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Thanks to Thomas MacEntee, founder of Geneabloggers.com for resurrecting last year's popular topic concerning genealogy, blogging, and [Gasp!] money.

As this is central to BloggingGenealogy.com and covers many of the topics that we have covered and will cover, I will be participating every day this week with my thoughts on the daily topic.

Thomas kicked off today's topic, Genealogy Blogging - For fun or profit? So here's what I think. [Here goes nothing and everything.]

In a nutshell? Yes. <grin> You should do it for fun, or you should do it for fun and profit. But no matter what, blog with passion.  I've talked about passion here on BloggingGenealogy.com, and I firmly believe that our writing - no matter the platform - is so much better when it's passionate. When we are passionate about something, it most definitely comes out in our writing, and that's imperative in order to make a connection with our readers.

And that's fun for most of us. For others? Not so much. I agree with Michael Hait in his blog post on this very same topic, Genealogy Blogging for Fun and Profit, you should be passionate about blogging. My goal with BloggingGenealogy.com is to not encourage every single genealogist, family historian, genealogical society, or genealogy-related business to start blogging. I encourage those who want to do it, but need some help. But, you see, a person, society, or business must first want to blog.

Because I've done extensive research on the subject, I would call a commercial blog any type of blog that is trying to generate any level of income through contests, reviews, affiliate advertising, and regular advertising of other people's products and services as well as their own types of products and services.

The reason I would call them all commercial blogs is because legally they are, and I'm not talking tax-wise, but I am talking other legalities. For example, at one time, I tried monetizing my personal family history blog, Family Stories, with affiliate ads. However, I also dabble in digital scrapbooking, and some scrapbooking companies' terms of service would classify my blog as a commercial blog even if all I do are reviews or if I have one affiliate ad on my blog. And they don't care if I never make any money off of either one. To them, they still classify that as a commercial blog. Therefore, if I do any digital scrapping over there, I have to purchase their commercial licensed products which are 3 times the price of a non-commercial product. They classify it as commercial, and thus I classify it as commercial. [Although, I've stopped doing anymore monetization over there, but I have past posts that have a few reviews so my disclosure statement is still posted over there for the FTC, which is another legality.]

Despite what I wrote about not everyone should write a blog if they don't feel passionate about doing so, I think those who do, should be able to have whatever kind of blog they want to - commercial or otherwise. I certainly have different opinions about what has and hasn't worked for me in terms of types of blogs and types of advertising. I think the genealogy community has a pretty firm hold over the online genealogy blog community in that it is extremely hard for an individual or company to come in and try to make genealogy their niche in the professional blogging world if they aren't already a genealogist or family historian of some sort.

In most other online industries, it's willy-nilly. People  will decide to make money on the internet, find a niche, and setup shop, so to speak, with the hopes of making a lot of money. And with Google's recent algorithm changes [such as the Panda and Penguin updates], this is getting harder and harder to do because it's changing the game for those types of bloggers and forcing them down in search results if they had poor content with the goal to increase traffic so that people will click on their well-placed ads. Honestly? I don't think we have to worry about these types of blogs because they seem to weed themselves out because they have so much competition from the rest of us.

I think that genealogy bloggers are unique like writers or authors in that [with a few exceptions] they naturally write good content because they are writing with purpose. Content is really a non-issue with us. The delivery may need fine-tuning or optimizing, but the content is not a problem. [And I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that fine-tuning or optimizing genealogy blogs is a part of what we're doing here on BloggingGenealogy.com. The other part is how to use all the other types of social media that can help our blogs and online platforms.]

Yes, I advertise my services on my blogs. Yes, I'm blogging in order to attract business, but even if a reader never buys my services or products, they still leave my blog with something because I'm all about content marketing [which is not a new marketing concept].

I'm trying to develop communities that are open and beneficial for all. I want to help people, and I do so with no hidden agenda, because I firmly believe if in the future, you have a need for my paid services and it fits within your budget, that you'll remember me. It's about transparency.

I write and share my knowledge with the community. Readers comment and share their knowledge with the community. Everyone walks away with something. That's one transaction. And if in the future, you need social media services for your genealogy-related business, I hope you remember me. The second transaction may or may not happen, but the first one always will.

It's how my Big Paw Paw conducted his brick and mortar business.

It's how my Dad conducted his brick and mortar business.

It's how my Mom conducted her brick and mortar business.

It's how my husband conducts his brick and mortar business.

And it's how I conduct my business. It's just not brick and mortar.

So, what do you think? Genealogy Blogging - For fun or profit? Let everyone know in the comments below, or on your own blog. =)

~Caroline

 


07/09/2012 23:38

I am so glad that you wrote this post. I am changing the way I set up my website/blog. I want to draw traffic, blog my passion, and yes, make some money so I can eat...I am going to have to rethink the affiliate thing as I hope that this does not hurt me for doing it...Is there a downfall for doing that?

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07/10/2012 00:45

Thank you for posting this article! For me, it's all about the passion for writing and the joy of researching my ancestry. If I one day make money doing something I love to do, then that's great too! But for now I just enjoy writing.

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Caroline M. Pointer
07/10/2012 08:34

Kelly,

I'm glad you liked the post. It is very fulfilling to me to research and write, and it's even more so to make money doing so.

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading! =)

~C

Caroline M. Pointer
07/09/2012 23:51

Yvette,

I'm glad you liked the blog post. I don't think there are necessarily drawbacks to affiliate advertising, but there is definitely a science to it for it to work. For example, does your blog's target audience have a need for what you're advertising? It doesn't make much sense to advertise Ancestry.com if your target audience is other genealogy bloggers. They either subscribe already or there is a particular reason why they don't. It's certainly not because they aren't aware of it. And that's just one factor. =)

However, affiliate advertising can be done successfully and tastefully.

Thanks for stopping by, Yvette, and reading. I really appreciate it! =)

~C

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07/10/2012 01:52

Here is what I think. We have to find a way to capture 100% of our time doing what we love and enjoy. Life is too short for anything else.

Recently, my girlfriend and I went to the movies and saw Madea's Witness Protection. We laughed so much and had a lot of fun together. Behind this fun, money was made. Tyler Perry found a way to turn his stories into cash cows. Is he only doing it for the money? Based on his interviews and the passion he has for his craft, I would say no. Perry is doing what makes him happy.

I think readers are savvy enough to know if an author has passion for the things that he/she writes and whether the information was written solely to get them to buy something. Blogging for profit does not take away from the composition if it's giving readers some sort of value and accomplishing the author's purpose.

Perry has mentioned on several occasions how he didn't make any money on his first few plays. Yet he persevered and perfected his craft. This is what we have to do with our writing and blogs.

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Caroline M. Pointer
07/10/2012 08:37

Dewayne,

I totally agree with you. Blogging is not a get-rich-quick-scheme even though it's been touted as that. There are a few who have managed to do that, but as with all things, blogging has evolved, and it will continue to evolve.

Thanks so much for reading and commenting! =)

~C

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Laura Cosgrove Lorenzana
07/10/2012 05:44

Thank you, Caroline, for pointing out that it's really all about transparency. Those of us out here reading blogs know who's trying to make money and who isn't. If a blog is relatively (no pun intended) well written, it doesn't matter to me if there are affiliate ads on it; it's the content I'm after.

As a consumer, I want content that provides insight, tips, leads and support for the genealogical work that I do. As long as I'm not slammed with popups when I go to a blog, I'm okay with the idea someone is trying to make a little money to feed their family.

As to your point about passion in writing: as I found out when I started my blog, I didn't realize just how passionate I was. Or that it came across in my writing.

Fun, and money if you choose, can both be had, if you just tell your story. But please don't try to do that under the cloak of trying to be helpful if your goal is the bottomline. We'll see through that every time, and it makes the writer appear disingenuous. Maintain transparency and we're all happier and wiser for it. Thanks again!

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Caroline M. Pointer
07/10/2012 08:41

Laura,

Exactly. I think poor content is pretty easy to spot, and not by accident, the poor content is usually accompanied by a ton of ads. Now, with the Google algorithm changes, we'll see much of that change, but it will take time, and there will always be people looking for a shortcut and trying to the game the system.

Thanks for stopping by and reading, Laura! =)

~C

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07/10/2012 06:26

Monetizing greatly depends on which state you live in. I reside in Western North Carolina, and the only advertising we may avail ourselves to is AdSense. You could blog for years and only gather a very small pittance. And we are not permitted donations. So, about six months ago I dropped AdSense from my blog because I thought it gave it a cluttered look. It obviously was doing nothing to help.

Yes, you must be passionate about what you are blogging...otherwise, why bother at all? But my purpose is to develop a quality writing platform which can be used as one part of a researcher/writer writing portfolio. It is also a stepping stone to writing memoirs and works of regional social history. Part of it is devoted to process, and the other is devoted to craft.

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Caroline M. Pointer
07/10/2012 08:51

Debra,

Are there any additional laws in North Caroline that are anti-monetization on blogs and websites besides the taxation of affiliate advertising sales?

After the taxation ruling many affiliate advertising programs pulled out of North Caroline altogether including Amazon.com, but I don't think they all left.

However, making a living through affiliate advertising alone is especially hard. In order to be successful, the kind of traffic that is needed is mind boggling and very hard to accomplish ethically, IMO.

However, there are other ways to monetize your blog that aren't as hard. However, one should always be cognizant of federal, state, and local taxation and permits that are needed in order to run one's business.

And you are right. One should be passionate about one's blogging, and it sounds like you are well on your way to achieving your goals.

Thank you, Debra, for reading and contributing to the discussion. I appreciate it! =)

~C

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Caroline M. Pointer
07/10/2012 09:07

Um, and that's "North Carolina" not North Caroline. LOL.

~C

07/10/2012 20:29

I've nominated this blog for the Illuminated Blogger Award http://foodstoriesblog.com/illuminating-blogger-award/ 'cos I learn so much here!

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Caroline M. Pointer
07/11/2012 09:02

Thank you, Fiona!! I really appreciate that, and I'm glad that you feel like you learn something here. You know what? I feel like I do as well. Every time I write a blog, I think I learn something new too! =)

~C

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