I just received an urgent email from a reader that I feel the need to address immediately. This internet writer was begging for my help. This is what she wrote:
"Emma, I just started reading your blog and I am inspired to make money with my blog. I have over 1,000 followers and I get about ten new comments on my blog each day. I haven't made a penny off my blog because I am afraid to put ads on it. I've seen so many blogs that are all ads and I don't want to make that mistake. I don't know where to put the ads so they are seen and don't interfere with my posts. I think I could make money with my blog, but I don't want to mess it up. What do you suggest? Please help me."
It is wonderful that my reader has that many followers. It is even more wonderful she is receiving that many comments. She doesn't just have followers - she has readers! People are interested in what she has to say, so interested in her internet writing that they interact with her. It doesn't get much better than that. All we have to do now is get that blog to be profitable!
My first suggestion is to make your blog as large as possible. Adjust the widths of you blog to the maximum. This will give you more room for everything - copy, ads and the (must-have only) gadgets. Another part of enlarging your blog is to get rid of all the unnecessary gadgets and gizmos. As you are deciding which gadgets to get rid of, keep in mind you want to keep your readers on your blog for as long as possible. Any add-ons that take your readers elsewhere (unless it is to more your internet writing) should go. The links that you use to boost your page rank should be "buried" as deeply in your blog as possible.
My second suggestion is choose a lay-out that allow you get all of your ads "above the fold." "Above the fold" is an old newspaper term that means just what is says - information, ads, photos, whatever that is above the fold and seen without the reader needing to put forth any effort to see them. Obviously, blogs do not have folds. Instead, blogs have what I call "the scroll line" - the point where the reader must scroll down to read more of the page. You want the majority of your ads above "the scroll line" so they are easily seen.
As bloggers, we must think like a blog reader. Where will the reader look first? What will the reader be most interested in? Where will the reader "linger" on your blog? Those are the places where ads should placed without interfering with your copy. Ads placed at the bottom of the blog are less intrusive of all ads, but you must place your ads where they will seen. How often do you scroll down to the end, the very bottom, of the blog?
One of my pet peeves with blogs with ads is when those ads are bigger than the column where they have been placed. When you column is only 180 pixels wide, do not put an ad there that is 200 pixels wide. The ad will either be cut off and the reader can't get all the information or it will cover up your copy. Make sure your ads fit in the space available to them! Bigger isn't always better; match the size of blog ads with the "sections" of your blog. If you use small sections for your copy, use smaller ads to match the size of your copy. If you use large sections of your blog for copy, you should do the same with the ads on your blog.
Unlike children (throwing in some of my parenting philosophy), ads should be "seen and not heard." It is also my firm belief that ads should be "seen and not noticed." You want your ads to blend in as much as possible, to look like your copy. Contrasting colors for ads are almost a turn off to readers. They scream "Here I am! I am an ad!" It is also my personal preference that ads be "text only" instead of "image and text." Unless your blog contains a lot of photos and graphics, image ads can distract your readers.
The best thing you can do when adding ads to your blog is simply to play with the ad placement and see what looks best for your blog. Try different lay-outs that work well with your copy and will flow nicely. Ask friends and family which lay-out looks best. Pick a lay-out that you think will work and use it for a while (a week or so) to see if your ad revenue increases. If your revenue doesn't increase, try another lay-out. As much as I would love to give you a "map" to the best ad placement, it doesn't work that way. As with most things in life, trial and error will help you find what is best for you blog.
If you have any other questions about ad placement on your blog, please feel free to leave a comment with the link to your blog(s). I would be more than happy to take a look and give you feedback. I would also love for my readers to look at those blogs as well and share their ideas on improving the ad placement.