Cost of Ad-Free Blogging at WordPress.com

This blog, like most hosted by WordPress.com, carries ads, albeit not all the time. Automattic controls the ads and gets the money from them. It’s one of the ways in which Automattic makes money from the free WordPress.com service. So this blog, like many hosted by WordPress.com, includes posts about ads and the wish that they were banished from the blog.

The same wish is sometimes expressed on the support forums, although not as often as the wish to be able to control and profit from the ads on one’s blog. People seeking such control and profit seem incapable of using the forum’s search box. The many forum threads include frequent reference to Automattic’s statement that: In the future you’ll be able to purchase an upgrade to either turn the ads off or show your own ads and make money from your blog.

This is course raises the question of how much such an upgrade might cost. I just saw an estimate from the redoubtable raincoaster.

But my guess (and it’s a total guess) is that if there were an upgrade to take Adsense off your blog, it would have to cost at least ten bucks a month. So $120 a year, just to replace the income WP.com makes from the average blog here.

Raincoaster doesn’t work for Automattic or for Google, and she did stress that she’s guessing. But I’d take her “total guess” over a confident prediction by many other people. In particular, I’m inclined to think that she’d got the decimal point in the right place.

I’m also inclined to think that most of us who were planning an upgrade to ad-free had in mind an annual cost of $15 or thereabouts, in line with other upgrades. If it would cost Automattic around 10 times that, we might be waiting a long time for an upgrade we’d care to pay for.

4 thoughts on “Cost of Ad-Free Blogging at WordPress.com”

  1. What’s really scary is that even if Automattic is making just a few dollars a month on each blog, multipling it by the number of blogs that are active and visable, it’s some serious cash.

    Raincoaster’s “quote” actually comes from a couple of months ago where she mentioned in passing that Automattic couldn’t be making that much money off of advertising and how the $29 million just raised outdistanced the amount. I walked her through the numbers and showed here is was about at the same level. Even if a blog makes ten cents a day, when multiplied by the number of active and viewed blogs over at wp.com, it’s some serious cash every month coming in.

    The ten bucks a month seems high to me. At ten cents a day on average, I’d put it more around $3-4 a month brought it. It’s still some serious cash. Do remember though that for every high end blog that gets 5k hits a day, there’s hundreds that only get a few hits so I think it balances.

    edublogs.org is removing adverts at $25 a year as well as throwing in some extra features.

  2. I was including the bigger blogs before they go pro, eg Failblog, at an average of ten bucks, using the overall “it makes enough to pay for hosting” talk I’ve heard. But yes, Dr Mike opened my eyes to the total amount of money.

    There’s an additional factor. I really think they’re looking to attract funding from major media sources, and those are very keen on advertising. I think this upgrade is completely off the table until the next round of funding is closed, and I think they want that to happen soon.

  3. $25 per year is a sensible amount. (Insanejournal are asking the same at the moment, while LJ paid accounts are a little less at $20). More than that, and people start to think they might as well go self-hosted.

    Of course, the other thing those sites have going for them is that people will invest in upgrades they don’t really need just to support the site. WordPress.com aren’t perceived as needing any extra help, so it’s harder for them to sell paid features and they’re that much more reliant on advertising.

    I think rain’s right about the push to attract funding (failure to deliver on other long-promised features such as the theme marketplace and weekend .com support suggests they’ve burned through the last round, and I doubt they’d be able to launch talkpress without another one). And I still wouldn’t rule out some sort of advertising partnership with a desperate Yahoo.

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