Conflicted: Thinking Out Loud About Blogging & Income

It would be awesome to blog full time and get paid for it, but I am deeply conflicted. I want my posts to remain 100% objective and to be honest, if I did advertorials or even if I was invited to try out something for free, I don’t think I could be. I don’t mean that I would be dishonest intentionally, but I’m quite certain that I would be influenced in some way. Because you see, even if I wanted to be honest, I would probably be given special treatment. For instance the food would be prepared extra nicely and they would also be really sweet to me and I would feel like crap to write anything bad. I think that’s why Gordon Ramsey and Anthony Bourdain are so famous. The honesty intact but perhaps it’s because they have a middle man which is the television company so they are not receiving payment or freebies directly? Out of the food blogs which cover Singapore food I like the totally non-commercial personal food blog of The Travelling Hungry Boy. It’s good that he keeps his identity a secret so that he can remain a secret food shopper/taster.

It would be awesome for the blog to generate income full time, but not in a way that would compromise my brutal honesty. I still do read blogs with advertorials, but I skip those posts unless it’s something brand new that has caught my eye – like a new dining place. Some blogs just draw me in because I tend to agree with their assessment – and we have the same taste, way of thinking, I guess and I like their personality, photos, web design and clarity of their writing. And usually I’ve been reading their blog for a long time before they had any advertorials.

I wouldn’t mind having a sponsor, but it would have to be for a sum that was worth selling out for. I still feel like I am selling out if I were to do that. And I wouldn’t place the sponsor on the first page of my blog – perhaps on a separate page for all sponsors so that the reader is not distracted or irritated. I know I am irritated by any kind of ad. Pop ups are the biggest no-no. It quite spoils the reading experience for me. But would any advertiser want to bother sponsoring you if you only place their logo on a separate page? I wonder. Also I wouldn’t want to have many advertisers – just a handful. Maybe it would be better if the advertisers are totally unrelated to what I write about so the question of conflict doesn’t quite arise. But I would only do it if I was paid enough. It has to be worthwhile for me to compromise, otherwise I’d rather leave my blog as it is.

The space is so much an extension of me. Once I was offered to sell the site and it’s content and I immediately felt both flattered, suspicious, and then threatened. Didn’t do it. I like having my own little home on the internet and would feel lost without it. Also I put so much effort into every single post and it would hurt to sell that effort (usually for a pittance). Especially for someone to make it super commercialized.

Would love to hear what you think about this issue? I’m quite sure many of us are conflicted about this. Although many of us who blog desire to make a living writing. At the same time we don’t want our writing to be controlled or influenced in any way. For me I know that I am such a control freak that I would need to be 100% in control in terms of content.

I also have the added issue of wanting to remain private and anonymous. It’s very important to me to retain that privacy. I wouldn’t have as much fun blogging if my identity was known. I’d probably stop.

Just something that has crossed my mind several times.

About bookjunkie

Blogging about life in Singapore helps me survive the mid-life crisis
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14 Responses to Conflicted: Thinking Out Loud About Blogging & Income

  1. Mel says:

    Maybe 2 blogs? One new personal blog and this one you can ‘sell’ advertorials cos it’s more familiar with readers? just wondering 😉

    • bookjunkie says:

      Thanks for the idea Mel 🙂 Just thinking it would be sweet to get just 1 sponsor 😉 like Moleskin which I love ad rave about already. But perhaps I’m just dreaming.

  2. I don’t really want ads or anything on my blog. I may be open to doing a sponsored post now and then if the subject’s right and it’s something I’m interested in but otherwise I prefer to keep my blog to myself. I really enjoy it and although it may be nice to make money off it I don’t really want it to become work where I feel obliged to post this many times a week, or write in this or that way…

    • bookjunkie says:

      Yeah I’m quite possessive of my blog too. Feel it may be tarnished with the wrong ads. Must be very selective, if at all.

  3. fernando says:

    If you want to make money, then the best way to is to simply blog about a niche & court advertisers in that niche. If I wanted to make money blogging, I’d start a blog with nothing but reviews of camera gear & photography books.

    • bookjunkie says:

      That is so true Fernando….yes a narrow subject would be better with a target audience. If I wanted to go commercial. Guess I’m thinking about this because I pay for the domain so at the moment I’m losing money 😉 But I guess when money comes into the picture it ruins the fun of blogging. I’ve been having lots of fun with this journal so far. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the subject. I value your opinion very much.

      • fernando says:

        You are welcome. I long decided not to try & make money with my blogs. So, no ads, product placements or anything. People hire me & work with me because of what they see & hear on my site. But, by keeping the blog itself non-commercial I have a lot more fun & freedom.

        Many people assume the blog itself must be thing tht maks money. It doesn’t have to be that way.

  4. My rational for accepting food tastings is that there is limited money in my pocket and by going to the tastings, I could use the money to spend on restaurants I like to go. But that doesn’t mean the reviews for the tastings are good. Sometimes I would tell the restaurants I won’t be writing the reviews. Sometimes I’ve written negative reviews that the companies requested me to take the entries down. Food tasting reviews can be honest too. There is no obligation to write good reviews just between they give us a treat. On the other hand, I understand that because the restaurants know it’s a food tasting, the food is always carefully prepared, and hence, the food may be different from a customer’s experience.

    As for sponsored entries, which is unlike tasting entries in that the sponsored entries are paid, just treat it as an ad in a magazine.

    For both sponsored entries and tasting entries, they both have to be clearly stated in the entries. I can’t stand food bloggers who pretend that they went to the restaurants on their own and paid for it. It obviously isn’t right morally.

    • bookjunkie says:

      I loved hearing that some reviews are not written at all or were asked to me taken down. Had no idea. I think more people should know this or they will be under the wrong impression. I wonder if Bourdain was ever asked not to feature a place because his review was too negative. Always thought that you would be compelled to write something but never thought about the fact that you could also say no. Yeah and I agree with you, if it’s sponsored it has to be stated up front, otherwise it can be deceptive.

      And yes …it’s true about the limited funds which is why this subject is often on my mind.

  5. Katrijn says:

    It’s a fine line to tread between commercializing a blog (or any piece of writing, really) and being honest. It’s also a line that everybody has to figure out for themselves. I know that if I get invited to an event or a restaurant, it flushes me with kind feelings so that immediately skews my opinion. On the other hand, as a journalist I could never afford to pay the corporate rate for conferences that I would like/need to attend to gather information for my articles. Since those events thrive on publicity and news (which attracts corporate people), they let me in free. There’s a clear economic trade-off going on that I’m comfortable with, just like attending press viewings of movies or reading books.

    Attending events that I have less experience with (such as tastings at restaurants) or receiving goods that I do not need for my review such as a goodie bag, I find more complicated. Then the purpose seems to be to foster those happy feelings to which I’m so prone anyway and which bias my opinion. So I try not to accept goodies (I am a bit of a hardliner when it comes to this, I’ll admit) and only attend events that I have enough experience with and knowledge of to counteract the influencing going on (which is why I don’t do food reviews – I do not have a well-developed palate, not having grown up in a foodie culture like Singapore!)

    What complicates the issue for bloggers is that people turn to them for their personal voice and opinion. Which makes authenticity even more important and the line to tread even more difficult, as on the one hand companies are looking for YOUR voice, but at the same time, you’re just one person, so companies feel they can lean on you more. (I never understand this – don’t companies know that by leaning on you they invalidate the review? And that readers KNOW this too?)

    Maybe you could draw up a policy that you feel comfortable with and then post it on your blog. Such as that you’re available for freelance writing, and will do sponsored posts for certain products and/or will only post positive reviews of products you like, so if you don’t like a product then you’re not going to write about it (I’ve seen this on other blogs and it seemed sensible to me, both from your perspective as from the company’s perspective). This way you signal that you’re open to sponshorship and freelancing opportunities, without having to resort to ads and the like on your blog.

    And never forget, they come to your blog because of YOU, so that’s the one commodity you should indeed NEVER compromise (as Janis Joplin put it: Don’t compromise yourself, you’re all you’ve got).

    • bookjunkie says:

      I’m glad you mentioned any piece of writing. Makes me wonder about the conflict faced by famous writers. No wonder Murakami fights so hard to control his privacy, but even all his efforts failed. I think the reader is just so curious about the personality of the writer these days. Sometimes even more so than the book itself. I wish we could go back to the time when it was just about the writing.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to give me great advice. Helps me crystallize my thoughts too. It was interesting to hear about your own personal experiences.

      And I love the Joplin quote at the end…..a reminder not to ever do something that is not true to me.

  6. notabilia says:

    I started a new blog – http://www.linsiwolsie.com – to see if I could try and generate some income. I agree with the suggestion of a new, niche blog. Lots of great advice here! Good luck!

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