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Armchair BEA 2013: Blogger Development — Making a Little Money

Armchair BEA 2013: Blogger Development — Making a Little Money post image

This week is a big one for people who love books. While many publishers, bloggers, authors, readers and writers are in New York City for Book Expo America, those of us left behind are talking about books and blogging as part of Armchair BEA. Today’s blogging topic is all about blogger development:

Day two we we talk about how we develop ourselves as bloggers. Have you branched out into your community? Do you partner with other bloggers? Have you gone “pro” or begun supplementing your income through your blog? Are you a long-term blogger, and how has your online personality developed over the years? These are simply ideas. Think development and tell us what comes to mind.

I’ve been blogging for five years, but I didn’t start earning any money from my blog until about a year ago. I’m certainly not an expert in monetizing your blog, but I thought for today’s topic it might be helpful to share how I make a little money as a way to demystify how it can work (with the caveat that this is only my experience and certainly doesn’t represent the only or even best way to make a little money blogging).

I earn income from blog-related activities in two ways: advertising on this site and freelance writing and reviewing. On the advertising side, I work with a company called LitBreaker, which specializes in advertising for book-related blogs. The CEO, Jason Chambers, has been great to work with and I like that the ads are bookish. The amount of money I earn each month varies and depends on the number of views my site gets and the number of people who click on ads.

As a freelancer (not my day job), I write regularly for Book Riot and do occasional reviews for some other publications. Pitching freelance pieces is a whole different ballgame that I wrote a little bit about during last year’s Armchair BEA. Book Riot pays (basically) based on pageviews, while the other publications I write for pay a flat rate for each piece.

Because real numbers can be helpful, over the last 12 months my blogging income has broken down like this:

  • LitBreaker: $310
  • Freelancing: $282
  • TOTAL: $592

A chunk of the money I earn goes back into blogging. Because I’m self-hosted, I pay Bluehost to host my blog, GoDaddy for my domain, and a security site, Sucuri, to protect my blog from hackers (you can read about how my blog was hacked in this post).

In a year, those regular expenses total about $185. I’ve also had one-time payments for things like a custom blog theme, registration for the Book Blogger Convention, or other blog-related technology that I use some of the income to pay.

Obviously I’m not quitting my day job with any of this, but it’s nice that I’ve got a couple of ways to help pay for ongoing site maintenance (and, let’s be honest, a few books). If you have any more specific questions, I’ll be happy to answer them in the comments section!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jason Chambers May 29, 2013, 6:21 am

    Thanks for the nice words, Kim. Hope to see you around the Javitz this week.

    I also want to emphasize what you said about security. It’s a serious issue. We were hacked at Three Guys One Book several times in recent years, and it’s awful to diagnose and repair, not to mention the stress of wondering if your content will be there when everything’s back up.

    Sucuri is great, and I use them. There are other good plug ins and security agencies too. At the very least, backup your files regularly and get a CAPTCHA on your wp-admin pages.

    You’d be amazed how much trouble you can save yourself.


    • Kim May 29, 2013, 11:40 am

      I wish I was going to be at Javits this week, but I ended up having to take the week off. Next year I’m really hoping to be there.

      I’m so grateful that Sucuri was able to fix the hacking issue I ran into last fall. I tried to do some self-diagnosis and treatment, but I was in well over my head. Now that the site is protected, I feel a lot better. It’s $90 a year that’s well spent to protect the time and effort I’ve put into this site.

  • Katie May 29, 2013, 8:37 am

    Thank you for writing this! I’m still a newbie, been at this less than a year, and I’ve been wondering how to make a wee bit of cash (or at the very least, support my habit!) I hadn’t even THOUGHT about security when I pondered self hosting- this is how naive I am! Thanks for sharing the wisdom 🙂

    • Kim May 29, 2013, 11:38 am

      The nice thing about the couple of ways I make money is that they’re easy (once LitBreaker was set up, I haven’t had to think about it much), and that combined they help pay for some of the costs associated with building this blog.

      If you are going to go to self-hosted, I highly recommend looking a security options (or at least taking steps to secure your blog better than I did). I didn’t think about it either and it ended up with a bit of a mess I’m still recovering from.

  • Teresa May 29, 2013, 9:26 am

    Kim, this is by far the most helpful site I’ve come across and thank you for including some real numbers. I’ve got a plan for the future of my blog and what you’ve shared here helps me to realize that I’m headed in the right direction.

    • Kim May 29, 2013, 11:37 am

      Thanks Teresa! If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail. I’m not an expert and, in fact, most of my blog “development” has come a bit my chance, but I can at least share what I’ve learned.

  • tanya May 29, 2013, 11:29 am

    Thank you so much for breaking down how much money you make from your blog. it’s not a lot, but as an outsider it is nice to see where you get your money from and how it works.


    • Kim May 29, 2013, 11:36 am

      Thanks Tanya. I was a little nervous to post it, actually, since at points in the past there’s been some backlash when bloggers talk about money (people should only be doing it for the love of blogging and whatnot). But I think it’s important to talk about, so I’m glad sharing about it was helpful.

  • Carrie @wvredreads May 29, 2013, 11:46 am

    I know what you mean about being nervous it seems like money is the root of all evil blogging. I look the fact that you found a source of lit ads though. I would seriously consider a focused ad system like that.

    • Kim May 29, 2013, 7:47 pm

      I don’t think talk about money is quite as taboo as it used to be, but I think there can sometimes be some bad feelings when money comes up. I don’t think it has to be that way, but I get people’s concerns too.

  • Andi @ Estella's Revenge May 29, 2013, 1:19 pm

    Thanks for this, Kim! Love your forthrightness in demystifying.

    • Kim May 29, 2013, 7:47 pm

      Thanks Andi!

  • Tanya Patrice May 29, 2013, 1:38 pm

    Excellent post! Thanks for sharing actual numbers, and the tip about the hacking. I’ve had 2 attacks on this blog so far this year, but thankfully, they didn’t get through.

    • Kim May 29, 2013, 7:48 pm

      I never in a million years would have thought my blog would get hacked — it seems so small, comparatively speaking. But I think it can happen to anyone, so it’s good to be aware and be careful.

  • Athira May 29, 2013, 5:12 pm

    Thanks for this post. Although I may not make the leap to monetizing my blog yet, I have been curious for a while on how all it can be done.

    • Kim May 29, 2013, 7:48 pm

      There are lots of ways, I think. I didn’t really seek out advertising, but when a trusted source recommended LitBreaker it seemed like a good deal to me.

  • michelle birbeck May 29, 2013, 5:20 pm

    I’ve never thought of making money off my blog, but I am still new to blogging where books are concerned. It is certainly something to think about!

    • Kim May 29, 2013, 7:49 pm

      I wouldn’t have thought of it either. It took about three or four years before it seemed feasible and possible. Blogging still isn’t about the money, obviously, but it’s nice to have.

  • Julie S. May 29, 2013, 8:52 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this information. I hope to someday have our new blog on a non-free site and look into earning some money to help pay for that so this post is most useful 🙂

    • Kim May 30, 2013, 7:55 pm

      Good luck!

  • Emma @ Words And Peace May 29, 2013, 8:59 pm

    thanks for being clear and specific, money wise. I checked Litbreaker as well. Will need to grow more, maybe a couple of years, to reach 10,000 views/month to be eligible.
    and many more Armchair BEA type events, lol!

    • Kim May 30, 2013, 7:56 pm

      I think at this moment I’m a little bit under the minimum views per month — since the blog was hacked, my pageviews have gone down (lost from Google search, mostly), but when I started they were near that mark. It’s good to focus on building an audience first though, I think.

  • Ashley @ Wholly Books May 29, 2013, 10:35 pm

    Thanks for the tips! Unfortunately, I’m quite a ways from being able to make money from my blog! lol. I love your tips though and maybe one day I can use them!

    • Kim May 30, 2013, 7:56 pm

      It took me a long time to get here — more than four years! — but since it wasn’t really a goal when I started blogging that’s ok.

  • Care May 30, 2013, 7:23 am

    You are such a light. I’m happy for you that you are making this work for you and sharing it with us.

    • Kim May 30, 2013, 7:56 pm

      Thanks Care 🙂

  • Jennifer May 30, 2013, 9:25 am

    I have to say, the ads on your site never bug me, lol. I’ve seen some blogs so clogged with stuff that it’s distracting. You’re doing it right 🙂

    • Kim May 30, 2013, 7:57 pm

      That is good to know! I was apprehensive about them at first, but I think they’re pretty subtle in the grand scheme of things. And because they’re bookish, they don’t feel as out of place.

  • Kelly May 30, 2013, 9:31 am

    Just wanted to say that if the Author Buzz talks are any indication you are going to be in narrative nonfiction heaven this year!

    • Kim May 30, 2013, 7:58 pm

      Oh my gosh, I know!! Just looking at the Buzz Titles online yesterday made me SUPER jealous of the people who were there and might get copies. I’ve been waiting for Katy Butler’s book for like two years (she wrote a piece of NYT Magazine in like 2010 about the subject of her book that is just stunning).

  • nomadreader (Carrie) May 30, 2013, 11:51 am

    Thanks for this post! I’m not at a point where I want to monetize my blog or emphasize freelancing yet, but it is wonderfully demystifying to see the real numbers. I make about $100/year through Amazon affiliate links, and that’s helpful (I’ve never made a penny from Book Depository or IndieBound links.)

    • Kim May 30, 2013, 7:59 pm

      Wow, that is great for affiliate links! I’ve never looked into doing that because I hadn’t hear of people making any actual money, but apparently you can.

  • Charlie May 31, 2013, 7:22 am

    That’s not a bad amount at all, especially given that none of what you’ve mentioned takes over the blog at all (thinking of how people start running sponsored posts). I like that there’s a company for book adverts, I always assumed that with books people had to work directly with the publisher.

    • Kim June 2, 2013, 10:40 am

      That’s one of the important things to me — I don’t want to make money in a way that compromises what I’m proud of on the blog or diminishes the quality. The freelancing is work, but the advertising is mostly passive and, I think, works in the context of the blog pretty well.

  • Nikki Steele May 31, 2013, 12:26 pm

    Great post–as other commentors have said, I really appreciate the solid numbers. I think that, depending on your day job, there’s a lot of nonmonetary forms of compensation you can derive from a blog. I use mine mostly as a portfolio for interested clients and so, while I don’t make money on the blog, it is driving more business that is making me money. It’s such a fun world out here in blog land, with so many options for how you want to do yours.

    • Kim June 2, 2013, 10:41 am

      Yes, that’s a great point. I’ve used the blog on job applications and in job interviews, since being online is such a thing in journalism right now. That’s even a bigger deal to me than any money I make directly because of the blog.

  • Kelly June 3, 2013, 6:07 am

    This is probably the first post I’ve seen where the blogger has shared real numbers – so thank you for that! I’ve never really thought about monetizing my blog, but if I do, I’ll be sure to check out LitBreaker; like you said, I like that it focuses on book ads!

    I also checked out your post about being hacked – SCARY stuff! I’m running a free scan as I type this.

    • Kim June 3, 2013, 8:21 pm

      As bloggers, I think we avoid talking about numbers — subscribers, advertising, whatever — and I’m not totally sure why. In the past I think there’s been some backlash/jealousy over numbers or maybe it just seems unseemly. Anyway, I’m glad this was helpful and yes, do the scan! It’s great for peace of mind.