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.