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Making money from blogging

Today I wanted to talk about advertising on blogs, or more generally, making money from blogging.  I recently wrote about Google clamping down on paid links and whether they herald the end for sponsored posts, and so it felt like a natural progression to share my feelings on making money from blogging, and open up a bit of a discussion to see how others felt about it, and what methods they felt most comfortable with.

Making money from blogging is something that generates widespread debate - probably the loudest voices (and by that I mean those that speak out most vociferously) are those who feel that people who started blogging as a hobby and whose blogs contain, say, non-profit content and layout, should not migrate into making money from their blog. I see complaints about the ratio of paid content (e.g. "Now all her blog is is sponsored posts) or the layout ("I stop following a blog if they incorporate too many adverts").  I also see complaints about nondisclosure ("I know that's a paid link but it's not marked as a sponsored post") - probably generated by the blogger in question worrying about getting too much of the first comment I mentioned and so trying to do them discreetly.

"I know GoCat paid you for that cat food link you sneak..."
As is the conclusion whenever the do's and don't of blogging are debated, what you decide to do with your blog, ultimately, is your call.  But I understand when people feel a tug on their conscience regarding monetising their blog - it can sometimes feel uncomfortable and - especially if you're new to it - unfamiliar, to decide between taking money or products and yet not wanting to compromise on content or alienate readers.  I mentioned in my previously referenced post that it feels right for me to have a bit of a break from traditional 'sponsored posts' - e.g. paid keyword campaigns etc.  I don't want to get in trouble with Google and I also want to focus on creating good quality content and being able to spend time on improving my blog rather than having to keep on top of paid commitments.  Sponsored posts were really the only way I made money from my blog (not a massive amount, please don't misunderstand!) and so, let's be honest, this decision has lost me a little bit of pocket money.  Not money I depended on, but an occasional treat for a bit of extra work now and then.

Some people wouldn't agree that I should have been doing that at all, so let me tell you why I decided to occasionally accept payment for links or posts about brands or sites.  I started my blog in 2010, meaning that this year there will be three candles on my blog's birthday cake.  Three years of writing, photographing and tweeting - three years of love and dedication to a little corner of the internet.  I obviously don't do it for money - let's face it, I spend an average of 10-15 hours on blogging a week, ergo, about 50 hours in an average month and I'm lucky if I make/made over £100 from that.  If I canned blogging, took back those 50 hours and went and worked in McDonalds I'd earn three times that.  So if you think I blog for money, well, you're wrong. The way I do treat monetising my blog is a happy byproduct of the effort and passion I've put into creating it.  If I've built something that brands want to get involved in, and if I've generated an audience that other people want access to, well, that wasn't my intention, but great.  If you were the editor of a magazine, and the magazine grew its readership and, as a result, brands approached you for advertising I wouldn't question whether you should take that on.  If you made music in your garage and a record label exec happened to walk by and want to sign you on the spot? Go for it! We've all got bills to pay.  I love working with brands not only for the money but for the relationship building.  I feel blessed to have worked with some of my favourite brands and to have been sent items or hosted some of their content.  I think it's a really exciting time to be a blogger, and that we could turn the blogosphere into something really collaborative and positive (especially if we stopped criticising the decisions other people make about their own blogs).

There are clearly other ways to make money from blogging.  Two of the most obvious of these are affiliate links (where you get a small commission if you link to a product and someone buys it) and selling advertising space.  I occasionally use affiliate links via RewardStyle and Amazon Associates but again this isn't a big earner (probably about £10 a month).  Advertising wise, well, you've probably noticed that I've taken on more visual advertising lately.  I'm signed up with Glam Media and they feed adverts to my site, This is paid on the amount of people that see the adverts so whereas again I make very little, bigger bloggers can earn a good amount this way (in fact, bigger bloggers can earn a good combined income from affiliate links and advertising purely because of their huge reach).  I also use Passionfruit Ads to sell smaller ads in the sidebar, usually purchased by other bloggers or independent shops.

Because I see the blood, sweat and tears that people put into their blogs I don't begrudge them making money from them at all.  In fact I think "Fair play!" But I know there are people out there who really dislike it.  My question to you is, are there things you don't like when you see them on others' blogs?  The reason I'm asking is, I've added bigger ads to my site and I don't mind them on others' but are there people who do? How do people feel about affiliate links and sponsored posts?  Are there ways of monetisation you prefer? I'd love to hear your views.  Monetisation aside however, blogging has to be a labour of love and not a labour to bring home the bacon.  Only a rare few get to make significant amounts of money from blogging so do it because you love it or don't do it at all.

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31 comments

  1. To be honest I agree that a blog is something which is personal to it's owner and therefore it's up to them what they do with it. Obviously if every post on a blog is a sponsored post then that can be a little off putting but I don't understand why people get so fraught about it. I've been blogging since 2011 and as my blog has aged I've had various requests for sponsored posts - most I've said no to (as they've been completely unrelated to what I do) but if I think that the post would be something I'd write about anyway then I'll definitely say yes. Especially as anything I earn from my blog goes straight back into it in some form or other - whether that's buying clothes to review or even paying for my domain name!

    Great blog post, very thought provoking!

    xx

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  2. I think I've become a lot more aware of sponsored posts after being on the business side of the equation, but there's definitely been an increase in them in the past year.

    From a blogger/blog reader perspective, I don't begrudge those that make money from their blogs, but when a link is so obviously tacked onto the end of a genuine post, it kind of makes me feel a bit 'icky'. Especially if I've seen the same thing on lots of other blogs, with repetitive posts that don't offer a new perspective or get a little creative with the brief.

    That's my two cents worth!

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  3. I really really love this post, it's so nice to find a truly honest post. Especially with all the controversy surrounding money and blogging :) xx

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  4. I personally don't have any issues with advertising on blogs - They're websites; Websites generally have adverts on them. I think, though, that there's a difference between tastefully having advertising on your site - i.e., organising it and making it so that it doesn't look like the companies advertising are owning you, but rather, it is still YOUR site - and just allowing your site to become a free-for-all advertising site. I also don't see any issues with sponsored posts, as long as there is some of the blogger's input into a majority of their posts on their site, since, in my opinion, that's what blogging is about. (:

    - Killian x
    indulgenceonabudget.blogspot.co.uk

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  5. sometimes it's hard to know where the blogger ends and the sponsor starts, and that's a massive deterrent. i find myself unfollowing bloggers like that, and those who suddenly appear to be sponsored by a particular brand when all their outfit posts are full of * and links back to an online boutique. i mean, fair play. i'd (probably) do it too - who doesn't like extra money, and like you say, i could put my time and effort elsewhere and ACTUALLY get paid for it. but i don't. i choose to blog, because i love this community, and i love to blog. i make no money from my blog. i have sold one ad, ever, and done two review/giveaways. i did them because i loved the products. after selling one ad space, i redesigned my ad packages and built in an authorisation disclaimer, because, i did not feel that advertiser was right for my blog, and i felt like a sham.

    i guess it's all objective.

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  6. I still can't quite decide how I feel about making money from my blog. I have never written a sponsored post and at present don't think I would - especially after your brilliant piece on paid links, though I do occasionally accept items to review - half a dozen items over a 2 year span of blogging. I'm picky. I feel most comfortable that way, my integrity is incredibly important to me. I think there are bloggers - like you Rosie - who find a good balance, brand and blog both benefit and the items you accept to review are things we'd be interested in as readers - all very relevant to who we know you as through your blog. That, to me, represents the good side of brand/blogger collaborations :-) If I ever decide to make a few pennies from my blog that is the route I'd like to take too.

    On the flip side I can't help but feel disappointed when a blogger whose opinion or voice I'd previously enjoyed suddenly starts writing sponsored post after sponsored post - a few reviews thrown in, but generally paid links. I'm in total agreement that bloggers should do with their own blogs whatever the hell they like - or what is the point!? But as a reader I do unsubscribe if a blog turns into an endless parade of adverts/sponsored posts as it just isn't what I want to read when there are infinitely more interesting or creative blogs out there with a more genuine feel.

    Reading my comment back (yep, weirdo who double checks spelling!) I think it's a matter of degrees for me


    Jem xXx

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  7. As a reader, sponsered posts for me are a bit 'meh', I don't really pay much attention (consciously) and don't feel they have much bearing as they are paid for, so can seem forced or fake. However, I don't begrudge or think less of blogs that do them. If they can write a skilled and relevant sponsered post, fair play! If I had a succesful blog I would no doubt do some if approached!
    In general, I believe there's a way of balancing getting some income and not going ott. I hate being saturated with crap from big blogs and think 'has there been anything of substance?', I think once popular blogs hit big readers they have leeway to become slack.
    Got to say as well, I really rate your blog. Posts like these are always well thought out, well written and provoke good discussion.

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    Replies
    1. to add a PS, I like it when bloggers are honest. Like I remember some saying, 'yeah, there are some sponsered posts, I need some cash' which is sooo much better than trying to be coy or sly about it!No shame!

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  8. I wrote (kind of) about my view on this the other day here - http://www.randomdaydreaming.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/finding-place.html

    I can't explain why I don't like sponsored posts, as someone above said, I find them "icky". I find it too hard to believe that what is in the post is truly what the blogger thinks, rather than saying something because they've been paid to do it. There are those who say "If I don't like something I just won't post about it" and that actually puts me off even more - I think you SHOULD write about stuff you don't like if someone's asked you to review it, that's the point of reviewing things.

    What offends me the most is people who don't even write a "review", and just say they got this thing from such and such and that's about it. But my problem with that is that it's just lazy writing and THAT I have a huge problem with. Some bloggers don't make the effort to make a sponsored post amusing/thought provoking and if there are too many of those then I stop reading altogether.

    Ads down the side don't bother me in the slightest - I have a rather marvellous/terrible skill at being impervious to that kind of advertising. Until I read this post I genuinely hadn't even noticed there were adverts on here. I didn't even know there were adverts on Facebook until a friend started going on about them!

    But at the end of the day if it's what you want to do it's what you want to do. The worst that will happen is someone won't read that particular post. Some people like them, some people loathe them - you'll never please them all. And the trouble with having a big readership means that there's just more people that you will find it impossible to please.

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  9. I don't quite mind that people put ads on their blog and make money out of it because even though blogging isn't a job, you put in a lot of work in it. When people do want to start putting their ads on your blog, it means that you have done something right. Even though, you don't make loads of money out of it and maybe sometimes you do, it always goes back into the blog. If you have a beauty or fashion blog, you'll use the money to buy fashion and beauty stuff to make posts about what you purchased and so on!
    I like it when the add are on the side of the blog but not when they are between post because that is annoying. Also when other bloggers decide to advertise, you get to find out blog you didn't know off. and if company decide to advertise you find out about product you didn't even know excited and are amazing! I get to find some stuff out so it is useful for me!
    I loved this post! It was really great! i love the way you expressed yourself on it!
    xx

    http://the-astyle.blogspot.ca

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  10. I support someone making money from their blog. I have noticed that a lot of the 'against' camp are begrudged because they can remember blogging before the PR's, but I've been blogging in some sense since 2004 and I have no problem with what I view as natural progression.

    I would say my only guidelines are:
    - always state if it is sponsored. I have went off some bloggers because I'm aware it is a sponsored post and they've failed to mark it (usually I know because I was also approached about it doing it)
    - Be honest, there are few bloggers out there who I feel don't give their honest opinion and it is because every product they receive for review seems to be amazing (are none of them worth saying something bad about, seriously?).

    But honestly it's your blog. My advice/telling off to those who get really ansty is 'don't like, don't look!" Go find blogs that don't use sponsored posts or accept free products. They are out there.

    I would also say I reject a lot more than I accept. For every PR request I've accepted I'd say there are five I've rejected.

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  11. This is such an interesting post! I'm not against advertising on blogs, especially sponsored posts. I really enjoy getting insights into brands from people I feel I 'know' through reading their blog. It's so much better than seeing a TV or magazine ad! What I'm against, however, is when people cover their blogs in advertising and start a blog solely to get free stuff. Endless giveaways to boost followers and constant sponsored posts just earns them an unfollow on my part. But you're right, YOUR blog, YOUR rules.

    Great post!

    hello scrapbook

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  12. I posted an almost identical blog post today!: http://www.rachelphipps.com/2013/03/full-disclosure-how-i-earn-money-off-of.html

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  13. I have no problem whatsoever with sponsored posts although it's something that I constantly worry about on my blog. Personally I'm in a bit of a tough situation because as a freelancer, the money I get from sponsored posts helps to pay my bills. While I also have 2 other jobs, there have literally been months where if it wasn't for my blog, I wouldn't have been able to afford food. When I had a 'real' job and worked full-time, my blog really was just a hobby and I never made a penny from it, but (very oddly) as soon as I became a freelancer, loads of brands starting contacting me and I've just fallen into bad habits.
    I think the reason I feel so bad about it at the moment is because it's winter, I'm not really doing much interesting stuff to write about so I feel my blog is quite sponsor heavy but I know as the days get longer and the sun comes out, I'll be doing more stuff and I'll feel a bit better about it. I also think a lot of the guilt comes from knowing that I can't use the money to put back into my blog. I'd love to use the money to go out and buy a new dress to blog about or whatever but that's just not the reality for me.

    Also, I've been thinking a lot about your previous post about getting punished by Google and I realised that I'm not actually that bothered. After studying my analytics, it's clear that all of my valuable traffic comes from blog rolls, bloglovin or social media and those that find me via Google are usually the ones that leave immediately or were looking for something totally unrelated to my blog.

    Hmmm, I just don't know.

    x

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  14. Hi Rosie,

    I am a big blog reader, and it was your blog that got me into the whole blog world, and you are still the first one I check when I log on!

    This post was excellent, and all feelings about monetisation aside, thank you for your recent posts about it all. They are upfront and honest and make me feel alot better about the idea of it.

    I did notice a while ago a change in your blog that saw a lot more sponsored posts. Like some of the other comments here, as a reader, I feel a bit 'meh' towards sponsored posts. But that's because I love the lifestyle element of your blog. I love reading about what you've been up to (your writing is great) and I love your photos. It doesn't bother me if you include sponsored posts, as long as there's still some Rosie updates in there every now and then as well!

    Advertising on the page is completely fine and doesn't bother me at all.

    Every now and then I would feel like a bit of a mug, and it's easy to feel like as a reader, I am being taken advantage of; while the bloggers get freebies and vouchers to spend, I feel cheap in reading about it. But I have to say, since you have been writing your very honest posts about the in's and out's of this side of blogging, I feel much more comfortable with it all in general.

    So to echo the other comments, do whatever you want, just be honest and I'm sure your readers will support you. I know I will.

    x

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  15. I think it's entirely up to you what you do with your blog tbh. I must say I prefer adverts to sponsored posts though xoxo
    My blog – Cosmetics, clothes and cute things (:

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  16. Such a great post as always, Rosie!
    I find that this is a touchy subject too but good on you for really putting it out there :)
    Thanks for sharing <3

    http://thecookiebutton.blogspot.co.uk/

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  17. Brilliant post Rosie - my view is that it's your space so you should do as you wish! I don't mind advertisements on anyones blog, the only time I sometimes pull a face is when bloggers speak of a products and nearly every single one is a PR sample. Having said that, good for them that they're getting so much free booty! As long as you remain honest then readers can't ask for much else.

    Hannah http://cagneyandlace.com

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  18. It's a tricky one. Each to their own, but I can't say I'm a fan of blogs that were created solely to make money or receive freebies. I just don't feel they are as authentic as a blog that was born out of a passion for something.

    Sponsored posts are fine if they're declared and relevant to the blogger, but I can't stand reading a post that was so obviously created just to blag a freebie - if the blogger would never work with, promote or wear/buy from the brand they're posting about then their 'review' just comes across as a bit fake.

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  19. I completely agree Rosie, just because someone stars blogging for enjoyment doesn't mean they therefore have to turn their noses up at the chance to make a bit of money from it. I haven't personally done anything like this up until now, but I really don't see what the problem is when you dedicate such a large amount of time to a project - like you say, if you do happen to receive money for it then it's a happy by-product.
    Saying that, it would be a shame to see someone completely sell out their blog for sponsored content - I wouldn't personally accept payment for something that I felt was completely inconsistent with the content of my blog - unless I genuinely thought that, while being different, it was also something that my readers might be genuinely interested in.
    As you say, each to their own, and more than anything I would like to see people stop dictating to others what they should and shouldn't be doing on the subject.
    Mel xx

    melswallofmirrors.blogspot.co.uk

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  23. As long as it doesn't take over your personality on the blog I'm okay. I don't read a lot of your sponsored posts but distance and overall interest in the type of product determine that. Just keep on being a smart cookie that you are. Don't let it overtake you / stress you out. And always let the personality shine threw everything that you do.

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  24. Wonderful blog! Do you have any helpful hints for aspiring writers? I’m planning to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m completely confused .. Any suggestions? Appreciate it!

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Thank you in advance for your lovely comments, they mean the world to me! If you have a question or want to get in touch, tweet me at @rosieoutlook.