An Uncomplicated Life Blog: What I Wish I Had Known About Blog Monetization

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What I Wish I Had Known About Blog Monetization

It's one of the most awesome and scariest things about blogging: Monetization. On the one hand, you start to get paid (and paid well, I might add) to do the thing you love - blog. On the other, you worry about what your readers will think when they start to see regular disclosures saying, "I was paid for this post, but all opinions are my own..." I've monetized this blog. It's now my small business. But there are some things I wish I had known before I took that plunge!

Secret facts about monetizing your blog you NEED to know!


First, you HAVE to disclose your sponsored content and affiliate links. I've seen quite a few bloggers not do this, or do it "creatively." Outside of being illegal, you're being a huge jerk to your readers. They think you genuinely like and are endorsing something but all the while you're just trying to make a buck. I've actually stopped reading blogs that don't properly disclose paid content, because if they can't be honest about that, there's a whole host of things they're not honest about. I don't have time to read that garbage! You need a brief disclosure on the actual page of the post, and a more thorough disclosure (with more details and definitions) that can be easily found somewhere on your blog. Mine is here.

Yes,actual- post-page-disclosures might instantly turn some people off. Yes, some people will avoid your affiliate links, even if they want to purchase the product. That's how it goes. Some people just don't like monetized blogs. Oh well. You can mitigate distaste in readers' mouth by limiting your sponsored content. Some of my old favorite bloggers turned "to the dark side" by posting majority sponsored content. And even the posts that aren't fully paid for by XYZ sponsor are littered with affiliate links at best, and at worst? It's a full out post dedicated to projectile vomiting every affiliate link they can on their readers. I get puked on enough by babies. I don't need "blogger make-a-buck-puke" too.

Second, once you start working with brand-blog connectors (I work with Collective Bias, Linquia, Influence Central, One2One, and Sverve), you get contractual obligations to produce content. That means that no matter how tired you are, you HAVE to blog. You have to edit images. It doesn't matter if you're having a bad day or your child is sick or your got in a car wreck. You also have to use your social media channels to promote your posts. That means getting creative so that the sponsored content fits your style, personality and aesthetic in all your channels! Posting and promoting on time is holding up your end of the bargain; theirs is paying you.

This sponsor required an Instagram syndication, which is the hardest of all channels to cross promote in - unless you're a fashion blogger. Applying the same filter and photo editing techniques help the photo blend with your feed as opposed to stick out as obvious sponsored content!


Speaking of paying, if you work outside of legitimate brand-blog connectors, you have to chase your money down! When I work with the aforementioned folks, I get paid within 30 days by the payment method I have on file, and all my tax information is housed with them too. Easy! But when I work with Joe Schmo who emailed me about "an opportunity", there has not been one instance yet of independent sponsors paying me easily and on time. NOT ONE. I have to chase (and by that I mean email 10+ times and threaten to remove posts) them for over a month to get paid. This isn't unique to me; every blogging friend I know has experienced the same.

On the plus side, those independent sponsored posts tend to pay more, and you can negotiate your price. So if you're a strong negotiator, you're going to come out way ahead! You also can set your own terms about what you'll include in the post and how you'll promote it, which works in your favor, too. But you'll be chasing that payment for weeks on end. Blogger beware.

Blog monetization isn't all bad, however. The tide is really turning with how these posts are written, and that's having a fantastic impact on page views for you as a blogger. What do I mean? The classic "product review" is dead. No longer do we as bloggers ramble on about a product and it's benefits in order to get paid. Why? I think too many bloggers didn't know how to accurately describe a product or an experience. I can't tell you how many times I've read, "I'm obsessed with this lip color. It's going to be on major repeat all season." Um, ok. Great. That doesn't tell me anything. In fact, Googleing it would give me more info...

Key advice on how to monetize your blog successfully

 No, now sponsors want us to story tell. They've learned their lesson with product reviews. What does story telling mean? As a blogger, it's YOUR job to figure out how to tell the story with the product in it. For example, I had this post last week about Henry's birth. Barring the disclosure at the outset (legal requirement bloggers, legal requirement!) and the product picture at the end, I doubt you'd have even known Kleenex paid me (handsomely) to write that post. I shared a personal story, and wrapped in how a product fit into that experience. That's story telling sponsored content. Kleenex and Collective Bias LOVED it, and honestly, I had fun writing it! It got huge page views (still is, in fact), and that makes me and Kleenex happy campers.

Blog monetization has it's perks. You know, like the money! And the direction it's headed is a great one that readers are interested in reading, unlike the old-school product review that made your page views drop. But there are some things I wish I had known about blog monetization before I took the plunge. Your workload increases dramatically, and you become contractually obligated to produce great content - including photos. You have legal requirements and tax implications. Perhaps worst of all is chasing those dang sponsors who go MIA when it's time to cut you a check! But it's still worth it in the end. My blog is now my business and I'm an entrepreneur. Something I never imagined I'd be!

53 comments:

  1. Saving this post, lady! Thanks for sharing the info. I have no issue with affiliate links, but I agree, people that word vomit them just because don't often get a second look from me. I think it's funny when bloggers assume readers 'are dumb' about things.

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  2. This is helpful info, thanks for sharing! I definitely agree that weaving a story with the sponsored post makes it much better!

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  3. THANK you for sharing this! I've monetized but only slightly. I haven't taken the full plunge because to be honest it's hard to balance with a day job AND a business! But now I know what you know :)

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  4. I completely agree with all of this! It's really a bummer sometimes when I am being completely honest about a sponsored product and truly am only talking about it because I love it and people are turned off because it's sponsored. My thing is, if you don't believe the blogger is being genuine or honest in a sponsored post, why are you reading and following them anyway? This is a great post to bring light to all that comes with monetizing your blog!

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  5. Such wonderful ideas! Who wouldn't love making some money from blogging! I'll be sharing this post in the Blogger Life Facebook Group too!

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  6. Thank you for sharing this!! I think you are right on about sharing a story and not just doing a product review. You tell great stories and it definitely sets you apart. I am just getting into blog montetization so this couldn't come at a better time! Get some rest Lady! Glad To hear you are taking an easier blogging schedule!

    Annie-
    All Things Big And Small

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  7. Thanks for the info!! I agree that when people are obviously just adding in affiliate links all over the place, it can be annoying and I wonder at how authentic that person/post is.

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  8. Hey great post! I am struggling with some of the mentions above as well. Good to know other bloggers are dealing with the same. I am going to check out some of the brand blog connectors you are working with. I have started getting local sponsors but chasing down the money....I can relate!!!! Thanks for the post! -Wendie :)

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  9. Monetization is tough! I'm still working on finding good brands to collaborate with.

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  10. I would much rather read a story than a product review. I've noticed that I am not getting brands to share my posts on social media even if I tag them. It's getting frustrating. Maybe I should DM them?

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  11. Thanks so much for this great post! Is your blog your business just through the brand-blog connectors you work with?

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  12. Great post. I'm trying to find my groove as well. I like your point about "It doesn't matter how tired you are," because sometime I don't know how I'm possibly going to hit my deadline with my grad school work. But it all comes down to hustle and how bad you want it. Thanks for the info! It's always interesting too to find new sponsored networks.

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  13. Saving this and coming back when I'm closing to trying to monetize a bit :) Thanks!

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  14. Great post! Especially for new bloggers (like myself) monetization can be very overwhelming

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  15. Saving this! Thank you so much. I have so many questions and this answered a lot of them!

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  16. Yes, thank you! You know what I hate is when I get contacted by people who want me to post sponsored content (which I'm good with) but wont let me post a disclaimer. I've had to turn down a lot of lucrative deals because they didn't want me to provide a disclaimer-Hello, one little link that says "I received compensation for this post" or "this post contains affiliate links" is not a big deal-and I'm sorry, but I'm not willing to break the law for your money...

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  17. I totally pinned this. Awesome read!!!

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  18. I've just started exploring monetization in the past month or two, so this is very good to know. I will only do sponsored posts that I feel relate to my content, but I see too many blogs just doing whatever they can get their hands on. While i love to make money, my blog is too important to me to let it go that route.

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  19. This is great! There are some blogs that I've stopped reading because of the insane amount of sponsored posts...many of them don't seem genuine. That said, I do appreciate the product review/sponsored post you did for me a few months back! I ALWAYS want honest feedback from my bloggers when they do a product review...even if it's not all sunshine and roses. I want to be honest and genuine with my own readers and hope that those who do reviews for me are honest as well. And you were awesome! I really enjoyed working with you!

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  20. This is so helpful. Thank you for sharing this. Honestly, I have a disclosures page and I do put disclosures at the end, but I didn't realize that you had to put them at the beginning and a brief on every post. I try not to spew affiliate links, but when I do DIY projects, it makes sense to throw the supplies is as affiliate. I am going to go through my posts and put up the disclosure info on every page. Thank you for this.

    As a new blogger, I'm not exactly sure what I'm doing. SO if you have any other tips that you'd be willing to share, I'd love to hear them.

    Thanks again

    www.diyjahn.com

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  21. I've been really thinking about the story telling approach when I try to contact brands I want to work with. I think it's much better for the audience to see how you've incorporated a product into your life.

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  22. That bottom of your stomach feeling of when a post goes live and then magically email traffic ends from the brand. Ughhhhh luckily it has all turned out okay but it is scary how much they can take advantage of bloggers. I agree I like working with brands myself instead of the bigger companies because you can negotiate better and have more control of the process but the payout situation does make it a little more dicey. Half up front seems to be a good compromise that I've been doing lately (like we talked about prior). I agree though having an organic feeling with a story to your posts is better way to connect your readers to the brand.

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  23. Thank you for sharing! This is a really great post! I will definitely share this with some of my fellow bloggers that are new!

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  24. You are rockin it girl! Seriously savvy! Well done! There were some great tips here.

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  25. Thank you for this! Totally looking in to those blog-brand firms. I appreciate the insight!!

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  26. I do the storytelling aspect when it comes to sponsored posts as well - it's the way to go. The reader comes away with more than just information about the product. I always worry that my readers will click away when they see my disclosures, but I don't do a ton of sponsored posts (although some pay very nicely) so I don't bombard them.

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  27. I have noticed that it much more about the story being told behind the product. More of a personal feeling to get your readers actually interested in what you are being paid to write about. Great post!

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  28. This is so helpful! I'm just barely starting to try and monetize the blog and like you said there is so much more work that goes into it. It makes me scared and excited all at the same time. I'm with you on the story telling thing, those personal posts that just happen to include the product are the ones I still enjoy reading. I'm glad many bloggers have figured that out!

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  29. I love your point about story-telling rather than product review! I think that the reason why so many people get turn off when they see a disclosure is that they are used to people doing sponsored posts all wrong, where it ends up being one big ad. I always aim to make my sponsored content almost exactly like an organic post on my blog. Of course, I have to do a disclosure and sometimes certain campaigns have requirements for the post. But I put my own spin on it and talk about my life and how I actually used the product.

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  30. Thank you so much for this post! Pinned!

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  31. I think it is definitely important to tell a story rather than just share a product review! Great post - thanks for sharing.

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  32. I like working with brands rather than bigger blogging companies because like you said I can negotiate my pay more - but thankfully I haven't had to track any one down...and I hope I dont have to haha! I'd be scared to deal with you though lol! I'm totally fine with anyone that discloses up front - I think it's the nature of the blogging world and you have to do it!! I agree - instagram is the hardest to share an #ad on lol (and a lot of people don't disclose it's an ad which is annoying!!) Anyway - great post! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

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  33. Thank you for sharing such great information and pointers. :)

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  34. Love all the information!! Especially about disclosure, it's so important!!

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  35. Posts like this are so helpful! I'm hoping to monetize my blog in the next 6 months or so and I love reading about experiences like this. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

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  36. Fantastic post, Paige! Monetizing can be so difficult - it's definitely a learning experience!

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  37. Great information for new bloggers who have not monetized yet! I will be pinning this for later on down the line. Thank you!

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  38. Great post with some really awesome information, thank you!

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  39. Great post! I am always looking for peoples opinions on this topic!

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  40. Thanks for this! This is a great post. I am trying to decide if it is time for me to start monetizing my blog. Definitely saving this!

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  41. You knew I'd love this post. I agree with everything you said here. Monetizing can turn a blog into blah or into fab. It's totally up to us to make sure that we still give relevant, meaningful content no matter if sponsored or not!

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  42. Great points. Most companies like collective bias and such require a specific disclosure at the top of the post. I try to always disclose anything I'm getting paid to write about.

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  43. Thanks for the great info. I'm just starting and hope to montize one day.

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  44. Thanks for the great info. I'm just starting and hope to montize one day.

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  45. I'm sooo picky about what sponsored posts I apply for. But as long as I can tell a story I'm good to go. I'm still getting shares from one of my sponsored posts from a Father's Day post in May! All great points lady!

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  46. Thanks for the honest information. I've just started monetizing my site and only doing adsense and some affiliate links now. But, this will definitely help me when I move into sponsored posts. Thanks so much!

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  47. I love writing sponsored posts through agencies. You are right. We get paid on time. I have found that many of my private offers have little interest in providing a great article for my blog ... they want to plant a follow-link and, to stay within Google's policies, I will not do that. They disappear soon as I tell them it must be no-follow for paid posts. Vroom....!!!! They are gone! LOL

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  48. I get puked on enough by babies - hahahahahahaa LOVE that.

    i had no idea it was that complicated, especially chasing money down. ugh! that sucks.

    I will say, your blog is one of the best (that I read) for sponsored post/ stories. I never feel like I am reading a commercial, I feel like I am reading a story just like any other of your posts, it just happens to be sponsored.

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  49. This is great info! Pinned to reference later and signed up for a few networks using your links!

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  50. Apparently I'm not ready for this because I have absolutely no bloody idea what they heck you're talking about. I need you to back WAY up and start at the beginning. I just started my blog and know nothing and desperately need to start making money. Where on earth do I start and what in the heck does all this stuff mean? Where are your blogs that speak plain English LOL

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  51. Hello, This post was EXTREMELY helpful. I even created a Sponsor page, mimicking yours even though I have no sponsors yet, just so I'm ready.
    Again, thank you for this post.
    P.S. I'm adding it to my Pintrest page.

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