Blogs and Revenue: Responses Needed

I’ve always done everything on the HB in the open so here’s the deal: the HB has a fair number of readers and we are preparing to send children to college—apparently college profs get paid a LOT more than semnary profs. These two facts seem to create a certain potency. Let me explain.

I’ve been serving in non-profit and sub-profit institutions (congregations and schools) since 1987. ‘Nuff said. These circmstances, however, have caused me to ask whether it is possible and right (note the order) to use the HB as a way to generate revenue.
I need your thoughtful responses to questions such as these (Assuming, for the sake of discussion, that there are advertisers willing to risk their credibility by associating with the HB): would the HB lose credibility because it carried advertising?

Is it worth it? would it generate enough revenue for the clark college fund to mitigate any potential loss of credibility?

How does it work? As usual, I’m clueless. I presume that I might have to change my relationship to WordPress.

Are there questions I should think about but haven’t raised here?

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  1. Why not get paid for your work? I’m no expert on the subject (if I was ads would probably be plastered all over my blogs) … but here are few links that may prove helpful:

    If you google “how to make money blogging” your head is going to start spinning. I think the keys are: SEO (search engine optimization), generating traffic & user loyalty and sticking to a more or less vertical niche. But what do I know, I’m just a model.

    Anyways, you’re relationship with WP will need to change if you want to do ads. That means you’ll be paying some extra $$ and maybe even moving to a different host. The flip side of all that, in addition to incorporating ads, is flexibility in structure and in being able to add additional features to the site outside of a blog.

    Always glad to help if you need it.

    – wayde

  2. Hey Dr. Clark,

    I would say that “yes” its worth it. I think you could make your blog revenue friendly, without completely alienating or upsetting your committed readership.

    I don’t know that it will be really worth it, however, in terms of providing for college in the next year or so. I could be wrong, but most of the people actually making significant money blogging are either in the entertainment or electronic industry and they blog about their fields. The non-profit ethos might permeate the blogosphere; that’s what I’m trying to say. But, I think it would be worth trying.

    I’m considering doing the same (only, to help offset seminary expenses) and have a good friend and resource you should consider. His name is Jared Lee, and you can email him ( or go to his website ( His job is to help guys like you and me either start or convert our blog/websites into revenue generating sites.

    Hope this helps!

  3. Scott,

    I don’t think what you are proposing should cause the HB to lose credibility. I would still read the blog if there were advertisements. Now, if you start posting every other post about one of your books or every time your book gets reviewed, that’s another story. Why would anyone want to tune in to that all the time?

  4. Hi Wayde and Chris,

    This is quite helpful. I’ve read the links Wayde and I’ll write to Jared.

    Hey Mike, that’s what I do right now. I call it going into “Heidelflog” mode!


  5. Scott,

    Didn’t you get the memo? Outhouse saints can do whatever they want. Not the most thoughtful or helpful response (like you, I am clueless), I know, but I trust you can read between the lines.

  6. A worker is worthy of his/her wages …

    You are working to help [mostly sheep] understand how to follow the Shepherd in a north american evangelical culture of competing world views.

    You have the ability to discern and call believers to consider “what does the Word say” – and you explain why we should care.

    The “latest” Evangelical cultural world views are confusing, difficult, slick, clever; and the most dangerous ones have just enough “truth” to be the most damaging to the soul.

    Churches in my area tend to avoid expositional teaching, and drop words like missional, contextualizing, incarnational, and peace and justice mercy ministry without explanation or context. Who can be against peace and justice?!

    Net/net: entertained goats and starving sheep.

    Your blog [and a few others] help me sort out wheat from tares and drive me back to the Word and other good books and blogs.

    In addition to advertising revenue, I [personally] would be willing to pay a small monthly fee to subscribe.

    Thank you for helping those of us who are not in “good” churches to persevere.

  7. Sure, you definitly update your blog often enough to call it a part time job. Why not make a little money on it? I can’t say for sure if I will click on the advertisments, but they will by no means distract me from why I come here, quality thoughts and info.

    Thanks for your work.

  8. I say go for it. I don’t see how it could hurt anything if you’ve got the time to figure our how to get the ball rolling.

    I’m curious, are you sending your kids to private or state schools? I’ve noticed that a lot of evangelical folks are quite scared to send their little ones off to non-Christian institutions. Just wondering what you thought about that.

  9. For the sake of their well being I prefer to speak about principle here. I have no problem with young people attending secular universities. It depends on what the situation is and how prepared one is and what one’s vocation is (and probably other factors as well). In principle I can’t see how one can say that Christian children must not attend a secular university (whether public or private).

  10. Dr. Clark,

    Do it. Just exercise a little oversight. Meaning, I think the way it works is you get some contract or something with some company, and they put up whatever ads they feel like. So you’d want to make sure you’re not going to have like, I don’t know, Victoria’s Secret ads and such. Also, you’ll want to make sure that the ads aren’t putting spyware on peoples’ computers who read your blog.


  11. My experience with Google’s advertising (i.e. Google’s AdSense) on previous Christian blogs of mine was frustrating for this reason:

    Google chooses which ads to display on your site via the keywords on your site. So, if your blog contains mostly religious keywords, the ads appearing on your site will be mostly links to religious sites. Many (or perhaps most) of the ads that appeared on my site linked to wacky religious nut-jobs, prosperity gospel pilferers, and various such drivel.

  12. LO is right on. Unfortunately you get very little control over Google’s AdSense program. It’s not unusual to visit a Christian blog and see an ad there for the Book of Mormon. AdSense can be great in certain situations, but I wouldn’t recommend it for Christian blogs.

    Ultimately, the amount of money you can make through advertising depends entirely on the amount of traffic to your site. As traffic increases, so too does the opportunity to earn revenue.

  13. It seems everybody is in favor of an appropriate level of advertising; but I don’t see much advice about how do do it, or more specifically, how to do it with WordPress. Currently, I don’t think it’s possible to advertise on a free WordPress blog. Here’s a snippet from WordPress:

    To support the [free WordPress] service we may occasionally show Google text ads on your blog, however we do this very rarely. 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.

    So that doesn’t exist yet, but what does exist currently is VIP hosting, but I don’t know that you could generate enough ad revenue to offset the $300/mo cost:

    Because of the nature of this program it is not open to the general public, it is intended for existing high-profile publishers, or startups that we have a good deal of confidence in. You may be a good candidate for VIP hosting if, for example, you get more than 500,000 pageviews a month on your blog. Pricing may be flexible depending on your circumstances.

    So sadly, if you do determine that advertising on Heidelblog could contribute significantly to the college fund, you might have to pick up roots again. I know that blogspot (by Google) is freer with such things, so you can hook up to Google AdSense pretty easily. Or maybe you could get in touch with these cats; I don’t know them personally, but my guess is they’d welcome a high-profile reformed blogger, and would be willing to work with you on an advertising solution. And, they’re a WordPress shop, so the transition should be a simple export/import!

  14. Another option (if you have access to a competent IT volunteer — and unfortunately, I am not saying that to recommend myself as a competent volunteer) would be to register for yourself, pay for third-party hosting, install WordPress (free from, and host your own blog. Then you’d have full control (none of the restrictions of a free blog) and could advertise any way you saw fit.

  15. I say go for it. Preachers make money for preaching even though they don’t do it for the money. You can do the same thing with this “ministry” if you are careful.

    I would come up with a list of regulative principles that will keep you on the straight and narrow and assure your readers that you cannot be bought. I for one would mourn the day that Scott Clark got bought off and compromised his witness. People come to your blog because you don’t compromise, so take steps to guard that reputation if you start making money.

    Keep up the great work! And may the Lord provide for all your needs, however he decides to do it.

  16. Hi Mark,

    I appreciate this admonition. I’m sensitive to the fact that there are dangers and as I discuss this privately with folks who know the business side of blogging I’m becoming more conscious of the dangers. For example, some publishers will pay a small fee to a blogger for reviewing a text. It’s typical for print publishers to send a review copy with no expectation of favor. Does the same expectation exist if the publisher is paying cash? Would a blogger have written that review anyway? Would the review be the same in either case? If I criticize a book will the advertiser pull his/her support? (print publications face this question regularly).

    It’s probably a moot point. The numbers of visitors to the HB far exceeds anything I expected but it may not reach to the levels expected by advertisers.

    We trust the Lord. He has always provided, even when it was impossible to see whence the provision might come. I’m not kidding when I say “sub-profit.”

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