Going Ad Free and Other Blogger Reflections

Lately I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about life as a blogger. I started writing online about 15 years ago and complained about homework, babysitting and boys. Somehow I made friends with amazing people who I’m still close with today. Some of them I’ve met, others I haven’t. Some have given me the best advice ever. And I met them all though blogging. But somehow blogging changed for me along the way and not necessarily for good, which is why I’ve decided to go ad free on Those Graces.

When I started Those Graces in 2010, I had no clue I could earn money blogging. I didn’t know that companies would send products or that I would be featured in a national newspaper. Most of all, I had no clue that people would want to read my blog. I started Those Graces for the same reason I started blogging in 1999: Because I wanted to connect with people.

I got lost along the way when I set my mind on becoming a full-time blogger. I started thinking strategically and from a marketing perspective. When I realized the full-time blogging thing wasn’t for me, I knew I needed refocus and move away from worrying about every single post. I didn’t want to worry about pageviews and visitor stat day after day.And after all, the main reason why these numbers is for advertising.

I realized when I stopped caring about advertisers, I stopped caring about numbers and started caring about my writing more. This is ultimately why I decided to go ad free.

I’ll still be accepting products for review, but know that 90% of what gets sent almost never makes it to the light of day on my blog. I am never obligated to post about these products and future product review posts will be clearly labeled as such There will be no affiliate links. I want to share things I love whether readers want to buy it or not.

I don’t feel pressure to do this and readers have never complained. It’s a personal choice that works best for me moving forward in my blog life, which is turning out to be forever evolving.

About Courtney Mirenzi

Courtney Mirenzi is the voice behind Those Graces. She has been named one of the 50 Most Fashionable People in Boston, one of The Boston Globe's Top Bloggers and favorite human of one of her cats. She loves red lipstick, hiking and traveling. (Find out more.)

Comments

  1. Interesting discussion. In the last few weeks I’ve read three posts all on this topic. 2 including yours about not advertising and 1 for advertising and sponsorship. I don’t mind adverts as long as they’re not obtrusive and don’t over take the fold. I’m a bit more dubious about ‘sponsored’ content. Simply because I often find it really contrived and fake. No matter how you spin it, you’ve been paid to write about something and I never feel like I’m getting an honest opinion. I’ve yet to see someone say they’ve been paid to write about something and be negative about it.

    I also notice that more and more bloggers seem to be just saying ‘yes’ to anything and everything. There’s no quality control on their blogs, so it ends up being a really random mix of event write ups, product write ups and reviews. I wouldn’t buy a magazine to look at the adverts. But many blogs have become this… just one giant advertisement.

    I’m not against people making money from their blogs, I think there are some people doing great jobs using their skills and their blog as a platform to generate some form of income. Even sponsored posts can be done right. But I find that you have to be a really skilled writer to create a post that at the end leaves you wondering if it was sponsored or not.

    I’ve personally had quite a few offers from brands and companies wanting to advertise on my blog or wanting me to write a post about their product. But even when you only focus on the products relevant to my niche the quality of them is often questionable. I just wouldn’t want to take the piss out of my readers by talking about it for the sake of a few $$.

  2. Casee Marie says:

    I so appreciate that you shared your thoughts on this topic, Courtney – thank you! Having ads on my blog taught me a lot, but eventually I felt the strain. It’s hard when you feel like a creative slump is a luxury you can’t afford because you have to keep the balance between advertising and original content, etc. When I stepped back from advertising it seemed like a relief because I was finally able to step back completely and take the time to collect my thoughts and reconnect with what I want to get out of blogging. And if I decided that I didn’t want to go back to it there were no loose ends. What it all comes down to is that the most important relationship is the one between the blogger and her blog – sometimes that’s the easiest relationship to overlook! (:

    • Exactly! For me it was complicated because I had this notion for about 2 years that I wanted to be a full-time blogger. Then when I finally got the chance to do it, I realized 6 months in that it wasn’t for me. My final (for now) conclusion was that if blogging WASN’T my job and just a *fun* hobby, then why freak out about earning money from it?

      Even more so, I realized what bothered me most is that I equated money with success. Like, oh, I got this sponsored posts and now I’m a “real” blogger! No where else in my life do think money=success, so why did I impose it on myself with blogging?

      To be honest, I think it’s the best thing I could’ve decided for myself. No more worrying about numbers or pitching. That stuff is just so soul sucking.

  3. Ha! Glad you didn’t get too caught up and realized you had to take a step back. Most people end up getting so deep into it that they can’t go back to the simple times.

  4. Good for you! It is good to keep in mind what you WANT from blogging – for some, it’s extra income (hey, nice!) For some, it’s ‘insider information’ about local designer and events (also, fun!) for some it is about relationships. It can also be about love of writing, simply sharing what you like, exposing a different viewpoint, whatever. As long as you know why you are doing it, and it sounds like you do, it is going to make you much happier :)

    • I 100% agree with what you said here! I think for awhile I equated success with money. I thought if I wasn’t getting sponsors, then some how I wasn’t doing as well as everyone else. Then, at some point about a month ago, I decided to stop caring about what other people were doing. I mean this like I still read the same blogs, but I wasn’t thinking, “This person got that, why didn’t I get that?” Which, to me, is SO easy to do with blogging because everything is just so visible.

      I do already feel a lot happier, though. I think this works better for the direction I’m heading.

  5. Whatever makes blogging fun right? I think it’s great that you know yourself so well and know exactly what you want from your blog.

    xo
    http://www.style-wire.com

  6. Courtney, I applaud your decision to go ad-free if it makes blogging better for you. Most of us can firmly agree that we wouldn’t miss ads on anyone’s blog! Affiliate links also add a LOT of extra time to the blogging process…sometimes even I can’t be bothered with them.

    While I’m grateful for my one blog advertiser, and they NEVER complain, it still does make me concerned when I haven’t posted anything in a while, because I do kind of owe them fresh content to keep their ad in front of live eyeballs. I’m fortunate that they have never dictated any terms to me, and have never had issue when I’ve taken four weeks between posts. I think that’s why I do like to be considerate of them. But still, there is a lot of freedom in not having to worry about advertisers or contractual obligations.

    • Well, honestly, I started REALLY thinking about it after I read your reflective blog post. It kind of had been in the back of my mind ever since I decided the full-time blogging gig wasn’t for me, but your post really helped me crystallize how I felt.

      I certainly don’t think ads are a bad thing, and if advertisers are willing to work with your style, then go for it, I say. For me, it took much time and effort to cultivate potential advertisers. I even found myself turning down collaborative opportunities because companies didn’t want to pay. I consider myself a hustler and all, but for me, it just wasn’t worth putting the time and energy into the blogging hustle.

      And you’re right–posts with affiliate links take MAD long. On average, I would say a post like that would typically take me twice, if not three times as long as any other post.

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