Small Business Blogs: Why Readers Prefer Free, Ad-supported Content over Paid Content

small business blogging

If you run a small business blog like, you might have been in this kind of dilemma: How to deliver value while keeping your blog site well-supported financially?

I was in the crossroad last year, and have decided that will go all the way to offering readers free quality small business and entrepreneurship content with online advertising method of blog monetisation.

I also decided not implement pay-for-premium-content strategy or even freemium (free with an option to upgrade for more feature) strategy with

Many would disagree and have said that what I’ve been doing with is not effective and efficient. With all due respect, I have my own reasons in doing so, and you can definitely learn from’s case study of using online advertising to be able to self-sustain – and decide later whether you want to follow my lead or to go in an opposite way.

A Case study: Why prefers ad-supported content over paid content

Some of’s readers in the past complained by the sheer amount of ads displayed on site. They complained that the ads spoil the blog content in one way to another, ranging from annoyance in reading the articles to blogs-should-be-ad-free preferences.

I do listen to’s valued readers – but the most I can do is to compromise, not to follow blindly. Why?

The thing is, creating quality content for free is resource intensive. My focus on is not for personal branding purposes (It does help my personal branding, though.) Its purpose is to deliver useful advice and opinions regarding small business and entrepreneurship while making money online in the process.

Instead of having readers to pay for’s content, I choose to go the ad-supported free content path – this way, I can help more people WHILE giving me an opportunity to make a living without having my readers to spend a dime; instead of paid content, I prefer to offer services or sell products to generate more revenue for

Content in will always be free, forever.

Paying for content sucks

Indeed, paying for content sucks – just read this WebProNews’ recent article: Who Would Pay for Twitter? Study Says Nobody.

The article above shows some interesting facts. One of them is the survey result showing that 49% respondents are using Twitter, but 0% would use it if it is a paid service.

And here’s aninteresting opinion from the article:

“Internet users can obtain content in three ways: they can steal it, or pay for it, or accept advertising on the Web pages they view”… “Users express strong negative views about online advertising, but they still prefer seeing ads as an alternative to paying for content. Consumers really want free content without advertising, but ultimately they understand that content has to be paid for — one way or another.”

One interesting case study of why paid content sucks from Bloomberg BusinessWeek: News Corp’s The Times’ site visits drop to a third when it implements paid content strategy.

Indeed, not many likes a blog with a host of ads, but those ads are providing cash flows to support the content. This is why I read – both online and printed – despite there are plenty of ads on it, especially on the printed version. I viewed the ads are in fact useful, instead of annoying.

So, now you know that your blog readers are most likely to prefer free ad-supported content. Your job is to ensure that your small business blog delivers and give a strong reason why your readers should feel permissive about ‘letting you’ to display ads on strategic positions (e.g. above the fold.)

Good luck in your blog content creation and monetisation endeavours.

Ivan Widjaya
I am ad-supported