The truth about how my blog makes money.

Jan 3, 2014 | Make Money

top secret

We interrupt your regularly scheduled program to bring you an entirely unrelated, very long post that I'm sure will bore many, but might just be interesting to some.Β Either way, I hope you all read it...you'll understand why once you do.

I'm a blogger. It's still weird to say sometimes because in my mind, I'm a SAHM and that's my only “job”. In reality, I'm a blogger and a Work-at-Home-Mom. I'm technically a professional blogger. And the reality of being a professional blogger is that the work never sleeps. The stress never sleeps. But the passion never sleeps either. So, as you can imagine, the reality of the situation is…my blog makes money. Not much money right now, but it does make money.

Whew. Now that we can get that elephant out of the room, let me explain why this is important for you to know…I need your clicks. Plain and simple. Whenever you see “READ MORE”, as annoying as it is, that one or two-second inconvenience for you is entirely what allows this blog to function. It's what allows me to be able to give you all my content on this site for free. Not in e-books, not in paid monthly subscriptions, not in “follow me on ___ to get exclusive access to…”. No. Open. Free-for-all, yours-for-the-taking goodness.

Now, don't misunderstand my intentions here. I'm not telling you this, begging you to click on as many pages as possible on my site (though, every page view counts so I do hope you take a look around the site every once in a while…). Rather, I'm just hoping it will help you understand WHY my blog functions the way it does and I'm hoping that it will make you more compassionate toward the tiny inconveniences that might need to occur on mine and other blogs.

Let me explain better…

Making money with my blog is weird for me sometimes. Sometimes I hate it. Sometimes it rocks. I fought making money with my blog for a long time (half of the life of my blog, actually).

My entrepreneur husband lovingly lectured me regularly.Β “If you're going to spend so much time blogging, why don't you at least TRY to make some money from it?” …because I don't want to, it's just a hobby… “then why don't you do a hobby that doesn't suck up all your free time and make you stuck at a desk all day” …because I want to help people… “you know you can still help people AND make it worth your while” …yeah, but then it will make it like a job and it won't be fun anymore… and the conversations went on and on and on.

Eventually, reality hit.

The real-deal fact of the matter is that blogging is not easy. The honest truth is that there are many times where I long for the early days when I had an ugly site, had no idea what I was doing, and blogged away with blissful ignorance. Sure, I had only 4 views a day (no joke), but life was simple.

Fast forward to today.

I've been to countless blog conferences, rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest bloggers in the world, “know people” at YouTube, BlogHer, and even TLC, and heck, was even on national TV. I've learned the ins and outs of blogging. Social media strategies that would blow your mind. What you should and shouldn't say, do, pin, write, and re-pin on Pinterest. What times of day to do this, that, or the other. How to make videos. How not to suck. Blog trick after blog trick after blog trick. (Which, just for the record, are all subjective and totally inconsistent because this whole blogging gig is so variable). But aside from all that, there's only one thing that truly matters when you're a blogger…

Page views.

The blogging world doesn't care how funny you are in your posts. They don't care how innovative your ideas are. They don't care how loyal you are to your readers. At the end of the day, page views are what runs the blogging universe – just like dollars run the US economy. It's the unit of measurement. It's how you know what your value is. It's everything.

And it sucks.

I've tried so hard to fight it. I've done everything in my power to ignore it. I'm totally that chick that at a blog conference of over 4,000 bloggers, I'm the one that admittedly challenges that “there's got to be another way to quantify a blog! It's about heart! Passion! Soul! Not numbers!” I've tried to pretend I don't notice or care about numbers. And sometimes I honestly, truly don't. But the fact of the matter is…

…this blog would cease to exist without them.

In fact, I tried. Before I had Beck, I hit my record 900,000 views in one month. I had no idea how incredibly awesome that was back then and totally took it for granted. After having Beck, I pulled the “numbers don't matter! I'm going to post when I want to, not follow any rules, and just coast” and took several months off, piddled around, dabbled, fizzled. And guess what? So did my blog. Within a few months, my numbers dropped to a little over 100,000/month and the blog almost died. Sounds dramatic, but that's kind of the case.

Today, I'm working harder than ever to get it all back and do this blog right. The reality is that successful blogging is intense. Blogging has now not only cut out any and all free time, but it has also cut into my normal everyday time like laundry, dishes, showering, and preparing dinner some days. With the exception of my kids, my life is often neglected as I work to build up this little business, doing all the things that I now know that I must do to have a successful blog. In fact, as I write this, it's 12:17am. I have been working since 8pm. I worked all through my kids' naps before then, and for an hour or two in the morning before then. I had a blog call while shopping at Costco, furiously kept up with social media on my phone while at the gym. My husband is long since asleep beside me, and I will probably continue to work until at least 1:30 am and it will start all over the next day.

Why?

Why am I doing this? Why am I telling you this? Why should you care? Because I find it very very very important that you know one thing and that you believe it to your core…

I do it for YOU.

I don't care if I'm the top blog in the world. I don't care if I go down in history as the coolest blogger to ever live. I do this because I love it. I love the community. I love helping in any way I can. I love sharing with you on Instagram. I love the exciting things we can accomplish together. But the reality is…

I can't do it for free.

My husband is so supportive. He is an amazing support and is helping me build this blog as best we can. But the truth of the matter is I need help. I need to hire a team. As with any company (which, FunCheapOrFree.com, LLC is an official company now. Weird, right?) you can't do it all alone. Plus, as with any company, there are overhead costs involved. My hosting company costs money each month. My email provider costs money each month. Web design and technical support costs money. Heck, just my new site launch cost me over $5,000! And none of that includes opportunity cost. As much as I wish I could say I don't need money from my blog, I do. In order for me to be able to provide free, quality content, the blog needs to be thriving; it's got to make money. And in order to make money, it's got to have good social media numbers, page views, content, good site layout, and design, optimization, SEO………. bored yet?

Frankly, I hope someday this blog makes a ton of money. Not only for me and my family but because with every dollar more I make, I can hire incredible specialized employees, I can add on to our boot camps, I can build apps and new features, I can offer things that would blow your minds!

So. Now I'm sure you're all curious…

How does my blog make money then?

  • Sponsored posts and product reviews. Unlike many bloggers, I hate these. Sure, brands are willing to pay a TON for a good sponsored post. But I feel like it makes my opinions seem in genuine – even if they aren't – when you see “sponsored by” at the bottom of the post. So just know that when I do do them, I am very picky. I will only put my name behind something I truly believe in.
  • Giveaways. I really should do more of them because, heck, who doesn't like free stuff?? But more than anything it really boosts social media numbers which helps make this blog more successful, which in turn, helps everyone be able to get more free content.
  • Ads. This is the most important one. If you read nothing else read this! Ads are pretty much the easiest, most passive way to make income on a blog. Sure, ads are tacky. They are ugly and even annoying sometimes. But…you as the reader don't have to pay a dime for them. You don't have to “like” me on Facebook for them. You don't have to click on them or buy anything. They just exist, and I get paid based on how many page views my site receives.
  • Affiliate relationships. I have a few products or companies that I have decided to work with because I love their product and use/endorse them personally. By using a unique link, I get money for every purchase made using my link. Amazon, for example. If I'm ever talking about a product (and if I remember to do it) I'll use an Amazon link because they pay a small percentage of anything that sells. It's not much, but again, every dime helps. Deals To Meals is actually an affiliate relationship too. I used them for 1.5 years before I got the courage to ask them to work out an affiliate deal. I still use them to this day. So just be mindful that if you ever see any links linking to pages or products, the blog might just get paid for clicking through to them. But also remember more importantly…

My philosophy and standard is: “If I would blog about it anyway, might as well get paid for it.”

And that's usually how I roll. I usually think of a company or product first, then approach them asking if they want to work together. I figure it helps with quality control and will keep your trust as readers strong with me. Heck, you guys are what really matter here after all!

So, this is where I'm getting at…in case you haven't noticed,

There have been lots of changes with my site, email list, and way of doing things.

  • This is all very intentional. For one, I am so sorry that you have to click “read more” to read the rest of the post in emails AND on the site. But it's just that important. For one, I'm able to fit more content on my site, so you don't have to dig around to find things as much. For two, it leads to more clicks. Even one more click per user makes more of a difference than you can even understand.
  • Also, the ads within pictures on the site. I hired someone to optimize my ads. I basically said “I don't want to make my readers pay for my content on this site. So let's figure out how my ads can make the most money possible to keep me in business.” And he's doing just that. We're cramming as many ads in as possible. Because again, though tacky and slightly obnoxious, those glorious ads are what's allowing this blog to function.
  • My email newsletter is different. Mostly to give you lots of chances to see all the content because I work really hard on it and don't want you to miss anything. But also because it does lead to more clicks, which again, is a 2-second inconvenience, but is the best way for this blog to thrive without you having to pay money out of pocket. If there's one thing you can do to help (other than clicking “Read more”) is please subscribe to my email list!!!!!!! That would be so amazing!!

So there you have it. That's the gospel truth. Long, drawn-out, of course –Β becauseΒ I still don't know how to summarize things (though I did delete like, 6 paragraphs before posting this, aren't you proud?) – but the truth nonetheless. I'm sure I'll get some snappy comments about neglecting my family or putting too much concern into my blog or what-have-you. Honestly, those comments are welcome because then I at least know someone has read this! haha! Just know that building a business/blog and being a mom isn't easy, and I'm doing my best.

I love you all and thank you so much for your support. It totally rocks my socks every day.

Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to completely ignore the post that I was supposed to do for tomorrow (because yes, I can't get my act together enough to blog in advance), and go have a fun, blog-free weekend….(and then totally stress about how behind I am when I get back on Monday)….

Until then!

XOXO,

Jordan Page Signature from Fun Cheap or Free

121 Comments

  1. L

    Thank you. I don’t mind clicking read more at all because I enjoy reading more of what you have to say πŸ™‚ enjoy your weekend!

    Reply
    • FunCheapOrFree

      Aww, thanks! Makes my day!! XOXO

      Reply
  2. Kelly-lee Pitt

    love your blog, i will be clicking as often as possible.! Totally understand and appreciate all the work you put into your blog, and you are doing an AMAZING job! Bubba is totally right, why not get some compensation for all your time and effort. I love your new blog design, well worth the upgrade costs! Your hard work and perserverence WILL pay off (literally and figuratively). πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • FunCheapOrFree

      You are the best. Thanks for your kind comment! XOXO

      Reply
    • FunCheapOrFree

      And thanks for being such a die-hard supporter! You’re one of my best blog-reader friends and we’ve never even met! XOXO

      Reply
  3. Sarah

    I love the blog too and click around often! Just got my mom hooked too, we both love reading all about frugality! Your blog is great and your an awesome mom/wife! Sometimes I even think, man I wish she would post more… Haha! I just love reading your blog. Keep it up Jordan! It’s awesome!

    Reply
    • FunCheapOrFree

      Woo hoo thanks for pulling in the troops!!! Love you all!! XOXO

      Reply
  4. Jen Ward

    Your content, passion, and writing is amazing. Being a small part of the blogosphere I understand the constant tugging between trying to steer clear of the blogging norm and making money. I wish you the best and have always and will continue to “read more”.

    Reply
    • FunCheapOrFree

      Yay for fellow blog friends!! Thanks for your comment Jen, and best of luck with your own blog! XOXO

      Reply
  5. Charlsey G

    I have visitee your website countless times, but only recently became a subscriber due to the 2014 challenge, which I am excited about. Thank you for all your hardwork and sacrifice. I for one appreciate you and the blog. Keep up the good work! Saying a prayer for ya πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • FunCheapOrFree

      Thanks for subscribing, means so much to me!! XOXO

      Reply
      • Crystal lopez

        How do I subscribe?

        Reply
  6. Patricia

    Thanks for explaining. It’s always irritated me to click “read more” but now I know why, and now I don’t mind, it’s such a little thing! Such a good job explaining too!

    Reply
    • FunCheapOrFree

      I know, right?! I figured it was time to fill you guys in on all the annoying, but necessary, stuff. haha. Thanks a million! XOXO

      Reply
  7. Laura

    Just subscribed! I enjoy reading all your posts and find the information really helpful. Thank you for working so hard on it and sharing so much with your readers.

    Reply
    • FunCheapOrFree

      Thanks Laura, so appreciated! XOXO

      Reply
  8. Cris

    There are only a handful Of blogs that I follow and that is because I truly love the content. If my little clicks help you to help me, then I’m all for it! I love that you are a SAH mom as well (because it is totally worth it and your time spent with your children is priceless!), however you are still frugal at the same time. For me, being frugal comes out of necessity most times, but it just drives me crazy when I see people throw away things that are perfectly fine or could be repurposed! That’s where you come in! I could not possibly figure out all the frugal possibilities without you. Thanks and you’ve got my clicks!!!!

    Reply
    • FunCheapOrFree

      You made my day, thanks Cris!!!! XOXO

      Reply
  9. Rachel

    Found your blog through Melanee-your aunt, my (step) mother-in-law. I love it. I’ve had a problem since you updated your blog though…I have your blog on my blog’s side bar so I can see every time you update when I check my own blog, but since you’ve updated, it doesn’t show when you have a new post anymore. Now it says the last time you updated was a month ago. Any way to fix that? It happened to one other blog I read, so I’m asking them too and I’ll let you know if I find an answer…Thanks! I’ll keep reading and clicking!

    Reply
    • FunCheapOrFree

      Oh no! Interesting question! Honestly, I have no idea. My recommendation is to start following blogs on BlogLovin. Since Google Reader went away, I’ve heard that’s the one that works the best. I’ll ask around and see what I can find. Is your blog on Blogger or WordPress?

      Reply
    • AmyO

      I had the same problem in Feedly (my sub for Reader) when the FCF site was updated. I erased the old link and copied the link from the updated site and now it works just fine.

      Reply
      • Rachel

        Perfect! It worked. Thanks. Glad someone out there is smarter than me! πŸ˜‰

        Reply
  10. Lindsay

    I love your blog! Thanks for the explanation – it really does help explain why things are the way they are! I will “click” as much as possible – lol!!!

    And when you go to hire that team of employees, remember me!!! : )

    Reply
    • FunCheapOrFree

      Lindsay, of course!!! I’ll actually post some job postings soon so please be sure to apply!

      Reply
      • Lindsay

        LOL! I don’t live in your area, but I just thought you’d be super-duper fun to work for!!! Maybe I could move! ; )

        Reply
  11. FunCheapOrFree

    Love you guys thanks for the sweet comments!!! Means more to me than you know!! XOXOXO, Jordan

    Reply
  12. Amy

    Love your blog and don’t mind a few extra clicks at all! I am a daily follower and frequently refer back to recipes, savings tips, etc. I am trying to build a blog and would love to know what resources you would recommend to learn more about advertising, increasing page views, etc. Also, what blog conferences would you recommend?

    Reply
    • FunCheapOrFree

      Amy if you’re in Utah, the Six Sister’s Build Your Blog Conference is the best ever!

      Reply
  13. Ali

    I absolutely LOVE your blog and don’t mind all the clicks! It actually helps me see more stuff! You rock, Jordan! Thank you for everything that you do!

    Reply
    • FunCheapOrFree

      No, YOU rock Ali, thank YOU!

      Reply
  14. Jen B

    I just thought the Read More links were part of the new site update, and I went with the flow… No biggie!! πŸ™‚ actually, it’s nice b/c it allows me to see other posts you have written so when I need to go back and look up something, it’s right there (and I do go back). Keep up the great work- you’re frugality is very inspiring. I also love to see updates of your kids (honestly- it gives me hope to see/hear other parents going thru similar challenges that I do). Great job from Oregon!!

    Reply
    • FunCheapOrFree

      Woo hoo! Amazing comment from an Oregonian? best day ever πŸ™‚ Thanks a ton Jen! XOXO

      Reply
  15. Lisa

    Hi Jordan,

    I deeply appreciate that you are straightforward, down to earth and genuine with your readers. I think you set an incredible example for other women, and especially those who are trying to do the mommy thing and do something of their own at the same time, no matter what that is.
    I hope nobody feels the need to be critical of you for what you are trying to accomplish. That’s really between you and God and your family. If you know you’re doing the best you can, and they are fine with it, then go for it, girlfriend.
    Thank you so much for just being one of us gals and for serving us from your heart. As for me, I plan on clicking away on your blog.

    Reply
    • FunCheapOrFree

      Lisa, can’t thank you enough – such a sweet comment!! XOXO

      Reply
  16. Raye

    Thanks for sharing! Writing IS labor–hard and time consuming to do well. Just because it’s digital doesn’t mean it’s easier! I think online mediums have encouraged a really pervasive idea that writers should write for free. Good for you!

    Reply
    • FunCheapOrFree

      Thanks Raye!! XOXO

      Reply
  17. Jennifer

    I really loved this post because it really reiterated the fact that you are so passionate about your work and helping others! That’s one of the reasons I love your blog so much Long time followers will already know this about you. It made me feel special that you take so much time out of your own life to make this blog happen and I SO appreciate it! You have helped me and my family more than you’ll ever know!
    It was also a reality check for me because I am in the process of starting a blog/website and am trying to decide if my passion for it is enough to get through all the hard work, pressure, and time away from family. My 3rd is on the way (I’ll also have 3, 3 and under) and you are a major inspiration that I CAN in fact do it. I wish all the best for you an hope you find time to take a break every so often!

    Reply
    • FunCheapOrFree

      Such an amazing comment, thanks for your kind words! Yes, blogging is TOUGH. So do exactly what you’re doing – decide what you want your END GOAL to be, then work backwards. Sometimes there are easier ways to get there without blogging, and sometimes blogging is the perfect fit. Whatever you set your mind to, you can do it! XOXO

      Reply
  18. Lindsey

    I’d love to do a giveaway!

    Used to do more blogging too, I totally get it.

    Reply
    • FunCheapOrFree

      Email me, let’s talk!

      Reply
  19. Diana

    I have been following your blog for 2 years now, I love how relevant your topics are. I was so annoyed with the “read more” button in your emails but now I don’t mind πŸ™‚

    I only read your blog via my smart phone or tablet, does that still count as a”click?”

    Reply
    • FunCheapOrFree

      Thanks for being concerned about it!! Means a ton πŸ™‚ Yes, any time you’re on funcheaporfree.com, regardless of the device, it counts page views. So you’re good to go. And thanks again for caring! XOXO

      Reply
  20. Jamie

    Love your blog! I’ve been reading for about a year and now I’ve got my husband hooked and this year we are focused! My husband has also been telling many friends about your budgeting tips so hopefully you’re getting more views from that

    Reply
    • FunCheapOrFree

      Thanks for sharing the love!! And I LOVE when the hubbies get involved, you’ll have such greater success that way!

      Reply
  21. Brittany

    Thanks for the insight, Jordan. Personally, I actually enjoy the ‘READ MORE’ feature and don’t like when a blog is posted in its entirety on the main page… takes FOREVER to scroll/page to load, now I can read a bit, see if it interested me and click for more. I tend to stick around sites with this layout longer than others. Thanks for everything you do for us! I’ve learned a lot from you! xo

    Reply
    • Brittany

      excuse the typo – should say ‘interests’

      Reply
  22. Julie J

    Thanks for sharing! I love reading and I share with people all the time because your methods are real-life good ideas and don’t require anything crazy.

    Question: when I read through Facebook do you still get the pageviews?

    Reply
    • Julie J

      I am so sorry, I tried to unclick the link to my etsy listing and I guess it didn’t take. You don’t need to post my comment if you prefer not to!

      Reply
      • FunCheapOrFree

        No way, link up baby! No skin off my back, and self-promoting is my middle name so I’m all about it πŸ˜‰

        Reply
  23. Danielle

    Thanks so much of posting. I think it’s great you make money off this. It’s awesome! You’re such a role model of mine, you don’t even know. So just, thank you.

    Reply
    • FunCheapOrFree

      So sweet, can’t thank you enough! XOXO

      Reply
  24. Jill

    I could sense the stress you felt as you wrote this post hoping your fans would understand and not wanting to be bothersome. I think this was a great informational post regarding blogging in general and I don’t want you to feel defensive or apprehensive about why things are that way. They just are. And I doubt anyone would stop reading (or is foolish if they do) because they have to click “read more” at the end of the post. You are wonderful and as sincerely as you thank your readers, I think I speak for many when I say THANK YOU for blogging!

    Reply
    • FunCheapOrFree

      Jill that means so much! Yes, I do get a little nervous when I pour my heart out that it might come across the wrong way (I have a chronic problem with that in real life). So thanks for the confidence boost! XOXO

      Reply
  25. angie

    love your blog!!!

    Reply
    • FunCheapOrFree

      And I love you for it! Thanks Angie!

      Reply
  26. Wendy

    I love your your blog. Thanks for being so transparent. As a new blogger, I just assume that blogging gets easier the more successful your blog gets. It’s nice to know we have the same struggles.

    BTW, it doesn’t bother me to have to click through to read. It seems like it is becoming pretty common.

    Reply
    • FunCheapOrFree

      Thanks for your insight! Yes, blogging/money/stats is a big “hush hush” conversation that many people don’t have. If us bloggers would start being open with each other about our stats and how much we make and how many hours we work, I think it would save lots of people from unrealistic expectations and lower the burnout rate!

      Reply
  27. Kelly-lee Pitt

    Hmm i may or may not have just subscribed using two more of our family email accounts. i will now be getting triple Jordan updates! Hope this helps your blog! *insert high five/fist bump here πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • FunCheapOrFree

      Hahahahahahaha! That’s awesome! Well, just be careful…there is such thing as “too much of a good thing” and I don’t want you getting sick of me! haha. Big XOXO!

      Reply
  28. Kaitlyn Nystul

    I love, love, love this post! Totally agree 100% with everything you said. I get so sick of people complaining on OGT about ads and having to click read more. I get that without readers you don’t make money and you don’t want to annoy them. But the content on blogs is totally free and people need to just get over the minor inconveniences to see content that helps them so much. I rant to my husband about it all the time and really have to force myself to not give people snarky replies. I for one am so grateful for all the time you put into your site! I tell people about FCF all the time. The information is invaluable and you deserve to make as much money as you can πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • FunCheapOrFree

      …and that’s EXACTLY why you’re one of my favorite people of all time! XOXOXOXOXOXOXO Kait!

      Reply
  29. Melanie Hamilton

    You are always honest and blunt and I love it! This is great info as a blogger and as a blog reader. Thanks so much Jordan for sharing and explaining. Very well put. πŸ™‚ Love your new design and I’m happy to click away on your site!

    Reply
    • FunCheapOrFree

      You’re the best, thanks for everything Melanie! XOXO