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The Art of the Fan-Based Blog: Cash is Necessary

The Art of the Fan-based Blog badgeBy DB Ferguson of the

If you’re building a fandom blog to create a cash revenue stream, you’re better off getting a second job or setting up an Etsy account. Money can be made, but that should not be a priority for you when it comes to being a fandom blogger.

As part of my series on The Art of the Fan-Based Blog, it’s time to talk cash not trash.

For my site, , the money that I make doesn’t even cover my Internet charges every month. Niche fandom sites cater to a specific audience, most of whom have most probably bought most if not all of the products available from Amazon links.

It’s important to understand that running a fan blog is not about making money. It’s about being the best fan that you can be by supporting your subject through your site, and expressing your fandom in a focused and healthy way.

For me, it’s about being the most comprehensive Stephen Colbert site on the net. The time I spend trying to make money is time I could have spent blogging, making contacts, or just watching some ‘Colbert Report’ videos. This is my hobby, I do this for fun. As long as I break even with my income, I feel good about things.

I’ll admit, I don’t focus on the income at all. I get a few dollars now and again from my sales on the Shop page, and when I do, I invest it back into the site for contests or costs related to blogging. Sometimes I’ll buy my staffers something Stephen related and send it as a thank you, as none of them are paid.

Creating and Selling Fan Products

Many celebrities and fan subjects have their own marketing and product empire. They only permit the sale of licensed products featuring their trademark name and images. Going into business selling “Stephen Colbert” t-shirts or coffee mugs might have been a great idea, but paying the license fees is far beyond my means. So I turn to companies which have paid all the licensing fees and signed all the contracts and sell their products as an affiliate.

Ads found on No Fact Zone

It doesn’t hurt to have an e-commerce shop on your blog. It helps offset costs and brings fan-specific products to the fans. has an affiliate program that allows you to setup your own in-blog store, as do other “product affiliate” marketing services. This allows you to sell things specific to your fandom, like DVD’s, books, and audio directly to the fans within your niche.

If your fandom has a big product launch coming up, put an ad for it on your main site with your Amazon Associate link and encourage advance purchases when you blog about the product. I put up an ad for Stephen Colbert’s best-selling book, “I Am America (And So Can You!)”, on my front page and sold over 200 books!

Remember, It’s Fun Being a Fan

Whenever I’ve investigated monetizing my site, I realize how much time it does take away from the blog. If I was vested in the site for my income, then the time would be justified. However, I started the to be a part of something bigger than me. I enjoy the show and I love the fans even more, since I am one. I want to put my time and energy into the fun social interaction and not into chasing the money.

For me, the benefits outweigh the income. I’ve become an expert in fandom blogs, which lead to me writing this article series for . The blog has opened up doors to projects and connections I never would have dreamed possible. It’s provided me with an experience that no pricey education can buy.

It is your choice how heavily you want to monetize your site. From my personal experience, a fandom blogger can be quite content without a heavily monetized site. Don’t let money be your driving force, and build your site store with a distinct niche focus for best success.

In the last post in this series on developing a fan-based blog, I’ll cover the steps beyond the plans and the community. I’ll talk about how to keep on keeping on and fighting the good fight for your blog and your fandom.

By DB Ferguson of the
DB Ferguson is the webmaster of , a Stephen Colbert-centric news blog and fan site. DB brings in enough income in with her affiliate links to almost cover her iPhone payments every month.

Article Series


  1. Posted December 28, 2008 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle

    I was wondering if you’re using a WP plugin to generate the links in the “Article Series” at the bottom of the post? And if so, which one?

    I notice that when you look at each article in the series, only the preceding articles are listed instead of all the articles published (which seems a shame).

    Cheers from Vancouver, BC (the real Vancouver, not the WA pretender of the same name :-))

  2. Posted December 28, 2008 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Lorelle.

    I’ll try out the Organize Series plugin. The In Series plugin author took his ball and went home in a huff some time ago:

    In Series is unsupported as of WordPress 2.4, because spending all my time updating and testing the plugin just to work with new WordPress releases isn’t very fulfilling, and leaves little time to work on new plugin features. There have been reports of minor breakage in WordPress 2.6, and complete failure in WordPress 2.7. I have no plans to install these or future releases for testing, and no burning desire to un-break in my plugin whatever API damage that the WordPress developers have incurred.

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  1. […] The Art of the Fan-Based Blog: Cash is Necessary […]

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  3. […] Cash is Necessary: Your plan must include income in order to sustain your site and efforts. It’s also a fine line to walk. Understand that the fan site may never make enough money to cover its expenses, but with the right planning, it can make enough to keep it going. […]

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