AdSense vs. flattr, Ads vs. Donations – What’s Best? You Decide!

Not long ago, ContentSphere saw a comeback of GoogleAds. I just wanted to give them a serious second try. Yet, now it gets a new twist. As you can see, I also added flattr buttons for the entire blog as well as separate ones for each entry.

That means: I’m having two additional streams of revenue. Maybe I should replace the term “streams” by “drops”. However. I’m running a kind of study. What’s the best choice to achieve better revenues? Not that ContentSphere has that much readers (360 feed subscriptions). That’s why I’m not expecting big piles of money.

What’s the most attractive and acceptable to you – that’s the question. Ads, or directly asking for financial support?

Plus, as you will see later on in this article, it helps me in advising my customers. Artists, most prominently.

Ads and donations – both approaches might be seen with mixed feelings.

Ads, the way that AdSense provides, rarely meet the requirements the author of a blog has set – no matter what restrictions you define, many advertised products, services and companies appearing on your site you simply don’t really want to see there. Moreover, it distracts from your site’s layout. In particular, it’s the picture ads that do so. Actually, if they were reasonably professional, they would be more useful for integration.

flattr, on the other hand, might be dismissed as begging for money from your readers – or fans. This is something which is discussed quite controversial. Just have a look at older entries at Amanda Palmer’s blog. In my opinion, no matter if you are an artist, journalist, blogger or whatever – as long as you offer anything you are allowed to ask for a price. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be high quality content. Just look at the charts and you will see it’s not always quality that sells. In the end it’s up to you to decide whether to pay anything. Don’t you forget, in the case of flattr you are almost entirely free in deciding how much you are to spend at flattr. The minimum to spend per month is 2 EUR, and each content you flattr receives a fraction of the monthly total.

I don’t want to discuss the issue of ethics here. Similar to the use of Creative Commons licenses, there are artists who are convinced that art should be free for everyone. No work of art should be sold. Though, artists need to make a living. Even those artists who’d like to give away all or parts of their work for free.

Fact is, the most reliable income is based on several streams of revenue. It’s not necessarily a high income allowing for a life in luxury. Yet, it’s more securely distributed over several resources.

Advertisements along your work, sponsorship, endorsement, patronage, donations – any of those and even more should be seen as complementary resources of financial support. Pick the ones that suit you best, and remember to pick those that work for you.

And here we are. I want to be sure that I’m advising artists and customers the right way. Do advertisements help to generate additional income? Is flattr (or any other form of donation) more acceptable? Of course, it depends on your fans and customers, your image and your profile etc.

I’m curious to see how it works in the long run.

This text has been published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 Unported licence. If you would like to make use of the text or parts of it in a way that goes beyond the scope please ask me.


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

2010-10-17 at 14:37

I see flattr the other way round: it allows me to show some appreciation and say “thank you for this!” in an easy way – never looked at it as begging.

Something I heard from several people over the last months (and experienced myself), is that they start to increase their monthly flattr-budget as soon as they get into the habit of flattering more items. That would be interesting data that maybe flattr could provide.

Imho: if an artist has enough exposure to make ads an relevant income stream, they damage his credibility. Besides (but I’m not a business-person): wouldn’t be converting the exposure into selling small-quantity, made-with-love products more valuable for the fans and more fun for the artist?

2010-10-17 at 17:58

Some stats from my blog:
I have about 10 visitors a day.
I’m using AdSense for 1,5 years, Flattr since the end of may.
I’ve earned about 2,50€ with Adsense in the 1,5 years and about 4€ with flattr in 5 months.

2010-10-17 at 18:01

I totally agree with you regarding ads, credibility, and even offering own products. Actually, I don’t feel that comfortable with ads on my blog neither – and I’m pretty sure the (financial) result is near zero.

Funny thing is, the article doesn’t really end here. While writing, my thoughts led to some other ideas which didn’t necessarily fit in here. So there will be another article – and it deals with appreciation and credibility. 🙂

Plus, even your suggestion of “made-with-love products” is a concept I’m playing around with. As a part of my blog. Involving music. Though, this might take some months…

2010-10-17 at 18:09

That’s right what I’m expecting – thanks for your stats! If my stats develop the same way, I’d gladly give up ads.

Donations (just as Fabian mentioned) show your appreciation. And that’s what’s worth a lot more. Even if the financial result would be lower. But the latter I doubt.