I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to have a monetized blog, and the pros and cons of opening up your blog to sponsorships and advertising. Maybe it was Blog Brunch a few weeks ago, or maybe it's just the controversy in the blogging community that keeps making me think about it, but I felt like I needed to say something.
It seems like everyone has an opinion on it. Some are ardently against it, and take every opportunity to voice their displeasure at blogs that do decide to get paid for their writing, and some are just fine with it. Most are in between, I think, and don't mind when it isn't too conspicuous, but hate when bloggers only put content out there that they get paid for or complain when they don't get enough sponsors. Here are a few of my thoughts on the subject.
TIME IS MONEY
I can only speak for myself, but blogging does take up a significant amount of my time, at least twelve hours a week, at the bare minimum. That's a legit part time job right there! And yeah, I could potentially work part time somewhere else, at a store or waiting tables, but I don't want to. I feel like I have more to offer than that, and I love being able to share my voice and my opinions and my style with all of you. If I did have a part time job, I wouldn't be able to blog anymore, and that would suck. For me, at least.
My time is valuable. It may sound arrogant, but when you own your own business and work full time, you have to come to terms with these things. I do not make a lot of money from my blog. I'm going to be really honest and say that at this point, I make maybe $200 a month from it, which may not sound like a lot. But it is $200 more a month that I can put toward my bills or clothes or into savings. And it means that I'm $200 a month closer to working for myself. That's a powerful thought right there, and I'm not sure why someone would want to take that away from me or anyone else.
INFORMATION IS MONEY
Think about it. Most of the information that you consume has to be paid for in some way. Websites and TV shows and magazines are typically funded by advertisements. Some require that you pay to access the content and information, and some are funded by donations alone, like Wikipedia.
This really comes down to the value that you as a consumer place on blogs. You may feel that they are for pure entertainment, but you pay to be entertained in a lot of other ways, whether it be by buying a book or paying to see a movie. And if you really feel that you get a lot out of blogs in other ways, and consider them to be a form of useful information, then that speaks for itself. If you feel like blogs are not, in any way, a form of useful content, then really? Why are you here?
I'm not going even going to try and put a value on the different types of content that bloggers put out there, because it's really subjective. Some people really find a lot of value in curated lists or posts that are based purely on things they found on Pinterest, and some only like those that offer some type of information or tutorials that improve their lives in some way. But your personal opinion on the matter shouldn't dictate whether someone else should monetize their own content, because it's up to you if you read it. If they can make money off of it, that means that someone else finds value in it, and that's what matters.
Tips on sponsorships:
- I’m of the mindset that you have to start small. Even if you think you don’t have a lot of readers, offer sponsor swaps or free spaces on your blog. Ad swaps are a great way to generate buzz about your own blog as well.
- I also don’t feel that once you hit a certain number of pageviews, you’re automatically ready to start offering paid sponsorships on your blog. It’s a different experience for everyone, and you really need to evaluate where you are and whether or not you’re ready to monetize your blog. Start small, but don’t undervalue yourself.
- Going along with the point above, you need to be careful with how little you charge when you start approaching companies and other potential sponsors. They won’t take you seriously if you aren’t charging what you’re worth.
- Definitely approach people you’re interested in working with! But be genuine about it. Please don’t copy and paste emails, because it’s really obvious. Let them know why you like their products or services so much, and why they should work with you.
- Create a media kit! I’ve spent quite a bit of time on my own media kit, and it’s definitely paid off. Here is a really great post about creating a media kit, and here is a good example. If you don’t know how to create one on your own, then definitely hire someone to help you out. And let me know if you’re interested in seeing mine.
- Sponsorships are about relationships, and aren’t just one sided. I try to promote my sponsors not only on my blog, but on my social media sites as well. Also, I try to stay in touch with all of my sponsors and make sure that we get to know each other.
- Only accept sponsorships for products or services that you honestly love. I think that’s one of the reasons why I actually like sponsorships on other blogs. I’ve found a lot of good Etsy shops and other small businesses that I really like.
What are your thoughts?