And Now a Word From Our…

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Courtesy of BlueDiamondGallery.com

Sponsor? I have no sponsor, and my accountant says that’s a problem because it also means I have no blogging income. Thus, after a year of blogging and accurately filling out the appropriate Schedule C form itemizing the costs I incur in this endeavor, I am in serious danger of slipping to the wrong side of the law.

According to my accountant, I will no longer be able to take those vast deductions, which could possibly reach all the way into the stratosphere of triple digits. 

I find it offensive to tell the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that I’m retired; it’s also not true. So I am seeking suggestions and guidance from my virtual friends in the blogging community who do monetize your blogs—or from anyone else with good, non-larcenous ideas. How do I make some money from this effort and allay my CPA’s concerns? 

It needn’t be a fortune, obviously. I love what I’m doing and will continue even if I don’t resolve this dilemma.

Blogging provides the ideal format for fulfilling my strong writer’s itch. As I’ve noted before, I am one happy blogger. But it would be quite nice to be able to cover my costs and then have a bit more to add to the retirement nutshell.

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I certainly do not intend to deny the IRS folks any monies due to the government. Still, my accountant is a straight arrow, a cautious soul, and she wants to make sure that if we’re audited, everything is copacetic. Apparently, she sees Annie’s Schedule C as a red flag. 

I’m not sure why she thinks the IRS would zero in on me, as they are no longer auditing billionaires—or nearly anyone else (except, of course, the President, which is the reason he can’t possibly show us his tax returns, even though the entire accounting world has said that’s a bogus excuse). Anyway, this post isn’t about income inequality, which I’ve addressed before and will again.

I find this IRS concern a bit annoying. I am a bona fide blogger with the statistics to prove it. I spend a good deal of time on my posts. I do a fair amount of research, and I like to print out articles so I can underline the points I want to include.

And the toner—wow, my printer eats through that stuff as if it were cotton candy. (Bad simile: cotton candy is definitely not something one wants anywhere near a printer!) 

And then there are the WordPress and domain fees, the fee for the relatively new special address that I use as my contact email but have been afraid to switch to elsewhere for fear of generating a techie snafu that would lose you all, and the occasional book I buy to further my research. 

Here’s where I need your help. I’ve read a number of articles about monetizing blogs, and the most prevalent way appears to be via WordPress AdWords. It seems that’s what many of the bloggers whose sites I frequent use. 

As I see it, one problem is that once you sign on with them, you are at the mercy of the bidders who buy their space.

Most of the time that wouldn’t be a problem for me; I wouldn’t mind a single discreet ad following the statement: “This post is ad-supported.” I’m not bothered by ads for Motley Fool, Wayfair, or AARP, which have all proliferated from time to time. 

But for a while, there was a gastroenterologist whose photo of a piece of intestine, cilia upright, was everywhere, and I found that picture odious.

Oops: I just got some key and slightly creepy information from a very smart techie relative who knows about such things.

Apparently, the ads you and I see are different: these ads are targeted to what the advertisers know about us.

So those of you who have never searched for anything gastro-related have probably been spared the intestinal cilia ads that inundated me for weeks.

Sometimes there are several ads breaking up the text; I would prefer that not be the case with my pearly prose.

If you use AdWords, what do you think? I’m not asking for your finances, of course–simply whether based on your experience, would you recommend this method to me?

Or do any of you use other approaches? I’ve rejected ideas that will require me to seek money from my readers; why would you want to pay for stuff you’ve been getting for free? (If I ever collect my posts into a volume or two, I may reexamine that conclusion.)

I eagerly await your responses. The end of the year approaches, as I have been procrastinating about this matter for months.

It seems appropriate (I’m not sure why) to end my request with a haiku:

Incandescent goal
Blogging fuels both head and heart
Bureaucracy bites

Annie

PLEASE NOTE: I had a tech snafu that whisked away my Comments box. It’s now back, so I hope if you’re revisiting, you’ll respond to my query–or say anything else you care to about this post. Thanks–and sorry for the inconvenience.

10 thoughts on “And Now a Word From Our…

  1. I have never thought of blogging as a financial endeavor so I am not the best person to give advice…..though I agree that if you earn income you should be able to deduct allowable costs such as subscription fees etc. I tried word ads in the hope of at least covering the subscription fees. With about an average of 60 views per blog I earned 7 cents a month……and had to put up with some of the most disgusting body ads on various deceases. After three months I had enough and cancelled all ads….and feel so much better as a result. I’m not sure what other experiences are but you can extrapolate how many views you will need to feather your retirement nest. I have heard that it is very hard for creative people to make money. Have you tried opening a Patreon account…patreon.com. Good luck in your quest Annie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is so helpful, Len, and your experience is pretty much what I thought. It will probably lead me to make the same decision—without having to go through the annoyance that you incurred. Many thanks.

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  2. Annie, I refer you to Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings, where she does a real fine job monetizing her cite along the idea of “Donating = loving.” She explains how much work is involved, provides sponsorship levels, and sells stuff too. No advertisements. Wasn’t it Picasso who said “Good artists copy, great artists steal”? Perhaps Brain Pickings will inspire you. I saw a Banksy knock-off of this quote, where he scratched out Picasso’s name and scrawled his own. Gotta love it! (Tried to upload a pic here of that, but wasn’t successful. Google it if you have the time. I enjoyed it and expect you will too.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. WordAds gives you a pittance. I’ve made from 3-15 cents a month since I’ve implemented it. Garnered a whopping $1.39 since the installation of WordAds a year ago. I’m not sure what your traffic’s like, but your site has to be huge to make anything substantial, even if it’s only enough to cover costs. Well, huge in my book, but not by web standards. I’ve read that it takes something like 15,000 views a month to cover expenses (this is a very loose estimate).
    You want to make money. To do this, you need lots and lots of traffic. To get that, well… how much of your soul are you willing to compromise? It can be done. Just start writing about the things that get you the most views. Give them clickbait titles. Dedicate a lot of your time toward marketing. Use social media, every possible avenue, every gimmick, to direct traffic to your site.
    If that sounds as terrible to you as it does to me, I’d go back a step and look at your original concern. Are you afraid you’ll get audited over a few hundred dollars in blogging expenses? Why would that look wrong? Surely people have been losing money to blogs since the advent of blogging. Can’t you just make sure you have your documentation in order and not worry about it?
    Somebody suggested Patreon, which is a good idea. I’m not sure if that counts as donations to you or not.

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    1. Thanks so much for generously providing me with this education. It pretty much confirmed my thinking. No; I don’t want to sell my soul to make even a little money from my blog.
      The reason I’m a happy blogger is that I can write about whatever captures my curiosity—like octopuses and politics and little Drabbles and—well, you get the idea.
      From what I understand, Patreon requires the writer to write on their platform alone—and more to the point—it involves asking individual people to provide financial support for me. I’m not comfortable with that.
      So since my very nice, very cautious CPA would have a coronary if I persisted in declaring my legitimate expenses, I shall simply write “retired” on my tax form and continue on my merry way—realizing I’m fortunate to be able to do so— and to have stumbled into this fascinating new world in which I can do what I love and “meet” delightful people like you.
      Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you don’t completely disappear for long…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m not at all surprised your bookkeeper said “Nay! You cannot deduct blog expenses that are strictly related to your talents and time.” Blogging is not like writing for a bonafide publication.

    I do not monetize my blog, but there are many who do. Some simply request $$ from their readers, explaining the costs involved to the hosting company (I doubt they get much return). A better way is through affiliate marketing; that is, you sign up as an affiliate for a company and then post “ads” on your blog that promote whatever the company sells. Example: Amazon offers affiliate marketing and last I knew, you could choose the products you wanted to promote.

    You could still write on the topics that interest you, but in your sidebar would be various ads that you think might appeal to your reading audience. Some companies pay you for “clicks,” but your best return is, of course, if the individual makes a purchase through your affiliate link. Even better, you write posts that promote a particular product and include affiliate links throughout the post.

    If I remember correctly from reading you “About” page, you’ve written a book? If this is correct … advertise your book on your blog!!

    I doubt you’ll be able to “support” yourself via blogging, but you may be able to bring in a little extra income now and again.

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    1. Thanks very much, Nan. The issue wasn’t my talents and time: it was my printer toner, domain costs, paper, etc—tangible stuff, actual provable expenses. But I’ve concluded based on my personal preferences, eg, not to request money from readers, not to have multiple ads, that I’ll simply forget about the Schedule C, tell the IRS I’m retired (though my blogging is at least a part time effort—and sometimes equivalent to a full-time one),
      and absorb the expenses without complaint.
      I appreciate your comment, and I’m happy to make your virtual acquaintance. Cheers, Annie

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t know what Schedule C is? Is it a tax deduction for business office expenses? Would I be able to write off mileage for my trips to various outings I intend to blog about like that Harvfestfest dinner of the Downton Abbey movie? All in the name of research of course. I had the free WordPress plan for the first six months and the ads drove me up the wall – they were always messing up my home page in the most inconvenient places. I have heard that you have to have 35,000 readers/views in order to make any decent money off a blog, so I know that is not in the cards for me. I upgraded to the next level, Premium just to be ad-free.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve pretty much given up on this idea—I should write an update. Schedule C is the form for people to itemize their business expenses. Yes; as long as you had receipts, you could take mileage, admission, movie price, etc. But only if you show some income.

      Liked by 1 person

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