I know this is something that keep getting discussed every now and again within the Book Blogging Community aka the Blogsphere, and normally, I stay away from this as my opinions are very mixed depending when you ask me and what mood I’m in. Or if I’ve just looked at my bank account and panicking about money, which is something I do often!
But recently, I’ve started listening to a bunch of new podcasts and watching book vloggers and they ask for listeners and viewers to support them via Patreon. They are open about the fact that they put a lot of time and work into these projects and I 100% understand.
But it’s interesting reading book bloggers thoughts on this throughout the past few years and I started to wonder about it as a whole.
Now, before I go any further, this is going to be rambling. I’m not going to give an out-an-out answer on this. This is me, trying to understand and figure out where I stand in this.
My thoughts are very mixed, like I said. I feel hugely uncomfortable about the idea of being paid to write a review or being involved in a blog tour. If I read a review on a blog I trust, I would question if the reviewer was being genuine over their review or was saying that the publisher/author/PR company/whoever is paying wanted them to say, if I find out that it was a paid review.
We’ve seen backlash when several well-known vloggers in the US reviewed a book positively, only to discovered that they were paid.
And what about adverts, I hear you ask? Hm… If I put adverts on my blog, I would want to be super careful on what goes up. I don’t want an advert that goes against my beliefs and the values I hold dear (for example, I won’t have anything anti-LGBTQ as am a gay man. Nor would I want anything racist, sexist among other things). Plus, if I did have adverts, I would only get revenue from them if someone clicks on it. And how often do we click on an ad? Or a clickbait ad? We’re more savvy now on this.
“But, what about affiliates,” you ask? “You can put them in your reviews and put them to companies you use and trust”. Ok, this does seem the most logical step, but what company? Amazon? Waterstones? WHSmiths? Foyles? Audible? Book Depository? Hive? See… there are so many book sellers in the UK and there are so many forms of books - physical, ebook, audiobook - that instead of doing one, I would have to have several. And again, I would only get revenue from them if someone clicks that link to get a 30 day cookie and buys something. And even though, how much would I get if someone did that? Not very much - it’s between 5% to 10% on some of the sites I’ve looked into.
What about Patreon and Ko-Fi? I mean, listening to podcasts and watching book vloggers saying they use Patreon and Ko-Fi and I get why. How pricy is a microphone, a camera, editing software? But for a book blogger such as myself? All I need is my laptop, wifi (which I can get free in most coffeeshops), a book or my eReader and not much else. Wouldn’t that feel a bit cap-in-hand?
Plus, would it be even worth it? I am not a huge blog. Hell, I am tiny! Really under the radar. Would it be truly worth it for me to have an affiliate or a patreon/ko-fi? And do this while getting copies of books from publishers for free?
See, that’s where I get stuck. Publishers, authors and publicity people are sending me books and ebooks (and making them aren’t cheap) and then, I would making money on the back of it.
“But, hang on,”I hear you counter-argue. “They use your blog for free advertising and they make profit from that when the book sells. Doesn’t it seem unfair for you to do this for free while they make profit?”
This is something I have been questioning for at least a year or so. Me wondering if I should have something so, if you click it, I get some money. Money that I can put into the blog - buying my domain name, paying someone to create business cards for the blog or create a really cool banner, using the money for train fare when I got to events. But then I would question if it’s wise/sensible to ask for money from the blog’s reader, which then makes me question my worth and the blog’s as I have spent how much time/money/energy into this blog - a hobby I enjoy - which then makes me feel guilty because this is a hobby, plus I’m asking for money. This, in turns, makes me worried about money, my and the blog’s self-worth, which makes me think about using affiliate and thus, the cycle continues, though I do leave it a month or two before I go back into this rabbit hole.
While I was on Twitter a few days/weeks ago, when I was thinking about writing this (or halfway through), I asked if other bloggers I know use affiliates and feel guilty about using them, and though only a tiny handful of people replied, most said the same thing: “I barely make any revenue from it so why feel guilty over it?”
I could go on about this. About me trying to figure out this as it does feel very much a mortal and it varies from person to person. For some people, this is a no brainer while to others, this is a bad idea and won’t go near it.
For me, I think that, while I am totally against being paid for a review, I do feel less against using an affiliate and the forms of revenues, as long as they are sensible and for the blog. This would be my thread of thought, and if/when I finally feel comfortable about using affiliates/adverts/patreon/ko-fo/whatever, I would use what I feel is the best and most comfortable for myself and for the blog.
But like I said before, this is a moral decision and it’s up to each blogger, vlogger, podcaster, creator to decide what is comfortable for them.