Sunday, June 03, 2007

Monetizing the Blog

I recently got another web-hosting bill - it costs a few hundred dollars a year to keep up the domain and the traffic. Cheaper alternatives exist, I'm sure, but I think I'm getting a decent deal.

As hobbies go, blogging is neither expensive nor cheap - or both expensive and cheap. Part of cost assessment depends on how you account for time. Is the time I spend posting here and keeping up with other blogs an additional expense, such that even if you count my time at minimum wage, I'm pumping in thousands and thousands of dollars? Or is it a benefit - cheap amusement, such that my few hundred dollars of cash spent on the hobby get divided by the hours I spend on it, resulting in my hobby costing only pennies per hour? Do I look at entertainment value, or opportunity cost?

Regardless of how I look at it, temptation beckons to "monetize the blog" - turn this into a money-making venture. Blog-ads offer an easy way to surrender a column to commerce and bring in a few pennies every time one of my readers clicks over. Some sites are successful at selling ads directly to businesses that want to contact a specific demographic. One particularly hungry blogger I visit even sells blog entries - you're reading his right-wing perspectives one minute, and the next minute you're reading about his bought-and-paid-for recommendations for mortage loans or software. I'm tempted to see if he'll write an entry in favor of John Edwards for $20.

And therein lies the rub. Once you start whoring, it's hard to know where to draw the line. Do I really want to start looking at my hobby as a source of income instead of as a source of amusement? Maybe I could squeeze out a couple hundred bucks a month if I made the right moves - who knows?

It's not worth it. I don't want to worry about whether my next post is going to piss off an advertiser. I don't want to worry that if my hit numbers slip, I might lose a few dollars. I don't want to feel an urge to write about gun control or abortion just to spike the numbers.

Already, I worry a little about what I post. Even though I'm technically anonymous, there are plenty of people who know my identity, and my employer. I've had some fairly cross conversations with people who are enthusiastic in their love of weapons. I've even received an anonymous letter at my house about the blog. All that is on top of the fact that I like my readers and commenters, and don't want them to get so pissed off that they drop me from their "Favorites" list.

My father once told me to "go ahead and cheat and steal and lie, but only if you can get away with enough to retire wealthy." His point was that your integrity has some value, and people who lie, cheat and steal tend to sell out their integrity awfully cheap. My dad died long before I took up blogging, but I suspect he would tell me that my integrity has enough challenges already.

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7 Comments:

Anonymous mainstream said...

You should try In Motion Hosting (inmotionhosting.com) great customer service and everything you need for 7.95/mo. I have a site or two and it costs me $96 per year.

Don't know about aditional blog functionality costs, but I've had really good experiences with them.

Also, if you want to use somebody local and democratic, I have also used Warrior Hill, in St. Joe. They are super easy to work with, (http://www.warriorhill.com/) and very professional.

And I don't work with or have any association with them professionally or personally, other than being a client.

6/03/2007 10:22 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

I like this line of reasoning. Also, I think any blogger who sees the possibility to make money with a blog should at least consider it. Sadly, most plug in solutions don't even come close to making it worth the time . . . In order to save you some time, if you haven't seen it already check out John Chow's blog about making money with a blog

http://www.johnchow.com/top-posts/

He started his operation less than a year ago and now makes like 3k a month but the point is that he had to go beyond just simple Google Adsense and what not and start making his own deals . . . Which is really too much of a pain in the ass to make it worthwhile for most folks.

Anyway, I just wanted to comment that I enjoyed your thoughts on the subject.

6/04/2007 4:07 AM  
Anonymous Brooksider said...

Monetizing the Blog

What does Monet have to do with blogging???

Dan, one of the many things I like about your blog is the lack of ads. That and the humor, reasonable perspectives and mostly civilized discussion.

6/04/2007 9:24 AM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

I think most people will be ambivalent about seeing ads on blogs as long as the content is easy to get to and the ads aren't too obnoxious.

However, for it to be worth anyone's while to take the time set up and manage any sort of a revenue stream you need some serious traffic. Which means it won't make sense for about 98% of blogs out there today.

John Chow is a terrible example of how to make money on a blog - he gets the exposure from his Techzone site, and doesn't provide a model most regular Joe's can or should follow.

I suggest minimizing costs for most bloggers, and why ad to the noise? Most sites and browsing experiences are just like walking down the cereal isle of a grocery store.

6/04/2007 2:08 PM  
Blogger Xavier Onassis said...

whore. :)

6/04/2007 6:49 PM  
Anonymous Rhymes With Right said...

John Edwards? For $20.00? For $2K, maybe -- and only if I don't have to have a positive tone. :)

That's the thing you don't realize -- I get to pick and choose what I write about, and which offers I reject. And having made $3K over the last few months...

6/05/2007 7:22 AM  
Blogger pomegranate said...

:)

6/12/2007 11:24 PM  

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