Ask Casual Kitchen: Do You Make Money Blogging?

Today's questions are about making money with blogging.
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Q: Do you make any real money blogging at Casual Kitchen, and how do you make it?

A: Heavens, no. "Make real money blogging" has to be the second oldest lie of the internet. (The first is "I'm 23F, wanna see me on cam?")

Seriously, something like 0.000000000000001% of bloggers make significant money--and in a peculiar twist of irony, most of those bloggers blog about blogging. Huh. I guess I picked the wrong niche.

So... no, I don't make that much money blogging. These days, Casual Kitchen makes anywhere from a hundred bucks a month to a few hundred bucks a month. My income primarily comes from Google's Adsense service and Amazon affiliate links. I also make a small amount of money from posting infrequent Sponsored Tweets on Twitter, and from occasional spot advertising deals for ad space that I sign from time to time with individual advertisers.

Finally, I earn money from other affiliate agreements, such as my current efforts supporting Everett Bogue's inspiring books on minimalism (see the links to his books on CK's right hand margin).

All of this raises a second question that I'll ask (and answer) for the benefit of curious readers:

Q: If you don't make that much money, why even bother with ads and affiliate links at all?

It's a good question, and to be honest, I have considered eliminating all the ads here at Casual Kitchen.

A couple of thoughts. First, I've spent quite a bit of time over the years thinking about what kind of business model I want to run here. Is CK purely an idealistic creative outlet which should be free of financial concerns, or am I a fool to do anything other than maximize my revenues at all times?

My ideal is a middle ground between these two extremes: a model where I can get paid at least some money for my work, but in a way that doesn't burden my readers.

Second, ever since I started Casual Kitchen, there's been an encouragingly steady growth rate to my readership and my income here. If I can keep putting out thought-provoking articles and continue to grow my readership, perhaps this site can support me in a more substantial way in the not-too-distant future.

The bottom line is this: readers have access to all of the enormous amount of content here at Casual Kitchen at absolutely no cost. It's pretty hard to argue against free. And the best thing about an advertising or an affiliate revenue model is that my content can remain free, yet I can still earn money by, say, putting readers in front of books I've found valuable, or putting advertisers in front of thousands of potentially interested readers.

I guess at the end of the day I'm doing my best to strike a healthy medium that allows me to keep writing Casual Kitchen indefinitely. I think there can be a middle ground where everybody wins, and hopefully I've found something close to that here.

Finally, if you get value from an article at Casual Kitchen and you'd like to return the favor by helping support what I'm doing, you can easily do so. One of the easiest and most painless ways to support Casual Kitchen is to keep me in mind the next time you make any major purchases from Amazon.com. Instead of going to Amazon's site directly, use Casual Kitchen's affiliate links to Amazon instead. You won't pay a single cent extra for your purchases, yet I will receive a small commission on everything you buy.

Readers (especially those of you with blogs of your own!), what thoughts would you add?

Related Posts:
A Reader Asks for Help
Best of Casual Kitchen 2009
Six Good Things About the Awful Economy

Help support Casual Kitchen by buying Everett Bogue's exceptional book The Art of Being Minimalist. (This is an affiliate link for an e-book I strongly recommend to my readers--and if you decide to make a purchase, your purchase will help fund all of the free content here at CK!)

How can I support Casual Kitchen?
If you enjoy reading Casual Kitchen, tell a friend and spread the word! You can also support me by purchasing items from Amazon.com via links on this site, or by linking to me or subscribing to my RSS feed. Finally, you can consider submitting this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to bookmarking sites like del.icio.us, digg or stumbleupon. Thank you for your support!

10 comments:

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

"...the second oldest lie of the internet..." - Ha!

I think you've struck the perfect balance of advertising without annoying your readers. (To the point that I used your site as a model for how I would do my own advertising).

I struggled with the "do I have advertising on my site" question when I started my blog. In the end, I'm glad I put ads on it - it's nice to get some money for all the effort I put into my writing. Of course, I'm not getting rich; my earnings look like they're about half of yours. (I think I have half the readership, so that makes sense.) At this point, my blog earnings cover most of my cookbook habit.

Like you, I'm seeing an upward trend over time, and I'm hoping that someday it will add up to something significant. But, really, that's not the main reward from my blogging. I love being a food writer! I'm having fun writing about cooking, sharing recipes, tips and ideas with other writers, and enjoying the minor celebrity that comes when someone recognizes me from my blog.

Thanks for sharing this information, Dan!
Mike V @ DadCooksDinner

The Diva on a Diet said...

Fascinating topic, Dan, and I couldn't agree with your perspective more. I don't blog to make "real money" ... which is probably a good thing, since my blog doesn't make "real money"! LOL

And that's a-ok with me. I haven't been enterprising enough to do an Amazon affiliation, though I probably should since I discuss books from time to time.

I enjoyed reading about your CK business model and your experiences. Thanks!

chacha1 said...

Thanks for this, Dan. I think a lot of us are curious about the cost-benefit analysis on blogs we like. :-)

I personally dislike blogs that are 50% ads, even if the content is good it's just so distracting and ugly! Your balance is fine and is similar to what I plan to do within the next year.

My blog was my way of establishing a web presence for my side business without the expense and hassle of a hosted website. Without any web design experience (or aptitude) I would have had to pay someone every time I needed an update. Versus a few dollars a month for a blog that I can update any old time? Well worth it.

btw one of the reasons I like CK is your writing style. Carry on!

Daniel said...

Thanks for the feedback so far.

I'd also like to hear from readers who don't agree with me. There are plenty of bloggers out there who don't believe at all in running ads.

Is this reasonable and why? I'd like to hear the thinking behind this view too.

DK

kittiesx3 said...

Well I don't advertise but then again I have a humble little blog I started for me.

That I have any readers is purely happenstance so your question about advertising etc really isn't all that applicable to my situation.

the michelin project said...

Hi Dan,
Thanks for this post; I've been really thinking about what I want to do/not do financially with my own blog, and it's very helpful to hear your perspective. The fact that you point out that readers have unlimited access to your free content is a good point too. Thanks for pointing out the use of Amazon affiliate links - I started those up before but never really considered using them.
Happy Friday!

Buttered Bread said...

Hi Daniel,
I think it's terrific when bloggers can make money to offset some of their costs (or cookbook habits), but I have seen some gorgeous blogs marred by pop-ups and ads for products that are clearly at odds with the blogs' philosophies. This is one of the reasons I have not attempted to draw revenue from my little blog, but the real reason is, I fear getting too fixated on numbers and squashing some of the spontaneity that drive what I write about. Thanks for getting the conversation going on a thought-provoking subject! CM

Miss Melly said...

Since I blog about the local food movement, organic food, and sustainable food practices, having ads on my site for foods that don't fit into these categories seems hypocritical. I think people get enough of the ads everywhere else and I've had people tell me that one of the things they like about my blog is that it's an ad-free zone. For that reason I have never monetized my blog.
If the advertisements fit your content and it helps pay for your cookbook habit, by all means, go for it. Unfortunately for me, it just wouldn't look good.
www.onehundredmilemel.blogspot.com

Aleria said...

Weird question: do you still make money off my reading your blog if I use adblock? I don't see any google ads at all.

Daniel said...

Not a weird question at all. I get paid when a reader clicks an ad, so if you block them, I won't make money from those ads... at least from you. :)

But remember that's just one of my income sources from CK, and you can still support me in other ways.

I think also readers who are truly offended by ads on blogs can use this insight too, and either get themselves an ad-blocking plugin on their browser or they can read me via RSS. Both are easy ways to avoid ads.

DK