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How Do you ‘Give Something Back’ with your Blogging?

How do YOU ‘give something back’ with your blogging?

Blogging has given so much to me:

  • financially it’s given me a living, paid my mortgage and put food on the table for my family now for 5 or so years.
  • socially it’s opened up some fantastic opportunities for new friends.
  • it’s taken me around the world to speak to amazing groups of people at conferences
  • it’s opened up great opportunities to meet and partner with some very smart people
  • it’s helped me to develop skills that I’d never have imagined having

In all it’s been an amazing ride so far and I feel very lucky to be where I’m at.

However over the years as my blogs have grown and as I’ve benefited from blogging I’ve also felt a growing responsibility to use what I’m building to give something back and to make the world a better place.

I guess at a base level – the blogs that I run aim to help people by teaching them (all my blogs are ‘how to’ in nature). Also as a family we do support a variety of charities with the money we earn from blogging – however I’ve always wondered if there are other ways to leverage the success of a blog to make a bigger difference in the world.

In previous years I’ve raised money through doing blog-a-thons (I blogged something every 5 minutes for 24 hours on two occasions) or other types of fund raising. I’ve also participated in events like ‘blog action day’ (where bloggers all blog on an issue like poverty or the environment) – but I’ve always wondered if there could be more?

I’ve seen some bloggers offer to give percentages of sales of their products to charities and support different causes through their blogs – but I’d be interested to hear more stories of how bloggers can ‘give back’ and make a difference in the world?

One of the things I’m currently exploring is doing a trip with a Not for Profit organisation to witness the work that they’re doing in a developing country (it looks like I’ll be heading to Africa in February), and to report on that to my network – but I’d love to hear your ideas on how bloggers can (and do) make a difference through their blogs.

What do you do to give something back? How have you seen others give back?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Renee says:

    I give out my best information for Free.

    And more recently, I did a ‘Thank You’ video on my blog thanking people for supporting me.

    Other than that, I write my face off helping people – returning emails personally.

    Every single comment/gesture of support I get, I am grateful for. And for the regular supporters, I stay in touch and offer my friendship.

  2. I like this post… the money I make online and with my blogging I give back to National Kidney Foundation, since I had a Kidney Transplant 8 yrs ago.

    I was also a Big Brother last year, I was able to do that since the time freedom I have working online..

    No matter how much money you make, being able to give back and help someone is a beautiful thing.

  3. I too, have had opportunities that were only possible as a result of blogging. I had a generous blogger, hand his growing blog over to me all because he enjoyed my writing style and we shared the same beliefs. He has now been blessed with a Pastorial position working with well-know Pastor Rick Warren – all because of blogging.
    Anyway, because I’ve been given so much, I make it a point to help others – my blog is also “how to/teaching” in nature, aimed to help others learn how to blog better. I try help other bloggers get more exposure to their blogs by featuring them and helping them promote their work.
    I also write posts that are meant to motivate and inspire – my hope is that people will leave my blogs feeling encouraged and with more knowledge than what they came with.
    Aside from the blogosphere though, I pay tithes to my church based on my earnings. So what I do benefits my church as well.

  4. Sandi says:

    I launched my blog and an offering called The Coaching Gym at the same time. The Gym is my way of giving back; a day I open up to anyone for free coaching. No strings, no ulterior motives. Whoever calls in gets the coaching. No sales pitch at the end. Just appreciation. In the 3 months since I started it’s been amazing. At the end of 7 hours, I’ve talked to 8-10 people, had amazing conversations and feel totally fulfilled, buzzing with energy. Might even do it more frequently it’s so much fun for me and makes a difference for others!

  5. Josh Garcia says:

    Hey Darren,

    That is great what you mentioned. Giving back to charities and organizations. I like to give back to the community.

    In my area, I like to give back to business owners that don’t have a clue about internet marketing and their customers are online searching for their service or products.

    Thanks for reminding us the important of giving back!

    Chat with you later…
    Josh

  6. I try to use my blog to give a voice to issues that have not been discussed already. For example, all that i hear about Pakistan is terrorism but we barely hear about minority rights in Pakistan. That is something I will cover in my blog soon.

    I also try to bring awareness about organizations through widgets and banners. Lastly, my blog attempts to encourage people to think about new solutions to problems and try to cause a revolution of sorts.

  7. John M. Hoyt says:

    As a newcomer to actual blogging, I’m using my blog to connect with people I interact with in our business, social media, etc. To try and build interest, and give something back, I’m giving away stuff…. But my real offering, at least I hope anyway, is to give information that people can use.
    Unlike you professional bloggers, I make no revenue, except that if someone reads a blog entry, likes the product or service and I happen to sell it, they give us a call and we talk about it further.

  8. Well I think charity is good. And giving honest free advices, tips, tricks, information about your niche also benefits people. These can be done in forums and blogs, as many people indeed do.

    Kindest,
    Nabeel

  9. ParkyBill says:

    I guess what I give back is something intangible. Each year, 50,000 Americans discover they have Parkinson’s disease. I was one of that group in 2000, just about three weeks after I turned 45. I blog about my day-to-day experiences as a guy with PD, as a person who volunteered for experimental brain surgery in 2007, and I’ve written a book about the experience where I’m donating 100 percent of the author proceeds to PD Research charities.

    BTW: The book, “No Doorway Wide Enough” is available at http://books-o-billy.com — just sayin’…

  10. H tlruu Lin @2hope05 says:

    I think the best way to use blogs to give back is to write about causes/events that are worthwhile. Then, working really hard to drive traffic there to increase awareness. It is amazing how much is unknown to so many. While there is much else to the concept of giving, knowledge is a strong foundation and starting point. The rest is up to each person. But, I think that once someone sees the impact of this or that, they could possibly want to be a part of it. Blogs in general, by encouraging engagement, open the avenues of potential that has a rippling affect on everyone one else. The connections alone that are established are the start of something. Who knows?

  11. Toya says:

    Bloggers have a unique voice and even for those of us who are not able financially to give back we can deviate from our normal posts to provide info on a cause that we support. As well as encouraging other bloggers to get involved in the cause.

    I have seen many who participate in the blogathons or those who participate in sites such as bloggers unite. Thanks for bringing this to the fore. It will remind me to try to give back in some capacity.

  12. I hope to help people work through the common problems and questions they have with setting up ecommerce sites, affiliate marketing sites, blogging, etc. My blog will tackle these common questions and problems in a way that is “hopefully” easy for the non-technical person to understand.

    I haven’t earned any revenue yet with my blog since it’s new, but when it does I plan on donating to my two favorite charities too.

  13. Hello! I am new to the world of blogging and have thoroughly enjoyed my experience so far particularly because of the very supportive environment created by people like yourself. The way you share your knowledge and energy has helped me to feel confident to put my best foot forward in blogging. Thank you.

    One of my favourite sites is 101cookbooks.com and she made the following comments, which I thought was relevant to your post today:

    101 Cookbooks Kiva Lending Team: Just wanted to give you all a quick update. To date, as a team, we’ve made 3131 micro loans totaling nearly $90,000 (!). Many of the loans I’ve made personally have been repaid, freeing up funds to make new loans. I’m guessing that some of you also have funds from repaid loans sitting in your account ready to be re-loaned. So, If you haven’t logged in lately, have a peek

  14. Srinivas Rao says:

    I run a podcast where the whole focus of the site is interviews with the most successful bloggers I can find. The great thing about this is that it really does allow us to give back to the blogging community since each interview lasts about an hour and we have done over 60 of them to date. The hope is that through our content we’re inspiring people to take their own blogs to the next level.

  15. Joshua Noerr says:

    25% of any affiliate sales through my blog go directly to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

    I have also raised awareness of issues, large and small, in the past.

    I like to give any support I can to others in need through my blog. One of my categories is labeled “activism.” Since personal development is my niche, I think it only right that I give back every chance I get.

    Thank you for this post, I think it was very timely and important.

  16. wilson says:

    In my life, even though its just 25 years I feel I’ve learned a lot and sharing my experiences and how I’ve handled the obstacles is the way I like to give back. I think financially obviously that’s a big one. One of my desires is to start entrepreneurship schools in 3rd world countries and I am currently working on manifesting that. But for now I am just thankful for having the ability to be doing something I really like and that puts bread on the table.

    There’s one blog in particular that I see giving back a lot to the community and that is invisiblepeople.tv. it’s probably the most powerful. Its so great to see people doing such things like this.

  17. Darren – the topic of “giving back” is very close to my heart. More for philosophical reasons, than personal ones.

    The concept of giving back is definitely of ancient origin – both in eastern and western philosophies. Two problems happen frequently – we give back for the wrong reasons and we don’t do it consistently.

    Your list of to-do’s is a pretty good starting point. Here’s are some items on my giving back “to-do” list:
    1. Giving my time 1-1 with someone and teaching them how to fish. This could be with students and graduates from underprivileged regions.
    2. Sharing my blog space for guest posts from charities and NGOs – and
    3. Becoming a blog ambassador for one of them.

    Would love to see you where your giving-back takes you :)

  18. Paul Potts says:

    Great article – as a completely new blogger I think I just learned in 10 minutes what would have taken me months to learn realise myself.

  19. Ali Dark says:

    Wow- ever heard of simultaneous invention? It’s going on today. RaamDev just published a post of mine on his blog where I talk about the need to “care in the real world” – specifically – our blogs. (Link above)

    The basic idea was that no matter the topic or niche or purpose of our blogs, we can make it a matter of social responsibility to advertise our passions and compassions, educating the world about problems and importantly solutions.

    Imagine if when you arrived at a blog you looked for hints of passion and imagination as well as on-topic information, as a matter of habit.

    One way I suggested was publishing a RSS feed of favourited webpages, using a bookmarking site (delicious.com works well). Another commenter, Raz Chorev, displays a banner in his sidebar linking to his non-profit male-depression awareness group ‘Riding for a Cause.’

    In short, we can give something back by offering visitors to our site the best information we know of – we can educate each other about how to solve the most pressing problems of the day. We can create a unifying subtext of compassion and ingenuity, across the blogosphere – independent of niche!

  20. What about featuring a blogger from a not so gifted country on one of your blogs? Or mentoring a blogger closely for a month/any other period of time?
    Just my thoughts…

  21. Hey Darren,

    Nice Post man. Giving something back is really great idea. I support others by teaching them or giving away some premium stuff.

    Thanks for sharing this great Post.

    ~Dev

  22. hokya says:

    i think we should give it good hosting, also fame its name to all people, and put plenty of knowledge on it

  23. Bill Gerlach says:

    Sure, giving back financially is great (if your blogging is a source of income). But I think the greater altruism lies in the blogging community being a catalyst and conduit for deep change — social, political, environmental, etc.

    Our ability to connect with eachother and the global community at large; our ability to seed some thought or inspiration, or help propell the momentum of change is more powerful than any financial or matierial donation.

    It happens in the virtual world first. From there, it will spill over to the masses. Deep rooted connections are being made. Empowerment is happening.

    Maybe this is my pipedream but if it is, so be it.

  24. Raam Dev says:

    Hey Darren,

    After spending three months traveling in a third world country and witnessing firsthand the extreme poverty, suffering, and imbalance of abundance in this world, I’ve refocused my life, my attention, and my energy towards figuring what I can do to help.

    I think there is enormous potential for blogs (and us bloggers) to assist in creating movements, educating others, and supporting causes through the Internet.

    Blogs are a form of self-expression and as more and more people come online and start expressing themselves, I think we’ll discover that large portions of the population want to help create a better world. By connecting such people and bringing them together, I think we (the Internet-enabled generation) can have a huge influence on the way the future is shaped.

    I’ve started several discussions on my blog, however this entire idea is relatively new to me — I’m looking for all the help I can get! It’s an interesting coincidence that we both published posts on the same topic, on the same day, totally uninformed of the others’ post. :)

    Let me know if you’re interested in doing some brainstorming. I’ve started building a network of bloggers who have a similar desire to use blogging for a greater good and I’d love to have your contribution!

  25. I like to think that I give back something by giving useful information on my blog that I know will help bloggers and social media users. I also do small donations when I can to support sites that need it.

  26. Since my operation is small, I like to make sure that I give back to all of the other people that have helped me.

    We are all standing on the shoulders of giants. I like to make sure that I give content that goes above and beyond. If a customer comes to me, I won’t turn them away, even if it’s something that I normally charge money for.

    When you give to people and help them out of their situation, they will never forget it. This can make a much greater impact than just blindly giving anonymous money to a charity. When you help people at the ground level, you can make a life-long difference in one person at a time.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  27. websitewaves says:

    Sure I help others with their bloffing and internet marketing and all that but in some strange way I feel my best contribution is to my kid’s 12yo bball team as head coach. To be able to be at every game and practice and be a positive and happy adult figure without being all money stressed or facing layoffs or whatever, I think it gives a welcome image to kids that it’s possible to be an adult and happy too.

  28. Sato travel says:

    The best way to ensure an ongoing flow of abundance into your life is to .Give Something Back – To learn more about this author, visit Jack Canfield’s Website.Top Blogs To Watch In 2008. Top 50 Business Plan Blog Posts for 2008

  29. Hi Darren,
    I have presented my unique simple approach to personal development for over ten years now and I just started blogging six months ago. So my way of giving back came before I blogged.

    What I have been doing is that when organizations contact me and really want me to present and they clearly show me they cannot afford my fee. I offer them my seminar for only ten percent of my regular fee.

    Indeed, this is a 90 percent Reduction and that can in the thousands depending on the event. But it does not happen too often since most organizations do have budgets.

    I am happy to do it because I feel honored to present each time I do but of course since I have a family to support I can’t do this too frequently.

    Like many people I also volunteer at local events whenever possible without marketing myself at all at the event just simply helping out.

    Thanks for asking the question.
    David
    http://www.TheWonderTechnique.com

  30. Great points Darren!

    My blogs are still new and I’m in the process of monetizing them now. One is targeted to would-be micro-business owners and the other is targeted toward families that both work and educate their kids from home. (There is some gray area/cross-over that I’m not quite sure how to handle yet.) However, I’m developing a community for both and I plan to create a mini-grant program for each community…once I’m making some money.

    I’d like to award a $500 to $1500 grant every quarter or every month centered around a different theme. This is something I’m very excited to do, so I need to get my horse out from behind my cart and make it happen! Thanks so much for the gentle kick in the pants!

    - Laura

  31. Mary says:

    I had a personal travel diary before but only got in to blogging with the idea of “giving forward”:

    I live in a city of 70,000 which get a large number of visitors and new residents (students etc) each year, but there was very little on-line information about the public transport system. In needed to learn to make Google custom maps, and practiced by drawing bus-routes. At the same time, it dawned on me that it would be possible to use Blogger to build something that looked like a real website. Putting these two together, I started working on a public-transport .info site that’s now (12 months later) getting 40 visits/day. That doesn’t sound like much, ’til you think about how un-sexy public transport is, and how most people don’t need to come back to the site once they’ve found the info they want.

    I started keeping my own “how to” notes in another blog (instead of yellow-stickies on my desk). Then I noticed that other people were searching for solutions to the same problems that I’d had to solve, and Blogger-Hints-and-Tip kind of evolved. And I started having lots of other creative ideas too.

    All along, I’ve found that keeping “giving forward” in mind (make the content free, do stuff that doesn’t necessarily make commercial sense but is helpful) is essential in this game.

  32. Renee says:

    Darren I read your blog everyday and I have to say this is the first time I have ever really been offended by something you have to say. Your question totally erases those of us that blog everyday about social justice issues. Our blogs may not be as flashy and we may not make a lot of money — but the one thing we all have in common is a desire to make a difference every single day. I blog about race poverty, sexism, homophobia, diseableism, and transphobia. I talk about the subjects that most people want to avoid, because I realize that all people matter. So when you ask the question, how can blogger give back, you ignore that all some of us do is give. What we do is absolutely thankless except for the people that read our work who have a rare opportunity to see their issues treated with respect. This may something you see as secondary, but for many bloggers this is the sole reason to engage.

    • Darren Rowse says:

      Hi Renee – thanks so much for your comment. I apologise if I offend, I guess I wrote this post only really exploring the topic from the angle of bloggers whose blogs don’t have a primary aim of making a difference and failed to point out that many great blogs do set out with that aim (and do a great job about it).

      I guess as I mainly write about the business of blogging I was writing with people whose blogs focus on more commercial topics in mind but should have also pointed out how many amazing bloggers there are who do very little other than ‘give something back’.

      Thanks for pulling me into line on this one – appreciate it and I value your feedback.

  33. Linda says:

    I guess it must be a personal decision how you decide to give back. The gift of time to a cause is often more important than a donation of money.

  34. This is an awesome post! My blogging is part of my giving back. My blog is one point of contact for the non-profit organization I founded. We give free classes/lectures/demos to parents, teaching them about the tech their children are using and how to ensure that they’re safe.

    Recently, I started a campaign on my blog and on twitter to do the first Daddy/Daughter Tea Tweet Up and motivate other fathers to cultivate their relationships with their daughters through the simple past time of having tea. We’ve had a great response so far, and I think that doing things like this is what social media is all about. It isn’t just about branding and PR and product placement, but more importantly, it’s about relationships and ultimately action!

    Thanks for sharing your heart and giving us a chance to share ours as well!

  35. Amanda says:

    I am coming at this from the other direction!

    I am a volunteer fundraiser for 2 small charities – times are hard for the usual fund raising methods and I am looking for more ways to raise funds. I’m also involved in their websites.

    One of my ideas is to write some more websites or blogs on other subjects, and add the ads, affiliate links, charity search engine and affiliate charity webshop links to them – hoping that readers of the non-charity blogs etc will click the links. Unfortunately I have not had any time to do it, there is always something that needs doing to the main websites (one needs a major overhaul!) let alone extra ones!

    I also thought of asking other bloggers, businesses etc to include some charity links on their site; of course there would be thank-you links from the charity site to them, and they would be welcome to publicise their support on their site (subject to google rules etc)

    Has anyone tried something like this? Would you consider it for your favourite charity (or even for mine!! ;-))

  36. I primarily post useful information for digital photographers and creatives. Some of the posts are archived permanently on separate webpages. This supplements my monthly enewsletter Insights which gives free content to over 18,000 subscribers (ebooks, videos, calendars, test files, etc).
    I excerpt the articles I write for trade magazines and websites (Digital Photo Pro, Photoshop User, AfterCapture, Luminous Landscape, Apple, Huffington Post).
    I post information on upgrades and contests visitors may want to take advantage of or upgrade.
    I also post alerts on important resources that highlight conservation issues and steps people can take to participate in creating conscientious change.
    I scour the web for inspiring videos by artists and cutting edge developments in science and psychology and share them.
    I share inspiring quotes on creativity through Twitter which are fed to Facebook and my blog. I retweet items I think are useful or inspiring to others.
    I’m always looking for ways to make effective contributions and help others do the same.
    You can find it all here.
    http://www.johnpaulcaponigro.com/blog/

  37. Jess Webb says:

    Darren – I love this idea of giving something back and have been thinking about ways to incorporate this into what I do more. I already give a fair bit in the form of advice, how to info, tips, etc, but I want to do more! I’m looking at setting up with a specific charity to donate to from every sale through my blog, or give my clients the option to donate to their preferred charity. I’ve also been looking at signing up as a Big Sister to help mentor someone and maybe give them a “leg up” to get a bit further faster than I did…

  38. I do my best to provide the best information, and ask the right questions to help my readers steer through life’s transitions. Most are boomers, my age or thereabout, and the last thing I want anyone to do is throw in the towel.
    Mike

  39. Felix says:

    Would like to see you if you eventually come to Africa. By the way, which countries do you plan visiting? Hope Nigeria is included?

  40. Raam Dev mentioned above that he spent 3 months traveling in a third world country and it changed his life.

    The value of traveling to enhance one’s awareness is incredible.

    My wife and I traveled for 13 months with just our backpacks to places like Romania, Pakistan, Middle Eastern Countries… and we volunteered on the way. We traveled with very little cash in hand and had to stop when we ran out.

    After my return from the trip one of the things I started doing was sharing / teaching the personal development ideas I had shared on our journey since so many people who I met whether they spoke English or another language where keen to hear what I had to share.

    It is very true as one person said above it is not always about giving your money. It is about sharing time, listening to peoples needs, helping others and making a difference using the gifts we each have to share. Then the money we need seems to come. Even if it comes slowly.

    Thank you Raam for taking the time to write your note, you inspired me to share something I rarely share. I will go visit you blog now.

    David
    http://www.TheWonderTechnique.com

  41. Febap Liew says:

    Hey darren,
    i haven’t still yet been able to obtain much from my money making online endeavor but I believe that I don’t have to wait until the level I am finally established something to start returning back the favor.
    instead, slowly but surely i am sharing everything that i know and have learnt throughout these time. As I grow , so will my information.
    I am still unable to provide anything major but I will make sure I do when the time is finally right.
    =)
    we ought to give thanks to everyone that has eventually supported and helped us.
    cheers

  42. Darren, i respect your thoughts. Your willingness to give back is highly appreciated.

  43. Kalesh@SE says:

    Hey Darren,

    first of all I liked ur post. Me too like to contribute to improve the world. But so far I have nothing left with me. I will wait for sometime to give some contributions to the world from my part.

    I would go for any organisation working on poverty or peace. It is only because that I am from INDIA.

  44. Marc Winitz says:

    Hi Darren,

    This is a terrific post and I am glad you are righting about this topic as it is very important to me and the blog I write. And while I respectfully disagree with Renee’s characterization of your tone here I understand her point.

    Blogging is a way of giving back and while so much of the activity is focused on making money for many there are much more important uses of the medium.

    I recently wrote a post on giving back and would like to share it here. I hope this doesn’t get me banned from Problogger as the content is directly relevant to your post so I hope it adds to the conversation going on here.

    http://blackbeltguide.com/2010/06/21/how-giving-improves-ourselves/

  45. In contrast to the quotation I remember(Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.), you are doing things in the right way! Though I don’t want to suggest something here I would say that your will to help the need certainly shows many things!

  46. This past year after the earthquake in Haiti, I offered all of my online training services for half price. I took all of the proceeds (all in all, over $7,700) and donated it to the Red Cross to help support the rebuilding effort.

    It was a lot of hard work for the next 3 months, but totally worth it :)

    My goal is to give back in some form or fashion every year. There are so many great causes out there, the hardest part is picking just one.

    All the best
    Mike

  47. I love the concept of giving back with your blogging. It comes down to being creative in your thinking about how you can make a difference. I am going to put some deep thought into what I can do myself starting today!

  48. Rui Soares says:

    Hi Darren!

    I read a post from Seth Godin and I was thinking about the issue of giving something back and I was catching up on my reading and stumbled upon your post on the same issue, but with a different approach. Can I offer a suggestion? It’s Seth’s suggestion…

    Will you help Seth change the live of thousand of children?

    http://mycharitywater.org/p/campaign?campaign_id=4641

    I’m going to promote this campaign on my blog. Please do the same. I haven’t made any donation yet. But I will. I’m considering the amount to donate. The minimum is $50.

    Regards

    Rui Soares

  49. Drew says:

    I love the “curriculum” that you’ve developed for learning all about blogging. As far as that goes – it’s been an invaluable resource for me. Keep that up.
    As for Africa, I’ve been playing around with the idea of “geo-tagging” blog posts and how that could benefit charities and stuff. Like “this is such and such hospital. Here are the needs. Here’s how you can contribute:” and list contacts and different levels of entry points.
    Where in Africa are you hoping to go? Rwanda stole my heart.

  50. Georzetta says:

    I do volunteer work at a nonprofit and I can tell you that we are all strapped for money. All of our employees do several jobs.

    An afternoon workshop on how to blog or set up a Facebook page or how to use twitter or all three to help nonprofits get their own information out there would be fabulous.

    One of the hardest and most expensive jobs we have is public awareness. We cannot serve our communities if people don’t know about us and we often can’t afford the advertising to educate the public.

    Our employees are so busy doing their “real” jobs that they don’t have time to learn how to use social networking or the Internet for PR.