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discussion

i’ve thought, drafted, and never published posts about this topic for months now. i’ve consulted my number one source for help (google) too many times to count, regarding money making and blogging and how that relates in the book community. i’ve read a few bloggers (mainly Ashley from Nose Graze) talk about it, but it was generally avoided and considered “wrong” in the community. but when there were #bloggerconfessions going around on twitter yesterday, i decided to share the following tweet:

i was surprised by how many others responded; money making in book blogging is usually considered sketchy, but in order to make something a real JOB you need to make money! am i not the only one who think it could be a possibility? Aneeqah (The Writing Hustle), Kristen (Blissful Bookworm), and i started talking about how this needs to be a thing(!!), which led to Aneeqah writing her discussion post about it. if you haven’t yet, GO READ IT. anyway, Aneeqah made me realize that i really should talk about this. so peeps, LET’S TALK ABOUT THIS.

why is it considered wrong for book bloggers to make money?

there have been incidents of book bloggers trying to make money by selling their ARCs on eBay, which is absolutely ridiculous. when the majority of us bloggers talk about money making, we obviously don’t mean selling ARCs but after these happenings people tend to feel uncomfortable and wrong about money and books and blogging, which is understandable. but not every blogger is going to be shady when it comes to money and book blogging.

it’s normal to feel wary about the whole situation, but why are we allowing this to stop us? there are tons and tons of bloggers in fashion, lifestyle, fitness, WHATEVER that are happily making a living from their blogs; how and why is book blogging different from those subjects?

blogger burnout IS a thing. (i actually feel like i’m suffering from it right now.) if you’re a blogger, you know that we spend hours and hours and HOURS putting together this website, creating posts, interacting with others, taking pictures, brainstorming ideas, and more. it takes a lot out of a person, and what are we getting out of it? views? comments? sure that motivates for a while, but we burnout. i love blogging; it allows me to release my thoughts and meet others who relate to me. but when it starts to feel a bit like a chore? you’re stressed about not posting in a week? and you’re wonder why you’re doing something so exhausting – even though there are perks? yeah, it kinda sucks. it begins to feel like you’re wasting your time since book blogging isn’t something that you could rely on in the future. especially when you’re a teenager like me, i begin to feel like i should be doing something that could support me – something i could make a living out of. and it’s really depressing because i WANT to blog, but it’s not realistic and negativity grows from that seed. then i think: why CAN’T i make a living out of something i enjoy so much?

but apparently, there actually are ways to make money from blogging.

after my research (google!), i’ve realized there are four (main) ways to make money from your book blog. (but feel free to let me know if there are more ways!)

  • advertisements – you can put ads on your blog, which is actually the most common in book blogging. personally, this isn’t my favorite method because you’re leading people AWAY from your blog (aka source of income, if you want think of it like that) and for not THAT much.
  • affiliates – this is when a blogger (or internet person) is affiliated with a company (ex: amazon) and gets a percentage of commission every time someone purchases whatever you led the link to. it’s also fairly common in book blogging. i think this is alright, but not reliable since you’re also leading people away from your blog as well. i’m an affiliate with amazon and the book depository and probably got ~$20 in my year and a half of blogging. so, also not super reliable.
  • providing a service or product – this is where real things can happen! this category is open to LOTS of ideas. you could design blog themes, provide an e-course, create products… you get the idea.
  • sponsored posts – this, i think, is the most controversial of all the choices, but could also provide a good amount of money. it’s also not something reaaaaally reliable since it depends on the companies/people who sponsor you, as opposed to creating/providing something on your own like the previous choice.

so… what’s up with sponsored content?

there are many people who think getting paid for sponsored posts make the blogger/blog less genuine. that’s a reasonable assumption, but i personally think they’re fine. it’s up to you to trust the blogger that he/she is going to promote something they personally support. (i mean, even if you offer to pay me a million dollars to do a sponsored post for something i don’t believe in, i wouldn’t accept it.)

i also think they’re a more interesting way for companies to do advertisements. they trust bloggers or youtubers to use their product(s) to promote it in an entertaining way. instead of the usual “BUY THIS PRODUCT” we can be more creative with it. we basically do that already with feature posts, so what difference does it really make on the authenticity of the post if it were sponsored? i actually think the post would turn out even better because you’d generally want to do a better job once you know you’re getting paid for it.

in other blogging communities, i know companies will sometimes pay bloggers for reviews – additionally to providing the product. you might think that’s CRAZY – it’s okay; that was my first thought – but it actually makes sense because think of the amount of time it takes to put together a book review (+ the amount of time to read it). if you think about it, i’m spending 8+ hours on a singular post? and i’m not reeaaaally getting anything out of it? i mean, yes, you get the book but you HAVE to have the book in order to review it, so if companies are expecting a review it should be provided. (which is why i like review considerations so i won’t feel pressured to guarantee a review!) i don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but when i hear some bloggers talk about how they NEED to finish this ARC but they’re not in the mood for it, i’m just thinking… why? you’re stressing yourself out and being unhappy and probably going to write a poor review for…. what, exactly? i know the idea of this being in the book blogging community will probably take a loooooong time and people might disagree, but just a thought!

here’s a small reminder:

my desire to make money from blogging does not mean i’m “faking” my love for books and simply using it as a business outlet. it’s quite the opposite, really, because I LOVE BOOK BLOGGING SO MUCH that i actually want to do it forever and ever. having an income flow from it will make it possible. SO if you’ve been like me the past few months – wanting to make blogging a business, but not wanting to be called a “fake” or whatever – i want you to stop feeling guilty. i’ve realized that there’s nothing wrong with wanting to make your passion into something sustainable and tangible. (unless you’re doing something illegal, like selling ARCs; in that case, you really need to stop.)

what are your thoughts on book bloggers making money? let me know! (and it’s seriously okay if you disagree)

Alexandra Ling

alexandra is a nineteen-year-old content creator and avid reader. when she's not on the internet or hiding behind pages, you can find her training to be a professional ballet dancer. she finds writing about herself in third-person strange.

  • I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS POST AND I COULDN’T AGREE MORE. <3 It absolutely pains me that money is considered such a "taboo" topic among book bloggers. Like any other kind of blogger could look forward to making money on their blog if they grew their platform a lot. Parenting and food blogs do ALL THE TIME. And it's not considered bad or selling out…it's considered a part-time job. Which is freaking awesome. I wish wish wish I could do that with blogging. I did find a small freelance job with a book retailer where I get paid regularly for posting…and I don't in anyway consider that being less genuine about my love for books! OH. and recently? I did a post promoting Scrivener. I didn't get paid…but I was still telling people to go buy Scrivener…soooo…basically that was advertising. How is it okay to advertise for free for a product you love, but it's taboo to do the same and get paid?

    IT MAKES NO SENSE. *collapses dramatically*

    I am 100% in support of bloggers who can figure out a way to stay true to themselves, have fun, and get paid to do it.

  • Great post Alexandria. It is amazing to make money from blogging. But I dont think it can be a reality soon. There are so many bloggers. And the ways to make money are not many

  • This is a great post! I agree that making money by book blogging shouldn’t be such a frowned upon topic. I feel like growing up we were always told to do something you love as a career. If book blogging is that, why shouldn’t you be allowed to make it your career. A lot of time and effort goes into book blogging just like any other blogging. Hopefully some day it will become a thing.

  • yes, yes and yes! I was think of discussing the discomfort people have with money making in this community but was waiting for more insight and info on the topic. Very well said!

  • I love being able to make money from my blog via designing and damn anyone that calls me fake or mercenary. Blogging is expensive yo, the time, the books I purchase, the website hosting– we gotta get even and make a little on the side somehow 😉 I’m not enamoured with the idea of a starving artist, thanks. Love these discussions that are happening.

  • Making money by book blogging is something I wish could be a thing! I mean, I’m the typical struggling college student, come on xD It kinda makes me sad that in the book blogging community, making money by book blogging is frowned upon, because yeah, as you said, other blogging communities not only get the product, but also get paid to advertise that product. As long as you’re genuine about it, stay true to yourself, I think making money by book blogging is great! 🙂 Nice discussion 🙂

  • I would absolutely love for book blogging to be a source of income one day in the future, I mean just because you love a job and earn money from it doesn’t at all mean it’s not a proper job! I know that there’s always a ton of arguments about people doing Youtube for a living because you’re not sitting behiind a desk and yada yada yada. Loved this post!

  • This is something I looked into and unfortunately, I think the most important thing you have in your blog is your voice and honest opinion. I don’t think that’s something that can be bought, hence why I feel uncomfortable with sponsored posts. It’s a bit like blog tours and why I stopped participating in them due to needing to find something positive to say. I do have ads on my blog and affiliate links but yeah not anything much at all. If we want to make money from blogging I think using your blog as a promo tool to promote other services is the way to go.

  • It is weird that book blogging is one of the few ways of blogging where you can’t earn money. Fashion, make-up and even blogs about gaming can give you a lot of money, but the moment someone mentioning books it’s all about ‘losing credibility’ and ‘paid for positive reviews’. It should not be about that, but about being able to earn money for all the hard work we put in our blogs.. I don’t think I would ever be dedicated in such a way that I would make it my job, but I definitely wouldn’t look down on people who would earn money from it 🙂

  • Blissful Bookworm

    I’m a starving artist and it’s no fun! I have bills to pay as well. I think it’s about time that book bloggers begin to operate like other blogging communities. We should be getting paid for all the effort we put out. Book blogging is a part time, if not full time job for some people. I decided to start offering a service of my own. I’m going to be a beta reader and a developmental editor. I’m gathering testimonials for people I’ve helped in the past and present. I’m just glad we’re finally having this talk!

  • I think it would be great to earn money from book blogging! We put so much time and effort into our blogs and we’re advertising books and sometimes other bookish things with reviews/cover reveals etc and it would be great. I can understand that people worry about paid book reviews and honesty but I think most people would be genuine if it comes to that. As long as somebody doesn’t approach you by saying “We’ll pay you if you give the book 5 stars” but instead paying you for an honest opinion, then it’s fine!

  • Natalie

    I completely agree! Other bloggers are able to make a living by doing what they love (blogging) so why is book blogging any different? We put just as much time and effort into the content that we release so I really don’t see why it’s such a controversial topic. I’m also an affiliate for TBD and I’ve earned about £2 so that’s really not reliable enough to make a living out of. And I’m not talented enough or business savvy enough to sell anything.

  • I loved this post! I think bookbloggers should definitely get paid! If a blogger puts such effort in their blog, loves it passionately, and spends tons of time on it, why shouldn’t they get paid! YouTuber’s get paid, so should bloggers!

  • Aubrey’s Book Nook

    I’ve thought about the same thing for the same reasons. I love love love blogging and reading, but realistically there just isn’t quite enough time in a day to do everything I need to do. A lot of times I wish I could just sit down and write and blog and read all day, but I have school and responsibilities. It would be so nice to be able to focus on blogging a lot more. I’ve looked into freelance writing a lot, but still it isn’t quite the same. Thanks for the post and discussion!

  • The idea of paid reviews don’t really sit well with me, because I just can’t trust it. Money does have a way of affecting the subconscious (I would know), and I don’t really know if people should be offering paid reviews, especially when there are more chances of not liking a book than, say, some well-made makeup. Books are very, very subjective, and I don’t know if I could trust people being paid to review. And book blogging is already cutthroat is at is with ARCs, I don’t want to see what’s going to happen when money is added to the situation.

    As for other types of things, like promo posts or tours, then I see nothing wrong with that. Some people promote books so creatively, and it’s fantastic, and I do wish that those people get paid for that. That’s what I have in mind when I hear “sponsored posts,” but if it’s just copy/paste content, I don’t like that either.

  • I’ve been reading fashion and beauty blogs for years so I really don’t get all the drama over why book bloggers can’t make money if they have a big enough audience. I think it depends on how bloggers are putting their content together to make money, I quite enjoy watching sponsored beauty videos if they are done right. Rather than a paid review it could be possible to promote a new book in a roundup of favourite summer reads or something like that!

    http://www.sundaysandink.com

  • I agree 110%!! I definitely think there are ways to do be a profitable blogger without being icky and overly promotional. It’s an illogical argument to say that our hearts aren’t in something just because we are getting paid to it. Actually, I would hope the opposite would be true. BECAUSE we are getting paid to do it, we should be finding motivation to put our best out there. But maybe that’s just me.

  • I totally love this! The whole thing makes perfect sense. Book bloggers generally spend all their time and energy (that is, when they’re not reading) on their blog and making it better. Who are we to say we shouldn’t get paid for it? I love the idea of book blogging as a job. I’ve actually been thinking/asking about things like that lately.

    -Amy

  • YOU ARE SO RIGHT OH MY GOSH. I don’t get the angst or whatever surrounding getting paid to book blog, it would be SO helpful to pay for your website monthly and keep it up and running. Also giveaways, GIVEAWAYS with more money we could host more giveaways, we could do so much more. Getting paid to book blog would be so nice, it doesn’t change our love for books or our honesty in our reviews. BLOGGING TAKES A LOT OF TIME, I LOVE blogging, but getting paid to do it would help pay the monthly website costs :). Nice discussion post!

  • You are so right that it is ridiculous that book bloggers have such taboo perceptions about sponsored content and reviews while food and lifestyle bloggers do it all the time (and make TONS of money doing it).

    For me, I think paid reviews for something so subjective as reading it what it boils down to. With other products (like a hair straightener or make-up), it either works or it doesn’t–so there is a more definitive line. With books, just because I don’t like it, doesn’t mean that someone else won’t. Reading is so much more personally for me; not saying make-up or food isn’t but reading is such an experience for a person more than anything.

    Look at what over-hyped books can do to a reader: you love it or it doesn’t live up to expectations. Which is the same with anything but if I only see reviews for a book and they all seem to be paid, I get a little skeptical and question whether the book works for me or not.

  • samtasia

    I think it’s a wonderful and fun way for people to make money! People always say you can do anything, be anyone you want. And it’s true, other blogs generate income for their owners. Why not book blogs? In any case, good luck with your blog!

  • This is such a great post! I really want to be a full-time, paid book blogger too but I think the nature our blog niche makes it (almost) impossible. I do make some money from my blog but mostly from posts that aren’t linked to books, which is a shame. I’m no longer solely a book blogger as I will occasionally post more ‘lifestyle’ or foodie related things so these posts now seem less out of place. It just so happens that I wanted to branch out and write about other things anyway otherwise I would’ve felt like I was selling out or something ? Getting paid to write our reviews as well as receiving the books would be AMAZING but unfortunately I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon ?

    Laura @ What’s Hot?

  • It would great if you could make a living/money by reading and reviewing books you want and not just ARCs! But one big obstacle I think is that many are just happy to receive them for free, which of course is not little.
    the other thing might be a traffic to your blog. Maybe my blog is too young and small (yet) as it will be two years in June since I started to blog

  • Paige Turner

    I like this post! I actually just got finished reading Ashley’s post on Nose Graze about making money while blogging. Like I said in the comment on that post, I started blogging for the fun of it, then I saw dollar signs from some posts through my research, but after I became more seasoned with blogging (over a year and still going!), I lost interest in blogging for money. I am concerned about sponsored post, since I don’t want my readers to feel that my integrity is lost if I’m accepting payment. I would still like to make money and eventually upgrade to self-hosting of some sort, however. Nonetheless, I love your opinion on book blogging and making money, thank you!


    Paige Turner from Between Reality

  • nat

    This has inspired me to pursue my idea on being a proofreader for people who are planning to publish their books.