Obviously, I like to make money as a blogger (and I do). I also love to show others how to do it. But, one theme I have been seeing several bloggers make is that they feel a bit bad about selling anything on their blog. As if it cheapens the site. But, is there legitimacy to this position?
Last week, I had a guest post on ProBlogger about merging the worlds of internet marketing and blogging. The article was received very well, but there were also a few comments from people who seemed to think that selling on a blog somehow cheapens it. Here on David Risley dot com, reader Jesse Liebman posted the following comment:
I’ve struggled with how to provide good content, have affiliates and adsense, and not seem spammy. I almost feel guilty having adsense on my site because as a blog reader I go to a site and say, well he just made half a cent off of me.
So, the question here is this: Should you, as a blogger, feel guilty for trying to make money with your blog?
I have several points to make here.
A Look at Mindset
What brings traffic to your blog is one thing: VALUE. If you provide real value to your readers, they will come back and they will promote your blog for you. This means that you want to give them a lot of your best material and do it completely aside from monetary aims.
Now, if you’re providing real value to your audience, is it then wrong to desire to make a little money as a return on your time? Should your audience not expect that you get a little benefit for all the hard work you put into your blog?
I think the balance lies in this: be helpful and be charitable, but you don’t need to give away the farm. You do need to help people on your blog and not demand any money for it (because you probably won’t get it that way). However, I think it is perfectly reasonable to desire to make some money for all your hard work.
Finding a Balance
Obviously, there is a balance with how aggressive you can get with advertising and not appear as a spammy blog. That balance will be different depending on your blog’s audience.
You always want to remain respectful of your audience and not overload them. This is one reason that I think Adsense works is because the ads are not overly intrusive. That depends, though, on where you place the ads and how many ad blocks you use. If you, as a reader, would be annoyed by the ads, then that’s probably a good indicator that you’re overdoing it.
A lot of blogs (including this one) make use of the 125×125 banner grid. I believe this is a good way of generating some revenue and still remaining respectful to your audience.
But, the real key to finding the right balance is…
Providing Relevant Value
The best advertising is that where your audience doesn’t really feel like they’re being advertised to at all. The key to do this is to provide real value to your audience and make it relevant.
For example, if I or another blogger provided an information product of some variety that was very tightly related to my blog (or, even better, directly authored by the blogger), then that is a revenue generator that doesn’t seem like an ad. It is about as relevant as anything could possibly be and it is a direct extension of the blog’s content.
Another example would be to provide a product recommendation that is truly worthy of your audience’s time. If you truly believe in the product and back it up, then that is actual blog content that provides value, but also could lead to some affiliate commission revenue for you as the blogger.
Providing links to affiliate products in your blog posts is another way to go about this.
A couple weeks ago, I blogged right here about the Become a Blogger launch. It was highly relevant to this blog. I truly believe in it because Yaro and Gideon are stand-up guys and know their stuff. At the same time, if anybody signed up through my affiliate link, I would make a commission while also feeling like I really helped that person get moving in their blogging career. This is an example of making some money by providing relevant value.
Do I feel the slightest bit guilty when I refer people to Yaro’s program? Not at all! I honestly feel like I just helped them.
So, Why the Guilt Trip?
If you, as a blogger, are providing real value to your readers, why would one feel guilty about trying to make a little money while you’re at it?
If you’re just getting greedy and littering your site with ads with no thought about relevancy or pissing off your audience, well then yeah you’re doing it wrong and probably should feel a bit guilty. If you have a feeling of guilt about it, perhaps you’re just doing it wrong or are not providing enough value to your reader.
The most successful bloggers, the guys making really good money, they provide a LOT of value. They have popular sites and they write – A LOT. When you deliver that kind of value, I think it is a reasonable expectation that you make some money for your time. If you’re not finding ways of providing some return on your investment of time, then you’re doing yourself a disservice, not your audience.
So, what is your thought on this? Do you feel guilty when placing a banner ad on your site or an affiliate link? Do you feel as if generating any revenue from your blog cheapens it? Let me know!