… I hear she is pretty nice. It’s time for someone new.

    But if I were her, I would drop out of all those blog awards and let someone else have a chance. You can only be the President of the United States for two terms! But at least she writes well.

    But Danny, you should read these post from a very popular “pro” blogger. If I had written them, you would say it was brilliant satire, but he is very serious.

    But on a more positive note, Danny, — Susan Wagner of Friday Playdate seems to have found cool ways to make money off of blogging. Her interview on ABC news on the subject (via Greeblemonkey)

  55. Nance

    One blogger I used to enjoy reading went to BlogHer. She came back and loaded up her site with ads and now it takes forever for her page to load. It’s just not worth the time and trouble to read her anymore. She also must have learned how Technorati works because she can’t post without linking to at least three other BlogHer blogs, no matter what the topic. If you can avoid the tedium, go ahead and ad-up.

  56. OMSH

    I tinker with ads. Try them on for size and then, if they make money, leave them there. If they don’t, they are removed.

    And that has nothing to do with your neurotic post, so I’ll shut up.

    Oh wait, I have one more thing to say. There are so many issues to have in real life that I wouldn’t waste this much time trying to make this one.

    No one will think less of your writing – not even when your penis talks.

    If a blog is just a blog – who the freak cares if there are ads or if it is “pure” and there is a little owl in the sidebar that says, “Whooooooo doesn’t put ads on their blog? Whoo Whooo”

  57. Jen

    Neil; I’d have to agree with Avitable, who said that ads are not the reason people may or may not like Dooce. What keeps me out of Dooceville is the routinely closed comments, and the FAQ o’ hostility–it makes me feel like the whole blog is None of My Business. I don’t care for the look of ads on a site, but given the work you do and the obvious time and interest you show your readers, I have a hard time imagining anyone resenting you should you choose to have ads.

  58. Los Angelista

    Can you arrange it so you specifically get ads your penis likes? That’s should be your deal breaker right there!

    I’m thinking about the same thing though because I’ve been approached about this a few times, most recently last week. I’ve tended to say, “Nope, not for me.” But, after reading all these comments, I think I’m going to go for it.

    And I’m not a Dooce fan. I just don’t “get” it.

  59. better safe than sorry

    i don’t get the fascination with dooce at all, i’m better than she is, but then again, i’m also better than you are.
    i never look at ads on any of the blogs i frequent, i go there to read what the blogger has written. maybe you should encourage sophia and her vagina to start their own blog, loaded with ads, cuz you know everyone that reads you, is also going to visit her blog for her side of the story.

  60. Neil

    I say we should ask the presidental candidates to offer free health insurance to all bloggers!

  61. Jack

    I don’t have a problem with ads. It costs money to live. As long as they don’t interfere with my ability to read the blog, who cares.

  62. turnbaby

    “So, writing this made me feel like a dog pissing on a tree to make it his again.”

    Which could be a pretty good clue as to why you eschew ads—would they make it less ‘yours’?

  63. suburbancorrespondent

    You are making something very simple very complicated. Making money from ads has nothing to do with proving you are a better blogger or whatever; making money from ads means you are making some money from ads. No more, no less. If you put ads on your blog and they don’t make money, take them off. If they do make money and you don’t want that money, send it to me!

    I’m guessing you’re Jewish (I can say that, because I’m Jewish), because this whole post about your agonizing whether or not to put up ads sounds like that scene from Annie Hall where Alvie Singer’s parents are arguing about the cleaning lady. “Why did you fire the cleaning lady?” “She steals!” “So, who is she going to steal from if not from us?” Crazy, neurotic, guilt-ridden Jewish humor. I love it.

    I’m a new reader, by the way. Nice to meet you.

  64. Marge

    Fight the greed! Your readers love you because you are simple. Ads make you more complex. Your writing skill could easily bring in extra income in other ways.

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