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. 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. “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…
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 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 – because 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)….