Almost quietly, WordPress announced this week that it would allow bloggers to have advertising on their WordPress hosted blogs. This news has been keenly anticipated by many bloggers and yet the announcement was brief and without fanfare, perhaps to avoid an immediate avalanche of uptake.
WordPress has, rightly, closely guarded the integrity and aesthetic of its platform and perhaps predictably, the move to allow advertising is being carefully controlled. At the same time, the announcement included thinly veiled criticisms of competitors.
The 229 word post on the WordPress news blog, began:
“Over the years one of the most frequent requests on WordPress.com has been to allow bloggers to earn money from their blog through ads. We’ve resisted advertising so far because most of it we had seen wasn’t terribly tasteful, and it seemed like Google’s AdSense was the state-of-the-art, which was sad. You pour a lot of time and effort into your blog and you deserve better.”
The post explained that the advertising program would be called AdWords – not dissimilar to the maligned AdSense – and “beginning with our partnership with Federated Media we’re ready to start rolling out AdWords here on WordPress.com.” The word “beginning” suggests further advertising partners may come in the future, but Federated Media is it for now.
Before this bit of news, there was more philosophical commentary on the art of blogging:
“Blogs are unique and they shouldn’t be treated like every other page on the internet. There are more than 50,000 WordPress-powered blogs coming online every day, and every time I explore them randomly I’m always surprised and delighted by how people are using the platform to express themselves.”
This could mean the appearance, style and content of advertising will be more carefully tuned to the bloggers chosen theme.
Then with nothing more than this declaration, “If you’re going to have advertising on your site, it darn well better be good,” interested WordPress bloggers were invited to fill out this form to let us know a bit about yourself.
There were a few little hurdles, though, to begin earning money from your much-loved blog. The blog needs to have a unique domain name (not just a generic wordpress.com address) and this needs to be mapped through WordPress at a cost of US$12 per year. (For example, my blog is peterhallett.wordpress.com but has the unique domain name utterance.com.au meaning I could register interest for advertising).
The form asked for country of residence, a PayPal account and for five topics to be picked which, presumably, related to blog content. Those registering interest are advised: “Selection will be based on level of traffic and engagement, type of content, and language used on a blog. Some blogs may not be accepted.”
After the form is submitted, an email is received saying, “our team will be reviewing your site to determine if it matches our criteria” but that it could take a few weeks for the assessment to take place.
This approach might seem restrictive when compared to the free-for-all advertising you can access on Blogspot and other platforms, but it is this caution and attention to detail that has made WordPress such a powerful place to blog.
Many WordPress bloggers will be more than happy to steer clear of advertising as for them, the message, art, community and connection is all that counts. Others who also feel this things, will be just a bit tempted at the thought of earning some financial reward from a pastime they love and spend much time doing.