Paying the Mummy Bloggers – Part II

Womanoncomputer I was really interested to read Dan’s response to my post yesterday, Pay the Mummy Blogger, and the comments on the post. Rather than adding a long comment here and there, I thought I'd pop it up as a new post. This has the added bonus of making me look EXTRA prolific-  yay me!

Being honest – and shoot me down in flames by all means – I detect a whiff of smugness in some comments. “Oh, I don’t take advertising, I don’t review anything, and I would never sully my writing with the dirty scent of money”.

Hmm. I don’t take advertising on this blog. I don’t run reviews, either. I don’t have sponsors. Do I think that makes me a better person or a more ‘authentic’ blogger than someone who does those things? Of course not. I’m fortunate to be in the position to take a long view on blogging. I do it because it raises my profile, and helps me to win writing and PR clients. But not everyone can afford to take that view (or JUST that view), especially in a recession.

Many of the bloggers I speak to do love the writing aspect of blogging and enjoy the camaraderie of the blogging community. But they’re on maternity leave, or they’re unemployed or they’re just finding it tough to make ends meet. So, yes, often they are desperate to find a way to translate the hours they spend blogging into some revenue. I'm not going to judge anyone for that or imply it make them a less valid blogger.

I’m a self-employed single parent with an ex-husband who enjoys a delightfully flexible view of child support. I’m no stranger to emptying out the copper jar to pay the milkman, and  if I hadn't had the option of listing The Father's vinyl collection on eBay when I couldn’t pay the mortgage, I wouldn’t have thought twice about putting an ad on a blog.

My post yesterday wasn't about whether freebies are a corrupting influence or a justifiable form of compensation for bloggers' hard work. That's entirely missing the point – which is that micropayments might help some bloggers to generate revenue without running ads or sponsored posts. 

This technology is pretty much irrelevant to bloggers who are just writing online memoirs or diaries. But lots of bloggers are creating content that – shock, horror – they would like to make money from. Recipes, patterns, short-stories, web widgets, blog themses, e-books.

For example, let's say you're an aspiring writer. Using this technology you could post a short story in 5 weekly chapters – charging 25p per chapter. If 100 people pay for the whole story, you've made £125. I don't think it's an unworkable model – it worked fine for Charles Dickens after all.

I just really don't like the idea that somehow this contravenes the 'true' spirit of blogging. This isn't Haight Ashbury. The Internet is a broad church and while I love reading personal blogs about families and their experiences, I also love blogs that tell me how to make drop-down menus for my blog, or what I can make for dinner using lamb. And sometimes, I think, I'd be happy to hand over the price of a bag of crisps in return. And if you're a blogger and times are tough, a hundred pound pays for a lot of crisps.


Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

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  1. Insomniac Mummy
    27th October 2009 / 12:43 am

    This has been on my mind alot today.
    The charging for chapters is a great idea. If you can draw people in with an engaging first chapter for free then charge a small amount of every chapter thereafter, that’s a great way to make a little back. I like that.
    I dropped my Amazon Store today as it was just talking up space and didn’t make me a penny. So, for me I’m not sure how well ads would work. I’d still consider them if the opportunity arose.
    On a side note (and off topic, I know) I was offered a review today that after much thought I decided not to turn down. I do worry about what.
    I guess when all is said and done there are no rights and wrongs when it comes to wanting to make money from your blog. If you want to, and your readers are happy to keep coming back then live and let live.
    As you have said, in tough times like these when every penny counts for many many people there really is nothing wrong with making some money from doing aomething you enjoy.
    I really need to stop obsessing over this now….

  2. Insomniac Mummy
    27th October 2009 / 12:46 am

    Sorry, the ‘I do worry about what.’ line should read, ‘I do worry about what readers will think.’
    I’m tired. It’s showing.

  3. 27th October 2009 / 1:27 am

    As I responded to your comment on my site, my post wasn’t intended to be about your blog payment scheme – I just used your first couple of paragraphs as a jumping off point to try and focus my own views on blog commercialism, specifically within my own blog.
    But I’ve obviously caused offense, even if i didn’t intend to. And for that i apologize.

  4. 27th October 2009 / 2:25 am

    @Insomniac Mummy – I think the thinking about it is the important part, not what decision you ultimately make – it’s just about being conscious of what you’re doing and whether it’s right for you, I reckon. And yes, live and let live.
    @Dan – Gosh, I realise the entire post wasn’t about my post – I just felt the debate (here as much as on your blog) was centring on freebies and reviews and ads, and my post wasn’t actually about that at all. And as I’ve said, I don’t really come down on either side of the fence, so I’m not offended, but I wonder whether some bloggers who ARE looking to earn money might feel judged by some of the comments on both our blogs.
    ps – I don’t believe in flame wars really, but I’m never against a bit of heated debate 🙂

  5. 27th October 2009 / 2:29 am

    I haven’t had a chance to respond to your original post, but first wanted to say that I see a lot of American blogs in the craft world doing just what you suggest…using various means to secure small bits of money for their blogging (mail order newsletters, patterns, tutorials) and it works well for them in their more established atmosphere, with 1000s of readers.
    as for Dan’s post, personally, yeah I think advertising/reviews do sully my work, but then my blog is pretty artsy-fartsy and focussed on sustainable/ green living (uh and I am incredibly lazy and can not be bothered to go to the extra effort to respond)…
    The main reason that I haven’t gone down the “Ad Free Blog” route is that there is one of the points in it that states that “advertising devalues the blogging medium” which I don’t think is true. Like others, I read lots of wonderful, beautiful blogs that do have advertising and do reviews. As you wrote not so long ago, “Those that do accept advertising, or freebies for review, will have to learn to balance commercial and non-commercial content – or lose their audiences.” It works for them, not for me.
    Would I sell tutorials/patterns? Yes, but probably not through my blog. An etsy shop is a more manageable and established route for that kind of endeavour, but for people who want to sell writing, etc, it may work. Would I advertise my own shop on my blog? You bet I would.

  6. 27th October 2009 / 6:41 am

    I’ve found this debate really thought provoking.
    As I’ve said, I think, I don’t have a problem with people making money off their blog if they want to/are able to, I just don’t feel like my blog fits into the particular niche that would be able to make it work. Can you really imagine reviews for cleaning products working alongside creative writing entries? For me it’s all about flow and content, and I feel like a lot of reviews would just distract from what I’m trying to do. Which is why I like writing for a separate review site – it keeps it tidier. If I was offered something more in keeping with my blog I would be more likely to consider it , but most of what I’m offered is embarrassingly naff. For me integrity is way more important than free stuff. It’s not about sullying my blog, more about confusing it.
    As for advertising – it seems so limiting and complicated I can’t see how it can be worth it for what must only be tiny amounts of generated revenue.
    That’s where I’m at now anyway, I’m just feeling things out as we go so we’ll see where it all takes me.
    I do like the idea of the serialised short story – it becomes like self publishing in a way then. I can see it working for writers with an established audience who wanted to capitalise on that.
    As for the HTML code/widget idea though – I think that would work less well. The internet constantly undercuts competitors through the sheer volume of free content.Personally if I saw someone charging for something like that I’m more likely to look else where for a free alternative (but then I’m broke…)

  7. 27th October 2009 / 9:37 pm

    I have only been asked if I would carry an ad once (for compost bins – oh, the glamour of my life never ends…) I didn’t want to because a) like some kind of cartoon 1950s housewife, I get flustered whenever money crops up in conversation and b) I thought an ad might ruin the aesthetic of my site. I just couldn’t see how to fit it in so it looked pretty.
    I am now officially the shallowest blogger on the planet.

  8. 27th October 2009 / 9:43 pm

    I think your point about the main thing being thinking about what you do and making a conscious choice is really interesting. If there are ways of making money from blogs then I would never criticise anyone for doing so. Good for them more like. It depends on what kind of blog you have and what you want to do with it. Sadly I don’t think anyone would pay for mine and there is a sort of freedom in not having to think about money but regarding blogging as something I do instead of watching tv. I do like the idea of the pay as you go story. I wonder if that would work.

  9. Liz (LivingwithKids)
    27th October 2009 / 9:56 pm

    I honestly think that everyone should be allowed to write whatever they like on their blogs (they are their blogs, after all) and if they want to be paid, then great, and if people disapprove and they don’t want to read it… well, that’s up to them. Like BBC v ITV v Sky, you (one) choose (s) the channel that appeals to you (one). Love the Haight-Ashbury reference, btw.

  10. 28th October 2009 / 4:34 pm

    I’ve also been thinking way too much about this (and feeling a teeny bit guilty for setting certain trains of thought in motion elsewhere).
    I put up the ad-free logo on my own blog but just took it down – like Josie, something about it made me uneasy. I’m just not comfortable with the puritanism it involves, regardless of my personal thinking as regards brands and blogs. We all make commercial decisions every day, we all live in the world, we all make compromises…

  11. 31st October 2009 / 4:48 pm

    I am completely on board with you. I have not YET taken any money or done any reviews but I have had a lot of people ask for plans of things I have built or LONG tutorials I have done and I have thought of making small ebooks or maybe looking for an advertiser or two. I love blogging about my family and my life but I also do blog with ideas, tutorials, tips etc and it would be nice to get something for all the work or maybe a couple bucks from the companies who I promote (right now for free!)
    I love the blog. I awarded you!

  12. Sally
    1st November 2009 / 9:24 pm

    @Slugs – ooh, get you, quoting me back at me – well done for paying such close attention! Yes, I think there’s great blogs and rubbish blogs and (mostly) advertising is immaterial. It’s all about the writing, baby.
    @Good points all.
    @Elizabeth – yes, I must admit I don’t see many people making a living from blogging, it’s just a bit of extra, maybe to cover hosting costs?
    @Liz – glad someone appreciated the reference. I was pretty proud of it 😉
    @DadWhoWrites – well said, completely agree with you.
    @Brittany – thanks for commenting – and for the award!