I stumbled across blogs that are devoted to how to make money with blogging. One woman claims she made nearly $3K in one month with her blog ads and by posting on eHow, Bukisa, Commission Junction, and similar sites. Commenters on her site don't seem to be doing so well: typical commenters report making under $10 in total, ever, by following her advice (and yet they still seem positive about their future, based on that tantalizing $3,000 claim). It's a bit like those ads you used to see in the back of comic books: "Make money at home! Send $2 to find out how!" and what you get back is a piece of paper telling you to put an ad in a comic book asking people to send you $2.
Most blogs with ads are fairly benign: the blogger is writing things of interest to him or herself, and happens to have ads. But there is another category of blogs that is seriously trying to make money. These blogs seem to have a number of tricks for increasing their ad income. There are the usual ones like using words or phrases that are popular in Google searches (references to porn, health care, etc). But the trick that really got me is the attempt to attract people to the site who are more likely to click ads - gullible, unsophisticated or just plain desperate - by using ridiculous headlines like "How to spend zero dollars on groceries in 2009". There are tons of blogs devoted to this style of writing, plastered with ads.
I am disgusted by these blogs, but then I am not the desired demographic because I don't click on ads. It's like what happened to a TV show a couple of years ago called Commander in Chief, starring Gina Davis. The show was a critical success and had high ratings. But it appealed to women over 25 (like me), and that is not a demographic that advertisers pay top dollar for, so it was bounced around from night to night and finally cancelled after about 16 episodes.
Sites like eHow have a lot of truly awful posts: the goal seems to be to expend as little effort as possible writing a post, or perhaps to divide up a set of information into multiple posts to maximize revenue. The result is generally facile, contentless pages of "information". The problem with this, if there is a problem, is the proliferation of junk that makes it harder and harder to find quality writing. I don't usually run into this problem but my search for blogs of interest during the recession was really bogged down by silly sites, desperately trying to generate some income, that probably aren't. The only people getting rich are at Google.