Friday 8 February 2013

Monetising - Your blog or your integrity?

I have to tell you I was never more surprised to receive one of my new bloggers guest posts than this one from Emma.  Ages back she asked to join in and I confirmed that I would love to feature her here but in the meantime Emma had some bad news and is having investigations for cancer. Somehow she managed to send me this post after just being discharged from hospital - I think she must be superwoman (well she is a twin mum and that is pretty close!) Over to Emma -
Emma, 26, married, mummy to a 5 year old daughter and 8 month old old twin daughters, stepmum to a 9 year old boy, graduate, pub manager and all round passionate-about-life person. I blog at where I tell our family tales, laugh through the good times, try to make the best out of the bad and blog every step of my journey through the magic of parenthood.

If you’d asked me about “monetising my blog” back in March when I first started writing Crazy With Twins, my response would have been an incredulous, “WHAT???” I had NO IDEA that it was possible to make money from blogging. I also had no idea quite how many people would want to read my blog!
I started my blog as an online family record, but after a few months realised it can be used for so much more... like raising awareness of good causes, campaigning, inspiring, making people laugh. Once I had an audience, I didn’t change my content of censor what I wrote, but I became more aware of what kinds of writing people enjoyed reading. I want this blog to entertain my family and friends, as well as keep them in the loop. I want it to be enjoyable for me to read too.  The additional readers were a hugely flattering bonus.
It wasn’t until September that I discovered bloggers could review items on their blog and keep the items for free. I was amazed, but at the same time, made sure I only chose review items that were relevant to us. I discovered that writing reviews is time consuming, and therefore decided that I should only review items that were worth my time. Was an hour’s review writing worth a product I’d never use, that retails for a fiver? No. But a product I needed worth £30? Yes. Each blogger has their own price, but what I think is important when monetising, is maintaining your integrity.

I may have posted a few reviews and giveaways, of products my family have enjoyed using, but I have always stayed true to my own voice, my own themes and have never let a brand influence what I write. I always include a disclaimer telling my readers what I was given in exchange for writing the post, but at the same time, reinforcing that the words and opinions are all my own.

Monetising goes further than review posts. I recently took a contract for advertising. I considered the space available on my blog for ads. I didn’t really want my blog littered with ads unless I was going to get fair compensation for it. I was approached by a brand, which offered me a very fair price for a new blogger, and I accepted. I placed banner ads on my site for them. It was agreed that if I didn’t like any of the ads displayed, they would remove them. My blog is important to me, I worked hard to build it up and it’s full of very personal stories. Do I want those shrouded by an advert for the sake of a measly £10 a month? No. But some might. Would I consider selling ad space for a figure just shy of £40 a month? Yes okay! You need to consider what you are willing to accept before you make a deal of this kind. Ensure a full contract is in place, so you know what is expected of you and what you can expect in return. I also vetted the ads. I wouldn’t allow ads of a sensitive nature or adult content on my blog.

Reviews, banner ads... whatever next? Sponsored posts that’s what! I decided I would accept sponsored ads on my blog but only within strict terms...

1) The product or brand MUST be relative to my blog. I’m not about to promote a product for teenage boys, when my blog is about my baby girls. I have read other blogs where sponsored posts hit my inbox which have absolutely no relationship to the blogger promoting it. For me it took a portion of that bloggers integrity with it. They sold a portion of their blog for a fee, with no consideration as to where it took their readers. After several of these, I unsubscribed as I realised that blogger had lost their voice and was only blogging to make money. It was no longer interesting to read and the purpose of their blog – talking about their family, seemed to have waned.
2) Limitation. It’s not enough for sponsored posts to just be relevant to your blog, you need to decide how many you are prepared to sell. Whilst I would LOVE to make lots of money from my blog, my integrity and reputation as a writer is so very important to me. I don’t want my blog to be a platform for advertising. Again it’s purely down to bloggers preference and how much they are prepared to risk upsetting their audience or spoiling their blog. I have vowed never to do more than two posts per week which are sponsored or reviews, but I try to keep to only one a week. In a way this is also a bonus to the brands, as they are effectively being showcased, as opposed to being part of a long line of pointless ads.
At the end of the day, it’s all down to integrity. My blog is my voice, my integrity, which I value highly, and it is what governs all monetising I accept. If you look back on your blog in ten years time, do you want to read about airlines you’ve never flown with, products you’ve never used and finance packages for someone twice your age? Or do you want to read about your family memories, the products you tested and the brands you loved? Is your blog worth selling down the river to make a quick buck or would a little money often, and a good quality blog make for a happier trip down memory lane?
Obviously the price you put on your integrity, will depend on the type of blog you write and the passion within it. Nobody can tell you what is right or wrong to accept, but from a new bloggers perspective, the ones who seem to have lost their way, are those who monetised their integrity.
Thanks so much for your perspective Emma, I found this a real interesting read. It is important for us all to make our own decisions and set our own boundaries of what we will and won't do and of course transparency is of the utmost importance.
Join us again tomorrow for the penultimate post of the fortnight. The very knowledgeable Geek Mummy will be talking about vlogging or video blogging for newbies!