September, 2021, will mark the 20th anniversary of chcollins.com (and I had a homepage on tbns.net before that) and the 11th anniversary of the debut of The 100 Billionth Person. There are two main, and equally important, reasons I have maintained my own website all these years: to give me a reason to be creative, and to make connections. I’m lucky that it has served both roles — though it would always be nice to have more readers!
What the site was never about was monetization (entrepreneur-speak for making money). Not worrying whether the site makes money has given me the freedom to follow my whims with respect to content. If I really wanted to make money on this site, my blog would have to be about something — and I’ve never been able to come up with a coherent, noun+verb answer to what The 100 Billionth Person is about. (I bet you can’t either.)
This means that I’ve never — except for a very brief experiment years ago — displayed ads on these pages. My readership is so select (entrepreneur-speak for practically no one) that it wasn’t worth either the hassle or the visual intrusion. In any case, I have obviously been willing to do what I do for free for two decades.
So what changed? The unexpected popularity of my series of posts on picture hanging and framing: Why Frames Tilt Forward, The “Hang It With Two Hooks” Calculator, and The Physics of Hanging Pictures. Together, these posts are visited about 1000 times a month, by readers in the U.S. and around the world. And their content has often been copied and pasted into other websites and Facebook pages, without permission or attribution, in the U.S. and around the world. So apparently there is some value in those words.
My spouse, upon hearing the tally of visitors, urged me to capitalize on the situation and place ads on the site. At first I objected, for all the reasons mentioned above. But then I thought of a compromise: (a) I could place one ad, and one ad only, on each of those three posts only, (b) I could donate any advertising revenue to charity, and (c) if the ads turn out to be totally out-of-character for the site, I can always remove them.
And so I’ve done this deal with the Mountain View Devil. Even though my week-to-week readers will not notice a difference, I felt the need to come clean. I do hope the ads will be lucrative, for charity’s sake, but the ones that Google has served up so far have not exactly inspired my confidence. (The ad for Gold’s Gym, for instance, has to do with physiques, not physics. Sigh.) I’ll let you know how this all turns out in a future update.