Posts filed under ‘blogging’

Why Do You Tell Your Story?

A lot of non-bloggers, and bloggers for that matter, question the motivation of those who write blogs. And these days with the invention of Google ads and affiliate marketing it’s easy to see why. If a PF (personal finance) or FI (financial independence) blogger encourages readers to save 50% of their income than why are they simultaneously inundating those same readers with affiliate marketing offers that cost hundreds of dollars?

The same can be said of bargain blogs with names like “Money Saving” or “Save Your Dough” that “help” readers spend less of their hard earned money by providing affiliate links for incredible deals. It’s great to spend less on Christmas gifts and children’s toys, but these same posts may lead readers to buy more than they ever intended. Oh a deal just popped up on Legos maybe I should buy those for my son’s birthday. Oh, I see cookware is on sale it’s time to buy new pans. Remember that you aren’t saving money if you are spending it.

I unsubscribed from bargain blogs because I was tired of spending money on things that I really didn’t need. As a result of unsubscribing my spending on toys and clothing dropped dramatically. How can it be a deal if I didn’t really need the object I found myself buying?

Every time a reader clicks on one of those links or buys one of those “bargains” the blogger is compensated. Are bloggers profiting too much from these “deals”? Is it hard to swallow the ideas being spouted when you know that the creators of these blogs are being compensated for their posts and words? Would it make you feel better if these types of posts including links without kick-backs? It was certainly hard for me to read posts encouraging readers to save in between posts that linked to hundreds of stores.

I think it’s natural for a PF or FI blogger to monetize their blog. For the most part those who are interested in saving and/or financial independence will search for ways to earn more money. Heck, these days I read more posts about earning from side hustles than actually working hard in a primary career. Why? For one reason, it can be a whole lot easier to spout a bunch of stuff on the Internet then it is to figure out ways to make your work environment better or to ladder up in your career. Blogging can feel like an easy way to put money in your pocket without a whole lot of effort. But the truth is quality content is hard to come by and those who have a knack for telling their story will succeed where tons of posts with affiliate links will fail.

So why do you tell your story? Does the intention of the blogger matter?

This blog was originally called One Lucky Girl. I started it in 2006 after a major medical crisis left me stuck at home on short term disability. I faced a near death crisis and I was “lucky” to find medical help and survive. I was in my mid-twenties, home alone, frightened and insecure. I wanted a way to tell my story, which at the time, had absolutely nothing to do with money.

As the months progressed I wrote more about my personal finances, because I’ve always focused a lot on earning and saving. Back then I didn’t actually intend for anyone to read my words and I certainly didn’t plan to make any money off my blog. I just loved to write and was trying my best to get my mind off my worries.

Over time I found like-minded readers and bloggers whose mindsets were similar to my own. I wanted to connect with others who were searching for ways to build their bank accounts and manage their careers. I also found insight from those bloggers who wanted to downsize their lives and leave smaller footprints on the world.

When I first started blogging I thought of money in a completely different way than I do now. I thought about all of the properties I could own and all of the stability money would afford me. As the months progressed into years I began to view money as a key to financial independence, as a way to break away from the pieces of our lives that we don’t love.

If you can write quality content that inspires me to think in different ways or to consider options I’ve never considered before then it shouldn’t matter if you make money off your blog. After all, if you wrote a book you would certainly be compensated for your words.

But I do think it’s important for bloggers to ask why they write and for readers to question a blogger’s intentions. Why are bloggers telling their stories?

Is it strange for bloggers to believe in the importance of saving and reaching long term goals while simultaneously providing links to products they don’t believe in? Do the blogs you read add links to irrelevant posts and keep sponsored posts off of their blogs or at least out of their RSS feed like I do?

Like everything else on the Internet it’s tough to know what to trust. In my experience there is so much free information out there that it is rarely worth paying money to learn more. Keep that in mind when you click on links and pay for online programs. Remember a key step to financial independence is weighing your purchases and deciding when NOT to spend your money.

November 19, 2018 at 8:00 AM 4 comments

Pocket Money: The 2015 Tally

In 2015 I brought in a grand total of $5,702.15 from online endeavors and various other side gigs.
Pie Chart with PercentagesHere is the breakdown by category:

Category 2015
Ads $2039.07
Book Review $40.00
Book Sales $210.50
Consignment $269.59
eBay Sales $357.19
Focus Group $125.00
Prizes from Giveaways $1,085.00
Goods Received $208.97
Rebates $189.89
Recovered Expenses $245.95
Reward Programs $99.99
Surveys $660.00
Other $171.00
TOTAL $5,702.15

The total is $928.33 more than last year, but still nearly $1,000 below the money I earned in 2013.

My advertising revenue was down for the second year in a row. I receive quite a few requests for advertising, but I will not publish content if the rates are too low.

I participated in a few review programs this year, which were a lot of fun. I received a number of free products that were all quite useful. Among the list were two boxes of diapers, laundry detergent, dishwashing detergent and a box of brownies.

This year I expanded avenues for earning. I participated in two focus groups. The first one took place online via video conference. The second one was an in person, round table type event that included twenty other women.

My son and I also participated in a psychological study at a local university. An interviewer asked me questions while my son participated in a number of different activities, where he was studied and filmed. He had so much fun he begged me to find another reason to take him back there. I didn’t realize we would be paid for our participation, so that was an added bonus.

I sold quite a bit of baby items, including all of our baby equipment to a local consignment shop. Although I was sad to see some items go I am happy that a good amount of our floor space has been reclaimed. After four trips to the store I am quite certain I could earn more through consignment sales or even another consignment store, (this one pays less because they provide the entire cash value up-front), but I like the idea of getting rid of things as my son outgrows them and getting paid on the spot for them.

I certainly didn’t earn a fortune from my eBay sales. A total of twenty-one sales resulted in only $357.19. Nonetheless I am happy to rid the house of unwanted items. I think of earning money on these as a pure bonus.

I banked $660 from surveys this year and earned enough points via one particular survey site to purchase a one-way ticket on Southwest Airlines.

It’s certainly not a ton of money, but it does go to show that a few dollars here and there really do add up.

January 5, 2016 at 5:37 PM Leave a comment

How Much Did I Earn From Online Endeavors in 2014

Just how much money did I earn from online endeavors in 2014? Here is the breakdown in comparison to 2012 and 2013:

Category 2012 2013 2014
Amazon Sales $28.68 $24.73 $0.00
Book Sales $101.07 $48.75 $43.97
eBay Sales $641.73 $252.69 $54.90
Goods Received $140.00 $545.69 $0.00
Surveys $474.00 $867.50 $484.00
Rebates & Cash Back $233.51 $119.42 $371.26
Writing Contests $750.00 $0 $0
Prizes from Giveaways $149.00 $1,755.95 $1,224.99
Advertising $1,957.25 $3,233.35 $2,594.70
TOTAL $4,475.24  $6,848.08 $4,773.82

And here it is in a pretty pie chart form:

2014 Revenue

The numbers are pretty pitiful. A $2,074.26 drop from last year. As you can guess from the numbers above I sold almost nothing. In fact, the $54.90 eBay total came from one sale; a baby monitor that didn’t work with the cameras I purchased.

In 2013 I was given a plethora of goods to review. Everything from free canvas prints, to wall decals and even laundry related items. Last year I didn’t receive a single offer.

A few of my go-to survey sites stopped producing big bucks last year and in general I lost interest in wasting time starting surveys that never seemed to pay out. A few also changed their cash out rules, so you can only request gift cards once a quarter, which means I can bank a ton of points but never use them for anything worthwhile.

The only category that increased was cash back and rebates. I started using Ibotta, SavingStar and Checkout51 much more frequently. I also made certain to click through Mr. Rebates, Ebates and TopCashBack whenever shopping online. Of course, this category is rather misleading, because it also means I probably spent a whole lot of money to earn back as much as I did.

In 2013 I was particularly lucky and won a total of twenty-one giveaways. This year my overall earnings weren’t quite as high, but I still managed to bring home $1,224.99 from thirteen different contests. I entered fewer contests overall this year and participated in fewer tweet chat related giveaways. These days I only submit easy entry forms with super low entries, which means my numbers will probably dwindle even more.

My advertising revenue also fell a bit from last year. In general I received fewer offers to advertise and the rates for each advertisement were lower than ever before.

Overall the picture is rather bleak, but in general I didn’t push things as hard as I did the previous year, so it’s not surprising I earned a whole lot less.

February 10, 2015 at 10:00 AM 1 comment

How Much Did I Earn From Online Endeavors in 2013

Just how much money did I earn from online endeavors this year? Here is the breakdown in comparison to 2012:

Category 2012 2013
Amazon Sales $28.68 $24.73
Book Sales $101.07 $48.75
eBay Sales $641.73 $252.69
Goods Received $140.00 $545.69
Surveys $474.00 $867.50
Rebates $233.51 $119.42
Writing Contests $750.00 $0
Prizes from Giveaways $149.00 $1,755.95
Advertising $1,957.25 $3,233.35
TOTAL $4,475.24  $6,848.08

And here it is in a pretty pie chart, because who doesn’t love a little color:

Pie Chart Income

Some categories increased a bit and others decreased significantly.  My eBay sales were nearly nonexistent.  I sold a lot less stuff in 2013. In fact, I sold just two or three things, but they were all high ticket items.  There were two primary reasons. Unless the item retailed for a significant amount of money it simply wasn’t worth my time to list it, find a box, wrap it up, wait in line at the post office and hope that it arrived. Secondly I felt better about giving my unwanted items to charity.

My Amazon sales remained very small, because I don’t post affiliate links very often. The majority of these sales occur during the Christmas season when Google directs readers to a few stocking stuffer posts.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post I earned a lot more prizes from giveaways this year. I entered a broader range of contests and focused on those that included less than 300 entries. As more people turn to online contests it is getting harder to find contests without 1000+ entries. I just encountered a contest with 5000 entries today to win a $10 gift card. In the past I only saw that much volume on a highly valued prize. I imagine my success at winning will decrease this year as more entrants join in on the game.

The amount I earned from completing online surveys nearly nearly doubled from last year. I actually reran the numbers because the figure looked much too big to be true. I also earned 8,000 miles on Southwest Airlines. Not too shabby.

I feel pretty good about every category other than advertising. I don’t include much advertising on this site, but $3,233 after seven years  of blogging seems like a rather pitiful little sum. It is certainly better than nothing, but when I read about other bloggers who bring in $5,000 to $10,000 a month I think, nothing more than ugh.

All in all it was nice to see the total number rise from last year, but a lot of the increase was hedged on luck, so I can’t ensure next year will be as good as this one.

January 16, 2014 at 10:26 PM 6 comments

How Much Money Has This Blog Made in 2013

Pie Chart

This year I used a spreadsheet to track the amount of money I earned from various online endeavors. In the past I never kept a valid account of this data. Now that I’m staying home with my son I am more interested in this tiny pocket of money that I earned all on my own. I realize that’s rather silly, but it’s true nonetheless.

Last year’s total rang in at roughly $4,241.75. I wasn’t as careful about tracking my figure last year though, so it’s possible the total was slightly larger than what I calculated.

As I’ve mentioned before I don’t write this blog for the money. In fact, lately I’m not exactly sure why I write in it at all. I’ve considered giving up on it a couple of times, yet here I am still typing this post.

This year’s tally rings it at $4,735.44. Which means I’m already outpacing last year. Here’s the current breakdown.

Selling Used Books $48.75
eBay Sales $252.69
Goods Received $408.69
Surveys $473.00
Giveaways $1,300.00
Advertising $2,252.31
TOTAL: $4,735.44

I also earned 4000 rapid reward points to Southwest Airlines. I’m not exactly sure what the dollar equivalent of that would be, so I’m leaving it out of the financial equation.

The majority of the money I earn is placed in my son’s 529 account. A very small portion is used to purchase Christmas gifts.

September 27, 2013 at 5:20 PM 3 comments

Now What?

images

As my finances are primarily in order these days I find myself with less interest in writing about money. My inspiration and posts ebb and flow, some weeks I feel particularly inspired and other times I’m just tapped out on the subject.

I wish I would have named this blog something other than One Frugal Girl. I’ve been so focused on personal finances for the last seven years that it’s hard to evolve into other topics without feeling strange about switching gears.

I’ve written a few posts about other things, but I find myself hesitant to publish them as I still feel relatively confined to the topic of money.

I seem to read and re-read the same advice about money. I’m more interested in personal stories and find many blogs these days are focusing on advice that feels distant and abstract.

I suppose my disinterest is par for the course. Now that we’ve refinanced our mortgages, set calendar reminders to check our credit card statements and use bill pay there is simply less need to think about our finances. I’ve been home now for nearly two years and it seems things have stayed in order despite leaving the world of steady paychecks.

In fact it seems hard to remember a time when I struggled with money. When I reach into my pockets I find random dollar bills and no longer feel the need to rearrange my cash by value.

This isn’t the first time I’ve wondered what path to walk next. Perhaps it’s not just a question of money. Maybe this is a bigger question of what to do next. I’m not exactly sure, but it’s certainly something worth pondering.

August 17, 2013 at 12:25 PM 6 comments

Why Are You Blogging?

If you’ve been married for awhile you probably notice that you and your spouse talk about the same things over and over. My husband and I rarely fight, but when we do it’s always about the very same things. You would think after knowing one another for over 15 years and being married for more than 8 that we’d know which triggers to avoid, but alas our fights are very repetitive.

We also tend to ask each other the same questions and bring up the same topics time and time again. Among the questions my husband asks is often “why are you blogging?” This is usually followed by something like, “is that really how you want to spend your free time?”

It’s not that my husband isn’t supportive. In fact, he is extremely supportive. It’s just that he doesn’t see the point in sitting down to blog about our finances when A) I make very little money from this blog and B) our finances appear to be in perfect order.

Every few months I consider giving this blog the boot. I’ve thought about changing it into a blog that talks more about my life as a whole and less about money. I’ve thought about giving up blogging all together in pursuit of something more meaningful and long term like writing a book or taking up a better paid hobby.

Yet every time I consider walking away from the keyboard I find myself right back where I started. I began this blog in 2006 at a time when my life seemed downright awful. I was physically sick and emotionally broken. I blogged to keep my mind off of my medical problems. In the beginning that was my only goal.

I wrote about money because it’s something that’s always held my interest. When I think back on my childhood I find that money is involved in many of my first memories. Over time those moments have come to define my character and personality.

Whether we like it or not money is a vital part of our lives. I used to think the goal was to save up as much as I could to buy the things I wanted, but one day I realized I wanted to save as much as I could to spend time with the ones I love. Money enables you to take time off work so you can care for an aging parent or stay at home with your children. Money allows you to worry less and live more. It provides peace of mind and freedom.

Blogging isn’t going to make me famous and doesn’t earn me much money, but it’s a habit I can’t seem to quit. I continue to write this blog because looking back over posts that span seven years makes me happy. I like to click back through prior years and read old entries. If I find the right combination of stories my financial history unfolds like a book before me. I consider this blog a diary of sorts and by reading about my former mistakes I find myself less likely to relive them. It doesn’t hurt to look back at the wise decisions either, after all, even a frugal girl needs to pat herself on the back every once in awhile.

Best of all I like to look back at all the posts that focus on the importance of wealth beyond money. There are many posts about gratitude, thankfulness, kindness and compassion. It’s a strong reminder that money is not the goal. I can unequivocally say that money does not equal happiness for me, but having money has made my life less stressful and as a result I am much happier.

March 7, 2013 at 12:00 AM 5 comments

Tallies from 2012: How Much Money Did My Blog Earn?

Every year I intend to tally up the amount of money I earn from online endeavors including, but not limited to, blogging. Usually I lose track of just how much I earned and lost and this year is no exception. I’m sure I’m missing a few figures here and there but overall I think it’s within a few hundred dollars of the actual number.

Amazon Sales $28.68
Selling Used Books $101.07
Goods Received $140.00
Giveaways $149.00
Surveys $474.00
eBay Sales $641.73
Writing Contests $750.00
Advertising $1,957.25
TOTAL: $4,241.75

 

As you can see I made the most money through advertising. This included tweets, links on Facebook, sponsored posts and simple sidebar advertisements. Averaged out over a twelve month period I earned roughly $160 each month, though in reality most of my advertising revenue was generated in a three month period. $160 is a pretty pitiful amount of money, (certainly not enough to quit one’s day job), but I should note that I do not write this blog as a means to make money. In fact, I turn down quite a few requests for sponsored posts each month, because I don’t like the advertisement or I’m unwilling to clutter my blog for the small amount of money advertisers are willing to pay me.

In looking over the numbers I was most surprised by the amount of money I earned from completing online surveys. I typically fill these out early in the morning or late at night after my son’s in bed. They only take a few minutes and typically pay just a few dollars each. I’m also a member of a couple of online communities whose pay rates vary based on level of participation.

Amazon sales is also an interesting category. This money was earned in the last two weeks of December off of links included in one particular post. I ended up adding links on a whim. I wrote the post years ago, but decided it wouldn’t hurt to cash in on it’s popularity.

I’m most proud of the $750 worth of cash and prizes I won through two online writing contests. Neither contest included a huge number of entries, but it still feels good to win a prize based on skill and ability. Of course, I don’t mind the $150 worth of prizes I won by entering simple online contests either. There’s certainly nothing wrong with a little easy money.

January 26, 2013 at 5:01 PM 14 comments

Where Do I Go From Here…

I have been thinking a lot about this blog. I’m considering keeping the name One Frugal Girl but possibly writing less about money. JD Roth of Get Rich Slowly recently ditched his blog and started a new one focused on things other than money. I actually started One Frugal Girl one month before JD, (back in March of 2006), but somehow he sold his for millions and I’ve earned just a few thousand in that same time. Bummer, eh?

To be honest I stopped reading Get Rich Slowly when JD stepped out of the picture and hired staff writers to take over his job. I still poke through the reader stories from time to time, but otherwise I’ve almost entirely ditched that RSS feed. I like the personal stories a blog provides and when JD stopped writing for the blog I lost interest in it.

I searched through my RSS reader this morning and deleted a bunch of personal finance blogs that aren’t too personal in nature. In fact, I deleted nearly half of the blogs in my reader! These days I read a lot less about personal finance and a lot more about all sorts of other topics including spirituality, cooking, party planning (even though I never throw parties) and parenting.

Some months I post almost every other day, but this past month I barely posted at all. Maybe I’m suffering from writer’s block. I start a post, write a couple of sentences and then lose interest in the topic or can’t seem to focus my thoughts in a meaningful way. I’m not sure if I’m struggling to write about money or just struggling to write overall.

Do you find periods in your life when you just can’t seem to write? Would you read this blog if I stopped focusing on the topic of money?

November 4, 2012 at 8:50 AM 8 comments

Monetizing This Blog: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

I started writing this blog for myself. Over the years it’s become my journal. A way to write down my thoughts and share them with anyone wiling to read my words. I feel unbelievably blessed to live in an age where I can type words into a computer and have other people instantly read and provide feedback on them. I truly appreciate all of you who leave comments on this blog or send me emails. THANK YOU!

Some readers are so close they now rent my beach home and others exchange long emails with me about the value, headaches and dangers of owning beach property.

In the beginning I refused any advertising. I decided to keep my blog clean and ad-free. A few years ago I allowed text ads in the sidebar and shortly thereafter I joined BlogHer and began displaying ads with graphics. I felt like ads in the sidebar were fine since you can ignore them when you read individual posts. They also don’t display in readers, which is how I read 99% of blogs.

Shortly after losing my job. I decided to join an advertising network that promotes coupons. I added a tab at the top of my blog called ‘Printable Coupons.’ If you click on the link and print coupons I earn a very small commission. Typically less than 50 cents per printing session. Again I figured this was okay, because you can ignore the tab if you don’t need coupons. I also figured it might help out those who do use them.

Sometimes the advertising network includes other promotions for which I can earn a commission. I’ve included posts for these only once or twice. BlogHer also added commission based links. I included my first post sponsored by BlogHer a few days ago.

I didn’t like the idea of these posts at first, but I thought readers might find them helpful. The network includes hundreds of promotions and so far I’ve only written about two or three. I only include deals that I take advantage of myself and of course I want them to be really good bargains.

Okay, so far I convinced myself that all of this advertising was alright, but then came the question of sponsored posts. I am not a big fan of sponsored posts, because this blog is my journal, my story and to be frank it’s all about me. While I think I would be happy to accept guest posts from others at some point in time, I don’t know how I feel about getting paid to take them. As soon as you put money on the table you often wind up with mediocre articles that no one really wants to waste their time on.

In the past year I’ve accepted three guest posts. One was very well written the others were not. I hate to waste my readers time and I hate the idea that someone might mistake the words for my own.

So here’s where you can help me out. What do you think? Does advertising on this blog bother you? What are your thoughts on sponsored posts? Is there some way that I can flag them so you can ignore them if you don’t have the interest. I hate for someone to get all the way through a post before realizing a) it wasn’t written by me and b) it’s a pretty boring read.

If you have any ideas on the topic please leave a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

August 7, 2012 at 8:00 PM 12 comments

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