To monetize or not to monetize

It was suggested by a close friend that I add Google AdSense to the blog and then donate the proceeds to a Farm to School initiative or another group. I’m getting enough traffic here that I could raise a couple hundred dollars per month just based upon people landing on the site (clicking not required).

Although I like the idea of donating to a worthy cause, I don’t feel comfortable adding ads to the blog. To me having ads undermines the whole point of what I’m doing as an individual to raise awareness. On the other hand, giving money to something that does agree with the tenets of the blog is appealing. But then who would I choose and should I rotate on a monthly basis to various agencies….

I’d like to have a “show of hands” of my readership so I’m going to add a poll to the right-hand side of the blog. You are welcome to comment as well.

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43 Responses to To monetize or not to monetize

  1. Wendy January 28, 2010 at 5:22 am #

    I think adding AdSense and donating the profits is a great idea. You might also consider adding a First Giving (http://firstgiving.com) "tip jar" for people who are interested in donating a little bit of money to one or more of the causes you select. Just a thought…

  2. Renee Fontes January 28, 2010 at 6:35 am #

    I decided to leave adds off my blog. For me the blog is therapy and a kind of accountability for personal goals I set. It inspires me when I see it simple without flashing adds. Might I change my mind some day? sure! but right now I'll keep my zen thing going a little longer.

  3. Shelle January 28, 2010 at 7:16 am #

    I had ads on for a while and they made a few cents a month. I honestly don't think the google ads are worthwhile. Maybe you could find some sponsors.

  4. Anonymous January 28, 2010 at 7:26 am #

    I think it's really up to you. I didn't vote on the poll because I thought that it isn't so simple to give yes or no answers. But I guess I'm more for putting up the ads. If there's money to be earned and then given to charity/other good purposes, then, why not?

    If you don't feel too good about it, maybe you could just include a disclaimer at the side to notify your readers. Who you choose is really up to you.

    (I read my blog subscriptions via Google Reader, so I'm not sure if that adds to the traffic count on your site…)

  5. gail January 28, 2010 at 12:11 pm #

    Interesting question and similar to one my class addressed yesterday. We have a hero at KidsAreHeroes.com who asked if she could start keeping half of the money for herself (from the sale of her Frou Frou Flip-Flips.) Our class was divided on the best course to recommend so we gave her the tallies. What it boiled down to was sharing is best so I guess we would vote for ads, at least those that address your interests here.

  6. Anonymous January 28, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

    i think you should go ahead with the ads! it really doesn't take away from the content–most people reading this would understand WHY you've done it. plus you can always remove them if it doesn't work out for one reason or another. best of luck!

  7. Feeder of the Hungry Beans January 28, 2010 at 2:57 pm #

    There's nothing dishonorable or dirty about advertising. You are a publisher now, with readers who benefit from the service you provide. Donating the profits is generous, but I wouldn't object even if you kept the profits. You work hard on this and there's nothing wrong with getting paid for your time.

  8. rock January 28, 2010 at 3:40 pm #

    I would use the ads, they're pretty unobtrusive and if you're donating the money, why not?

  9. AlwaysJoy January 28, 2010 at 3:42 pm #

    I think you should add the ads!

  10. Zack! January 28, 2010 at 3:48 pm #

    I voted for the ads. There's nothing wrong with using them to generate money for the causes that you're working on here. It seems like an easy way to do a little more.

  11. Shana Alexander January 28, 2010 at 3:54 pm #

    Here is my take on ads. Even if the money is going to a good cause it is changing the mission of your blog. I think that you should focus on your original goal for the year. I will continue following your blog regardless. I pack my kid's lunches because the "food" they serve at our school is so terrible. Honestly, it is about 10X better than what they are serving at your school. I was broken hearted to see the "pb&j". I am so proud of you for doing this to bring attention to this subject. If you do the ads I would suggest that you donate the money to non-profits who are working to better school lunches…if they exist? Keep up the good work!

  12. Anonymous January 28, 2010 at 4:13 pm #

    I think you should raise money for appropriate organizations, keep up the good work!

  13. Anonymous January 28, 2010 at 4:36 pm #

    I say no, but for your own sake. At some point, your administrators will find out about this blog and determine your identity. You will be in a better position if there is no money being made. Even if the money is going to charity, it gives them an excuse to shut you down.

  14. Anonymous January 28, 2010 at 4:50 pm #

    I think people tend to immediately ignore ads if they aren't obnoxiously placed… might as well take some of that advertising money away from corporations before they have a chance to use it on election campaigns.

  15. Anonymous January 28, 2010 at 4:53 pm #

    You could put a paypal link up so people could choose to donate.

  16. Monica January 28, 2010 at 5:01 pm #

    To the 10:36 Anonymous poster concerned about the administration: what possible excuse would they have for shutting her down? She's not doing anything wrong, illegal, or unprofessional. Money or not wouldn't make a difference.

  17. Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday January 28, 2010 at 6:24 pm #

    I also think you should put a paypal link to donate directly to a Farm to School initiative.

    You are already raising awareness of the problems with school lunches, so let people donate at their own discretion.

  18. Anonymous January 28, 2010 at 7:03 pm #

    Do the ads. In addition to donations, I think it's fair game to use proceeds to offset any costs you have incur, such as new camera, etc.

  19. Anonymous January 28, 2010 at 7:20 pm #

    I would join Commission Junction and add banners to your site that are relevant to your readers.

  20. Gina Fit by 41 Maybe 42 January 28, 2010 at 8:06 pm #

    Just came to your blog…LOVE what you are doing. I pack my kids' lunches 4 out of 5 days a week. I can't stand what it served. Poison, basically. They also don't have time to finish eating and have to throw the rest away (which is where it belongs, I suppose).

  21. HAB January 28, 2010 at 8:34 pm #

    Put a link to directly donate toward a charity, and you could rotate the donation links on the a monthly basis.

    This would remove the possibility of having to prove you were donating the ad money you received, as there would be no direct link to any account of yours at all.

  22. Amy K. January 28, 2010 at 9:10 pm #

    I love HAB's suggestion.

    I voted for Ads, but would like to add a caveat to please keep them to a minimum, and add a disclaimer that the proceeds will be donated.

  23. Anonymous January 28, 2010 at 9:57 pm #

    Unrelated to the ads question, thanks for doing this blog! It's really interesting to see what kids eat now — so very different than when I was a kid!

  24. M Garrett January 28, 2010 at 10:05 pm #

    I tend to agree with Shana Alexander. Although the money would be going to a good cause, I fear ads could be a point of attack for outsiders who oppose your mission. Even though good at heart, it complicates your original intention and could undermine the entire project. I say this with respect for what you are doing, but fearing how critics will react; so at the very least tread cautiously whatever you ultimately decide.

  25. Anonymous January 29, 2010 at 12:00 am #

    Hey, you're a chick with a blog. It's YOUR time, YOUR idea and YOUR investment/risk.

    Don't overthink it – do what you want. Journalists get paid to report on things that are far more controversial – and their newspapers ALL have ads. Readers decide on a writer's ethics based on what they write and how they behave, not on the advertising content of their paper.

    My layman's understanding is that once you've purchased a food, it and images of it belong to you, and what you do with it is nobody's business but your own.

  26. stardancer714 January 29, 2010 at 1:11 am #

    certainly, put it in there, and donate the money to farm to school, or (if you are interested in helping the school where you teach more directly), donate the money to the school for a small vegetable garden- it will also raise awareness and help the students (and faculty) have more to do with what they are eating. i participate in urban agriculture, and some of the students that we have had tour the "farm" (former vacant lot where vagrants lived) honestly had NO idea that carrots grew underground, etc… very educational, and ultimately helpful to the population.

    GREAT WORK, GOOD LUCK!

  27. Danny The Flying Frenchman January 29, 2010 at 2:31 am #

    Don't do it. Google's 4th quarter profit neared $2 billion. Let them donate money.

  28. Lady Rogue January 29, 2010 at 2:42 am #

    You want to bring as much attention as possible to this situation. Good for you!

    YES. Accept advertising. Donate the money to a local Farm to School chapter, or better yet, use it to help your school start a program. There are so many resources out there to help you do it.

    DONATE. And be sure to document what you are doing. This is a compelling story and you are sure to get some press coverage for this … which all goes back to your initial goal of raising awareness.

    Best of luck to you … I wish you many delicious dinners in compensation for your work.

  29. Anonymous January 29, 2010 at 7:03 am #

    For an in-depth critique into why you shouldn't allow advertising, I suggest you read Anne Elizabeth Moore's "Unmarketable: Globalism, Mocketing, Copyfighting, and the Erosion of Integrity."

  30. My Kids' Mom January 29, 2010 at 12:40 pm #

    ads, and we can get adblock and not see them!

  31. The Reverend January 29, 2010 at 2:30 pm #

    Ads! Put them on here. Donate the money to a good cause.

  32. Anonymous January 29, 2010 at 3:06 pm #

    The worst that'll happen is you might not make as much as you're hoping; the best that'll happen is that you'll make more.

    Just do it. Put them somewhere in the sidebar and most people won't even notice them.

  33. Brendan January 29, 2010 at 3:37 pm #

    I'm all for ads and donating the money to help the cause.

  34. Bill January 29, 2010 at 10:59 pm #

    Ads + donation = win

  35. Anonymous January 30, 2010 at 1:22 am #

    might as well, if it's for a good cause!

  36. pshouse January 30, 2010 at 2:58 am #

    I agree with Feeder of the Hungry Beans. Right on.
    Beecher

  37. Tasha Great January 30, 2010 at 8:10 pm #

    I think that your time and effort for doing this deserves something, so I think you should add ad to pocket the money. But I also think that if you were to donate the money to a related Nonprofit, that would be even better. I think either way you should include at least one ad. Even though your not in it to make a profit, you still can take on the responsibility to raise money for your cause.

  38. Maddy January 30, 2010 at 8:59 pm #

    As a college student young and idealistic enough to still be outraged that people (especially young people) are being literally assaulted with advertising every minute, I think you should keep the ads off your website. While I agree that you definitely do work hard on this blog (much appreciated!) and you'd deserve a little payback, and agree that donating to responsible, ethical charitable causes is a very good thing indeed, I believe that using AdSense isn't the best way to raise those funds. Why not add a PayPal link for people to make donations? If readers are willing to accept the semi-subliminal messages the ads would be conveying (why else would the advertisers pay you without requiring that we click?), wouldn't those same readers be willing to redirect the money they'd be making for the advertising companies directly towards your charitable cause? If you really feel advertising is absolutely the way to go, then I'd vote for skipping AdSense and asking relevant advertisers directly. I'd much rather read ads from a small farm or a educational volunteer organization than whatever diet pill or nutrition scam Google decides I should want to read.

  39. Jessi January 30, 2010 at 9:44 pm #

    I think it's an entirely different issue when you're donating the money. You're not actively *trying* to make money and you're not making it for yourself. The blog is growing on its own and has its own purpose….but letting a little money accumulate naturally and passing that on to a good cause…isn't bad.

    If you choose to put ads up, put a statement at the top of your page/sidebar that states that any money made goes to such 'n' such fund, and link to this post (or another post you write that explains why you made this decision).

  40. Anonymous February 1, 2010 at 5:38 pm #

    I leave ads off of my pages, because my children log on. As a rule, we don't click on ads just in case something comes up they shouldn't see, that shuts down my comp, or that takes us to a site that leads to something they shouldn't see. I like ad free.

  41. Ashleigh February 2, 2010 at 7:51 pm #

    I agree with Jessi! I just found your blog on Grist today, so I think I missed the poll, but I think ads that profit other people fighting for your cause (OUR cause–this is a nation-wide issue) are worth it. Just make sure readers know what the ad is doing there.

  42. Melissa February 4, 2010 at 2:58 pm #

    Just found you via Slow Food Blog. I think it's your call. Especially since you would be considering donating to a mission ideologically in keeping with your own, I think you could do it.

  43. Anonymous March 18, 2010 at 2:11 am #

    Hi,

    You have a great blog and a great plan to help out.

    I agree with one of commentators to add a PayPal DONATE button. This is better instead of adding ads coz you'll never know what type of ads will appear and you don't have control over them.

    Putting a PayPal DONATE button can also highlight your cause and will likely touch the hearts of your avid readers.

    Hope this helps.

    God bless!

    JessicaB

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