On the difficult decision to enable ads on my blog

It will come as a surprise to people who know me that I’ve enabled ads on this personal blog of mine. In this post, I explain why so and how you can turn them off.

I’ve been a long-time hater of ads. Ads are distracting, evil when in the form of tracking ads and they create all the wrong incentives for publishers. This results in publishers prioritizing ad viewing over content and so you start seeing things like huge top banner ads, ads all over the article, pop-up ads, floating ads, etc. But lately, my opinion has slightly changed.

Why am I displaying ads?

Since the last year, I’ve been trying to sustain as an independent science and tech writer while keeping all my sites completely ad-free. I made all donation options available and put out requests at various times. Suffice to say, I didn’t even receive enough donations to cover website hosting and domain costs!

It takes time and effort to write a good article. One needs to do quite a bit of research, play around with a piece of software say, structure the thoughts, and then write and edit a piece/tutorial tailored for its audience. To maintain a blog with many such articles is an even bigger effort than the sum of its parts. This type of work and the value it brings cannot sustain if people enjoying the content do not pay in any way.

That’s when I realized that the core problem of the web publishing industry is not ads, it’s that people don’t pay to read stuff. Publishers are thus forced to put ads on their website to monetize from it and cover their costs. But then the wrong incentives start to appear, resulting in both the content quality getting affected as well as readers getting frustrated.

How am I displaying ads?

So as an experiment to see if I can cover at least website hosting and domain costs, I decided to run ads on this blog since the last month. Now it’s easy to go into the rabbit hole and display ads everywhere in order to sustain myself. But I’m not going to follow the “god damn ads everywhere” path taken by most publishers and frustrate my readers. So here’s how I have decided to run ads on my blog.

  • Ads are currently being shown only on the sidebar. This should make them less distracting. On mobile, the sidebar appears below the article area so it’s even less distracting over there.
  • There will never be ads in the article itself. I value my article content too much to degrade it.
  • There will never be persistent floating ads, pop-up ads and all such nonsense.
  • I’m not stopping you from using an ad-blocker.

My non-intrusive ads strategy does mean that I won’t earn much from it. My goal here is to simply cover website hosting and domain costs and maybe it’ll also fund a few articles a year at best. So just know that I’m not sustaining from ads, I’m simply trying to break even.

How can you turn off ads and support me?

In order to sustain my writing, I’m starting a simple yearly subscription service on this blog. Subscribe and browse the website completely ad-free.

If you are a frequent reader of my work, subscribing is a fair way to support and encourage it. If you are just an occasional visitor, the non-intrusive way I’m displaying ads on my blog shouldn’t bother you much.

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