Blogging

Earn Money Without Guilt

December 23, 2014

Let’s talk about another trend in blogging – or at least a trend I want to see very soon – Earn Money Without Guilt! Oh and remember, if you’ve missed the first two posts in this series, you can catch up by reading them here: Slow Blogging and Become Your Own Blog Star. And if you’d like to continue this discussion elsewhere online, including Instagram, you can link to this post (shortlink: http://wp.me/po210-3iu) and use hashtag #20blogtrends. Ok, good. Let’s get started!

Earn Money Without Guilt

See this lovely lady above? She is a mother, a wife and a blogger. She works from home. She also just won her first blog award from a prestigious Dutch design magazine. Her name is Holly Marder and she writes once monthly on decor8 (her column is called Homes With Heart) and on her own beautiful blog called Avenue Lifestyle. She has high hopes to do more and with her talent she is likely to reach her dreams and even soar beyond if she keeps at it. Her goal is to earn a living as a blogger, stylist and photographer. That is the goal for many bloggers currently.

The question is, as readers will we allow that? Or will we stand in her path?

A blog doesn’t just have to be about sharing pretty things for free, day in and day out, with no financial reward for the effort poured into it. We all need to eat and pay rent. And most of us really do love blogging and feel a genuine passion for it first and foremost. Yet, when you add up the hours and resources involved to produce beautiful blog content, no one can keep at it post after post, year after year, without eventually needing to earn some money to sustain it all.

It isn’t nice or even fair to demand from talented people who write beautiful blogs to just pump this stuff out for free and to get upset when they start online shops, publish books, produce downloadable content (for a price), etc. Sure, it wasn’t this way in the beginning for all bloggers but also remember, in the beginning, blog content wasn’t where it’s at today. We didn’t see magazine-worthy recipes, professional-looking styling from weddings to interiors and beyond, gorgeously shot food, amazing travel stories, expertly crafted DIY stories. It was mostly text and tiny images and since blog platforms, templates, even digital cameras weren’t where they’re at today, the average blogger couldn’t produce magazine-worthy content at home.

Time changed that. We all learned and grew together. We bought books, we took classes, taught each other tricks and tips, bought the latest cameras and software programs for photo editing. We leveled up.

When I started blogging nearly a decade ago, we didn’t have a crystal ball to predict all of this.  But with a lot of drive and enthusiasm, we moved blogging to where it is today – into a new form of media, the people’s journalism, a community of inspirers who, together, have a strong global conversation on topics every single day in which our passion and often our talent, flows. When I hear readers complain that they see so much of the same stuff on blogs lately I think that we really are influencers because if we can get so many bloggers to pick up a topic and write about it, my god, how amazing to join voices in this way! How amazing to have this kind of social influence! Woot!

But one problem still exists – the stupid elephant in the room…

MONEY.

We don’t need to stay stuck in the mindset of the past when everything online was free so it should always should be free, do we? Are we really selling out if we earn a living by doing what we love and through sharing our talents online? A sell out is a person who compromises their values for money. That’s clearly wrong. A sell out isn’t a person who earns money without compromising their values and does it with class and integrity.

See the difference?

Everything shouldn’t be cheap or free, because often you get what you pay for (or aren’t paying for). I’ve taken a lot of $10 e-courses that gave me nothing more than some pre-recorded content and not much interaction from the students or teachers otherwise. They were the online equivalent of reading a how-to book in most cases. I’ve also taken some online courses that were a lot more money (like $100+) and the videos were top notch, I learned a ton, and I felt a part of a larger community. I definitely got what I paid for with no regrets.

I’m frankly so bored with this old-fashioned mindset of everything being cheap or free. While, as a reader, I may not want to pay to read individual blog posts, I may be happy to support the blogger in other ways. Maybe they have a shop, products, books, podcasts, videos, exclusive content, online magazines or other things that enables them to earn a living. If the content is exceptional and there is great takeaway, paying for that is a non-issue. Or perhaps your favorite bloggers have some sponsored posts from time to time (of course with full disclosure in the opening paragraph and at the bottom of the post), or some ads. Is that really so terrible? Or are we being a bit judgmental?

Let’s stop guilting our blogger friends. Most of the blogs we read are not run by wealthy people looking to take advantage of us. They are run by people just like us, who want a better life for themselves and their families and are willing to work very hard for it, by working for a living in an ethical way that brings value to OUR life. Because the truth is, for blogs that spend hours on creating meaningful content, our appreciation has to run deeper than merely pinning their images to our pinboards.

Currently, I see a big burn out “mass exodus” on the horizon, bloggers posting less or giving up altogether, if we don’t get clever and new find ways to support what we do (monetarily) without audience push back. The “everything is free on the internet” mentality has to go because only then can the quality of content drastically improve, which drives competition, change, innovation and new ideas.

For 2015, let’s all join forces and support this trend of earning money as a blogger but beyond that, let’s spread a new way of looking at blogs – as the new media they really are – and as a righteous path for career seekers to explore and to not be shamed if they earn revenue in ethical ways while blogging.

So there, I’ve put it out there. Discuss if you’d like. I’d love to here your thoughts, of course. #20blogtrends

(image: hanke arkenbout)






63 Comments

  • Reply Sarah Rooftops December 23, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    Totally agree.

    I don’t know about elsewhere but in the UK, with the tightening up of the advertising rules which govern blogs and with Google’s take on paying for posts, I have seen a huge move amongst brands and PR companies away from paid content and towards sending out lots more freebies. It’s getting harder to make money from blogging and, as someone who is just moving back into the potentially-making-money-from-blogging arena, that’s frustrating; I want to boost my income while I’m on maternity leave but, also, I want to be making enough from blogging that I don’t have to go back to full-time office work the moment my maternity pay dries up. That’s the selfish take on it; the less selfish one is that, if I can’t make money from blogging, I can’t devote as much time to it as I would like and the quality of my output is inevitably going to slip.

    I’m also aware that every time an unpaid blogger happens to mention a brand or a product, they’re giving them free advertising; if a brand can afford to pay for that support, I don’t see any ethical problem with them doing so or with the blogger accepting – why should the independent writer be expected to advertise the profit-making company out of nothing but enthusiasm? It makes no sense to me. As long as the blogger opts to work with brands they genuinely like and as long as their blog continues to feature whatever sort of personality drew their readers to them in the first place, I really don’t see the problem.

  • Reply Kathleen Bandaruk December 23, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    Hi, Thanks for sharing this. I really enjoy your posts!
    I definitely feel the same way; we put our heart and soul out there sometimes and it would be nice to actually get paid for it! I have yet to even broach the subject, but need to figure out the right avenues to generate an income from my blog.

    Merry Christmas!

  • Reply Nadia van der Mescht December 23, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    Wise & insightful words. Thank you.

  • Reply Ariana {And Here We Are...} December 23, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    OH, my goodness– YES! It took me a long time to feel OK about making money through my blog, but all of your points are completely valid. We have really “leveled up” and worked hard. We produce great, valuable content. And it’s not a hobby. I get so many requests and “invitations” to do stuff for free, and that is just CRAZY– it would not happen in any other professional field!

    I do hope this becomes a big trend in 2015. This year has already been a giant business leap for my own blog, and it’s super exciting.

    Well said, Holly!

  • Reply Kimberly Duran December 23, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    This couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time, Holly! And thank god you are opening up this “touchy” subject because it all really needs to be said.

    I have just finished up my last day at “work” to go fully freelance in the new year. I’m excited about the prospect of having more time to pour into my blog and to earn a living doing something I love. In tandem with this, I’m in the midst of a complete redesign of my blog. I’ve been blogging now for 4 1/2 years and the hours and hours I have poured into it would be staggering if I were to add it all up. I love it – but I can’t continue doing what I do because my love for it doesn’t pay my bills.

    The sad thing is, I know I’ll lose some readers simply for moving to freelancing and changing my site design which will be a platform, not only for the blog itself but for me and my work (content marketing/writing/e-design) – readers make you feel bad for wanting to grow and develop as a blogger. But I have always remained true to my own ‘brand’, have always only worked with companies I truly liked and would recommend to my readers. I don’t feel like a sell out at all, in fact, I’m quite proud of myself for making this move. But the fact that I’m scared about the reader reaction is worrying… so thank you, thank you, thank you. I hope we can all keep this in mind and support each other rather than judging one another. I just couldn’t agree more.

    Happy Christmas ;) xxx

  • Reply Jennifer Rizzo December 23, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    I agree, I’ve seen it change so much over the last 8 years too. I would love to see a way to monetize so that it benefits everyone . It will be interesting to see where it goes over the next few years.

  • Reply Carie December 24, 2014 at 12:17 am

    I think the idea that there will be a mass exodus from blogging if we can’t find a way to bring an income from it is intriguing. I think there are perhaps two levels of bloggers, the ones from whom it is simply a nice hobby and the people who really have levelled up to produce magazine quality output and I suspect the big divide between the people looking to launch themselves and those content to stay put wil fall along those lines too. It’s certa going to make an interesting 2015!!

    • Reply decor8 December 24, 2014 at 10:36 am

      @Carie- Absolutely – not all bloggers want to turn their online presence into a career and are happy to keep it as a hobby.

  • Reply Lucy Chen December 24, 2014 at 12:26 am

    Of course, I agree with we should make money doing what we love. As an artist, I can’t imagine life without painting. But if I am to give away all my paintings? I won’t even have the money to buy the materials to make art, let alone feeding a family.

    So from 2015 and going forward, I’m going to focus more on the business side of my art business, and your post is timely for me, an affirmation that it is not only ok, but it is the way it should be, that we make money from doing what we love.

  • Reply Andreia December 24, 2014 at 1:48 am

    I wrote my first blog post about six years ago. At that time I didn’t know so much about blogging, but just like Sarah in the comments below I was on maternity leave (the third) and had to try something else before return to the full day job…but my blog didn’t started with a project behind, it just started and I started since that time my learning curve through and about blogging. I’m still in the childhood fase…but reading and learning from you – great bloggers – give me the motivation to go ahead, trying to do better than the day before, trying to have good and unique content (that’s way I write few posts now) and mainly trying to figure out the mission of my blog or thinking differently, my mission on blogging. Maybe I should attend one of your e-courses, Holly. In fact I’d love to, but so far it was not possible.

    I do believe good blogs have future! I hope my blog could be one of them, one day.

    Wishing you all: a very Mery Christmas,

    Andreia

  • Reply Colleen Welsch December 24, 2014 at 1:54 am

    I don’t mind when bloggers feature sponsored content – but I hate when they don’t keep consistent with their brand! Like if you’re a beauty blogger, please don’t review snack foods! I also don’t like when they lose their voice when writing sponsored content. They just sound stiff and mechanical and it bums me out.

    That said, I would LOVE to be able to make money from blogging, but I just don’t feel like I have the readership yet.

  • Reply Amber Rhodes December 24, 2014 at 2:05 am

    No doubt as more people do it the harder it is going to be to get paid for it. Thinking that those of us with small followings and no earnings now are going to have to pull something pretty incredible out if we want to make a living!

    • Reply decor8 December 24, 2014 at 10:35 am

      @Amber – It’s like any profession though – it has to be this way in order for the quality to get better and better or at least, more relevant. So while you may not be a better photographer than X blogger, because you are newer you may have a fresher approach or a new angle or idea. It’s like the music industry, books, or anything else. Completely saturated. But people are still writing books and producing tracks. It’s not that music today is better than music 10 years ago – it’s just that it’s more on-trend, relevant, etc. Blogs are much the same. So don’t panic!

  • Reply Sharon Auld December 24, 2014 at 3:31 am

    Hi Holly!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts in making money as a blogger. I’m new to the world of blogging, and it seems so strange that bloggers are even having this conversation to defend their right to earn a living blogging.

    I fully agree with the earlier comment that the this conversation doesn’t even happen within most professions. I haven’t come up through the ranks of early blogging days, but I do think that yourself and other blogging pioneers have earned the right to earn a living blogging! I know I have yet to experience the ‘pushback’ from readers so probably have no right to comment, but I say you should own your success! You’ve earned and you are pioneers for all of us including pioneering the right to earn a decent living. As bloggers you’ve collectively influenced the masses and now it’s time to do it again with this subject and this post is a start! Keep up the amazing work Holly!! xx

  • Reply Hubertienne Ricardo December 24, 2014 at 4:43 am

    I truly agree.I have been blogging now for 6 months and it would be great that i can do this fulltime. I really don’t get the problem when bloggers want to have sponsored content or something in that field.Why does it have to be a touchy subject? People have to pay for most of this services some where else,so why not support the bloggers by paying for the services?
    Just well said.

  • Reply Vesna December 24, 2014 at 5:49 am

    I see no problem with making money from blogging. After all, if you take time to establish a loyal readership by posting regular interesting content, then you should be rewarded for your work. There is no guilt or shame in this and I hope to make money from my blog some day too. Also as someone who follows blogs, i love it when my favourite blogger releases a book or does a collaboration with another label. I’m happy to pay for this.
    onceuponamonday.com

  • Reply Effie December 24, 2014 at 6:10 am

    You couldn’t have said it better. From personal experience, and I think that’s true for the majority of bloggers out there, I started blogging because I am passionate about the things I write about. I obviously don’t want to charge people for doing what I enjoy as a hobby but at the same time keeping the blog up and running, creating great content for readers requires money. My blog is a fairly new one, just turning one next month. I have spent a lot of money, time and energy to keep it going so being able to sustain this through the years with a little advertising or other financial support is definitely not a bad thing or a sell-out as long as one remains true to their voice and their vision. Thanks for sharing and Happy Holidays! :)

  • Reply Tracy Gooding December 24, 2014 at 7:34 am

    100% agree! And let’s face it, many shelter magazines obtain their content and steal ideas from bloggers and produce it in their magazines, which they certainly do not sell for free! Tracy

  • Reply Suzzy December 24, 2014 at 8:11 am

    Thank you for taking the time to write about this.. It’s so mind boggling isn’t it, just writing a blogpost after having researched the content can take me 2-3 hours sometimes, but we don’t charge for our services. Having said that, we wouldn’t go to a bookstore/newsagent and pick up the material to go walking away with it for free- it’s time to change the attitude towards bloggers too so we also get a fair deal

  • Reply Drkukta December 24, 2014 at 9:20 am

    So true! Thanks for sharing your thought! Merry Christmas!

  • Reply Cate Lawrence December 24, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    A really good, thoughtful post. Like many bloggers, I started with Live Journal. The later moved on to a blog site, stopped for a while then recently started a new blog. I think the thing that many opposers to monetised blogs forget is that they don’t *have’ to read every post, enter each competition or what have you. It’s pretty easy to scroll past a blog post that doesn’t interest you.

  • Reply Elizabeth Rebecca December 24, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Completely agree with all of this: blogging can be a career and we should allow this and support this.

  • Reply Holly {Avenue Lifestyle} December 24, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Thank you Holly for opening up discussion on this topic. Many of us are prepared to move mountains to be able to earn an income doing what we love, so it’s only fair to demand compensation for the hours, effort and expertise invested. If content remains authentic, why not? Deep appreciation for the special mention, too. I’m loving what I do every day thanks to this kind of support. Merry Christmas to you, Thorsten and little Aidan. Holly x

  • Reply Sandi December 24, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    I’m coming to this from a completely different blog world, but one that is seeing the same issues – quilting. As a blogger, I’d love to earn an income from my efforts but frankly I’m too lazy to pursue it and the quality of my photos is not up to snuff. I’ve suffered from burnout and stopped writing for months on end. As a reader, I have no problem with bloggers earning a living from their blogs whether it’s through ads, sponsored posts, pattern sales, or eventual book or fabric design deals. I’m happy for them… but that doesn’t always mean I continue reading their blogs. If the efforts to generate income also result in less interesting posts, loyalty isn’t enough to keep me reading. The content must be there. I can only read so many posts extolling the merits of an online fabric store or a particular brand of fabric or thread before I lose interest. If a blogger is now committing the majority of her time to writing for a new magazine or designing a line of fabric and her blog becomes solely about that, I lose interest. When monetizing our blogs, we need to identify what it is we do that has built our readership, then figure out to what degree we need to continue that to preserve interest. Maybe it isn’t necessary. Maybe the blog can fall by the wayside as other avenues open, and that’s okay, too. It’s our life, our blog, and honestly most of the readers don’t think much about us the second after they’ve finished reading a post. But if blog readership is an important part of the income equation, it needs to be preserved. That means real content, a clear voice, and consistent posts.

  • Reply The Daydreamer December 24, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Dear Holly,
    During one of your BYW classes, I expressed my point of view and I think that the whole point is right here in your post: “A sell out is a person who compromises their values for money. That’s clearly wrong. A sell out isn’t a person who earns money without compromising their values and does it with class and integrity.” Readers are free to choose what to read: if they feel that the content and its author are compromised, they should just stop reading. There are enough talented people and great blogs out there to find honesty, truth, professionalism. As long as these stand, a blogger, writer or any other professional is perfectly entitled to make an earning and grow, and offer new options etc. Sometimes, I have the feeling that readers react as spoiled babies (I know what I am talking about, I have 2 at home!), whereas they should act like autonomous human beings with common sense and a brain. You see what I mean? Thank you Holly for adding to the debate and giving us the opportunity to stop and…think! Merry Christmas to you and your family, take care :-)

  • Reply The Daydreamer December 24, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    Effie,

    Totally agree with you and happy to see a familiar blogger’s face here among the comment contributors! Best wishes to you Effie :-)

  • Reply iris December 24, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    Great and wise words! Thank you for sharing. I totally agree with you. I don’t think people realize how much time bloggers spend on making great content, that’s probably why people think they shouldn’t get paid. They think bloggers just sit with their laptop and write some articles.

  • Reply Heidi @ Fabric Mutt December 24, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    Another great post, Holly! I too fear a burnout exodus of bloggers. Another friend & I were just discussing this over the weekend. It’s something we both have to consciously fight — as we balane being bloggers, authors, wives, moms, etc. — not to let ourselves run out of steam.

  • Reply Cindi December 25, 2014 at 1:33 am

    Carie,

    Carie, I agree and disagree with what u say above. I have been blogging for 4 years now and have been sponsored (I was an ambassador for a wool company and we were sent goodies to review), but I can’t say that I want to do this full-time. It’s true I have worked hard on my blog and for some time I have been blogging a lot. I plan on changing that in the new year and go back to once a week or maybe once every 10 days.

    I have no issue with people doig sponsored posts. If there are links involved I will probably ignore them simply because I don’t seem to “see” the links but often I am just not interested. Another blogger i follow has just experienced a backlash for sponsored content. So unfair! Also, If a blogger every offends me, one solution I think is for me to stop following them. It would never occur to me to demand they change. Sometimes folks are odd!

  • Reply kaye December 25, 2014 at 3:31 am

    how inspiring! that’s so admirable that you’ve stuck through blogging for a decade already! as a beginner i really find this inspiring, and i would like to encourage you to keep it up! your blog is great and i hope to keep in mind all your advice.

  • Reply Marianne December 25, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    I don’t mind if bloggers want to make money from their blog. It is a thing of this time, the evolution of blogging so to speak. I don’t mind, as long as bloggers are perfectly clear on it. And I hope that bloggers who make money from their blog follow their heart and nothing else ;-)
    Merry Christmas!

  • Reply Samantha M. December 25, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    Well said! It makes me very sad to see people who work hard get criticized for wanting compensation for their work. Just because the work is done in one’s home and on the computer does not make it any less valuable. Bloggers, youtubers, and other creative content makers deserve to get paid for the work they put into their content. The better the quality of the content, the better the pay should be, really.

    We’re willing to pay good money for good quality items like clothing, cars, food, ect. Why would it be any different when it comes to good quality content from bloggers and other creatives? They deserve to get paid for the work they do, the same as anyone who works any job deserves to be paid for their time and effort.

  • Reply Andrea Hamann December 26, 2014 at 3:45 am

    I wrote my first blog post 14 years ago, back when blogging seemed to be more of a giant link fest than anything. I remember reading megnut, kottke, boing boing and loobylu at the time who are all still around but in a completely different format.
    I doubt there is anyone blogging from back then who is following the same format. And I bet you most of those that are who were in any way popular have earnt money from what they do.

    For now my blog is part art and photo journal, part gallery, but it would nice to think one day that I could use it as an avenue to sell art and photography. In the meantime it is a purely selfish thing.

    I think it is completely reasonable to want to make money from blogging – but anyone who does head down that path has to be prepared for the juggle to present a blog that doesn’t feel like a big sales pitch/advertising page.

  • Reply jemima December 26, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    It makes me so mad when people are ticked off at bloggers who occasionally run a sponsored post or have monetized their blog. I totally agree with your post. I am MORE than happy to read a sponsored post or two, I have often genuinely taken away good things from those posts, and do what I can when I can to support my fellow bloggers on their Etsy stores or in whatever pursuit they are running. Blogging is so very time consuming and bloggers should not be expected to do it all for free.

  • Reply Isabella December 26, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    Most comments here are from people who blog, of course each of them are going to want to make it profitable for themselves. I am an avid blog reader and have been for many, many years however would not pay for most of what I read online. It is mostly all just some pretty pictures with a nice story that gives me something to scroll through for a moment while winding down for the night or waiting in line. If that pays the writer in some way then that is what it deserves. If I am going to pay for content it will be for someone who can produce a tested and professional product or service that gives me a tangible reward, ie: the published book, the art piece, etc. So the blog is just a marketing tool to that end. I bet its a lot of work for the hope that you can get the book deal or have something to sell, but that is what is weeding out the really good from the few truly great. There is no filter to who can post content online or what gets posted. Every pregnant woman who was on disability and was not making enough money to encourage a prompt return started a blog, the ones that persevere from day to day are enjoyable enough to have on a feed and scroll through but no where near good enough to pay for. There needs to be a filter that will create value, I have 60 blogs on my feedly and that is pretty modest compared to some. Only one rings a bell as a blog I would pay for. He is a brand and consistently a
    winner but I would still rather buy his app than his blog.

  • Reply Lynn December 26, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    As I read through these comments it got me thinking about how ridiculous it is that no one complains when a magazine features a product that is (coincidentally! hah) also advertising in the magazine. It’s like we expect them to be a sell-out but we don’t want individuals to be.

    Has anyone mentioned the jealousy component? I know I feel pangs when I read a blog and see that brands I love are throwing freebies at them. A really good blog can make their content look effortless (like I could do it too!), but of course it’s not that easy, and they should be rewarded.

  • Reply F December 27, 2014 at 10:51 am

    Dear holly I read what you have to say with interest.

    I agree in principal as long as bloggers are using original content – both in word and pictures. Would you not agree that the majority of interior design Blogs copy and cut images from other sites and then put their own words to it. In my humble opinion it’s not right to steal images without asking and then on top of it, make money from stolen images that are often also not directly credited either and that’s one of the main reasons I dropped blogging 7 years ago.

    Secondly the spirit of the internet is freedom of information. I can’t see that changing in the near future and I really can’t see people paying for posts. I’m looking forward to the day when a blogger advertises their blog for sale. Now that will really put the cat amoungt the pigeons. ;) and many will be watching very closely to see what happens. Oh the scandal !!!

    Thirdly (and unrelated to the money side of things. )

    Bloggers quitting en masse……

    A. It’s probably not such a bad thing as (where relevant) a large number of children will get their parents back and spouses their wives/husbands/partners (ooo can of worms I’m sure I’ve opened here.( but food for thought,non?)

    B. The Blogging world is not immune to the Survival of the strongest /fittest/best/most professional/original and However you wish to apply that in the blogging world.
    Anyway enough of my ramblings…..
    Take care and best wishes and thank you for an interesting read:)
    F
    Ps ‘Scuse the typos ;)

  • Reply Wrenaissance Art December 28, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    I read quite a few political/current affairs blogs, and while the argumentative and attacking comments on them can get *very* intense, the readers of those blogs never seem to question that those bloggers have an absolute right to monetize their blogs. Whether it’s posts touting their upcoming appearance on a cable news show, plugging a new book, or Amazon ads, these bloggers and their readers are comfortable with the notion of earning money online. Incidentally, most of these bloggers are men, or women who are competing head to head with ” the boys.”
    Meanwhile, in the “ladies’ section of the newspaper,” (fashion, parenting & home decor blogs), readers get upset any time a blogger dares to place ads or in any way make a living from her writing.
    I hate to be negative, but could it be there’s a little “mean girl” sexism going on?

    • Reply decor8 December 29, 2014 at 11:16 am

      @Wrenaissance Art – You said what I have thought – mean girl/sexism! Wow, so well said! Yes, I think so too!

  • Reply Anandeeta December 28, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    I have been blogging for 1 and a half year now. And I think it’s time for me to start earning from it. Thanks for the article. Now I feel like taking a new step from the next year!

  • Reply Melinda December 29, 2014 at 7:33 am

    This is such an interesting topic to discuss and reading the comments has given me good insight. I feel as a blogger, sometimes it would be nice to get rewarded for hard work & creatively thinking. But it doesn’t happen overnight and maybe it won’t happen for me because I don’t want to sell my integrity. But with the amount of creative design blogs out there; it does sometimes feel overwhelming no one is reading your work and so what’s the point. Ya da ya da…

    I think as a new blogger we all go through this stage. For me I’ve decided not to put ugly google ads up, not to sell my creative soul to sponsored stuff. So this year I’m going to put my thinking cap on to come up with a valuable eproduct to sell & do more guest posting on larger platform blogs.

    I think in the future there will be these bigger ‘platform’ blogs, that showcase these tiny creative bloggers (for a small price.) In a way this frees up time for the ‘creative’ to focus on creating great products, art, resources. So really everyone wins, the creatives are getting valuable cheaper advertising to sell more goods & the ‘platform’ blog has a huge following, updates all the time & gets paid.

  • Reply Sarah LuAnn December 30, 2014 at 12:52 am

    I also agree completely. I don’t think there is anything wrong with asking for a bit of money for something you spent your time, talents, and knowledge on. I’m new to blogging and have put a few small things on my blog for free, but eventually I hope to get to the point where I can ask people to buy what I make.

    If people really want and value it, and if you’ve priced it reasonably, they will pay what you’re asking. Figuring out what a reasonable price is becomes the thing to figure out, which there are all kinds of opinions on.

  • Reply Vicki Nemeth December 30, 2014 at 3:01 am

    Thank you for getting this point across so effectively. As well as bloggers, I would link this article to any YouTubers and livestreamers whom I’ve heard come out with that pretentious, “I don’t need to take donations. I do this work for love.”

    Wow. It’s still work; it’s intrinsically valuable. Even if you have a dayjob and can afford a hobby, why not make the couple bucks you can? Not every method of earning is invasive to your fans. Some content creators exhibit guilt alright.

    But hopefully the fans who balk at something as subtle as a non-animated image ad or a Patreon link are a childish minority.

  • Reply Vicki Nemeth December 30, 2014 at 3:46 am

    Wrenaissance Art,

    You make an interesting point that as soon as women write about “feminine” topics, that’s when people don’t want to see ads. People may not say it outright, but their behaviour shows that they don’t value any work that is “female.”

    The sexism is not so much “mean girl” sexism as just sexism. Women are more willing to work for free; I’m not surprised if readers are more likely to push women into working for free. It’s not limited to articles. I know local women here who do free offline work for which they should be charging.

  • Reply Jahaila @ Girl Nesting December 31, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    So well written! This needed to be said and you really said it perfectly. I’m new to Blogging, it’s been a year that I’ve been writing Girl Nesting. The hard work and hours that go into each post is a lot more than people realize…and don’t get wrong, I love the work, that’s part of the joy! But of course when I get paid once in a while for what I love and put my whole heart into, is that so bad? I would love to make a living blogging, because I enjoy it and I don’t want to have to give it up because of money, or lack of rather. This dream to make money blogging definitely pushes me to work harder. Would I still blog if I couldn’t earn money from it? I would try to do it as much as I could for as long as I could, but I have to make a living too.

  • Reply Shannon Acheson | AKA Design | Bloggers & Brands January 2, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree! I’ve been blogging for 4 1/2 years, with 2014 being a fabulous year. I focused so much more on building the blog archives and filling them with “evergreen” content that could be referred to year after year. I also introduced e-products, collaborated with other bloggers and worked only with brands I loved on some great series’. As a result traffic doubled and gross income grew five times over the year before. I work hard and I am proud of the business I’ve built. I’m eager to see what 2015 brings – both my own blog and the blogs of my blogging friends who I desperately want to see succeed!

  • Reply Kelly January 4, 2015 at 2:39 am

    First of all – Holly, i love your blog, book, and happy to support your efforts! Long time reader:)

    Second, I am just reading these comments for the first time and felt compelled to join the conversation (for the first time ever!). That all being said, I’m not a blogger, but I do read quite a few very faithfully and i have noticed a trend of this sort of posts among many of my favorites. Bloggers having to define and defend this “evolution” of the blog world.

    I’m a self employed interior designer and my boyfriend is a freelance journalist in the magazine world, so in some regards I feel like I’m getting this from two other spots of the same spectrum! The first being a creative and having to put a price on your work. It’s really, really hard — and the guilt! — at first. but after my first year of really, truly being independent and some very real business and fiscal lessons later, I have come to terms with my worth and what I need to build a life. And with the accessibility and mainstreaming of my industry, it can be a challenge to validate what you do. And my boyfriend has been writing for major business mags for 10 years and says it’s been like the Hunger Games all along. I think it’s safe to say that the entire print media industry (especially shelter) has been going through massive growing pains with the uncharted and ever-expanding internet.. but from the opposite side because there is SO much free content now, that no one wants to pay for subscriptions online or off.

    I think what i find as this overall theme – that you totally hit the nail on the head – is that we all need to get back to basics here. If you like content, chances are that it’s quality stuff that someone poured their time, energy and probably a bit of cash into. And if you don’t want to pay for it directly, then there is going to be a 3rd party subsidizing it (ahem, that IS what magazines do and no one seems to think twice..). Unfortunately, in an economy such as ours, you can’t have it both ways. But I think that’s ok! The universe is universally abundant. We can all succeed, so why not help each other out whether that means paying up or just being supportive and kind! The times they are a changing – and faster than ever. We’re all just doing our best to keep up.

    Here’s to figuring it out together! All the best in 2015!
    xo

  • Reply Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality January 4, 2015 at 6:29 am

    Hi, Holly, oh another great topic. Money! That is definitely a hot topic in blogging these days. I’m one of the fortunate bloggers who has managed to build a blog that supports me, from 8 years of blogging. It took 4 years to get there and I sure hope it continues. It’s definitely a learning process of advertising networks, sponsored posts and other creative streams of revenue, but most of us never dreamed we would make a full-time living doing this. It’s been a huge blessing for sure, sharing our passion online and getting paid for it. I hope things continue to evolve with brands and that the doors keep opening for many more of us to do this successfully. My readers have been very supportive of my sponsored content and really have supported me in my endeavors.

  • Reply Trisha January 6, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    What an insightful article, well written, thought provoking and I totally agree with you in regards to needing to be supportive of those who are choosing to share and document their interests.

    I am still on maternity leave after having my second son 8 months ago and have chosen to stay at home with my boys and not return to work for my employer but resume my freelance graphic design work but rather than working for clients, to create art for kids to focus on my strengths and custom typography. This allows me the flexibility required to work at odd hours when I get the chance and i’m really excited by the prospect but also a little apprehensive about seeing it as a potentially viable avenue to possibly one day generate an additional income for us.

    My first couple of posts (early days for me even considering a blog) have been artwork giveaways which are fine to do every now and then but like you I too need to pay bills! So thank you for sharing your experience and I too hope that readers can continue to support one another.

    Thanks

  • Reply Pam January 7, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    Totally agree. I often do purchase items from a blogger’s shop, or a book they’ve written or taken an online course on creativity/design, etc. But I do this because I have grown to trust them and appreciate the expertise they provide (mostly) for free online. I love that I can help them in some way to achieve their goals. It’s a symbiotic relationship. I’m shocked to even hear there is so much push back on the subject.

    Which reminds me, I received Decorate for Christmas and I’m completely in love. No surprise. Thanks for all your hard work.

    • Reply decor8 January 8, 2015 at 4:01 pm

      @Pam – Ah thanks Pam!!!!

  • Reply Ann-Cathrin January 9, 2015 at 11:31 am

    Thanks a lot for this great post and sharing your thoughts. You spoke out of my heart!

    I started blogging two years ago as a creative compensation to my not so creative part-time job in marketing for an international brand. I am married and a mom of two little girls. We moved some years ago for my husbands job to another city without any family support (grandparents, …). My new part-time job required more and more working hours, my husband had to travel more and more. I resigned my job because we couldn’t manage it anymore as a family. In december 2014 I opened a little online-shop beside my blog because I wanted to earn some money. Do I have to feel guilty when I show a picture on my blog with products I sell and make a link, even without naming the shop? I definitely have this feeling from time to time and I don’t want of have it. That’s why I definitely agree with you. Don’t blame the bloggers and let them have a payback for the creative work!

    Many thanks and greetings,
    Ann-Cathrin

  • Reply Julia January 10, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    I’ve been thinking about this since you posted it. I totally agree in theory, but I also have become more jaded. When blogs first started up, I was excited by their potential to change the way we consume, to allow information to spread more organically and to challenge a corporate structure that stands between consumers and makers. I saw blogging as a potential rising tide to lift all ships, from me as an small designer to the people making my clothes whether down the street or in Pakistan.

    In the last five or ten years, though, corporate partnerships have flourished. I don’t have a problem with that in and of itself. But as this has happened, there’s been a resettling of many blogs into partners in maintaining the status quo rather than improving it. The voices that dominate design/fashion/decor (and other!) blogs come from places of privilege and (and this is what I take the most issue with) seem little different from the “old boys club” they’re replacing.

    I see (and appreciate!) the work that goes into pretty blogs, but very few bloggers, especially those who are more popular, regularly and honestly try to make visible the invisible: who’s making all this Target/World Market/West Elm/Ikea stuff? How are they being paid and treated and can they go home and have the time/safety/extra money to set up tablescapes for their holidays with family? What and who inspires these patterns and pieces? What is the history behind them? Where is the line between inspiration and appropriation? What are the ethics/motivations of companies (including little start-ups!) that erase the individual artists/communities/nations when they import handmade goods from other continents but give a pic + life story of the artist down the street? What about the environmental consequences when bloggers participate in/encourage a throw-away culture? (They suggest donating unwanted items to charity, but I’ve volunteered with thrift stores and thrift stores themselves are swamped by excess.)

    As the new journalists, where is the muck-raking? Where is the push-back to press-releases? Where is the content that might be hard to read/think about but uses the most modern medium of social connection to really push change? Where is there space for productive criticism and accountability to challenge us to be better, more intelligent, more compassionate, more creative?

    There’s a lot to consider and it’s often not stuff with easy answers, especially within the context of creation, but it’s disappointing to me that the democracy of the internet seems to be replicating the privilege and voices and structures that kept so many voiceless and unable to follow their own creative dreams pre-internet.

    I’m all for rewarding bloggers monetarily, but I want to know that they, in turn, are working to adequately compensate those who are producing the content they consume/make money off (for example, the beautiful winter citrus so many use in photos doesn’t spring into existence in bloggers’ homes; graphics and designs inspired by historically (and currently) oppressed and marginalized groups/cultures/individuals). I agree with all of what you said about bloggers as social influencers and the people’s journalism; I just want to push back against the hypocrisy of privileged bloggers/designers pushing for adequate monetary compensation/credit for their work when they don’t consider providing/advocating for the same for the people whose labor/creativity underpins their own.

    (Disclaimer: this isn’t a critique of you, just in response to the topic of compensating bloggers!)

    • Reply decor8 January 11, 2015 at 7:00 pm

      @Julia – Hello Julia – I really appreciate and agree with your comment as all of what you said is what I strive for since starting in 2006 and am known for highlighting the small but great people out there – so I’m with you on these great points. Thanks for adding something meaningful to our current discussion!

  • Reply Hope January 11, 2015 at 11:29 am

    Here, here! Blogger lost my site and backup, so a fresh new blog for 2015. And yes, guilt free. I put a lot of work into it.
    H

  • Reply Allison January 12, 2015 at 12:38 am

    Thanks for your insightful post. You are right and perhaps there will be an exodus of bloggers from the blog world BUT in any business venue it is supply and demand. Smart, clever, interesting blogs that inform, teach and inspire will succeed. For all of us: push the refresh button, stay relevant and do the right thing. There is a great book someone gave me many years ago. “Do what you love and the money will come” It’s true.
    Thanks again, Holly and a wonderful ’15 to you and your family

  • Reply Sara January 12, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    The Daydreamer,

    Aha! I had the same thought on seeing your name, too! :)

  • Reply Sara January 12, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    @Holly – wonderful choice of subject, I totally applaud you for bringing this out into the open. The truth is, it *does* feel awkward to be making money from blogging (or, in my case, instagramming), because our followers are like a big community of friends.
    In my head it’s sort of like those tuppaware parties of the 70s – you’d get the whole gang over for nibbles and fizz, and part of the evening was devoted to showcasing the products. Just on a bigger, more modern scale!

    I see something empowering in all of this; instead of the PR & marketers bullying us into a certain product-powered ‘lifestyle’, we’re setting that stage ourselves – saying, these are our real lives, and we’re only interested in letting the really good stuff in.

    In the end I sincerely hope everyone out there has the sense not to buy something just because they saw it on a blog they like. There’s really no pressure, is there?

  • Reply Kat Skull January 22, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    I feel awkward trying to make money from my blog, but I also haven’t been putting much effort into it either. I think if I finally pick a focusing subject that I would “high-tail” into the monetary zone.

    As for now, I enjoy sharing little pieces of my life in the public presence and only use a Google Adsense right now.

  • Reply Jane Klementti February 24, 2015 at 11:10 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with everything you mention in this post! Great points.

  • Reply Lily @ NettiesCloset April 1, 2015 at 12:33 am

    We all try to balance between blogging and being moms, career women etc but at the end of day, blogging needs one’s efforts and dedication. If this means, being rewarded, then I do not see a problem with it. I now have a new demeanor…..guilt FREE blogging. Great advise!

  • Reply Mireya Pizarro June 18, 2015 at 10:58 pm

    I like the idea of $100 awesome classes that are worth your money…why because the value exceeded the money. If a blogger can proved this and consistency then this is a great idea to follow. Personally I don’t like going to a blog and seeing all of these ads. It seems to commercial to me and I just want to provide value…the kind of value that you paid for because it was a value. People have this notion and I think its even more today that you can put up a blog of anything and people will buy or you will succeed instantly. This just isn’t the case and it is getting even more so. Marketing and Business have changed so much and gone are the times of sponsorship and yeah I think I have gotten carried away. I suppose its because I am trying to build an audience for my blog and create that value genuinely and honestly. I see no other way but to do so ad free. I will see?

  • Reply Karly September 15, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    This is all new to me and I am really finding your blogs helpful and so interesting! I am slowly building up the content of my blog before I start telling people about it and earning money from it is something that baffles me I would have no idea how to even go about doing it! I do it because I love blogging and what I’m blogging about, but I see no problem with people earning money from their blogs and eventually once I get the hang of this it is definitely something I will be looking in to!

    x

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