The Life of Bon: The Evolution of a Blog (See also: An explanation of my sponsored posts)

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Evolution of a Blog (See also: An explanation of my sponsored posts)

My baby's getting faaaaaaat.
Yippee!

Yesterday I got an interesting comment on my post about a baby product I was showing off.  It was a sponsored post, meaning that I was compensated to do the post.  The commenter stated that she liked reading my blog and would continue to read it, but that she missed the days when there wasn't a sponsored post every 3-4 days.

Part of me felt really sad when I read this.  I felt like I was letting my readers down.  This isn't the first time I've felt this way.  I often have to fight the temptation to feel like a sell out or a fraud when I write sponsored posts.  There are a lot of bloggers who don't accept sponsorships or ads in any form.  They have total freedom to write what they want when they want on their blog and their readers don't tell them that they are disappointed.  Sometimes I am jealous of these bloggers.

My blog stopped being that kind of blog two years ago.  I look back on my first year of posts and they are so carefree.  I can almost smell the newness and excitement of the blog.  Everything was straight from my heart.  I had 24 years worth of thoughts and ideas and ramblings to share- the blog was practically exploding with all my weird, random thoughts.

But my blog changed.  When I read my posts now, they are so different from those first ones.  A lot of the times my posts aren't necessarily as funny or fun as they used to be, and I am okay with that. When I first started this blog I wanted to entertain people and I wanted to people think I was funny.  Now I want to connect with people and I want people to think I'm kind.

There are some things that have changed about my blog because of lessons I learned the hard way.  Online critics have made me less willing to share things that are personal to me.  Hurting the feelings of loved ones through thoughtless remarks on my blog have made me much more careful about what I say about them. I have to remind myself that this is my blog for my stories and I don't have the right to share other people's stories.

When I started accepting sponsorships, the blog experienced perhaps the biggest shift. Some posts were now scheduled.  There were days I had to get a post up no matter what.  Sometimes I had to really stretch to relate a product to my blog.  As I accepted more sponsorships and worked with more companies, my blog continued to change to accommodate.  I had to learn to say no to a lot of products and posts that I knew my readers wouldn't like, but only after saying yes first and realizing my readers could smell the insincerity.

Now I hope to have found a sponsored post balance, but comments like the one yesterday always leave me doubting.  Part of me feels like I don't have to defend my choice to allow for sponsored posts to readers, but the other part of me wants to explain to you why I continue to do this.  The truth is I owe you as my readers a great deal, and heck, if you want to know why I can't quit with the sponsored posts, I suppose you deserve to know.  (Because no, I can't quit with the sponsored posts.)

Each blog post I write serves at least one of three purposes:
1) To connect with other people, build relationships, and tell stories.
2) To help provide an income for my family
3) To grow the blog and my social media presence.

The most important purpose of the blog is the first one- I started the blog to build connections and to tell stories.  This is my favorite thing about blogging and it is what keeps me coming back day after day.  HOWEVER.  Without the second purpose, I could not justify the amount of time I put into my blog.  Especially now that I have a baby and am so busy with many different demands on my time- I just couldn't sustain a blogging "hobby" without monetary compensation.  If I am getting paid, though, this "hobby" then merges into the "job" lane, and it is easier to justify the time I put in.  I am providing for my family by doing something that I really love. (The third goal explains why I run giveaways, contests, link ups, etc.  I will always be trying to grow this blog as bigger growth allows for more connections with others and, admittedly, bigger earning potential.)

  My goal now is to keep it to one sponsored post a week.  That means there is only one giveaway, guest post, or me telling you why you should buy awesome chocolate post per week.  Ideally it means four genuine real life Bonnie posts and one "commercial" so to speak.  Of course, it doesn't always exactly pan out this way.  Sometimes all the opportunities come at once (when it rains it pours) and I will find myself with a very sponsor heavy week only to have absolutely no sponsorship obligations for the next three weeks. (This week I have three sponsored posts and two giveaways.  All of July and August I had no sponsored posts).  In the sponsor heavy times I hope that my readers give me the benefit of the doubt and realize that while there are many sponsored posts that week, they will be rewarded with lots of thoughtful, quality writing in the near future.

I am constantly seeking to find the perfect sponsored post/ non sponsored post blog balance.  Most bloggers I know who are financially compensated struggle in the same way.  The truth is, I owe you, as my readers a great deal.  It is because of my audience that I was able to go part time this year and stay at home with June the other days.  Without you as readers I would be most likely working full time and spending less time with my baby.  I would also be spending much less time blogging, as there would be no time to do it in and no financial compensation to justify the time.  It would certainly fall much lower on a list of priorities. My sponsored posts allow me the luxury of writing many more genuine and real life posts than I would otherwise be able to.

All this basically to say thank you.  It is because of my blog, my readers, and those silly little sponsored posts that I am able to simultaneously pursue three passions of mine- writing, teaching and being a mom.    So thank you thank you thank you for reading the sponsored posts.  It means everything to me.

---

And with that, I introduce a giveaway to you.  Because I absolutely love wearing red lipstick.  And again, thank you.

I have teamed up with some lovely local blogging ladies and we are each giving away our favorite lipstick in a giveaway. ONE winner takes ALL the lipstick! Read below to get to know the bloggers and why they love their lipsticks, and enter in the Rafflecopter.







a Rafflecopter giveaway

59 comments:

  1. I enjoy your blog and don't feel like you have too many sponsored posts at all. I don't personally have a blog but to me it makes perfect sense that you would want to make money from something that you put so much time into.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What is your lipstick called??

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm right there with you! It is such a balance!

    ReplyDelete
  4. It's kind of funny; I do not read sponsored posts, I will close out of it and not look back. I don't want to read a commercial which I feel a lot of bloggers start to sound like. Some of my favourite blogs I have stopped reading all together from lack of actual content and not 'keeping it real' when every post seems to be sponsored.. That being said, I do not feel that with you. I've kept reading (maybe not the post yesterday since I am not a mother - ha) but I do read. I think you've done an awesome job keeping a balance!!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I hate that you feel like you have to explain yourself. It's your blog...post what you want when you want. There is no way to please everyone all of the time. If you're posting about something that I don't care to read about it, it's pretty simple to click out of it, no skin off my nose or yours either really...

    For what it's worth, I think you're doing a great job!

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is such an honest response to what so many of us struggle with and/or think when we read sponsored posts. I love your sincerity and, even though I am a newer reader of yours, I think you do a great job at balancing your posts. Don't let a few snarky comments get ya down girl! Keep up the great work!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I really don't read sponsored posts either. Not just from you but from any blog. By that I mean company sponsored posts---I love guest posts, giveaways, or sponsored posts about other bloggers. I think that's the companies bad marketing though, like with the chocolate bars I probably had 5-6 posts on my feed about it. I would never fault you for putting up a sponsored post. I just skip over it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. awww, that's ok. i think we all understand that sponsored posts are not going away anytime soon, and if i really don't want to read something i just don't read it. simple as that. do what you gotta do :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I completely understand (I just wish my blog was in a place where I could help bring in more income for my family--we're sorta struggling). But, I do love how you always try to incorporate your sponsored posts into a real posts--you don't just say "buy this cuz it's awesome!" and I like that.

    ReplyDelete
  10. It's really hard being a blogger. I will never get why people leave these kinds of comments. This one wasn't particularly mean, but I'm sure it still hurt your feelings (it would have hurt mine). You know what I thought when I read your post yesterday? I thought how happy I was that you posted about this product, because otherwise I would have never known about it. I have a baby product checklist for the future, and I put this on it. Sponsored posts may not reach everyone, but for a new mom talking about a product she really likes that she wanted to review for her readers, I see nothing wrong with that. This post is the first truly honest one I've read about accepting sponsorships. I always want to applaud you through the computer screen for being so honest in your writing. Last night I was writing a post. I really wanted to get it done in 30 minutes since I had a lot of other stuff to take care of. 1.5 hours later I finally hit the publish button. That's a huge chunk of my night that I spent on my "hobby". I don't feel I have enough readers right now to accept sponsorships, but I do product reviews and giveaways time to time. You're so right that at some point we have to accept compensation for the inordinate amount of time we spend on our blogs. Readers want smart, well thought out posts with beautiful pictures, but then don't want the flip side that allows us to create these types of posts. You keep doing what you're doing, girl, because it's great:) I'm giving you a computer high five right now:)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Sponsored posts don't bother me at all. Part of me is envious because I would love to get to that point with my blog. My family could really use the extra help as we continue to grow but I don't feel like I have the readership for it. Low readership/comments=less posts. It's such a catch 22. I love all your heartfelt posts and I think even some of your sponsored ones are tied into your everyday life so well! Keep on doing you!

    ReplyDelete
  12. One thing I really appreciate about your sponsored posts is that you still add a personal touch to each one. There are only a handful of bloggers I follow whose sponsored posts are still worth reading, and you are definitely one of them!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hey girl! I just wrote a blog post about 5 years of blogging, and talked a lot about this exact thing! how it changes and evolves! It is a crazy world, but it is also so much stinkin' fun!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you Amanda!

    ReplyDelete
  15. It's Revlon "Love that Red." It is killer!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Yes! An impossible one at that! :/

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thank you Jules- that means a lot to me that you continue to read even if the post is sponsored. I admit that I often stop reading too, due to "lack of actual content" like you said. And you are totally forgiven for not reading the baby product posts :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. I understand your sentiment here, and I agree with you to some degree. It is my blog and I can post what I want, but at the same time I wouldn't be able to stay at home half time and make money off of this blog without my readers. They are essentially "customers" and so if there is something with the "product" that is bothering them, it doesn't bother me to try to explain it to them. It doesn't mean I'm going to change what I'm doing, but in some ways I do feel like I owe it to my readers to explain major shifts in my blog.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thank you, Susan, I really appreciate that! And the comment really wasn't snarky, it was coming from a place of honesty and concern from that reader, which is why I felt like I did owe it to her to give the best explanation possible. Without my readers I wouldn't be able to blog as much as I do, so if she expresses some disappointment I feel okay with trying to explain to her why the blog is going the way it is.

    ReplyDelete
  20. It is interesting with the companies and their sponsored posts- most posts that I do ask that you post on a specific date or at least within a two to three day period about their product. It is interesting as it seems a bit overkill to me- like listening to the same commercial ten times in one day. Seems like it may be more effective marketing to space them out a bit more over time.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thank you Breann!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thank you Tayler! I really appreciate that. I have read many of your recent posts and sympathize with you and your situation right now. I am hoping you find solutions quickly- I know how frustrating it can be when plans fall through. I am thinking and praying for you!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Thank you Kari for this thoughtful comment! I am so glad that you liked the wrap- it really is an amazing product and I know there are a lot of mommies and future mommies who read my blog so I felt fine about posting it, but then of course, like you said, I question my choices when other readers express disappointment. I totally relate to your "I only have half an hour to post this, 1.5 hours later..." That is me every night! And my computer accepts your high five!

    ReplyDelete
  24. It is totally a Catch 22. I was lucky enough when I was first starting with my blog to have a lot of free time. I had just gotten married and my husband was constantly at school or in a rehearsal at night so I could devote time to posts and growing my blog. I could never do that if I started a blog now- I just don't have the time for it. It's so annoying because when your blog requires the most amount of work is when you are being rewarded the least for it.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thank you Mikaela! This means a lot to me!

    ReplyDelete
  26. ALWAYS changing! I can't believe you've been at it for five years- you're a freaking blogging veteran!

    ReplyDelete
  27. i wrote a similar post last month. keep doing what you do. it's your blog :)

    ReplyDelete
  28. Thanks! Gonna check this out on my Target run tomorrow :) I entered the giveaway too but I'm impatient, hahah.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Personally I don't mind the sponsored posts unless it feels really fake...the toilet paper one you wrote sort of felt that way. You seem to usually cover it better and make it more personal than others.

    I just get twitchy when it's clear it's not something a blogger would normally write about and it's clearly for the money. The Sharpie campaign comes to mind. Maybe I just want free Sharpies and to get paid to use/write about them. Shrug.

    BTW Super cute fat baby.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I read your blog daily, but I rarely comment. I have noticed more sponsored content, but you do a great job of making those posts NOT feel like sponsored content. I didn't even realize your choloclate post was a sponsored post until I got to the very end.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I totally feel ya. This past month I had the most sponsored posts I've ever had, and funny enough, it was the first month I've been unemployed. I wrote out a check for rent from my blog account, and can't thank God enough for giving me this extra financial support as I search for a job in a very rough job market. I always do my best to make it relatable, and don't even bother for ones that aren't. I just hope my readers can see that!!

    ReplyDelete
  32. PREACH IT. I think almost every blogger 110% understands this post Bon, and I'm so glad you were able to spell it out for the non-blogger bunch :) You truly do a fantastic job balancing everything. I've been reading your blog before it became sponsored and I love it just the same!

    xoxo
    Whit

    ReplyDelete
  33. Don't mind the sponsorships, but I do mind using the word "hooker-ish" to describe something. Maybe because I worked with women who have been trafficked in the sex trade, and I am aware of how much that word and description hurts these women and their opportunity for healing and provided services. :) Thanks for sharing, this was very insightful and helps me as a non-blogger!

    ReplyDelete
  34. I've always felt that you've done really well with making your sponsored posts enjoyable to read, and they don't sound like a commercial at all. It typically just feels like having a friend tell you about a product you really like. I appreciate that you take the time to explain why you accept sponsored posts--because it makes sense when you frame blogging as your job. My blog has taken a backseat for the past several months, and it's because I don't make money off it, so it's not a priority right now. Even if you think of it in a business sense--that your readers are customers and you are providing a service--you do want to keep them happy and coming back, but you're also not necessarily going to do this completely for free.

    ReplyDelete
  35. As a blogger (non-sponsored), I don't mind bloggers who post sponsored posts. It's kind of cool to hear about different things that I ordinarily may not know about. I'm glad that it works out for you in so many ways - love your posts (ALL of them)...oh yeah, as a total lipstick hoarder, this post rocks my world! Keep it up Girl!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Love this post and it's very useful for me as a not-so-experienced blogger. Sponsored posts is something I'm looking into doing, but I don't want that to ruin the reason people read my blog. Anyways, I love your blog, so whatever you're blogging about I'll be reading!

    ReplyDelete
  37. I don't mind most sponsored posts. I find that most people really do try to relate things to their life and they try to only pick products they love. I think it's just bad when they get to be cheesy and not relatable.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I do miss the days of simple blogging, but I understand why it's done. I appreciate that you promote sensitively and authentically.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Bonnie I've been reading blogs for a while now and I'm sad when a favorite blogger slowly stops blogging because they can't balance it all anymore. If sponsored posts mean you won't stop blogging, I'm all for it. Just throw in some baby pictures and I'm sure we'll all keep coming back anyways ;)

    ReplyDelete
  40. Hi Bonnie, I've been following your blog for as long as I can remember, probably a couple of years now. I don't think I ever popped on here though to leave a comment. I just want you to know that I really enjoy reading your blog posts, and even though you have more sponsored content than before, your posts are still interesting and worthwhile to read, and not bothersome at all. By the way, I love seeing the pictures of your June bug grow <3

    Chantel

    ReplyDelete
  41. I have read many of your sponsored posts. The most boring topic ever--toilet paper--had me laughing out loud. You write amazing sponsored posts, and I know it's hard. Blogging takes a lot of time, and when you're talented and have a big audience, you deserve some compensation for your work! I know it's really hard to ignore mean comments--I've received some fairly abusive ones in the past--but try to focus on all of us who adore you instead.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Totally get where you're coming from, Bon. And honestly, as a college student trying to navigate blog and business growth while getting a degree, it's HARD to not get tempted by every sponsorship opportunity that comes your way! Props to you for just doing you and going with what's best for your family and your space. As renowned pop artist T. Swizzle says, haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate. Keep doin' your thaaang. (:


    lovelovelove,
    Erica
    cominguprosestheblog.com

    ReplyDelete
  43. Thank you! Things are starting to fall back in place. Justin has a job! A low-paying job with terrible hours, but it has benefits and it's something to start out with!

    ReplyDelete
  44. Haha! yes, the toilet paper and kleenex posts are always a bit tough to make seem natural. Thanks for hanging in there!

    ReplyDelete
  45. Thanks so much Alexandra! I really appreciate this comment! And a chocolate post is pretty easy to not make feel like a sponsored post! :)

    ReplyDelete
  46. Love this comment, Rachel! Pretty amazing when we can help our families and do things like pay rent because of blogging, right? I feel so blessed to be a part of it!

    ReplyDelete
  47. Thank you Whitney! I really appreciate that- the balance is so tough!

    ReplyDelete
  48. Thanks Stacey for bringing this to my attention. It definitely wasn't something I thought about before blurting out, but it is something I will be more sensitive to in the future. Thanks for letting me know and for reading and commenting!

    ReplyDelete
  49. Ashley that is such a kind thing to say and I really appreciate it. I worry about turning off my readers, so hearing you say that means a lot!

    ReplyDelete
  50. Thanks Kate! I wanted to explain to readers why I accept sponsored posts because I wanted my readers (like you!) to know how much I appreciate them reading and that I am not trying to sell them out or use them for money, but to explain why to me it is necessary for me to be able to continue blogging. I hope you are able to come back from your blogging sabbatical soon!

    ReplyDelete
  51. Yes the lipstick giveaway looks amazing, right? I want ALL THE LIPSTICKS!

    ReplyDelete
  52. Thank you so much! I appreciate that!

    ReplyDelete
  53. Exactly- cheese and unrelatable is exactly what we want to avoid!

    ReplyDelete
  54. Thank you Bethany! I appreciate this!

    ReplyDelete
  55. Thank you Laura! I always appreciate your comments. And yes, I suppose that now when I feel like I'm disappointing my audience I can make it all better with baby pictures?

    ReplyDelete
  56. Chantel thank you so much for this sweet comment- so glad to have you chime in! And I'm glad you aren't annoyed with the pictures of June because there will certainly be more- I can't stop!

    ReplyDelete
  57. HAHA! Yes, the toilet paper post was truly a challenge! Thanks so much for your comments Belle- I always love hearing what you have to say and I value your opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Thank you Erica! And anytime someone can quote T. Swizzle in a comment I know it's going to be a great comment! :)

    ReplyDelete