I’ve been struggling with my main blog – Life’s an Adventure 2 – recently. Not with the writing, that’s usually quite easy and fun for me as I’m quite passionate about what I’m writing about. Sure, some articles take more research that others and all of them require work but I love what I’m doing so it’s fun and rewarding. The writing, research and attending Korean events, etc. is great so while I’ll continue to try to improve what I’m doing, that’s not what I’m struggling with… that part rocks. ^^
I’m struggling with two things. First, should I try to make money with/through my blog and writing? Finally, should I self-host and professionalize my blog just a little (but of course, still keep the same conversational feel to the writing that both I and my readers love)? And since I think best by writing…
Should I make money through my blog?
This has become a ridiculously complicated question that I’ve been wrestling with in my head for a couple of months now. First, I would LOVE to write about Korean culture full-time, it’s a dream for it to be my job or at least a part of it. But I also love having complete control over my content as the founder, editor and main writer.
Yes, I do review some stuff I get free but I also review lots of stuff I pay for. All of my restaurant reviews are for meals I paid for (or split with friends as one normally would when out with friends). And that will never change.
Product reviews are 50/50, some I bought and some I was sent for free but I always let my readers know if it was for free. However, I’m now being contacted more and more by PR people and companies themselves to promote their stuff, to advertise on my site, and/or to send me stuff to review. I’ve been offered the chance to do some paid reviews recently which has made me realize I really need to decide exactly how I want to handle reviews on my site. I need to come up with an answer, write-up a policy, post it, and follow it.
This is going to sound a little crazy but I’m of two minds about making money via my blog. Actually, no, it’s more like I have four or five opinions on the subject. Don’t get me wrong, it’s my dream to publish and make a living as a writer. But I think I’ve become too attached to Life’s an Adventure 2 to change it enough to truly make money from it. So I’ve decided to break it down into pieces so I can try to come up with a final decision.
Life’s an Adventure 2 is my baby and I’ve worked very hard on it. I’ve never really kept track of the hours of work that I put into blogging each week but between attending events, research, reading other blogs, emails, replying to reader’s comments, and of course, writing; I would have to think that I put 20-40 hours a week into it, and sometimes more. Seriously! Even a straight opinion article takes 2 or 3 hours minimum but even some of them are sparked from some research I did or other blogs I read. It’s a full-time job (on top of the one I actually do).
But because it’s my baby, I want to keep control over it. I’m not opposed to making money through it in certain ways – say as an iTunes affiliate because that wouldn’t influence my content at all. I already talk about music and would only include links to music I’m writing about. Passive money-making that doesn’t influence content, I have no problem with. The same could be said with those automatic ads like AdWords because I have no control over them so they wouldn’t influence my content. Besides, WordPress already has those kinds of ads on my blog.
What you will never see is sponsored posts because that means I have no control over the content (and no, I’m not a control freak… much). I have no problem with sponsored posts in general – and if someone wants to hire me to write them for another site, I’d be all for it. I’m a great copy-writer so feel free to hire me! But it’s just not how I envision Life’s an Adventure 2.
Life’s an Adventure 2 does accept – or rather I do – free tickets, free product samples, etc. for events, festivals and products we review. The free tickets generally come about because bloggers are treated as media nowadays. In 2012, most of the events and festivals I cover – 80-90% – I covered as a member of the media which meant I didn’t pay for the ticket. I also occasionally get free products to review. However, all restaurant reviews we write were from a normal visit which we pay for (and more products are paid for as well). We also have a full-disclosure policy so readers will always know if we received something for free. I don’t think it’s ever influenced my writing, nor is it an uncommon practice.
Life’s an Adventure 2 has not made any money – free tickets aside – in the past but we are at the point where we can and in fact, have been granted the ability to. I know this is a good thing – just like the fact that PR reps are now contacting us is – but it does mean that I need to draft my sponsorship/income policy sooner rather than later!
It would seem that the best answer for me given my philosophy and feelings would be to write professionally for another site and keep Life’s an Adventure 2 as a hobby… but… I guess I want to have my cake and eat it too. What do you think?
WordPress.com or WordPress.org
This has been the other issue that’s been stressing me out recently. In some ways, they go hand in hand as if I truly want to make money with my site; I need to move to self-hosting. I’m just not sure if it’s worth the extra work and possible headaches that would come with it. Okay, I’ll be honest… it probably makes sense and is the logical next step but I’m just worried it will mean more work. Not switching over – I can pay WordPress to do that so there is no problems – but with maintenance and all that.
I love WordPress.com and have had no problems with it because they do all the behind-the-scenes stuff and I just have to worry about my content and a little easy formatting. It’s completely hassle-free. And there are lots of small upgrades that can help me grow and professionalize my site within WordPress.com. So basically, for me and my site at least, the main reason to change would be to make money. Or would it? Are there other reasons I’m not taking into consideration?
And therefore my decision comes around full circle. I need to decide once and for all, what money-making methods I’m comfortable employing on Life’s an Adventure 2 (and perhaps on Toronto Thoughts in the future). Any advice? Suggestions? What do you do with your blog?
One thing I have decided though, it’s time for a redesign regardless of what I do. I need to design a logo (I have an idea of what I want, just need to work out some kinks and hire someone to do the graphic/logo design). And Life’s an Adventure 2 needs to be more streamlined. I have some big ideas for the future… I’d love to turn it into more of an online magazine and less of a simple blog. I’ve been thinking about this for a while but have been putting it off because I need to know which version of WordPress I’ll be using. Advice is much appreciated!