‘Selling out’ is a phenomenon seen in any career path. Most often, we speak about our favorite bands selling out, but the sentiment can apply to any business. Of course, the majority of us have a different definition of when something has ‘sold out.’ For the most part, it means making out of character decisions in the quest for better sales. It means you’ve effectively sold your values to gain success.
If you own a blog, selling out may be far from your mind. How could that be possible for you, anyway? In truth though, many blog owners fall into the trap of selling themselves in this way. Worse, they might not realize they’re doing so. Have you ever posted an article you didn’t agree with because a company asked you to? Do you contain affiliate links without making it clear to your audience? Do you state clearly when an article hasn’t been written by you?
To people who have never done the above, this may seem shocking. Definitely in the realm of selling out, right? But, as ad revenue is the main money source for many bloggers, these are steps a lot of us take when funds are getting low. Many of us follow in the footsteps of people who have sold out and gone on to make millions. It’s a trend we see time and again. And, are morals worth depriving your family for? In truth, though, doing business this way may not be as lucrative as you think. In fact, behavior like this could cost more than it makes. Here’s why.
Your Passion Will Suffer
Everyone who starts a blog does so because they have a passion they want to share with the world. When you first started out, you might not have even thought about the money. But, it was a real bonus when it came, right? You got to do something you love all day, and work from home so you’re there for the kids when they need you. Hence why blogging is ideal for a lot of us moms. But, as with any creative pursuit, your passion has a direct impact on your enjoyment. So, producing content you aren’t proud of will leave you losing all the love you once felt for your blog. As such, it’ll get harder and harder for you to create content of the quality you reached to start. Before long, no amount of ad revenue is going to make you money, because your views will dwindle as your love does. Besides which, you might start to doubt what you’re doing. Then, you’d have to consider the reality of going back to a 9-5 and getting childcare for your kids!
Your Audience Will Lose Faith In You
We may think we’re subtle when it comes to advertising, but readers can always see what we’re doing. To some extent, they don’t mind. They want to support your blog. If that means sticking around through a few advertisement articles then so be it. But, if there are more advertisements than personal posts, they may lose faith in what you’re doing. They won’t be able to tell what’s your opinion, or the opinion you want to get across. And, if they can’t discern what you believe, they won’t see the point in showing up.
For the most part,
building a loyal audience requires trust from both sides. You need to show your audience who you are, and in turn, they’ll come back to your blog. But, the moment that trust is broken, you’ll lose your views and your funding.
Even Google May Turn Its back
Another way this behavior could lose your money is by Google noticing what you’re doing. Recent updates in policy show Google is trying to weed out link heavy advertising sites. Sites with original content and informative articles are scoring higher in the rankings. So, your attempts to get higher in search engines will backfire horribly. This article about how to rank #1 in Google further highlights the fact that dodgy business could cost you in the rankings stakes. Not to mention that it’ll make your life stressful as you wait with baited breath every time there’s a Google update! Instead, the article states the importance of producing quality, unique content. Which leads us nicely onto…
STAYING TRUE TO YOU IS THE BEST WAY TO MAKE MONEY
That’s right. It may seem crazy after all the hard work you’ve put in building revenue and trying to increase views. But, the easiest way to make money from your blog is to stay true to you. That way, you don’t have to sell out, and you could stand to make a lot more money. Here are a few things you can do to ensure you’re earning, without giving your morals away in the process.
Always Keep Your Topic In Mind
If you have a loyal audience and a steady stream of views, you stand to make a lot more money than you would otherwise. That’s why there’s so much focus on building a loyal readership, rather than relying on drop-by viewers. But, readers won’t return time and again if your content is all over the place. And, if you’re posting affiliate articles all over your blog, the chances are it will be. Instead, remember the topic you had in mind when you started. Did you want this blog to be about your kids? Or, were crafting or book reviews your main aim? Whatever that focus was, you should always keep it in mind. Write it on a piece of cardboard and stick it above your computer if it helps.
Anytime you’re about to publish a post, take a few moments to consider how relevant it is to your topic. Is this something your readers will be interested in? Even advertising posts are okay if they fit in with that topic because you can be sure it’s something your readers want to know about. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with posting the odd off-topic piece. But, you should always return to your main topic next time around!
Operate A Complete Honesty Policy
There are few bloggers out there who don’t state somewhere on their page that they sometimes post advertisement pieces. But, these disclaimers are often hard to find and vague in language. As such, they do nothing to solve the feeling of broken loyalty your readers will feel if they notice you’re posting for money. To avoid this eventuality, it’s important to be completely open about the origins of your post. Instead of hiding your disclaimer at the bottom of your ‘about me’ page, place it in the sidebar to ensure everyone sees it. You could even write a post about the types of advertisements customers can expect to see. Pin that post, so it’s the first article readers see when they come onto your site. If you’re using contributing writers, put a note beneath the title of every post you use from them. State that you aren’t the author, or that the post was ‘contributed.’
All these things may make you quake at the knees. Surely your readers are going to click off straight away when they see all this stuff? But, you might be surprised. Remember what we said before, about readers wanting to support you and understanding your need to make money? The anger many readers feel is nothing to do with the fact that you’re using advertising. It’s the dishonesty that most can’t stand.
Don’t Advertise Products That Are Against Your Values
As a content producer, you should never promote products that you don’t agree with. You have a responsibility to your audience. You also have some level of influence. After all, readers who trust your opinions are much more likely to buy a product because you spoke about it. Compromising your morals with products you’re advertising is a breach of that trust. Besides which, that person won’t trust you again if they bought something awful on your recommendation.
As your readership grows, companies will approach you to either accept free products or review a product for payment. This is what you want, and it’s the best way to make a blogging business work for you. But, it’s crucial you remember that you don’t have to accept every offer. While it’s difficult turning money away, it’s imperative you do. For the most part, you’ll already have some idea about which products it would be appropriate to review. If you’re unsure, think back to whether that product fits with your topic. Consider, too, whether this product is something you would buy for yourself. If your answers to those questions are no, find a polite way to decline the offer.
So, you see, your soul might not be worth as much to the blogging world as you previously thought. With that in mind, it’s not always worth taking the leap for success. Instead, sit back and product content from the heart. Then, success may well come to you.