Recent comments on posts here have got me thinking about the psychology of monetization.

There are good reasons to monetize a site from the very start, and good reasons to delay monetization. Some of the reasons are appropriate for one niche and not another, so I wanted to go through some of the factors that I’d look at in deciding to monetize or not.

Perceptions of Sites with Ads

I tend to see sites that have a lot of ads but little content as spammy looking. When I write a site that is spammy, then I don’t have any trouble putting ads on it from the start. When I write a site that I want to be viewed as more of a quality site, then I like to delay ads until I have enough content that I think a few ads are warranted.

Value of Early Traffic

In the early days of a site, the amount of traffic coming in is low. Assuming a 20% click through rate on ads, if you’re getting 5 people a day to the site initially, that means you might get 1 click a day. If you’ve chosen your keywords well and written your content well, you might get $1 for that click (although often it’ll be less).

Early traffic just doesn’t add that much to the bottom line, so for quality sites I like to focus early on building the best site possible, and worry about monetization later.

What Are The Keywords Worth?

While site level keywords might be picked because they can get $1 or $2 per click, the chances are good that most pages on your site will monetize at a lower level if you’re using something like Adsense. If you use a site side widget to put ads on every single page in the site, then you might only get $0.20 per click on some pages.

Is it worth $0.20 for a visitor to leave your site by clicking an ad?

My preference is to monetize only on pages whose keywords are worth enough to make it profitable for the visitor to leave the site. I might lose them anyway, but the chance is also there that they’ll look around the site more if not every page has ads on it.

Focus on Monetization

When I start to monetize a site, I tend to focus on tweaking various monetization options in order to get the most out of the clicks I’m getting. And I usually slow down on content creation, because that isn’t my focus.

So for my personal nature, monetization a quality site early would work against me.

Plans for the Site

What are my plans for the site? Is it primarily a MFA (made for Adsense) type of site, where the goal is to get the ad click from search engine traffic? Or is it more of a quality site, where the goal is to build repeat traffic by offering valuable content?

Or something in between?

I monetize MFA type sites from the very start, because that’s their entire reason for being, to get visitors to click on ads or affiliate links.

Quality sites I delay monetization on, for the reasons talked about above, until traffic is at a decent enough level to warrant it.

No Right Answers

Those are some of the things I think about when deciding when to monetize. I’ve started a topic over at The Advisory Panel to discuss this topic, so if you’re a member come on over and jump in! And if you’re not a member, it’s free to join.

So when do you monetize, and why?

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