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Rodion Gorkovenko for CodeAbbey

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Ads or Donations - what you prefer to gain money with your site?

After you get, say, your first steady 1000 daily pageviews with your web-site, you become curious - is there a way to make some profit from it?

At least to return money paid for hosting, domain name etc.

If you have some experience in this - please share! If not - welcome to read about mine :)

Survey about Ads

results of survey about ads - people either hate them or block them

Approach tried - Ads from Google

So I started thinking about CodeAbbey - my hobby web-site with coding exercises - after about a year and half after its start.

I read about Google Adsense and after some efforts added small ad banner to top-right corner, shown on most of pages. I just didn't want to annoy my users with something larger. However even with this I found that:

  • only about half pageviews load ads - obviously many people use ad-blockers!
  • my users are of specific category - mostly techies and many of them studying - who don't pay much attention to ads at all
  • some ads are quite inappropriate, silly or embarrassing, especially on mobile (so I switched them off on mobile);
  • in total, return is small - in best times it generated about 10-15 bucks per month (with hosting currently about 13 per month);
  • during last one or two years ads have become even more silly and their revenue dropped to about 7-8 per month.

That's just ain't no good! Of course Google Adsense proposes "to improve your revenue" by putting large (half-screen) ads on pages, but I feel it will look like "damned boolsheet" for our users. And we value our users more than few bucks, right? :)

Considering Donations

So currently I'm thinking about turning off ads at all and switching to donations. I previously had few occasional transfers from some kind people - notably one fellow affectionately sent me $100 after he have impressed his opponent while being interviewed for some developer job - by showing his profile at my site and explaining solution of some advanced tasks.

I've tried survey about people's feeling and it seems to be favorable:

donations survey

However there seem to be several things to care about yet:

  • seemingly I need "business"-type account at paypal - correct me if I'm wrong
  • and as I'm going to send some small gifts (mugs, t-shirts) in case of too generous donations - it is important to get notified timely - and arrange some way of asking people for their postal address
  • and obviously it is important to come up with some design for any gift postcards, mugs or t-shirts - and find out where to produce them and how to pack them.
  • last but not least, I'm sure I'll need to figure out how to properly pay taxes according to our local laws (taxes from normal salary in our country are deducted automatically and we never need to care of this).

So I'm still working to this switch. If you have any advice - please share!

Top comments (9)

patarapolw profile image
Pacharapol Withayasakpunt

My favorite is Cat GIF. Not sure if it is even effective, though.

A popup on end-users' side (who might not even be a programmer), might be effective, though. Users might be able to choose between do not notify again and notify later. -- I have fallen to donative via this method sometimes, if I really like the product.

aleixmorgadas profile image
Aleix Morgadas

I'm also thinking about Donations model to support a web application.

Have you considered a model like or ?

rodiongork profile image
Rodion Gorkovenko

Thanks for the links! I studied both briefly but feel that probably I'm not ready for either. The first seems to mean being over-scrupulous - this is good, but when I imaging describing like "got $40 from ..., sent t-shirt as reward, t-shirt cost $14, postal expenses $7" (not including cost of my time spent in post-office) - or deciding whether it is correct to pay from these money for expenses on some satellite web-project (e.g. also eductational, also about programming - but not related directly to the first site, like cp-algorithms). That is too difficult level of detalization to maintain easily.

The second seems to mean exactly what it says - levels of paid membership - and that is what I want never to happen. As web-site is educational, not really commercial - I prefer that any education opportunity is equally accessible to everyone, and this means free. Though perhaps they suggest some "elevated" or "honorable" membership which could be just an option not related to functionality. I'll see more about this, thanks!

aleixmorgadas profile image
Aleix Morgadas

Yeah... Find a donation method that matches the values and vision of an open source project is challenging.

Another approach is, my opinion about sponsors that that seems strange that you support and individual over a project.

When building a community, for me it's better if I support the whole project over an individual. In case the main maintainer leaves the project, supporting the project as a whole seems more probable that it continues alive by other members of the community.

But I understand that you, as a main maintainer/contributor, you would like to receive some money compensation for your work.

Hard to choose and even harder to monetize via Donations ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. I hope you the best with trying a new monetization model ( ᐛ )و

rodiongork profile image
Rodion Gorkovenko

Hi Friend! Sorry for I'm bit short on time right now to read and comment your message in complete - it's 23:17 here and I'm still to walk the dog :) But about Golang - yes, I do have opinion!

I just recently started looking at it myself. Learning it is much easier than Scala - and still it provides more interesting features - threads and messages out of the box. And very curious typesystem. It concentrates on offering simple syntax so you'll spent much less time to learn it to decent level.

I recently tried my first test-project for some open position - never heard back, but I'm pretty satisfied with my efforts.

If you look at tiobe index, you'll see Golang is soaring to 11 from 18 during last year. Scala is not even in top-20. And I think Scala has dark times ahead as they are struggling to push 3rd version.

So while I can't say Golang is ideal (it has features I dislike - and its standard library is somewhat messy) - but I think I want to switch to it from Java / Bigdata myself. Perhaps I'll succeed this year.