Blog Transparency

Copyright: <a href='https://www.123rf.com/profile_nuvolanevicata'>nuvolanevicata / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

In the interest of blog transparency I’d like to use today’s post to give you a little behind the scenes look at what it takes to produce my blog.

This blog costs me about $200 (give or take) in an average year. This includes my domain name, some security add-ins, my web host, and an assortment of art files and plugins. This is bare bones stuff. It could cost me quite a bit more, but I’ve been doing a lot of things on my own rather than paying for plugins or hiring technical support.

As I write this I just got a rather terse email from my web host telling me I have to move my backups, so I see another costly fee in my future to find a suitable location for my backups. If you suddenly stop hearing from me it means they’ve suspended my blog before I’ve had a chance to remedy the situation. It’s always something.

When I moved to WordPress I did it with the expectation that I might be able to make just enough to pay for the incidentals required to put out a blog. I wasn’t so much thinking of making a profit, (though I wouldn’t sneeze at it either) but I did want to make enough pocket change to pay for hosting and other fees.

How does a blog make money?

There are multiple streams of income. Some require more commitment than others. All of them require more loyal readers than I probably have at present.

• The most common source of income is from affiliate advertising. Those usually come in the form of advertising banners littered throughout a blog.

• Some bloggers (including myself) include links to specific products–like last month’s Big Christmas List post. Don’t be too impressed. If you bought anything from clicking on any of my links, I made only a few cents here and there. To date, I’ve never been able to recoup my costs for maintaining this blog.

I’m told some bloggers make a nice income doing this, but either I’m not choosing products you might like or I simply don’t have enough of a fan base to make it work. Either way, it barely makes a ripple.

• Some bloggers sell workshops, books, or other products of their own making. I’m on the fence about this. On one hand I’d like to start writing again, but apparently, it’s not enough to write a book or workshop. You have to sell it like a prized pony. If I didn’t do that kind of peddling when I was a novelist, I’m not sure I’d be any better at it now.

• A growing number of bloggers are doing sponsored posts. These are blog posts where you pitch a product from a specific sponsor. I’ve met people who’ve actually had some success with this, but I’m not sure that would work for me unless it’s something I’ve used extensively and can talk about it with authority.

There’s nothing illegitimate about any of these venues. Some bloggers make a tidy profit. More power to them. They found their audience and can offer something their audience wants to buy from them.

I gave myself three years to create an income stream to support my blog. I’m already nearing the end of year two without much success.

I thoroughly enjoy blogging. I love connecting with readers and talking about things we have in common–or the things we don’t have in common. It can be a time sink though unless you’re earning revenue through it. If you’re a blogger you already know what a commitment that is even without the extra cost of self hosting.

I don’t regret in the least moving to a self-hosted blog. Despite the learning curve for the technical stuff, I’m happy I moved. WordPress has given me the freedom to design my blog my way, and not to the formula of Blogger.

But it all comes at a price.

Come March 2018, I have one more year to make this work and then I’ll have to make some hard decisions.

$200 might not seem like a lot of money, but as a frugal-minded person it’s an expense I shouldn’t allow unless I can make the blog pay for it in some way.

Much like a chicken that won’t lay eggs, if this blog can’t support itself, it’s headed for the pot. 😀 It might sound harsh, but I feel strongly that my writing should pay in some way. If it’s not through blogging, it should be somewhere else.

I know many of you still use Blogger. How about those of you on a self-hosted WordPress blog? Do you think a blog should support itself, or do you see it as an acceptable expense for promote your writing (or other career)?

 

PS If you have bought something through a link on my blog, Thank You! You truly do make this blog possible.

If you enjoy my blog and would like to support my efforts, any time you buy something through one of my Amazon links I earn a few cents. If I understand Amazon’s policy correctly, it does not have to be the item I listed. All you have to do is click any link (text or picture) I provide. From there you can navigate to the product you’d like to buy.

Again, thank you. I appreciate you all more than you know.

This post may contain affiliate links. Clicking on these links cost you nothing, but they do help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting MariaZanniniHome. I appreciate you!

All original content copyrighted by Maria Zannini 2017.

 

11 Comments

  1. Sherri/Raelyn

    I did the Amazon thing for awhile, still have the account and occasionally family buys through that, if I’m lucky, I earn a small credit about once a year. (Since I earn so little I switched from a check payment to the credit because you have to earn more to qualify for the check payment.) And you are correct, people just have to link in from you for you to earn. I actually had a main single link as well as the individual ones within posts. I had some success with seasonal banners but they can take up a chunk of real estate.

    Have you looked into Google’s AdSense? I had some success there too.

    I love your blog and would hate to see it go, but I totally get it. Both my blogs are in limbo because I don’t have the time, or even interest at this point, to do what’s needed to clean them up and work them. Both are free sites on Blogger and WordPress so I don’t have that weight hanging over my head.

    All the best to you, my friend, whatever you decide.

    • Sherri: It feels weird to see ‘both’ your names. LOL.
      I feel like a troglodyte when it comes to knowing how to support my blog. Other people seem to do it so effortlessly.

      Google AdSense is a perfect example of my lack of knowledge. I know it’s there, but I have no clue how it makes money for people or how it’s useful. Add that to my list of things I need to learn.

      Thanks for the kind words.

  2. I didn’t know you’d get credit for any Amazon sale through your links — I’ll have to start using your blog as my shopping portal. 🙂

    I’ve seen a lot of writer bloggers set up those coffee cup or patron donation links. I can’t say if they work, but something like that might allow your readers to send a thanks with $$$. I’m not crazy about using charity links (mostly because the host company profits off them), but you post a lot of useful info that has saved me time, money and headaches. I’d contribute.

    Selling your own ad space on your sidebar might be another way to go. You’d be able to screen and choose your advertisers, set your own rates and ad lengths. Indy published authors are always looking for reasonably-priced ad space, but you could reach out to other frugal bloggers, or maybe the folks who run those homesteader conventions and conferences.

    • Lynn: I’ve seen those ‘coffee cups’ and donation buttons. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with it, but I’d still feel self conscious using them. I get it though. I’ve donated a few times to web sites that have given me valuable information. And thank you for saying you’d donate. You’re a rare soul, Lynn. You always try to do right by people.

      re: ad space
      I’ve seen some of the bigger sites do this and it makes sense. It might work for me too. I still get an enormous amount of traffic for three very specific posts. For some reason, Google has them ranked high and people come in droves. They’re not regular readers but I hope those posts might make them regulars.

  3. That’s a heck of an outlay, Maria, and I can understand you having second thoughts. On tghe other hand it does look hugely professional in comparison with blogger. The only thing I have been tempted by is going for a domain name. I’d hate for ‘Baffled Spirit’ being used by someone else. Can you have domain names on blogger. And is it a one off payment?
    PS I’ll try and remember to link to Amazon from your site. Do you still get money even if nothing is bought?

    • Mike: It was important for me from the onset that this blog look professional. That means I had to invest some money into it.

      Re: domain name
      You can buy your domain name even without having a website. It’s generally $10 a year. I lost my domain name mariazannini.com from some unscrupulous domain squatter years ago.

      I think Blogger allows you to use your own domain name for a fee, but it’ll probably be a yearly fee. You’d have to check.

      re: Amazon
      It’s complicated with international sales. A couple of months ago I added something that was supposed to let me collect a small fee from international sales. I have no idea if I did it right.

      You do have to buy something from Amazon, but it doesn’t have to be the item I listed. All you have to do is click on the link I provided and navigate to where your item is.

  4. I believe that a blog can make both sense and cents, though I havne’t gone that route yet. I let go of my Rayven Godchild website a while back. I cost me a nice penny since I used what I thought was a reputable design to design the site, paid GoDaddy for the site, and eventually did not reap near the benefits in royalties for my books so I let it lapse and let it go.

    I’ve been close to letting writing go altogether.

    I haven’t, of course. Paused…yes. And it was good for me.

    I’ve heard other bloggers use afflilate with Amazon. However, the ones who’ve made a nice buck on it are ones with subscribers in the 4-digits and have been doing the affiliate thing for a while.

    • Angela: It’s expensive, no doubt, but I think it also shows the commitment involved if you’re willing to put your money where your mouth is–so to speak.

      re: letting writing go
      Let me leave you with this small observation. You’re still young. You may walk away and come back many times to writing throughout your life. You called it a pause, and that’s all it is. You don’t really walk away. You find another outlet, or you give your writing time to mature for when you do come back.

      I find the world very noisy. Everybody seems to be talking and few are listening. That’s why I’m picky about what I say and where I say it. I enjoyed writing fiction, but I was a little fish in an ocean. With blog writing, I’m a little fish in a river. Still a big place, but I can swim to shore whenever I need a break. 🙂

Say a few words for our audience.