Today I received a comment about the ads on my blog. Toni wrote:
I hate to complain but your site is becoming bombarded with pop up adds that you cant focus on the subject material. What is happening with that?
So, first of all I'm not sure why she sees pop-ups. I have expressly asked my ad provider not to do pop-ups and I don't see them when I check on my blog, so I'm not sure how to respond to that.
But I can't say I blame her about ads in general. I too think that blog ads can sometimes be intrusive. It can also be annoying if an ad covers the part of a picture that you want to see. I like it when there is an 'x' that you can click to make the ad go away.
As much as I understand her point of view as a reader, I would also like to address the point of view of bloggers like me. I don't know very many people who start a blog with the intention of producing a full-time income. I started my blog with the intent that I think most stay-at-home moms do, excited to have an outlet for my creative energies and an opportunity to show off the things that I make.
As a blogger/crafter, your collection of blog posts becomes kind of like an online resume of what you have done and what you can create. As you get more and more readers, it's fun to see what kind of projects they respond to and to try new things (like my UnTutorials series).
Then... you start to get real work! First requests for magazine articles and projects. Then invitations to contribute to books. And finally invitations to submit proposals for your own book! It seems crazy, but all of this can come as the result of a blog that you started to show off the cute things you make for your kids.
I've been writing the SewCanShe blog for 7 years now, and I guess I'm in the middle of that 'writing your own books' stage. I have sewing and quilting projects published in half a dozen magazines and my publisher and I are putting the finishing touches on my second book that will go to print soon - yay! Crafty Little Things to Sew will be filled with cute and clever projects you can sew up quickly, a category that my readers have led me to sew more and more of. I can't wait to see it, and to show it to you! Plus they've asked me to submit another proposal for my next book. Oh, and I even got to go to Denver and film a Craftsy class!
But I digress... as time went on I started to actually get paid for what I did. It was wonderful. I could contribute to my family's income while doing what I love.
And then sometime in the past few years, projects that I started out designing for my blog suddenly seemed 'too good for just a blog.' I wanted to submit them elsewhere so I could get paid for my work. Is that a bad thing? Designing a tote bag, quilt, or anything else to sew takes a lot of time. Just think about how long it would take you to make the item. The designer probably made 1 or 2 versions while developing the project, and then she would have made another one, stopping to take pictures along the way. And then there are the 2-4 hours that it takes (at least) to edit photos and write out instructions. Would you post something like this to your blog for free when you could make a few hundred dollars by submitting it to a magazine or book publisher?
So then for a while I was doing double-duty. Writing for my blog and writing content to sell also. It was a bear. It was not fun. It felt like a job, not what I wanted my hobby to be. And don't forget, I have 4 kids ages 7-13. Chauffeuring people to and from school is my other occupation. Finally I got burned out. I had to choose one. Writing for my blog and giving all my ideas away for free. Or writing content to sell to publishers. What would you do?
And then a solution came along - Ads. By putting ads on my blog I didn't have to feel like I was giving my best work away for free. Of course you get to read and download and enjoy my best work for free, but I still get paid a little bit because the ads are there. I don't allow pop-ups that you must click away to see the content or those ads that cover the whole page. If you still think my blog has a lot of ads on it, you should hear me talking to the ad network that I work with. We chat on the phone every now and then and the conversation generally goes like this:
them: Adding this type of ad, and this type, and this type would increase your revenue by 40 percent.
me: Ummm, no. That sounds really intrusive.
them: Okay, well removing the 'x' from the current ads will increase their profitablity by 30 percent.
me: I don't think so. Let's keep those ads optional.
them: Other sites are doing it and having great success!
me: Still, let's just leave things as they are.
them: Alright, well, let us know when you are ready to make more money!
It is tempting though.
Personally, I feel okay about the number of ads currently on my blog. The amount of money I make from all sources (blog ads, affiliate links, sponsorships, book and class royalties, etc.) doesn't come close to my husband's income (not even half, but who's counting, anyway?) but it does make me feel a little gratified that I'm not giving away all my ideas for free.
What do you think? Should bloggers be paid for their work? Let me know your opinion - it's such a relevant topic!
P.S. I'm still hearing from a few readers who see pop-ups - which confuses me because I am not allowing them to be sold on my site. One thing everyone should be aware of is computer malware and viruses that come when you download free programs, games, and other files from disreputable sites. Or when you click on attached files in spam emails. These will cause pop-ups and other problems no matter where you are surfing the web (sometimes when you don't even have a browser open). In that case you need to install and use some good anti-virus software. Good luck!