Right now, I’m involved in an ongoing Kaizen at work. Basically, my input is required to restructure our entire office procedures and set up, plus my usual responsibilities to my clients. This has been a time-consuming venture of debatable value, that has left me much less time than usual to write posts. Almost no time in fact. More than once my mind has strayed to “I wish I could just watch animes and work on my blog instead of this”… Let’s be clear, I enjoy my job and have no plans whatsoever of becoming a professional writer, but I daydream at times.

I’ve noticed a lot of blogs putting in place all sorts of monetization practices. Whether it’s advertising on the site, Ko-Fi donation apps or Patreon, it seems most of my favorite creators are trying to find a way to balance out the effort and time they put into their work, with a bit of profit to help them keep going. It’s great and a fantastic way to show some support towards people who put out content you enjoy. 

Image result for anime money
I need to watch this anime

I’ve thought about it myself a few times, but I keep coming to the conclusion that it’s just not for me. Despite this, I very regularly get questions about how to monetize a site or generate a profit from your blog. Let me be crystal clear folks – I am operating at a huge loss here – no profit in sight and I keep spending on it instead. Ok, I keep buying manga, games and merch that I read about on your blogs, but I consider that an associated expense. When I mention that I don’t monetize, the almost unavoidable follow up questions is: why? I even got into a moderately heated debate about it over twitter at some point. Ok not heated, Ok not debate… Somebody told me I should do it and I said meh…

For instance, despite having a plan that allows it, I have not activated ads on my blog because I cannot decide which ads are shown. These are different for different people and depend on an algorithm. I would love to sound all high and mighty and say that I refuse to advertise a product unless I have tested it because I love you all so so much but let’s be honest kids, you’ve all been bombarded by hundreds of ads before you ever got here and one more isn’t going to make much of a difference at this point. Obviously I would hate to be advertising something terrible but I have a feeling that WordPress’ quality assurance department is probably better at determining this than I would be by myself.

No no, kind folks, my one and true high ethical concern is that they might be ugly. I spent a lot of time putting this layout together. Despite often failing I also try to make visually attractive posts. Having some blocky ugly add ruin the visual integrity would physically irritate me. It would make me itchy. 

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the visual flow – it’s ruined…

Now I could parry that a little with affiliate links. Those are often customizable, with several icons to choose from and I could probably format them in a way that I find agreeable. This said, I’m on the lazy side and part of me feels it isn’t worth the trouble.  Mostly though, I feel that if I’m directly choosing an affiliate on purpose, at that point I would like to be completely certain I can recommend the product. Maybe I’ll plug Crunchyroll somewhere eventually. I do watch all my anime on it and I’m generally happy with the service. But then again, you probably already have it. And I’m not big on orange.

The other option is to ask for a more direct support from my readers. There are a few options for this of course and the choice largely depends on your ultimate goal. If you have a specific project with an end product in mind, then a kickstarter might be the way to go. I LOVE the crowdfunding revolution and all the wonderful projects it has allowed. So many fantastic games have been kickstarted in the past few years!

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I both desperately want to go and avoid comiket

For those bloggers looking to put together books or games, this is a fantastic option and if you have one, please tell me about it. I don’t have such grand aspirations. I am not sure what I’ll be posting tomorrow. Obviously, for a lot of us, there just isn’t anything to kickstart.

The standard in general funding seems to be Patreon. A lot of bloggers are using the platform in hopes of getting enough patrons to ultimately generate a stable enough income to replace their salaries. The monthly payment model of Patreon assures a certain stability not available with other resources that makes it the most reliable and viable option if you are truly trying to make blogging your full-time job. I really admire people with that type of drive.

For me though, it would be disingenuous. I’m not saying I wouldn’t love writing for a living because I would. It would be a dream. But I don’t think I would ever have the specific mix of guts and discipline it takes to be self-employed. More importantly though, the very second, I get a patron, that very first 1$ a month, transforms my blog from my hobby, sanctuary and détente, to my job. You will no longer be a dear and beloved reader, with whom I share anything and everything that happens to streak through my mind, you will be my boss and I will owe you posts.

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I’m sorry, I’ll get right on it

I know you’re all the best bosses in the world. I know that when you (or I) become patrons for a blog, you’re simply saying – I like your stuff – keep at it, and you don’t really want anything more in return. But *I* am the type of person that will obsess over my new self-imposed responsibilities. That will consider it my duty to try and guess exactly what you all want to read about. That will suddenly care more about views than content because job performance is measurable, and it no longer matters whether I liked a post or not because I am not the one paying for it. I can already feel the writer’s block creeping up.

Honestly guys, don’t be like me. If you have Patrons, they gave money to your blog because they enjoy your writing as is. Just keep doing that and they’ll be thrilled – I’m sure.

This brings me to the last and possibly most personally attractive option. The donate button (buy me a coffee/beer…) Most importantly that little button is so cute that I considered putting a nonfunctioning version on my site just for decoration. C’mon – it’s adorable!

I also like the idea of single one-time donations better. It doesn’t tie the reader down to anything so it’s more like a reward for a job well done than a salary. In my mind, a lovely reader comes across my blog, recklessly and with little regard for health or good judgment plays one of my drinking games then drunk donates a couple of bucks before sending an embarrassing text to their ex

To be honest, the only reason I haven’t set one of those up is that I’m lazy. And I also suspect paypal to be an evil organization bent on taking over the world. Mostly the lazy part though.

I’m really curious guys. Do you have a blog and do you monetize it? Pros/cons? As a reader, do you find those things intrusive or unappealing?

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there’s a reason for this pic

45 thoughts

  1. We’re playing the monetisation game and seeing it as a means of investing back into the blog, with the potential of making it an investment in our daughter’s future. Ultimately we want our blog to look and run its very best for our readers, and we want to add more content features like events coverage. For us right now, running ads just makes the most sense for both those goals. The dream would then be to earn enough that we can be full time writers from home and always be there for our little girl.

    I have to join everyone else now and say that you’re on fire with your captions. That one with Death the Kid’s face actually made me lol 😆

    1. That is a beautiful dream. I have to say your layout works quite well with ads. To me they always looked like a natural part of your blog.
      I would also say you are both absolutely fantastic writers. I would definitely expect people to support you directly should you ever chose to add a donation option.
      And thank you. The captions are often my favorite part to write

  2. Your lovely post convinced me to take off the ads on my website. It’s messes with my formatting and I’m not actually earning anything (well, I’ve earned $7.52 but you need to earn $100 to even withdraw so my “money” is being held hostage).

    Thanks, Iri.

    1. Oh noes, I didn’t mean to discourage you. I actually never found them that intrusive on your site I’m just peculiar about my layout. This said it’s kind of a harsh deal that you can’t get your money until you hit 100$

  3. Interesting thoughts. The only reason I don’t monetize my site is simply because I’m unworthy of any monetary donations as an upkeep—I admit it to myself that I’m honestly not around my blog enough to justify having anyone (even if of their free will) donate money to me and my efforts on a monthly basis. And I’m totally fine with that! It means that I can work at my own pace, and have conversations with friends whenever I personally feel like it (because let’s be honest, sometimes we want a break from communication). Ko-fi is a *cute* step in the right direction, however, and if I were EVER to get back on the horse and promise frequent posts, then it may be something to consider. Cheers to your resilience and yearning to decide what you think is best for YOU!

        1. It’s no pressure really – As long as you post a couple of times a day every single day and more on weekends – we’ll be all good.

  4. This is something hard to decide, indeed. Years ago I had google ads on a blog that I don’t update anymore. But I think that, unless you have A TON of views, it doesn’t pay off, because your site looks ugly, and takes years to get to $100 so that you can get the money.
    I don’t know about ko-fi, but I know that donating directly through paypal is not a good idea, at least for small donations ($1). They get a HUGE percentage of small transactions and although it goes down as the value of the donation goes up, I don’t think most readers would be donating $10 or more, for example.
    What I like and use on my blog is affiliate links, but not banners/scroll or ads. When I review a book, manga or anything, I put a direct link to amazon, and that’s it. You get a percentage of the sale amazon would have done anyway.

    1. That sounds reasonable and logical. It doesn’t work quite as well for anime bloggers who tend to stick to TV shows but it is something I ould personally consider to visual novel reveiews for instance. Thanks for the input!

  5. Monetisation isn’t something I’ve really thought about because I haven’t been on WordPress as a blogger for too long. It’s part laziness and part worrying about my information’s security (due to the details you’d have to hand over to Patreon or other sites to start getting money) that stops me from blogging for money, but now that you mention money makes it an obligation, there would be a part of that in there too.

    There are some good arguments here, so if I ever change my mind about it, I now know where to go.

    1. Coming here again because…well, this is gonna be a bit of a story…

      At the time of this old comment, I was a hobbyist blogger and, by extension, saw monetising my content as morally wrong (and ads as a necessary evil as a method to keep free WordPress afloat), but after a suggestion in the server I frequent which said something to the effect of “Aria should have a tip jar” (<- because I do various translation work for free as a way to level up on my quest to be a Big Time Translator), I opened a Kofi (using "Aria Noyed" as a "business name") and confided in an old fan of mine (from Tumblr, pre-Spellbook) such an option was available.

      They stuck some money in it, as you might expect from someone who's been wanting to compensate me for my hard work for so long, and…my first reaction was, oddly(…?), horror. (It's the entire "I don't deserve to be rewarded for my hard work" mentality baked into me from years of expending my effort for free on various things, I think.)

      After doing the research on the benefits of Patreon vs Kofi, it turns out you can use an alias on both. (You still need to fork over your personal details either way, though I had to learn to worry less about my details being online due to the pandemic.)

      So I came back here, partially to share my findings and partially to make good on what I said almost 4 years ago. Having read this post again, I might monetise in the near future just to experiment with it, but if that fails, then I have stuff to fall back on.

      1. I wish you luck. It certainly isn’t a very dependable source of income but it does seem that just about every blogger out there has some sort of monetization nowadays so it certainly must have some advantages

  6. All I really have to say is that the thought of monetization reduces my motivation to make a blog even furhter. The largest part is the hobby-to-job thing you address. Other than feeling an obligation towards the (potential) readers, there’s also feeling an obligation to anime creators, which means asking for permission for every single screen shot I’d intend to use. I’m fine with just using them as long as it’s just a hobby. If I take money for it, I won’t feel comfortable until I completely and thoroughly respect copyright. (That’s maybe a hypocritical position to hold, but that’s how I’d feel.)

    1. Oh I get that but copyright provisions for review and parody are pretty much the same internationally. So unless you plan on putting more than 60% or so, you should be ok. Don’t get me wrong – it would be nice of you. So far it seems people who actually monetize don’t seem to be seeing it as burden so I might be wrong about it.

      1. I’m the Ultimate Worrier, so I’d have to make double and triple sure I’m not overstepping my mark. You’re probably right about the regulations, and it should be easy to find out. The main thing is: the moment I’m monetizing something I’ll think of it as a business (which includes other things, too, such as income tax declaration, etc.). And I wouldn’t want the hassle.

  7. Well, you know I am on patreon but it doesn’t make me feel like blogging is an obligation. Rather, when someone pledges support I feel like the content I am creating is valued and it makes me more motivated and it makes the writing process even more enjoyable knowing that someone actually wants it. That said, it isn’t as though I’ve been hugely successful on patreon but I am earning enough to cover the blog subscription and some of my anime services at this point. Not actually making a profit but making the hobby slightly more affordable.

  8. Hmm well I did thought about monetizing my blog sure and it’s something I want to do in the future (if the odds favor me) xD however my blog is too recent and too small for that yet xp
    But, non the less, I’m going to give you my idea about it! XP
    1. I don’t think that working as a blogger would take the fun out of it xP I already go with a strict schedule and I try to never fail it. Even when I’m going on holidays and I really want to just relax I schedule all the posts I need to post during that time
    2. Ads on the blog are a No! Contrary to YouTube adds, the blog adds are something that I see as a eye sore to people who may be reading! (and I also take the design part of my blog somewhat seriously)
    3. Patreon – I don’t see what I could give to someone that would make them want to pay me xD so it’s also a no… At least for now
    4. Buy me a ko-fi – my idea is exact the same as yours to be honest, but I don’t think someone would be able to make a living just with that
    5. Something that I think it’s the way I would go… Merch! I have a logo and from the beginning I put my marketeer brain thinking of doing this blog, as a hobby sure, communicating as a brand, which in this case I’m the brand… But things like Arthifis place and “welcome to my place” is branding and I could use it to create Merch… I dunno… For example selling entrance Matt’s saying welcome to my place with my own design and logo… Something like that…
    Sorry for the “business” talk but that’s my ideas on things xD in the end I always thought to myself that I wanted to be an entertainer (and it’s the only dream that didn’t change for ages) so yeah… If possible I’ll give it a go xD

    1. oohhh Merch is a great idea – it does sound very intimidating though for those of us who have never made any type of manufactured goods.

  9. The biggest problem I am currently facing is time. I have a very busy day job and while I at times during breaks try to read some posts and respond to comments, I hardly have time during the day to do this. Which means that I have to do that when I get home. Honestly today, I had a day that was terribly exhausting and I kid you not, I have already been reading posts for about an hour and a half, and I haven’t even gotten to the enormous amount of comments that are awaiting me. Which is all fine..but I do notice that at days like this it can be overwhelming a bit. Which doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it, but I would also like to just sit down and relax a bit with a good anime or book.
    Which brings me to your question for bringing monetising to my blog. For me that’s a no. As Auri said, I have a very irregular posting schedule too, and for me blogging is still just a hobby (although it’s become a very big hobby lol) I don’t have plans to turn it into a profession nor do I think that is ever going to happen. When I turn it into a monetising blog, there comes an extra pressure, and I want blogging to remain fun. When there is more pressure you start to lose the fun factor, and that for me isn’t worth it.
    So….in other words, the short and simple answer is: no 😊😊

    1. I can never quite wrap my head around how much you get done Raist. You have my full blessing to occasionally skip my posts and sit back ith a good movie instead!

  10. Nothing wrong with being lazy Irina! This is a hard thing, because many of us started blogging as a hobby and once it becomes a job that love and joy can disappear. I use to do book blogging and it was fun, but once publishers started to send book after book for a review it stopped being fun for me.

    I do like the idea of Patreon over ads though, because most people have some form of ad block on their browser. If I ever decide to do the monetization thing, I’d probably go with that platform over anything else. I’d just have to stop being a lazy blogger first.

  11. Honestly for a topic like this there isn’t a single answer is there Rin-san?
    I, for one have never thought of monetising as viable option, because blogging for me at the moment is a hobby.
    Studying is what my profession(i.e, I’m a high school student ^^) is, and when it comes to exams I hate studying. I generally like it otherwise, odd as it may sound.
    I guess I never liked the concept of doing something FOR something. Makes me sound slightly arrogant haha.

    For me, another point is that I’m extremely irregular in posting. I haven’t got a schedule or such, just post when I write…
    So it was never an option for me. Because I’d feel guilty that despite taking a step forward and getting people to help me out, I’m not really delivering anything in return.

    But all said and done, I guess as a reader it isn’t unappealing as such. I would love to buy many people a coffee, but again, I don’t get pocket money XD

    1. Oh there isn’t a single right or wrong at all but it’s nice to get a feel for what everyone thinks on the subject and as always it’s especially nice to hear from you.
      I was the same way in school. LOVED studying until I HAD to

  12. I’m hugely interested in Ko-Fi but guess what. I’m on the same lazy side as you…

    I can’t see myself suddenly asking even a dollar from strangers. Oh and unlike you: nobody has ever brought up this topic with me lol

    1. Really? I get random DMs and emails a few times a week! I’m not sure what vibe I’m putting out there but it may be the “I don’t do anything for free” vibe. Better than the previous one mind you

  13. I opened a Patreon for a couple of reasons, primarily to show that it was possible to be an independent gaming blogger outside of the mainstream commercial ad-supported games press (which has been declining into a festering pit of clickbait bullshit for the past few years with no signs of improving) and still make at least a bit of pocket change from it. I don’t make a LOT, but the few dollars I make a month prove that there are 1) people out there who appreciate my content and 2) people out there who think good writing is worth writers getting paid for. Number 2 in particular is something not enough people think about in this age of “everything should be free on the Internet”.

    I haven’t signed up for WordPress Premium as yet but I intend to when I have the disposable income to do so; I don’t intend to put ads on my blog, though. (Any ads you might see on my current blog are WordPress’ doing as I’m still on their free plan despite having a custom domain name.) Ads are the bane of quality content so far as I’m concerned, because they encourage you to write posts to maximise traffic (and thus revenue) rather than simply to write about the things you’re actually interested in and passionate about.

    Indeed, my aforementioned beef with the commercial games press is primarily due to the fact that the business as a whole is relying increasingly on “hatesharing” and “outrage clicks” — negativity intended to attract people to the pages to leave angry comments and spread it around in annoyance, because human nature means we’re inevitably more likely to share things we’re pissed off about. That’s causing all discourse surrounding my favourite hobby to degenerate into shouting matches. I don’t want to be a part of that and I kind of hate myself a bit when I do get drawn into it.

    Knowing people are paying me for my content helps keep me motivated, too. My site is still primarily a vanity project, to be perfectly honest, but the fact people think it’s worth me getting paid for helps keep me finding things to write about week after week, month after month, year after year. And I’m fine with that — it’s not taking over my life, I still have a day job, I still have time to do the things I want to do, but I’m having fun with it, getting a bit of pocket money from it, and other people are enjoying it too.

    1. The moral implication of favoring traffic at all costs and how ade revenue fuels that is an interesting topic. I always think it has a much bigger impact on the industry as a whole rather than independant blogs but then again, if one is honestly trying to make a living from their blog, it makes sense that they would be heavily incentivised to drive up traffic at all costs.
      Great point Pete! And it is nice to feel that people still aprreciate good writing even if “good” does tend to be a rather subjective benchmark.

  14. i kinda operate along a similar vein. my site has pretty much been a money pit that ive accepted. ive never considered monetizing my site largely because it would make me feel more obliged towards the site. on a flip side, i dont really want anyone else to feel that they have any sort of obligation towards me, as though my thoughts on anything require compensation to give. there’s also admittedly a sense of “i dont feel like im good enough to ask for that” too.

    i dont particularly think less of people who choose to monetize, which is why ive never devoted a post to it on my site (not saying you do, but people can get the wrong idea and i never wanted to give that impression). i do think that ads are kind of a relic of the past, though. im open to being proven wrong, but i dont think they’re ever worth considering because the return is minimal and you’re opening yourself up to code you dont control (as you said as well)

    1. I definitely have nothing against people who monetize. I’ve found that a lot of WordPress blogs are more interesting, better research and just a better product than some professional blogs out there.
      Being a newer smaller blogger I probably am less intimidating for those who are starting out because I get monetixation question very regularly. I figured there was an interest in the subject but sadly, as can be seen, I don’t have any first hand knowledge to bring. I was hoping it could get a conversation started.

      1. id probably agree. if there’s a discussion to be had, id be happy to have it. i dont particularly have firsthand knowledge either. ive just done some research on the subject. id be curious to see how others think. the most common justification ive seen is to cover server costs, but that’s never worked for me. my own server has never felt like a huge expense

        1. I quite liked Pete’s comment of using it as motivation and a general guage of people’s interest. This said I am curious about the general consensus, if there is one.

  15. This was such an interesting read! I set up a Ko-Fi account not long ago because I want to monetise my blog at some point but I’m trying to kickstart my career while I’m studying 😆 I hadn’t thought about the ads shown when you monetise which is an interesting and valid point! Great post! 😄

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