Make money from Adsense without turning off your readers

What blogger wouldn’t like to make some money from their blog? But if you paste a bunch of ads all over your site, your regular readers might get sick of your blatant commercialism. How do you get the best of both worlds?

Kiltak recently shared a secret with me on this topic — and since he basically stuffed money into my pocket, I think it’s fitting that for my first guest post at [GAS] I share this little tip with you:

Find a few posts on your blog that continue to get the most traffic well after they were posted, and place a 300×250 Adsense ad unit within the text of the post, floating in the upper right. It’s important that the post’s text wrap around the ad. You also want the ad to blend in, so use colors and styling that match the content of your site.

The beauty of this approach lies in an understanding of the difference between the habits of your regular readers and those that visit your post later. By waiting at least a week after posting, your loyal audience will have already read the entry and moved on, so they won’t be bothered by the ad. By picking a steadfastly popular post, however, you’re guaranteed to get some click-thrus.

The pot gets even sweeter for posts that get most of their recurring traffic from Google. There’s a very good chance that whatever the user was searching for will be found with a nice blue link in that ad unit, right in front of their faces.

Caveats: Adsense TOS does not allow you to place images next to an ad unit, so you have to be careful about pictures that are close to the top of your post. Remember that some users run in a smaller resolution than you do, too — which might move a left-justified image up next to the unit. Also, Adsense limits you to three ad units per page, so you have to avoid exceeding that number. Which leads to my next point.

Instead of pasting the Adsense script code directly into your post, you might want to alter your blog theme to do this for you automagically. On Chip’s Quips and Chip’s Tips, I added a category called “Wildly Popular“. My theme code looks for that category when rendering posts, and if I haven’t already placed three ads on the page, it inserts one inside a <div style=”float:right”>. So now, all I have to do is monitor popular content (I use Google Analytics) and when I see a post that has grown long legs, I just go add it to the “Wildly Popular” category.

No doubt others have discovered similar approaches. If you have evidence of prior art, just post a link here in the comments.

What other monetization strategies do you use?