Impact of advertising on Recycle This – and my promises to you
Recycle This turns six in April 2012 and from day one, it has included advertising.
I started the site when I was in the process of quitting my job for a “career break”, which turned into self-employment. The idea was that I’d have advertising on the site for as long as I needed the money from it. In the first couple of years, it wasn’t much at all but every little helped. Now after other ventures sadly tanked, I still need the (meagre) advertising revenue to supplement my (even more meagre) income.
But I don’t think it has impacted the nature of Recycle This that much. Yes, I spend time tweaking text to trying to bring more visitors to the site but not at the cost of readability (the lack of readability is usually to do with my tendency to waffle and/or put extra comments in brackets, you know, like this ;) ). I try to ensure pages are linked to other relevant pages to keep people interested – but I never split articles over many different pages to force people to click through after every paragraph to drive up ad impressions*. And I publish the full text of the article in the RSS feed (and email feed) so if you subscribe to either of those, you never have to visit the site and see adverts (unless you want to see comments, although you can subscribe to the RSS feed of comments too, if you’re interested). Yes, I need to generate some money but not at the cost of producing a worthwhile site or engaging in habits I find infuriating when I see them elsewhere.
When I do link posts (such as Christmas craft round-ups), I get ideas from a range of sources — reading the people’s blogs directly, via other curating blogs, through requests for suggestions on Twitter, Pinterest and from stuff people have emailed me — but no one ever pays (either directly or indirectly through products or links back) to be included in those, and I would never ask them to. I only feature stuff that I personally like/want to make or think are worthwhile – info that I generally want to pass on to as many people as possible. Ditto anything used for giveaways.
As for the actual adverts, I can quite confidently say that I have never changed any editorial content on the site because an advertiser wants me to. My main advertising network for most of the past six years has been Google Adsense. I have tried other networks, affiliate schemes and had some direct advertising but I’ve mostly stuck with Google’s context sensitive ads because in general they are more relevant in terms of both subject and geography. The downside is that I don’t control exactly which adverts appear on the site – the upside of that though is that I’m never under any conscious or unconscious pressure to bend my subject to not offend an advertiser — I don’t know who they are. The only concessions I make under the Adsense program is not swearing every other *&%ing word or displaying hate speech/pornography on the site – which, to be frank, isn’t exactly something I was planning to do anyway ;)
Anyway, long story short, I want to make six promises – six things I’ve stuck to over the last six years and hope to stick to for as long as the site exists in the future:
- I will not change anything I’ve written or anything anyone has written in a comment because an advertiser wants me to
- I will not post any “sponsored posts”, any (unpaid) guest posts or product reviews that are simply adverts in disguise
- I will not post accept any direct advertising in any form that promotes products that generate, rather than reduce, waste
- I will not post any adverts in our site’s Twitter feed (or any other social media platforms that might crop up in the future!)
- I will not put money generation above creating a useful site to help people reduce, reuse, recycle more
- I will remove all advertising from the site as soon as I can do without the money
Sorry this has been a bit of a departure from the normal How can I recycle this…? posts, I just wanted to get a few things off my chest! Normal programming will resume tomorrow :)
* The only exception to this is adding a “read more” link so really long articles don’t display in their entirety on the front page. Anyone visiting the article directly will see it all on one page, and people would have to click off the main page to read comments anyway.