Blogging’s no longer a new phenomenon, but there’s still a lot of mystery around it. Trying to explain a blog to a senior citizen, for example, is kind of a daunting task. “I write words? On the internet? People read them? Thanks for the hard candy?” The biggest mystery of it all is likely the money-making aspect of it. A blog can range anywhere from making no money at all to generating a full-time income. We’re going to just puuuuull back the curtain a little bit to give you a glimpse of how it all works. Warning: This is a CRAZY LONG POST.
1) NETWORK ADS: Maybe you just finished poking around West Elm’s site, looking for a new duvet cover. You X out, check out your favorite blog, and whoaaaa there’s a West Elm ad in the sidebar! Internet magic made it so. Advertisers pay the network to distribute ads; network pays the publisher (or website owner) to display those ads. For the most part, network ads pay based on views and clicks. The more pages you visit on someone’s site, the more potential earning that website owner receives. CPM varies greatly, but for the sake of simplicity, an ad that generates $.50 CPM will make $.50 for every 1,000 pageviews.
[Source: Rage Against the Minivan]
2) PRIVATE ADS: Some websites host private ads, which means there is no network involved. Brand owner says “Hayyyyy, I’d like to buy an ad.” Website owner says, “Coooooool, here’s how much it costs.” Money is exchanged, and generally the brand owner saves money and the website owner makes a little more money since no one else is brokering the deal.
[Source: The Bloggess]
3) SPONSORED POSTS: A blogger will devote a blog post to writing about a particular brand. The Federal Trade Commission requires that these blog posts have a disclosure at the top and bottom of the posts. A blogger will secure a sponsored post either privately or through a network (same thing I outlined above generally applies here as well – privately generally makes more $$$, but going through a network means you don’t have to broker the deal yourself), and the pay varies a ton, based on the brand’s budget and usually based on the blogger’s reach. Some bloggers also are signed with a blog agent, who does a lot of the post-securing for them. You want a range, right?
Here’s where it gets tricky. A sweeps blogger (someone who writes about sweepstakes) may get a million pageviews a month, if you check out the blog posts, there are no comments. Or, a blogger may get 10,000 pageviews a month, but has a seriously engaged audience. Money exchanged depends on how “in tune” a brand is with the understanding all of this. But back to the numbers, bloggers charge anywhere from $50 a post to $500 a post to upwards of $5,000.
[Source: Musings of a Housewife]
4) SHADY TEXT LINKS: I’m throwing this in here because people do it, but it’s against Google Terms of Service. A brand will email a blogger and say “Hey, you know that post you wrote about redecorating your living room? The part where you say ‘I think two lamps would look great here,’ we’ll pay you $300 to hyperlink ‘two lamps’ right to our websites.”
The first thought is, okay, wow, that’s an old post that no one reads anyway, and all I have to do is take ten seconds to link it and make $300? Absolutely!
NoooooooooooOOOOOOoooooo. As tempting as it may seem, don’t do it. Why? Because if you don’t follow Google’s rules, Google will no longer send traffic to your website. You know how your website is the top hit for “best jeans for a large donk”? If Google sees that link, your website will be deemed as shady, and you’ll no longer be getting search engine traffic.
5) DONATIONS: You may have a website you visit regularly and really love. It’s been helpful to you in one way or another, and you really appreciate the site. You see a little Paypal donate button. What is that, anyway? It’s there so you can drop some money in as a “Yo, sup, thanks” to the owner. I have happily donated to a website that will call your cell phone for you should you use it. I use and abuse that website on the regular (we eschew the whole house phone thing), so I drop in a few dollars here and there as a “Thank you for having this website and rescuing my sanity when my toddler hides my phone in the linen closet.” The donate option is less common now than it used to be (in fact, I started blogging after the donate button sort of died down), but sometimes you can find it on sites for people who are doing humanitarian/missionary work and writing about it.
[source: The Very Worst Missionary]
6) SUBSCRIPTIONS: Some website owners do not want to deal with securing sponsored posts and ads, so they make their websites private. If you would like to read their website, you pay a yearly subscription (usually around $25 or so), and you never see an ad.
7) AFFILIATES: You write a blog post. You mention your favorite pillow. Through an affiliate program, you link the words “favorite pillow” to your favorite pillow. A reader goes, “Oh daaaang, that has potential to be MY favorite pillow!” and buys it. You get a little kickback. The most widely used affiliate program (I might be wrong) is for Amazon. Bloggers that use Amazon might have a banner or a few links in the sidebar. If you really like a blogger and want to give him or her the hookup, click through the Amazon link (<— it could look like this or it could be a banner, which looks like an ad) on their page before making an order. You don’t have to buy the actual favorite pillow for them to get a kickback; you can buy paper towels. As long as you click through their links, they get credit. Neat, right?
A year and a half ago I bought a treadmill. I knew that at its price point, it had potential to give a blogger a sweet commission. I emailed a blogger I really like and said “Hey girl hey, send me your Amazon link so I can buy this sweet treadmill.” She did; I did; she made money. If you’re a blogger, Amazon doesn’t allow you to make money off stuff YOU purchase, so any time I buy something off Amazon, I click over to a couple blogs I like and then click through their Amazon banners. Cool way for website owners to share the love with each other, as well.
[Source: Our Freaking Budget]
8) REVIEWS + GIVEAWAYS: In a true review, no money exchanges hands. Brand says, “Hey, will you review this handvac?” Blogger says yes. Handvac gets sent. Blogger tries it out and does a little write-up, but not necessarily in a devoted blog post. Also, the brand gets zero say on what the blogger writes. The review can be negative. One time a brand sent me a product and I had to say, “Listen, this thing is super pretty, but there are some functionality issues going on here.” I think not so golden reviews are good, too. Ever search for a product and every review is like YEAH THIS IS THE BEST! and then you try it out and you were like, “Okay, obviously someone padded the comments over there, because this actually kind of sucks”? Disingenuous reviews are lame.
Giveaways can be paid or unpaid. They can take a lot of work to administer, so getting paid for them is pretty reasonable (IMO), but a lot of people will try to just wrap it into a package deal (“Sure, you’re paying for a sponsored post, so I’m happy to do a giveaway at some point”). So no money is actually made here, and bloggers also have to pay taxes on anything they receive for ‘free.’
[Source: Dude Mom]
9) SPONSORED SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT: This includes Twitter parties, Instagram posts, and pins on Pinterest. If someone pays me to post a photo on Instagram, it will always (per FTC regulations) get tagged with #spon or #ad or something like that. I have not ever hosted a Twitter party, and someone would have to pay me a lotttttttttt of money for me to agree to it. I do other work outside of blogging (more on that below), and people in similar industries follow me on Twitter, so I don’t want to jam up their Twitter feeds with chatter about, like, oven mitts or whatever. I will, however, pop in with a tweet or two if a friend is hosting a party, as a show of support. Some people make the majority of their income off Twitter parties, so I’m totally not criticizing them. (Insert hands up Emoji.)
10) BRAND AMBASSADORSHIPS: A brand and a blogger will partner long term to promote a product or service, and the blogger gets paid as such. In the example below, Julie is part of the Lenovo Moms program. Lenovo is paying her, providing with product and travel expenses to experience and promote the new Lenovo line.
11) OTHER. Okay, there’s a whole lot that fits into this category. Some bloggers partner up with brands to create a line of products. Some bloggers do consulting and speaking and e-book/book writing, and their blog becomes a platform to help them advertise that. Make sense?
[Source: Young House Love]
I do a lot of outside-of-NF writing, so a lot of times people will check out my blog, realize I’m a copywriter, and contact me. On the other hand, sometimes clients end up becoming blog readers. You’ll notice that my Facebook fan page is the only thing holding the NF name, while my Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and personal FB usernames are simply my first and last name. While Neon Fresh is my blog, and I write on it, everything else I do is as Roo Ciambriello, so it makes sense to work it like that on social media.
SHOULD BLOGGERS MAKE MONEY? My answer is always a resounding ‘yea, dude.’ There’s this somewhat weird opinion that blogs should be just for fun. A lot of blogs are just for fun, and that’s fantastic. However, some websites cost money to run, and if the demand/desire is there for regular content (i.e., if you have readers who want to read what you write), then it makes sense to get paid if you’re devoting hours daily to writing. It’s just like any other potential hobby. Some people knit for fun, and some people sell their wares. Some people belt out Usher in the shower, and some get paid to sing in front of people. I think it totally makes sense for people to be paid when they lend their talent to others, but running your own site doesn’t necessarily mean making $$$. Womp. :) 2013 saw a lot of bloggers shutting down their sites, so.. who knows. The Internet is simultaneously weird and wonderful and full of opportunity and cat memes. Bless it.