Should you monetize your blog from the beginning?

My friend and I had a disagreement heated debate the other day. Should you have a business plan to monetize your blog from the beginning? Assuming a blog was the primary asset, should you have a monetization plan that you execute early on and then scale as your audience grows? Or grow your audience and monetize later? I’m a fan for the former – monetize early and grow a “business” rather than just an audience.

There are many advantages to starting to monetize early on. The primary being that you will learn if you can monetize your audience. Can you sell ads against your content? Will your audience buy your product? Will they trust your recommendations. Start small, but having proof that someone will pay you money is a huge motivator. And any money that you make can go right back into building the business – better design, more ads, more content etc. It’s a adding fuel to the fire.

My concern is that by waiting, you’re just investing time and money into a product that might not make you any money.

The opposite is to grow your audience and then monetize – think Twitter and Facebook. Their primary revenue comes from sell advertising against their audience. They can do it on a global scale with custom products, something a small blog can’t do.