Blogger, Can You Spare a Dime?

There are so many conversations being hashed out online about the relationship between BLOGGING and FINANCIAL COMPENSATION.  If you blog for product, you’re a “swag hag.”  If you blog for free, you’re a dope.  But if you blog for money, your integrity is in question; people imagine dollar signs playing puppeteer with the fingers on your keyboard.

As confusing as it is to determine the “right” path to follow,  it’s equally perplexing to hear that whatever path I do choose somehow reflects on bloggers everywhere, mommy or otherwise.  Personally, I remain unconvinced that I wield such power.  But more on that in a second.

Let me tell you where I stand – as closely as I myself can identify that position.  I don’t take money for the product reviews and giveaways that I post.  I choose products based on a positive response to these three questions:

  • Do I have a favorable opinion of the company or PR firm I am working with?
  • Is the product something I or my family would enjoy?
  • Is the product something any of my friends or family would enjoy?

I don’t think about how many readers a product would bring, I don’t think about getting “in” with a huge company in order to increase the blogosphere’s  familiarity with my face or name.  I have a great deal of fun doing this, I don’t feel owned or obligated.  I hit the delete button on PR pitches whenever I want, which tends to be frequently (and it’s very liberating!).  I fear that if I started negotiating pay with each and every company that contacted me, I would be persuaded into getting bigger and better just to chase a buck.  And to make a sort of peacemeal living from something that – I’ll be honest here – I would be doing anyway.

I am somewhat less opposed to earning money from ads, though since my move to self-hosting, I’ve found myself surprisingly hesitant to sell sidebar space.  The “mom-owned business” ads I do have are actually all friends and family, and I posted them myself out of support for their efforts.  I have just a couple of “affiliate” or “sponsored” ads in my sidebar, and I can guarantee you they are not making me money.  They are posted because they are things I’m interested in or connected with, and they’d probably be there anyway.

I’ve had to ask myself one question in terms of pasting ads all over my site (as well as with participating in “sponsored conversations,” or being paid to post about a company/product/campaign):  “Would I even want to read my site if it became so commercialized?”

If there’s any such thing as an ideal way to make money blogging, then I think THIS would be it, THIS would be my dream:  to partner with a company on a long-term basis to learn about, write about, and portray in daily life something that is a fit for my family and lifestyle.  THAT is how I would love to earn money blogging.  No stretch, no forced conversation.  No feeling that I have to nickel and dime to help pay a bill or two.

But listen, I’m pretty much a nobody.  Ok, maybe not a nobody, but at the very least a “who’s she?”  I don’t think a company is going to be knocking on my door anytime soon to create that kind of deal with me.  In the meantime, I make a million tiny course corrections, trying to find my own ideal path in terms of blogging.

I doubt very much that my path looks just like yours, since we’re all coming at this from different experiences, perspectives, and motives.  And those experiences, perspectives, and motives are shifting all the time.  It’s like the moon, which orbits around the earth, which orbits around the sun.  Nothing in blogging is fixed, which I think is what makes it so appealing to ambitious, creative types.  But it’s also what makes us clash with each other over incredibly personal, complicated issues, like the relationship between blogging and financial compensation.

This big long post to essentially say one simple thing:  I’m confused.  I’m also learning, growing, changing, evolving.  For me, reading a tweet that says, “Quit blogging for free!” is NOT an “aha!” moment, it’s an “oh, really” moment – the beginning of a long thought process that includes questions like “why do I blog?,” “what kind of blogger am I?,” “what are my goals?,” and “how can I bring my goals more in tune with what I’m doing online?”.  I would hate to be judged by others for being caught mid-embryo in my development as a blogger.  You may already have come full-term and found your place in the world, but I’m still working on ears to hear and eyes to see and a mind to take it all in.

  • Well said. I too, am very careful about what I will and won’t do with my blog for money. I found that writing a pitch policy, as well as an ad policy, were both very liberating and helped me to set boundaries on what I will and won’t do. I don’t mind selling a little ad space, but I’m choosy about who I’ll sell it to and how much. I really am NOT a commercial kind of gal at all-in real life or blogging.

    That was also why I started Fabulicious Friday, so that I can post about things I genuinely love-that are not sent to me or influenced by companies. They are things that I’d actually recommend to my best friend. Over the past year I have found these kind of posts harder and harder to find.

    For me, choosing when to write for free is just as important as choosing which companies I want to work with. It’s important to me to support specific charities because I may have personal experience with them and be passionate about what they do. If someone thinks that makes me a ‘dope’, that’s their problem. They don’t have to read my blog.

    In all honesty, the commercial side of blogging is the last thing I really think about. I do believe in fair compensation should I work for a company, but blogging is, for me, all about the writing. I do my best to write well, and for me, that’s enough.

    (Took me three years to figure all that out. Give yourself time, you’ll find your niche.)

  • Creating your won path is the way to go. And the fact that you are taking time to even ask and thoughtfully answer questions about your blogging and working with PR folks but you miles ahead of some other bloggers.

    As for the nobody comment. Bah! You’re definitely somebody to me. You never know who’s reading and lurking.

    One morning I wrote out a rant about comparison shopping at the office supply superstores and MUCH to my surprise, it wound up being linked on the store’s Google Finance page along with stock quotes and company info. I was floored! I only noticed it due to incoming traffic from the Google Finance site. I have know idea how my post wound up there and to this day I’m quite surprised by it.

    Keep blogging. Write about what makes you happy and good things will come!

  • Great post! I think that both PR and bloggers are all “learning, growing, changing, evolving.” It is posts like these that continue to create thoughtful and engaging conversation – no matter the side of the fence a person is on. Bravo to you for keeping to YOUR voice and blogging about what YOU want to blog about.