When I started this blog back in 2004 it was entirely for my love of the game. HOG was intended to be and still is a great outlet for commentary on everything from golf course architecture to equipment to solving the shanks.
As the blog grew the overhead grew with it. Overhead would be hosting expenses, travel expenses (PGA Merchandise Show etc), and so on. I was actually kicked off many shared servers because the site sucked up all the bandwidth. As a result, I had to get my own dedicated server which is considerably more expensive. Because of operational costs like the dedicated server, I started taking on ads to offset the costs.
Despite the site’s visitors and readers increasing every year since it began, ad revenue has dropped, big. I’m talking 80-90%. Why? Part of the reason is the decline in the golf industry, but a large reason is Google. Google changes their search algorithms and/or policies and that has a big effect on ad revenue. One type of ad may become taboo, like text links. Text links used to be a nice revenue source for a few years. Recently however, I’ve actually had golf companies who paid for months or years in advance email and ask to have their links removed because changes in Google’s algo means those links hurt them more then helping them.
The net result is that I’ve cancelled all text link ads. Google ads are still producing, but at 1/10 of what they did two years ago. As a single, independent blogger without the budget or SEO team large golf sites have, I can’t spend all my time trying to figure out the latest change in advertising and search algorithms.
I’ve thought of cancelling all ads entirely but that would mean I’d be operating in a hole. Well, I should say more of a hole.
Over the years I’ve declined hundreds of requests for online casino or gambling ads. I’ve also declined paid post types of ads. I still receive many requests for these types of ads and can’t help thinking that my Google revenue is nearly worthless as it is so why not try them for a time and see what happens?
So I pose these questions:
I have every intention of keeping HOG up and running for many years to come. An activity which takes up so much of my time which could be spent with my family or actually playing golf should cover its own costs and hopefully produce some fruit. The golf gods know I’ve been sewing seeds for years.