So you’ve put in some considerable time to get your blog up and running, created some awesome posts, a rad logo, and people are starting to check it out in droves. Good for you! Of course, it would be nice if you could make some money for all that hard work and that’s where using ad networks comes in.

I started researching ad networks shortly after launching Cactus Hugs in 2014 and found that there were oh so many promising high cpm and for every network I saw, there were five times more blog posts from all types of people endorsing them. So, I would give them a try and was disappointed every single time.

Not only were the cpms not as advertised, gross ads with malware or promoting stupid and awful things would run on the site and, twice the network just shut down without paying me.  So yeah, none of that was very good. But why were so many people endorsing these crappy ad networks. Well, as it turns out, it all had to do with referral and affiliate fees.

You see, the Internet is great for so many reasons – you can easily connect to the world, you can have a pizza sent to your home in minutes, all those cat videos! – but, it also is full of lies. All of those reviews, they were not written with the reader’s best interest in mind. Rather, they all linked to the ad network they were endorsing because, in return, anyone who signed up would mean a nice return in the form of a commission to the writer. This practice isn’t just common to ad networks, it’s everywhere on the Internet with fashion bloggers trying to sell you shoes, recipe sites slingin’ cookware on Amazon, and travel sites promoting the rooms that they get a higher commission for – it’s just the way the Internet works.

And that’s not a bad thing. Every once in a while, I’ll post about a product or service I recommend on Cactus Hugs – but, I will always mention if there is an affiliate link or compensation involved because anyone reading has a right to know.

As for ad networks, here’s the thing: don’t believe any of the reviews out there. If you are a small or medium publisher, you won’t get approved for many of the larger, more reputable ad networks – which will leave you with a bunch of seedy, low-level choices. Don’t bother.

So what do you do? Well, I recommend getting approved for Google Adsense. It’s legit. You don’t have to worry about getting paid as they are always in time. The ads won’t be malicious. And adding the code is simple. Also, most of those other ad networks – well, they just use Google then resell the ads to you, after taking their cut. Why bother with a middle man?

If you have a website that gets a lot of mobile traffic, you might want to take a crack at setting up Facebook Instant Articles and monetize your mobile posts through the Facebook Ad Network which will give you much higher cpm than Google will for posts that people read on a cell phone.  Setting up Instant Articles might seem challenging, but it’s not.  If you have a problem, hit me up and let’s work it out.

Both Google and Facebook have approval processes, so make sure you have all of your ducks in a row before applying so you don’t have a lot of wasted time by getting declined then applying again.

There is not magic bullet when it comes to finding an alternate to Facebook and Google when it comes to monetizing your site as a publisher.  Just embrace them, put their code on your site, and focus on adding content, rather than trying to find a unicorn ad network paying out insanely high cpms.

This page contains zero affiliate links.