Has your blog become all biz and no fun? Steer clear of the monetization trap.

Take a commercial break

Blogging can be lucrative. Your content resonates. Your audience cannot get enough. You hit all the high notes. Ding ding ding! You’ve won the jackpot and find yourself negotiating sweet deals for sponsored posts while raking in a six-figure salary from affiliate marketing and ad revenue. Sure, this might take time. But with the right talent, drive and content, striking gold is definitely possible.

Yet this not-so-buried treasure isn’t for every blogger.

Just because you can monetize every aspect of your online life — generate cold, hard cash for each word — doesn’t mean you should.

“Why, that’s silly!” you laugh. “What blogger would miss out on such opportunities to make money?”

It turns out that attaching affiliate links or corporate sponsorships to every post, tweet and pin can majorly backfire. I’ll tell you how.

Social media should be social.

Monetization Social Media
Image: magicatwork via VisualHunt.com / CC BY

Bloggers with a large social media following can make the big bucks. Tweeting affiliate links for your favorite MAC lipstick or KitchenAid mixer can mean hefty revenue boosts. Brands may offer you compensation for touting their products on your blog or feeds.

And you can add revenue-generating links virtually everywhere! While some sites have banned such links — Pinterest and Instagram being two examples — there are still backdoors. Workarounds.

The quandary isn’t how to make money every time you post; it’s whether you should.


What happens when your social media presence becomes 100-percent business focused? Not only do you jeopardize the social aspects of your online interactions, you risk losing that personal connection with your audience.

I don’t mean to suggest you avoid shop talk altogether. By all means, recommend and link away! Just make sure you are recommending and linking to products about which you are truly excited. Don’t bury your readers in rote or routine product plugs. Include off-the-cuff thoughts, fun photos and plenty of non-monetized content in your feeds.

Doing this will keep your brand strong, your monetized messages spontaneous and genuine, and your readers on-board and engaged.

Too much monetization can hurt authority.

Perceived authenticity isn’t merely a bonus for bloggers — it’s essential for continued success. Once you cross the line from seemingly relatable and accessible to obviously income hungry, you will lose followers.

Pumping out posts, tweets and status updates that are chock-full of money making content will turn off your readers. Over time, you will see a drop-off in follows and page views.

When every blog post becomes a sponsored product review, the voice, face and mission your fans have come to love will fade from their existence.

You need to pay the bills. Obviously. But you can do so without turning your blog into a tedious, never-ending commercial break. For the sake of your followers, regularly return to the scheduled programming!

You will burn out.

There are some folks out there who are wired to plug, shill and sell all the livelong day. Most bloggers though? We get exhausted trying to churn out upbeat, carefully crafted sponsored content that strikes just the right balance between honest and persuasive. Doesn’t leave much space and energy for creativity and fun.

Constantly looking for new ways to push out affiliate links and strike up new deals with brands? Monetizing your every word and image? Focusing your social media activity on revenue can make your online activities feel like more and more of a grind. It can suck the joy right out of what once was — and ought to be — an enjoyable and rewarding job.

Remaining mindful of your monetization choices can help minimize the very real risk of blogger burnout.


Now that you know the why behind avoiding the blog monetization trap, you might wondering about the how. “How do I not let this happen to my blog, to me? How do I ensure that my affiliate and sponsored posts are well received?”

How to avoid the monetization trap

First, don’t fret! Second, consider these best practices:

Align your efforts with your followers. Monetizing your blog posts might be a no-brainer. When it comes to other social media streams, however, pick one or two that feel most natural to you and focus your monetization efforts accordingly. Don’t forget — it’s perfectly fine to have a sponsorship-free Twitter feed, particularly if Twitter isn’t your go-to medium.

Create an editorial calendar that charts how often you push out monetized content. This 50,000-foot view of your posts can help you see your followers for the gold and keep the revenue-generating content from getting out of hand. If a calendar is too rigid, limit yourself to a set number of monetized posts each week and keep a running tally.

Do a pre-post gut check. Ask yourself, “Am I truly excited by this product, service, or brand?” or “Would I recommend this to my offline friends and family?” This self questioning will help keep your words true so that the monetized posts you do publish will resonate in a real way.

By remaining aware of your purpose, your fan base and the where, the how and the frequency around monetized content, you can do what you love most and make real dough. Nothing wrong with that!

Do you agree? What other practices would you suggest to avoid the monetization pit? Please share in the comments!

Image by: ToGa Wanderings via Visualhunt.com / CC BY

Sally McGraw
Sally McGraw is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer, editor, and blogger. She is the creator the popular daily blog Already Pretty, a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, a Huffington Post contributor, and the author of several books about style and body image. Sally is also a ghostwriter and editor who specializes in non-fiction books and book proposals. She believes that writing is like solving a living, breathing, ever-changing puzzle, and finds the challenge exhilarating. Her favorite word is "crepuscular."