Can Personal Blogging Survive Monetisation?

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Can personal blogging survive monetisation? According to a recent article: No.

Quick, someone tell Nikki Parkinson, Carly Jacobs and Kayte Murphy, because I don’t think they got the memo.

That’s not to say there aren’t valid points made in the article, there certainly are. It can be difficult to maintain a life and a blog, especially regarding where to draw the line between the two. I’ve often found it difficult to draw boundaries between what I will share and what I won’t, and the boundary I’ve managed to maintain (mostly) is that I only share information about myself, not others.

But other people may not realise what those boundaries are, and I’ve certainly copped “don’t put that on your blog!” from people at parties or during dinner. Which I always think indicates to me that they don’t actually read my blog, or they would have realised by now that’s not my style. After all, who am I? Gossip Girl? No one cares what my friend said at lunch unless it’s universally applicable and my friend is the Dalai Lama (which does happen sometimes, especially with my best friend, because let’s face it you kind of have to be the Dalai Lama to have put up with me for the past 20 years).

I’ve never been able to maintain any kind of style blog due to, as the article quite rightly points out, not being able to wear a new outfit every day. Or, more specifically, every week. I even find it difficult to participate in #EverydayStyle because I feel like I’m constantly caught in a state of reruns. Then there’s the endless problem of finding someone who is willing to take an outfit photo of you and can actually take a good one (in my experience, not usually the same people).

But the thing about blogging, and why it is so much more interesting than traditional media for people like me, is it is an insight into the lives of regular people. It’s life porn. And I just don’t believe you can be successful as a blogger without giving people that insight.

No, life won’t be perfect all the time, but that’s kind of what we, as readers, are counting on.

It’s no surprise my most popular articles of all time have been the ones where I let people in on my deepest, darkest secrets. Or let my walls down (not that they are really walls to begin with, more like sheer curtains) and let people in.

Some blogs are actually built entirely on the premise that the person who is writing it does not have a perfect life – Kerri Sackville’s Life And Other Crisis is exactly that, and incredibly successful in doing so.

With the increase of social media and the ability for regular people to reach cult or even celebrity status, we’re breaking down the meticulously created facade traditional media have spent so many years painstakingly shoving down our throats. And, to me, that’s a good thing. Hell, it’s a great thing.

Can personal blogging survive monetisation? Yes, I think it can. In fact, I think we’re all starting to catch on to advertising’s load of bullshit and are more than happy to accept paid advertising on websites to support the people we want to hear from being able to bring us their true stories and rose-tint-free lives rather than buying in to traditional media’s photoshop laden lie.

After all, we really just want to see people like us.

What do you think? Can personal blogs survive monetisation? Can personal blogs succeed?

 

  • Gary

    Gee I hope personal blogging can easily survive monetisation otherwise I don’t know what I’ll do with Yummy Lummy. You make good points Tamsin and I like your style.

    • http://kikiandtea.com/ Tamsin Howse

      Thanks! And I think it can.

  • Blog lover

    I don’tmind the idea of monetization. It’s a way to make a living. The problem is the transparency and credibility. Bloggers are building a brand but it is essentially about them, their lives, their opinions, their likes and dislikes . The ‘life porn’ we buy in to. Sidebar advertising is no drama. Nor sponsored posts although with some I have personally wondered if they are ‘on brand’ with the blogger. The issue is that some bloggers are actually advocating something amazing, that must have item or fabulous holiday destination which is covertly advertising via affiliate links – often disguised using bit-ly type shortened links. Lining their pockets but can you trust their ‘opinion’? When really it is a review. No different to ‘cash for comment’ and remember how controversial that was? My how the digital age changes everything.

    *don’t think the bloggers you mention here fall Iin to this category BTW

    • http://kikiandtea.com/ Tamsin Howse

      Really good points! I am a member of a few affiliate networks and always forget to put the links in. I feel like it’s fine if it’s disclosed and you would have recommended it anyway. But how can you, as readers, know that I (or someone else) would have recommended it anyway? That’s where building trust is so important – you need to trust in me* to give you the truth.
      *or any blogger

  • http://johnanthonyjames.com/ John James

    I don’t have problem with personal bloggers monetising their blogs. If you have a successful blog, why wouldn’t you try and make money from it?

    What I do have an issue with is people who create personal blogs for no other reason than to make money – I think anyone who does that is setting themselves up for failure.

    I think the only reason you should create a personal blog (as opposed to an activist blog or a brand blog) is because you want to share your life with your friends and family. Aiming for monetisation from the beginning is self-defeating. Blog for yourself, and if you’re lucky enough (and talented enough) to start building an audience, then consider monetising your blog…

    Even then, don’t think you HAVE TO monetise – there’s nothing wrong with being a hobby-blogger.

    As for me – well, I now blog for two reasons – creativity and personal therapy – I don’t blog because I want to make money from blogging. I blog because I enjoy writing, but it’s a hobby, not a passion. Writing is my passion – blogging is just one outlet for my writing passion.

    • http://kikiandtea.com/ Tamsin Howse

      Completely agree. A lot of people seem to start up personal blogs thinking they will be a quick and/or easy way to make cash – WRONG. If you aren’t doing it because you love it, the readers will know.

      • http://johnanthonyjames.com/ John James

        By the way, I think KK&T has evolved more into an “activist” blog, rather than a “personal” blog…

        When you do publish “life-porn” – and I know some of your biggest posts could be classed as that – they are always based on activism of some kind… body image, mental health… this is the KK&T brand… and I think people respect that.

        :)

        • http://kikiandtea.com/ Tamsin Howse

          It never really was a personal blog, but it’s certainly become more activist over the years. My This Week post is really the only life porn post I do, the others are, exactly as you say, activism of some kind just with my own personal experiences behind it.

  • mumabulous

    I dont think people should enter the blogosphere with the sole aim of making money. Only a very small minority will actually make a decent living from it. Personal blogging will survive because people love to write and connect with others.

  • Emma Fahy Davis

    I don’t really know what makes a successful personal blog – I keep writing and people keep reading, yet I constantly find myself thinking ‘is my life REALLY that interesting?!’
    I agree with John James when it comes to monetisation – if you can slot advertising in here and there without deflecting from the purpose of the blog then it’s a great way to earn a small income, but if the sole purpose of your blog is to make money, then I think you lose that authentic ‘realness’ that truly makes it a personal blog.

  • http://www.hairromance.com Christina @ Hair Romance

    Great post Tamsin. I felt that the IFB post was a little bit negative and was surprised that no-one disagreed at all in the comments there. My life and work cross over a lot but I love that they do. For me, that’s the definition of work-life balance.

  • Melissa Savage

    I think it’s more a case of: when your personal blog gets successful and you get a book deal or other media work, you can’t justify devoting the time to it, unless it’s also bringing in money. So, for example, Kerri Sackville posts a lot less these days, because she is concentrating on her books and other work that her blog led to, while Mrs Woog works full time on her blog and its related social media because that is what generates her money.

    There comes a point with online endeavours where you can either grow and you need to monetise to justify the work this requires, or you decide that you are doing it for love and you are satisfied with what you have, and you do it as a sideline to your paying work.

  • Sally

    I’ve been turned off many blogs in recent years. I don’t mind some advertising – occasional paid posts, adverts down the side bar, event blogging, etc. but there have been a few blogs that went so far into monetisation that they lost their personality – everything became about product placement, name-dropping, and (to be frank) brown-nosing. If certain bloggers were paid to promote something then it became the most brilliant “something” ever imaginable. There was very little truth, very little “real life” and, without sounding overly dramatic, the blogs lost their soul – the very reason I started reading them in the first place vanished and was replaced with products and brand names. Nowadays, when time is so precious, I only read the blogs that talk to me and make me relate to the writer.

    • Melissa Savage

      I understand this feel… I also think that blogs lose something when the blogger and/or family start to rely on the blog as full time income. The relatable real life drops away as they stop working outside the home, then their partner starts working full-time on the blog and there is just a lot less for them to draw on for content.

      But then, if I was getting 140,000+ unique visitors a month I’d be cashing in too. Hosting that kind of traffic, and feeding the demand doesn’t come cheap, and I (and probably many others) would kill for a job that paid me a full time wage to work from home in my PJs.

      • Sally

        It would definitely be tempting to cash in (for lack of a better term) but I wonder if it’s sustainable long term?

  • 26 Years & Counting

    I don’t understand why it can’t survive monetisation. As long as the readers are happy with how it’s done – basically openly and with disclosures, then why not? I think how you manage it and how far you go with it is a personal choice and one that can be hard to manage and make the right decisions. But the more we share stories about it, the easier it will be to learn as a community what may and may not work.

  • Lara at This Charming Mum

    As long as the majority of bloggers blog because they like to write, read and make connections with other people, there’ll be plenty of life left in personal blogs. Many bloggers discover that if their whole blog is nothing but a paid ad, the readership falls away anyway. I write about a range of things, with the odd sponsored post thrown in – it’s nice to get a bit of beer money from time to time, but mostly I just like having a free space to ramble on about whatever takes my fancy! As for people at dinner parties – I reckon 9/10 times when people say ‘don’t put that on the blog’ they actually can’t wait to see the article! Not that I would ever mention names if my friends are reading!

  • http://www.leeshawke.com Lee S. Hawke

    As you said, several personal blogs have already made it past monetisation and are still going strong, so I think the answer is yes. I also think the question why some are successful and some aren’t are in line with your argument about authenticity – as long as bloggers stay true to what attracted their audience in the first place, readers will stay. Hopefully.

  • Amanda

    Interesting and timely article for me as I just started a blog only 2 weeks ago. I’m doing it for me primarily and family and friends second. If others find it and like it that’s a bonus. I agree with some other comments on here about some blogs losing their way due to advertising and sponsored posts. I think if you don’t keep it “real” so to speak people see through that.

    Personally I’m finding the blog experience fun and challenging at the same time! I haven’t written anything other than a science paper or email since senior English in 1996, and then I have the whole other language of websites to learn. Two weeks ago I had no idea what a widget or a plugin was!

    I am writing about two things I love – walking and wine in response to being frequently asked about where I have been and what I have done by friends. Instead of scrawling the info on a piece of paper and giving it to them to take on their holidays, over time as I build up content I can just refer them to my blog.

    It’s a nice new hobby that fits in easily to my week and I’m actually finding it relaxing to do a brain dump. I have so much information I carry around in my head this might clear out some space :)

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