Should Artists Put Ads on their Websites? Pros and Cons:

by Dan in Misc > Art Opinion

Published May 12th 2008

When the internet first started, online ads were non-existent. Now, they’re everywhere—mostly because both Google and Yahoo offer easy ways for blog or website owners to make a little money from advertising.

Google’s advertising program (Adsense) creates little blocks of text and images that you can place anywhere on your website or blog. I see Adsense ads all the time on art blogs and occasionally even on an artist’s portfolio sites.

But is it worth it? What are the pros and cons to putting ads right next to your art?

After thinking about it all weekend, I only came up with one “pro” compared to four “cons” for putting ads on your art website. Keep in mind, I’m specifically talking about online portfolios and daily art/painting a day blogs—for any other type of website many of my “cons” don’t apply.

Let’s start with the single (and rather obvious) reason to put ads on your site:

1. You’ll make some money

For most artists, the amount you’d earn from putting Adsense ads (or Yahoo ads) on your site will be enough to pay for your hosting fees, or go out to dinner once a month.

Even if it’s not very much, it WILL be something—so if earning a little spending money on the side sounds good to you, then Adsense isn’t a bad way to go.

And. . . over time you may start to earn more. It just depends on how much time and effort you put into it.

Now here are four reasons why ads might not be so good:

1. Ads will keep you from getting links

Some folks simply don’t like ads (who can blame them?) and choose not to link to websites with advertisements.

Others might not care quite as much, but would still avoid linking to you because of how your ads look. If your ads don’t match the rest of your website, or are too distracting, they might link somewhere else instead.

Want to find a happy medium? Try taking the ads off of your home page to keep that page looking as nice as possible. You might find out that people are a little more willing to link to you after that.

2. Ads won’t make you much money for a long time

When you first put up ads on your website or blog, odds are you’re not going to earn anything but pocket change.

That’s because the amount you earn from programs like Google Adsense is directly related to the amount of visitors that come to your site every day.

If you’re getting less than 50 visitors per day at your art blog or website, I’d suggest skipping the ads entirely. Wait until you’re closer to 200 or 300 visitors—then at least you’ll be earning dollars per day instead of cents.

3. Galleries (and buyers) might overlook you

If the main goal of your website is to promote your art to potential galleries, then please consider going ad-free. Ads often look cheap and unprofessional, and that can rub off on your artwork if you’re not careful.

Some buyers might feel the same way, so if selling your art is really important to you, I’d suggest giving ads a pass.

4. Ads will always distract from your art

Some ads are more distracting than others, but all ads are meant to pull attention away from the main content of your website. Occasionally you’ll also find ads you disagree with—politically, religiously, morally—and that may be an issue too.

Ultimately, by putting ads on your site, you’re giving viewers more incentive to leave and reducing the impact of your art while they’re there.

For artists who really want to let their art shine, I’d stay away from ads all together.

That’s all I’ve got—can you think of any other pros or cons I’ve missed? Let me know.

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