Should I Monetize My Blog?
As much as I enjoy writing, sometimes its nice to get away from the usual places that I always tend to do it. Changing up the background scenery can often lead to new ideas, boost creativity and make me more productive.
Today I’m working on my buddy Paco’s porch in Sanford, Florida. It has a nice view and a very comfortable chair and table from which to work. It is a bit warm at 91 degrees and partly cloudy, but otherwise very comfy.
I just did a final edit on my Gringo Street Tacos article and decided to write about.. well.. writing and blogging today.
Paco went to San Francisco for a few days. By the time I publish this he’ll be back, so don’t get any cute ideas about coming over here and writing on this porch while he’s gone. 🙂
I’m watching his cat Daisy. She gets a treat every afternoon and it is imperative that she stays on her treat schedule. Hey I get it, I have 4 dogs and 2 cats.
Schedules are good for pets. Really good.
If you’re a pet owner you know that there are only a handful of people you really trust to take care of them, much less come into your home when you’re away.
Paco is my best friend (friends for over 20 years) and he will routinely check on my zoo when I have to be gone for the day or even 8+ hours. We’re cool like that.
I brought a 6” sub from Publix, some Kombucha tea and he even left me some cloves. What a guy. Even though we both quit smoking we love the occasional Djarum Black. I’m ready to roll!
So here I am writing on his porch on a Tuesday afternoon.
Lately, I’ve been doing most of my writing on my couch on my 9.7” iPad with the ZAGG keyboard using the Scrivener writing App. I really like this combo right now and will probably review this amazing ZAGG keyboard sometime soon.
I’ve been finding the iPad better for writing for a variety of reasons. The portability is great and no laptop on the market can compete with the battery life between charges. Add in a nice Bluetooth keyboard with backlighting and you’re all set!
I can’t say enough about the Scrivener Writing App. This is the best tool I’ve found for writing and organizing all of my ideas. I’d be lost without it!
I like to write everywhere but my couch is certainly my favorite.
After dinner my wife Celeste will typically crash on the couch with some background movies on. Lately its been all the old James Bond movies on Amazon Prime. Even though we’ve seen them all, we still enjoy them and they aren’t too distracting because we’ve seen them so many times over the years.
Most weeknights she will fall asleep fairly early. She has a typical 9-5 corporate type job so she just wants to shut down in the evenings. I usually make dinner and try to de-stress her as much as possible by just letting her do her thing. After 22 years of marriage I think I’ve got it mostly figured out.
Being a full-time Musician I tend to get going more at night. When I’m off (like today), those precious weeknights off are when I get most of my writing done.
Since I’ve started this blog I seem to have more of a purpose.
Not just in my writing but perhaps also that feeling of accomplishment doing something outside of my normal music/guitarist routine.
Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do for a living. Becoming a full-time Guitarist is one of the best things I’ve ever decided to do. I’m proud of my accomplishments and it has been a blessing in every way.
Every friend I have, every great memory, including meeting my wife was a direct result of me playing the guitar.
I think in my 40’s I started to get a little antsy with my lack of creative outlets and turned to writing to fill the gap. I started with my old blog which dealt solely with the Guitarist niche. It was fun, and some peers in the biz told me they liked it, but I wanted to write other stuff outside of music related topics too.
I’ve mostly stopped writing actual music, although a few times a year I’ll get the bug and compose something. It’s just not what the people who pay me to play guitar pay me to do, so I typically don’t do it much anymore.
Before I started writing this blog I was spending 20+ hours a week practicing guitar, 25+ hours playing guitar at gigs and teaching guitar lessons a few days week. I just wasn’t enjoying writing only Guitar related stuff. I just couldn’t do it. It was niche overload.
My wife always says I have too many hobbies. She’s probably right, but I genuinely enjoy all of them and I love getting out of my niche sharing and writing about them.
This blog is fairly new and so far I haven’t written anything in my niche yet. I do have a lot of Guitar related ideas, and I will get to them.
I’ve been doing a fair amount of reading how-to’s and other articles around the web pertaining to successful blogs. Most of them say you should pick a niche and stick with it.
I would add, whether or not I’m successful at blogging will probably not affect my enjoyment of the act itself. I genuinely enjoy stuff like building websites, reading and writing, as long as its on my own terms. Besides, what is the measurement for success in blogging anyways?
3 people (big-time bloggers) that really stand out to me are Natalie Bacon (www.nataliebacon.com), Michelle Schroeder-Gardner (www.makingsenseofcents.com) and Alex & Lauren from (www.avocadu.com).
So far, I really like Michelle the best. I like that she has dogs and travels around with her husband while being a full-time blog guru. This sounds like something I would like to do someday.
Michelle seems honest and real and comes across as genuinely helpful without sounding too spammy or over-selling. Her story is moving and inspirational to any aspiring writer/blogger. I also like that she seems to be OK with multiple niches. Maybe this is a self-reinforcing delusion but I hope I’m right…. And I hope she’s right.
Alex and Lauren the husband and wife team over at avocadu.com seem pretty cool too. From what research I’ve done it would seem Natalie Bacon had taken their course on “6 figure blogging” (as well as Michelle’s) So there’s that connection.
They also seem to be having fun traveling around the world working on their unbelievably profitable blog. It’s a little tacky when he’s posting a video selling his stuff from Costa Rica in a bathing suit (gag).. but hey, he’s having fun AND making a lot of money, so more power to him. I totally get what he’s trying to do, and obviously its working.
Alex says stick to a niche. One niche thats your specialty and that you love writing about.
Ok, so what if I love writing about Guitar and Tacos?
Blogging and my 4 Chihuahuas? Tech gadgets and video games? Recipes and Yoga? I love all of these things and I’m probably gonna write about them.
I guess according to the Laurens I may be in trouble. Meh, I’m having fun right now, so I’m going to let it ride a bit before I overthink this stuff.
Natalie Bacon is my least favorite successful blog entrepreneur out of these 3. She will probably never read this, but if she did I would tell her I actually did learn a lot from her emails and website. She’s very informed, organized and she sells, sells sells.
She also is sold on that Divi Theme for WordPress. I’m sorry but its just horrible. The back end of that thing is a nightmare. I won’t use it. If you’re WordPress savvy, you know what I mean, if not, avoid that thing.
I also get the impression (and she basically admits it), that its only about the money for her. Thats fine. She’s absolutely killing it. You go girl!
The turn off for me is her basic message of.. ‘don’t worry about what your writing, just write stuff that makes you money’. Period.
I’m just not there yet.
Will I succeed or fail? Time will tell and I’ll be sure to let you know and update this article accordingly.
Should I monetize the blog?
Depending on when you’re reading this, you may notice there are no ads on the site. Not one (as of this writing). Thus far everything I’ve written about are things I genuinely love or want you to love because I think they’re great. Thats it. No hidden agenda. (UPDATE: As of August 25th I’m using some ads to offset my costs)
I plan to keep it that way too, whether I monetize or not. You’re never going to see a glowing review for the new Nickelback record because of affiliate sales. Never, ever. I just won’t do it because I hate Nickelback.
Perusing the vast amounts of information pertaining to monetization of blogs all over the inter webs, monetizing, I think its a good idea in theory.
I believe if you can write quality content about things you genuinely love without sounding spammy or fake, you should also be allowed to make a few bucks off of it.
Let’s face it, 2500 words don’t write themselves right?
This stuff takes time and maybe we should be rewarded for it.
The other things to consider are the costs involved with doing these blogs. All of the free solutions just suck. Be honest with yourself. You need to get a domain name and self-host through a real hosting company.
So far I’ve got a few hundred bucks into my hosting, the domain name, some apps and tools I’ve purchased.. and thats not even counting my iPad, MacBook Pro and any other tools you may need to be productive. Don’t worry I’m gonna write it all off on my taxes. You should too.
I think I’ve talked myself into it.
So, I’m really leaning toward Michelle’s course at www.makingsenseofcents.com. I’m not saying I won’t check out the other ones at a later date, but I’m going to try hers first.
I like her style, I like her damn dogs and I don’t feel like she’s selling her soul or scamming me out of what little money I have. Oh, and her course is $100 less than Natalie Bacon’s.
Michelle also offers a 30 day money back guarantee which is enticing, although if I actually make it through the whole course I would be ok with the money spent.
It might sound silly, but if I could make my money back on what I’ve spent building this site along with a some new tools like a new MacBook or iPad Pro, I’d be pretty happy. Maybe I’m aiming low.
I’ll be sure to write about my experience with Michelle’s course in detail. Look for that in the coming weeks or months depending on how long it takes me to get through it.
I have a really busy gig calendar in October thru the Holidays, so I’m hoping I can get into it this month into September. When I do, I’ll be sure to post it and put a link here.
(Update: I went through the course and LOVE IT!) Highly Recommended!
You can check it out here: Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
Craig Smith is a professional Guitarist, Teacher, and Writer living in Sanford, Florida. Craig has taught guitar lessons, performed 200+ gigs per year for nearly 30 years, and published 4 guitar instructional books. When he’s not gigging or writing, you may find him by the pool with his wife Celeste, 4 Chihuahuas, and a drink. 🎸