Wednesday 1 October 2014

What price a blog?

Another of my occasional rambling editorials about blogging and this time MONEY! None of us start blogging and think we can make money out of this. Sure there are bloggers that do, I think more in different fields than our hobby community but no doubt there are a few that make money through advertising, donations or affiliate schemes.

I looked at Affiliate Schemes back here: Wayland Games Affiliate Scheme there's a lot you can read there about what I believe about 'monetising' your blog. In this day and age where personally I'm using so many free apps that have adverts built in I'm less concerned about the minimal advertising I actually have on the blog. I took the decision to remove the Wayland Advert because the link it was pointing to became broken and there didn't seem to be replacement graphics/links at the time that fit the same dimension of where this advert was placed.

Additionally I was sure some friends had ordered through my link and I could see no record of it in my account. Whether they did buy through it, the link allocating my referral was broken or the system just didn't work I'm not sure, but I felt it more appropriate to add more prominence to the Followers link and blog archive as that was more important. Maybe others have had better success and can chime in on that. Of note is that it looks like Wayland have revamped their scheme recently so I may consider adding it back at some point because it's hobby related and much more appropriate than my google ads. I've absolutely no hesitation in using other's affiliate links if it helps someone out so if you do have a successful affiliate story, share your blog link and I may look to endorse it with a purchase in the future.

Donations is another way to monetise. Alex, Blog Wars organiser and From the Fang blogger discussed this in his blogpost Donations Welcome. I'm a firm believer in this but not a practitioner. I get the impression that it can be seen by some as perhaps rude but writing a blog takes time and creative effort and like most enterprises that has a value. Some folk are more than happy to donate a $ or a £ here and there but the great thing is you don't have to, the option is yours to donate or not. I remember one blog I used to frequent had a donation button that had options ranging from buying the blogger a coffee to a Bento box sushi lunch, which I thought was cute [but not cute enough to donate, ha, ha!] It's an innocuous way to do it but it still takes a certain amount of bravery to put a donation link up. I'm not entirely sure why one should feel bad about this and because it may be considered a 'taboo' subject it was one of the main reasons I wanted to write a post about money and blogging - to encourage debate and discussion and hopefully overcome the stigma of it.

When I started the blog back in the beginning my main aim was to record what I've done but also provide terrain templates and later free markers for those just starting in the hobby, or those with limited budgets that were being priced out of it. Reminding people you can build your own terrain and making freely available quality templates to populate your battlefield has always been rewarding in itself for me. Have I thought that these items should have a financial value? You bet ya! I've seen a few sites selling templates or terrain templates that are of a similar quality. Even if it's just one sale, that makes the effort financially viable. But that goes against the spirit of what I set out to do and even a Donate button, though I agree with them in principle, would feel disingenuous to what I intended for the blog.

Things may change, all things do but right now I'll stick to my Google Adsense adverts. Some may believe this contrary to my statement on the Donate button. Personally I see them as the least hardship to a reader, they don't take over the blog, the offers are targeted to your browsing history [although Alex at FtF finds that disturbing] and a click costs the reader nothing, except a milli-second to click and go. I've made around £48 in my four years of blogging and I've promised myself an Imperial Knight with the proceeds once it hits the magic £60 to unlock the first payment. For me it's the least obtrusive of the options and I've taken to clicking on any Adsense I notice on other hobby blogs because I know how every penny adds up.

Anyway, hopefully this will start a debate, maybe make the decision to advertise or monetise an easier one for other hobby bloggers. We all look at this hobby differently and there should be no shame should one feel the need to support their further contributions to the community with some 'fiscal stimulus'. So let me know of your own monetising successes, thoughts and opinions I'd be really interested to hear your take on the matter.


  1. I've tried a lot of different ways to monetize from affiliate programs to ad services, even using smaller ad services figuring they had a niche that fit a hobby blog. I've never had any real success with any of them but I don't think that's a failing of the service but more my lack of traffic. Any monetization method you choose will have a low rate of success and having lots of traffic turns that .05% rate into something worthwhile.

    Of course this means I have no problems seeing blogs do it and I also tend to click on ads and such for the same reason you do. We all put a lot of time into what we do and even though we do it for fun it's nice to see a reward come of it.

  2. Being an IT professional, I always have ads disabled by default, so I never see them. (Ads are one of the main avenues of malware these days). Adsense isn't too bad though, but I imagine many people follow the same line of thinking.

    My fellow members of FYN wanted to do ads, and I made the argument against them being as most people block them now anyway. We settled with a donate button.

    I think there are a lot of ways you can support your local blogger. Donate buttons are nice..donating bitz bags is awesome...maybe you win a model you don't really want/need, fire it off to someone who has been waiting for a chance to paint one, etc.

    Way back in the day I did hardware reviews for a tech site. I never got paid directly, but companies would send me things to review, then never ask for them back. That experience got me into the position I'm in now, so though one might argue I never actually made any money doing it...all the experience and connections got me where I am today. Sometimes the value in doing or sharing in something isn't based in money, but a different kind of wealth.

  3. Monetising a site is a tough call. When I started the blog, I thought that it could be a way to buy the family a night out every now and again.
    It wasn't.
    Out of curiosity I started to do more research into SERP, SEO, affiliates, PPC, CTR and a whole range of mumbo-jumbo-jargon that may well bore you to tears. What I have found is that we are blogging in a very specific niche and therefore have to work so much harder for a readership.
    The Amazon Affiliate program pays off the best, but you have to write reviews and (again) get it in front of the right people.
    Adblockers kick your ad boxes to the curb and that makes it even harder. No one wants to be bothered by ads on the internet, but the occasional kindly reader will actually click on an ad and sling me a few cents.
    I think that monetising your site is an interesting thought experiment in our niche. I am obsessed by stats and so love checking out my analytics too.
    In the end, as long as the ad doesn't interfere with the content and can grab my attention, I'll click on it. More because I know what it means to us Wargaming bloggers.

    1. As a side note, my current efforts can be seen at :)

  4. A fist full of dollars is on telly tonight but now I want to watch yojimbo as well :)