Niche product producers will not find much joy selling their webspace to internet advertisers. Numbers from a Secret Squirrel RPG Industry Mailing List. Approximates of course.
To give you a rough sense of the math:
1) 40-60% of your audience will use Ad Blocker. They cannot be meaningfully monetized.
2) 30-50% of your audience will be international. They cannot be meaningfully monetized.
3) At less than 1 million ComScore uniques, you are too small for direct representation or notice by ad agencies. You can, at best, get remnant advertising or small direct deals.
4) A typical remnant ad will pay $0.50 CPM for an above-the-fold placement. A typical direct deal for a niche property will be $2.00 CPM for an above-the fold placement. You will get half this for below the fold, or worse. (CPM means cost-per-thousand).
5) You can probably have 2 above the fold ads and 2 below the fold ads per page.
6) You will probably sell only half your inventory directly, at best.
Therefore, imagine you have 200,000 page views, 40% ad blocker and 30% international. You have (200,000 x .6 x .7) 84,000 page views to sell. You will have 84,000 x 2 = 168,000 above the fold ads, of which 84,000 will sell at $2 CPM ($168) and 84,000 will sell at 0.50CPM ($42). You will then have 168,000 below the fold ads, half at $1 CPM ($84) and half at 0.25 CPM ($21), for a total of $315.
If you increase your traffic by tenfold and reach two million page views per month, you are still too small for the economics to change, and can make about $3,150 per month at best – enough to pay one editor a working-class wage. But very few blogs ever approach that level of traffic.
And this does not even take into account the possibility that fans may access your account via mobile or Facebook, where the economics are even *worse*. It is, simply put, impossible to make money from free content at anything short of titanic scale.
You are far better off availing yourself of Patreon and similar services to directly monetize your fans. They will appreciate you not annoying them with ads and you’ll make more money.