To Monetize or Not To Monetize…

November 6th 2011 / 1 minute to read

What made you decide to monetize (have ads, sponsors, paid reviews – getting a product in return for an honest review, etc) on your blog? If you chose to NOT monetize your blog, why not?

Very curious to your responses so if you could share/like/stumble/RT all that jazz, it would be appreciated!

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I don’t do paid reviews or paid posts. All opinions are my own and are not for sale. However, I do accept advertising sponsorships,and I came to the decision after I realized that people felt my content was worth something, and I discovered that there were advertisers, whose brands I supported, who could and would pay for my reader’s attention. Most websites make money from advertising (this used to be my professional field), and the best sites do so by knowing their readers and tailoring the ads specifically for their target audience. I’m a niche blogger, which works in my favor because my audience is highly targeted. It also means that I’m more limited in the advertisers I can bring on since I have to hold them to such high standards. I think my readers like seeing which brands I’ll put my name behind, too.

For your food site, you could work with food-related advertisers. I’m sure your readers would like to know which brands you support. For you main site, you are less limited. You could bring on BlogHer ads, but as I’ve recently learned, they don’t pay as much as they probably should.

In any case, I support monetization. If you’re writing something that people want to read, there’s no reason to feel bad about taking on sponsorship dollars to help offset the cost of running this blog. All other authors get paid for their work (if people read it.) Why shouldn’t we?

Reply to TheFeministBreeder

What I meant (I updated the post to reflect this too) is receiving a product in return for an honest review. It’s still getting “paid” via a product that normally would cost money.

I’ve always gone back and forth over the years on if I should do ads/sponsors/reviews but (and this is how I get into trouble when I do web work too lol) I always feel GUILTY asking for money for anything I do online.


I used to have a specific reviews site (you may remember but I found that it really wasn’t worth my time or energy. I felt like a chump getting paid in product. It takes a lot of time to craft a review, and getting a bottle of lotion in return just wasn’t worth my time. Also, once people knew I did reviews, I constantly had people asking me to review this or that, something I couldn’t care less about, in exchange for the product. It just wasn’t worth my limited time. I still get requests to review products all the time, but now I just say no.

I DO – however – sometimes mention products that I like in my posts, or on facebook, but it’s not really a “review.” If somebody has a product I like, I might contact them and say “hey, I’m going to be mentioning this, do you want to do a giveaway to my readers?” Or sometimes they just approach me and ask if they can give something away on my site (which I’ll only agree to if it’s something I endorse.) But the whole product-for-post thing just isn’t my bag. My time is worth more than that. Don’t sell yourself short!

Reply to TheFeministBreeder

I can see how “paid with product” works in specific niches, maybe artisan foods or beauty bloggers for example.

I also see more and more that even when it’s a product “you” purchased with your own money and do a review on, people EXPECT a disclaimer saying so, which I find ridiculous.


Yeah, you should see how much crap I get sometimes when I just mention that I like a product. People have accused me of getting paid to say so – EVEN when I have never had any contact with the company whatsoever. That’s why I’ve started leaving disclaimers (and actually, the FTC requires bloggers to disclose this anyway.) I’ve had to say “I’m NOT getting paid to say this! I just like it!!!”

I DO a brand ambassadorship, though, but only for a company I absolutely love, whose stuff I promoted long before I had any contact with the company. They keep me on retainer to help them reach moms who might benefit from their product. I think of it as social media outreach. I don’t think I could do it for just any company. It would feel shady to help promote something I don’t actually love.

Reply to TheFeministBreeder

LOL you get crap no matter WHAT you do!

I do paid ambassador programs, product reviews (unpaid), advertising, consulting, etc … however, that doesn’t make my opinions “for sale”, it makes them valued. I do it because blogging is my business and my hobby. I’ve found the best of both worlds for myself personally and for my family financially.

I updated the post to change my wording a bit, when I said paid reviews I meant receiving a product in exchange for a review.

I don’t do sponsored posts or reviews, nor do I have advertising. I made the decision not to early on, and have nothing against people who do advertise etc.

I suppose I just don’t want to feel pressured in any way at all, because my blog is my happy place. If I don’t want to post for a few weeks, that would be ok because I don’t have anyone paying for ad space.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t a temptation, though. Every month or so I think to myself “Oh I could totally sell ad space/do sponsored posts” then think back to my original reasons for not wanting to.

I think people have started monetizing before they should have. I was always of the thought that one needed at least 500-1,000 visitors a day before even thinking about doing it.

That’s true, I do see a lot of people attempting to monetize very early in their “blog career” and honestly that does put me off their blogs a little. But I’m not really into the whole “giveaways” thing, and pretty much never read reviews on blogs. I think I’m not the demographic that advertisers are looking for per-se.

But on the flipside, if companies are sending people with lower stats than that products to review and give away (and I know that they are because I’ve seen it) then there’s obviously something in it for them and the numbers may not have to be so high as you think before you can begin.


A lot of the time companies are willing to work with lower-tier blogs (even crappy ones, heh) for the SEO benefits, more so than the potential traffic benefits. Ideally, of course, a blog will be selected based on not only its SEO potential but also its traffic — but the best of both worlds doesn’t happen all of the time.

Reply to Jenn

That’s when I started – I was at about 30,000 page views a month when I took on my first advertisers. But another blogger I follow was (at that time) getting paid about $25 per month on 8,000 page views with BlogHer ads. I was like, WHOA! I could pay the water bill on only 8,000 pvs a month! Alas, I never took on BlogHer ads, and now that I’ve been invited in, I’m told they hardly pay what they use to.

I was talking about this over at PhDinParenting, and a few commentors said that they’d stop reading any blog that took on BlogHer ads. So that’s the kind of backlash you might experience. HARSH man.

Reply to TheFeministBreeder

Was that recently, or before they changed the opt-out feature? I know Annie had issues with BlogHer ads because they accept marketing from formula companies but they now have a zillion different categories (including infant feeding, which including formula, bottles, etc) you can choose not to run. That change was one of the reasons I did go with BH ads.

But yeah, it’s not very much money. I’m never going to get rich from them – or even pay my monthly utility bill. But it’s a relatively painless way to make a few dollars and I like being part of a network that advertisers respect.


No, this was just a couple of weeks ago:

An interesting read. Little judgmental in the comments section though, if you like monetizing!

Reply to TheFeministBreeder

I wrote a post about why I haven’t monetized:

A quick summary: “This lifestyle that I live and blog about is not for sale. I’m focusing on living with less, reducing my impact, avoiding consumerism, reducing waste. I cannot in good conscience promote “stuff” via ads, giveaways or paid reviews. And I don’t want to do that or feel any type of pressure or influence on what I write. I write for me, and if you happen to enjoy what I have to say, my photos or my recipes, I’m so happy that you visit.”

But recently I’ve been thinking more about ads in an effort to extend my time at home during a future hypothetical maternity leave. You have to figure out what is right for you at this point in your life and blogging career.

I’ve pondered ads on and off but I’ve always believed a person needed a specific amount of consistent traffic to be able to “justify” people purchasing ad space off of them.


I just like having an ad and review free blog. I feel like my personal blog should be just that – personal. When I add reviews and ads then it becomes less personal, in my opinion. Plus, people don’t like ads and reviews as much as regular posts, duh (I know sometimes even I have clicked off sites faster because of them even though I know they are able to be navigated around).

Reply to Caity

What bothers me more than ANYTHING are sponsored posts. OMG it’s like nails on a chalkboard for me.

I can grasp and understand ad/reviews, but sponsored posts are all around awful.


Yes. I can take sidebar ads when the layout is nice. I even sometimes like a well written review but sponsored posts sometimes make me stop reading a blog altogether.

Reply to Caity

Sponsored posts/tweets/all of it.

“So my husband and I were looking at buying a DIAMOND RING the other night…”

When the majority of the posts are about them having to survive at using a food bank for example…

Ahhh sponsored posts hits a nerve for me LOL.


lolol yup
Immediate unfollow for me. I can’t take that crap. It’s such a sellout. I can completely understand if people need money on the side but there are ways to do it besides selling yourself out completely.

Reply to Caity

I do it all, as you know, and the motivation is money, heh. Or freebies — but GOOD freebies, not free-tote-bag-stuffed-with-coupons-for-products-I-don’t-use freebies. But my opinion is not for sale. Most of the time I have good experiences with products and will say so in my reviews, but there are instances where I’m not so thrilled, and I do my best to convey that without coming across as outright bashing a product. It’s a strange balance I try to maintain…

Reply to Jenn

I bet you could keep your blog personal and do paid reviews on other blogs. I decided to do product reviews on stuff I liked (the christmas cards from tinyprints) I haven’t been offered any “real” product reviews, but I would definitely do them if I had the chance.

I was going to admit I sometimes accept reviews and sponsored posts, but obviously you’ll unfollow me so that would be a bad idea.

I think there are so many levels when it comes to monetizing that somebody is going to disagree with you no matter WHAT you do. I hate posts that are obviously sponsored but make it unclear. I hate blogs that are just reviews/giveaways. I would never write a review that was anything but honest – if I didn’t like something, I would tell the company and ask to leave the program.

But I also feel I can write honestly about things, even if I am paid to do so. It’s kind of a stretch because in NO WAY am I saying journalists and bloggers are exactly the same, but the truth is journalists DO get paid. Even the online ones. And we all know there are plenty of blogging websites that do pretty much anything to drive pageviews.

So when Old Navy offers me $50 to write about baby fashion (not Old Navy fashion, just cute pictures of my kid wearing whatever she usually wears) I’m ok with that.

Whew, that was a really long comment. Basically what I’m saying is if you want to do ads, go for it. I don’t think it would HURT your readership and even a few bucks a month can buy you a new bottle of nail polish :)


I read exactly two blogs that are highly monetized (they go beyond ads). I’m thinking about dropping one of them. The only reason I continue to read the other is exceptional content that is usually interesting to me.

Bottom line: If I want reviews on a product, I go to a site like Amazon. If I want to read writing paid for by a company, I go to the company’s website.

Reply to Jill

I take on ads, sponsored posts, reviews, and will entertain any offers that come my way. My website(s) are my personal place but above and beyond that I consider them an asset. By pimping out my web space I have earned that extra bit of cash that makes a comfortable cushion, for the extra luxuries like occasional meals out. I have reviewed toys for Kenna at a time I couldn’t afford much for her. I won a bike by posting about a giveaway! I have even reviewed several adult products and continue to post for Eden Fantasys. Having a website has allowed me to spoil myself and Kenna occasionally and I see nothing wrong with that. I respect that some people may not like it, and that’s their choice.

Reply to Ashley

not exactly in answer to your questions but i’m now leaning away from monetization options. i found sponsored posts and affiliate links and the like stifled my creativity and took me away from the reasons i was blogging in the first place. i joined the blogher ad network when i became a blogher employee and i’ll stick with that since i feel like that’s really true to who i am and doesn’t affect my posting in any way (other than requesting that i post at least 2x a week which i find good for my blogging).

i started monetizing in the first place because in theory i wanted to make a full time income blogging because i wasn’t happy with the job i had then but then i got cancer and with health insurance the way it is i’ll now never be able to work for myself so working for blogher is my way of being in the blogging community full time with health insurance now.

Reply to Carrie

I have monetize a little on blogs that I had before and on this – just to try and recoup the cost of design and hosting (first blog cost me over $700 to set up, and the annual hosting fee – and only made a total of $160 in about 4 years)

This blog I figure will make even less – but I did get it set up for a lot less, but still have the annual hosting fee

I am totally clueless about how to monetize and don’t really understand building traffic, seo, etc etc etc – it’s all greek to me. So I don’t blog to make money – would be pointless any way – I blog to connect to folks, be creative, and for the fun of it.

Some day if I ever learn how do use a graphic program I’d love to do some designs for zazzle and I dream of one day when I retire doing arts and crafts for an etsy shop – but knowing myself – these are just “dreams” and I doubt I will ever have the time required to actually do it.

I never do paid in cash reviews or posts – for previous blog on dieting and healthy lifestyle – I did get a few free products and books to review. For this blog I haven’t gotten one free book to review (which I still have to do!) – my reviews are always honest and I would never compromise my reviews by accepting cash.

I’m not mad at anyone trying to make a little extra money. I get disappointed when I follow a blog and it’s only reviews and giveaways and nothing personal (especially if it’s meant to be a personal site), but I just don’t read them.

I haven’t done any sponsored posts (I am a bzzagent, but I only post my reviews to their site and to Twitter), but I do have ads in my side bar. I’m not out to make a lot of money with my blog, but if I do make a little something, it’ll be welcome.

I fluctuate back and forth with what I want on my space. I’ve had BlogHer Ads forever as I had a personal invite back at the beginning of it. I keep them because that’s my employer. ;)

As far as reviews go, I really don’t do too many — though I have one up right now. However, that was a paid review through BlogHer. I have a “I am not accepting unsolicited reviews at this time” message on my blog right now. I worked with brands I had previously worked with in the past — but I’m uninterested in new stuff right now. It’s just not what I want right now.

I’m rambly, but know that a lot of ask ourselves these questions on a regular basis.

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