Some Advice for Bloggers Kicked “Off the Dole” By Pajamas Media

Some days it’s catastrophic credit meltdowns. Some days it’s avian flu. And some days it’s global jihad that causes bloggers to wear out their keyboards typing, “WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!”

This weekend, however, it was news of the impending demise of the Pajamas Media advertising arm that had at least one blogger proclaiming the fall of the digital sky. Pajamas Media CEO Roger Simon offered the following explanation for dismantling the beleaguered ad network:

Actually that part of our business has been losing money from the beginning, so the people getting their quarterly checks from PJM were getting a form of stipend from us in the hopes that advertisers would start to cotton to blogs and we could possibly make a profit. Didn’t happen. No wonder those people are kicking and screaming now that they are off the dole. I might too. [What’s their beef? I thought most of them were free marketeer libertarians or something.-ed. Go figure.]

Protein Wisdom blogger Jeff Goldstein is one of the aforementioned kickers and screamers:

What this means is that as of April 1, I am officially out of work. So save going to a pay model, this site will likely have to shut down.

Small price to pay for helping PJM pick up an audience and credibility during its “formative years.

Other PJM bloggers were less distressed. The Anchoress and Ace are disappointed, but ready to plan their next moves, and Allahpundit is taking the loss in stride (so one can only assume he’s been abducted and replaced by a non-Eeyore.) Neo-neocon isn’t surprised (and gets points for the Hitchhiker’s Guide reference), and Rob at Say Anything actually seemed sort of pleased to get out from under the PJM contract. No reaction yet from most other blogs in the Pajamas Media network.

I have a lot of sympathy for these bloggers. I’ve been self-employed in online marketing for almost four years, and the industry is often hair-rippingly frustrating and unpredictable. But that’s exactly why the “Pajamas Media or Bust” revenue model was ill-advised and simply not viable in the long term.

That said, there’s no need for Chicken Little impressions. The demise of the PJM ad network is not a reason for affected bloggers to hoard Ramen and dust off their camping gear. Instead, it is an opportunity for them to reassess their income goals and strategies.

There are three things the PJM network bloggers ought to consider immediately if they want their sites to generate decent income:

Ad Diversification

Putting all your eggs in a single advertising network’s basket is asking for trouble, even if that network is financially solvent. I know bloggers who have lost 100 percent of their income overnight, even when their ads are served by stable companies like Google. An accidental violation of their terms of service and you’re out the door, no second chances.

It’s time to decide: is your blog a hobby or a business? If it’s a business, it’s essential to diversify revenue sources, never relying on a single company to provide all of your earnings. Branch out to affiliate networks like Commission Junction, Copeac, and Neverblue and contextual ad services like Google Adsense. Pajamas Media and BlogAds are not the be all and end all. Also explore private ad sales and RSS feed monetization. There are as many opportunities to acquire advertisers as there are active blogs on the Internet if you make the effort to find them.

In other words, it’s time to hustle.


Especially if your blog is meeting your earnings expectations, it’s easy to grow complacent, and let’s face it, lazy when it comes to increasing revenue. Get too comfortable with how things are going and you’ll be the one writing a “Goodbye Cruel World” post announcing your blogging End of Days.

Experimentation is key. I’ve seen a blogger more than triple her revenue by implementing a seemingly negligible change in the color of a contextual ad. Contrary to common practice, I’ve watched the earnings for a site double by reducing the number of ad units on each page. And I’ve seen the ad click through rate increase 500 percent when a blogger switched to a different WordPress theme. If you aren’t experimenting and testing, you’re probably leaving money on the table.

Forget the Ads

Evaluate less direct ways of monetizing traffic. Consider Michelle Malkin’s eponymous blog. Obviously she’s running PJM ads, but her blog is also a high traffic advertisement for her books, articles, and speaking engagements, all of which contribute to the development of Michelle Malkin as a brand. The more popular her blog, the more in demand she is for news segments and the more copies she’ll sell each time she publishes a book. Sure, not every blogger is as telegenic as Michelle Malkin, but talented writers with large, devoted audiences have plenty of opportunities in print media if they seek them out.


GayPatriot, Neo-neocon, and Rightwing Nuthouse, all PJM network bloggers, offer some of the most thoughtful political analysis on the right side of the blogosphere. While those are among my favorites, many of the affected bloggers have huge followings and would be sorely missed if they closed up shop without first taking the business side of blogging seriously. Here’s hoping they turn this potential financial blow into an opportunity for even greater success.


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