Why I don’t give a toss if someone makes money from their blog?

Making money from blogs

The argument and discussions continue to go on about sponsored posts, paid reviews, yada yada yada.

Insanity always hides around every corner.

This is not really a post to adding to the merry-go-round, but to get back to the very basics of why it shouldn’t matter.

Do we give Olympic athletes and famous rock stars shit because they appear on ads eating the latest nutri-grain and drop their sponsor’s name five times in an interview?

No.

What’s the difference?

They are people who have found a way to make a living doing what they love.

Standing ovation.

Last year I attended the Australian Open of Surfing. Mitch, an Aussie surfer came in from his heat and before he was interviewed for TV, someone handed him his sunnies  and a hat, both of which were bearing the name of his sponsors.

Did he declare, “Excuse me before we talk, so that you know I am being authentic and not trying to cheat you, I am sponsored by XYZ which is why I am wearing their hats.”

(And while I am not going to get into an ethical debate, it’s best for all bloggers to have their disclaimer up when they are sponsored in any way–keeps you honest and real. I’ve rarely met a blogger who doesn’t.  And when you write a sponsored post or review be honest and only take on something you know resonates with you and your readers and you can be honest about. Problem solved.)

Sponsored for passions

Most bloggers I’ve met are decent, warm caring human beings who are truly passionate about a certain area in their life. And they are passionate about helping others transform their lives. What’s wrong with them earning money so they can continue doing that?

Most of the time they are being sponsored for what they are passionate about and believe will help change their readers lives in some way–or at least make them happier for a moment. People rarely will do the wrong thing by their passions.

Just like Michael Jordon is passionate about Nike. Because they helped him to fly right? I brought a pair of Nikes because I love Michael Jordan. I trust that Micheal Jordan wouldn’t put his name to shit. They didn’t make my fly, but I don’t blame him for that. They were pretty good shoes.

I don’t begrudge anyone who earns money doing what they love, especially when they are providing value to those who follow them every day. If advertisers wanted to pay people to be Ambassadors, I think that is an awesome win for those who have worked their arses off to get to the top of their field.

I don’t give a toss if this is what happens. Again, standing ovation for getting there in the first place–well deserved.

Simple equation:

Do what you love + provide value to others = the right to be paid accordingly.

Bringing it back to me

But the absolute REAL reason I don’t give a toss is the one thing I think society is going way downhill with and keeps me awake at night.

The real reason I don’t care who shows up wearing what on TV, who writes about what in a magazine, newspaper or blog, about what product or brand is that I know:

Ultimately the decision as to whether I buy something always rests upon me.

Sure someone I trust may recommend it to me, just like my best friend will recommend a place to get a hair cut.

If I choose to go there and it goes wrong, am I going to blame my friend, or heaven forbid the hairdresser who cut it (hang on a minute maybe I can sue to make a quick buck)?

FUCK no. Why? Because shit happens in life that’s why. Deal with it, or spend the rest of your life in a constant bitter bitch mode.

At the end of the day, my friend recommended I get a hair cut there, I trusted and went. It didn’t mean she was steering me down a wrong end street. It just didn’t work for me.

Ads never stop coming into our lives. It’s up to us to choose whether we buy or not. It’s up to us to take the recommendations– often from those we trust– and do our due diligence. Do the extra research. Think about our own needs and desires and what makes sense in our lives and so make a choice.

You’re smart enough to know who you can trust in the first place and you’ve got everything you need within you to make the BEST decision for YOU.

No one can ever rip you off or cheat you. Maybe in a game of poker when you don’t know what you are doing and you can’t see their cards, but then you chose to play.

In the game of life, you have a friggen choice. When you are consuming media you have a choice as to what to believe. If you believe a trusted friend, you still have that choice to say yes or no based on what is best FOR you.

It’s all about taking responsibility. Screw the blame.

Ultimately if you buy the product and it goes wrong, its your fault because you bought it. You could have said no. You didn’t have to be persuaded.

That’s why I just don’t get the constant humdrum about it. Are you basically saying you’re a puppet who can’t make their own decisions and have to be led to the wallet by an ad? Where’s your self-c0ntrol? Where’s your ability to make a choice?

What happens when promises aren’t delivered

We made a bad property purchase a few years ago. (Read this if you want to know how bad it was) I tell you we received bad advice from several parties throughout the process. Yes, I could have pursued and sued and done all the rest.

But you know what all of that is bullshit. Because at the end of the day, we did not do our due diligence. And that is OUR fault. I am responsible. If you’re not at cause then what is going on? You’re letting life happen and when you let it happen, shit hits the fan because no one is in control.

I’ve recently had an experience when something that was promised to me was not delivered. This was by way of product, not even advertising. Sure it absolutely irritated me because I do believe in integrity and you shouldn’t entice people to purchase your product and then not deliver.

But, I know that I don’t have any control over what anyone else does so it is pointless for me to go screaming and raging in forums all over the internet. What I do know is this, I did not, once again, do my due diligence. I should of waited, I should have investigated other options and took the time to think more about my choice and what would serve me best.

And I didn’t. So I am kicking myself more than the person who didn’t deliver. And for the people who lost their integrity for a bit, I just no longer believe in them much. But, they made a mistake, I don’t wish ill upon them. I’m sure they’ll learn and do better next time.

It’s not up to me to worry about what they see when they look in the mirror each morning. It’s up to me to care what I see in mine.

We’re never going to get rid of advertising. Its how brands tell us about their new products. We just have to become smarter about the choices we make in regards to the advertising.

I mostly only buy products and services now through recommendations from my blogging friends, sponsored or not. I trust them more. Sponsored or not. I’ve not been let down once, in fact I’ve been overjoyed with my new discoveries. They led me to the water, sure, but I decided whether to drink or not.

So I don’t give a toss if someone makes money from their blog. I don’t feel like I am being abused or taken advantage of , because I know that ball is in my court.

Boy oh boy, isn’t life so liberating when you are in control of it?
Now I’ll turn the conversation over to you. Let’s keep it respectful.

Your Turn to Share Tips:

How do you approach it when you have been lead down the wrong path?

posted in: Blogging
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Comments
  • Vanessa

    Being angry at people for making money on their blogs is so pointless.

    But I’ve also had a lot of that in my day jobs in recent years. I’ve worked on a lot of things that overall have shitty outcomes for people. The types of things the public and the media like to widely condemn. But what they don’t see are the dozen (or hundreds in some cases) of people working their asses off behind the scenes to make the outcome as good as possible. They have no idea of the hard work that made it much less crap than it was. On a personal level, I’m fine with that, I know I’ve done a good job, but I think the senitment remains about who “deserves” to be paid for something.

    Now I get that we live in such a media-saturated environment people may not want to see advertising everywhere. Sure, that’s fine. But vote with your feet. Go to a blog that doens’t have advertising then. Your choice. Your action to make. Don’t blame others.

    The other reason I think some struggle so much with people making money off of blogs relates to the issue that all freelancers have – no one values skills, or a service based business model. It’s so heavily product based these days – think about most discussions around bloggers creating an income – the focus is on creating products, and less on offering services. I was having a discussion only yesterday on a photographers facebook page about ignorance around skills – people getting the “Why does it cost so much to hire you, it’s not like you have to buy film” type of questions. I think this attitude has spread across all forms of digital work because no one can appreciate the skills background of services.

    Reply

    • Caz Makepeace

      I so agree. Vote with your feet–putting the onus back on you. It’s so simple isn’t it?

      I think that is a great point about the freelancing side of things. It is true that people’s skills are not valued. The digital world has made everything seem so accessible and easy to everyone that they think it should be low-cost or free, but a person’s creativity and skill should actually come at a high-price. A very important topic.

      Reply

  • Jeremy Branham

    I agree with what you are saying. I hate that bloggers are being held to a different standard than other media outlets and of course, celebrities and rock stars. We are evil people if we don’t disclose. However, if others don’t it’s fine. I just don’t like the double standard.

    Now what I will disagree on is the decision rests solely on you. That is true to an extent. However, if someone gives me false, misleading information which deceives me and leads me to purchase, then they have some fault. I always control my own decisions. However, someone else being unethical or dishonest shouldn’t excuse a poor decision I made. They should still be held accountable.

    Reply

    • Caz Makepeace

      The double standard sucks!
      I think the people who lie and cheat are of course at fault, and they should be held accountable, but the majority of the time better decisions should have been made by us in terms of due diligence. I don’t think I can ever remember a time when this has happened to me–except when we were scammed in Indonesia and yes that person was deceitful and it was not anything on my behalf, but what could I do about it in the end?

      I do truly believe that the majority of people are good. The only times I remember that has really affected me are those I mentioned in the post was when I know I could have made a better decision. That doesn’t excuse them, but I know if I had of went with my gut and took proper care, it wouldn’t have made a difference if they were unethical or not as I would have said no. I seriously can’t live my life blaming those people for what happened to us because it will never change it and my life will never improve as I wouldn’t have learned the lessons.

      I never take a person’s recommendation as gospel now. How can it because there situation is different from mine? Every person needs to be more conscious of their decisions, no matter what someone is selling them.

      Thanks for sharing your food for thoughts as always Jeremy!

      Reply

  • Charli l Wanderlusters

    Money always brings out the worst in people and while I agree with Jeremy’s comment about double standards across the media I can see where the payment/exposure relationship can be exploited. I have no issue with any journalist or blogger who accepts something for free in return for a review on the platform for which they write. As long as their opinion is not tainted by the act of receiving said item for free and as you mention informing their audience that this review was made possible by the company who are flogging the product.

    Reply

    • Caz Makepeace

      The claws come out when money is around that is for sure. I wish we all had a healthier attitude towards it, but I get why it can be so divisive. I think the key then is to create your own life that you love so you are not too concerned what others are doing. Easy to say but still very possible.

      I think it is very important that bloggers write an honest review and I do think it is possible. I have one coming out on Monday on the travel blog about the new Blackberry phone. I am very honest and upfront about what I like and don’t like and my recommendations for my readers. Blackberry were fine with it. They really want you to have a balanced and honest view. I’ll often write, “This didn’t work for me, but if you are XYZ person than I think it could be a good fit.” Everybody is different so you have to take that into account when writing a review and consider likes/dislikes, needs/wants to give the best info you can to your readers.

      What bloggers need to do is to make sure they don’t take anything on they know they are not going to like because that is unfair and if you try something and it is a disaster, it’s best not to write about it and return the product/money to the company. That’s keeping it honest.

      I never take something on unless I am passionate about it and can see how it will work for my readers, which means sometimes the product is so good all I have is raving good things to say, so I worry that readers will think I’m not being honest. But, ultimately your readers know and understand you so they can figure it out well enough.

      Thanks for sharing Charli!

      Reply

  • Naomi

    It’s all about trust for me. If I read a review from a trusted friend or blogger, I am very likely to purchase or get involved with the item/organization, etc.

    If I read a review from someone that is unknown to me, unless I am already interested in the product/item, I am very unlikely to purchase.

    I have been irritated FOR the bloggers who have to add in that disclaimer … it is so silly. I love that bloggers make money on their efforts and time!

    Reply

    • Caz Makepeace

      I get really irritated by the disclaimers sometimes because they do verge on the edge of ridiculous and I often find myself putting in a disclaimer to say I was not paid for this product I just love it, which is I guess something the beast has created. Again, if more people took responsibility for their personal decisions and if every person lived from a place of honesty and integrity there shouldn’t be any problems. But, that would be Utopia and we haven’t quite created it yet! I firmly believe that 90% of people are really good.

      Reply

  • Bethaney - Flashpacker Family

    Yup… I’m totally with you on this. I spend hours and hours working on my blog and social media accounts. I produce heaps of quality posts that are unpaid and provide value to my readers. Essentially, I work for my readers for free. Anyone can read my content online without having to pay for a magazine subscription, the cost of a guide book or the cost of commission to a travel agent. That’s the same with almost every blogger I know. You have to have income coming in from somewhere in order to carve out the time to produce the content and keep it free for readers. I don’t get why bloggers chastise one another for taking sponsored stays or press trips or accepting advertising or sponsorship.

    Reply

    • Caz Makepeace

      Totally agree and I think you’ll find the majority of your readers don’t have a problem with it and really expect that you should be earning money from it. I just do my best to always deliver outstanding content, sponsored or not and that keeps your readers happy. Obviously you are not going to nail it with every post, but if you are consistent then they really won’t care.

      Reply

  • mumabulous

    I’m not concerned about individuals making money from their blogs. It takes real talent to make sponsored content interesting.

    Reply

    • Caz Makepeace

      Yes that it is. I think you have to dig deep and really consider what’s in it for the readers. I find this to be a very easy thing to do on the travel blog because my sponsored content is travel related so it’s helpful to my readers. They always get a good response. But I definitely think it can be done. I think Mrs Woogs, on the personal blogging side of things, does really well at making them interesting

      Reply

  • Kelly Exeter

    “It’s not up to me to worry about what they see when they look in the mirror each morning. It’s up to me to care what I see in mine.”

    Yep that. Perfect Caz. Just perfect.

    Reply

    • Caz Makepeace

      Imagine if we lived in a world where every person did this. It would be so wonderful. I believe in Utopia Kelly!

      Reply

  • Kate - CanuckiwiKate

    “Deal with it, or spend the rest of your life in a constant bitter bitch mode. ” Pretty awesome life advice, Caz. Love it. Live and let live :)

    Reply

    • Abi

      I agree! This is such an illuminating post…some people seem to make a career out of whingeing on Facebook about how other people earn a living. Oh well, – back to remembering your mirror quote above!

      Reply

    • Kate

      This was my favorite part too.

      Reply

  • Forrest walker

    Two things about monetized blogs. First I never look at the ads. Like I never look at TV ads. Second, I will NEVER monetize my blog.
    People who do and claim they are making a living at it are BSing you. They are trust fund babies trying to look cool sleeping in hostels.

    Reply

    • Caz Makepeace

      I am making a living out of it Forrest, I’m not BSing any one. I’m certainly not a trust fund baby and I offer a shit load of value to my readers most of who really want us to make a living so we can continue doing what we do. I really don’t think you should pre-judge people like that. Everybody has different goals, values and likes. What works for some doesn’t necessarily work for others. We just accept this is not my way and I’ll work towards my way, but I can still respect others who choose to do it differently. You can’t say what people can and can’t do based on your own experiences. If you don’t want to monetize your blog that is perfectly fine, but it is also perfectly fine if someone else chooses to do so. IT’s their life, their choice, their right. I’ve rarely met someone doing it who has not been upfront and authentic. I’m not sure why you have to be so hateful towards those who are.

      Reply

      • Forrest walker

        Caz, I never said or implied hate. Sell soap on your blog if you want. But content is king.

        Reply

        • Caz Makepeace

          But, I’m not sure why you are assuming those who make money from their blog, be it from advertising, sponsored posts or whatever, don’t put out quality content or focus on this. From the amount of feedback we get from our readers I would say we consistently put out quality content that makes a difference. I also know a lot of bloggers across a wide variety of niches. Of all those that I know who do make money, they also consistently put out outstanding content that delivers a lot of value and makes a difference. I cannot even begin to tell you how much my life has changed over the past year purely because of other bloggers and the value they provide–all of them advertise on their blog and I have followed many of their recommendations–sponsored or not, and each one has dramatically improved my life. I am so grateful to them that they wrote about the product in the first place, else I would never have known about it. One recently has helped improve my health in huge amounts, after battling for over 12 months seeing multiple doctors and specialists and having four surgeries–none of which helped. These bloggers have done more than expert doctors could, And they all make money from their blogs. It’s just a matter of perspective and what eyes you choose to look through.

          Reply

          • Forrest Walker

            You keep putting words in my mouth. All I said was content is why anyone would read a bloggers posts. I did not even imply that by selling soap you do not have decent content. You and Craig obviously work hard on your blog. Good on you. But I am an amateur. Do not think that implies poor quality. The word amateur comes from the Latin root doing it for love, not money. I am not interested in curing anyone else’s diseases or having some blogger cure mine. I do strictly a travel blog. I do not even have a niche, whatever the hell that means. I travel and I write about it. When I compare my writing to 99% of other travel bloggers, I know my content is superior. It is at least fun to read.
            I have never tried to sell an ad, get a sponsor, or go on a press trip. If any of those were offered to me I would decline. I am having too much fun to turn this into a job. I worked hard my entire life. I had an excellent lucrative career. I do not need to mau mau any more.
            What I cannot see is what twenty somethings making enough to travel and blog from selling soap are going to be doing when they are fifty.

          • Caz Makepeace

            This is all fine Forrest. As my post highlights, I don’t care what anyone chooses to do with their blogs or how they make money. What I was originally referring to your statement was this
            “People who do and claim they are making a living at it are BSing you. They are trust fund babies trying to look cool sleeping in hostels.” It doesn’t really fit with what you are saying now.

            And you are assuming a lot in these statements which is what I was addressing. If you are happy with your strategy and how you are doing things Forrest, then you shouldn’t care what others are choosing to do.
            I don’t think amateur’s imply poor quality, I’ve never spoken as quality being something only those who make money from their blog produces. And I don’t know anyone who has tried to sell soap! ;)

            One other thing that needs to be considered as well. You are in the fortunate position where you don’t need to make money off your blog, which is fantastic. There are many people who aren’t. There are many people who put their heart and soul into their blogs and want to be financially compensated for it. Either way is fine. You have to put yourself in other people’s shoes. Maybe someone has sold a sponsored post on their blog because they had absolutely no money and needed to feed or clothe their children. (Hand raised) You can’t judge another person’s decisions until you have walked a mile in their shoes. I think compassion should be the glasses through which we view the world.

  • Anita Mac

    Wow – what a fabulous discussion! I wish I had more time to craft a clever response, but alas, time is short!

    As someone relatively new to monetizing, all I have to say is this – it is a lot of hard work and people deserve to be paid a fair value for the work that they do. I get hammered on a daily basis by people who want to put their work up on my blog and get paid by whoever is paying them, but expect it to go on my blog for free, or for pennies. I have had PR agencies agree to pay me for my work, only to leave me high and dry after the work was done. I work hard at what I do, and while I am still learning and not a super star, I offer integrity to my readers and am still operating at a huge loss. Obviously not a business model I can keep up for long – the bank isn’t happy to let me live in my house for free, so why should I let all these businesses advertise for free on my site!!!

    The only stipulation that I have for monetization – it needs to make sense! You won’t find me advertising or promoting on my site for something that doesn’t make any sense for my readers. I have loads of respect for those bloggers who produce a valid product (their blog) for their readers, who have been successful in making a living at it which frees them up to bring even better content to their readers…but I lose respect for those who become just a paid medium and advertise things that don’t make sense!

    Just my 2 cents….

    Reply

  • Matthew Karsten

    Well said Caz. Some of us want to make a living with blogging. Advertising & partnerships are how money is made in radio, TV, music, movies, sport, and many industries. Blogging should be no different.

    *This comment was brought to you by Duff Beer. But no one is forcing you to drink Duff if you don’t want to. :)

    Reply

  • Mike

    Thanks for this, Caz! [standing ovation]

    I’ve noticed many more travel bloggers commenting lately on the ways other travel bloggers monetize their sites. Blogger A (who happily sells banner ad space and takes sponsored trips) looks down on Blogger B for selling sponsored posts … and the like. The hypocrisy and self-righteousness is laughable.

    As long as you’re consistently blogging and speaking from a genuine place (about your advertisers, the trips you take, etc), your readers will see that. I value my readers very highly and I believe that they know and appreciate that. It’s all that matters.

    Reply

  • Sandra Foyt

    Thanks for reminding me of the Bad Haircut Incident of 2011; still have nightmares over that one. But I didn’t sue. Hair grew out again. Life goes on.

    Love your point. While I can see the merit of some media oversight (Camel cigarette commercials comes to mind,) it’s a sad day when adults turn into sheep with no free will or common sense to make purchasing decisions.

    Reply

  • Glenn Dixon

    #1 reason to not care if a blog is sponsored, or if someone makes money on a blog?

    1 – Almost no one does

    The average travel blog lasts 2-3 years, then is either sold or fades into obscurity. Or they bring on a load of writers to keep stuffing it with content, none of it having anything to do with the original blogger. So yeah, if you can figure out how to make it work, more power to you. :)

    Reply

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