Monetize! What’s OK For Blogging?

In our Women on the Move channel, we’ve been discussing strategies to monetize your blog.  Natalie started the monetize discussion by explaining the ways to make money blogging.  Are you using your blog to simply make money or are you using it to further a blog based business?  There is a difference, and you should understand it.

This week, Natalie continued the conversation by discussing how to find a niche for your blog.  Doing so is another important step in your money making process.

What we haven’t covered are the pros and cons of making money from your blog.  Similar to other great debates, such as Blogger vs. WordPress, niche blogging vs. general lifestyle blogging, ghost blogging (penning for someone else) vs. taking credit for your work, there is a discussion to be had when it comes to monetizing.

Does monetizing = selling out on your blog?

Are there certain blogs that just should not monetize?

Do you find it irritating when a blog that you love suddenly starts to try to sell you a product or a book?

To get us talking about these questions, Mama Mary from The Mama Mary Show, Theresa from Rock on Mommies, and Stefanie from Ooph have joined forces with us today.  Together, these three women are leaders in the San Diego blogging scene in California. Theresa & Mary were also the driving force behind the BlogHer 2011 Flash Mob.

Think of them as the Charlie’s Angels of blogland, and your newest friends.

Monetize: What Do You Think?

Now it’s your turn. What are your thoughts on monetizing a website? Are there certain sites that should not be monetized and stay true to their core?

Let the discussion begin!

More Monetize Posts:

If you need more info before you weigh in, check out this posts:

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About Francesca

One of two behind The SITS Girls and Bloggy Boot Camp. Believer that this community is a movement, and not just a website. Currently on a quest for unending free WiFi & stronger caffeine. I'd love to get to know you better: Find me on Twitter @FranBanducci and on Google+.

Comments

  1. This was very helpful, and so were the links! It makes you think about a lot of things. I’ll def refer to this when it comes to my blog and future decisions. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Leeanne says:

    I look forward to watching this vide when I return home, i have been questioning if I should have the.ads on my blog for several days now. I believe on one hand it makes you look more legitamate, but in my case I think it makes me look desperate when you come to my blog & see my 3 followers & a bunch of ads. Looking foward to see what you have to say about it!

    http://www.livefromleeannesmind.com

  3. Good stuff. I am FOR monetizing, for the record!

  4. Having advice on how to do this in a non-intrusive way is really useful. I love hw posts on this site are really about doing!

  5. This is great! I would love to tastefully monetize on my blog. I enjoy writing and the creativity of keeping a blog. It seems it would never be able to replace the trusty ol’ paycheck though. Darn.

  6. I love this conversation about monetizing your blog. Both the post and the comments have a lot of great information. I struggle with putting up ads for fear that it will seem like I’m selling out or I’m all about the money but I do have a few things that really resonate available through affiliates and would like to grow this part of my blog.

  7. This is a really interesting topic. I find that bloggers monetize a lot more and without as much harassments from their audiences. YouTubers, however, especially beauty YouTubers, get a LOT of crap for mentioning things just for the sake of an extra buck. I don’t understand that! What makes it so much easier for people to complain on someone’s YouTube rather than someone’s blog?

    I monetize my blog and my YouTube with ads, but try to avoid things that are blatantly “selling” because I’m worried about perceptions (when I probably shouldn’t be worried).

  8. I have google ads on my blog and have not had any clicks at all. I’ve probably had it up about 6 months. I’m not sure what else to do to monetize my blog.

  9. Thanks for this article/post. I’ve had a couple of people send me requests to advertise on my blog, but how do I know if they’re legit? I mean, do I really want to?

  10. Thanks for this post. I have just started blogging again after a couple of years of not doing it. I have a couple of Amazon ads on my blog, but they are relevant ads. Right now, I feel if I am make money, that’s great and if I don’t that’s ok too. I am just blogging to hopefully connect with others who are like me. I just want to touch others… :-)

  11. I also would love to monetize my blog more. I did get a campaign for a sponsored
    button this month my first one yay! I’d like to have more of those and sponsored
    posts but I’m not sure how to go about “getting them”. I hang out on some of the mom
    forums/groups is how I have found a couple. I have an ad space page now but no one
    has ever emailed me about it. http://www.diabeticsnacker.com/ I think some sponsors
    think my site is about diabetes because of the title but it’s not. It’s about promoting
    brands and taste testing new foods and trying new products. So sometimes your
    title can hurt you I think. Diabetic Snacker

  12. I’m always fascinated by the monetizing question. Thanks for offering this – very helpful.

  13. I’m a Gynecologist in the process of creating a fun, yet informative blog spot for women to discuss gynecologic health topics of interest. My primary focus is on being an easily accessible resource for women to learn/chat/connect with a specialist in Gynecology…hopefully a site they’ll enjoy visiting. I must admit though, I do hope to generate enough traffic from the site to interest advertiser/medical suppliers to offset some of the costs, and time. As I’m learning even in the planning stages, when it comes to blogging, the currency is TIME. Look for us soon at GynoGroupie.com!
    Thoughts, anyone?
    S.Hall, MD
    twitter/fb/drsuzyyhall

  14. CHEERS TO THIS SISTERS! I started monetizing this last month and while I’m still waiting for my free Mercedes to “review” I am enjoying the progress! ;) I agree, it’s all about being authentic! In the beginning it’s exciting to get noticed enough to even get offers. “Yay!” you think, when someone offers you $20 for a product review that has nothing to do with your site or to read/review a really bad bool (but hey, it’s a FREE BOOK! ha) and then you have to prioritize or you’ll go crazy or look like a real sell out.

    Monetizing in and of itself isn’t a bad thing when done right. You have to try, test, and get rid of what doesn’t work, feel right or further your blogging/personal/financial goals.

    LOVED this vlog, keep em comin! I do vlogs myself so I love these things!

  15. Within the past month, I started doing sponsored posts on my blog. Before I began, I wrote a post to introduce my readers to the fact that they will be seeing some sponsored posts for products or services that I felt were in keeping with the character of my blog. My pageviews have continued to grow, not drop off. However, I am selective and do not want to publish sponsored posts back to back. Also, I have felt a bit uncomfortable about it from time to time. I’m not really sure how people feel about it when they encounter these posts on my blog. I will probably keep with it for now and I would also like to sell ad space but am not sure which widgets are best or easiest to use for that. I could use some advice from those who have done it successfully. I’ve seen ads that add to the beauty of a blog and have a very natural fit. Any advice??

  16. This topic is SO timely for me. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! I am in process of trying to refocus/update/change things on my main blog including possibly some alternate monetizing options. Plus I started a 2nd blog a few months ago so that I could talk more about random things that aren’t necessarily deal related… And that is causing me some issues too…

    Anyway, I do love the confirmation that ads don’t equal selling out, as long as they are a fit for your blog and readers. The “fit” part is key and that is what I am trying to work on.

    Oh and I loved that it was in Vlog form too. I was super inspired to try Vlogging after BBCSD, but it still hasn’t happened yet. :-)

  17. This is the simplest and easiest to understand thing that I’ve seen about monetizing. Thank you.

  18. I have actually had people ask me why my site isn’t monetized or what I sell. I want to get my scrapbooking kits for sale and have considered Etsy but not sure about it and if I’d make anything or not.

    • You won’t know until you try. Go for it! When you do email me at stefanie at sdmomfia dot com and I will help you promote it. Go girl!

  19. I think if you are able to monetize your blog then go for it! I am STILL trying to discover my niche and get more than 5 readers hah!

  20. I’ve always wanted to monetize my blog, but I really didn’t know how. The problem I have (and I guess it’s the kind of blog I have – teen blog), is these organizations email me & say “oh I love your blog. I love the way you write…blah,blah,blah”. And then they want me to write a post for them. The first time was an orthodontist association & it was orthodontist month or something & would I be interested in writing a post. I was a little excited when they contacted me because I hadn’t been blogging long & braces is a “teen” topic, so I wrote a very nice post for them. Then it was an glasses, then acne…and now every couple of weeks someone is contacting me asking me if I would be interesting in partnering with them. (It usually is for a nonprofit type of association) And I got a ton of these this summer & I got to thinking, I’m doing all the work (because I put a lot of time into writing these posts even though I don’t get paid) & they offer me nothing in return. They act like they are doing me a favor. So my question is, how do I say “no” without causing friction with these organizations or how do I tell them I need something for my time? Now I do some book reviews (and I get a free book). And I’ve done maybe 2 reviews (t-shirt & heelys) where I got a free product. I don’t have a review/give-away blog, so unless the product is related to teens I don’t review it. (I get a lot of requests for reviewing baby items & I’m thinking Man, can’t you see my blog is about teens. I don’t have babies.)

    Anyway, these are good posts/videos

    • Laura. I too write about teens. I have 16 and 14 year old sons. I get the same PR pitches. I only do the ones I think are authentic to my readers. I also ask that they write the post and then I publish it on my site. I NEVER do the writing for them. That? is a win win. I don’t have to do the work and it is an additional authentic post to my site. I would highly recommend you put together a media kit and charge for the posts. If you are unsure of how to do that, feel free to email me at stefanie at sdmomfia dot com and I can help you.

  21. I’m not an expert on monetizing, however, I do feel that ads are very distracting. My favorite blogs, the ones that I read religiously, either don’t have ads, have very little, or the ads are very well placed and in good taste. I don’t think you’re selling out if you monetize. Making a living should not = selling out. But ultimately your blog post should still have the spotlight and too much glittery ads will easily take the spotlight from your post.

    • Valid points Denise. And I agree with all of them. If you put ads on your site, make sure they are tasteful, authentic and well placed. Great advice!

  22. I just started my blog less than two months ago so I haven’t even thought about monetizing. But these are all fabulous tips that I’m going to tuck under my hat for when I’m ready!

    • Keep on going girl. You will figure it out and get to a point where you will want to think about monetizing. Keep this page bookmarked so you can refer to it then. SITS is an awesome resource for questions like this!

  23. SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!! When I first started blogging, I really didn’t think about it. Now I am doing sponsored posts and will accept ads for my blog. Anyone want to place an ad on my site? Ha!

    I will say that blogging can bring new opportunities as well…I was offered a job at BlogHer to write a Mommy Mixer/Wine Column on a Mom website. #UmYesPlease! #RightUpMyAlley

  24. Great advice. So many moms don’t feel confident enough to step up and ask for what they deserve. Thanks for sharing this!
    Bernice

    • You nailed it. When I first started blogging, I kept thinking who I am to ask for money. Now, many years in? I won’t give it away for free. Don’t be afraid to ask. All they can do is say no. And as moms? We hear no all day long. Could it really be harder coming from a brand or PR agency than from our kids?

  25. I’ve been trying for some time now to monetize on my blog. I have an ‘advertising’ page on my blog which has a direct link to my media kit/ad rates. I’m forever getting requests to ‘share this info about us and what we’re doing’ and it wasn’t until someone asked me, ‘isn’t your time worth something to you?’ that I realized I needed to come up with a way to make this work on both end. My time is worth something, especially because I don’t always have a lot of it. The problem is that 1. I love to help and highlight the good things that are happening with our military and support organizations, and 2. I seem to never get a response back once I direct people to my ad page. It’s a frustrating process. I feel like I’m not always being taken seriously, and getting the door shut in your face gets to be pretty discouraging. I feel like the first serious break I’ve gotten was to be a freelance writer for another site. But what about MY site? I have a SMALL space set for ads, because I don’t want my page to be cluttered. I love the neat look that it has. I don’t mind sponsored posts, but again once I send the ad info I get no response. The idea of consulting intrigues me, but I have no clue where to even start there.
    So, I’m going to stop now before this gets too rambly, but any tips/advice would greatly be appreciated.

  26. My blog is so local and small that monetizing it isn’t really an option. I suppose I could do the Google ads or something along those lines, but I tried them years ago and wasn’t impressed.

    It’s good to keep options open though, especially if I branch out into a blog with a less specific focus.

    • I thought that too until I got approached for writing cor a campaign (dannon.com/liveyouractiveculture) It showed me even though I was a little blog, I could still influence.
      If the writing is good, they will come.

    • Kristin is your blog hyper local? As in you do only local stories? If that is the case, that is the easiest blog to monetize. Let me know and I can help you with that.

      • It’s mostly hyper-local, but both Patch and a very popular hyper-local blog are here too. I focus on the postive, pollyanna-ish stuff to balance out the more critical and histrionic pieces. :)

  27. I can’t watch the video (at work) but I wanted to step in and say that ads in a sidebar seem to lend a touch of credibility to smaller blogs.

    Totally anecdotal, but I installed a new ad network a couple weeks ago and my subscribers jumped a bit. My numbers have been stuck for a looooong time, I’ve barely posted this month, and trust me, nothing I did post was awesome enough to go viral! My theory? It’s the ads.

    I think some readers see ads on a blog and think, “Hmm. She must be good if that company wants to work with her,” and take that blog a little more seriously. It makes the blogger look bigger than she may be.

    It’s something to consider for the other side of the Sell Out argument.

  28. i still have my doubts about how much ads can produce. so few people on the internet click on ads, but what do i know? very little, i admit. i also got out of this do what you love and be who you are becuz that’s the most realistic way of achieving something worth achieving. and i hope it’s okay i’m not a woman listening in here. there’s just too much good info and too many cool people not to:)

    • You do need huge traffic to make decent money from your Google Ads. Like Stephanie said – it pays for her lattes. That’s cool and I’m all for lattes, but I’m also for a vacation in the Bahamas, or meeting my mortgage. That’s why I’m really for blog based businesses…the possibilities are so much greater with a much smaller audience.

  29. It’s great to hear from people who are unapologetic about monetization.
    I’d love to make a living from this as well.

  30. First, the video was awesome!

    Second, I am all for monetizing but I like doing it in the form of writing sponsored posts. I am not really keen on ads but I don’t mind them either.

    • Thanks for the love girl. And yes. I agree. Ads aren’t the greatest. They can be distracting. But? If they are done tastefully they can earn a bit of income without offending. I don’t mind them either. Even if they just earn enough for my daily latte.

  31. Agree with what Kat just said, and I think the whole “selling out” thing is an idea that’s perpetuated by people who are jealous of the people who ARE making money. You should get paid for your work. That is all. I don’t make tons on my blog itself, but it was a platform writing gigs and contract work that are very lucrative.

    Whatever works for you and your family is the right thing. No judging. :)

  32. One thing I don’t think a lot of people realize is that you can use your blog to make money without actually needing to monetize it at all. Our blogs are definitely online resumes…building your following, writing authentically, and creating value on your site can help you if you’re ever interested in contracting your talents out to other sites and businesses.

  33. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that I can bring in a few extra dollars here and there for my family.
    I have monetized in a few ways- and I don’t intend on stopping :)

  34. So many great points! I want to go through each comment and website, so give me a few hours!

  35. So many great points! I want to go through each comment and website, so give me a few hours!

  36. I’ve wondered about this myself. I wouldn’t mind getting a little bit of change for mentioning something I use on my blog, but I haven’t gone this route yet. If I mention something on my blog it’s because I want to spread the word about how fantastic it is. I’m all about word of mouth advertising, and I think it fits well within what blogs are all about. That being said, I don’t think it’s selling out, but it can be hard to get to the meat of certain blogs for all their ads.

    The thing I find tacky? Buttons on the sides of blogs asking for money from the owner of the blog for blogger’s benefit. It’s one thing to have a button to make a charitable donation to a real charity, but I don’t really care to see people begging for contributions to their bank accounts. Maybe it’s just me?

  37. I don’t think anyone sells out by wanting to monetize. That’s a myth to me. I think it’s a great idea, since the economy is so tough right now. It gives moms, and even single people like me the chance to earn a good living. Not only surviving, but thriving! :)

  38. I publish a Lifestyle blog with fun topics: Food, wine, people, places, events, travel etc. We experience everything we write about, photograph everything ourselves and have exponentially grown the site in very short time. I think people see how passionate we are about what we do. We are careful and selective about who we feature and disclose when required. We are with a great ad network (BlogHer) and are affiliated with some great companies that we truly believe in (Juice in the City). I believe, for as long as we disclose where needed, monetizing a blog is fine.

    I think our readers love the fact that we find some really good things; many new discoveries and some fine things in life. That’s our quest, and in the process..a fun 2nd job (we keep our day jobs) :)

  39. If you got into blogging as a career, it is no means “selling out” to monetize your blog. I want to have a thriving online business. I have 3 blogs I own and manage (and run a consulting biz). I’m not going to monetize something that doesn’t fit the niche of my blog or my blogs audience. That to me, is selling out or just plain greedy.

    There is always something you can do, sell, or monetize within your blog niche. The key is putting together a business plan before you start your blog. Believe me, mine has changed directions 500 times in the past year but that’s the beauty of online business. You are not set in stone. Literally. :)

  40. Thanks! My site is on foster care adoption so I am hesitant to run ads for adoption agencies that I can’t personally endorse. Any tips on how you would screen companies you haven’t worked with that are in your specialized niche?

    • Penelope you might consider running ads for products you think foster families could benefit from…or even books that shed light on the adoption process and transition. Amazon has a great program for receiving affiliate payments when someone buys a product after click through from your site.

      I agree that promoting agencies you’re not familiar with might not be a good idea a gamble you’d want to take.

  41. Very VERY interesting…I am just now starting to allow some ads on my site, picking and choosing since they have to be about Interior Design/Homes. All good info. and it was fun to watch too, thank you! :)

  42. I started out refusing to monetize my blog…but now? After writing for 2 years and seeing the Ca-Ching factor of web design, self-hosting, button making, and conference attendance?? I am all Jerry MaGuire and “Show me the money”

    And I am not saying I want to get rich or MAKE money….but if I could break even? That would be awesome.

    I just don’t know how to do it!!

    Help!

  43. I am for it. I used to feel the same way about selling out, then when push comes to shove, I’m open to it. I know I will not get rich blogging. I know I won’t pay all my bills and quit my job. However, if I can use my blogging to take a weekend trip, help offset the cost of daycare or even have a nice night out with my husband, why not? My favorite thing is the sponsored posts. Many of them allow you to write whatever you want and add a link. Again, you wont’ get rich, but it’s a nice little pocket money. There are tons of opportunities out there for bloggers of all shapes and sizes. Ads on my blog dont’ make me much at all, but I feel like they are tasteful enough not to offend.

  44. It is something I really haven’t thought about too much before but have been doing it more so lately. I think you have to find a balance that works for you, your blog, and your audience. I need to really sit down and do some serious research and thinking about this and my blog’s direction, etc.

  45. Great information. Thanks for sharing. I didn’t start my blog to make money but it definitely was thought about. I think any blog can monetize, seriously….if you can make some money I say go for it!! I have a few ads on my site and I don’t feel like I am selling out.
    I do think some sites are a bit overwhelming with ads, some so much that I can’t really find the content. However, if they are making money, go for it!!

  46. I’ve just started to open up to monetizing my blog after refusing advertising request for over a year, so this post is timely! I’m kind of torn about it though: I feel a bit like I’m selling out, but at the same time, I put time and energy into my posts, so why not have a bit of money coming in?

    • The term “selling out” is always interesting to me. The definition is “compromising integrity, morality, or principles in exchange for money.” The only way you “sell out” is if you compromise yourself or your readers in the process of monetization. For example, you sell their information, you put ads that are inappropriate on your site, you spam your readers.

      Getting paid for hard work is never selling out. Just make sure you are getting paid with integrity.

  47. Great post…I have considered monetizing my blog, but I am not sure it’s worth it. Thanks for the advice!

  48. Thank you for this. I’ve been debating taking ads off my blog, and this is giving me more to think about…

  49. I learned so much from this. I need to think about what I have done so far and what I want to do in the future.

    • The key really is knowing what about your blogging is special. What sets you apart? Stay focused. Thanks for watching!

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  1. [...] to be fun.Today you can find myself, Mary from the Mama Mary Show and Stefanie from Ooph over at The SITS Girls site talking about how we monetize our blogs. We’d love to hear from  you, so head on over [...]

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