No one likes to talk money. It’s impolite to imply you need or want money, right? Fortunately, I’ve never been a faithful follower of Emily Post, so let’s discuss it.
Clearly many of us want more money. (And if you don’t, that’s OK, too!) One of the hot topics of this year’s BlogHer was the monetization of blogs. Many wanted to learn how to make a little cash off of this massively time consuming hobby we have.
But the issue of money and blogging brought up several sub-topics of conversation:
- Are ads OK on mommyblogs, and if not, why are they then considered more OK on blogs about politics, technology, or cats with bad spelling?
- What about product reviews? Are we selling our souls in return for a free Swiffer? And how do we get PR reps to realize we do more than clean and bake when it comes to free stuff? (For the record, a few of the PR reps I know clearly understand us better. Just see the iPod review I did, and check out David’s blog. He’s one of the good guys.)
- What about paid writing advertisements, like PayPerPost?
- Are we selling ourselves and our blogs at too cheap a rate?
While each of these sub-topics could take up an entire post on their own (and I may get to them, someday – go ahead and write your own feelings on them if you don’t want to wait for me), the last question really got me thinking.
I’ll start by saying up front that I am all for blog ads. Newspapers, magazines, and other writing outlets have ads. It’s how the writers get paid, and how the price of subscriptions remains relatively low. Bloggers, who have no subscription fees, are an amazingly talented group of writers – why shouldn’t their words carry the same value? If the writing is good enough, and the traffic is there, and someone wants to pay a blogger for ad space or pay them for their writing, then good for them. Capitalism is alive and well.
However, there is also the temptation in the blog world to take any bone thrown in your general direction. (Sometimes it doesn’t even have your name on it.) Liz covered this beautifully in the Professional Blogging panel. She told the room that it is ridiculous to give up large areas of your blog’s real estate to advertisers and get pennies or nothing in return. “You’re worth more than that.”
Many of us have Adsense on our blogs. How much have you earned from your Adsense? Did you know you need at least $100 earned before they will give you a check? I can tell you that after two years of large Adsense ads on my blog, I’ve earned less than $100. Unless your blog gets really good traffic (1,000+ unique hits per day, and several good visitors who are kind enough to click on your ads), you’re not going to make enough to get a check anytime in the next year. Is it worth it to let them have their ads on your site while you make nothing? (For the record, I’m close enough that as soon as I hit that first check, I’m taking down Adsense ads.)
Aside from Adsense, many bloggers don’t know where to go next for ads. It’s tough to find which ad companies are legit, and it’s even tougher to figure out how much you can expect to make. I was excited to sign up with BlogHerAds last year because they gave us the pricing structure right up front. No hidden pricing that you have to already be signed up to find out, no sliding scale magical algorithm that makes it impossible to get a straight answer on what you’ll be paid. It’s simple, it’s laid out in the application materials, and it only relies on page views, not clicks.
Which is another thing: advertising that pays only if people click on the ad is not worth it! Companies pay thousands of dollars for newspaper ads and billboards on the highway. Do you think the newspaper is told, “We’ll pay you for the ad you print, but only after 100 of your readers sign up with us because they saw the ad.”? No way, the company would be laughed out the door! You should be paid for having the ad on your site and not based on click-thrus.
During the Professional Blogging panel, I thought about the fact that I don’t know what to charge for ads. What is the going rate? One reason so many bloggers sell themselves short is probably because they don’t know what a good rate is for their blog, worried that if they say something too high, no one will ever approach them again, and if they say something too low, they’ll never be able to make more than that low rate. It’s a topic that leaves many newbies in a panic attack.
It would be helpful if more bloggers shared what their advertising prices are. Of course the rate for a blogger with a high readership will be more than that of someone with a lower readership, but it would be a good place to start. Some now share how much they make from blogging, and I hope this trend will continue.
I learned a lot this weekend about monetizing my blog, and I’m glad I did. It’s looking pretty certain that I’ll be quitting my part time job at the end of maternity leave because the cost of a good daycare equals my monthly salary, and I can’t find any way around that. It may be impolite to say, but we need the money – we’re not poor at all, but continuing to pay all the bills is a Good Thing in the eyes of the credit bureaus. In place of my job, I’ll be focusing my work time on my writing here, on my reviews blog, at Family.com, and maybe a few new places as well. Hey, it’s better than selling everything we own on eBay.
I don’t plan to clutter up my blog with more advertising. Instead, I want to switch to smarter advertising. I want to support smaller companies, run ads that are relevant to my readers and tasteful in design (thank you, BlogHerAds!), and make sure I’m not whoring out my blog for $.05 per thousand views. Because I am worth more than that.