Monetizing Cancer Blogs

Working Hard

Working Hard

I officially started this blog in February although it was conceived much earlier.  A year ago I proposed to Tish that I buy a new computer.  Partially because it was my birthday and partially because I was ready to launch a new project, one of many in my life with some succeeding and quite a few failing.  It was also another period where I felt the need to redefine myself yet another time.  There was a yearning.  Yes, I did daycare for my two lovely granddaughters and that in itself was meaningful.  And yet there was a yearning on my part for something more.

My life before cancer was quite active.  At the hospital I was working to improve my knowledge and skills, becoming a better person and nurse.  The interactions that I was having with patients and families were rich and full.  Some of the most memorable moments of my life have been spent at the bedside.  And if that were not enough (and it was), I had been given the rare opportunity to be involved in fighting cancer on an international level.  I was teaching and conducting educational courses for cancer nurses in developing countries.  I was a project chair for the International Union Against Cancer (UICC) in Geneva and also organized nursing courses for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Washington.

Then came leukemia and my life took its inevitable detour.  Like many of you though, I wanted to turn this tragedy into something positive and I turned to the Internet.  It started with emailed journal entries to keep friends and family apprised of my progress.  Because of my professional associations around the globe that email list grew rapidly.  I soon found that people were sharing my journal entries.  College professors were assigning it a readings in a variety of courses.  Like many of you I began to receive emails of encouragement and support from people I didn’t even know.  People found something of value in my writing.

During my first remission I was at a reception at the annual meeting of my professional association, the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS).  Amid the food and comraderie was born the idea of publishing my journal online on the Society’s website.  The story of cancer of a cancer nurse.  At the time, in 2002, I was doubting that I would live to 2005.  Published research supported these doubts.  The longest-lived T-PLL patient survived 60 months.  So the journal was to be my legacy.

But life always proceeds according to its own plans.  I did indeed relapse after 26 months, but achieved a second remission and took the risk of consolidating that with a stem cell transplant.  I went through a lot – multiple infections, the loss of vision in one eye, chronic fatigue, the loss of the sense of smell (I am an avid gardener) and of taste (I am an enthusiastic cook) – but most importantly I was still alive.  I was allowed to witness the marriages of my children and the birth of grandchildren.

Returning to work remained a risky and distant proposition.  I seemed destined to disability or, at least early retirement from the profession I loved.  Left to my own devices, my naturally introverted self became less and less engaged with life and people.  I was adrift in my own wilderness.  And thus the necessity of redefining myself.  I needed to get back into the world.

All of this is prologue to the post topic.  Last August, my birthday approaching, I argued for buying a new computer, an iMac like my son’s with a 24″ screen to augment my diminished eyesight.  I wanted to create one or more blogs.  One for networking those transformed by cancer, and maybe one for networking healthcare workers in developing countries, a repository of stories and best practices.  I argued that with a large enough readership I might be able to carry appropriate advertising which would eventually pay for the computer and for the cost of maintaining a website – domain name, software, hosting server.

Last week I logged 10,000 visits to the site from its inception.  This week we are already approaching 11,000.  So now the question arises should I monetize a blog dedicated to building and strengthening a community of cancer victims?  Should I solicit advertising?  Most blogs on the blogroll are “pure” in this respect, seeking only to share and support.  But 10-15% do include advertisements.  Most of the time these ads are cancer related.  Most of the time these cancer ads are unquestionably legitimate.  Most of the time these ads do not detract from the aesthetics of the site design and presentation.

But I am interested in your, in the readers’ reaction to this.  What is you opinion about ads on cancer blogs?  I intend to exercise control over the type of ads.  They must be cancer- or blog-related.  No snake oil or fish oil miracle remedies.  No blog redesign resembling a billboard.  No flashing banners to distract from the serious or not-so-serious content.

The other thing is this.  I must confess to something personal.  Aside from the obvious rewards of being in a helping profession was something more practical.  I earned a living.  I worked, was rewarded, and contributed towards family goals and the family’s future.  When a new appliance was needed or tuition was due, I worked overtime.  The long hours, the double sifts were hard but I could see what I was working for.  I have not worked in five years.  I get disability checks.  They are smaller than “real” paychecks but that’s not such a big deal.  They are abstract.  They are not related to anything I “do” now (though, again abstractly, I relate them to a lifetime of labor).  There is little satisfaction in abstraction

Nobody ever made a fortune, or even a living probably, writing a cancer blog.  But I would like to be able to say that my work on the blog is valuable enough to pay for my monthly server fees, to eventually pay for my computer and office equipment.  I would like to be able to feel productive again in the financial sense, to be actively contributing to the family treasury.  And if the blog started to come a positive rather than a negative to our cash flow, I might not feel guilty about spending even more time adding and improving features.  But income or not, I plan to continue Being Cancer.  Hopefully there is a need, hopefully it can make a difference. Take care, Dennis


About Dennis Pyritz

Dennis W. Pyritz, RN, BA, BSN, has been a cancer nurse since 1987 and a cancer and bone marrow transplant survivor since 2004. In December 2001 he was diagnosed with t-cell prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL), a rare aggressive form of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Dennis was treated with the then new monoclonal antibody, alemtuzumab (Campath) as this disease has a median survival of 7.5 months. He achieved a 26 month remission but relapsed in February 2004. He was retreated with Campath and went into a second remission. In August 2004 he underwent an allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplant with his brother, Mark, as donor. Dennis has remained in remission since - a near miracle. Throughout his career as cancer nurse and patient, Dennis has had the opportunity to speal to both lay and professional groups. Dennis has spoken on cancer topics and survival issues across the country as well as in the United Kingdom, Norway, Austria, Portugal, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Trinidad, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Cyrpus, Israel, and India.


Monetizing Cancer Blogs — 8 Comments

  1. I have Google ads (cancer related) on my blog and I have to say I’ve found some interesting and helpful information through these ads (one example–a great place to by scarves for chemo patients!) and I’ve been told others have as well. So if the ads are content related (a choice you can make) you are not only “monetizing” your site, you are adding yet another resource. I don’t find the ads distracting at all. They’re small (for the most part) and no one has to click on them if they don’t want to. Go for it.

  2. I also have google ads (depending on what I have blogged about that particular day). I just had Blogher approval and they want me to write a review for product which proceeds will go to Ovarian cancer. I’m excited to be part of their network especially if it benefits any kind of cancer. I have uterine, not ovarian. I am not picky about benefitting for or from cancer. I also blog about lymphedema and occasionally have ads displayed for pumps and medical devices. I think it’s useful to have a newly diagnosed person, whether they have a cancer or lymphedema (or both in my case) do a search online, find a real human being’s blog who’s suffering from same or similar and have resources to choose from be they google ads or blogher or _____.

  3. Personally, I prefer reading ad-free blogs. But, as a blogger myself, I have wondered just how much money is to be made by allowing ads. I will check back here to read other comments on the subject! Any one get rich yet? 🙂

  4. I have Google Ads on my blog, which I resisted at first. But I have found that 95% of the ads are cancer related and the sites have been very helpful to me. The revenue generated is really not much. But it spawned an idea––to start a foundation to help those who cannot afford the cost of treatment. I’m in the process now of setting up that foundation. All money generated by advertising will go to helping others. I hope it’s enough to at least make a difference in one person’s treatment and survival from cancer.

  5. Thanks for the all the considered feedback. You all made some good points. And most of your comments have been supportive It’s hard to tell how much you can make since Google Ads pages don’t talk specifics. I get the impression people have to actually click on the ad. You don’t get paid just because the ad is on the page. Also payment is sometimes figured as views per thousand so readership has to be high. It will be a worthwhile experiment anyway. I will post about the experience in the future. Again I don’t expect to get rich. But I have four domain names to renew this week – almost $50. Thanks again for the input.

  6. Thanks so much for posting this. I started my own blog in february too and am up to almost 40,000 hits since then. I work very hard on my blog and have also considered the monetary potential but like Whidbey Woman says my personal preference is for reading ad free blogs. However, you raise some interesting points here. I believe that if people trust your content & your integrity and I think we can all see that is certainly the case, the ads will not be an issue. The problem is that those who want to advertise on your site will want to add credibility to a brand that may have in your own words, a sniff of snake oil about them. It has certainly given me food for thought and I shall be following with interest your decision.

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