It’s been almost six years since I started this blog and as I approach that mind-blowing anniversary I feel the desire to address something that’s come up time and again in the comments sections here, in conversation and all over the interwebs as of late. And that is the delicate business of making money from blogging. A few weeks ago I posted about some vendors I was using for my renovation and someone commented asking what I was “given/paid” to link to these people in my post. I jumped to my own defense, perhaps in haste, as I felt incredibly offended by the accusation that I can be paid to post about a product or vendor- espeically when I’m paying a vendor to do work for me! But it did make me think about the business of blogging and how there is a huge amount of confusion and dilution of recommendations in blogging due to the fact that we are now seen as a venerable form of media and getting paid for it.
I am sure there are some bloggers who love the swag so much they will post about anyone and anything to get free stuff or money. There are bloggers who don’t take on advertisers and don’t make a dime off their blog. And then there are the rest of us who walk the middle of the road- we post about what we love and if we happen to get paid for it, well that’s just great. Yes, I get sent free stuff. Yes, I get offered discounts. Yes, I get commissions on some things I link to on this blog. Yes, I have advertisers that pay me a fee for a little button on the sidebar. But here is the most crucial side note to all that- I have a very strict rule for myself in which I ask myself every single time I link/post/accept an advertiser- “would I blog about this person/thing/service regardless of compensation? Does this fit with my aesthetic?” If the answer is yes, then so be it. If the answer is no, then I turn down whatever they are offering me and you don’t see any of it. In fact, I turn down way, WAY more than I accept. And if I’m sent something that I don’t like, I try to give helpful feedback to the company as to why I won’t post about their item and offer to send it back. I cannot be bought, but I do think I (and all other bloggers) deserve to be compensated when it’s appropriate.
While I never, ever want to turn into a “sell out”, I also have come to accept what people have been saying to me for years- that I deserve to make money for all the hard work and time I invest in this blog. As long as it does not compromise my content and what I recommend and post, then it harms no one if I happen to make a few bucks on the back end. It in fact propels me to blog MORE. After all, this is an entrepreneurial venture at it’s core. Leandra Mendine, the woman behind the famous “ManRepeller” blog posted a great piece this week about how “blogging” has somehow become a dirty word and how bloggers have entered a world in which we will constantly be questioned about our motivation to post about a certain thing-even when it comes from a totally honest and natural place. The true motivation behind all our blogs is to create a career for ourselves that wasn’t being offered up to us in the traditional manner of times past. No one was offering me a job as an editor at a shelter or fashion magazine– and so I became my OWN editor. And now that companies small and large see us as a valuable alternative to expensive print media- we are reaping some of the same benefits. But it bothers readers more, I think, because our blogs were born from a simpler place of influence-free opinion. They want to be sure that they are still getting honest content and not being hit over the head with paid advertorials. That concerns me too as a reader and writer.
I am not a housewife with a hobby (as I’ve been accused of as well- not that there is anything wrong with that I/my blog are just neither of those things)- I need to make an income in order to continue spending hours a day penning this blog. And it’s been so amazing to see so many other people be able to quit soul-sucking day jobs because their blogs have provided enough business and income to allow them to live out their dreams of self-employment. And others, like myself, who now employ other people because of their blogs. We’ve created this fantastic new economy of creativity, opinion and entrepreneur-ism, but we all have to make sure that we never lose what got us here- our unedited enthusiasm and opinion. Just as readers need to support us in our hopes to become financially independent and sound. It’s a fine balance, it really is, but I for one plan to continue to tow that line with all my might.