I’ve published a few posts about my blog recently because I thought it was about time I shared the reasons behind the things I do here at Cassiefairy HQ. Today I’m talking that most controversial subject of all: adverts. Sure we all start blogging because, well, we just want to. But after a while, the advertisers come knocking. Especially when they’ve spotted just how many readers visit your blog to read your ramblings. They want a piece of the action but they won’t be getting it from me. Oh, and please don’t be offended if you like to use any of the below techniques to monetise your blog – we all need to make a bit of cash in order to keep our blogs running. I’m definitely not judging you or any of these advertising methods. In fact, I’ve tried out all these techniques and just want to share what’s best for me – and what didn’t work at all for my blog! Here’s why you won’t find adverts popping up on my blog any time soon:
Adverts on other sites annoy me
Okay so I looked at Argos once and now every single website I open has adverts about the product I was looking at?? I feel like I’m being stalked, albeit in a rather friendly ‘here’s-a-discount-code’ kind of way. Even so, I’d much prefer for you to be able to read my website without feeling like you’re being tracked or attacked. And why would I want you to click away from my site? We’ve only just got chatting!
The rates are measly
I looked into sidebar adverts etc early on in my blogging career and it seemed like the monetary gains were so small that it wasn’t really worth my time to install the widgets and arrange the deal. I know that there are handy ad agencies out there who will do all the updating for you and keep track of payments, but then I feel like I’m less in control of what will end up on my website. Considering that I have control over everything else, this worried me a little. Which brings me on to the next point…
They look messy
Let’s face it, the adverts I’d end up with on my sidebar would probably look a right mess. The size wouldn’t be right, (too wide, too narrow, too long, argh). The bright red text (probably, I’m thinking of Argos again here) would clash terribly with my pink-and-grey theme. They’re not going to look they way I’d like them to, the pictures are going to distract you from my lovely words and pop-ups are just going to naff you off. Again, this flows nicely into
They get in the way
When I’m reading through a blog post or recipe and then there’s an advert in the middle of the text I immediately get distracted. What was I reading about again? Content should flow… and little advert boxes put a stop to that. Flashing adverts above a title, pictures rotating in a sidebar, and damn pop-ups again, are all things that will distract you from reading this. And I really want you to get to know me, not my advertisers!
I didn’t know they were there
I used to have a WordPress.com website and the thing that made me switch over to self-hosted was the WordAds that would ping up randomly within my content. The thing is, I didn’t know it was happening. I was always logged in to WordPress when I was viewing my site, so I didn’t get to see the adverts. To me, it just looked like a lovly tidy blog. It was only when I browsed my site from another computer that I realised that WordPress had been putting them in. Sure there was a couple of dollars sitting in a WordAds account for me to collect (again, not enough money to be worth it) but I’m sure they made a lot more money from those adverts than I did.
Affiliate links make tiny money
But it’s not just flashy adverts that I won’t entertain. I don’t like to have affiliate links in my text either. I tried it for a short while and found that the earnings were soooo tiny (I’m talking pennies) that it wasn’t even worth me scrolling through the affiliate link site to look up a brand. I think that affiliate links would probably work great for fashion or beauty bloggers because, when I read a review about a product I’m already interested in buying, it’s helpful for me to be able to click through to make that purchase. Plus, I know it helps out fellow bloggers, so I’m happy to do that. But they just don’t suit the content I’m writing, so I won’t force it.
Freebies? Almost never!
Again, I think that the fashion, beauty and parenting blogs are the perfect place for product reviews.Heck, there needs to be freebies in this world, because I need to know whether a product is any good before I buy it. I always check for blogger reviews first and I completely trust their honest opinions. However, on my blog, it’s very rare that you’ll find any freebies being reviewed. As a mix of everything (I call it lifestyle, but really it’s just my lifestyle) on my blog, I rarely get any brands offering me a freebie because I don’t fit into their categories. I buy my own clothing, food and cruelty-free beauty products, so if you spot any reviews like this it’s because I think my experience is worth sharing and not because I’ve got a freebie. Here’s the deal – I’ll always tell you if it’s been gifted to me.
Freebies for you instead
That said, one of my favourite emails to receive is “can we run a giveaway?” I love to be able to get treats and prizes for you guys to enjoy so I’m happy to do a book review or share a brand feature if my readers will get something out of it too. Again, I still won’t work with a brand I don’t already like, or share a product that I wouldn’t use myself. I usually insist on multiple prizes or a high-value bundle so that you get the most out of it. I don’t get paid to run giveaways but I love to do it as a thank you for reading my blog, so I think it’s worth it.
So how do I make money?
All that said, I do earn money from my blog but I’m SO picky about how I do it. I get dozens of emails every day offering paid links ($5? really?), guest posts and sponsored deals. All of which usually get a polite ‘thanks but no thanks’ message. I’m not being snobby, I just care so much about my content, my readers and my blog that I want to get it right. So, when a brand (that I’m already a fan of) gets in touch and offers a collaboration, I’ll jump at the chance. Often, it’s an offer to write something for their site rather than on my own blog, which I absolutely love to do. Other times it’ll be the chance to collaborate to create a special piece of content that I wouldn’t have been able to do alone.
How collaborations create great content
And that’s where advertising really helps bloggers. It allows us to take on bigger projects or be more creative with our content than we would otherwise be able to. That’s because the brand covers the cost of the time and resources it would take to be able to create something special. I might really want to develop a Christmas cake recipe for my Pieday Friday category, for example, but I can’t justify the hours of baking or the cost of the ingredients. Yet when a food brand gets in touch to discuss a collaboration, I can put this project into action and that’s SO exciting for me.
What do you think about advertising on blogs and websites? Does it put you off or do you think that the deals and discounts are handy? Let me know what you like to do on your own blog in terms of advertising by leaving me a comment below.