ve been promising for weeks now that I’d finally get round to answering some of the questions I’ve been getting through my ‘Ask Me Anything’ sidebar widget, so today I’m making good on that promise: here are some of the blogging-related questions I’ve had recently – and, as always if you have any questions of your own, feel free to ask!

Blogging Questions AnsweredEva asked:
“I’ve been wondering for quite some time how or if different kinds of AdBlock extensions affect your blog? Do you have any means of finding out how many of your visitors use AdBlock? Also, I follow you on Instagram and I have been thoroughly enjoying your Instagram stories, so keep up the good work!”

First of all: thank you for the Instagram Stories comment! Because people can’t comment on them without sending me a DM (which not many people do), I always feel a bit like I’m just talking to myself on Instagram stories, so I’m really glad to know there’s at least one person out there watching!

As for Adblock… this isn’t something I’ve ever tried to track, no, but I’ve definitely noticed a huge drop in revenue from display ads in recent years, and I would attribute that, at least partly, to Adblock use. Back when I started blogging, I used to make a full-time living just from Google Adsense, which seems absolutely crazy to me now: I do still make  enough from it to justify keeping the ads there (for now), but it makes nothing like the amount it used to, and every time I’ve tried other forms of display advertising, it’s made so little – and been so obtrusive – that it’s just not been worth it.

This is why I think so many bloggers are forced to take on sponsored posts, or use affiliate links, etc: if my experience is anything to go by, it’s just not possible for a small/medium site to make a decent income from display advertising alone now. Part of me is totally fine with that, because I absolutely HATE having adverts on my site, but another part is quite sad about it, because, although display ads are ugly, once they’re up, you can just forget about them, and get on with blogging about whatever you like: there are no clients to please, no deadlines to meet, and, unlike sponsored posts or affiliate links, you don’t have to change your content in any way to accommodate them, so, yeah, from that point of view, I sometimes wish readers were more tolerant of them.

I know no one actually likes seeing adverts, or having to click out of a pop-up, but I think sometimes it’s the   price you have to “pay” in order to keep the internet free – or to avoid having to see things like sponsored posts, etc, which people don’t like either! The fact is, if everyone who read my blog used Adblock, I wouldn’t be able to keep doing this, so I would either have to set up a Paywall (like the ones you see on some large news sites, where you have to pay to access the bulk of the content), or, you know, get a “real” job. My hope is that people who genuinely like my content will be kind enough to switch off their Adblock when they’re reading the site, but I think a lot of people just don’t realise the effect it has on bloggers, which means we have to come up with other ways to earn a living from our sites!

Lazy Daisy Jones asked…

“I’d love to know more about affiliate links and just what ‘deepcodes’ are it’s something I need/want to do next help welcome perhaps a post about your experiences and any dos and donts?”

I actually wrote a post about affiliate marketing here, which talks about the three different networks I use, and what I think of them all. Affiliate links aren’t a huge source of revenue for me, as you can see from my income reports, but, with that said, they’re not something I put a huge amount of effort into, so I know I could be doing a lot better with them! My main piece of advice – and I’m afraid it’s a bit of an obvious one – is that, for them to work, you really have to be posting a lot about products, and they have to be products that people can buy now.

In my case, my outfit posts have been fairly sporadic this year, for various reasons, so I don’t have a lot of products to link to (I find that people are more likely to buy a product I’m wearing or using myself, as opposed to one I’ve just highlighted in a wish list post, or as a “similar” item…), and although I know I seem to shop constantly, a lot of the outfits I do feature tend to consist of old favourites which are no longer available to buy. I can’t really speak for other niches, but I know that the fashion bloggers who do best with affiliate links tend to be the ones who regularly feature items which are still available to buy, and which they can therefore still get commission on, so that’s something to be aware of.

As far as ‘deep codes’ go, that’s not an expression I’ve heard before, but I think you’re probably referring to the practice of deep-linking, which would mean linking to a specific product on a retailer’s website, rather than just to the homepage? As I mentioned above, I do find that people are more likely to click on a link which will take them to the exact item I’ve featured, rather than something similar, so deep-linking is definitely worth doing: with most of the retailers I link to, if the product is sold out, the link will re-direct to the homepage of the site, so it doesn’t become a broken link, and you still have the opportunity to earn some commission if the person who clicked on it goes on to buy something else from the site!

Hanka asked…

“I’m glad you’ve mentioned Mailchimp in your post (seems everyone is with ConvertKit :)). How does this whole thing with “mailing list” works? I’ve a Mailchimp plugin to manage my subscribe form, but in the future, I’d like to create an ebook that can people download after inserting their email address.”

So, this isn’t something I’ve ever tried to do personally, so I’m of even less use than usual here, but Mailchimp do have an article on their website, with full instructions on how to create a downloadable for subscribers. It looks like it’s as simple as just uploading your ebook to their server as a .PDF, and then checking a few boxes on the Mailchimp site (I don’t think you can do it through the plugin), but I’m highly suspicious as to whether or not it IS really this simple, so please don’t take my word for it! This is something I have actually considered doing, though, so if I decide to go ahead with it, I’ll hopefully have a better answer than this one for you!

Laura J asked:

“What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given about blogging for a living?”

I’m not sure where I read this, but I think the advice that’s stuck with me the most is to write the blog you’d like to read yourself. When blogging is your job, there will inevitably be days when you’d rather be doing something else, or it feels like a bit of a chore, but if you’re writing about something you’re truly passionate about, and creating the kind of posts you’d like to read yourself, it’ll be a whole lot easier to keep going, even on the “bad” days. I think one of the qualities (although obviously not the only one) a successful blogger needs is sheer persistence, and the ability to just not give up, and you only really get that if it’s a passion, as well as job!

Finally…

Yen asked:

“What’s your advice to a teenager like me who wants to start a blog and still don’t have ideas what will be their first blogpost about?”

So, there are two ways to approach this. If your issue is that you have plenty of things you want to write about, and you just don’t know which one to use for that all-important first post, my advice would be to bear in mind that your first post isn’t actually all that important. I mean, I don’t want to sound discouraging, but unless you happen to have a ready-made audience, just waiting with bated breath for your blog launch (and, let’s face it, most of us, don’t…), hardly anyone is going to read it, so rather than wasting time over-thinking it, and worrying about making it absolutely perfect, my advice would be to just jump in and get started.

If I were launching a blog today, I’d probably make my first post an introductory one, just giving a bit of background about myself, why I’m starting a blog, and what kind of thing I hope to write about: so, the kind of thing you’d write for your ‘About’ page, basically. But that’s just me: I know from my stats that very few people ever scroll all the way back to my first blog post to read it, so, as I said, unless you know you’re going to have a decent-sized audience right from the get-go, I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

That’s one way to approach it.

If, on the other hand, your problem its that you don’t have any ideas AT ALL about what you might write, my advice would be to wait until you DO. This follows on from what I said in response to Laura, above, but the best blogs are the ones whose authors are really passionate about what they’re writing, and, from my own experience, the posts that are most successful on my blog tend to be the ones I just couldn’t WAIT to write, rather than the ones I kept putting off, or came up with after sitting staring at the bank screen for hours, thinking, “I’ve no idea what to write today, but I really should write SOMETHING…”

So, if you’ve no ideas at all, I’d sit back and wait until some come to you: there’s no great rush, after all.

P.S. If you’re interested in learning more about blogging for a living, my book, My Blogging Secrets, is available in both paperback and ebook format, from Amazon!

17 Comments
  1. Ad blocker isn’t just an annoyance thing, it stops my computer being exposed to more potential sources of malware. I don’t really see why I should turn it off for anyone just so they can make money out of me.

  2. I have an adblocker to stop extremely obtrusive ads (e.g. video ads) and malware. Actually I was more worried about a video ads when I installed it because sudden loud unexpected unsourceable (if you have multiple tabs open)sounds can really stress me out. But’s easy enough to whitelist sites like yours, where the ads are unobtrusive and frankly imo a great way to pay for something I’ve been reading and enjoying for years, that I couldn’t afford if I had to actually pay for it. As long as the choices are ads, paywall, or Amber Has To Give Up Blogging For Financial Reasons, I’ll take the ads, please!

  3. Okay, so I might be a “little” bit crazy or I just don’t want to get work done… please don’t judge me!
    Just yesterday I had actually thought about what would have been your first blog post and Yen’s question made me go on a quest to find it (instead of just asking you, because yes, I’m that dumb)! So I opened your archives and selected “all”, only to realise it wouldn’t be that simple… See, I thought that you would have pages with x posts in each one and I would just select the older pages until there wasn’t an older one, instead when I reached the end of the page it refreshed to show me MORE blog posts. And that’s when I realised I was embarking on a neverending journey… and was probably going to kill my computer in the meantime. Because I obviously wasn’t going to able to see that many posts of yours and not open like 500 of them AND because I’m an “internet pages hoarder” (if there is such a thing).
    I always have a few google chrome windows opened, each with multiple (really, a LOT!) tabs in it. Well this time… I think I reached a new record, I’m WAY past the point where I can’t see the title or icon of each tab, now I can’t even see ALL the tabs, and I have NO IDEA how to get to the ones on the right, the ones that just disappeared…! And it’s going to take a few centuries to read all this… now I have another reason why I need a vacation! Anyway, when I FINALLY reached the true end of the archives page, when it didn’t refresh to show me more blog posts anymore, I thought “I did it, I DID IT” (cof cof). I clicked on that FIRST POST (http://www.foreveramber.co.uk/2006/05/friday_march_31.html)… only to realise there was an arrow to previous post before that one. -.- And like all that wasn’t enough, I decided to keep on clicking to the previous ones until there wasn’t a previous post and I did it! And I found this: http://www.foreveramber.co.uk/secret-diary , which obviously isn’t your first post…. So, I give up! I can’t do it anymore and now I have a window with 69 tabs that I can see and probably about 50+ tabs that I CAN’T see. So, please, Amber, tell me which was your first post on this blog!!
    (btw I swear I have a life and a LOT more to do than this, but apparently I’m a fan of procrastination…)

    1. Haha! It was the first one you found: when I started transcribing my old diaries I had the idea of backdating them all to the date they were originally written on, so it’s a bit confusing!

  4. Oooh, so I did it!! Ahah, sorry for the rambling! I’ve now read two of those 500 posts I have waiting for me, next is the one with the green dress you have exposed in your dressing room and that I’ve wondered forever what’s it’s story! But now I REALLY have to get some work done, thanks for the answer 🙂

  5. I don’t mind ads on websites, as long as they’re not video or pop-up, after all I get free content to read! Just so you know, I don’t mind occasional sponsored posts either, as long as they are for things you would recommend, and you don’t start randomly writing about cars and beer, like another blogger I was following! Some blogs I read put out a survey once a year asking readers about themselves, what they want to see, etc, perhaps you could do a survey and see if other readers mind sponsored posts or whether it completely puts them off. You might find that the majority are OK with it!

  6. As with many things in life, I can see both sides of the AdBlock argument. As a blog reader (not a blogger myself), I use an ad blocker, because I loathe advertising, and like other commenters, I’m also concerned about potential security risks it represents. But, I’ve recently become more aware of how the use of ad blockers can affect smaller sites. In essence, professional bloggers provide free online magazines for their readership, and I can appreciate that this is time consuming and hard work, and that advertising is probably an appropriate way to make it pay. But, from a personal perspective, I don’t buy magazines, partly because I hate that 50% of the content is advertising (and 50% of the remaining content is irrelevant to me anyway), and enjoy reading blogs as an ad-free alternative. Having a blog plastered with ads would certainly detract from the experience for me, and I probably wouldn’t bother if I couldn’t switch them off. And I’m afraid to say that if I had to pay to read blog articles, then in all honesty, I probably wouldn’t do that either. I’m actually not sure what point I’m trying to make here, other than perhaps that it’s complicated: I appreciate that bloggers need to earn a living, but blog reading is just a pastime, so I can also understand why readers (like me) would be reluctant to ‘pay’ for this, either by giving screen-space to ads, or with real money.

  7. Hi Amber
    …thanks so much for answering my question, you are a Star!
    I’m halfway through your book (in the paperback version, no less!) and it’s full of good common sense stuff too.
    Huge Thank YOU
    Ashley xxx

  8. I have Forever Amber whitelisted on my Ad Blocker, and to be honest, half of the time the ads I see are for shoes (or today, for some reason, business cards) I was thinking of buying anyway. And sometimes they’ve even gone on sale since I last looked at them! So it’s a win-win situation. You get ad revenue, and I get to enjoy entertaining blog content AND buy shoes.

  9. I might be unusual, in that I am a blogger who use an ad blocker myself. I do try and remember to whitelist other blogs so they’re getting the revenue, but personally, I think it all depends on the ads. I have no issues with Google ads, as they’re unobtrusive. What I hate though, and what I can’t believe is a thing is the way certain YouTubers have ads that pop up in the MIDDLE of their videos. Week long vlogs can be the worst for this if they’re long, with ads cutting in every few minutes. I have no issue with an ad at the beginning and use them myself, but right in the middle?? No…

  10. I’ve never been able to understand why some people get so upset about the idea of a blogger making some money from the work they do. If you’re happy to read it, then why would it bother you if the person who wrote it makes a few cents? Makes no sense.

  11. Revenue, getting paid, collecting royalties from copyright protected works, paying-the-rent, getting a real job- this is a sore subject to me, and not necessarily in relation to blogging. I’ve been ripped-off, massively, and there comes a point where “the starving cow runs dry” or something. From earlier posts, I know you are familiar with the outcome of the last Presidential election in the United States. Well, I am on Disability, and that income may be cut or eliminated. Because my roommate uses an internet connection for work, I can log on and enjoy Amber’s posts as well as “playing around at” blogging myself. But my 15 yr old camera has finally broken- – now, how to pay for a new one? Something has to pay for those delicious coffees & cakes that are photographed. And more. Amber, you did a great job listing some of your business expenses; it really made me think. I have either got to monetize my writing or I may have to give it up entirely. I’ll be buying your book, too. Thanks for the paperback version.

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