Why & How I Monetized My Blog

Friends, both in real life and in blogland, have asked me some variation of these questions:

How did you go about adding sponsors to your blog?
What made you decide to do that, and has it benefited you?

These are common blogging questions, so I decided to share my answer here.

how and why I monetized my blog

I don’t blog for money. It’s not the reason I started blogging, and I won’t change the focus or mission of my blog in order to make a profit. I refuse to compromise my values to get sponsors, and I don’t want to annoy my readers with obnoxious ads. However, this blog has become a very handy side income which now pays for our homeschool curriculum, supplies, and more — and friends, that is a very big deal for a one-income family!

When I started blogging, it was just for me: a sort of online scrapbook. But when I realized people were reading it, I began to realize that I my little corner of the interweb could be more than “just a blog.” I researched how to grow my readership, and starting working on that goal a little at a time.

I sort of fell into monetizing my blog. It hadn’t occurred to me as a possibility, but as my stats grew, I was approached for my first ad. I quickly made up a price based on what I could find online, they agreed to pay it, and {boom!} I had my first ad. I do have a few expenses related to my blog (web hosting, domain name, etc) so I thought it would be nice to cover those. Eventually, one ad led to another. Then I started looking into affiliate programs and joined a few of those for companies I already used and loved.

Last year was my first year of monetizing my blog. Again, income is not my priority, but it is important because it helps my family. I set a goal of what I hoped to make for the year, and surprised myself by exceeding that blog income goal. {I upped my goal for this year, so we’ll see how that goes!}

If a company does not fit with what I feel is appropriate for my blog standards, then it doesn’t matter how much they’re willing to pay: they won’t be advertising here. I’ve also said no to companies who refuse to pay a reasonable rate. I work hard writing and maintaining my blog, and I won’t sell myself short.

Has monetizing benefited me? You betcha! The money has been a blessing, but even more than that, it has made me see blogging in a different light, and I now take my blog seriously. I want this to be the best, most helpful and encouraging site I can make it. Therefore: I network with other bloggers; I use social media; I consider whether each post is worth posting, or how I can improve it; I make sure to keep my blog design neat and functional; I follow the rules and obey laws about disclosure, etc.; I plan out my posts more than I used to; and I’m always looking for how to improve my blog further.

If you are considering adding sponsors/ads to your blog:

  1. Don’t start a blog for the purpose of making money or you will be sorely disappointed. Although there are bloggers who make a full income from it, that is the exception rather than the rule.
  2. Before accepting ads or sponsorship, make sure you aren’t violating any terms of service and read up on disclosure laws, taxes, etc. Otherwise, your blog can be shut down or you can even face legal issues!
  3. Prepare a simple “media kit” — which really means a little blurb that includes what your blog is about and shares your current stats and advertising rates.
  4. Ad rates vary, but are generally based on how many page views you receive monthly. However, it does require some work on your end, so decide what you think is worth your time and stick to that.
  5. Don’t be afraid to say NO to sponsors. There are plenty of others out there. Don’t let them take advantage of you and don’t compromise your beliefs.
  6. Consider various types of advertising. There are ad networks like BlogHer, which are great but do have specific rules and limitations. You can choose to run only independent ads for more flexibility — or you can do a combination of both like I currently do.
  7. Other options for making money from your blog include writing an ebook; accepting sponsored posts; or doing paid reviews. Keep in mind that these require quite a lot more time than popping an ad in your sidebar, so be sure to price them accordingly.

Please, share your thoughts/experience as well!