Thursday, September 26, 2013

Book Girls Don’t Cry: Money and Blogging

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Book Girls Don’t Cry is a weekly feature where we each discuss/vent/advise on the chosen weekly bookish topic. Don’t miss Jenni on Mondays, and Amy on Saturdays:


Nothing in Life is Free?

On this week’s Book Girls Don’t Cry we’re talking money! Is blogging free? Is any hobby free? Very very few of them are, unless you are a very boring person whose hobby consists of staring at walls… or something. To me, blogging is a hobby just like car modeling, hunting, gaming, etc. Blogging is cheap in comparison to those – if it costs anything at all, other than your time of course.

Some consider buying books a cost of blogging, but I don’t agree. Books is a cost of being a reader in general. And actually, since I started blogging and have started to get books for review, it has cut down on my cost of books a lot. When I do buy a book it’s not a blind purchase anymore, it’s either one I loved when I read the ARC, or one that comes highly recommended by blogger friends. On that note, don’t you hate hearing bloggers are freeloaders or ARC hogs? Uurgh! These people do not know what being a blogger/reviewer entails. Reviewing books take a lot of time. Maintaining a blog takes immense dedication and effort. I don’t consider ARCs as being free at all. They’re given in return for our review which is one of the most important marketing tools of any product. Poo to anyone who says bloggers don’t work for this privilege!

Blogger and WordPress offer completely free blogging platforms. This means less control and a website that is not actually owned by you, but I was on Blogger for close to 2 years without a single problem so I definitely think its a great option for those starting out. If you want to pay, however, it’s hardly an arm and a leg. You can get web hosting for 5-8$ a month, some even less. And a domain name is 10-15$ a year. If you want a nice design, you can find great themes for 35$. Ask around on Twitter and shop from the recs. For WordPress I recommend the Tweak Me theme at CreativeWhim. If you really want a custom one, expect to pay anywhere from 75&-400$. A web design is likely one of the most expensive investment of blogging, but like I said, there are free alternatives so these costs are for those who can afford it, and those who are serious about blogging long term.

Giveaways are another blogging expense that is completely optional and not an all a necessity. Here in Canada our shipping is crazy expensive (15$ for 1 book) but I hear shipping a book in the US is fairly cheap? If you want to get rid of books that are taking over your living space, you can always throw a giveaway for them. If you want to gain a few followers which can give you a good boost especially at the beginning, The Book Depository is free to ship anywhere to a winner. This is good for giveaway hops which are fun especially around holidays and such. Bloggers have many opportunities to host giveaways without having to fund it, as well. Some authors will offer a giveaway copy to go along with your review in a review request. Once you get a little established, publishers might also start offering giveaway copies and they ship to your winner for you. In the meantime, you can join blog tours and book blitzes (*cough* like at Xpresso Book Tours *cough*) which often allows you to host your own giveaway or share a pre-made Rafflecopter of a larger prize.

Because I like to talk about me sometimes:
When I started blogging I didn’t want to spend money on it right away. I didn’t even know what the heck blogging really meant at the time. I stayed on Blogger with a crappy self-made design (I was new to blogging coding then >.<) for a while. When I realized how much I loved it and it was going to stick, I payed to prettify it, and I ran a few self-funded giveaways. That was fine by me because by then I had already saved tons from not having to buy the 20 books a month I used to read. I know about libraries, but ours is pretty lame – small town nowhere and all. It took almost 2 years until I moved to self-hosted WordPress. And still, it’s not something I consider expensive. I also don’t consider it wasted money whatsoever. Now… the 40$ my husband spends on a game that he finished in 10 hours… *glares*

The biggest cost of blogging is not money: It’s time, effort, dedication! But the biggest gains: being part of a wonderful community of amazing people, some who might become close friends!


What’s your opinion on money and blogging?

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Leave a topic suggestion via this form!
You know you love me!
XOXO, Book Girl

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

Latest posts by Giselle (see all)

37 Responses to “Book Girls Don’t Cry: Money and Blogging”

  1. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Buying “Books is a cost of being a reader in general.” Love this statement. Because it’s true. If you can afford to buy your own books (as opposed to checking them all out), it’s just part of being a reader. I think, when it comes to blogging, you can spend any amount of money you choose. Starting out, it’s smart to do it as inexpensively as possible but, after that, it’s up to you.

  2. Shannelle (The Tracery of Ink)

    It’s still a little expensive for me, anyway, but you guys are Americans, that amount of money might be quite cheap for you. But in the Philippines, the conversion rates mean that it’s quite a hefty sum, especially for a blog design. I just wish I could receive ARCs too, but then I wouldn’t have the time to read them. c(:

  3. Melanie (YA Midnight Reads)

    Blogging is an insanely cheap hobby compared to other hobbies I do like sport and music- even though it may seem a lot at the start, buying so many books, migrating and prettyfying but in the long run, it’s totally worth it. Dude, if your design was crappy to begin with, what would you call mine then? O.O

    Fab post, Giselle! <33

  4. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    Yes, I completely agree with you. Blogging is costly in money terms, but it is costly in the sense of time-consuming.
    I use Blogger, designed my own header and layout and so I don’t spend as much as some other bloggers. In all honesty, if it had been expensive, I probably wouldn’t have been doing because I don’t earn that much.
    My book costs have also decreased significantly with blog tours and e-galleys, so that’s great.
    Great post, Giselle!

  5. Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction

    I totally agree about the ARCs being in exchange for our time and reviews. I can’t even calculate the amount of time I take blogging with the site updates, reading, reviewing, etc. I love doing it but it is very time consuming.

    I was spending a lot of money on books for me to read so the arcs have cut down that cost a lot–but now I spend that money in shipping and giveaways.

    Great post!
    My Friends Are Fiction

  6. Tanya Patrice

    I’m doing a post on this soon too – but seriously, blogging comes nowhere close to my other hobby – cycling. Cost of a decent road bike – $1000+US. Blogging hasn’t come close yet – but I’m fortunate to have a decent library.

  7. Siiri

    Sorry I’ve been lacking with comments lately. I absolutely love this post. I agree, blogging can be pretty expensive, but once you’ve established yourself like you have, it pays off in a big way and it’s not like other hobbies don’t cost any money. Perhaps running is the cheapest. You only need a couple of good pair of sneakers and you’re good to go. Whatever hobby one chooses, it does take time and effort and nothing comes at a free cost. The plusses for me always weight up the negative sides of blogging so I wouldn’t trade it for the world! Lovely post, Giselle!

  8. Katrina @ Bookish Things

    Great topic! I think this hobby is one of those things that can really expensive, or as cheap as you need it to be. I also have other hobbies, and they range about the same cost-wise. Although my yarn collection doesn’t take up as much room. ๐Ÿ˜›

  9. Jen

    Regarding shipping and the US – here is one instance where our postal service gets it right. We can usually fit a book into a flat-rate Priority Mail envelope that costs only $4.95. USPS also has “media mail” which, if you package your own book, is even cheaper. I buy and sell textbooks on Amazon all the time, and have shipped them for cheap this way. From what you’ve said, Canada must not have the same setup with the postal service. And international shipping is definitely costly even with the USPS! I haven’t done any giveaways from my blog or BookTube because I’m so new to the online book community. But I like the idea of just giving credit to one of the online bookstores for this purpose. Gifting those would be much, much cheaper than shipping a book myself.

  10. JennRenee

    So many good points. The most money I spend is on giveaways and yes in the US, if you want to do priority mail to track, then its about $5 to ship. I also sometimes go the way of The Book Depository so I can do international giveaways. Shipping is free for most countries. I also found my book purchases have gone down significantly. I usually buy ones I am dying to read and did not get for review, audio, or ones I want to keep on my shelf. Most of my reads are through review arcs now. It does take a lot of time and dedication though. I find it hard to find the amount of time I really want to dedicate to blogging. I wish I could spend more time than what I actually have. I do love blogging though!

  11. Savannah

    I actually still spend lots of money on books. I constantly pick them up at Target, walmart, Kmart and my local indie books store. I also spend lots of money on Amazon buying indie books left and right. $.99 cents turns into a $15.00 shopping spree. And giveaways. I always like to hold about 3 to 4 giveaways a month. Most of the time giveaways are funded by me. I do use The Book Depo a lot cause it is cheaper for me. Shipping in the US is not so bad. It cost about $5 per book to ship. (Prices have gone up recently. It used to be about $3.) Still, on average, I spend A LOT of money on book blogging. Probably wayyy more than I did before. Before, I would spend anywhere between $30-40 of books per month, now I spend anywhere between $100to $150 a month. That’s running the blog, shipping, buying books, etc. And yes, blogging does take up a lot of my free time. I spend on average about 2 hours on my blog everyday. That is just writing reviews, posting reviews, blog maintenance, commenting and whatnot.

  12. Booketta

    Great post! so true, it is the time and love that we put into our blogs that cost. I have cut down on book costs but I am not buying many as I am trying to reduce my TBR. I use Blogger and WordPress (free) and they are great although have their limitations. Postage – yikes!!! I don’t do book swaps anymore or rather I am choosy and only put up ‘thin’ books with low postage, donating thicker books to charity shops or the workplace book swap my friend runs. I run few give-aways and only within my country unless they are donated by an author or e-books.

  13. Jasprit

    Great post Giselle, I agree blogging does take a lot of time and effort, but being able to get to know so many great bloggers and readers out there who share the same amount of passion and enthusiasm as you is definitely worth it all. I have been quite lucky lately at receiving arcs that aren’t released in my country until later on. Despite receiving arcs I still always end up buying a finished copy especially if I loved the book so much, or if I’d had a book on my wish list forever!

  14. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows

    I agree with you, I don’t consider buying books to be part of the cost of blogging. That’s being a reader. Anyways with the arcs we get, it more than compensates for whatever we buy (usually). And I’m pretty excited cause I should be able to afford a few giveaways soon ๐Ÿ˜€ and and eventually a move to self-hosted WP. But those are minimal costs for doing what you love! Great post ^^

  15. Molli

    Time and dedication – you said it, girl. We really have to love what we do, to stick with it for as long as we have. I’m about 2 1/2 years in, which is crazy!

    Re: mailing. I wish Canada did media mail. It’s AWESOME. I can ship a book for about $3.50, tracking and all, unless it’s just HUGE. Media is a few days slower than first class but it’s the only way to go.

  16. Georgie @ What She Reads

    I love this post. I never really thought about the money aspect of blogging but then again my blog is still quite young. I’ve only hosted one giveaway myself and the rest are from tours. I probably do spend about ยฃ100 a month on buying physical books and about ยฃ30-ยฃ50 on ebooks and I never really thought to look at it like that. No wonder i never have money lol.
    Luckily for me being a web designer helped with the whole design of blogging and i have deals with hosts that I can get for a reasonable price as I design and host new sites all the time, helping to self host my blog from the get go. I suppose doing this made me commit for 2 years.

  17. Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader

    What a wonderful post! I really loved the idea behind this entry, Giselle, as I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the cost of blogging, both monetarily and otherwise, lately ๐Ÿ™‚

    I definitely agree that the cost of books is not a cost of blogging – I would be buying a mountain of books each month regardless of whether or not I was blogging. That’s more like an everyday necessity than anything else! ๐Ÿ˜† Like you, if anything, being involved in the book blogging community has saved me money in the long run. Before I began blogging I was often going into a book blind with no concrete notion of whether or not it would be the right choice for me. Now, I ordinarily won’t purchase a book unless I’ve read extensively on it beforehand (Reviews, etc) to determine whether or not it’s likely something I’ll enjoy.

    As to blog hosting and design, I had done quite a bit of research before the launch of Pop! Goes The Reader so I knew exactly what it would entail to set it up as I wanted. The cost of the domain name itself was peanuts, and I decided to pay for a two-year hosting package as opposed to month-to-month as I saved a significant amount over the long term. While my blog’s design was a little more expensive, I couldn’t be happier with the end result, and because I have no plans on changing it for the forseeable future, I see that more as a long-term investment in my blog’s future. I knew that the design would be an important consideration for me, and I was willing to pay accordingly. That said, as you pointed out, there are a plethora of free and/or affordable designs for those who don’t want to pay quite as much for their blog’s design. I like that there is typically a financially-feasible option for every blogger.

    I’m preparing to offer my first self-funded giveaway and I shudder to think of the expense of shipping five books, as I’m planning to do. That said, I don’t plan on doing this too often, and I love being able to share books that I’ve read and no longer have any space for ๐Ÿ™‚ It makes me feel good to make other people happy, and as long as I don’t do it too frequently, I figure I can justify the expense once and awhile!

    Like you, I think the biggest cost of blogging cannot be counted in nickels and dimes. I think few apart from other bloggers understand the amount of time and dedication it takes to run a blog successfully. It’s like a second full-time job! (And I’m loving every second of it) ๐Ÿ˜€

  18. Sam @ Realm of Fiction

    I agree about the books point. I am probably buying more books now than I was before blogging, but that’s simply because I’m a lot more on top of new releases and what’s hot and what’s not. If I decided to call it a day on blogging tomorrow, I’d definitely still keeping buying books like crazy. Overall, though, blogging doesn’t cost me that much. The only time I spend money is when I host giveaways. Other than that, it’s just blood, sweat and tears… I love it really. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  19. Jenni

    HA! Right? Our money is much better spent then the men getting their silly little games and then finishing them in two days! I hate that shipping is so much cheaper in the US why do we get screwed over on that? And totally agree that I put far more hard work into my blog than money, great point!

  20. ShootingStarsMag

    I still buy books when I can, but you’re right, blogging does limit what you get based on recommendations and knowing more of what you want. I think the cost of blogging for me really is time. I have a lot of other things going on in my life, and it’s difficult to keep up with blogging sometimes. This fall, I’m trying to schedule more to keep up.

  21. Ashley

    Great post!

    I think the most important point is that you only need to spend as much as you want. Like I’ve seen some people complain that book blogging requires so much money in order to have a big/popular blog. But that’s really not true at all. You don’t need to host giveaways or buy books or buy a custom theme, or any of those things. Yes, many people do, but it’s not something you need to do to be successful. I think it’s still possible to blog successfully on a tight budget.

    But some people will want to put money into blogging, and that’s fine too. But ultimately you only have to put in as much as you want to!

  22. Kelly

    This is such a great post Giselle! And I agree completely: we as bloggers spend a lot of time reading and keeping up with our blogs and writing reviews. It’s very time consuming. And because I design my blog myself, it takes time for me to tweak it and create the things necessary for the design to look nice. I’m all the time looking on Google for how to do this or that with the different parts of the blog. I don’t think people realize just how much goes into the little details! The only thing that I’ve really spent money on as far as my blogging is the books that I read for the reviews. I’ve only recently started getting review copies which I’m very fortunate in that because I started receiving them at a time that I can’t afford to buy all the books that I want to read. Although I do have several unread bought copies on my bookshelves at the moment so I don’t think I would be without something to read. haha

  23. Henrietta

    I have to agree, the biggest cost is time, effort, and dedication. I like that you help to demystify what it really means to be a book blogger. Thanks a lot!

  24. Ashley

    I think blogging can be as expensive as you want it to be. There are free blogging platforms and you chose what you want to do. One of the reasons I haven’t switched to WordPress yet is simply cost, but I can see myself switching next year. I definitely save a lot of money on buying books now that I receive review copies, but I only buy books that I know I definitely want now too. Also I agree, Canadian shipping is ridiculously priced!

  25. Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed

    I used to buy like 4-6 books every two weeks. At at least $10 each that was $80-160 a month! Cray cray! Now I havenโ€™t bought a book in a while and when I do they are cheap ebooks (I broke my book buying ban last week but it was still less than $10 for 4 books).
    The most Iโ€™ve spend is to have my blog design done which I think was worth it because it represents me. Moving to WP was worth every penny!
    Getting ARCโ€™s is not at that great sometimes. I get some awesome book sometimes that I just have no intention of reading. I feel bad having them sit on my shelves when I know people want them so I give them to some of my friends. Shipping is cheap over here (like $3 a book) but finding time to go to the post office is a pain in the ass.
    Compared to hobbies, blogging is cheap. My boyfriend collects Nike shoes that are $250-$300 so my hobby is so much cheaper. And donโ€™t even get me started on the damn video games ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Charlotte

    I agree with all your points, Giselle!

    1. Books- Even without our blogs, we still buy books just to satisfy our inklust.

    2. Hosting-Free is always good but then again, if you want something to be truly yours, you’ve gotta pay for it. My move to was one of the best decisions I’ve made. WP is all about freedom, flexibility and functionality. And yay to me, I only paid 36$ for my hosting which already included a free domain name.

    3. Giveaways- I’m already on my 6th month of blogging and just managed to host one self-hosted giveaway. All my other giveaways were hosted by authors through Xpresso Book Tours. Thanks for that, Giselle! ๐Ÿ˜€

    4. Because I like to talk about me sometimes- I live in the city but it’s a small one so our library is maybe lamer than yours. When I started blogging, I was also hesitant to spend the cost. I mean, why would I pay for something that I’m not sure I would do permanently? But when I got addicted, I started monitoring my expenses and figured that I can already have a self-hosted blog from the money I’m spending to play MMORPG. You’re right, blogging is a cheaper hobby compared to gaming, shopping and buying toys for the big boys. When I was playing MMORPG, I am sending an approx ~50$ a month. It’s even more than that if the GMs are hosting sales and discounts.*sighs*

    And your last sentence, a BIG BIG YES!

  27. Jillian

    I love this post Giselle, blogging has actual saved me money. I’m a speed reader so I was buying close to thirty books a month (cringe) I live in the middle of nowhere and a library is not really an option for me. Now I get almost all of my books from, authors, tours and NetGalley, I still buy the books I love but it has cut my book costs down a lot. I’m currently on blogger which is free, I am thinking of moving so I can make my blog prettier. My biggest expenses for my blog are the events and giveaway. I like to go to the author signings and the cons and events that tour companies organize. I do a giveaway every week with my author of the week feature we provide the prizes, sometimes the author will send a signed book to giveaway.I like to stick to ebooks there is no shipping cost and that way I can do the giveaway internationally. My husband has two expensive hobbies hunting and gaming, just one of his guns is about the same amount I spend to fly to an event. Blogging is way cheaper than a lot of other hobbies out there.

  28. Aman

    What a great post! I love what you said about time and effort, that’s the only thing required for blogging and it costs a lot. For me, mostly sacrificing my reality shows, but I do sneak some of them ๐Ÿ˜› I used to spend a lot of money on giveaway but now I don’t do it unless I hit a milestone or something. Even though giveaway boost your followers and pageviews, I don’t consider them as regular followers, so it’s not really that helpful.

  29. Jennifer Bielman

    Right now blogging costs me nothing (except for the occasional giveaway) and I like it that way but I will go to self-hosting in about 9 months. But I don’t mind because like you said it’s not that much.

  30. Chloe @ YA Booklover Blog

    Ugh I hate how shipping books from Canada is so expensive. That’s definitely my biggest cost that comes from book blogging. I have a ton of books that I’d love to give away on my blog, but it costs a fortune. Great post! I definitely agree with you that one of the major costs of book blogging is time and effort, not actual money. But it’s worth it if you really love it!

    Also your Gossip Girl reference makes me want to go download the next episode NOW (I’m on season 2, way behind I know).

  31. Michelle

    Definitely agree that the biggest cost is time. There are a few expenses that can come up, but I don’t think any of it is necessary, just a personal choice. Great break down!

  32. Rebecca @ The Library Canary

    This was such a great post! I don’t have a ton of money to use on my blog, but I make it work with blogger. And I agree buying books isn’t an expense of blogging. It’s an expense of being a reader. But since blogging I get free books! So really my blog pays for itself. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Also: “Nowโ€ฆ the 40$ my husband spends on a game that he finished in 10 hoursโ€ฆ *glares*” this cracked me up! Story of my life. My husband is the same way. He yells at me over how many books I buy. And I’m like books are cheaper than games and I reread my books. He never replays a game. And it’s more like $60 a game because he has to get them the second they come out.

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