Blogging for Bucks: Why I Don’t Just Blog “For Me”

yellow sundress and Vivienne Westwood cherries shoes

(This photo has absolutely nothing to do with the post.)

Over the past few months, I’ve been noticing an increasing level of controversy in the blogosphere (oh, how I hate that word) surrounding the issue of blogging for money. Bangs and a Bun and A Thrifty Mrs have both addressed the topic this week, and I’ve found myself wholeheartedly agreeing with what they’ve had to say, and specifically, with this:

Amen to that, sister.

And yet, this attitude that Muireann talks about is one that comes up again and again. I’ve read SO many negative comments about pro-bloggers now, ranging from the sneeringly contemptuous “People actually think they can make a living out of blogging? How sad!” to the oft-repeated view that blogging should only ever be a hobby, and that those who turn it into a career are somehow “selling out” or letting the side down. “I blog for MYSELF!” these people cry, proudly. “I would NEVER try to make money from my blog!”

Well, I blog for myself too: even if I didn’t make another penny from it, I’d probably still keep blogging at Forever Amber, because I love it. But I also blog for money: Shoeperwoman and The Fashion Police are both  commercial blogs, which were set up as business concerns, with the sole aim of making money.  And they do make money. Not a huge amount of it, granted – I’m not going to be selling up and moving to the Caribbean any time soon – but enough for me to have been able to make blogging my career, and the sole source of my income. This makes me something of a pariah in certain sectors of the blogging community, but I have absolutely no shame about the way I choose to earn my living, and here’s why:

When I first started blogging, back in 2006, I had absolutely no idea that it was something I could hope to make a living out of. I was a freelance journalist at the time, and Forever Amber was just a natural extension of the Livejournal I’d kept for years at that point – and, I guess, of the dozens of paper journals I’d faithfully recorded my life in from the age of 11 onwards. (I still have them. I can’t read them without wanting to go back in time and slap my younger self.)

Forever Amber

(This photo has nothing to do with the post either.)

It didn’t occur to me that I could make money out of  blogging until I started freelancing for Shiny Media in 2007. And when the penny finally dropped that hey, some people were actually making money out of writing about shoes and dresses, and that it may as well be me, it didn’t occur to me that there was anything controversial about that. It still doesn’t, if I’m honest. All I thought was that if there was an opportunity for me to make a living out of doing something I loved, I was sure as hell going to take it.

I would challenge anyone presented with that opportunity to turn their back on it. Isn’t that the dream, after all? That you find a way to turn a hobby into a career, and no longer have to dread Monday mornings, or stand in the shower wishing you could vanish down the plughole instead of going into work? It was for me. It was MY dream. (Turning a hobby into a career, I mean, not blogging specifically. When I was a kid, I didn’t go around saying, “When I grow up I want there to be a thing called The Internet and I want to write words about shoes on it. We will call it “blogging”.) I just hadn’t found a way to make it happen yet, and when I finally did, I jumped on it. And I would do it again.

When I set up my commerical blogs, I made no bones about the fact that I was hoping to make some money from them. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy writing for them, or that I’m not passionate about the subject matters those sites cover, because I do, and I am. The reason I chose to create blogs about fashion, shoes and makeup was because I’m interested – sometimes to the point of obsession – in those subjects, and I believed I’d do a better job writing about something I genuinely loved. As corny as it might sound, Terry’s illness had been a bit of a “come to Jesus” moment for me. It had made me realise that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life commuting to a temperature-controlled office every day to do something I didn’t enjoy. We all have to earn a living somehow, but I wanted to earn mine doing something that didn’t feel like a chore to me: blogging was that thing, and it came along at exactly the right time. I will be forever grateful for that.

yellow sundress

(Neither does this one. Although I did receive those shoes from a PR company. Sellout!)

Again, I didn’t think for a second that I was “selling out” by creating those sites, or that there was anything even remotely controversial about them. In fact, I viewed them in the same way someone else might view a startup magazine or newspaper. No one tells a newspaper journalist or a feature writer on a fashion magazine that they should write purely “for themselves”, and that taking a salary every month makes them a dirty rotten sellout. In fact, I don’t think there are ANY professions where it’s considered the norm for people to work for nothing, and if there are, I don’t want any part of them. I have to pay the bills somehow, after all. And, you know, buy the shoes.

Of course, one of the main objections to blogging for bucks is the idea that if you’re making money from your blog, you can’t possibly be trusted. So, basically, no one who has adverts on their blog is ever telling the truth. No one who receives a product sample to review is ever able to review it honestly: they just say nice things in order to keep the freebies coming. And, you know, I’m sure there are bloggers like that (Although quite why you’d write a glowing review of a product you hated just so you could get even MORE of the products you hate is beyond me.) We’re not ALL like that, though. It is possibly to blog with integrity AND get paid for it. It’s possible to tell a PR person that sure, they can send over that product (IF it’s something that’s going to be of interest to the readers of the blog), but that you may not choose to review it, and if you do, you’ll do so honestly. If they’re a professional firm, that’s exactly what they’ll expect, anyway.

For me, one of the best things about blogging is that it can be anything you want it to be. If you want it to be a purely creative outlet, then it can. If you want it to be a way to record your life, and to share it with your family and friends, then it can be that, too. And if you want to try and turn it into a career, there’s really nothing stopping you.  So if you want to blog purely for yourself, and you have no interest in making money from it then that’s absolutely fine and no one will think any the less of you.  As for me, though, I’m going to continue doing my best to make a living out of something I love.

Forever Amber

Edited to add: Thanks for all your comments on this, everyone! I just wanted to make it clear that this post wasn’t about criticism I’ve received personally - it was just in response to the various comments I read about pro-blogging in general, which obviously strike a chord with me because it’s what I do!

 

87 Comments

  • Twelve52 says:

    This was lovely to read and I wholeheartedly agree with everything you’ve been saying. When I first started blogging many years ago it was an extension of the online writing work I was doing and a sort of add-on to my writing portfolio. In a way I’m a pro blogger already as I freelance for company websites and write their blogs and content but now I’m slowly moving into setting up my own professional blog and online magazine and couldn’t be more excited. If that’s the route I want to pursue then why shouldn’t I? Blogging has always had a career slant for me in one way or another, I already write professionally so this is just the natural next step. I totallly fail to see a problem with that! Sorry – rant over!

    • Amber says:

      Rant away :)

      I wonder if people from a more journalistic background are perhaps less likely to see an issue with blogging for money? I guess if you’re being paid to write for some other type of media it does seem like the logical next step…

  • Louise says:

    I think it’s completely bizarre that pro-bloggers should be treated any differently to any other journalist. If someone reviews a pair of shoes in Vogue are they not doing exactly the same thing that you do, but through a different media? Actually, I prefer to read fashion blogs as boggers tend to be more in touch with real people than some random socialite who’s living off daddy’s trust fund and only got the gig because of her connections. I think you should be proud that your enterprising nature has delivered a career you enjoy, and other people should live and let live. X

    • Amber says:

      I actually think some bloggers (although obviously not all) hold themselves to a much higher standard than magazines and newspapers on the issue of freebies. A beauty magazine will never, for instance, specifically say “By the way, this product was sent to us for free by a PR company”, but most bloggers I know do (I always say where something has come from and whether or not it was free). It’s actually required by the FTC in America for bloggers to disclose freebies – interestingly, though, the traditional media isn’t held to that same standard!

      • That is a really good point. Magazines never disclose whether they received freebies, so really why do Bloggers have to?

        • Diane says:

          I think it would be better if magazines did! A lot of their content is dictated by sponsorship and ads, much more than we readers probably realise. Transparency all round would be wonderful.

          • Amber says:

            Absolutely. When I worked for newspapers, the advertising department would force us to pull stories their advertisers wouldn’t like. And I don’t think I’ve EVER read a negative review of a product in a magazine, but I’ve read plenty of them on blogs!

            • Diane says:

              Exactly! I only realised fairly recently (and rather naively, but the result of my freelancing rather than ever having worked in a mag/paper offices) that this was common practice in (for want of a better term) mainstream media. I like a lot of the ways blogging is changing coverage and enforcing honesty is one of them :)

  • Louise says:

    BTW, I meant bloggers, not boggers. Fail.

  • Elle says:

    I use to think of it as ‘selling out’. I would make nasty remarks about ‘the brand sluts’ till I realised that this was out of pure jealousy. If I could make money from blogging I would so do it. But my little blog just isn’t the money making kind, hence me being nasty about it. So to everyone living the dream and making money from a fun hobby, Big up to you!

    • Claire says:

      Fair play for saying that, not a lot of people would do so! x

    • Amber says:

      It’s really interesting to hear from someone who’s had those thoughts about it! I’ve often wondered how people who look down on pro-bloggers would react if they suddenly found themselves in a position to do the same thing – and I don’t mean just “here, have a free lipstick in return for a review”, but finding yourself with enough traffic to be able to continue to do exactly what you’re doing with your blog, but make a significant amount of money from it. I think a lot of people would find it quite hard to say no to that, although, some people seem to feel so strongly about advertising being a bad thing that perhaps not.

  • I take my hat off to you for what you’ve achieved and don’t for a second believe that anyone who criticises you for it would not swap shoes. (no that wasn’t intended)

    I’m a freelance writer & just started blogging a few months ago, because like you, I wanted to write about the things I’m passionate about. I haven’t really thought beyond that at this stage, but if I ever do end up lucky enough to be in your shoes, I’ll be very happy! :)

    Nic x

  • Myra says:

    What about the diarists who go on to sell their autobiographies, particularly politicians whom we are paying to perform a public service and they sell their memoirs. You having fun writing makes it interesting to read as you completely engage with it and respond directly to your readers. Happy writing and money making xx

  • MyraMyra says:

    I wonder how the complaining people make their money and how they would feel if someone told them they should be doing for free.

    • Gemma says:

      Amen to this! Exactly how I feel. They might argue that they don’t ‘enjoy’ their job which is why they’re paid, but bloggers enjoy it so why should they get financial reward. But I think there’s a big difference between coming home and doing an outfit post or a nice beauty review each night, and doing what Amber does – blogging all day and often all night too!

      • Moni says:

        That’s what I wanted to say. Blogging for money from home and “getting paid for looking at beautiful shoes” (as Amber once put it) does sound great to all of us who have to get up early every day and commute to a job they don’t enjoy.
        On the other hand that is not paradise, either. I have had a business myself for a few years. Being self-employed is a constant struggle. It takes a lot of work to get the business going in the first place, and after that you have to keep it in the swing. You never know how much money exactly you’ll earn this month and if it’s going to be as much next month, too. Then there’s all the bureaucratic and legal stuff that you have to keep up with.
        And on top of it you can never just call it a day and go home. You can’t even go on vacation and leave your work at home, because people do expect you to write stuff on a daily basis, which means you’ll have to work in advance (like Amber does) or live with the fact that you will lose readers (= income) with every day you are away. The same goes for being sick or tragic events in the family,…
        Add to that the fact that you will not have a guaranteed pension, and that your interests might change during the next years. You may LOVE scouting the net for shoes/horses/TV-Shows/… now, but if that changes, you’re stuck with a working website and a loyal community of followers, but can’t be bothered to write about the chosen subject anymore. Or it’s the other way round, that you are still passionate about the chosen subject, but the public interest has moved on.
        Anyway, hats off to Amber and Terry for going the distance, and all the best for your further career!!! :)

      • Claire says:

        I bet they wouldn’t say that footballers/models/doctors/vets or anybody else who is doing, and loving their dream jobs shouldn’t be paid for it ‘because they enjoy it’ – so why bloggers? Great point. x

        • ayemiy says:

          Actually you’d be surprised.

          In my line of work, we are often met with “If you cared about animals at all you’d do this for free.” Like they think that overheads don’t exist, that we don’t have to pay for premises, for drugs and, dare I say it, our time.

          Lots of us come up against serious hassle for charging for our time. And you know what? Thousands of pounds of debt, five years of university and years of unpaid work experience for the privilege really hits hard when people tell you you’re a thief for charging them for their animals’ treatments. :(

          So bloggers, you’re not alone. The vets get where you’re coming from too. x

          • Amber says:

            Wow, that’s awful! I mean, I always assume that vets are people who love animals, sure, but to expect them to work for FREE? Do people even realise how long vets have to train for? Absolutely shocking.

      • Amber says:

        Yes! A lot of people I’ve heard speak negatively about pro-blogging do seem to keep coming back to this idea of it not being a “proper” job. And from what I can work out, for them, a “proper” job seems to be one which is a) done in an office, and b) is very difficult or unpleasant for the person doing it. I’ve never really understood that, because even if I wasn’t blogging, I would still want to be doing something I enjoyed: if that means I don’t have a “real” job, then so be it – as long as the mortgage company consider it to be real money I’m paying them every month, I can’t complain! And each to their own. I guess if someone wants to force themselves to do something they dislike every day so they can feel like they have a “proper job” and are living in the “real” world, then fair play to them!

        I do think the working from home element is a big stumbling block for a lot of people. I very rarely see the phrase “working from home” used in a sentence that does not also include the words “pyjamas” and “daytime TV”!

    • Amber says:

      I think probably where they’re coming from is that they DO blog for free, and as a hobby, and because that’s what they do, they think everyone else should be the same. But that’s like someone who likes to play the guitar, say, thinking that there should be no professional musicians because THEY just do it as a hobby. I honestly don’t really understand the issues with it: it’s not like the fact that some people do it professionally prevents anyone else from just doing it as a hobby, after all!

  • Caroline says:

    Hell, I blog “for me” but if someone offered to pay me to write I would bite their arm off! I would take a pay cut in an instant, if it meant I could blog full-time and still pay the rent.

    I always take these “sellout” comments as jealousy to be honest – and that’s not a defensive or knee-jerk reaction, it’s what automatically crosses my mind.

    • Amber says:

      “I would take a pay cut in an instant, if it meant I could blog full-time and still pay the rent.”

      That’s exactly where I was coming from when I started. (And when I started freelancing in general.) It was mostly just a lifestyle thing for me. I didn’t expect to make a fortune out of it, I just wanted to be able to do something from home, that I would enjoy, and that wouldn’t be too stressful. I had always hated working in a corporate environment, and I just wanted to be able to enjoy my life more, and not feel so stressed all the time. There seems to be this idea for some people that you’re a lesser being unless you’re striving for some high-powered career, but that’s not for everyone: I just wanted to be able to pay my bills and also take my dog for a walk in the middle of the day if the mood hit me.

  • Caroline says:

    P.S. Love this dress x

  • Roisin says:

    I’m with Caroline. I love blogging and if I could make a living out of it, I would. So it’s never really crossed my mind to think of any pro blogger as a sellout. That’s not to say I’m not critical of some pro bloggers (mainly the ones who do not proof read their work before hitting publish! You’re NOT one of these, Amber) but again I agree with Caroline – those crying ‘sellout’ are probably motivated quite a lot by envy.

    What I can’t stand is how some bloggers are so prescriptive, like there’s only one right way to do it. It seems to be an epidemic at the moment – in a lot of the sewing blogs I read there are proper arguments about whether it’s correct to make a toile before sewing a garment, and whether it’s acceptable to use quilting weight cotton to make a dress. I mean posts with hundreds of replies, each arguing the ‘right’ way to do things, like there’s only one. When did it all get so bloody judgmental, and where are all these self-appointed experts coming from?! Have an opinion, sure. Look at something and thing ‘well, that’s not how *I* would do it’, fine. Think to yourself ‘Hhm, well that bit’s not entirely correct’, great. But when it comes to shitting on other people for their decisions, bitching about it publicly, calling others out for how they make their living? Honestly? STOW IT.

    • Amber says:

      Oh yes… and I actually find this to be the case with the internet/people in general now. Everyone’s an expert and a critic these days. Everyone seems desperate to tell you where you’re going wrong, and how they would do it better – right down to the taxi drivers I wrote about in San Francisco all wanting to tell us that we shouldn’t be going to see the things we were there to see! I’m frequently amazed by some of the things people want to argue over, too!

  • I wish that was a speech so I could stand up and applaud. >_> I’m going to do it anyway….Okay done. I’m so lame. But, yea, I agree with everything you said here. Thank you for posting this.

    Yasmeen
    Castle Fashion

  • Oh I’m going to tack on one more thing. Just a thought! The one thing that really, really bothers me in blogging is the wealth of disillusioned bloggers the internet seems to have. There are thousands of girls who don’t post good content and want to be recognized for it. It blows my mind.

    Yea. That really bugs me. Okay, I think I’m done. :P

    • Amber says:

      I think there are a lot of people who just assume that it’s going to be easy: that all they have to do is set up a blog, copy some of the things they’ve seen on other blogs, and suddenly be the next Dooce. And of course, unless you get really lucky, it’s going to take years to build up a blog to a level where it’s even moderately successful, and most people don’t want to wait that long. I think the ease of entry to blogging makes it really easy for people to think everything about it is going to be equally easy. Not true!

  • I absolutely agree! Everyone would do it if they had the opportunity (and were willing to put more work into their blogs). Another round of “I don’t get why people just can’t let each other be!” Same old, same old ;-) I don’t make differences between hobby bloggers and professional bloggers. I just read blogs that I like, and I happen to find yours hilarious :-D

    Relatable Style

    • Amber says:

      That’s a really good point – I don’t have separate sections in my Google reader for “hobby blogs” and “professionals”: I just read the ones I like!

  • Natasha says:

    It’s a ridiculous debate. If you hope to write a really good blog (like yours are), it takes up A LOT of time. I tried blogging seriously, but as soon as I had to go back to work (and mind you, I only work for like 3 hours a day), I couldn’t keep up anymore. So people who write quality blogs with regular posts don’t have time for another, “real” job. And they have to eat too (and buy shoes). And, you know, people are fickle. The majority of your readership would probably leave you if you didn’t write regularly. Everybody hates those posts that start with “Hey people, I’m really sorry I haven’t been around for the past 3 weeks, but…”
    People need to realize that proper blogging, when it comes to the amount of work and time it takes IS a real job, and it should be paid like one.

    • Amber says:

      “The majority of your readership would probably leave you if you didn’t write regularly.”

      They do, trust me! I get angry emails if I dare go on holiday. I have always put the success of blogs like TFP and Shoeperwoman partly down to the consistency: people know there will be new posts to read Mon-Fri, so they come back for them. And I would never try to argue that it’s the toughest job in the world or anything, because it just isn’t, but creating a large amount of content day after day, and doing all of the other things that come with blogging as a business is pretty time consuming. I work much, much longer hours than I did in an office: I guess the difference is that I actually enjoy it!

  • Hear Hear!!! I absolutely agree.

    I would love to make money out of blogging because it is something I love to do. At the moment I am not quite at that point, and my blog is written partly for me and partly for connecting with others. But that is not to say I may not monetise my blog in the future.

    I think blogging needs to be accepted as a legitimate form of media, and actually that is really exciting.

    Great post!

  • Minka says:

    There is nothing more awesome in this world than doing what you truly love and what you are really good at and making living from it. That is what I want to do and I truly look up to people who have been able to achieve such balance in their lives. And blogging is hard work, no question about that. If my livelihood depended on my blogs I would have starved to death long, long ago. :)

  • Toni says:

    I’ve received similar criticism but of a slightly different nature, so I really do empathise and agree absolutely with what you’ve said. I’ve had A LOT of nasty comments about my Apollo blog, stating that if I run advertising (which I do, and it pays the hosting and that’s about it, so why I’d spend so much time just making money to allow a site that drains so much time to exist, I don’t know. Wow, run on sentence – READ MY BLOG, GRAMMAR IS AWESOME) then somehow my posts cannot be based on fact. I mean, I kind of get what they’re saying, what with my blog posts being based on science and that being 100% subjective and in no way totally factual one way or the other, y’know?

    I’ve blogged “for myself” and I’ve blogged for money too. They have different appeals, but if I could make my entire living off the Apollo blog, I’d do it in a freakin’ heartbeat. Also, There is a small, cynical part of me that thinks those who advocate blogging “for themselves” aren’t actually sure how to go about it. But I probably say that because I spend too much time around conspiracy theorists…

    In short: agree totally, power to Amber.

    • Toni says:

      Oh my eejitry: there is a small, cynical part of me that thinks those who advocate blogging “for themselves” aren’t actually sure how to go about making money – that’s what I meant. Clearly my fingers were too slow to catch up with my mind.

    • Amber says:

      I remember you mentioning this before about your Apollo blog, and not being able to comprehend why you were getting so much stick from people about it – so sad!

      I also feel that the “I blog for myself” thing is a bit disingenuous, too. I know I said in my post that I blog “for myself” on this site, but that’s not actually true: if I wanted to truly write for myself, I would just go back to keeping a private journal, where I could write EXACTLY what I wanted, without having to worry about what people would think of it, whether I was boring them, if there were any typos, whether I was being politically correct enough, etc, etc. I don’t think many blogs are ACTUALLY written purely for the writer: you’re writing for an audience at the end of the day, and that’s totally different from writing “for yourself”, regardless of whether or not you’re being paid for it.

      • Caroline says:

        I think perhaps the definition of blogging “for yourself” differs from blogger to blogger – when I say I blog “for myself” I don’t mean I *write* for myself (I do actually have a journal for that one) but that I blog for the pleasure it brings me to see people reading and occasionally commenting. I blog for the rewards of camaraderie and, yes, friendship – rather than financial rewards – so in a way that rewards me directly rather than anyone else.

        Crikey – does that make any sense at all?? :S

        • Amber says:

          Oh, yes, that totally makes sense – that’s pretty much why I have this blog, in fact! What I meant by that is just that even when I blog here, “for myself”, there is always an awareness of the fact that I’m writing for an audience, and a desire to produce content that the audience will like, and I think that shapes the blog in a way that it wouldn’t perhaps go if I was writing strictly for myself, in which case it would be all photos of my dog and long, introspective ramblings, peppered with song lyrics :)

          You’re right, though, there is definitely a difference between writing for yourself and blogging for yourself, I I didn’t think of it that way!

  • Alison says:

    Well said Amber. I don’t understand the controversy either. It makes no sense. Why would you not do something you love for a living if it pays the bills? If you ask me, selling out is more apt in the case of someone doing something they hate for a living just to collect big bucks. Either way, live and let live I say.

  • Carys says:

    Surely it’s up to the individual? Blog for yourself – no problem. Blog for your job – it’s all good. Blog to support yourself/live – it’s all good! When did something that was a viable career option become selling out?

    However, the most important part of this post is – where are your sunglasses from? Because they are GAWJUS!

  • Claire says:

    Great post!

    I’ve been blogging just under a year now and have started to put affiliate links into my posts where relevant, and some advertising on the sidebar. I also take sponsored posts and am PR friendly if they’d like to send products to review. Does it change my opinion on products on my site? Nope. I have always, and will always say exactly what I think about products featured on my site.

    I am however, mindful of the fact that whilst I may not get on terribly well with a product, or find that it doesn’t work for me that this may not be the case for others, so unless a product is quite clearly a load of tosh (and quite possibly not even at that point), would never, ever just say ‘this is rubbish, don’t use it’ as it’s not constructive in any way. This is the same for items I’ve bought, items I’ve been sent for review or items I’ve been paid to post about.

    I started off feeling like I was doing something wrong in wanting to make a little money from my (still fairly small) blog, when seeing comments being made about blogging being done for love, and not money (not about my site in particular). However, I put a lot of work into the site and spend a lot of money on products, sometimes with the sole intention of featuring them on the blog and so getting a little bit back, surely shouldn’t be that much of an issue?! Why shouldn’t you be able to make money from something that you put time, money and effort into?

    I think that some people need to start living their own lives, instead of dictating to and/or judging others decisions on THEIR websites!

    Sorry I went off on a little ramble then. x

    • Amber says:

      “I am however, mindful of the fact that whilst I may not get on terribly well with a product, or find that it doesn’t work for me that this may not be the case for others, so unless a product is quite clearly a load of tosh (and quite possibly not even at that point), would never, ever just say ‘this is rubbish, don’t use it’ as it’s not constructive in any way.”

      I totally agree with this: it’s something I worry about a lot with product reviews, because everyone is different, and I know there are products I love that other people hate, and things other people swear by that have no effect at all on me. I always worry that someone will go and buy something on my recommendation and it’ll bring them out in a rash – or that they’ll avoid something that I hated, which might have been fantastic on them. It’s a minefield!

      • Claire says:

        Totally, a huge minefield! I would hope though, that beauty blog readers would exercise their common sense with regards to the opinions of the blogger, that being that it is an opinion… not a factual statement; and nor are they saying that one product fits all either!

        I’m about to start at least 1 more blog – a bit of an all rounder for products/services other than beauty. However with me wanting it to have such varied content (as I don’t think I could manage more than 2 or 3 blogs), is taking a bit more time to think about the name, the style and such like… and that’s before I even start doing the actual blogging.

        I don’t think readers (who don’t blog) that are opposed to making a bit of money from your blog realise quite how much work goes into blogs (and also social networking, which is fairly crucial these days, in my opinion).

  • Courtney says:

    I am so proud of what you have been able to do with your blogging efforts. You manage to produce a product that is creative, fun, and in my opinion, most important, positive. The fact that you are able to make money doing that is just icing on the cake! Keep it up!

  • Diane says:

    Great post, Amber. I honestly think most of the critics are jealous. Either that you (et al) get to work from home doing something they want to do, or because they aren’t doing what they

    love. I read this other great blog post (which of course I can’t find now) which said that all these people who annoy us online – ‘cos they write “rubbish” (but are popular), don’t have good design, are “selling out”, blah blah blah… all those criticisms are code for “I’m jealous of their popularity.” We just don’t want to admit it. ;) And for the most part, I think that’s true.

    There are blogs which do stuff like sponsored posts less well than others and there have been posts I’ve read where I’m not clear exactly what a blogger has got for free, and I think it’s not wrong to point out that if someone wants to dabble in paid blogging, they should act professionally. But there’s no need for criticism of the “Why should they get paid for that?!” variety. Why *shouldn’t* they? It’s damn hard work.

    • Amber says:

      “There are blogs which do stuff like sponsored posts less well than others and there have been posts I’ve read where I’m not clear exactly what a blogger has got for free, and I think it’s not wrong to point out that if someone wants to dabble in paid blogging, they should act professionally.”

      Yes, absolutely. I’ve found myself cringing at times because I’ve read something and thought, “OK, this is so obviously a sponsored post, why don’t you say that?” I think this is probably the biggest problem facing bloggers in terms of being taken seriously at the moment: because there are no real barriers to entry, and anyone can set up a free blog in five minutes flat, you get a lot of people who have absolutely no idea about the law, about good practice, about ethics, all jumping on the bandwagon and deciding to start a blog. I’ve said it before, but most people wouldn’t decide to just publish their own newspaper without at least taking some advice about what they were doing, and what the legalities etc were. But people think nothing of publishing anything they like on the internet, as if that’s somehow “different”, when as you and I well know, publishing online is subject to the same laws and standards as publishing in print. I’ve now lost count of the number of blogs I’ve seen where the owner has meticulously credited all of the photos they’ve used as “Image: BBC News” or “Image: Google Images” thinking that because they’ve linked to the source, they haven’t just stolen someone’s image and they’re not going to get a large invoice for it somewhere down the line. These people aren’t deliberately stealing: they just genuinely don’t know that they’re doing anything wrong, and I think the same goes for at least some of the people who don’t disclose sponsorship etc.

      • Diane says:

        Yes, exactly. The fact that there are no barriers to entry can be both a good and a bad thing, and I think there’s a reason a lot of the most professional paid bloggers are former journalists, or at least have pro-blogging experience. I’m amazed how many people seem unclear on the laws about photos, too, which could prove bankruptcy-making if someone decided to sue! Maybe the answer is some kind of bloggers code of practice, so readers and PRs alike knew what to expect. At the very least, when a post is sponsored, I want to know what was provided gratis, in exchange for what (positive review, any old review, free choice whether to review), which seems fair enough.

      • Cate says:

        omg, the google images thing makes me cringe. As a photographer it actually insults me. there is a lifestyle magazine on my campus that credits all it’s photos to google images. seriously?!?!? AND when the japan earthquake happened, the japanese club did a google search and ended up using the bloggers for japan logo. when i asked about it they said they just found it. i hate that people don’t respect copyright enough to even TRY to get things legally.

  • Heather says:

    I think it is amazing that you get to write about stuff you love and earn money. I spend so much of my day online looking at fashion and shoes and I don’t get paid for it. If I could do that and earn a living I’d do it too! Good for you for capitalizing on the opportunity to do something that is not only important to you but that you are also obviously good at.

  • Vesna says:

    Really nice post! I read it in a heartbeat! :)

    Anyway, I’ve been blogging for almost 2 years now and well, regular blogging is far away from an easy work. For me it’s actually my part-time job that no one is paying me for :D so I think it’s really great that there are people (obviously you too) who managed to make this their full-time job and that are able to receive income from it. :)

    I’m kinda hoping to turn my blogging into something more professional too because I really love my blog and everything about it, though I’m not yet sure what I actually want. :) We’ll see… :)

    Keep up the good work! :)

  • Suze says:

    You took the words right out of my mouth!
    I offer ads on my blog, but I don’t do affiliate links (personal choice). I don’t care if a blogger makes money, sells ads, doesn’t make money- whatever. If I like your blog, I like you blog. If you make money off of it, that should be no concern of mine.
    I think most comments about people selling out is from jealousy. I know when I first started blogging I didn’t really understand why bloggers sold ads or had affiliate links, but after I started blogging five days a week and spent my own money on stuff for blogging, it started to make sense to me.
    I won’t ever make a living off my blog because I work a 40 hour a week job at a non-profit and I love my day job, and am not willing to give that up. But, I make enough off my blog to pay for the little things like business cards, mailing supplies,etc. You know, things I’d be spending my own money on anyway.
    So, I suppose what I’m trying to say is that it shouldn’t matter if you’re making $0 from your blog or $100 a day from your blog- if it’s your blog, do what you want. If people don’t like it, they don’t have to read it.

    PS- great dress!

  • Stephen says:

    “This makes me something of a pariah in certain sectors of the blogging community”

    How bizarre.

    I guess the wonderful thing about humanity is that everyone is entitled to see things from their own point of view – even if it’s wrong! ;+)

    Personally, I get fed up explaining to certain people how their “tax pounds” are NOT paying for my childrens education. They are, instead, being used to invest in the future of the country – the same future that will be responsible for administering these people’s pensions, operating the transport systems they’ll be using, maintaining infrastructure, etc etc. No matter how logical the argument, though, some people just can’t see past the “but I shouldn’t have to pay tax for stuff I’m not using” rationale.

    Why anyone would think you should (or even *could*, for heaven’s sake!) put so much effort into your blogs for free is just absurd. Although I suppose you could, and then take a second “proper job” (as they’d see it) to support it, and I suppose just give up sleep…

    Personally, I’m incredibly proud of you and Terry both. I think what you’ve done is brilliant, and very impressive. And, remembering “the cooncil”, and how you felt circa 2003/2004, I’m so pleased you’ve found something that you enjoy that you can do, amd making a living from. I’ve loved watching your blogs grow and grow, and I’ve loved watching you grow with them.

  • Emsk says:

    Good for you Amber! I had no idea that you even were making money from your blogs as I’ve just discovered them, but I’m happy that you are. This story reminds me of the kind of people I used to meet when I started making stained glass – why would an artist charge for their work?? Well yes, it’s work, and while I paint for the love of it, I’m delighted when I do sell my work as well. That’s because given the choice of the tube each morning – I’m in London – or coffee at my fave cafe followed by hours of art, I’ll take the second.

    I had to point out to an acquaintance that while my job may seem whimsical to her, I still had to fill in tax returns, pay National Insurance and had a tax code. I still have to liaise with schools on Health and Safety should I be booked to do a class. I work hard because I need to pay the bills. The simple truth is if someone wants my work then it’s not free, and that doesn’t negate the fact that I do it for myself as well.

    You have inspired me to write a new blogpost!

  • Lola says:

    I think it’s wonderful that you’ve managed to turn something you love into a career for yourself and maybe this sounds a little naive (i’ve only been blogging for a short while and so I’m fairly new to all of this) but I think it would be silly for anyone to disagree. Who would turn down the opportunity to turn a hobby into a career, these are what dreams are made out of! xc

  • Hallie says:

    I’m so glad you addressed this post: I, too, had no idea I could make blogging a money-making hobby when I first started (an amateur 6 months ago).

    You obviously have your core group of readers (and people who stop by and are now following, like me!) who trust you – so keep on doing what you’re doing, girl. There’s no shame in blogging for bucks, in fact, if you’ve got the voice, why NOT?

    Congrats on being included in this week’s Links a la Mode. Really enjoyed reading this!

    -Hallie :)
    http://www.coralsandcognacs.com

  • birdie says:

    OH my gosh! This made me laugh so hard: “Although I did receive those shoes from a PR company. Sellout!”

    I blog as a hobbyist, mostly because I’m doing other stuff that sometimes doesn’t make time for blogging to become my full-time. That said, I think a lot of people who argue that blogging isn’t legit are people who may not have been able to successfully make blogging their own business. Or who don’t see it as a viable option for themselves, which is disappointing.

    • Amber says:

      :)

      I think you may be right. I see a lot of quite established bloggers confidently proclaiming that it’s “not possible” to make money from it, or that certain revenue streams “aren’t worth it” and I always think those sentences should end with the words “for me”, and that the bloggers should try to understand that just because something hasn’t worked for them doesn’t mean that it can’t work for anyone. It took me years to make a viable business out of it, though – I think a lot of people judge it on a few months, and conclude that it’s not worth it.

  • MJ says:

    I can see why this made the IFB round-up! I love this! I don’t see why there is such a negative response to people who make money doing what you love. The same goes if a photographer who once did is a hobby is now getting paid to do it or a chef or personal trainer, etc. I have a feeling that some of it may come from little pangs of jealousy that they aren’t even aware of. I’m sure if they were in the same situation, they wouldn’t look down upon it. And if even if they were presented with the opportunity and didn’t want it, that’s their perogative – the same as it is with the one who does!

    Great points!

    • Amber says:

      Yes! Photographers are a really good example… I mean, my mum loves photography, has a nice camera, spends a lot of time taking photos etc, but she’s not going to start saying that there should be no professional photographers in the world because SHE does it as a hobby: that would be bizarre! I really hate the tendency a lot of people have to think, “I do it this way, so that’s the only right way to do it and everyone else who doesn’t do it exactly the same way as me is just wrong!” As I said, blogging can be anything you want it to be: I don’t think there’s one “right” way to do it. I’d never dream of suggesting that because I blog professionally, no one else should blog just as a hobby, so I’m always confused when people feel the opposite should be true!

  • Angela says:

    Well said, Sister! I think there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to make a living doing something you love. If that ‘something’ is blogging, then go for it and good for you, I say!
    I also think it’s silly for people to tell others how they should or shouldn’t go about blogging (especially regarding monetizing). Ultimately it’s your blog and you can run it however you see fit.

    PS Congrats on being featured in this week’s Links a la Mode!

  • Rachel says:

    I can’t actually think of anything else to say apart from thank you so much for writing this, and I agree 100%!

  • Fashnlvr says:

    OK – I admit it. I am one of those that did NO research whatsoever, went to Google and started my own blog in five minutes flat. Fame and fortune hasn’t found me yet but I have made some great friends. I didn’t start my blog with any idea I might be able to make money doing it. I still don’t make money doing it, but I enjoy it anyway. I was also clueless concerning the effort it takes to gain readership! I didn’t know anything about Twitter or social media in general (beyond Facebook, which I am not fond of) and had to learn. Then there is the time constraints: working full-time, being a wife and mother, housework, errands and now I needed to take photos and write about stuff. Plus, try to think of something clever and witty to write about!
    You’re correct also in assuming I have NO CLUE what it takes to monetize a blog to the point where I could live off of it.
    To those of you who have found a way to blog about your passions and earn a living from it> I salute you. I am impressed and in awe with your savvy.
    I am the sellout as I continue to work in the corporate world which I don’t enjoy and I don’t have the hutzpah to strike out on my own to do what I love.
    Kudos to those who have “made it” as a pro-blogger. You are my blogging heroes!

    • Amber says:

      I think that’s fairly typical – when I started this site I had absolutely no idea about blogging either, it was only after I started freelancing for someone else’s bog that the penny dropped and I realised it was possible to make money from it. I can’t imagine trying to do it on top of a full-time job, or while raising a family etc, though – that has to be tough!

  • Love this post (and thanks for mentioning me!). Couldn’t agree more with everything you’ve said. I definitely think a lot of people merely say they would never ‘sell out’ and make money from blogging purely because they haven’t had the opportunity to do so yet. If the right thing came their way, they were approached by the right brand, offered a little money and it was in line with their moral compass, they’d be the first to take it. So all that nonsense about ‘selling out’ is just bollocks quite frankly!

    • Amber says:

      You’re more than welcome, your Twitter rants have been a big inspiration lately!

      I think you’re right: I only accept sponsorship/freebies etc from companies who know that I WILL disclose the relationship, that I WILL be honest about my opinion of the thing, and who are selling or offering something that I think will be of genuine interest to the readers of my blog (which is significantly more than magazines do!): I think a lot of people, given that opportunity, would struggle to say no to it!

  • Oh and PS, even though the photos have nothing to do with the post, they are lovely – looking stunning my dear!

  • Cynthia says:

    I think it’s great that some people can be making a living out of blogging. I think some people approach blogging like you do, in a systematic and businesslike way. Some people approach it like I do, as something that I do for fun and I’d drop in a heartbeat if it got in the way of my real work. And some people approach it like buying lottery tickets, hoping that putting something up on the web each day and spreading around linkage will somehow end in magic for them and their lives. And it just isn’t going to happen that way, and there’s a lot of perceptible disappointment and bitterness and jealousy in the blogosphere when the magic doesn’t happen.

    • Cate says:

      this. it is the truth. especially that part about the lottery ticket. i think a lot of the discord is from bloggers hoping to make it big who get annoyed that the sponsorships and magazine features don’t start happening right away. and i’ll admit, sometime it can get annoying when you’ve been working hard for years on creating compelling content and a fly by night makes it big. but i think it’s time we recognize that we might be all fashion blogs, but we’re not all the same. the ones that go viral usually have something unique about that keep people coming back. that’s what we should be working on, not working towards a sponsorship.

  • I can totally respect you doing it for cash. You are after all a writer plus what can be better than doing something you love as a career?

    As for myself, Im not popular enough yet to make money from it and other than selling my crafts on my blog or having a tip jar (I figure a tip jar makes sense, I am after all in retail and would like to get some financial acknowledgement of my styling skills and wardrobe advice even if it relys on people actually volunteering to pay… witch hasn’t happened yet) I have no plans on becoming a “pro” blogger as of yet… Why? Because I’m not a writer and cant see trying to make my blog make much money just from the writing itself since I write like I talk and I cant spell worth a darn and have to rely on spell check alone to avoid alienating people with a thing against bad spelling.

    I suppose if I ever get popular enough and feel the writing bug more I might consider it but really I think I’m going to eventually link the blog to whatever dream career I have in the future as an assistance to what I’m doing instead of a focus of what I’m doing since my focus isn’t writing itself.

    Now as for ads… I usually hate ads but I have notice that ads on blogs aren’t as annoying, usually because the blogger has control of the design of their blog so the ads end up in spots that make sense in trying to get attention but are not “getting in the way” of the content of the blog. And I did make a point of trying the tip jar for blogger first to see if I could avoid ads by just people tipping me for my advice but that hasn’t worked yet, mostly because I still have to work on getting the blog up to date and setting myself a schedule/goal for posting and getting peoples attention… plus despite being a sales person for half of my career life I have a hard time trying to talk myself into selling myself LOL! I so have a guilty conscious about pimping out the tip jar despite knowing I have no reason to be shy about asking people to tip me in return for my advice and showing styling options since that is what I usually do as a job when I’m employed anyways (I’m much better at the styling/advice end of selling product than I am actually in SELLING, I have more helper/advice skill than salesman skills. I’d make for a poor car sales man since I’m not shark like enough LOL!) So I find myself thinking ads would make sense to me eventually once I get enough readers since I do need money and it would be nice to have the financial support of ads to pay for the things I need for the blog (like wardrobe updates, gass money to drive around and do photo shots or shopping, business cards for the blog, the sort of thing that usually I would be able to do if I had a job but can’t now since I’m jobless). I actually was against doing ads on my blog at first since this was a “hobby” and I’m no pro writer but as I was updating recently I realized that what I wanted to do with the blog not only exceed the tidal of “hobby” but that I need the financial support to make my blog a steady thing instead of a “Oh, I happened to dress up today and happened to grab my boyfriend to take a pict of me today” thing. I actually want to take more professional photos of myself and doing so required money to get my own camera, a remote to use for it, and the ability to actually buy clothing every now and then or go out and make connections in the fashion industry. So yeah, I might do the money thing once I feel more comfortable with setting it up. But do I think I’m going to go all the way to becoming a pro blogger? probably not since I don’t see myself as a writer… more like a wannabe fashion consultant.

  • Amen. Nothing wrong with blogging for career. My blog does have ads, and would have more if I had more offers. I have written for commercial blogs as well, and do content writing for other sites (ghostwriting). I started blogging as a hobby and I guess that does make me feel a bit superior to those who got in the game late (I started in the 90’s as a teen who designed my own site before WordPress was WordPress) but to not take advantage seems silly to me. Blogging is media and you really are providing a service. You would be paid for a newspaper column after all. It is too bad that some bloggers give it a bad name and make it hard to believe it could be a legit paid gig.

    This is the first time I’ve read your blog but when you mentioned Terry’s illness I had the urge to find out more. Your link was broken so I went to your tags and sure enough there it was. My husband is currently in end stage kidney failure and will get a transplant eventually. I think it was more devastating to me than to him and has been too much for me to blog about.

    • Amber says:

      Oh I’m so sorry to hear about your husband: if you ever want to talk to someone who’s been through it, feel free to shoot me an email – I know exactly what you mean about it hitting you harder…

  • kavery says:

    I’m glad you wrote this post so the naysayers know it’s not OK to pass judgement on bloggers who run ads on their blogs. Like someone commented – It’s your blog. You can do what you want on it. If they don’t like they needn’t read it.

  • Mary says:

    What a great, interesting post. This part cracked me up “When I grow up I want there to be a thing called The Internet and I want to write words about shoes on it. We will call it “blogging”. Cute dress BTW!

  • Cate says:

    i’m one of the dreaded hobby bloggers, and i have always been very adamant about never going pro, but it’s not something that i think other people shouldn’t be doing. i know that for me, it isn’t feasible to monetize, or make myself accountable to anyone editorially, since my college schedule mandates that sometimes my blog gets neglected. that’s just where my life and therefore my blogging is right now.

    but on the other hand, i agree that it’s definitely a dream job to be able to write about what you know and love. in effect everyone’s dream job is some form of that. i respect people who are able to make a living from blogging, mainly because i know i don’t have the discipline to ever pursue that option. i don’t think it makes you a sellout, i just know it’s not an option for me.

    sorry if i’ve ever been one of the decriers!

  • Ella Mode says:

    I think that at least attempting to blog for money (or hoping to, when one can’t find the time or other required aspect) shows more love for blogging, writing or the niche; not less! Grr to some people. I hate to say it’s jealousy (I am not into that in general) but maybe sometimes, it could be???

  • Ella Mode says:

    Oh, like the photos, this is also unrelated to the content: I like your sunglasses. Who makes them? (I need to be a fan of that company, if I’m not already.)

  • Jeannine says:

    I think it’s everyone’s dream to wake up every morning to do what you love instead of going to work to do something you hate. I’m glad you’ve found what you love, and can live on it. No one ever questions the quality of newspaper journalists simply because they are paid for their work, and I don’t think bloggers should be any different. Keep up the good work. :)

  • “Why There’s No Shame In Blogging For Money” via @foreveramber:
    http://t.co/G0Af9RHG5K – Right on, sister!

  • Sarah says:

    I want to see pro-bloggers do really well. I want them to write well and work hard and make a living from doing that (and to talk openly about all of the above). But I find I read a few really good quality, long established professional blogs and I read a few completely unpaid personal blogs and I can’t find anything satisfying in between – I’m sure there are some really talented up-and-coming pro-bloggers out there who I haven’t found, but all I seem to see are identical designs and identical unpaid reviews and identical buttons stating which expensive Blogging Secrets course the writer has paid for and that makes me feel disillusioned; I find it hard to take people seriously when they say they’re trying to commercialise their blog because so many of their attempts feel so cliched. And I don’t like that; I want to be cheering more people along.

  • Tess says:

    Before I was I introduced into the digital media world of fashion, I had been subscribing fashion magazine for over 10 years. I’ve stopped subscribing for the obvious reasons.
     
    Amber, I find your blogs absolutely reliable and I love your style of writing and outfits. I also appreciate that you’ve made all these available to your readers for free. I do click on your sponsored ads and product link every time I read your blogs so that they’ll pay you. While I was buying a dress from French Connection in June, somehow their ad popped up in your blog. Without hesitation, I clicked on the ad and checkout. You need to be paid so that you won’t stop writing!

  • Tess says:

    Before I was I introduced into the digital media world of fashion, I had been subscribing fashion magazine for over 10 years. I’ve stopped subscribing for the obvious reasons.
     
    Amber, I find your blogs absolutely reliable and I love your style of writing and outfits. I also appreciate that you’ve made all these available to your readers for free. I do click on your sponsored ads and product link every time I read your blogs so that they’ll pay you. While I was buying a dress from French Connection in June, somehow their ad popped up in your blog. Without hesitation, I clicked on the ad and checkout. You need to be paid for doing such a great job!

    • Amber says:

      Thanks, Tess! You make a really good point, which is something I think a lot of people don’t really think about it: very few people would be willing or able to put hours of time and effort into something every week for nothing, and if blog readers want their favourite sites to continue to exist, it’s important to support them, even if it’s just by clicking through and leaving a comment every so often. I actually think it’s quite odd that people enjoy reading the free content (and sometimes DEMAND to be given MORE free content!), but resent the content creator being paid for it. To take your example of magazines, I very much doubt anyone would expect to be able to pick up a magazine for free, on the grounds that the writers should be creating content “for themselves! for fun!”, and yet they DO expect bloggers to do exactly that. I think my perspective is slightly skewed because, coming from a journalism background, I have never viewed blogging as anything other than a natural extension of the writing I was doing as part of a traditional job. I still produce content for people to read: the fact that my work is now published online, rather than in a newspaper, doesn’t mean it takes me any less time to create it!

      Anyway, thanks again for your support, it really means a lot to me. I hope you liked your dress :)

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