Ask Me Anything – The Price of Blogging

Today’s Question is one I am asked all the time.

How do you afford to do so many giveaways and buy so many books?

Please be aware that this is just my personal opinion and experience… I’m not suggesting anyone follow what I did… just sharing some ideas that have worked for me.

1. Pay for it Out of Your Own Pocket.
When I first started seriously book blogging I paid for everything I did out of my own pocket.  I bought books for giveaways and paid to ship them or I gave away books that were sitting on my bookshelf. Once I’d been blogging for a while I had piles of review books sitting around and being someone who rarely ever reads a book more than once I decided to start giving them away. (Soapbox – Personally I don’t think it is honest to sell a book I receive for review so giving them away to others seemed like the best thing to do). It wasn’t uncommon for me to spend $50 to $75 a month on gift cards, books and the cost of shipping.   I justified the expense of so many giveaways because I wasn’t buying the books – I was receiving review copies for free so I thought nothing of paying $3 or $4 to ship them on to another blogger or a giveaway winner.  However over time I realized just how fast these expenses were adding up.  When I hit $100 in one month I realized this was not something I could afford to keep doing so I looked for other ways to finance my reading/blogging hobby.

2. Have Giveaways Shipped by Authors & Publishers.
One of the first thing I did was to start asking authors and publishers to send the books directly to the giveaway winners instead of to me.  Prior to that review & giveaway copies were being sent directly to me.  By not having to ship them out myself it cut my expenses drastically but didn’t completely eliminate them.  I still wanted to giveaway books. I run a lot of giveaway hops and I don’t end up with enough time to ask authors & publisher to provide books for those hops so I provide the books myself.  I needed a way to fund these giveaways.

3. Use an Amazon.com or another Rewards Credit Card to Earn Points.
While shopping on Amazon they had a deal where you could save money off your purchase if you opened an Amazon.com Credit Card. Since I love Amazon and use it way too often is seemed like a good fit for me.  I started using my Amazon.com Credit Cardfor groceries and miscellaneous expenses. I paid it off in full every month so there were no interest charges and I started to rack up a lot of points that I could then use on Amazon.com for books.

4. Join MyPoints
I have been a long time participant on MyPoints.  It’s a rewards program that gives you points for reading emails.  I joined the program back in August of 1998.  Since then I have earned over 50,000 points and regularly redeemed those points for gift cards.  Once I started blogging I switched from getting Olive Garden gift cards to getting Amazon Gift Cards so I had the ability to buy books and gift cards.

5. Try Swagbucks
Another way I earn Gift Cards is through Swagbucks.  Honestly I find Swagbucks a little annoying and I don’t use it very often but it’s an easy way to earn $5 Amazon Gift Cards.  You can complete offers or use their search box or search toolbar and earn points.  Once you have 450 points you get a $5 Amazon.com Gift Card.  It’s easy and they do send the codes out.  Of course you can earn lots of other things from them too but I’ve stuck to Amazon.com Gift Cards.

Search & Win

Search & Win

6. Become an Amazon Affiliate
The only place where I am an Affiliate and have actually earned something is Amazon.com. Most affiliate programs have such high thresholds before they send you a check or gift card that is is nearly impossible to hit the minimum and actually receive something from them.  I’ve tried several of them but Amazon.com is the only on that I have actually earned something from on a regular basis.

You simply place banners or links on your site and if people click through and purchase you earn a small commission.  They don’t have to purchase the item you are featuring.  Anything they purchase after having clicked through from your site counts. I got lucky one month – someone bought a Wii and a printer through a link on my site so I earned over $20 that month.  The next month I only earned $2.50.  Commissions carry over each month so if you don’t hit $10 one month you might the next.

Once you hit $10 they will email you an Amazon.com Gift Card.  If you earn larger amounts they will send you a check.

The commission earned is small. Usually just 4% to 6% but overtime it can add up.

*Whenever you shop Amazon.com use an affiliate link to shop.  Whether it is on my blog or another blog you enjoy it’s an easy way to help someone out.  You don’t have to purchase the item they are featuring, any purchase you make will help support that site.
Edited to Clarify: Amazon will not pay a commission to you if you purchase through your own link.

What is Amazon’s policy for Associates placing orders for themselves?

You may not purchase products during sessions initiated through your own Associates links and will not receive referral fees for such orders. This includes orders for customers, orders on behalf of customers, and orders for products to be used by you, your friends, your relatives, or your associates in any manner.

7. Adsense
If you have a blogger blog it is really easy to enable adsense ads on your blog.  This places google ads in your sidebar & under your posts.  The threshold for payment is high – I think it is $100 so unless you have a lot of traffic to your blog it will be a long time until you see a payment.  The funds roll over to the next month and I think in January I will finally see a payment come my way.  With Adsense you earn money by impression & by click throughs. As tempting as it may be you can’t click on any ads that show up on your own site or you will be disqualified from your earnings, also you can’t encourage others to click the ads or have a friend click them for you or it will disqualify you from receiving a check.  Adsense tracks IP addresses and if the same address shows up multiple times it red flags your account.  I will occasionally click on ads on other blogs but I’m cautious.  I know it is a way for bloggers to make money but I make sure the ad is something relevant that I’m really interested in before clicking on it.

So those are my suggestions to help offset the cost of blogging.  Of course blogging doesn’t have to cost anything.  Books from the library are free (as long as you don’t rack up late fees – have I mentioned how much I hate late fees!) and giveaways are not a requirement of blogging.

How about you? Do you have any suggestions for how to pay for blogging & giveaways? What has worked for you?

Do you have a question for me? Send me an email toobusyreading(at)gmail(dot)com or fill out the form below.

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