When I started blogging nine years ago, I did so without the intent to make money. Really, was anyone bringing in an income from blogging back then? I mostly followed blogs written by moms and dads of multiples, along with those written by grieving parents. Whether it be as a parent of a baby taken by stillbirth or a mom of triplets, I felt connected to others and a sense of community. I still have all of those blogs in my reader and, unfortunately, only a handful of them are still active today.
In my world, way back when, sponsoring other bloggers or reviewing an item in exchange for a freebie were the main ways to bring in income. And then there were all the "c/o" items for the fashion bloggers. I never monetized my blog because I had a job, a very full time job, and I never wanted the stress of running a blog for money. If I became overloaded with work or sick, I didn't want the pressure of having to blog because "sponsors" or others were expecting me to.
Companies have reached out to me on a fairly consistent basis requesting freebies. It's usually played off how my mentioning XYZ would really benefit my readers. Last year, during an incredibly busy time, I had a woman emailing nonstop asking that I write about some type of insurance. When I didn't respond, she shot off one final email stating how she didn't think I was even a real person. That's right; I am not real. Thanks for pointing it out.
Recently, I've had companies email me letting me know about a campaign they are having and how they would like me to blog about my top five vacation destinations (for example.) What's in it for me? Well, they'll be sharing some of their favorite blog posts on their own social media. I've taken to responding back requesting an advertising fee, which is never in their budget. Aw, that's too bad. It doesn't look like your post is in my time budget.
Back in the fall, I received an email from a company who works on campaigns with bloggers. The email talked about "stylish" moms and wanted to know if I was interested in opportunities. Sure, why not. I figured it wouldn't hurt to check it out. Stylish moms somehow turned into a store which sells baby items and if I agreed to include the name of the store in a blog post (on any topic), I would receive a fee of $X. It sounded easy enough to me, so I agreed. But then that somehow turned into a post on a specific baby product. I needed to include a certain term in the title of my blog post, so not a post about anything. I needed to have a certain number of photos, including original, of said baby product and links to a certain number of sites discussing said baby product.
I realize my blog is being added to blacklists right now.
I politely emailed the woman back telling her that I couldn't do it. The whole experience left a really sour taste in my mouth. Also, my kids are in the fourth grade. I am so far beyond baby monitors, teething rings and breast pumps. How can people not figure this out?
I'm a blogger, but I also read many blogs and I know what I don't mind when it comes to monetization. Constant "sponsored" posts are a turnoff. There are other annoyances but I don't want this to turn into a tirade. Travel blogging has the least offensive type of advertising, in my opinion. For the most part, I don't mind people making money off of blogs. I follow a Disney/photography blogger who is an Amazon affiliate. When I purchased my camera and new lens a few years ago, I used his link to Amazon to give him the fee money. I did this because he had provided information which pushed me to finally make the purchase and I felt he deserved the fee for doing so. Blogging now is a lot different than it was back in the day. Blogging used to be what social media is today. You posted a few photos with a little story. Now, there's so much more time involved.
Shortly after what I like to refer to as The Baby Product Incident, I found an email in my inbox from Google AdSense telling me that because I was using Google's blogging platform, I had been approved to become an AdSense user. I thought it over and then signed up. In my opinion, ads on a sidebar are passive and harmless. As a blog reader, they don't bother me and so I figured they wouldn't bother you either.
At the end of last year, I joined the Amazon Associates program. Rich and I make many of our purchases from Amazon, including all of my photography gear, and I was frequently linking to Amazon so I figured it wouldn't hurt to sign up. If you make a purchase on Amazon after clicking on any of my links to Amazon, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I do not see any of your personal information. I can view how many clicks came from my blog and what items were purchased, but not by user. Items purchased are listed because it's used to calculated my commission. Just like ads, I've always felt that affiliate links, when used appropriately, are harmless.
When I left work last year and use of my time changed, I realized blogging took up a good chunk of time. It's difficult nowadays to find a blog with fairly regular postings that doesn't have some sort of income component, so I didn't feel bad about monetizing. That all being said, I'm not getting rich here. Last month's revenue wasn't even enough to pay the monthly tuition for one dance class for one of the girls. I've decided to give it a year and see how it goes. I sincerely want to thank those of you who have supported me in this and by support, I mean you haven't become annoyed with the ads and affiliate links.
I'll be honest, my readership here has dropped over the years. I did see an increase last year when I began to post more but then after monetizing, it's been dropping. Maybe the end is closer than I realize.