If you’re reading this via my website rather than Bloglovin’ (which you should totally be following me on anyways), you may have noticed that things are looking pretty different around here. Yes, it’s true… Kimi Who got itself a big overhaul this week and it wasn’t just because I was bored or that I wanted certain features my old theme didn’t offer me. Nope, the biggest reason for the change involves a PassionFruit Ads (PF) scandal. Wait, what!? There’s a PassionFruit Ads scandal!? Yes. And you might have found yourself unknowingly caught up in it.
My Back Story
When I started getting serious about monetizing my blog and looked into how to effectively manage advertisement and sell ad space, it wasn’t hard for me to stumble onto PassionFruit Ads. It seemed like every well-known blogger was using it so it made sense for me to check it out. By the time I got around to it, they were charging $9 per month for their subscription service which would allow me to sell as many ad slots and services through them as I liked. That wasn’t what attracted me to them. What got me was their marketplace. I liked that it seemed like a place everyone went shopping for blogs to read and places to advertise themselves. So for nearly 2 years now, I’ve been paying $9 every month to take advantage of their services. You do the math.
About 6 months ago, I started feeling like I wasn’t making enough money through PF to rationalize the $9 monthly fee. I saw almost zero traffic coming to my website from theirs and the majority of my ad purchases were going directly through me anyways. But still, I liked the idea of what PF had to offer in the way of managing my ads. I liked the user interface and I wasn’t sure I was ready to give up how easy it was to use. That’s when I started doing some shopping around and even tried out another ad management website and while it was nice, it was lacking in some features that were important to me. Against better judgement, I decided to stick it out with PF until I could find something that I felt worked for me.
What’s Going On Now
Fast forward all of these months (and nearly $50) later, I had a fellow blogger message me saying that she didn’t think PF had paid her… for a while in fact. It prompted me to look into my own records and I realized that I hadn’t noticed that PassionFruit Ads had not paid me anything since late April. At least according to their records, I’m at the very least owed money going back as far as mid June (although I wonder now if I might be missing payments from May as well). I didn’t notice because the amount I would have made weekly was small and honestly, I just didn’t think about it – I was busy moving into our house around that time. It’s my fault that I didn’t notice, but it’s the fault of PassionFruit Ads for not paying me what I was owed… the money that other hard-working bloggers had given them to be paid to me in exchange for my services (which of course, I have honored).
That’s when I started doing some searching. It couldn’t just be a coincidence that me and this other blogger hadn’t been paid. I came across a post written at Hey There Chelsie which talks about her canceling her account and still getting charged despite many attempts to cancel. Just scroll through the comments and you’ll see the many people who have had various difficulties with this company ranging from bad customer service to being owed nearly $2,000! Yikes.
More research suggests that PassionFruit Ads has been going downhill for a while and they may be bankrupt and going through the legal process to claim bankruptcy. If that’s true, I’m honestly not sure what it means for us as customers. What I do know is that if they can’t pay me the money I am owed, I don’t need to be paying them any more money or continuing to use their services.
What You Can Do
If you are still doing business with PassionFruit Ads… STOP IMMEDIATELY. I highly encourage you to cancel your account with them. If you are like me and started a PayPal subscription with them, cancel it from PayPal’s end and save your email. Screen shot the cancellation and screen shot your Pending Payouts from PF’s dashboard if you have any. Do not let this company get away with this. I have no doubt that this issue is already on PayPal’s radar by now as there are thousands of bloggers who utilize PF’s services. You won’t be the bad guy for standing up for yourself and simply saying NO.
How I’m Handling Ads
I have taken matters into my own hands involving ad sales on my blog. I work so closely with those who purchase ad slots through me that it doesn’t make much of a difference anyways – I’m used to bloggers emailing me to set up advertisement anyways. I won’t lie… I will miss the convenience of PassionFruit Ads, but I would prefer to be the only person handling my customers and my money from now on.
That’s why I recently purchased a couple of plugins that will allow me to make that a reality. You’ll soon be able to purchase ad space directly from my website without my help – including selecting the ad zone size of your choice, uploading your banner, and paying for it via PayPal. I purchased a new theme which allowed me to build my website piece by piece so that it functions better with WooCommerce, the base on which these two plugins I am using were built:
WP Pro Advertising System – All in One Ad Manager which is what controls the ad placements themselves. It’s how all of the zones are set up from that really nice ad at the top of the page to the lovely sponsors at right and the sponsor seen at the end of this post (all of which you should totally check out because they are fab). All of the zones are controlled from my WordPress dashboard (similarly to how they were controlled on PF) and at any point, I can change the banner and link without doing a bunch of extra coding every time they get changed.
Pro Ads Buy and Sell – Woocommerce is the other plugin that works with WooCommerce and the aforementioned plugin so that I can sell ad spaces directly from my website. From the back end, I control everything from the price of the ads to what the customer is paying for such as by clicks, impressions, or for a duration of time. It isn’t quite as sophisticated as what PF users are used to, but it gets the job done and I like that it’s completely in my control.
Yes, you need a self-hosted WordPress blog to utilize these plugins.
Yes, you need a theme which adequately supports the use of WooCommerce.
Yes, you need a lot of patience and an intermediate understanding of WordPress.
Yes, you need a whole lot of patience because it takes time to really set this all up.
Yes, you need money… about $46 (which is about 5 months worth of PassionFruit Ads).
Is it worth it? It my mind, yes. I won’t deny that there are other options out there but these are the best I have found so far. It’s the closest I have found to the features I was accustomed to on PassionFruit Ads and at minimum, it has what was really important to me. I don’t doubt that I will still be doing some of the work manually, but I was doing that anyways since I had so many people buying ads directly through me. The difference now is that every dime of what I make goes to me instead of paying out every month to another company and I have peace of mind… which you can’t put a price on.
Other Alternative Ad Solutions
Maybe you feel like the above is too advanced for your skills (totally get it… because it was up there for me too). There are other options out there although I have not tried them all and can’t really comment on how these would function for you or live up to your expectations. That said, I wanted to provide a list of alternatives for those of you finding yourself without a way to handle ads on your blog.
- AdProval – Takes 10% of each ad sale, but otherwise free.
- Buy Sell Ads – Difficult to get Approved for. Takes 25% of each transaction.
- OIO Publisher – Similar to PassionFruit Ads, but in WordPress plugin form. $47 per license.
- WP125 – Not automated, but a free solution for just managing ads on your WordPress blog.
Share Your Story
What has your experience with PassionFruit Ads been like? Are you currently running a subscription with them? Are you owed money? Share below in the comments and be sure to inform your fellow blogger.
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