This afternoon I posted my third sponsored post/giveaway/sweepstakes post in a short time. In the last few weeks, I have run more sponsored posts that usual and I haven’t really loved the timing of all of them, if we’re being honest. I was lamenting to a friend about this over drinks last week and I said that I wished I had a way to explain it, like I was doing with her.
And then it dawned on me — I CAN. I’ve never really explicitly stated my stance on sponsored posts or advertising or giveaways and I probably should. This is my website and — hey look at that, I get to decide what gets written — and I feel like we are all friends here so why not just sit down and have a chat about it like I would with anyone I was having drinks with.
The History of This Blog
Almost 8 years ago I started this blog as a place to write. I mostly just wanted to have a place to do that and I’m lazy and type faster than I write. An online journal! How novel! And that is just what the archives of this blog look like from that long ago — sort of embarrassing and very journal-y. Also, sort of boring and narcissistic, but it’s cool because no one was really reading it. In fact most people I knew were like “A blog? WHAT’S A BLOG?” So, no harm no foul you know.
Three years ago I began writing for a health + fitness site about my own personal health journey and most of that changed. All of a sudden I had lots of traffic, people were interested in what was happening with my health, I was writing a lot about CrossFit and Paleo, and that seemed to resonate with people.
This Blog Currently
While I guess you could say that my health journey helped me “find my niche” I still don’t consider this to be a Healthy Living/Paleo/CrossFit blog. This is a website about my life. This is a personal blog. My life just happens to include a lot of things that fall under those 3 umbrellas. I write about weight loss, but this is not a Healthy Living blog. I share recipes, but this sure as hell isn’t a food blog. I write about my food philosophies, but I wouldn’t even call this a 100% Paleo-centric blog because I also freely post pictures of me eating gluten. THE HORROR! So in some ways, I consider myself to not really have any “niche.”
Why Do You Keep Saying Niche — That Is Annoying Word
So, why do I keep talking about niches? Well, mostly because this is also a For Profit Blog. I make money here. As my traffic began to increase 3 years ago, I, like everyone else on the internet who has ever had an interest in NOT working in a cubicle for the rest of their lives, began to think: “Hmm…maybe I could make a part time income from this website.” Garrett and I were talking a lot about having kids at the time, and I thought that tinkering around with making money from a blog might be a fun little project. I’m an entrepreneurial sort, I enjoy projects, so I learned a few things about how to make money blogging. But here is the honest truth: I’M NOT SUPER GREAT ABOUT IT. Making money from a blog takes a lot of time, energy and dedication and there are lots of short term and long term strategies to think about. Also: You sort of need a niche. And damn it to heck, I didn’t want to box myself into one niche. I still enjoyed writing creatively. Without a niche — and a brand (gag!) — it used to be much harder to really make an income, even part time.
The Changing Landscape of Blogging
What has been interesting though is that over the last 3 years, the entire blogging landscape has changed for those who have considered doing it professionally. People who I talk to these days don’t think it’s weird that I have a blog, they know what they are, and coincidentally companies understand the power of viral content and campaigns in a way that I think wasn’t quite as organized 5-8 years ago. Basically things have changed. While making money from an online platform is still the Wild West, things are a little more organized these days. So while it is not currently my focus to make MILLIONS OF DOLLARS (or even a liveable income — as you know, I have a FULL TIME JOB that I enjoy and don’t have any plans of leaving) I still manage this platform as a “professional” one.
What That Means For You
1. I aim to write regular content. Obviously life circumstances get in the way sometimes, but if I am suggesting this is a professional blog, I think it is fair that I acknowledge it as a responsibilty — and one that I take seriously, frankly. It has been YEARS since I have not planned out my week and also included what kind of content I will write here. YEARS.
But I also think it is important to note that I still consider it a personal blog, and fully understand that because of that it is less viable as far as income goes. No niche = No Brand, really and that is alright! I am purposeful about that decision. I don’t want to worry about things like life updates are “Diluting My Brand” (again, gag.) I want to be able to post too much about my dog or my boyfriend or whatever. This blog is about my life, honestly, and I NEVER think about packaging my life into something more marketable. EVER
2. But because I don’t have a niche, I also come across opportunities for profit that are more lifestyle related — and I kind of like it that way. I see a variety of opportunities to work with brands because I write about a variety of topics. But it is important to me to ONLY write about things that fit within my life, and I take that into consideration. There is no amount of money that is worth writing about a product or a brand that I don’t believe in. I don’t agree to sample crap food and write about it. I don’t even agree to sample crap coffee actually. In fact I recently turned down an offer for $1500 freaking dollars. But it involved a coffee brand I despise. It hurt you guys, because that is A LOT OF DOUGH. But writing about stuff you don’t really like for money makes you a douchebag, and that hurts more, I think.
The Revenue Breakdown
So let me be really transparent here, I make money three ways: advertising revenue, affiliate links (disclosure info here) and sponsored posts/giveaways. And for the most part, I work mainly with BlogHer. It is easy and streamlined, legit and organized. Could I do it another way (Passion Fruit, Self Managed, Blah blah blah) YES. But again, I have a full time job and so I am not trying to MAXIMIZE EVER RED CENT POSSIBLE OUT THERE ON THE INTERNET. I am trying to provide some income flexibility for Garrett + I because who knows what will happen when we have kids.
Affiliate links are pretty self explanatory and luckily advertising is pretty simple — there are ads in that right column. BOOM. That’s it. I get paid based on my traffic here. (It is more complicated than that, but that is the jist of it.) The revenue is small, but it is enough to pay the costs associated with maintaining this website. I opt out of advertisements and brands that I don’t want to represent (GMO foods, politics, etc) and I think that it is awesome that I use an ad network that allows that (BlogHer, btw. I’m a fan.)
Sponsored Posts and Giveaways are also organized through Blog Her and again, it is simple and streamlined and why I participate. It is also where the bulk of revenue is these days for bloggers. So let’s talk about what sponsored posts I’m interested in writing.
I only participate when I feel like it is a campaign that:
a) Features a product I am genuinely curious about or that YOU GUYS may be curious about
b) The compensation for my time is fair.
c) It is information that I find useful to share.
d) It is a giveaway I’d be interested in getting. (I’m not a big giveaway person, so I really only like to do giveaways that I would be excited about receiving.)
Honestly, that is the long and short of it.
The Bottom Line
I love writing, I love the platform of blogging, and most importantly I love connecting with all of you. NONE OF THIS would be worth doing if I didn’t have the friends I’ve made, the awesome people I’ve gotten to know, the emails I’ve read, and the interactions I’ve had. None of it.
But I want to be transparent and it is my goal is to be compensated for the work I do (and it is a responsibility at times) but I don’t plan to do by being a shady douchebag. NOT worth it. The downside of working within an ad network though is that sometimes sponsored posts are scheduled at random times and I actually don’t have control over that exact date when I agree to it. There is a little room to negotiate, but because I usually agree at least a month in advance, there are times (like this week) when a lot of things go live at once.
No Bueno. But it is also the cost of doing business. Or rather, approaching this as a business.
Nothing will please everyone, and I’d never even try — I’m comfortable knowing that my flavor is just not right for everyone, but transparency is important and I want you to know, like I said earlier, I feel like we are all friends here. So this is the scoop. I’m happy to answer questions or address anything further but this has already been long (and probably) a little boring. But worth sharing because I do want you all to know.
Thanks, as always, for reading!