Today Lightening talks us through the process of deciding whether to monetize her blog and how she involved her readers in that process.
I recently went through the process of deciding whether or not to monetize my personal blog Lightening Online. Personal Blogs seem to be a whole different ball game when it comes to monetization.
Some people have VERY strong views about the ethics of earning money from a personal blog. Blogs on various “how to” type topics very clearly offer the reader some kind of benefit. The question is, do personal blogs offer enough to be considered “worthy” of making the blog writer some kind of income? Is entertainment enough? If you truly consider your blog readers to be friends, is there an ethical consideration to earning money this way?
Now we all know how precious and important blog readers are. Without them a blog is very little more than a wind chime tinkling in the breeze with no-one around to hear its melodic sound.
Upsetting, and possibly losing, the small blog readership I had painstakingly and carefully built up was one of my biggest concerns when it came to monetizing my blog. Losing the credibility of my voice was another. Plus of course the worry that people might perceive my motivation for blogging as something akin to personal gain.
So I made what I considered to be a wise move and gave my readers both a say and a vote in whether or not they thought monetization of my blog was a good idea.
During my training to become a Child Care worker, we were taught a very valuable lesson when it came to asking questions. You should NEVER ask a child a question if you are not prepared for a negative answer. For instance, if you want a child to come to lunch, you don’t say to them “would you like to come to lunch”, you say “it’s time to come to lunch now”. By phrasing it in the former way, you are leaving opportunity for them to respond with a “no”.
It’s quite simple really. If you don’t want a “no” for an answer, don’t ask a “yes or no” question. It’s a pity I didn’t consider employing this wisdom when it came to asking my blog readers whether or not they thought I should monetize my blog.
By asking my readers opinions I was giving them the opportunity to vote “no” to monetizing my blog. Was I really prepared to accept “no” as an answer?
While on the whole my readers were supportive of my desire to monetize my blog, some were quite vocal in their dissent. This led me to feel rather uncomfortable about proceeding with monetization. I felt that if I did I would be blatantly doing so against their wishes.
Those of you who are parents will understand that there is a big difference between a child who accidentally stumbles into wrongdoing (okay, maybe not accidentally…) and one who wilfully goes against something you have told them not to do.
I guess in some ways, I felt like the child in this blogging relationship rather than the parent. If I went ahead and monetized my blog, I did so KNOWING that it would upset those readers. If I went ahead, was I committing some mortal blogging sin that would be the death knoll for my precious baby – my blog?
I’m not for a minute suggesting that either myself OR my blog readers are children. I’m just using this analogy to illustrate a balance of power. As a parent, I get to make the decisions that I feel are best for my child. I might take their views into consideration, but ultimately, the balance of power lies with me.
Inadvertently, I had shifted the balance of power in my blog. Instead of ME making the decisions, I had mentally allowed my readers to have the power over those decisions. Partially by offering them the chance to vocally object but also by my own reaction to their opinions.
I needed to remind myself that this is MY blog. I’m the one who gets to make the decisions. I’m all for reader input, considering the readers views and so forth. As I’ve already said, a blog can be a rather lonely and empty place without it’s readers.
BUT, your readers come to hear what YOU have to say.
I realised that I needed to TRUST myself more. To believe in myself. Something had attracted those readers to my blog. That something was ME. If I believed that a small amount of monetization would benefit me without harming my blog then I could follow that belief confidently, trusting that whatever had attracted my readers to my blog in the first place, would encourage them to stick around regardless.
After all, it is MY blog! :)
Lightening’s personal blog, Lightening Online, is a place where she shares her laughter and tears as she journeys through life. She also has a more recent blog discussing blogs and issues related to blogging at Lightening’s Blogworld.