Each month this year, I've seen a steady increase in the number of visits to this site. January through May, traffic grew from twenty to twenty two thousand visits each month. Then the numbers exploded into thirty three thousand in June, and sixty thousand in July! August saw just under sixty thousand visits. July was something of a ringer for my stats, because July had the WordPress Backup Week, for which I released the WP-DB Backup plugin (thanks again to Owen for his phenomenal contributions to that!).
I know a lot of people spend a lot of time and energy trying to drive traffic to their sites. These people are almost all trying to get eyeballs to the advertisements adorning their pages, and are not always strictly interested in giving the visitors meaningful content. And still other people spend a lot of time and energy trying to put advertisements on their sites to begin with.
I've been thinking a lot about ads, lately. I imagine (though don't know for sure) that I could earn some modest spending cash from ads on this site, given the volume of traffic. The money would be useful. But I worry that I'd then begin to focus on ensuring that eyeballs come back to see the ads on my site. I'd switch from full-text feeds to summary feeds, to force readers to click through to read my posts. I'd sprinkle ads between the posts, to ensure that you, the reader, would see them, instead of just ignoring everything in the sidebar as I so often do. I'd labour over writing posts that earn traffic, as opposed to posts that are indpendently meaningful. In short, things would change for the worse.
I didn't start this blog, or this website, to make money. I started it to share my thoughts; and then to contribute to the collective body of knowledge about a variety of subjects. I enjoy the interactions I've had with people from all over the world. I enjoy not worrying about how many visitors I've had in any given month; and I enjoy being surprised when a post I make receives a lot of traffic.
I've earned a few bucks, and a few luxury items, from my WordPress plugins. Some folks have donated cash; others have purchased items from my Amazon wishlist. These are so much more meaningful -- and genuine -- to me than any advertising revenue.
I'm not saying that advertisements are necessarily bad; though I do think that they are increasingly diminishing the usability of many websites.
What do you think?