For What It's Worth

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Book Blogger Confessions (#15) Making money off your blog…

Book Blogger Confessions is a meme that posts the 1st and 3rd Monday of every month, where book bloggers "confess" and vent about topics that are unique to us. Feel free to share, vent and offer solutions. Just keep it respectful - no bashing authors or other bloggers!

If you want to participate just grab our button and include it in your post with a link to either Tiger's All Consuming Media, For What It's Worth or Midnyte Reader. We will be providing a linky at the end of our posts so people can "hop" to see all the participants answers.

Question: Making money off your blog: There was a recent controversy about bloggers charging authors for reviews (You can read about it here – from what I can tell the blog in question has discontinued) which leads to this week's question:
Almost all of us blog as a hobby in our spare time, usually for free but is there anything wrong with making money off your blog?

Should bloggers charge for reviews? In my opinion, no. I know that publications like Kirkus charge for reviews but I think for the majority of hobby book review bloggers this brings up too many ethical questions. I would LOVE to get paid for blogging since I put so much time and money into it but I can’t see how you could ask authors to pay you for an honest review and then not get in to trouble when you don’t like a book. Can you imagine?? There’s already such drama when we do that without being paid. I know the blog in question above agreed not to publish the review if negative but I think that crosses a line too. I don’t want to be a gushing only blog. I want to be honest – both good and bad at my discretion.

Also, that makes your blog a legitimate business which would include paying taxes if it is now a source of income. Something to keep in mind if you don't want to get into trouble with the IRS.

What about advertising on a blog? I don’t hold it against anyone who is able to make a few dollars blogging. I don’t think people understand how expensive this hobby can get so I say go for it if you can. However, I do get turned off aesthetically when there is a lot of advertising on a blog. Especially if the whole sidebar is filled with giant covers or flashing covers – which drives me nuts. It’s too distracting for me.

When a blogger does allow book related advertising does it turn you off? Make you wonder about the honesty of their reviews? If I don’t know that blogger I have to be honest and say yes, it does make me second guess their honesty. I usually will look around at the reviews for the books they have advertised to see if they’re all 100% gushing or they at least point out some negatives to the book. I follow quite a few blogs that do this type of advertising and trust their honesty in reviews but I do poke around past reviews a bit first if it’s a new to me blogger.

Do you have a problem with purchase links (Amazon for example) that earn a blogger a small commission if a person purchases a book through that link? No, I use them on my blog and believe me you don’t make much. Whatever I do make rolls right back into the blog. I feel you can use them as a convenience but no one is making you.

Upcoming question for Monday August 20: Have you ever loved a book that you know is not a great literary gem? Maybe it's filled with spelling errors, tired cliches, and is utterly cheestastic but you loved it anyway.

How do you handle that as a blogger who is used to critical thinking and analysis? Do you pretend you never read the book - never to be reviewed or added to your Goodreads shelf :-)?

Do you write a review but maybe apologize and make excuses as to why you enjoyed it or are you bold and proud of any book you enjoyed?

Conversely - have you read a classic, that is considered a literary gem but you just didn't get it? Are you embarrassed to admit that or do you review it anyway?


  1. I do not think bloggers should make money from their blogs either. It does come to that point, ugh, this book sucks, but I better give it a good review anyway

  2. Aaaah! I totally forgot about the tax implications! No thanks! If a blog has a ton of ads, I don't poke around to see if they loved those books, but perhaps I should take more notice.

  3. I am picky about blogs with ads, and I don't click the links . I would love the money for this hobby.

  4. I'm with you on the visual clutter. I'm to the point where I don't even see ads -- my brain just screens them out. And as the world moves to smartphones, I think blog and web page advertising may become more irrelevant. But who knows?

  5. I don't mind advertising clutter in a blog's sidebar, but I'm kind of put off if they have 20 reading challenges in their sidebar. Not sure why I mentally differentiate between the 2 types of visual clutter!

  6. Some good points here, had great time reading this. Thanks.

  7. I don't get paid to blog and I sure wouldn't charge for a review. I too want to be honest and I also want to read whatever I want. Now I'll happily accept a review copy of a book. I try not to bash anything. I think you can dislike something and review it in a constructive way. Now if I really hated it and I was provided a copy, I may let them know that I would not be able to say anything positive. It would have to be pretty bad though.

  8. I miss you :-( This has absolutely nothing to do with Blogger Confessions, but I do.

    ANYWAY, I hadn't thought of the IRS and paying taxes for people who charge for reviews. That's definitely something they need to think about. Personally, I'm with you. While I'd love to get paid, I couldn't imagine asking an author for money. I love reading and reviewing. It's my hobby and yeah, sometimes it feels like work, but I heart it.

  9. I would love it if there were a way that I could break even on my blog but I haven't found a way to do it yet. I don't have a problem with anyone making a bit of money off advertisements (as long as they aren't more prominant than your reviews!) just so long as they don't cross the line and start selling their "opinion" to the highest bidders!