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I’ve Learned That Blogging For Money Isn’t My Cup Of Tea

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Before you proceed to read the rest of the post, I’d like to make myself clear on certain points. Now, “blogging for money” may not be the most appropriate phrase to use because we all do things for money — we work for money, we sing for money, we stay home for money — but until I think of a better way to bring it out, it should stay as it is. My definition of “blogging for money” refers to anybody who earns some revenue by blogging, particularly by writing sponsored posts.

I’ve mentioned not too long ago that I do NOT mind reading paid reviews on blogs because I think it’s like watching a movie on TV and whether I like it or not, the TV stations will still air the advertisements. In fact, I take it as a way to learn about a new product or service that I otherwise wouldn’t hear about or learn of.

But whenever I read about somebody blogging about a place I know she has never been to, or a personal loan I know she had never taken, I feel cheated. I am especially turned off by bloggers who write sponsored posts about how she “would like” to go to Mexico or Hawaii for a vacation. I get turned off by bloggers who fake a review and make it sound like a genuine one. I get turned off by bloggers who recommend a particular service before he used/tried it. I didn’t graduate with a First Class Honours but I certainly can tell between a genuine and fake blog post after almost 2 years of blogging!

I have gone a full circle from thinking about “blogging for money” to actually doing it, to doubting myself for writing those sponsored posts because I sometimes tried too hard to blend it into my blog, to empathizing with my readers, to thinking about the directions I wanted my blog to head to, to not writing those sponsored posts anymore.

You see, I joined the thousands of bloggers who “blogged for money” in January 2007. My blog was approved and I excitedly took and completed my first few offers. I am even guilty for blogging about a credit card though I swear to God that the story behind the post was a genuine one (I am still a poor student who does not own a credit card). But that was during a time when the offers were aplenty and most of them were pretty relevant to myself.

And before I knew it, I was accumulating funds in my PayPal account but since I am not a shopper myself, I spent them on things that are close to my heart. And that was a turning point in my “blog for money” journey. I realized I actually enjoyed giving much more than receiving. So I slowed down. I became extremely picky when it comes to writing sponsored posts and eventually, I stopped writing them. These days, I would only write about things that I would REALLY recommend, things that could benefit my readers in at least one way (but unfortunately such offers don’t come by often).

So, from my personal observations, blogging for money MIGHT work for you if you fall into any of the following categories:

  • You have had a lot of experiences dealing with mortgages and personal loans and home loans. And you’d like to apply for more credit cards and student loans for your unborn child.
  • You are either expecting a baby, or you are a mother with a toddler or school-going children. Advertisers are looking for mothers to promote their drinking bottles and baby showers and what-have-yous.
  • You are a carpenter or an interior designer who are constantly looking for furnitures to fill your showrooms.
  • You have a family member or a friend or colleague who needs to go to a drug rehabilitation centre.
  • You are into Thai dating and inter-racial romance. Dating sites are especially popular these days.
  • You live in the United States. When you stay in the United States, almost anything and everything can be blended into your blog without sounding like an “out-of-nowhere” post. If somebody from Malaysia blogs about a drug rehab centre in the US, now doesn’t that sound fishy?

So have you tried to “blog for money”? How does it turn out for you? What is your experience like?

Pelf, the author of pelf-ism is contagious, is a grad-student who is trying to save the turtles, the environment and humankind. Charity, conservation and volunteerism are things that are very close to her heart. You may subscribe to pelf-ism is contagious via the RSS Feed.


  1. Posted August 17, 2007 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    Interesting, let me share a little of what I do…

    Currently I have been blogging for over 2 1/2 years in september on my passions in life and enjoy doing it. I currently have paid advertisements going down my left sidebar that range in price as well as now added a top banner, plus I do do reviews on products that must have in hand like a dvd, I have done that twice.

    In terms of sponsored posts, no, I was offered it, but I can’t recommend a service I have never used, its just not right.

    Bottom Line, I blog with passion and people respect what I have to say and blogging using sponsored paid posts I don’t agree with, however earning a little extra money on the side including the fact that I am unemployed is good by me. What do I do with the money, I have purchased a couple of wants, a couple of needs like a new camera cellphone that I use to take pictures for blog and I my next item is a notebook computer.

    So what do you think, does it fall into what you write about above? Good posting, see yeah!

  2. Posted August 18, 2007 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    Racedriven: Yes, your comment falls into what I was talking about. I must agree with you that “sponsored posts” don’t always cut it, especially when we aren’t given the product(s) to review. But there are certain web-based services that I find no problem reviewing 🙂

    Either way, I’m glad that all those advertisements are doing good on your blog!!

  3. Posted August 18, 2007 at 12:17 am | Permalink

    I keep my personal and niche blogs separate. I do paid posts on my beauty blog, but keep my personal blog completely ad-free. That way, I don’t compromise the integrity of both blogs.

    It’s like what you said, paid posts are simply commercials on telly. Just skip it, and go back to your regularly scheduled programs. For those yearning for an extra bit of revenue (especially for those unemployed), it’s a good thing. So long as the quality and integrity of the blog are not compromised (still, I think that personal blogs should remain personal and ad-free; that’s just me talking, of course).

  4. Posted August 18, 2007 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Ah, Tine, you summed it up beautifully. As long as the quality and integrity of the blog are not compromised…, but Pelf makes an even more important point:

    Your blogging changes when you blog for money.

    I can’t tell you how many people tell me that their blog won’t change just because they add ads, and yet, it does. Every time. It’s when that change changes the integrity of the blog and the blogger that the issue of ads on blogs needs to be challenged.

    I don’t think that thought is followed through on as often as it should. Too many are now thinking that a blog HAS to have ads and make money rather than looking at the bigger picture, as Pelf has brought up.


  5. Posted August 18, 2007 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    As someone who pays for her blog host, I don’t mind a little ad time on blogs. The poorly written, “it’s so obvious the blogger’s getting paid for this” posts do bother me, though. I think there are ways to work with your ads rather than against them, and not compromise your integrity. One of my favorite bloggers just starting running ads on her blog (not PPP), and still manages to keep it real.

  6. Posted August 18, 2007 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Being a self admitted “blog o holic” I can see both sides of the issue. I don’t do the pay to post thing anymore (either as blogger or advertiser) because for what you’re paying for you can actually produce better stuff, or at least so I think. Like everything it seems, a niche or topic starts out looking and doing one thing but then gets metamorphosed into something completely different by people with different ideas. I don’t begrudge those looking to make a buck (I do it too), but I also as I think Lorelle said, lend passion into my business blogs like I do any other personal blog I’ve ever done. Excellent post and comments!!


  7. Posted August 18, 2007 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    I run several blogs. My flagship blog (link in my name above) has no AdSense and no affiliate links (there once was one but I decided to remove it). I make my money by coaching people.

    I have a daily video blog in which it’s very easy for me to include paid links and sponsored posts. For example, I might get an offer to include a link about a hair-loss treatment. My blog is all about funny or strange videos, so it’s no problem at all to find a funny video and include the paid link. It’s not exactly a raving review of a product, but the advertiser just got their PR6 backlink, I get paid, and the content of my blog does not suffer. If I can’t find a good way to work in the paid content, then it doesn’t go in. Maybe my situation is a little unique, but I have found that it works for me.

    And that’s the thing. I’m glad you have decided what works for you, Pelf, and that you’re sticking to it. I’ve seen you around the net a little bit already, and I’m pleasantly surprised to see you guest blogging here. Congrats and good luck with your blogging!

  8. bipolarblog
    Posted August 18, 2007 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    The first bloggers were online diarists. The most commercialized blogs nowadays are written for the advertisers. Everyone who has commented on this post lays somewhere in between those two poles.

    For me, blog ads or pay per post would not pay me enough to become just another rat in a cage like the majority of blogs out there. Because I have a job in the real world, I can have an objective eye towards my blog and see it for what it is: a diary.

    I am slowly building a network of people who enjoy my “voice” and I theirs. If an advertiser ever fit into that transaction I would do it. So far, none do. To me the most annoying blogs are the ones who pretend to be personal blogs and yet emblazon their site with ads. I’d be willing to bet that most of them make less than ten dollars a month (if that). How do I know? I’ve tried many of them: commission junction, adsense, text link ads.

    If you want to be a personal blog and retain respect by your peers, ditch the ads and focus on your voice. If you get HUGE that way, then start thinking about whether you want to sell out. Doing it before then, in my eyes, makes you a wannabe.

  9. Posted August 18, 2007 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    When I started out blogging it was my intention to blog for money. Then it all changed with my first reader, after this it was all about integrity.

    For a while I took off Google Adsense as I had no real control over the ads being presented. These days I think I have it about right for my site with just two advertisers, that I have used and believe in.

    I have also been asked to blog for money and to date I have refused all, as I did not believe in the products.

    These days if I like a product I will happily write about it for free, because when you have loyal readers you do not want to lose them, they are no fools and hard enough to win in the first place.


    PS great post

  10. Posted August 18, 2007 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Tine: I’m NOT against bloggers who write sponsored posts for some extra bit of money which can help in terms of paying the bills and what-not. I understand that completely. I just don’t get it why some bloggers would trash their reputation for less than 50 USD writing about things that would never blend in with their blogs..

    Lorelle: Why can’t I put it as beautifully as you did?! Yes, your blogging changes when you blog for money. Definitely, and I am a living example, LOL. I thought it wouldn’t, I was positive it wouldn’t, but it did, against my will. And that’s why I have taken a back-step.

    Kathy: From what I see, placing ads on one’s blog is not the same as writing sponsored posts. One can place ads in unobtrusive places on a page and still retain one’s train of readers, but if one writes about things that one’s readers know aren’t the truth, that’s it. Of course, a blogger should master the art of writing before jumping into the bandwagon to avoid writing sponsored posts that are obviously “written for the money”. Again, “getting paid for writing a review” is different from “writing a review for money”. Well, at least they’re different to me.

    Blogtommy: Yes, Lorelle always says, “Blog with passion for there is no better expression.” Your readers will be able to tell it if you blog about something passionate, and they will be back. Instead of surprising them with lots of ads and scare them away, we should do our best to get them hooked and coming back for more, right? 🙂

    Michael: So your concept is that one shouldn’t place ads on personal blogs, but only on niche blogs because then the ads would blend in nicer and more naturally. I have no objections to that as I have a personal blog too, though I don’t mind reviewing books/softwares or other things that I’m interested in, but I definitely don’t do drug rehab centres or mortgages.

    bipolarblog: You were right that one wouldn’t be bothered with all that sponsored posts race if one has a day job, which I didn’t. I was a grad-student (I still am) and the thoughts of all those money coming into my PayPal account was sufficient to turn me in. It was later that I realized I didn’t NEED those money. I mean, I can hardly use them to pay my bills because they’re in US Dollars, and I stay in Malaysia!

    Stephen: I know about this integrity thing you mentioned. I have had ads pasted in every corner of my personal blog too. But when those ads did not generate much revenue, and I was losing readers at the same time, I removed much of those ads and retained whatever unobtrusive. And the readers returned, I could literally see them coming back! 🙂

  11. Posted August 18, 2007 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    Actually, I have noticed that for blogs, it is pretty easy to see if the someone is blogging because he/she wants to share, or more because of money. In most cases, if the primary objective of the blog is to make money, the ads will come before the content!

  12. Posted August 19, 2007 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    Well said 🙂 Yes, I like to blog hop and read other people’s sponsored posts. I know what you’re talking about when you mentioned some bloggers are lying through their teeth. I once caught a good paying opp… I was ecstatic. When I looked through the details, I realized it was not for my market. I doubt anyone could afford to spend MYR 8000 (approximately USD 2275) a night in an upmarket Icelandic spa. Yeah, the spa is good.. but I know it was not my market.

    I released the opp. The next day, I saw other bloggers blogging about it… How their friend/relative just went to this spa and how great it was. Now, I’m not looking down on anyone but I do sincerely doubt ordinary Malaysians could afford such extravagant spas with our conversion rate 🙂

    I understand your disdain, but nope, I’m not giving up on sponsored posts. The money is good and believe it or not, I do love to write relevant sponsored posts. LOL.

  13. Posted August 19, 2007 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Kian Ann: You were right that it is pretty easy for a blogger to notice “fishy sponsored posts”. Actually, that’s akin to saying that blog readers aren’t foolish. They know it when the post was written just because it was paid for..

    helen: Yeah, “lying through their teeth” is the perfect metaphor 🙂 I had a similar experience as well.. I forgot what that offer was about, I reserved it, did a lot of research and was constantly thinking about how I should write that particular post, even in the shower! And then I realized that it was taking too much of my brain-power, and I wasn’t exactly enjoying the process (because it was forced), so I gave it up. And I felt to much lighter after releasing it, LOL..

    The intention of my post was NOT to discourage bloggers to give up writing sponsored posts. I just wanted to share my personal experience, and how I have a come a full circle 🙂

  14. Posted August 19, 2007 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    I don’t blog for just money. It’s my portfolio. Believe me, there’s a lot I want to do that doesn’t involve teaching. Besides, there’s plenty of other things to do besides blogging: Editing, proofreading, writing for other blogs (not paid reviews), basically getting your name out there in the famezone.

  15. Posted August 19, 2007 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    J.T Dabbagian: I can’t tell you how much I agree with you that’s it’s more important to build our online portfolio than just blogging for money. Especially for those who take blogging very seriously, and not just as a means of earning the extra income. And then there’s our reputation. By writing “fishy sponsored posts that undermine the readers’ common sense”, one destroy one’s hard-earned reputation too 🙂

  16. Posted August 25, 2007 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    For what it’s worth I think people should do what they like. Why lecture people about what they should and shouldn’t do. We each have our own circumstances. If you want to blog about your life and which socks you put on today then that’s fine, if you decide you want to be the next John Chow then that’s fine too. There are crooks everywhere, people who will bend the rules everywhere, all sorts of scumbags and saints and righteous and unrighteous. None of it adds up to much and it will all be gone one day.

  17. Posted August 26, 2007 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    your post actually enlightens me a little…since i’m trying to decide whether to blog for money. it doesn’t really align with the objectives of my blog actually…….but some side income will actually help me to pay off things like the domain/hosting etc.*sighs* dilemma!

  18. Posted August 26, 2007 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    I agree with The Old Vic. I started monetizing my blog a few months ago.

    Sure, it changed my blog but so have a lot of other things I’ve done over the course of my blogging. It will be three years in February.

    The majority of my sponsored reviews do receive feedback from my readers and advertisers. I think it’s how you present the review. I think about my readers when I create them and only choose the ones I believe they would appreciate.

    The amount of readers I have has increased since I did sponsored reviews. Of course it’s not because of that. I do a lot of interaction with my readers and I’ve always been upfront with them. They knew about the sponsored reviews before I even did them. I put sponsored review at the top of every single review. I’m receiving new readers every week.

    Whether a person is doing it for pocket change or doing it to help pay many of their bills, it does not bother me. It did in the beginning and I had to question myself, why?

    I don’t turn off the radio or television when a commercial comes on and I’m sure those who’ve accepted the advertisements for the company that promotes the advertisement has not tried every single product or service. Why should it bother me if a person reviews a product on their personal website?

    I’ve always reviewed products, the only difference is that in the past three months I started accepting paid reviews. The average amount I make using a paid post company is $45, but when I get them on my own, it’s over $100.

    The lowest amount I’ve accepted is $4. I didn’t care about the money. I really liked the product. A few of the advertisements I’ve done follow up reviews. They are free and I’ve linked back to the original review. I like the products, or services they offer.

    The paid reviews has opened the door for other opportunities. A few of the CEOs from different companies I’ve reviewed have contacted me because of the reviews I’ve done.

    I put the same amount of attention and detail in my paid reviews as I do my “regular posts” and many products I’ve reviewed I’ve used or I am still using. I think my readers realize and appreciate this.

    What I believe has made the difference I always kept them in the loop before I made changes. I do that with any major change that happens on the blog before it occurs. I want to get their opinions and I’ve made several changes based on what they have said.

  19. Posted August 26, 2007 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    The Old Vic: Yes, I agree with you completely that people should do what they like. We can all blog about our lives and the socks that we put on today, but I don’t foresee a lot of readers coming back tomorrow to read what socks you’re going to put on tomorrow.

    Unless you know of other ways to make your readers return, or unless you don’t care about whether anybody reads you, truth is, “what you like” may actually be dictated by “what your readers like”.

    Alvin: I’m glad you find this post enlightening 🙂 It may look like a difficult decision for you to make and my only suggestion to you is to “take things slowly”. But of course, if you’d like to hear my opinion, you’d have to email me (as I’ve learned not to impose my opinions on other people without being asked, LOL).

    Opal Tribble: I’m truly glad that you have been successful by writing sponsored reviews because a lot of bloggers (whom I used to follow closely) have succumbed to writing sponsored posts “because they pay”. If only everybody writes sponsored reviews as honestly and attentively as you do, I’m sure nobody would complain about the amount of sponsored posts in the blogosphere!

6 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] Pelf Nyok shares her experience on why blogging for money isn’t her cup of tea. […]

  2. […] You guys obviously didn’t read my latest guest post on Lorelle’s (I posted the link above). […]

  3. […] Blogging for money isn’t my cup of tea. I have gone a full circle from thinking about “blogging for money” to actually doing it, to doubting myself for writing those sponsored posts because I sometimes tried too hard to blend it into my blog, to empathizing with my readers, to thinking about the directions I wanted my blog to head to, to not writing those sponsored posts anymore. […]

  4. […] I’ve Learned That Blogging For Money Isn’t My Cup of Tea: What happens when you blog and blog and poke and prode at this blog advertising thing, determined to make your blog make you money, and you find out that blogging for money is harder on the spirit than you thought. […]

  5. […] I’ve Learned That Blogging For Money Isn’t My Cup of Tea […]

  6. […] I’ve Learned That Blogging For Money Isn’t My Cup of Tea […]

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