Money and Blogging

BLOG IDEAS (Photo credit: owenwbrown)

I recently read a guest post on a well known blog hosted by a blogger who's often cited as an expert in the “business” of blogging. The guest writer was talking about the steps to turning a blog into a profitable business, and one of the steps he talked about was “monetizing” the blog.

He mentioned that some bloggers he knows resist the idea of monetizing their blogs for fear of driving readers away. In response, he said the following:

Who says selling chases readers away? Monetizing a blog is as important as setting up and updating the blog. Without this, people won’t take you seriously. You’ll be regarded as a newbie at worst, and an amateur at best.

Am I reading that correctly? Is he saying that monetizing your blog is necessary to be legitimate as a blogger?

As far as I can tell, the sentences I quote above refer specifically to running ads on your blog. I assume this, because the paragraph about “monetizing” was part of a larger section about profiting from your blog, and “monetizing” was only one way to profit (along with using your blog to get a job or to sell products).

There is a whole industry made up of people (apparently mostly in their early 20s) whose sole job is blogging. They make their living by blogging–mostly about how to make money by blogging. And I've seen lots of blog posts and ebooks that recommend monetizing your blog as a source of income. Some of those recommendations come from writers that I respect, whose primary business is writing and speaking on substantive topics and for whom their blogs are a secondary outlet and a means for interacting with their fans. A lot of those recommending monetization, though, are these young “professional bloggers.”

In all cases, they seem to think that it's a good idea to sell ad space on your blog and/or to join affiliate programs for which you get a percentage of any sales resulting from links on your blog.

On my own blog, I have experimented with the Amazon Affiliate program–with some reservations. Frankly, I'm not comfortable with selling stuff, and I don't blog to make money. I blog with the hope of communicating, connecting, and interacting with other people. (Which is not to say that I think people who sell things on their blogs are wrong!) I signed up for the program because so many of the pros recommend doing it, but I've only used it a couple of times, and then only to create links for books that I was reviewing or recommending anyway.

But as for selling ad space or posting affiliate ads . . . I personally am just not comfortable with it. Maybe I'll change my mind someday, but honestly, I find it hard to believe that it would be worthwhile. Apparently lots of people read these ads and buy the stuff they promote. (At least, I assume that's the case, because if it's not profitable, people wouldn't be doing it, right?)

But I personally never (never) read the ads on any of the many blogs that I read.


And contrary to the opinion quoted at the beginning of this post, the existence or absence of ads on a blog has virtually nothing to do with whether I view the blog as authoritative or worthwhile, or how much I respect the blogger.

I say “virtually nothing” because if anything, the more ads a blog features the less likely I am to take the blog seriously, and the less credibility I'm likely to give the blog's author. If I like a blogger's content over time, I might buy that blogger's book from a link on her site, but I simply never even look at any of the sidebar ads on even my favorite bloggers' sites.

What about you? Have you ever bought something that was advertised on a blog's sidebar? How do you feel about ads on blogs? And if you're a blogger yourself, what's your position on monetizing your blog?

Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . . 
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