In an ideal world this whole blog would be free of any sort of advertisements. In fact, in an ideal world, there’d probably be no adverts at all. But money is real and as I haven’t yet found a sustainable sharing economy (although I did dabble in that in Mexico), I have to earn some cash.
For the most part, my income is from things entirely outside of this blog. I’m a freelance writer and editor and that’s what covers my bills.
However, occasionally opportunities arise that allow me to earn money from this blog. I haven’t “sold out” entirely and covered the blog in ads or filled it with sponsored posts, and I rarely go on press/paid trips. Nor do I ever intend to do those things and make the blog a marketing machine. I write it for the love of blogging and sharing things with you, the readers. I never want to do something that would jeopardise your enjoyment of, or trust in, the blog.
So, in the interests of transparency, these are the ways that I make money from the blog.
Steve and I sometimes get invited to do things free of charge, or even get offered payment to take a particular trip. A tourism board might invite us to visit their country, or a hotel might offer us a free stay. When we get an offer that is something we would never do ourselves, I simply say no – even if it is super tempting. But when it’s something we’re interested in, and would pay for out of choice, I sometimes accept the offer.
However, I never accept an invite without being clear that I’m going to write the truth – my opinion cannot be bought and I won’t write a positive review just because we didn’t pay, or even if we’re actually being paid to take that particular trip. You can count on my opinions being authentic. Hopefully you won’t begrudge these exchanges. Blogging is a time-consuming affair and, unlike traditional media, there is no publisher to pay us to do it – we have to be creative and find ways to make a living. My background is in journalism so I’m hyper aware of all the conflicts that can arise from advertorials or press trips; I go out of my way to be transparent and authentic in what I do (hence this explanatory page).
As a blogger, I sometimes get sent press samples, which, if I like them, I feature on the site. However, I do buy most of the products myself. Regardless of how I got them, I always stay true to my opinions. No free product will change that.
Another way, I sometimes make money on the blog is through affiliate sales (for example Amazon gives me between 1-10 per cent of a sale if you click on my link and buy something I’ve recommended). I only link to things I’ve actually bought and do genuinely recommend. For me, this is probably one of the most straightforwardly fair ways to earn money through blogging and I find it hard to find fault with genuine affiliate marketing.
A final and rare way I might make money is through an advertorial – the kind of thing you see in newspapers and magazines where an article is sponsored by some sort of brand. Pretty much no-one likes these and most people skip over them, but newspapers and magazines need them to cover their costs, and sometimes so do I! That said, I’ll only say yes very rarely, and only if I can write something that’s actually useful to go with it. I also make sure that it’s obvious. As a reader, you have a choice, you can either read the post, or simply ignore it like you might do in a newspaper. But hopefully you won’t write me off for doing that once in a while. I need cash like everyone else and, as far as these things go, writing a genuine post with an advert attached is, in my opinion, fairly innocuous.
What do you think?
As I said at the top of this post, I don’t want to do anything on Bridges and Balloons that jeopardises your trust, so please let me know if there is anything in here that you’re unhappy with. I’m happy to hear your feedback.