Maybe Not Wonderful, but Okay

PW - Sponsored by IULove may make the world go round and money can’t buy me love. Even though some call it the root of all evil, I still find myself looking for ways to obtain more of that filthy lucre. If you have a website or blog, the eyeballs of your visitors are worth money. There are various ways to monetize your website. The most obvious and least intrusive is as an affiliate of Amazon or other vendors. If you have links to products on these websites, getting a cut when you send someone from your site who subsequently makes a purchase, seems like a no-brainer. But what about other options to pick up a little extra? Today I’m going to discuss advertising, focusing on Project Wonderful, one specific option to sell ad space on your site and also a way for authors and publishers who want to advertise to find potential sites on which to advertise.

First, I’ll briefly discuss two other options so we can compare the positives and negatives of each. When I first started my blog I wasn’t thinking about advertising, but the Blogspot platform (owned by Google) made it easy to add advertising using Google Adsense. I didn’t want to be one of those sites with an ad across the top of every page and embedded in the middle of every post, but decided a few very unobtrusive ads way down the page couldn’t hurt.

So I set those up and forgot about them with the thought that it might just be pennies, but those pennies would add up with zero effort on my part. They did. But they were just pennies, with $5-10 a month being a rough average although I sure it would be better if the ads had better page placement. (More site traffic would be even better.) Adsense has a minimum threshold of $100 before they’ll send you a payment, which means a long time from payment to payment. That’s a negative, but the biggest downside to Adsense is the lack of control over which ads are run. L.A. Lewandowski talked about this in her post earlier this year. While you can exercise some control to prevent running ads for Publish America or Kirkus, doing so is neither easy nor intuitive.

The other alternative is to sell ads directly. I’ve occasionally had authors, publishers, and others inquire about this and my answer has always been no. The positive to doing this is that these advertisers would be a better fit for the audience I’m able to deliver, making the ad space more valuable. However, when I considered the logistics of doing this, answering inquiries, record-keeping, swapping ads in and out, and so on, it was obvious that the price I’d have to charge to make the effort worthwhile compared unfavorably to the number of eyeballs I could deliver. I’d be a small-time predator, no better than Publish America, albeit, on a much smaller scale. Pass.

Then a potential advertiser brought Project Wonderful to my attention. In many ways it is like Google Adsense on a smaller scale. It functions much the same way. You define where ads will go, add some HTML code or a plugin to your site, and it automatically delivers ads to the appropriate spot on your page. It can be setup to function much like Google Adsense where you set it up and forget it. However, it gives you more control if you want it, as detailed as having to approve every ad. The price for ads is set by what they call an “infinite auction,” where advertisers bid for a space and whoever has the current highest bid has their ad delivered and account charged accordingly. The market decides what your ad space is worth. You can set a minimum bid for the space or leave the default as zero, which means that if only one advertiser is interested in your space, they’ll get it for free. You’re also allowed to setup a default ad to “advertise” on your own site, which is delivered when there aren’t any advertisers who have bid on a space. I’ve setup default ads for Indies Unlimited, like the one in the picture at the top.

It is also easy for advertisers to use, so when I get inquiries all I have to do is refer them to Project Wonderful, making the ad space accessible to the potential advertisers that are often the best fit for my audience.

The positives I’ve found are greater control over what ads are delivered to my site, with a downside that the more control I exercise, the more time is required of me. There is an affiliate program that gives a “publisher” (Project Wonderful’s term for a site that displays ads) a credit towards advertising on other sites themselves for any advertisers they refer. (Should I mention that the link to Project Wonderful at the top of this post is an affiliate link?) As with Adsense, you aren’t going to get rich unless you deliver a ton of eyeballs, but the payment threshold is lower. (Payments can be delivered with an account balance of only $10, with a negative that there is a $1 charge for each payment.) Also, like Adsense, the pennies do add up. For authors and other advertisers, this is a way to access cheap advertising.

I think I’ve used up all my allocated words, but if enough readers are interested, I could potentially do a tutorial in the future for publishers, advertisers, or both going into more detail on the various settings and options available. Let me know if you’re interested.

Author: Big Al

Big Al (who insists he only has one name, like Cher, Sting, and Madonna) spends his days writing computer programs that are full of typos, homonym errors, and incorrect verb usage. During his evenings, he writes reviews of indie books for BigAl’s Books and Pals and has recently taken over The IndieView, a website founded by indie author Simon Royle as a resource for indie authors, indie reviewers, and those who read either.

19 thoughts on “Maybe Not Wonderful, but Okay”

  1. I’m going to check out Project Wonderful. I’m sure advertisers are going to want a slice of the five people who read my website. Serious, though, it’s a good tip, and thanks for taking the time to post it. Al.

    1. LOL. I know they do some vetting of a site before approving it as a publisher (able to run ads). I think that might include a minimal traffic requirement. But the biggest thing they look for is content (not a brand new site with nothing there and content that is original).

      Thanks for the comment.

  2. Thanks for the info, Al. Project Wonderful sounds like a good tool if you’re looking for a teeny bit of passive income, or to advertise at rates you find comfortable on sites that are a good fit.

  3. Big Al! Good info. I would like to see a tutorial. I’d have to get my Webmaster to handle it, but it would be lovely to earn a few $$ to help pay the maintenance on .eNovel Authors at Work. What kind of traffic do you suppose Project Wonderful requires? eNovel is getting above 16,000 hits month now. I’m not certain how that fits in the scheme of things.
    Jackie Weger

    1. Your traffic is more than enough, Jackie. I’m not finding it right now, but believe I saw something that said they’d suspend an ad if it started getting less than 10 views a day.

      Potential advertisers can see how much traffic a particular spot gets (a 5 day average) and obviously the more traffic and their thoughts on how well the readers of that site will match their target factor into what they’re willing to pay, so I can’t see an ad spot that barely stays above that minimum being too valuable.

    1. Elisabeth, thanks for the comment. Since I’ve had a couple who are interested in tutorials, I’ll see what I can put together to run in the next couple months.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Lois. That post of yours sent me scrambling to block the ads from Kirkus and Publish America I suspect Google was serving up to me as well as rethinking advertising in general.

  4. Nice post, Al. I have been familiar with PW for many years, mostly because it’s all over sites and blogs in the online fiction field. It really caught on among the Web Fiction Guide set, with all the web serials advertising each other. I would tend to see it not as a money-maker so much as a reciprocal promo thing, where you swap ads on your site for your ads on others sites. To compare… what would it be like if everybody on Indies Unlimited had an ad space where they swapped out standard-sized ads with everybody else?

    1. Thanks, Lin. I’m not surprised to hear it is big in that field based on some of the sites that have bid on my advertising spots. I’ve seen a lot of web comics. And you’re right, it isn’t a way to get rich. Big money requires big traffic. But pennies add up to dollars and, depending on how a site manages their ad spots, it could be completely passive income. I’ve chosen to be a little more proactive in managing what ads I’m willing to take, but even that is a matter of a few seconds to quickly vet and approve ads a few times a day.

      Your swap idea is an interesting one. I’m assuming to make that work without actually paying to run the ads on each others sites (with Project Wonderful taking their cut both ways) could be done by setting a high minimum bid that no one would actually be willing to pay, then swapping out your default ads. That’s something that could work, I think. Right now I have my default ads setup to advertise one of my other sites or IU and often have a default ad running in some markets. But an arbitrarily high bid would insure the default would always be running.

      1. That ability to restrict ads to those you can stomach is really important. And everybody has seen horrible examples like blogs about the evils of vanity presses having ads for PublishAmerica stuck above them. Another nice thing about swap outs is that it tends so gravitate towards stuff that’s compatible with your own. I’m sure you saw that with web comics, and in the online serial community it’s ubiquitous, to the point that PW ads on many serials only feature other serials of similar content or style.

  5. For me this has been an eye-opener as I’ve not thought about having ads on my site before now. I think I might spend my Bank Holiday weekend delving further. After all, who wouldn’t like a little extra income if possible? Thank you, Al.

    1. Thanks, Carole. I think it is perfect for sites that get the kind of traffic mine (and I’m guessing yours) does.Enough to be worthwhile to advertisers, yet the monster sites (Salon, HuffPo, and IU) that can charge enough to make managing everything that selling directly involves and still be worthwhile.

    2. A cool thing about PW is you just slot up the sizes you want (chosen from their site) and make them available. Anybody wanting to advertise will have ads to fit your holes. You can have horizonal banners, square ads, vertical “sky scrapers”, whatever fits into your design.

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