The Katana: Advertising For A Cause

Ready, Set, Go! From now on, all advertising revenue after operating costs will be donated to charity!  I’ve finally got off my rump to figure out this peculiar aspect of blogging.

For the past 6 months I’ve been very disinterested in advertising.  The only thing that did interest me was practicing “free-writing”, meeting new folks, and learning new things.  I played around with various advertising platforms like Adsense early on, and I just scratched my head wondering who would click on ads such as “600% Penny Stocks”?  What if the advertiser was a scam?  For those who use Adsense, more power to you.  It’s my own personal issue for not being entirely comfortable with their platform.

As I learned more about advertising online, I realized there were other solutions to my pre-screening desires.  One solution is to sign up with affiliate advertising networks such as LinkShare (thanks Matt Bell), where I can screen hundreds of advertisers beforehand to provide relevant solutions or interests to readers.  We still will never know with 100% certainty the veracity of the products (Enron anybody?), but at the very least, it’s one level higher than putting up contextual advertisements where we have no control over.

It’s important that advertising never alters the spirit of this site. We will not be like politicians, swayed by corporate interest groups and their tantalizing dollars.  If there’s a product we like we’ll endorse it and introduce the product to others.  If not, we just won’t bother no matter how attractive the incentives.  Making money online is a learned skill that takes time to cultivate.  The best ads are those which are unobtrusive and relevant.

MIND SHIFT

The devastation in Haiti reminds us that if one has the ability to help, no matter how small a way, we should probably do something.  I firmly believe that if you breach the Top 100,000 in the Yakezie Alexa Challenge, you can make at least $1,000/month.  Hope this motivates some of you.

A major mind shift occurred when I changed the thought of making money for myself to making money for someone else.  I’m ashamed to say, but $1,000/month didn’t interest me because it is a relatively small percentage of my income.  Ironically, if my income was smaller, I would probably be extremely interested in making money for myself  if that makes any sense.  In fact, to think about all the hours I put into this site for just $1,000/month would make me want to quit!

To prevent temptation of spending the income on fast cars and fun times in Vegas, my trusted consultant will be the recipient of all advertising revenue.  My consultant will donate the proceeds to various local and international charities on this site’s behalf.  If there is a way for Advertisers to donate directly to specific charities and never send us any money, that is a good solution as well.

For Advertisers: A permanent Advertise page has been created for your reference.

FAVORITE ARTICLES OF THE WEEK

* “How To Make Money With A Blog” by Pete offers a great resource for all bloggers looking to monetize.  The article comes especially handy with this site’s new initiative, as well as for all the aspiring Yakezie members!

* “Chaos Is An Inspiration For Change, But Don’t Wait” by Flexo encourages us to choose our own destiny.  Chaos led me to go to business school back in 2001-2003, and the recent financial implosion was the impetus to start this site.

* “Why Doesn’t Anyone Feel Remorse When It Comes To High Income Earners And Taxes?” by E-dog tries to garner sympathy for those in the highest tax brackets.  Can you imagine paying $100,000 a year in taxes?  Painful.  But, don’t feel sorry for them because they’re likely still taking home $300,000 a year after taxes.

Winners of “Get Financially Naked”: Cathy D and @Elle_CM!  Please e-mail me your addresses so the publicists can send you copies of this fine book.

The Samurai Fund Update: Still in the green +0.15% vs. -2% for the S&P.  Those who are not actively participating are at risk of being replaced due to a high demand of entries.

On Tap for The Week: Book review and giveaway, dealing with delusional people, discussing moral hazard and more!

Thanks everybody for stopping by.  With our new initiative, we’re as excited as ever to keep this site going!

Keiju,

Sam @ Financial Samurai – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”

Follow on Twitter @FinancialSamura and subscribe to our RSS or E-mail feed.

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. says

    Wow, very impressive and honorable!

    One of my biggest reasons for blogging is to create a side business that eventually will help fund my kid’s college account (and maybe other life enhancing activities for them). After my son (and daughter) starts college, I’d love to pass of my site to them to continue.

    The more I’ve been blogging, the more I enjoy it. It’s kind of like a puzzle and it makes me think and write better (I hope). The only negative aspect to it is my wife thinks I’m crazy… :)

    Your selection of the life insurance baby ad give me a little smile everytime I visit, very funny!
    .-= Moneyreasons´s last blog ..My Financial Pyramind =-.

  2. says

    Good for you, it is a great thing to be able to donate to charities. I agree though that $1,000 a month is a good bit more beneficial when you income is lower. $1,000 a month would certainly go a long way towards improving my mediocre savings/investment portfolio.
    .-= Kyle C.´s last blog ..Think Things Through or it Could Cost You =-.

  3. 20smoney says

    Good comments on advertising. As another blog owner, I too wrestle with the various ad formats. Ive tried to screen and block certain ads with Adsense but like you said its tough.
    .-= 20smoney´s last blog ..Selective Hearing… =-.

  4. says

    FS – You’re showing some real conscience with this post and you’re being a model to us all.

    Personally, I see blogging as 1) fun to do, 2) as a platform to get my little ideas out into the big, bad world, and 3) if I can make some money doing it, all the better.

    No matter what we do, our actions will never be pure, especially in the area of making money. We’re swimming in a poluted pond in the world and we’re bound to drink some of it in.

    I like adsense if only because it takes that part of blogging off my plate, and that’s full enough trying to manage the technical and creative side of the operation. I really don’t like some of the ads, but I tolerate them so I can focus on my dedicated mission.

    If I get to the point where an extra $1k doesn’t mean much to me, it’ll be time to read this post again. In the meantime, back to writing…
    .-= Kevin@OutOfYourRut´s last blog ..Buying vs Renting a Home – Its Not All About Money =-.

  5. says

    Sounds a little like my own About page…

    Even though I’m just building my site (already gone through some “renovations”) I’ve already considered advertising “for a good cause”. It’s costing me $4/mo to share my thoughts (whatever happened to a penny for your thoughts?) so I’d like to recoup my operational costs, but I think it would be great to run promotions/sweepstakes for readers along with finding financial organizations to support like the one I and youhavemorethanyouthink.org volunteer at.

    What a long sentence – I don’t think it’s a run-on though :)

    Everbank is great for someone in your income/savings range. They offer many different products with higher than normal caps on their promotions.
    .-= FinEngr´s last blog ..Convenience Tax: You’re Only Charging Yourself =-.

  6. says

    Good for you Sam! I have been thinking of something similar, but haven’t put it into action yet. I am hoping to push advertising for responsible companies that are also sustainable and as green as possible. I think we consumers and others can bring about a lot of positive change by rewarding the right kind of companies. Thanks for setting such a good example.
    .-= Tracy´s last blog ..Village Economics: Custom Debt Solutions From the Community =-.

  7. says

    @Moneyreasons
    Definitely an honorable goal to build up enough revenue for your kid’s education! Well done. I just don’t have anybody in my immediate family who needs supporting at the moment.

    @Kyle C.
    It’s weird… I can imagine if I was a student, or just several years out of college I would be obsessed with making money from this site, and checking Google Adsense all day and stuff. But, I’m compartamentalized this site as a hobby, and not as a money making machine. I didn’t ask to be able to have a platform to make money, but since there is this platform based on the traffic, the proceeds can be used to help someone else.

    @Ryan @ Planting Dollars
    I have some local charities, and bigger ones in mind. I will probably highlight them in the future. I’m careful not to try and bend others will to donate to a specific cause, because every cause is a good one from someone.

    @Kevin@OutOfYourRut
    You’re right about swimming in a poluted pond. You’ve seen everything in the PF sphere, where someone will highlight a product over and over again fo you know what. I think it’s because they lack the skill to seemlessly blend in the ad with the conent. It’s too in your face.

    I’ve got to develop this skill. My benchmark is currently, if ads are too annoying or intrusive to me, they’ll be annoying to others.

    $1k/month is a nice amount of money to have extra if one does nothing. But, if I start thinking about $1k/month as the goal for this site, that’s just a non starter, b/c that’s not the goal.

    Nice gravatar btw!

    @FinEngr
    Sounds good man. We should all do whatever we want with our site and our proceeds. To each his/her own.

  8. Chris in Boston says

    Moral Activism never ends well. After all Moral Activism and liberalism IS what killed California.
    Why give away your revenue from Ads?

    You are a capitalist no?

    Keep the money! Invest it! When you make your millions then be the philanthropist.

  9. says

    Just out of curiosity, I see how you don’t need the money and how you treat this blog as your idealistic pursuit. Do you see that receiving money/income from this blog for personal enjoyment would “pollute” your idealism, hence you feel “ashamed” (as you mentioned above… although in a different context) of it?

    Hey, I wouldn’t mind $1k/month. Do you need an address for an international charity recipient? :)

    Way to go, Sam.
    .-= Bytta @151 Days Off´s last blog ..Day 11: Designing Your Life with Savings Snowball =-.

  10. Charlie says

    I like the wisebread article and the expirations article. I usually go about 6 months past expiration before I start getting worried. I’ve also learned now to buy the jumbo bottles of tylenol, etc, as there’s no way I’d get close to finishing the bottle in time of the expiration. I used to only take tylenol for aches and pains but discovered that aspirin works great for me and is SUPER cheap.

  11. says

    @Mike
    Oh stop, it’s really no big deal :)

    @Chris in Boston
    Didn’t realize California was dead. Who’s to say I don’t have millions already? Again, this is a hobby, so if this blog is about making $1,000/month, it’s a waste of my time.

    @Bytta @151 Days Off
    Yes indeed, that’s why I say that I will not allow money or advertising soil the spirit of this site, ever. I would love to have an extra $1,000/month if I didn’t have to do anything. However ,like I said, if I run this site for money, then I’m really wasting my time. This site is for fun first, and it so happens that money can be made from it. Hence, why not just give it to someonewho needs it more.

    The Aussie Open this year rocks btw! You watching it?
    .-= The Genius´s last blog ..W&M Dining Services to compost food waste =-.

  12. says

    Ah yes, plenty of interesting ‘comebacks’. I developed an appreciation to tennis a couple of years ago. I only follow the semi final and final matches. The Australian Open courts are only 10 minutes from my office. Pretty soon, I’ll hear the F1 noises; the grand prix circuit is only a jump and a hop away from my office. Funny how I’ve never attended it.

    So, do you have any minimum income requirement to change your mind and make this blog a capitalism pursuit?
    .-= Bytta @151 Days Off´s last blog ..Day 11: Designing Your Life with Savings Snowball =-.

  13. says

    I started blogging to get things off my chest and as a way to interact and learn from the PF blogging experts out there, and can definitely say that I have learned a lot from big guys like you who set the bar. One day if I do monetize and have questions I’ll know whom to ask :)

    btw, this is not to plug my post, but there are much better rates than 1.51% at local banks, which I coincidentally talked about today. I do realize that you probably cannot access ads from smaller institutions.

  14. says

    @Bytta @151 Days Off
    Only 10 minutes away, sweet! You should watch Rafa vs. Murray in a couple hours then. That’s a huge match but i’ll be sleeping by then.

    I don’t have a minimum inome req to make this site a capital pursuit. But, if I lose my job, I could use all the help I can get. I figure if I can just give the money away while I work, I’ll use the income fromt he site when I retire in 9-10 years.

  15. says

    I was thinking about this on my way to work today (kind of ashamed to admit that – it took a while before I could actually type it), and I may be the first person to say I disagree with your decision.

    You are lucky to have a hobby that may produce an income, regardless of whether it was $1,000 or $10,000/month that income may provide for a down payment for a child’s house (if you have them), that income could be used to fund education pursuits of your child, it may be used in some way to better your family.

    Do you have to use 100% of it for your family? No, but I think to give it all away is a disservice to your family. Think about it, saving just one year’s income (at $1,000/month) for the benefit of a son or daughter, neice or nephew, could help them pay for education or for a down payment on a home.

    Maybe its because i am more selfish than you, maybe it is because I don’t make as much as you in the 9 to 5 arena, maybe its because yeou have 15 or so comments commending you and telling you how amazing you are LOL

    Or maybe just have to be different.
    .-= Evan´s last blog ..The Basics of Personal Finance are Not Hard It Doesn’t Matter if you Make $46,000 or $460,000 =-.

  16. says

    @Evan
    Nope, you are the second to disagree. It’s cool if you do, and I expect it. I guess I’m lucky, but it’s funny when people use the word luck. Yes, I’m lucky to have the initiative to start this site, as you are to yours. And I’m lucky to have fingers to type on and a brain to think with. Somehow, it really does seem like “the harder one works, the luckier one gets.”

    My family is being taken care of for now, knock on wood. If I ever lose my job one day, or come on hard times, I most definitely will use the proceeds of this site to support myself. Maybe in 10 years, when I’m retired, and have only a little bit of income, I can rely on this site. But for now, I don’t want the money.

    It’s an important mindset to have.. to NOT write for money. Think about how many hours you spend on your site, compared to your income as a lawyer. What a waste of time, if it’s for the money! I want this site to be about community and personal enrichment. If it can provide some income to others, even better and more motivating to keep on going.

    Sam-urai

  17. says

    Like you, I’ve refrained from Adsense on my investing blog. I tried it out, but couldn’t bring myself to promote the things I ended up promoting.

    That said, I use it on my tax site and am much more comfortable with the majority of the ads. It mostly just ends up being tax software.
    .-= Mike Piper´s last blog ..Lending Club Risks and Costs =-.

  18. says

    well i think adsense is good program till now this program had helped me to earn some bucks but when we talk about quality of ads then it cannot be said that adsense is wrong why because when you pick a newspaper we can find various illegal ads which a intelligent person will never opt for.

    Penny stocks ha ha ha really i have also seen those ads doubling your money in 2 years or 1 year or so well they looks good but not good enough
    .-= blog´s last blog ..Free Fund Manager Desktop Software (Nse /Bse) =-.

  19. says

    Adsense is a real love/hate/hate/hate decision for me. I have set up filters so regular readers don’t see it until an article is a couple of weeks old (apart from one spot and one link list) but I still don’t like it.

    I have two problems: Firstly, I set myself a traffic goal to get to before I devoted time to monetizing the site in a way that felt more congruent, and it’s taking forever to get there.

    Secondly, as a UK based blog my pool who might want to buy an affiliate product is much smaller (population 1/5th) and a third of my readers are American either. I’ll probably end up targeting UK readers with affiliate deals, but I’ll still have to pipe Adsense at the rest of the world I think.

    Unfortunately, I’m not rich enough to give away all the income. If you don’t mind me adding a link to Monevator, I wrote a piece on how what seems like a relatively small amount of regular income is actually worth a lot if you consider the capital it would take to generate it:

    http://monevator.com/2009/02/13/small-passive-income-streams/

    Best of luck to you with your charity idea. Have you considered doing something more focused so you can see the results more concretely – The School that the Samurai Blog built or similar?

    One of my favourite entrepreneurial bloggers does this in South Africa:

    http://therockstarfoundation.org/

    Just an idea, but I could imagine you responding to that sort of vision.
    .-= Monevator´s last blog ..How to make money developing iPad apps =-.

  20. says

    @Mike Piper
    Sounds like a good balance Mike. It’s also kind of a zero sum game. If I put Adsense up, it takes space away from something else. Worth playing around with though.

    @Monevator
    This goes back to one of my old questions to you…. how come the English aren’t as relevant or as innovative as Americans, besides HTML and Skype of course? Are the Brits really at a disadvantage when it comes to making money online? I’ve received several offers from English-based SEO companies asking to do something, so I’m testing the legitimcy of one out for a month (see UK Sponsors). If it’s good, fine. If not, I’ll introduce them to you! :)

    I have several charities in mind. Most are local. It’ll be a next topic sometime soon. I like that other guy’s idea.

    People can drop in links as much as they want here. I have no problems with it at all (wrote so in one of the Katana’s).

    Cheers, Sam

    • says

      Yo E-dog – Uh oh, you be track me. I get a solid 4-5 hours of sleep every night! Especially after 2 hours of tennis and squash like last night. :)

      I have a funny story, but it will have to wait until another post. Signing off!

  21. says

    That’s very admirable of you to donate your blogging income to charity. Much props for that! I also struggled with whether or not to put adsense on my site when I try to monetize it, because of irrelevant ads or ads I don’t feel comfortable promoting. Do you know of any other avenues to provide more relevant ads?

    Also, did you really just start up your blog in the summer of ’09? If so, you’ve created a pretty well-established in a short time. Congrats on that!
    .-= Darren´s last blog ..How I’ve Managed To Stay Out of Debt =-.

    • says

      Hi Darren! Thanks for stopping by. You can do linkshare.com and cj.com for affiliate advertising where you can choose what you’d like to promote. Also, if you gain more traffic outside advertisers will approach you as well. There’s a fine line as well. I don’t think Adsense is bad per say, it’s just not my cup of tea.

      Once you focus on making money for your blog, I think the quality and spirit go downhill b/c the money is so little.

      Yes, it was started in the summer of 2009!

      Hope to see you around more often!

      Best, Sam

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