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How to Make Money Blogging: Q&A

Here are my answers to the questions you all asked in the comments of last week’s How to Make Money Blogging post:

Anyway you could talk about how you deal with negative comments/criticism? This has gotten me really discouraged lately. -Jenae

I’m so sorry you’re dealing with negative comments and criticism, Jenae! Unfortunately, the sad reality is that if you have a blog that is read by more than a handful of people, you’re probably going to get some negative comments. I’ve met some of the most wonderful people through blogging, while at the same time, I’ve had to learn to develop thick skin for those very frequent comments and emails from people who don’t like my blog.

There’s no way to please everyone; it’s just a fact of life. And when people can hide behind an anonymous identity and say whatever, some people feel comfortable saying very harsh things–things they would likely never say to your face.

One thing that has really helped me is to remember something Dave Ramsey said at his EntreLeadership conference: “You are not accountable to those you don’t have a relationship with.”

I have many real-life friends who I see on a very regular basis who read my blog. If they come to me with a concern about something I post, I’m going to take it very seriously, pray about it, examine my heart, and seek the Lord to see if I am in the wrong.

If, however, some anonymous person posts or emails a comment bashing decisions or choices we’ve made or criticizes something I post about, I try to remember to just let it roll off my back as I know that they are only seeing a snippet of my life through my blog.

And I try to use negative comments and criticism to remind me of the need to extend grace to others. I want to be a cheerleader and an encourager to others–even if I don’t always agree with them. I want to “find the good and praise it”.

Early on in your blogging career when you were trying to take every opportunity to get your blog out there, how were you able to chase every lead or network often and still have a family life?

I have chosen to put the blogging aside for most of the day and only work on it at night after my children go to bed. But I have found that it leaves me little time to network because this is also when I write my posts, not to mention spend any quiet time with my husband. I also fear that I’m losing some valuable networking opportunities. So, do you have any advice on how to balance it all when one is early on in their blogging?

If you choose to have your priorities in order, you will lose valuable networking opportunities. However, the value of putting your husband and family first far outweighs a lost networking opportunity.

I’ve had to learn this lesson the hard way. As I’ve mentioned here before, I’ve had seasons where I completely overextended myself and my marriage and family suffered as a result. It breaks my heart that I made wrong choices; I can’t get those days and hours back. But I can learn from the past in order to forge ahead into the future in a more God-glorifying manner.

My advice is to continue to strongly guard your priorities and let the blog take a backseat. However, talk with your husband about what may be a good balance for you. At times, we’ve set aside an evening each week for me to go to a coffeeshop and write. During other seasons, I’ve gotten up earlier than the rest of the household in order to write. Naptimes have also been great blocks of time for blogging, as well.

Once you determine what works for your family right now, set specific goals for your blogging time. Make writing a priority, but see if you can also carve out 15 minutes a day for networking. Perhaps five minutes for commenting on other blogs, five minutes for networking via email, and five minutes for networking via Twitter. Or, you could just choose one of these per day to focus on.

Set the timer and work as fast as you can during the designated time. Five or 15 minutes might not seem like much, but if you stay focused, you can accomplish a lot in that timeframe. A little bit of focused work each day can really add up over six months’ time.

What are the tax implications for blogging? My husband has worked as a consultant in another industry and all of those ‘small business’ fees add up. Since you are self-employed, at what dollar amount do you have to start reporting your income to the IRS and filing paperwork? -Amy

You need to report every dollar earned to the IRS. However, some states don’t require you to pay taxes until you reach a certain threshold of income earned. In addition, there are many deductions you can take when you are operating your own business–even if you just operate it as a sole proprietorship.

I’d heartily suggest that you keep blogging income completely separate from personal income. Set up a separate bank account and funnel all money earned through that account. This makes it so much easier to track income and expenses–and prevents co-mingling of funds.

For more information on tax implications of running your own business, I’d highly recommend sitting down with a local accountant.

There are already so many blogs out there about motherhood and saving money. It seems like this is already so saturated that it would be difficult to stand out or earn money. Do you have any suggestions about how to pick a topic and maybe about areas that are not so saturated? -Jennifer

Honestly, I don’t believe there is any blogging market that is truly saturated–except the market of bloggers who are trying to just mimic other bloggers instead of following their own passions and finding their own voice.

When picking a topic, think less about what areas of the blogosphere are “saturated” and more about where your giftings and passions lie. Focus on writing about what you love, what you’re interested in, and what unique experiences you’ve had in life that give you a perspective others might not have. When you do something because you love it, you’ll be enthusiastic about it and that enthusiasm will breed energy and excitement among others.

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  • steph says:

    Love this series and your blog….seriously. love your heart! love love love.
    ok, question-I know that I should probably know the answer but I don’t…how would you suggest going about networking via email to other blogs…and how do I choose those blogs…blogs in a similar niche? blogs bigger than me? same size as me? same geographical area as me? and what do I say.
    Again, forgive me…but I am slightly clueless in this regard.

    • Crystal says:

      It depends upon how you want to network. What specifically were you wanting to network with another blogger about? To build a friendship? To meet in real-life? To cross-promote? All of the above?

      • steph says:

        I guess to cross promote…or maybe I should ask why network…since you wrote about, I figured it was important and I should be doing it…I guess I am just clueless. I follow a lot of blogs that are a lot bigger than my blog …so besides telling them how much I love their blog…I wouldn’t know what else to say. Although, I do mention some of them in my coupon classes and I think I have commented or emailed them that, but never really heard back…I guess I just feel like I am weak at the networking thing…and probably should get better at it. (this is kind of ironic because in face to face world I am great at networking)

        • Crystal says:

          Building relationships with other bloggers has been key for me in building my blog. I’ve learned so much from them, we’ve been able to swap ideas and practical tips, we’ve promoted each other’s blogs and posts, and it’s just been so helpful to have other people who “get” this blogging thing as many of my real-life friends don’t blog.

          My advice is to not be afraid to approach another blogger whom you’d love to get to know better and build a relationship. However, approach it from the perspective of how you can help them, what you can do for them–not just solely for what you can get from them.

          I get multiple requests each day from people who want me to link to their blog. If someone just writes in with a “Please link to me” sort of email and I’ve never heard from them before, I’ll probably just delete it because I’ll assume they probably sent the same form email out to 50 other bloggers. If, however, someone takes the time to write repeatedly with encouragement, goes out of their way to share links or resources I might be interested in, and seems to genuinely care about me, I’m much more apt to notice and take the time to carefully read their emails and respond as I’m able.

          • steph says:

            Thank you Crystal!
            Wow, I can’t believe people would just write a please link to me kind of post.

            Thanks for the tips and a wonderful blog ! Love it! Seriously, thank you!

    • I hope it’s ok if I jump in and comment here. When I started my blog, I decided to do a weekly Friday post on My Favorite Finds-things across the internet that I wanted to try, or had tried and loved. When I come across an idea, I start a draft with the links to that post and my initial thoughts. My Friday Favorites are mainly comprised from other smaller blogs. This has helped my networking because when I choose a “Friday Favorite”, I find that author’s contact information, and shoot them a quick email telling them that they’ve been chosen as a “Friday Favorite”. You would be amazed at the emails I get back, telling me how thankful they are to be linked to in my post, flattered, etc. In turn, some have asked me to guest post, participate in giveaways, etc. Not only that, but we’ve also exchanged ideas.

  • Kara says:

    I loved this series. Thanks so much for your tips, advice, and tricks. It’s appreciated. I’ve learned a lot and have made a little (and I mean LITTLE but either way it’s a start) money listening to your advice. Thank you for helping this mom save some money 🙂

  • That quote from Dave Ramsey seems so spot-on appropriate for the blogging world. Thanks for sharing it!

    • Crystal says:

      It was a huge help to me–and continues to be so!

    • Guest says:

      I understand the spirit/intent of that quote but I’d slightly take exception with it because I do believe you’re accountable for what you put out into the world and the Internet makes that a very large audience. One of the things that popped into my mind was the MSM post on cheaper ways to clean your contacts. A lot of people wrote very negative comments on that post (some who said they were health professionals) and believed it should be removed. Crystal doesn’t have a relationship with all of us but if someone had been harmed by following that suggestion, she would have some accountability (in my mind) which is why I think it was wise she removed it.

      • Crystal says:

        I agree that there are most certainly times when you need to be accountable to those whom you don’t have relationship with. And it is definitely important that we who are blogging realize the weight of what we say and how it can affect others.

        For instance, there are a handful of times that I’ve posted something (such as the contacts post), that over 100 people wrote in with a genuine great concern about. In those instances, I seriously step back and think about what I posted and whether or not I should have done so. In all three cases that come to my mind where this has happened, I’ve removed the post because I realized I made a mistake in posting it.

        That said, I cannot feel responsible to every person who has written in with concerns about the way I live my life, because otherwise, I wouldn’t know who I am to be as everyone has an opinion on the way I should live my life, the way I should decorate my home, the food I should feed my family, the way I should raise my children, and so on and so forth. And those are the kind of comments I’m referring to in sharing that particular quote. It gave me freedom to realize that it’s most important for me to have wise people around me who are involved in my life on a frequent basis as my sounding boards, instead of feeling guilty if I’m not living my life according to the standards of someone whom I’ve never met before and don’t have any sort of relationship with.

        • Guest says:

          Absolutely what you’ve just said. I read a later response to a comment where you talked about the “you’re an idiot” comments. Those we do have to learn to let roll off our backs. They’re negative, unconstructive and unproductive! The quote, to me, was so broad that it didn’t address the very real accountabilities all entrepreneurs have to customers/readers even if a relationship doesn’t exist beyond business. Of course, you are very aware of your site’s reach and I truly believe would never forget that.

  • Carrie says:

    Here’s hoping it’s not a saturated market …

  • Sarah says:

    Hey Crystal,
    What do you think is the most important thing to learn about becoming a successful blogger? What do you think was the one thing that made you specifically the most successful? Keep up the great work!!

  • Ashley says:

    Thank You for this post about harsh comments. I let one get the best of me a few months back. It was my first bad comment. My blog is new so I don’t get many to begin with. The quote from Dave Ramsey you posted helps! Thanks for this whole series, looking forward to your next one.

  • I’m sad to read this is the last in the series. I’ve enjoyed it a lot. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  • Traci Bell says:

    Great Post! As far as negative comments, this is normal. The way I look at it, sometimes this can occur as a result of jealousy and others are just simply mean and look for ways to vent online. I have dealt with this too and honestly, you have to wonder why they are taking the time to comment negatively if they don’t like it.
    Networking can be tricky, but it has to be approached with no bad motives and it is best to truly appreciate and read the blogs or sites you want to network with. The best way to network is to start off by following on social sites, like Facebook and Twitter, but you can even go further and follow on other social networking sites, eventually contact and share a kind message.

    • Crystal says:

      I had one situation with someone who left a rather negative comment questioning why I was posting something and then months later wrote to apologize. She said she was in the middle of a losing a child to a life-threatening disease at the time and having trouble dealing with life in the midst of her grief. This grief made her so angry and upset that it bubbled over into a harsh comment on my blog.

      I’ve always thought that behind almost every negative comment is a hurting person and this email from a reader truly confirmed that. Now, I try to pray for the negative commentors, instead of hold a grudge–they may be walking through a very difficult time in their lives and need all the love and support they can get.

      • What a great idea to pray for the negative commenters…I embarrassingly have never thought of that!

      • Meredith says:

        Another thing to remember about the “negative” commenters is that you can’t always interpret feelings through writing. When someone says they don’t like something, that may not mean that they are screaming it…it may just be a matter of opinion. I wrote something on a post you did a few weeks ago. I didn’t agree with something the guest blogger had written and I wrote back my opinion to show others what had worked for me. My email was flooded and someone said I had started a “dog fight.”. I’m a gentle person. I take bugs out of my house instead of smashing them. I try my best to make an impact on the world. I was just hoping to help someone. I’ve since quit commenting as much. No matter your opinion, someone will disagree. It annoys my husband that I read blogs like yours, try to save as much as I do, and am always being rational. That doesn’t mean I don’t love him. I love him even more for putting his viewpoint out there so we can work together.

        • Crystal says:

          I so agree and I realized I should have made a distinction between comments that are just bringing a different viewpoint in and truly negative comments.

          I really appreciate when readers bring up different points of view in a polite and cordial manner. True negative comments (the ones I was addressing in this post) are those that are basically “I think you’re an idiot, your ideas are stupid, your children are ugly, and your blog is completely lame” — those types. I pretty much get variations of all of those on a very regular basis. (I almost always just delete them so it’s not upsetting to others who enjoy reading here!)

          I’m so sorry that you feel discouraged about commenting! Please keep sharing–and bringing a different viewpoint to the table when you have one. I always appreciate it. 🙂

  • Holly says:

    I’m really considering starting a blog I have three topics that I’m passionate about, but I don’t want to have 3 blogs… do you think a variety blog can make money? Thanks

  • Cindy says:

    I’m confused. How could anybody *not* love your blog? I’m kidding, of course. There are people waiting in the wings to try and ruin anybody’s success, and there will always be disagreements. Still, I can’t imagine why anyone would get nasty about MSM. Best blog ever! Besides mine, I mean. I have to pretend I like mine better, right? It’s like comparing children. No matter what the objective reality, I’ve got to be loyal. ;0)

    And about the money/taxes thing: If you’ve got a pretty small blog, and aren’t really likely to earn a lot from it, is it still necessary to keep a separate bank account? I do make some money (enough to buy groceries and gas), but not enough to feel that the accounting is hard to keep up with. Right now, I’m just keeping a spreadsheet with writing-related earnings/spending so I can hand the tax man his (un)fair share.

    • Crystal says:

      I’d still set up a separate bank account, just to keep everything divided up for tax purposes. Also, if you need to pay for something (say hosting, etc.), you can pay for it directly from that bank account and it keeps it very simple to track deductions. The biggest reason for being very careful in how you differentiate your blog earnings is that if you clearly keep everything separate, you’ll be in much better shape should you be audited.

      However, since my husband is an attorney and my dad is a CPA, we tend to error on the side of caution here. 🙂

      • Cindy says:

        Well, I’d think your dad and husband ought to know what they’re talking about. We’re just a couple of computer geeks. ;0) I’ll get that account started now.

  • Misty says:

    Thank you so much for the things you post and share. You are an awesome example and encourager! Thanks for all you do!

  • Willing Cook says:

    Ditto what everyone else has said about this series and your blog.

    Being a beginner, I have been drinking in every bit of advice you’ve given. Thanks for answering my networking question….I suppose I need to get to work. Well, for the next 15 minutes 🙂

  • i read a really good post this week about dealing with negativity in blogging- here’s the link if anyone is interested! 🙂

  • Thank you so much for this one! I especially relate to the question about balancing priorities with networking. It’s taught!!!

  • Meg says:

    Thank you for this series! I’ve truly appreciated it!! I’ve followed your blog for years now and it’s helped my husband and I in so many ways!

    I’ve blogged on and off for years (our family is all over the country so it was a way to keep them informed) but not until recently have my husband and I made a real effort to post regularly and hopefully use it as a jumping point for me to stay home when we have kids. I send him this series so he can read it too – there is just too much good advice not to pass on!

    So…thank you again!! 🙂

  • Marlana says:

    Any new bloggers out here who want to build a relationship with me? HINT HINT

    Crystal, great posts. Thank you for your heart. I do know what its like to get torn down. It can wear on my spirit, so I have to just not get in the arguments.

  • Susan says:

    I have really enjoyed this series too.

    I wanted to comment on the issue of blogging only at night or while your kids are napping. I’m a single parent (no daddy in the picture). While I don’t blog, I am very fortunate to have a job with a very flexible schedule and the ability to work from home when I need to. I love my job, and as a shareholder in the company I work for, I have a vested interest in its success, just as you have a vested interested in the success of your blog.

    I’ve found it very doable to work while my daughter plays nearby. If you are married with a spouse who brings in an income, your situation would be different, of course, and everyone needs to do what is best for their family and personal circumstances. But I am the sole income-earner, and I feel, very strongly in fact, that providing for us financially is one of my primary responsibilities of parenthood.

    And because my work is such an important part of my life — essential even — I think it is important for my daughter to see me working and grow up knowing that it’s something that people have to do. Given that children, girls and boys alike, will more than likely grow up to be wage-earners, I don’t think it’s setting a bad example to work in front of them

    She understands that Mommy needs to work and earn the money. Even at a very young age, she understood that there were times that my work needed to take priority over playing with her, and she needs to play without pestering me. As she has gotten older, it’s become easier because she’s more independent and doesn’t require constant supervision like she did when she was younger.

    My working like this has never interferred with our family time. We keep regular meal times so that I am never working when she is hungry. Late afternoon and early evening hours are family time — we are often both hungry, tired, and needing each other during that time. I rarely stay up late to work because getting enough sleep is essential for productivity, no matter what you are doing.

    This arrangement may not work for everyone, obviously. But if you arrange your routine to accomodate your children and not interfere with them, it is certainly possible to work from home at times other than when your children are asleep.

  • Thanks Crystal! This has been a very encouraging and practical series.

    I appreciate all the effort you put into writing these 🙂 Blessings to you!

  • Lindsay says:

    Thanks for these great tips. I have had a personal blog for several years, but have just started a blog on Biblical Womanhood.

  • Betsie says:

    I’ve been loving this series of yours and am sad to see it come to an end! And I have another question to add in case you ever decide to do another Q&A. :o) How long do you suggest keeping at it if nobody’s reading what you’re writing? My blog has been live for a few weeks and I’m still barely getting 20 people a day reading it. I love what I’m writing about, and if nothing else it serves as an excellent way for me to record what we’re doing together as a family (I write about things to do in the suburbs of Chicago with kids), but at what point do you throw in the towel (or seriously overhaul your blog/change your focus)? I think I was a little unrealistic with myself in the beginning with my expectations, and now I feel like the blog is bringing me more disappointment in myself than anything else. :o( Forgive me if you’ve addressed this before! I guess another way to ask this would be, how do you find inspiration and drive to keep going when things aren’t turning out exactly the way you’d hoped they would? :o)

    • Crystal says:

      If you’re only a few weeks old and you’re enjoying what you’re doing, definitely keep at it. If you’ve seen no growth within six months, you definitely should reconsider your blogging plan and purpose and either tweak it, revamp it, or decide that you’re not worried about growing your blog.

      Just to encourage you, it takes a very long time to really see the fruits from your efforts, but if you are slowly and steadily seeing growth, than that’s a very good sign–even if it’s just a few new readers every few weeks.

  • Betsie says:

    Whoops, and all my smileys in the last comment wound up looking crazy, sorry about that! 🙂

  • Alli Harden says:

    I absolutely loved this series! I had been blogging for a year or so just personally and after the first couple posts in this series, I decided to step it up a notch. Then you posted the deal was having on the blogging class and we hosting and I knew it wasn’t coincidence 🙂 I love reading your blog Crystal. You have been such an inspiration.

    On a side note, I totally want to attend Women of Faith next year. Ive been looking for a women’s conference to attend and when I read some posts about it, I knew I found it. I’m hoping to take some women from my church as well 🙂

  • Mel says:

    I’m so glad you addressed the question about handling negative comments. While I am not a blogger, there have been many times when I read comments that were made by other readers on this blog that made me crazy. I’m astounded at how nasty people can become. And my knee-jerk reaction would have been to fire back. What I have found on this blog, is that your kind answers and willingness to humble yourself have been as much a ministry to me as your money saving content. Thanks for all you do!

  • Brooke says:

    Thank you for your encouraging words for dealing with negative comments and posts!

  • I’ve been reading your blog for a while, but haven’t commented. I enjoy this series and particularly appreciate this post and the question about negative comments. I don’t know why people have to inject their negativity into others’ blogs. If you don’t like it, quit reading! Thankfully, I haven’t had that much criticism, but it can be hard not to let a comment bother you – esp if you’re already having a bad day! I say, as long as you’re not hurting anyone and only spreading the positive, keep on blogging! 🙂
    {mommy chic} latest post: blogiversary giveaway

  • Alice says:

    Wow! I think I really needed to read this! Not because I’ve already received negative comments, but because of my insecurity in blogging. There’s just too many mom-bloggers that are already established that I don’t know how anyone could think that my blog is worth reading. But this is my passion and that’s why I just want to continue doing this.

    It’s only been a month since I started my blog and I think I kinda started it prematurely because I still haven’t completed what they’d call “pillar content”. I just feel like, unlike other posts, I need to really devote some time to creating how-to articles. Thing is, my baby is only 4 months old and so I couldn’t really devote much time to blogging. I guess I just really need to manage my time better (although I feel like I’m already multi-tasking too much!).

  • Kathy says:

    Crystal, several weeks ago I read on a blog (can’t remember where), that this person was saying that they never got the freebies offered…and blah,
    blah,blah…miss negative was going to quit reading that blog, so forth and so on.
    I made it a point to write a comment on this matter myself, please read this as it is pretty much what I had to say on this. I made it a point to thank the writer of the blog (Crystal, your’s is my favorite), for all the work she put in finding free offers, writing warm, intelligent, informative articles, and more. Thank you, Crystal, especially for giving thanks to our wonderful God.
    Gee, it may have been your blog, if so, all those compliments are yours!!!
    In case you post this comment, I would like to say a little about myself.

    I am over 55, I have twin boys and a daughter, 5 grandchildren and 2 step-grandchildren (who I think of as mine too!).

    When life gives you lemons…make lemonade! When I was in my mid-twenties I was diagnosed with epilepsy and will be on medicine for it for the rest of my life. I have acid reflux which wants to mess up my vocal cords (I love to sing!), add the normal things like arthritis, I had both of my birthings by c-section, was blind with toxcemia with the twins, now I want you to know I am laughing as I write this, not crying. Three and a half years ago I was diagnosed with hydrocephalis (forgive me if I am not spelling these medical words right), and the doctor said I could either have a shunt put in to drain the fluid off that was pressuring my brain, or I would remain in the wheelchair or wind up in a nursing home for the rest of my life. NO WAY! Before surgery the nurses were amazed at how calm I was for this potentially life-threatening surgery. I told them, I’ve got a great doctor, but mostly God is with me. And indeed He is, I now walk without a wheelchair, walker, or a cane! In Feb. this year, I had to have my right shoulder and right bicept worked on from the falls I took before the shunt surgery. All is going well, let me rephrase that…to God Be The Glory! I wanted to share this because no matter how down we get at times, things could be so much worse. We live in a great country, most of us have enough of everything we need, and if anyone reads this that need a hug…here’s a Big One from MEEEEEE!!!!! I hope that reading this will help someone, someway. Crystal, I have really enjoyed your blog, thank you, In Christian Love, Kathy

    • Hi Kelly.
      I so appreciate your positive outlook. I too have been struggling w/ medical conditions and it is hard to press fwd when I feel awful.

      I did want to tell you, however, that I have been doing a protocol called “Nutritional Balancing”. I do not get anything from making a referral, by the way. But I am really thrilled. It is simple supplements that coax the body to release toxins and metals. And I am really getting better.

      I would be happy to tell you more. The woman whom I am working with had epilepsy and after being on the program for, I think, 4 years, her epilepsy vanished overnight.

      In Him,

  • Ashley says:

    Do you think people get turned off from a blog when they see that the blogger is making money from it? What way do you think is best and the most professional way to tell them that you get a “spiff” from the post if they click on an affiliate link?

  • Crystal,

    This was a great post. I am struggling so much w/ balancing my home life, church life and blogging. I almost every day wonder if I should be blogging at all, but then everytime that I do something that is not “spending time with my kids / family”, I tend to feel guilty.

    It is so crucial to spend time w/ the Lord to know what He wants. I know that I was also continually frustrated before blogging that I didn’t have a real outlet for the giftings and knowledge that I have. And I by no means think that just because you have a gift that you need to use – it – now. I just mean that I was sharing things with others and they just weren’t ready to hear it. My husband has constantly said that he thinks I should keep up the blog but continue to prioritize.

    Easier said than done :-)!

  • Thanks Crystal! I fee very encouraged by your last answer!! I’m happy not to focus on what blogosphere is “saturated” and just focus on what my strengths are!

    Since I’m a new blogger (and new to reading blogs), I’m always seeing more and more bloggers out there doing a wonderful job!! But I KNOW that I love sharing my experiences and what I learn and find. Right now, I couldn’t stop because I love it so much (even though I know there are lots of sources). At least I have a small circle that reads my blog and I’m investing in their lives in a small way.

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