Many people have criticised AdSense for encouraging lazy monetization (at best) and splogs (at worst). I respect these people, I just don’t respect this opinion that much.
Taking any monetization method to its extremes will produce a lopsided business that is overly dependent on one form of conversions. AdSense = niche search traffic. Now you can get that traffic all on one site, or you could be smart and spread the load across several sites and niches. When this is taken too far in the direction of “increasing your options”, it turns your work into below-par cow dung. If you rely too much on AdSense, you become lazy and don’t maximise your revenues / your site’s value in case you want to sell it later on. If you focus too much on AdSense monetization, you put yourself at the risk of depending solely on search traffic. Lose that, and everything else is lost.
Over-dependence on any one thing is stupid. Why blame the tool when the TOOL who’s using it isn’t making the right choices?
It’s the same with CPM-based ads – there you need tons of pageviews and you can easily be sucked into a vortex of diggbaiting the life out of yourself, your blog and your niche (or again, relying overly on search traffic).
On the other side, you have affiliate marketing, selling your services and selling your products (one-time like ebooks or recurring like membership sites). On the surface these are fascinating opportunities which presumably don’t back you into a corner if you’re too reliant on them.
But here’s the thing: you can still have too much of a good thing, no matter how good it is.
Doing only affiliate marketing limits you to specific slice of the buying cycle – you’re not going after the whole niche, which would be the natural growth of a site that goes on to dominate a sub-niche. You’re only going after specific types of readers (search traffic / pushing it to regular readers who are a limited resource in any case). If you go after too many affiliate programs, you’re going to reduce your average amount of successful conversions across the board because you’ll need to sacrifice quality promotion for the ability to promote more products. If you setup too many sites, you’re going in the familiar dog turd direction.
And you still end up missing out on other types of monetization that could plug the gaps that affiliate marketing doesn’t.
Direct ads – again, same as above although the rules change somewhat as it’s harder to simply increase revenues by getting more traffic. To make selling direct ads really effective, you need returning traffic. Mind you, this just makes making money a bit harder, not necessary holier.
Going after selling your own CPC / CPA / CPM / direct advertising instead of using a third-party? You’re going to miss out on the leverage they have (unless you’re the biggest game in the niche, in which case you don’t *need* this because you’ve already done all this).
Selling your time? After a while, you’ll either run out of time or price yourself out of the market to a point where you can’t have significant growth. There’s a ceiling there too, even though most of us are not committed or dedicated enough to reach it (and it’s a difficult thing to do as well).
Selling your products? Too few, and you’re at risk. Too many, and quality issues appear. Push too hard, and you’ll alienate readers. Push too softly? You won’t make a lot of money.
Extremes (and artificial) demands / limitations made on your means of monetization will prevent you from growing your business to its full potential.
Don’t knock AdSense, knock the users who don’t know any better than to achieve balance in their monetization efforts.