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Time Really is Money (but so is love)

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“Don’t forget to pay yourself.”

One of the best piece of advice I ever received as a blogger is that along with paying affiliates, editors, designers, and anyone else who provide services to make your blog possible, you have to pay yourself. You deserve to be compensated for your time – and only after that can you truly calculate profits.

The “time is money” argument is nothing new, but sometimes it is one we forget when we’re waist-deep, slogging through the work being done on out own projects. How many hours do you spend blogging? And promoting? And on social media? And writing ebooks? And working on design or doing updates? And traveling to conferences? And whatever else is on your massive list of “things-to-do-to-become-an-a-list-blogger”?

And, most importantly, what kind of hourly wage do you deserve? If you were paying someone else to do the job that you do, what would you pay them per hour. This is, at minimum, what you should pay yourself.

That’s not to say that we can all do that, at least not yet. But when you measure the success of your monetization efforts, it is something to take into consideration. If you spend 10 hours a week on your blog and make about $2000 per month, you’re actually doing much better than someone who spends 40 hours a week blogging and makes $4000 per month. When comparing statistics, it’s relative. Remember that, no matter whose figures you’re reviewing or how you’re comparing your blog to someone else’s blog.

Something else that I believe is important to remember – money isn’t everything.

When I first started working as a freelancer (blogging and otherwise), I was working…gosh, probably 60 – 70 hours a week, maybe even more some weeks. I was doing it just to make ends meet, and I lived in a relatively inexpensive part of the United States. My boyfriend at the time (who is coincidentally also my accountant and is still one of my best friends) was extremely supportive, but also didn’t really understand the choice. I was killing myself to make less than $30,000 a year. I’m not especially good at math, but I wasn’t even making minimum wage once you crunched the numbers. Why would I do that, plus have all the stress that goes along with not having steady income, not having benefits, being responsible for my own business, etc.? Why not just work at Burger King at that point?

Because I loved it.

Granted, I knew that working hard would pay off in the end (and it has, or at least, it is starting to), so I don’t think you should kill yourself working if you aren’t ever going to get anywhere, no matter how much you love your blog. Really, though, I loved what I was doing and I really believed in the work. He supported that, even if his idea of what a career should be is different. It’s time I’ll never get back, but just as time is money, love is money too.

How much would you pay, for example, to go to the movies for two hours? Most of us will shell out $10 for a ticket. Sometimes we like the movie, and sometimes we do not. That means we’re paying $5 per hour for the chance to be happy and entertained.

If you apply that same logic to your work as a blogger, it snaps into sharper perspective I think. When I started, maybe I was only making $7 an hour, but I was also happy, which was worth another $5 an hour for me, using the movie ticket logic – so I was really making $12 an hour, which starts to not look quite so bad. Of course, you have to pay your bills. You can’t give metaphorical “happiness money” to your landlord. But if you can make ends meet, sometimes its okay to financially struggle through the foundation years if you’re building something you love.

I guess, my overall message in this post is this: Be practical, but also follow your heart. Find that happy medium between time as money and love as money, and work toward both types of currency as you’re building your blog.

It's Ok to Make Money Blogging

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We all want to be millionaires from blogging. Few of us achieve that level of success. Nevertheless, you wouldn’t be here unless you were at least interested in making money with your blog, if you aren’t doing so already. And, it is totally possible to make a livable income through your online business. The first hurdle in making money online is to realize that it is ok to make money online.

I repeat: It is ok to make money online.

The general public seems to have this perception that everything online should be free. That’s slowly changing. While the Internet is a great place to find free information, people really will shell out money for quality. You shouldn’t feel bad about charging for this quality.

A few weeks ago, I asked bloggers on one of my mailing lists to fill out a survey about their biggest blogging frustrations. One of the questions directly asked bloggers to choose from a list of common things bloggers want (more traffic, more money, etc).

One of the people who responded…well, her response kind of threw me for a loop. In a very snooty manner, she said that it never even crossed her mind to care about money or traffic; she does blogging for the love of it. Throughout the rest of her responses, she kind of implied that it was a bad thing I was doing, encouraging people to monetize their blogs. Apparently some banner ads or the occasional promotion of an affiliate link when you do a review is ok, but anything other than that is evil. It’s apparently a disservice to readers to be concerned with making money on your blog.

Personally, I believe that she’s part of an old school way of thinking that is dying out – and thank god. I believe the exact opposite. If you aren’t concerned with making money on your blog, that’s a disservice to readers. Yes, there are some great hobby bloggers out there, but the ability to make money with your blog means…

  • …you can quit your day job and devote more time to learning about your niche, providing better information to readers on your blog.
  • …you also have more time to spend answering emails and helping readers, since you no longer have to work at a non-blog job to pay the bills.
  • …you can offer readers multiple levels of interaction – free for people who just want basic information, and paid for people who want to learn more.
  • …you have more money to spend on blog design, increasing not just the look, but also the functionality of your blog.
  • …you are able to attend events in your industry, which gives readers a more direct experience on your blog, without worrying about paying the bills.
  • …you can pay for better hosting.
  • …you can buy items to review on your blog.

I read an interesting article the other day about paying for information, and although I’ve since lost the link, I can tell you this: The article compared websites to cable channels. No one expects cable to be free because it was never free from the start. People only expect information products online to be free because this form of entertainment and knowledge started out being free. More and more, however, the masses are understanding that you can’t get everything for free. Readers are becoming more accustomed to paying for ebooks, reports, videos, membership areas of websites, and more. At the very least, they’re starting to realize that if you buy products from affiliate programs, you’re supporting the website that you enjoy.

So if you’re a  new blogger, the point is that you need to stop feeling guilty for trying to make money online. Yes, there are scummy ways to go about doing it, but as long as you aren’t tricking your readers, you deserve to see some income from your website. You put a lot of hard work into providing useful information, so there’s no reason to feel bad when you start seeing revenue.

Allison Boyer is a writer for BWE’s blog and the owner/manager of After Graduation. She thinks it’s funny how people who don’t like monetized blogs would never imagine doing something (like writing professional blog posts) without getting paid.

Image credit: sxc.hu

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