The Awkward Topic of Blogging & Money

outstretched palms holding a ball of American bills

Image by HeatherPaque from Pixabay

First off, this isn’t a post about how to make money blogging.  It’s more about the general idea of getting financial support within the mental health blogging community, and whether there are characteristics of the mental health community that will affect that.  It’ll be a bit choppy because I’m not sure I have anything coherent to say.

Who’s in need

So, what groups of people might be hoping to get some financial benefit to help support themselves?  Let’s make some broad generalizations for a moment.

A lot of people in the mental health blogging community devote a huge amount of time and effort to blogging, and try to get some form of compensation in return, whether that’s through ads, sponsored posts, affiliate marketing, donation buttons, etc.

Some people are in very legitimately difficult financial situations, and are very much in need of money whatever the source may be, and the reason for that need is communicated when attempting to solicit funds.

Some people are in tight financial situations and need a bit of a boost in order to be able to move ahead with a passion project or business venture; again, this is communicated when trying to raise funds.

Other people are offering a product or service for sale, including books, crafts, or coaching.

Who can give

I suspect that when it comes to mental illness or any other chronic illness/disability niche, there’s a sizeable chunk of people who either can’t work or can’t work very much, and may be relying on disability benefits.  I would imagine that, at least on average, we as a community have less disposable income to throw around than, say, the lifestyle blogging community.  Obviously that’s not going to be true in all cases, but I think it probably does work out along those lines when you average it out.

So, as potential givers/purchasers, how do we decide where to allocate money?  Does it make a difference what the type of need is?  Does it matter who the individual blogger is?  Does it matter how we’re being asked for money, or how often?  Does it depend on the giver/purchaser’s personal philosophy/approach?

Of course it’s awkward to talk about questions like these.  So I’ll take a little wallow in my own awkwardness.  I used to be a regular donor to charity when I worked full time.  Then when I became unemployed, I stopped all donations, and decided that there would be no more donations of any kind until I had a steady income stream that was greater than my monthly expenses; I was not going to delve into my savings to make donations.  While I’m working now, it’s not enough to meet either of those criteria, so I stick to my no donations rule.  In a sense that’s convenient in that it saves me from making decisions prioritizing who I want to support.

Sometimes I feel a bit guilty for not responding when someone is in serious need, and I wonder if perhaps we all do at least a little bit.  I absolutely don’t think negatively in any way about bloggers who are trying to bring in some money for one reason or another; in fact, I say good for them for trying to support themselves however they can.  But I always wonder, should I click the like button on the donation appeal post if I’m not going to be donating myself?

I think things can get particularly problematic if there is active solicitation of donations in order for X to be able to happen on a blog, and then donations are given but X never materializes.

Stepping away from the idea of donations, is the mental health community a good place to begin a business venture?  I’m not entirely sure.  There’s still the issue of people not necessarily having a lot of disposable income.  Does that mean pricing should be low to improve accessibility?  Are people even coming to the online mental health community prepared to buy products or services?

So, where am I going with all of this?  I’m not really sure.  I think it’s completely valid that people in the mental blogging community would need/want to try to bring some money in, but I have to wonder if there’s a limiting factor on the size of the community pot.

Your thoughts?

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30 thoughts on “The Awkward Topic of Blogging & Money

  1. Nurse Skyanne says:

    I think that the Mental Health community applies to nearly everyone. Each community has their own struggles with self-image, anxiety, etc. It shows up differently and not everyone will write about it. I think if you find a way to appeal to different populations and not just always label the mental health community as separate from the rest of the world, maybe that will help bring more traffic in. That’s just my perspective!

  2. Paula Light says:

    It makes me mad. I’ve spent time creating books to place on Amazon. That’s a way for people to transfer money to me AND get something in return. Others could do the same. It isn’t that hard! I don’t want to be asked for money just to read a blog… why not give me money for my blog? I’ve paid to go ad free to make it nicer for all. I’ve unfollowed people who have obnoxious donation buttons.

  3. Sara Hoffman says:

    I feel connected with what you are saying. And I would like to offer my help in any way I can. I suppose we could also say that there are doctors and professionals who blog about mental health, but those of us who write from personal experience are the crux of the community. I am on disability, as are many in my blogging circle. I have thought about a tip jar, but feel that tacky and desperate. I suppose I am saying that God meets my needs, that we aren’t desperate-just don’t have money for silly things as in mattresses or eyeglasses. I guess I’m content and don’t feel I necessarily need payment for doing His work, but pass no judgment on any blogger who is in need and thus absolutely deserving of earning income from a not so easy living.

  4. Luftmentsch says:

    In terms of who who can give and how much, there may be a difference within the mental health community between people whose issues are relatively treatable and can stay in work during treatment or take a finite amount of time out, and those who are treatment resistant or have issues that aren’t easily treatable and are long-term unemployed and struggling financially. I know at my depression support group there are some people who managed to stay in work during their illness or quickly returned to the workplace and others who are long-term unemployed, for different reasons. They would probably have different abilities to give.

    Although I seem to recall that people with lower income are more generous than the super-rich when it comes to giving charity. I think the theory is that the super-rich lack empathy for the poor, whereas people who are close to experiencing poverty are more understanding.

  5. Meg says:

    This is a very interesting blog post! I’m not sure I’ve encountered bloggers asking for money, but that’s because I don’t follow many blogs, I’d reckon!I know one site where you can ask for creative support is Patreon. I’d recommend it to bloggers who want to be supported without the awkwardness!! My friend Sonya has a Patreon page for her writing!!

  6. MandK says:

    Interesting thoughts. It’s a question we have asked ourselves before; Should we monetize our blog (We could really use the money)!?!? I feel as though if we did that, we wouldn’t be blogging for blogging sake anymore and that would affect our writing(s) and interaction(s) with others.

    Fascinating subject, though.

  7. Mathew | Blog of the Wolf Boy says:

    Great though-provoking post. I’d imagine there may be some ethical questions to be asked as well about appealing for money to those with little money and mental illness.

    I’ve never even really attempted at making money. I think I’ve collected about 8 cents from ad revenues but they were so ugly on my site I took them off. Maybe I need to try affiliate marketing :p

  8. sophienaylor1 says:

    I’ll be honest, I don’t know why people aiming to receive money whilst blogging are often shamed so highly. Who wouldn’t want to turn their well-loved hobby into a career?! Getting paid doesn’t mean you love what you’re doing any less. A lot of people with mental and physical health problems often can’t get a normal 9-5 job, so I think it’s a great opportunity to give them some financial freedom. Just my opinion though!! Interesting post x

    • sophienaylor1 says:

      Also, sorry to reply to my own comment haha, I don’t think you should ever feel guilty for not donating to someone!! Everyone’s financial situation is different, and you have to put yourself first – ALWAYS. Giving them that like may be the bit of support they need to reassure them that asking for help with money is okay and you support them in doing so x

    • ashleyleia says:

      I completely agree that people should be able to make money blogging. I think it comes down to finding a way to do it that works with your audience. If it comes across as trying to get your readers to support you, when they’re doing similar things without getting paid, I think that’s where it can start to get dicey. But if a blogger is able to offer additional value in some way that’s probably going to be better received.

  9. motherhen76 says:

    It would be great if I could get money for my blog, especially since I am the full-time caregiver of a child with multiple disabilities. I get a small amount of insurance benefits for him so every little bit helps. Yet I still manage to donate my time, clothes and money to less fortunate. Great topic no matter how you look at it. We are all trying to manage.

  10. livwbp says:

    I personally need to supplement my disability income in order to provide books and online courses for my homeschooled son. Yeah I could send him to public that is free but we have been through HELL and back with the public school system.
    So I do have items for sell in an Etsy shop and some affiliate links on my blog in order to generate some much needed funds but I do NOT put up donate buttons. Actually at this point I’m still using the free version for my blog to see how well it’s going to go over. No sense in paying for a blog I can’t really afford until I see it’s going to A) grow B) generate a little income. However the donate button is just wrong I feel and I would never do it.

    • ashleyleia says:

      That’s great that you’ve got the Etsy shop going. And I think affiliate links are a good thing to include, especially since it doesn’t end up costing readers anything to use. I use some affiliate links and have been thinking lately about how to use them a little more.

      • livwbp says:

        Thank you. I’m only using the free version of WordPress at the moment . Hoping to get a bigger following before I throw money into a wordpress dot org. Everything costs so much and I really need to keep as much money as possible. I may eventually switch or may not. I’m a mess in my head so I can’t say for sure just yet. But finding away to implement the affiliate links more and better would be a great help.

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