Posted in sewing

A Not Well Thought Out Post On Affiliate Links

Last month I read an article about the rise of Reward Style in Texas Monthly. For the uninitiated, it’s a fashion affiliate link program started by a fashion blogger and her MBA husband (then boyfriend). They figured out a way for fashion blogging to be profitable.

These partygoers reached more than 13.5 million followers on Instagram combined. Many made more than $20,000 a month—some more than $80,000—just from posting links to sites that sold the short-shorts and Chanel shoes that they wore in their photos.

Now, for years I’ve thought sewing bloggers have undersold themselves. I’m all for community and being a part of it. My best friends come out of sewing and this blog. But, I tend to think twice before I directly directly link to products I liked, suggestions on things to buy or where to shop. I stopped for a couple of reasons.

  1. I didn’t really like being responsible for someone’s experience with a product.  Not that I am responsible, but I had a few people email me after buying something I recommended that they weren’t a fan of.
  2. I hated that a few times after I posted a product or referred people to something, the price/ demand would go up astronomically  (ex. Dritz vintage buttonhole maker, vintage Japanese pattern drafting books, newish Bunka garment design books and Traum tracing wheels).
  3. Why free advertise? It’s the same reason I don’t fill out user surveys. I think companies should pay for market research. I’ve been paid for market research outside of sewing too.

This is just something I arrived at on my own years ago. And, it’s solely my personal opinion. I haven’t put a ton of my own energy into thinking this through because it’s not about to cure cancer. It’s just something that was niggling at the back of my head.

I have a dear friend who works for a large cosmetics company. They pay bloggers when they wear their makeup. Not in kind gifts. But, literally pay them cash for references in addition to products. I remember at the time thinking it was crazy and people should blog for the love of it. But, the truth is, they are blogging for the love of it and the perks came after.

But, now that I’ve read about Reward Style and Like to Know It (Reward Style for Instagram) and I wonder why we don’t have the same for sewing. Aren’t we underselling our market value? Yes, there’s Fabric.com and Amazon.com affiliate links. But, what about Dritz, Fiskars, Palmer and Pletsch, Fons and Porter, sewing machine reviews, sewing pattern companies, fabric stores Etsy and eBay? I don’t even link to BurdaStyle downloads now.  I’ve bought SO MUCH *stuff* based on blog referrals! And, I’ve learned a lot too from other bloggers.

Believe me, I’m not saying people should make a living off blogging (once people go ‘pro’ I tend to find them a little boring). But, what’s so bad about getting something in return for the advertising one is giving anyway?

Feel free to discuss below. Or, roll your eyes and move on to another blog post.  Like I said, I’m not super passionate about this. But, am curious as to what other people think too.

**Full Disclosure: I had one blog sponsor about six years ago and was part of the inaugural group of the Mood Sewing Network.

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106 thoughts on “A Not Well Thought Out Post On Affiliate Links

  1. I completely agree with you and want to thank you for this post. I have never thought of it on the level of products used I.e scissors, cutting boards, sewing machines Etc. But in hindsight, you are absolutely right!

    Thanks again!

  2. I don’t mind it as long as the blog states their affiliation. I don’t do ads on my personal blog, because that’s mine. But I’ve had offers, which amused me, because I write about such diverse topics.Cats, writing, sewing, quilting, my fabric and book addiction.

  3. i literally have had a post waiting in draft since thanksgiving about the fact that we as a group tend to take the high road and end up selling ourselves short. i’d actually like to see sewing bloggers receive some dough for all of the advice & content they provide. almost everything i purchase sewing wise is through blog advice– and, many non sewing related things as well. (like, i’ve been looking for your bar setup for AGES.)

    1. I think I can help with the bar set up, actually. I still know a few people in surplus. I’ll keep an eye out!

      On Mon, Jan 5, 2015 at 5:34 PM, Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

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  4. I feel things get really crappy when people start making suggestions on how bloggers or anyone for that matter, create an income. And what annoys me the most is that this seems to be such a prevalent attitude in the sewing community. What is so bad about a blogger wanting to get money? Blogging is extremely time consuming. And then people have the unmitigated gall to suggest and request specific blog posts, ask you to do tutorials– for free and add more construction photos to a post. But you’re supposed to want to do it out of the kindness of your heart?!

    I use to do affiliate links and suggest item options that were similar and reasonably priced to my sewn garments. Since my readers are primarily other sewing enthusiast, it wasn’t profitable enough to invest the time in searching for the items.

    I will do a sponsored post every blue moon, if the money is right and it’s something that I like. I could really do them almost weekly. Somebody is always in my inbox with some sort of ridiculousness that has nothing to do with sewing or fashion.

  5. I used to work as a software developer on Amazon’s Associates program, so that likely biases my views a fair amount. I have no problem with people being paid referral fees for linking to books or other products on Amazon or another site. After all, if people click through and buy things, you’ve pretty much earned that fee by generating traffic for Amazon.

    However, I also agree that bloggers, once they “go pro” get really boring. So: earning a small amount to fund a few new books, I have no problem with. And I’m happy for the more successful bloggers, but I do wish they would keep posting the creative & awesome posts that got them famous to begin with!

    I’ve only ever made about $40, total, over many many years of having associate links on my website. So for the average user, it’s not much. I plowed what I did earn back into more sewing books. 😉

  6. I don’t have a problem either way – no one *makes* you buy anything. I enjoying seeing how someone uses a particular product and I find out about items I might never have been award of otherwise, but the bottom line is that it is my decision on when and where I spend my dollars. I love entrepreneurialism.

  7. I, too, find bloggers who go pro boring. But, blogging does take time. Good blogging also takes expertise. So how do we compensate bloggers fairly?

    I don’t expect to get anything but writing practice out of blogging. I was pleasantly surprised when I referred one of my blog readers for a job and got a $2500 referral bonus. She was a special case–PhD from Stanford in a critically-needed engineering specialty.

    1. I’m glad you posted that Grace. I was just thinking about how so many other companies give little bonuses for referrals. No one bats and eye at Direct TV referrals.

      On Mon, Jan 5, 2015 at 6:44 PM, Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

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  8. I include links in my posts because I got sick of people asking me where I got things! It saves the questions. I don’t advertise or have sponsors, because for me my blog is all about fun and no obligation to anyone. Interestingly, one of the fabric shops that I buy a LOT of fabric from (and therefore link to often) did contact me after a few years and offer me a 10% discount card for sending traffic their way – which I gratefully accepted, of course! But that was a long time after I started linking to them. I’ve never been interested in monetising my blog, but for those who want to, go for it!

    1. On this, you have me. I will agree it’s easier to post a link so you don’t have to go back and answer questions 🙂 I think I was once interested in monetizing my blog if it could have turned into a TV sewing show. Once I realized that wasn’t going to happen, I just kept sewing!

      On Mon, Jan 5, 2015 at 6:58 PM, Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

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      1. I thought you were really good in that audition for the sewing show. I’m sorry it didn’t come off.

        I don’t blame people for having ambitions. The problem is that with sewing blogs, which are overwhelmingly written by women, there’s been a weird ambivalence about how to treat the activity from the beginning. Some women have a childishly romantic idea of sewing and the past, and you’d think that 50 years of feminism hadn’t occurred. What I hate most are people who clearly are trying to attract a following, deals, etc., falling back on “Oh, I’m just a little sewing blogger how dare you be unsupportive” when they are legitimately criticized.

  9. I totally agree 99 per cent. Mind you, I do link to things I like because I appreciate being able to follow links from other bloggers (makes the research easier). I’m not particularly concerned about others buying something I recommend and then complaining about it. I mean, I don’t hold others accountable for my responses and I won’t be responsible for theirs.

    1. I need to embrace your philosophy in life, “I don’t hold others accountable for my responses and I won’t be responsible for theirs.” I think I took it too personally. I am by no means an expert and was just a happy customer.

      On Mon, Jan 5, 2015 at 7:23 PM, Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

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      1. I think that if you recommend something and someone has a bad experience you are required to listen to their complaint. I don’t know that I’d feel responsible, but I would feel bad. I’ve been angry when web sites have recommended expensive services and products that didn’t pan out.

        1. I don’t agree. If it’s a product she’s actually used and liked, I don’t think she’s required to do anything. Just like if a pattern doesn’t work out for me, but someone recommended it – I wouldn’t blame that person.

        2. Shehadmeinstitches:

          I did not say the blog author should be blamed. But the blog author should acknowledge the problem if a reader brings it to her or his attention. Like it or not, people are treating links as endorsements and many sewers are beginners.

          If you are a writing a blog, you should be courteous. A public blog is not read by a handful of one’s closest friends. Strangers all over the world may be reading it.

          This is what I mean when I say that some bloggers want to have it both ways. If you are publishing a blog it does carry with it a bit more responsibility.

        3. Re blog reader, I don’t know how to comment to your comment – I see your point and agree to an extent. I think that as long as the feedback is in the comments of the recommendation post – it should be enough.

        4. Shehadmeinstitches:

          Mentioning the problem int the comments would probably be fine. I have been on some blogs on which the authors brook no disagreement.

  10. Totally of ‘two minds’ about it.

    On the one hand, SO many (not all, not every, but a lot) bloggers get out of control with the affiliate posts. I follow a lot of sewing blogs, probably way more than I care to admit in public :). It is annoying when what feels like every.single.post is advertising something.

    On the other hand, we (as a collective) spend tons of money and time on this hobby and if your blogging is earning you some cash; go for it! Just know that the readership you have exists because of the “you” you displayed prior to monetizing. If you switch to “uber blogger extraordinaire”; you tend to bore your long time readers.

    wait; maybe that’s the “same mind”??

    1. I hear you. Sponsored posts vs affiliate links. Sponsored is always a little odd and redundant when it’s the same thing across the blogosphere. And, it’s really sad to me when I see people stop doing what they did well to meet requirements of sponsorships.

      On Mon, Jan 5, 2015 at 7:36 PM, Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

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  11. What a fantastic, thoughtful post, Renee! With all the debate going around this past year over sponsorship and freebies in the sewing blog community, my own thoughts on the subject have evolved from somewhat ambivalent to vehemently in favor of blogger compensation. At the end of the day, this one expensive hobby. If companies, big or small, are going to make money off of blogger referrals and reviews, it’s only fair that the bloggers get something in return. We are their most active, personal form of marketing, after all. If a woman can make money from her blog, or just get heaps of free fabric, more power to her! Besides, I don’t think anyone should cast aspersions at blog monetization, because it’s impossible to know the financial situations of others. I, for one, am so grateful for Mood’s sponsorship of my blog, because it enabled me to sew with good fabric, while on a grad student budget. Some people may have turned that down, out of desire to stay free of advertising, but it was really a godsend for me, financially.

    Of course, all that comes with the qualification that I do prefer affiliate links and free products to carry a disclaimer. In the US, it’s a legal issue, and everywhere else, it’s just a best practices thing. What can I say? I like a little transparency with my capitalism!

    1. Since you actually get paid to write, I’m going to take that as a huge compliment. Yes, disclaimers all around and every time I say! And, thank you for your excellent princess seam FBA tutorial. I have referenced it more than one time!

      On Mon, Jan 5, 2015 at 7:43 PM, Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

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  12. For little shops like mine, we don’t really have the budget to do affiliate links, so I am always very appreciative when someone links to my products in a post or uses a Grey’s brand ruler in a photo or some such. I understand if folks don’t want to link to me for free, but I’m always grateful when they do, because we just wouldn’t get that exposure otherwise.

  13. It would be nice to get some reimbursement for doing what you love and using products that you love anyway. I guess it’s a matter of maintaining one’s integrity and yes, transparency.

  14. I think one problem with fabric sponsors is how many times the fabric is sold out by the time the blogger makes something out of it. The other is how to maintain objectivity on a pattern if you were paid by the designer to make it (and hopefully in more than just a free pattern – a $9-16 pattern is a miserable hourly rate).

  15. In any event blogging is labor intensive across the board. I have blog sisters outside of sewing that do very well! There is a large audience of bloggers that do this for the love of sewing and that is it. I don’t have an opinion either way, if you make money, that is perfectly fine. I do take issue when people are taken advantage of but in the end that is not my business. If you don’t make money from it, then that is fine as well. I have ads on my blog and it generates a mediocre amount of funds. I also link posts to fabric companies that I shop with. There is almost always one BUT I also have a monthly post with them and get the fabric free, not to mention they have awesome pricing and is semi-local to me. I actually have been shopping with them for years and don’t mind sharing that information. There are things that I would rather keep to myself and will post “like” resources, but that is because my source is in short supply and I probably spend more than 40% of my fabric budget there. Call me selfish but ok.

    There is a lot of work that goes into this and I respect it. Most people do this in their free time as I do, and cannot always commit to the consistency. BUT….. if you can make something from your efforts, I applaud it. We are so undervalued and our efforts are often taken for granted. We find ourselves feeling obligated to give more than others due to the audience we cater to. I don’t have an issue with this as well for now. I wish the benefits of blogging were the same as it relates to the playing fields. I have promoted things for free and I do not regret it, but this post has made me look at things with a bit more of clarity.

    Finally, I agree that most “pro” bloggers get boring, they post only for profit and often times it is wrapped in a visually “free” package. At what point do you continue to do this for the love or profit? That is the million dollar question!

    I have loved to read the input here! Happy Sewing ladies!

  16. Hmm. I adhere to the Consumer Reports approach to honesty and objectivity in reviews– if you’re going to get paid, you can only get paid by your readership, not by the companies or products you’re reviewing. So, I wonder what approaches to monitization would work for sewing blogs and stay on the right side of that line. A tip jar? The Amazon affiliate program in general, and not for specific products?

    1. This is my viewpoint, as well, though I expect that is a minority opinion. I am actually LESS likely to purchase something via a sponsored post or affiliate link, than just a “shout out,” because I tend to be cynical about the shills.

      I understand blogging is hard work, and some people do make it work professionally, but I also lose interest once they become commercial. I enjoy the Mood network posts, and I follow some strictly commercial blogs (McCalls) but the ones with gads of ads just turn me off.

  17. I read a lot of blogs in general — not just sewing blogs — and I’m always struck by how much less PAID the sewing blog community seems than other blog communities.

    Honestly, I’d much prefer that if I’m going to buy those featherweight Ginghers on the advice of a blogger I love, I’d rather them at least get the measly few cents commission.

    The problem you run into is that blogs can quickly seem inauthentic when they do too much linking. Only if it’s something you really love, support and use do I want to give you money for it. Some of the healthy living blogs I read have like three sponsored posts a week and it’s just too much. There’s no way those people can actually try, enjoy and honestly recommend that many products. Plus with that sort of stuff, you basically have to say nice things, right? You got it free. How much can you complain?

    To me it’s a super fine line between “you spend too much time schilling products and I can’t stand your blog anymore” and “ooh, I want that! Good recommendation!”

    1. “To me it’s a super fine line between “you spend too much time schilling products and I can’t stand your blog anymore” and “ooh, I want that! Good recommendation!””

      This. This exactly!!

    2. The Featherweight Ginghers are awesome! ( personal opinion, but I’d gladly take a few cents from Gingher )

  18. Yeah, I’m not going to criticize how bloggers make their money, but I would hope that what has happened to cooking blogs doesn’t happen to sewing blogs. Once cookbook publishers and convenience food manufacturers figured out that some bloggers are actually pretty good cooks with large readerships, a lot of popular food blogs became all-selling-all-the-time. I’ve given up reading several blogs because all they ever post is how great this product is and look at our new line of products . . . which has zero appeal to somebody like me with a small food budget who’s trying to make quality, healthy meals from scratch. One blog in particular has gone from all kinds of delicious original recipes to flogging Kraft shit-in-a-box “dinners.” And you know, if that’s what you want your blog to be, go for it, but you’re going to lose readers like me.

    I would hate for sewing blogs to become like that. I would hate pattern reviews to be written with the knowledge that “if I criticize this, they won’t give me any more to review, so I’d better only write the stuff I liked about it.” Then, when somebody googles the pattern to find out if it’s worth buying, there won’t be an honest, critical review to be found, or worse, he or she won’t know which ones are honest and which aren’t. I would like to see more honesty, not less.

    Of course, the problem is then that smart, competent, skilled people are putting all their skill into this work (that benefits other people) and not being paid for it. Which is what women have always done, isn’t it? So maybe it’s wrong of me to oppose women trying to get their fair share. I guess I just hope that in between all the people “monetizing” their blogs, there’s still room for people like me, who are in it for the inspiration and self-expression.

  19. When I started blogging, I was curious about affiliate links and adsense and how they worked. I got over it. I tried to delete the ads but they screwed with my blogger template so I threw them back on – at the bottom of the page.
    I link to my fave products as a courtesy to readers – you can click thru if you want to.
    I recently followed a tutorial that didn’t behave with the circles that needed to be cut and it turned out they were selling a expensive fabric cutter tool. I stay away from ‘sponsored’ tutorials now.
    I have to say I’m not much of a fan of going pro on the sewing blog – the content does suffer. If their pop-up ads (sign up for my newsletter, my IG, my FB) take over my smart phone, I delete them from my feed.
    I don’t write tutorials either because I don’t have time to hand-hold the two people who cannot read directions.
    I do agree that sewing bloggers have trouble cashing in.
    That said, I have no problem if you want to make money from your blog. I appreciate all of the fab advice I’ve received from other sewing bloggers. I enjoy all of the friendships I have made online and followed thru to real life. I can’t imagine sewing without all this creative collective genius of sewing bloggers.

  20. I appreciate links to tools, tutorials, books, patterns, classes and fabric sources….saves me time and wadders! (most of the time). I find out about useful things! So, if I’ve found a helpful resource, I link to ‘pass it on’. If a another sewing fan benefits, great! if product supplier benefits financially, great! That being said, I’m unlikely to accept a sponsor deal…my decision to link is purely driven by whether or not i find something useful/helpful.

  21. I write/edit for a living and I sew for fun/relaxation. I am thrilled with the array of talent and expertise available to sewists through the blogosphere, and I cannot believe the incredible generosity that motivates this action that benefits so many. I am more than happy to see sewing — a pursuit that is not as widely valued as it should be (how many “can you hem my pants/skirt/jacket” requests have you all had in your lives?) get some financial respect. I am more than happy to see sewing bloggers compensated for their efforts, as long as they report to their readers the circumstances of their affiliations. Mood Sewing Network is a great example of a diverse group of sewists taking advantage of a rich resource to help us experience opportunities that aren’t readily available in non-metro areas, where our one sewing store (in my case) is Joanns (which sells more candy and holiday wrap than fabric these days).
    The one topic I would love to see covered more regularly is sewing machines. These babies are incredibly costly and yet it is rare to find candid, comprehensive reviews of machines. I know why sewing magazines don’t do these reviews — it could jeopardize revenue. But why doesn’t Consumer Reports review machines to help folks make informed decisions about these very costly items? Thank you for this post and your wonderful blog.

    1. Consumer Reports did cover sewing machines once. But, I thought it was useless. I’ll have to see if i can find it. But, this does give me an idea about a blog tour.

      1. I think it’s just too much for Consumer Reports — a coffee machine or a washing machine is expected to basically do one thing. There are so many sewing machines out there for so many different purposes that I just don’t see how anyone could reliably and comprehensively review sewing machines.

      2. I would love to read user’s true experiences with sewing machines but if it is a blogger with a known affiliation with a sewing machine manufacturer such as Tilly/Janome, Collette/Bernina– thanks but no thanks. Basically if any sewing machine dealer/company gave a loaner for free, a generous “educator” discount etc. I will have trouble with the reviewer’s credibility.

        1. Not to play devil’s advocate but that’s basically what happens with fashion bloggers and Rstyle. Most of their affiliate links are from brands that send them clothing as a c/o. The only difference is that we get to see them wearing whatever was sent and therefore make an (educated) purchase. Whereas with a sewing blogger we mostly rely on what we read.

  22. Ah, the old ‘selling out’ chestnut. Interesting thoughts, especially because there’s been so many conflicting opinions floating around about this recently. I do find that sewing blogs are generally less commercialised, and that those who do go down that route are regularly shot down in flames (gomi, anyone?) versus fashion and ‘OOTD’ blogs that are naturally geared towards such a thing. Tall poppy syndrome, if anything I think. I do half wonder if it’s the personality associated with sewists – generally that we like to create to either to get away from mainstream RTW or to save money. And monetising a sewing blog kinda flies in the face of that?
    Personally I think that sewists are undervalued by the industry that has been generated to support them, and also undervalue themselves. The argument on whether or not pattern testers should get paid is proof of that. Its too easy to say, but I do it because I love it. But we all do really love it, which is why our space is the way it is. Catch 22!

  23. Thank you for such a thoughtful post on this subject! This is one that I definitely have gone back and forth on myself. When I started my blog I was entirely on the side of the fence of keeping my blog personal – affiliate, advertising, sponsorship free.
    Now, I’ve been blogging for almost 4 years about sewing – it’s not a long time, but it’s long enough – and between my husband and I we’ve gone through our fair share of job upsets and lean times. And I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for Mood’s sponsorship of my blog this past year I probably wouldn’t be sewing (or at least not very often) due to the expense.
    Both my husband and I are creative people who work in creative fields where your education and expertise is SERIOUSLY undervalued. It’s been a huge passion of mine in my daily life to advocate for artists simply getting paid a decent wage. I see a lot of the same mindset in the sewing community – that we should do what we do out of love and passion for the craft (and we do!) and that that should be enough (it is!) I don’t think any of us will stop blogging because we’re not getting paid, but there is no shame in expecting fair compensation in the right situation.
    Our craft takes time, and at the end of the day, of course we do it for ourselves and we share it on blogs because we love to talk about it. But I also get seriously happy for the sewing bloggers that I’ve seen go on to create something bigger for themselves. Way to go ladies. The sewing blog world as an industry is the Wild West and we’re freaking Clint Eastwood. Why not see what we can make of it!?

  24. I guess it all comes down to motivation. Do you blog for fun or profit? If you are doing it for the love of sewing and you happen to make some money, that can’t hurt. I will say when a blog gets too many ads and links, it seems more like a web site than a blog and I shy away.
    p.s. Pattern Review has pretty good sewing machine reviews too

  25. Oh man, this something I think about ALL the time. When I went out on my own I was hoping to diversify my income a little and start generating some dough from the blog. It’s been about 6 months since I started using affiliate links and a few things have been become clear to me. It is hard to make a lot of money doing it unless you are linking ALL the time, and I am still reluctant to do that. I really, really try to just link to products when it is organic to my content. I am very conscious of the “going pro/getting boring” dichotomy so for now my goal is to just write what interests me rather than writing to make money. If writing what interests me generates a little cash every once and a while, great.

    I’m not sure if this is a great “financial” decision or not. I have no interest in writing sponsored posts. I get emails all the time and unless it was for something amazing that was sewing related, I just don’t care about the money enough to clutter people’s feeds with weird reviews that aren’t related to DIY. I get sent a lot of free books, but 2/3 times I won’t write about them because unless I really love them. It feels weird to waste a lot of space talking about something I’m not passionate about to generate $20 in amazon sales.

    Having said that, I do find it weird how few sewing related businesses use affiliate marketing. There are a lot of big fabric stores that should be doing it but aren’t (I’m looking at you Hart and Mood). I’ve looked around for good companies to support in this way and it’s kind of shocking how far behind the times they are in relation to other online businesses. Maybe that will change as sewing blogging becomes more of a thing, not really sure. Anyway, it’s reassuring to read through the comments here and see that people are not swearing under their breath every time I include an affiliate link in a post. It’s a tricky balance and something I am still trying to figure out moving forward, Thanks for posting about this! It’s always nice to have an outlet to talk about the business/financial end.

    1. I just wanted to say it was your post on photography that had me spend money on a new lens on Amazon. Not the exact one you referenced, but all the same specs for my DSLR. It was great information and I wished there had been something in it for you.

      And, I agree that a company as large as Mood could consider affiliate links. True, the MSN blogger fabric is often sold out. But, they do reference other options too. And, I have for sure bought fabric because other people used it or mentioned it.

      Yep, I don’t think there’s a living to be made from affiliate links in the sewing world. I just wonder why we’re behind other blogging groups.

      On Tue, Jan 6, 2015 at 9:24 AM, Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

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      1. My personal opinion is that if you’re going to do affiliate links or sponsored content, it really has to benefit your reader first and foremost. Provide a service, an honest review, a helpful suggestion, whatever. If people feel like they are getting something out of your content, regardless of whether or not you’re making money from it, I think it’s totally fine. I have a number of bloggers I love and admire and buy stuff they recommend all the time. There is a LOT of stuff in the world, and it helps having people you respect give you a hand when you need it. So I’m SUPER happy that post was helpful to you. It included links of course, but I wrote it because I thought people would find it interesting or helpful, not because I am desperate for the $5 i probably made from Amazon, haha.

        I think we’re behind other groups because a) crafty people don’t tend to be super web/tech savvy (not a dis, I actually think it says alot about our community that everyone isn’t in it to make a buck) b) craft businesses tend to be smaller and c) we aren’t a powerful enough base, YET. I think that will change. Sewing is exploding as a hobby right now, it just might take the business end to catch up.

  26. I wish more pattern companies and fabric stores had affiliate links. There are a few, mostly companies started by kid sewing bloggers but most Indie designers don’t have them. They aren’t that hard to set up. It would be a nice service to the bloggers who give free PR for them.

  27. I think there are some sewing bloggers that are getting paid for their links. The issue I have with them is they tend NOT to be the ones with the most/best experience, but rather newbies that are solely blogging about their sewing to make money (and typically are also trying to sell patterns they’ve designed, which usually already exist in copious amounts). I can think of one indie pattern designer who clearly stated on her blog in 2010-11 that she’d only been sewing for a year. When I read her bio now, she claims to have been sewing for over 10 years. Her patterns reflect the truth of the matter. Anyway, this may be a digression but I think the sewing bloggers with the best techniques and skills often are the most quiet about what they use to achieve their results. I have no idea why this is.

  28. I’m am all for bloggers receiving income from what they do. Even if I’m not interested and skip the post I just think of it as payment for all the wonderful things I’ve gotten out of their blog! However, it concerns me that some sewing bloggers that became so popular that they are able to quit their day jobs to do this FT, write books, etc., have now more or less abandoned their blogs and original readership. Not that it bothers me personally – I think everyone should do what works for them and their lives – but because I worry that they will lose their following and then find it difficult to make a living in the long run. If they base this life and career change on the success of their blog but then stop writing the blog or have it be mostly advertisement… I fear that can only go on for so long.

  29. I like your thoughts on this and feel very much the same way. We work hard at everything we do and maybe the sewing industry will evolve toward the fashion blogger ways. I do appreciate the free patterns and books I do receive.

  30. Blogs are public journals about your personal experience/interests. If you gain a big following and then choose to cash in on that with sponsored posts and multiple affiliate links– basically that changes your profile to a public business and what is your product? Is your product the blog? No, it is not. The product is the blog followers. You also end up changing the content that attracted your followers. Blogs are a great marketing adjunct to a business– sewing businesses that use this well are Tasia’s from Sewaholic, and Gorgeous Fabrics. Collette is also a blog based business that uses her blog to drive readers to purchase her books and patterns.

    If your blogging feels like so much work and a chore, perhaps you should not do it anymore and spend your time doing something you enjoy. Blogging is not a job. it is a hobby– unless you are hired to do it for a company — in which case it is a paid writing job. In regard to tutorials, most of the tutorials I have seen are mostly pictorials of sewing steps for techniques that I have followed or learned from sewing books. They are wonderful and I think a great idea to keep in your files for the next time you have a project– much like I keep dvds I have purchased by Sandra Betzina, Peggy Sagers, Pamela’s Patterns and courses from Craftsy.

    If you are business and wish to start a blog to promote it, I have seen a wonderful blog post giving advice on how to do that: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/norm-schriever/the-20-golden-rules-of-bu_b_4388943.html Also, Seth Grodin has some really good advice about developing your brand while creating a product to build a ready made market/customer base. I think good will you have developed in your blog can be helpful in launching a business or promoting your writing but you also have to remember that being fairly renumerated goes both ways. You cannot expect others to do your market and product research for free, nor your publicity, nor your blog content.

  31. Hi. 🙂 This post was sent to me by a fellow GOMI-er (warning: GOMI folks tend to appear when GOMI is mentioned, much like Satan or Beetlejuice, I suppose). I wanted to add my own two cents, as I haven’t seen this perspective reflected yet.

    I know I am fully in support of people getting paid for their work. I think it’s disastrous and disgraceful that in so many fields, a living wage is considered to be kind of an uppity entitlement (eg. the arts). One of the discussions that’s come up on GOMI craft over and over again, after all, is how irritating it is that so many indie companies don’t pay their pattern testers, except maybe in fabric and free patterns. This is just meant as an example of the sentiment, not as a sideline to get a new debate started.

    Believe me, I badly want to see people who do good work get paid for the work that they do, and paid fairly.

    But often, what I see is people feeling entitled to be recompensed somehow for a hobby that they choose to engage in, and regardless of the quality of their work or the service they offer to their readers/customers.

    I don’t get paid for sewing–or blogging–and I don’t expect to. I get paid for doing my actual job, because that’s work. Sewing and blogging are hobbies. I don’t get paid for embroidery, reading, working out, or baking, either, and they can get kind of spendy too. (check out the cost of goldwork supplies sometime.) The amount of time and money I spend on a hobby is not at all correlated to my entitlement to be paid to engage in it. If I want to be paid, I have to offer something of value to my customers–a product or service with a pricetag that is commensurate with the value they will receive from the purchase.

    If you want it to be a job that you get paid for, you have to treat it like a job. You don’t just show up at a bookstore, spend 20 hours there directing traffic, and expect the owner to pay you because you spent all that time and effort. The bookstore owner has to agree that the service you offer in that time is worth paying for, and that is going to be determined by the cold hard facts of how much revenue your service generates. If it generates no revenue, regardless of the time you spend, you won’t be paid, and that’s fair.

    Likewise, if you are hired for directing traffic, then it’s important to direct it the right way. You don’t get paid to do a job if you don’t have the skills to do it, whether or not you tried really hard and it took a long time and you think you deserve it. (I hope it’s clear that this is the general you, not the specific you–none of this sounds like an attitude you personally have.)

    When you go to a hair salon, I’m sure you’re not willing to shell out money for a haircut that is poorly done, just because the staff tried really hard and took a long time and spent money on the products. You want a good haircut. It’s not enough to have passion and show up one day and expect to be paid the same as someone who has been working in the field for twenty years and went to school for it.

    So sewing bloggers, if you want to earn revenue from your sewing blogs, that is fantastic. But treat your readers and customers with the same dedication and respect you expect from the companies you purchase from. Do good work. Make a quality product. Remember that they are your boss, and they have expectations, and they’re entitled to have those expectations too. Provide an original service, provide it well, and charge a fair price. Once you make the decision to monetize, through ads or affiliate links or patterns or whatever, it’s not about you anymore; your readers have become your clients, and therefore your boss, and you need to make them happy. If they’re not happy, expect that they won’t tell YOU, they’ll tell YOUR CUSTOMERS. Just like you would, if you bought a hamburger at McDonald’s that had cat fur in it; you wouldn’t write the president a personal note on the oversight, you would post it to twitter and facebook. In the case of sewing blog readers or indie pattern purchasers, that means Pattern Review and GOMI Craft.

    1. I think Andrea’s last paragraph says it all for me. Want to monetize? Go for it! Your customers, for your readers are now customers of your business, are going to expect more from you now. Be ready for that and open to the challenge.

      Personally, I don’t align with the argument of “if you don’t like it, leave”. It doesn’t make good business sense. Businesses don’ t thrive by turning away their customers if they have a dissenting voice or a complaint. They work to make their offering better, address the issue or manage expectations. “Just Leave” should only be trotted out when nothing else can be done.

      Sew On folks!

  32. I don’t have a blog, but I’ve always thought it a little naive that sewing blogs should be considered “pure” and without any profit motive. Why shouldn’t certain blogs generate revenue? They’re work. (I have a problem with people who give away their labor to corporations for little or no compensation as it only emboldens companies to take advantage.)

    Of course, once an author is selling products, services, making endorsements, or holding herself or himself out as an “expert” there is going to be a much higher level of scrutiny. Work needs to look professional. Relationships need to be disclosed in every blog post. Some sewing bloggers want to have it both ways.

  33. I like the perspective you’ve put across in this post of a discussion in the wider blogosphere. I’ve not read all the comments, so I hope the following doesn’t repeat anything already said.

    To me, as more of a reader than a blogger, I really don’t mind either way at a superficial level if a blogger chooses to get any form of financial recompense or not. It’s their choice. At that level, I am primarily interested in whether the content is/remains interesting to me. If it changes and becomes leads interesting then I just plain don’t read it. So far, so simple! 🙂
    However, it does start to get blurred when we start to consider whether someone is providing a service. If so, they deserve to be compensated (we have evolved after all!), and preferably that should be equitable between like for like situations. Without wanting to get to tangential, that brings us to the argument of charging a fair price for something even if you love doing it (whether “it” is sewing, cooking, mechanics whatever) so as not to undercut those that do it for a living. HOWEVER, the number of hobbyists that do “it” for friends will generally just be a blip in terms of a percentage so shouldn’t have a massive impact. Slightly tangential, but relevant in that those blogging as a service deserve to get paid fairly.

    As an aside, this is why I don’t blog much – I can’t decide on what the purpose of it (for me) is. It’s more of a log book, but then it’s easier to just keep a notebook!

    In terms of sponsored posts I completely agree that it becomes so boring when those posts become so far removed from the original blog, but maybe that’s how that blogger wanted to evolve anyway and is keeping true to their purpose. I suppose it all comes down to maintaining integrity. I just assume that blogs are for the blog writer first and foremost, and if someone else enjoys it so be it.

    Finally (sorry!), I do think we can be a bit precious (and possibly insular) in the online sewing community. Other hobbyists face similar issues (I’m thinking of a friend who is a hobbyist turner).

    Oh my goodness – thought diarrhea from me. Testament to your thought-provoking response! Thank you! 🙂

  34. On the topic of “how do we pay people for blogging?”, there is a service called Flattr that is a wonderful concept. Unfortunately, it has not caught on. The idea is, you budget a certain amount of money each month for content that you appreciate and want to contribute to. Then when you “like” something of click on their Flattr button. At the end of the month, your Flattr budget is divided among those bloggers, if they are registered with Flattr.

    I did it for a while, but since none of the bloggers I read are registered with Flattr, it did not make much sense. Flattr.com, if you are interested.

  35. A very thought provoking post! I, like most of us have gained some very valuable tips and techniques from sewing bloggers who’ve freely taken time out of their lives to share this information. Absolutely they should be compensated! What I’m less enthusiastic about is how some bloggers sewing blog become a catch all for every product promotion (unrelated to sewing) in addition to sewing! It feels less authentic. But again, who am I to judge how someone makes their money.

  36. This was an awesome read! I have read and followed certain bloggers for a long time and can certainly tell when things take a turn in their blog content and authenticity. I am not against anyone doing what they feel they need to do, I just make a choice to continue to follow or not. I have really enjoyed this post and the comments!

    1. “I am not against anyone doing what they feel they need to do, I just make a choice to continue to follow or not.”

      BRILLIANT!

  37. Oh dear. I am completely with you on the sewing community undervaluing itself, and think there exist a lot of people doing actual jobs who should get paid actual money, but I am of two minds about affiliate links. I just wish they were more targeted. Come December and August of every year, I have to spent a truly ungodly amount of money on Amazon on textbooks. But (from what I understand, and I may well be entirely wrong), if I were to check out with my filled-to-the-brim cart having just clicked a blogger’s affiliate link for sunblock or whatever, they’d get a commission on the entire purchase, regardless of whether or not I bought the sunblock. There’s a question of fairness there, for me. (It would be really interesting, if a bit ethically questionable, if professors started using affiliate links.) What if someone links me to something useful that I actually buy in March, rather than the person whose suggestion I pursued and quickly rejected in December? Other than that and disclosure, I’m on Team Money for Everyone.

  38. Usually when we read a review of a movie, performance or restaurant, it is from a paid professional critic who has no relationship or obligation from the subject being reviewed ensuring their objectivity. They know that no matter what their opinion and article states, the theater, restaurant, and/or movie house is not going to deny further reviews from that publication. So, there is an integrity issue of whether a blog is a mouthpiece/shill for a manufacturer or retail outlet when it is the blog that is reviewing the item it has been given by them. For one thing, the blogger is not getting paid to write a review from a disinterested party. So, sponsored posts are basically commercials. Fashion blogging –OOTD posts are commercials, just like those editorials in the magazines. Which is why they are paid. Their product is the follower who’s click on the affiliate link is their transaction. It really does not matter if the item is still in stock — the follower may then look at other stuff– the blogger has gotten their follower to click off their website to the merchants website and thus given them a naive visitor perhaps who might become a new customer. As far as I am concerned, it is your blog and you can do whatever you want with it. My perception of it will likely change though since my presence there is considered a commodity.

  39. I only read the first screen of the Texas Monthly article, but am unsure about the relevance to sewing bloggers. First, all publications pick only the extreme examples: extreme success and extreme failure. Second, fashion for many is about fantasy and instant gratification. Entertainment and gossip sites operate on the same principle. Surely more people click on a link for a pair of Chanel shoes (even if they have no intention of buying) than on a link for a great pair of shears.

  40. This is a complicated issue for sure. It’d be so nice if my hobby could self-sustain itself, but I never want to just link to junk just because somebody is compensating me for it. For instance, Steam a Seam disappeared from my local JoAnn and got replaced with this Pellon product that just is not as good of quality as the Steam a Seam…I’m not one to rag on every bad product out there, but there’s some that you want to let readers know about if it saves them the headache that you went through. If being paid for blogging limits my ability to write honestly, I don’t want it. Also, I think there’s many ways to do any project and sometimes product links can be a hang up for people–I don’t have x, y, or z, so I can’t make this, when in reality, they probably can make something similar with the stuff they already have or without much extra. Teach people how to fish!

  41. If monetized blogs cause that much irritation, stop reading them! Remove them from Feedly, cancel your email subscription and unfollow in BlogLovin. Chuck them the deuces in all other forms of social media where you lurk. Make life simple again. Other people’s money should not stress you out. This is a great topic but after a while this discussion goes stupid. The interwebs are pretty big. What you don’t want to see or find boring, there’s always other readers that will be entertained and find something useful.

      1. Ditto. I also don’t read bloggers who are dismissive and combative in the face of reasonable questions.

  42. Amen. I would much prefer to purchase items based on bloggers I read and trust their judgement and approval rather than blindly buy something. I hope that bigger ears/eyes are hearing and reading this too!!!

  43. Great post, and really thoughtful comments. I agree that this is similar to the pattern testing debate from the spring baked into this question. Roswella315’s point drawing parallels to conventional media is an important one, I think. I’m a reporter in my non-sewing life, and, in general, reporters have this protective covering from the business side of the house and editors. There are good reasons for this — the occasional advertiser or subscriber will feel entitled to not read something bad about themselves in a publication they contribute to financially (and some feel entitled to read good things because of the financial relationship!!). Bloggers don’t have that protective layer, and you will have to deal with those demands on your own! I don’t think it’s easy.

    From a reader’s perspective, I think some of the grumpiness over monetization comes from readers feeling confused or jilted when they start asking themselves questions about whether they’re reading ‘advertorial’ or reading normal editorial content. Not because they think anyone who likes to a pair of ginghers is lying about liking them, but, you know, would the writer bother to write about the scissors if they weren’t somehow rewarded for it? Are those scissors so much better than all others that I, the reader, should buy them? Or does the writer feel more positively about them because there was no cost to purchasing them? Etc.

    Anyway, I found this post from A Beautiful Mess (not a sewing blog, and much more generalist) really interesting: http://www.abeautifulmess.com/2014/05/hi-there-trey-here-the-ad-guy-so-we-just-put-out-our-blog-life-e-course-and-being-our-ad-guy-i-wrote-a-few-sessions-on-sp.html
    Not straight-up applicable, but great food for thought.

    I don’t have a problem with monetizing (duh, I wouldn’t have a job if conventional media hadn’t figured out how to raise cash to fund itself). But this respect for how the monetization will or should or could affect blog content doesn’t always seem very well thought-out, and the effects of a not very well thought-out approach seem to be what rubs people the wrong way.
    Thanks for the post!

  44. As a non-blogging sewer who loves to read blogs, I’d prefer to know whether I’m reading a for-profit blog. I’m ok with a blogger getting compensated, but call a spade a spade and disclose it clearly and frequently.

    I totally understand wanting to be compensated for your time, but be up front and honest about it. Charge a fee for reading, sell something, but please don’t post a “review” in exchange for compensation or a freebie without being up front and brutally clear about it.

    I’m not exactly sure what an affiliate link is, but some of the comments imply that a link is put in their blog for convenience. Seems like you could put a link to a web page w/o getting paid for it, no? If you are getting paid, then it’s a business and I would like to know so that I can decide whether I think your recommendation can be trusted.

    And the “blog tours” of the latest fabulous pattern? It’s advertising. Please stop pretending otherwise.

  45. Here’s the thing. I have a bit of an “insider’s” perspective on this, since I go to fabric stores, events, and use sewing products all the time. I don’t get paid a SINGLE CENT to blog, and wouldn’t have it any other way. I have built relationships with suppliers, vendors and clients, which are all part of my life outside of blogging. I do garment district tours and sell maps for income, and the ROI for blogging, in that sense, is quite respectable. The businesses I talk about are all places I personally love, and am free to be as honest about what makes them so great for me, and/or what makes them not-so-great. Since my daughter will now be a contributor to my blog, I suggested a few blogs for her to check out, to get a sense of what the sewing blogosphere is like… She read one that I have been reading for a long time, and she said “Wow, this one just feels like a huge advertisement. All these ads and sponsored by captions. I don’t like it.” So, if a 13 year-old is turned off by it, you know it probably isn’t a great idea.

    Personally (not mentioning any names here), I don’t like when a large fabric store offers only the fabric as compensation for your time, blogging, and creative ideas and labor. How is that fair? But, as long as there are happy takers, what harm is done, right? Not an agreement I’d make. Blogging itself isn’t really a way I’d choose to make money, but it does bring lots of opportunities, and invaluable business contacts for me in my professional life outside of the blog, so that’s how it benefits me. By the way, I also enjoy it.

    1. “Personally (not mentioning any names here), I don’t like when a large fabric store offers only the fabric as compensation for your time, blogging, and creative ideas and labor. How is that fair?”

      I think we all know who you’re talking about. I’m in complete agreement. But were you to state this to some of the participants they’d be offended. Women sometimes undermine themselves.

  46. Wow, what a lot of comments. My not so well thought out response…I know sewing bloggers have influence and the cases you mention make that clear. But it’s also very easy to cause a price spike in a vintage market as supply is limited. Sure it feels bad that some ebay seller gets an unexpected windfall on the backs of your readers but this is still small money and temporary. I can believe some fashion bloggers have successfully monetized but they’re in a bigger market and I’m sure there are still 10, 100, 1000 people who would like to turn their fashion blog into a money machine for every one who has done it. With sewing blogs, I agree the ones who are seeking to profit naturally become the least interesting and I do sometimes walk away. The tutorials that make the best pins have the least substance, etc. I do notice when there are even just a few affiliate links and or ads and the blogger does sit in a different category for me, even if I keep reading. I’m not a blogger and I do appreciate the commitment and time contributed by bloggers. But the sewing community is top heavy, there are a lot of bloggers, just looking at the comments here, I might guess I’m in the maybe 10% minority who don’t have a blog at the very least it seems there are more bloggers than non-bloggers. So if we all agree blogger should be compensated some how, who’s going to do that? me? God knows I spend too much on sewing but can my readership possibly support ten bloggers? It seems like that’s what would have to happen given how many blogs there are. Should I be trying to get compensated for the occasional unsolicited advice I leave in the comments? (I know that sounds facetious but there have been times I’ve recommend a pattern or notion in comments and I did hesitate because I was worried I’d be mistaken for a shill.)

    Ultimately, I guess I’m nostalgic for the days when sewing blogs were just extensions of pattern reviews and everyone really did seem like they were in it to share their work and connect with like minded people they couldn’t find locally. It does feel like there was more free flow of ideas and respect in those early days. I know things change and I won’t deny anyone their income but it does make things more complicated.

    Last point on affiliate links. If random person on the street asks me where I bought my shoes, I don’t think hey where’s my commission. If the same thing happens online maybe the exchange sells 100 pairs of shoes, but I still don’t expect compensation. I’m not in shoe sales. I’m certainly not a shoe manufacturer. I still think the shoe designer deserves the credit for the original compliment. Not me for buying and wearing the shoe. Why do I need a cut? How does that make me a chump? Apply the same to a sewing pattern, yes I put more time into making it up, yes my interpretation may be a selling point, but I’m OK with generating sales for the pattern and never getting any credit. I mean something made me buy the pattern in the first place, I like it, I’d like to think it was my taste for the design and not the unseen hand of the last blogger. It’s all circular, yes we all influence each other to varying degrees but, oh well, what else is new. I warned you…not well thought out.

    1. Really, really great thoughts. Thanks. I also miss the days when we “knew” everyone blogging. It’s grown. Which is amazing in it’s own ways. But, it’s definitely not a niche group anymore.

      On Wed, Jan 7, 2015 at 9:30 AM, Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

      >

      1. Older readers may remember Usenet’s alt.sewing. Some of it was archived and reachable here: http://www.faqs.org/faqs/crafts/textiles/faq/part1/

        Back in the day, the women on the internet was a very small group. Even if you didn’t sew, alt.sewing was a safe place to chat w/o men. I remember people posting Unix command syntax questions in alt.sewing so that they could get a quick answer without insults from men on other boards. I should do a Technology Tuesday posting about that….

  47. Interesting post and discussion! Personally, I understand why some folks want to generate some extra income from their blogs, and I also understand why that turns other people off. For me, blogging isn’t my job, and selling things to people DEFINITELY isn’t my job (and sales is about the last field I would ever want to work in). So, I don’t do affiliate links or ads because I don’t want to sell things to people and I want my blog to be a place where I can have fun, but don’t have a responsibility to anyone else. People often suggest that I try to generate some income from the blog, because I spend so much time blogging and because I’m underemployed right now, but just because I spend time doing something doesn’t mean it should support me (or else I would somehow be on Netflix’s payroll!).

    I’ve enjoyed blogging for Mood very much, and for me it’s a good balance of benefit and responsibility. I’ve chosen the fabric myself, and obviously didn’t pick it if I didn’t love it and want to work with it. I also don’t feel like I need to be paid beyond the free fabric- I mean, if they said, “Hey, here’s $500!”, awesome, but what exactly would they be paying me for? Honestly, I have no idea if my posts for Mood generate any sales for them at all! I don’t buy off the website and very rarely is the fabric I used available for anyone else to buy since I shop in-store. I enjoy having an excuse to try new things without any real risk (it’s not that big of a deal if I try something crazy with free fabric and don’t end up loving it) and that’s reason enough to do it, in my book. Now, if my work situation changed or the folks at Mood started giving me guidelines, the relationship might not be beneficial, but as it stands, making whatever I want once a month with free fabric is a pretty decent setup. With product and pattern reviews, I say no to the majority of them. I sometimes take free patterns and do reviews of them, but only if I actually want to sew them, and I always tell the people that I’ll review them when/if I have time, and if I don’t have the time, I don’t do it. I try to review books I pick up used that aren’t widely available when I have the time to help people decide if they’re useful, but struggle to find the time. And when I review something, whether it’s a book, a pattern, or my beloved Juki, I would just feel weird about getting a kickback in sales. It sorta feels like your credibility goes away when you’re getting a cut of the sales, even though I’m sure that almost everyone one using affiliate links actually likes the products. I’m just not comfortable doing it myself.

    1. Your perspective on the Mood deal is a good one, and you see it in a way I hadn’t considered. I actually forget that there is advertising on the bottom of my site, which I haven’t even thought about in at least a year – the checks do come for those, and I actually don’t even think of it as income anymore. Because of my relationships with vendors, I often choose fabrics that the stores refuse to charge me for. I forgot, but I guess I’m no different!!!!

      1. I think it’s different for everyone! For some people, the Mood deal might be oppressive or stressful (I can imagine it being a very different experience than mine for someone who’s a major perfectionist or who prefers to sew the same kinds of things over and over). But for me, it works, and it subsidizes an otherwise-expensive hobby.

        One of these days I should take your tour! I bet there are lots of stores that I don’t know about. 🙂

        1. You bet there are! And I always say to myself, “How would anyone even know you’re here?” when I go to some of these amazing places!!! It is seriously still word of mouth!

    2. Personally, I love sewing for Mood, I appreciate the access to fabrics that I don’t have in regional Australia – and I relish the challenge. Given my rather remote location on the other side of the globe, my commitment is only every two months so that suits my life with its fulltime work and young family commitments. I also love that Mood lets us choose our fabrics – and as a blogger I feel comfortable about that.

      1. In your case, the Mood Sewing Network makes sense. Especially since you have to contribute only every two months. But I wish Mood were transparent about details like the amount of the allowance. To be honest, I don’t take the MSN very seriously.

  48. I’ve sat and thought about this for a while..
    To keep it short (not) and simple, for me blogging isn’t work. I come from a time when blogging was plain and simple an online journal entry. Back when it was forum participation, livejournal, and when wordpress 0.7 didn’t have the 5 minute install and you spent your nights crying because you chmod a file incorrectly. It was a way to connect with people with similar interests around the world and to gain insight to their life. For me, even with sewing, that is what it is. I want to see what everyone around the world or with a 50+ mile radius is doing with their sewing. Instead of sitting down over coffee, I read about their life.

    People that come into blogging thinking they can make a job out of it or thinking that it’s so hard are plain and simple thinking to much into it. It’s something that should come organically.. For certain, or at least most certain, Style Bubble or Eadie weren’t thinking in the long run how much revenue their persona or blog would make. And web archive can be a testament to how their blog changed in a professional sense once they as a person became a brand and business. I have nothing against monetization. If you want to add affiliate links or sponsorships, thats fine. My issue is one of the reasonings for it: when something that started as a hobby because so hard, so I should feel entitled to be paid for it. When you want to become a business from something that was a hobby, remember that the people that were once readers from hobby have now become customers, that are expecting a business that is not tied to your personal woes and endeavors.

    Unless you are working for a company and your title is writer or content manager, or you own your company (legit with LLC) and writing blog entries is your business or part of it, then no blogging isn’t hard and in my honest opinion too much thought is given. Wanting to time posts, go out of your way for photography, editing, and thinking really hard about a post is just making it harder on yourself unnecessarily. If you truly enjoy doing things of that nature (and as far as writing and photography, I do) then there’s no need to complain about how blogging is hard. I was once wrapped up into thinking about how much and what days I “had” to post and realized that if I’m gone a week, that’s totally fine. My friends are still there.

    1. Yes to all this! Just because something has become a chore doesn’t mean that it’s your job or should generate income! Maybe it means that you’ve come too far away from where you started! And I totally agree re: readers turning into customers. That’s exactly what I don’t want. Honestly, my personal fulfillment in sewing comes from the community- I love getting excited about new styles/patterns/fabric because I’ve seen someone else do something awesome, and I love hearing someone say that something I made gave them the confidence to try something new. I don’t want to jeopardize the community aspects of my blogging experience for a little extra cash! And BECAUSE my blog isn’t a job, I don’t have to feel bad on days when it’s cold out and my pictures are crappy. Yes, I like good pictures, but not enough to stand outside for hours in the cold. 🙂

    2. “People that come into blogging thinking they can make a job out of it or thinking that it’s so hard are plain and simple thinking to much into it. It’s something that should come organically..”

      That’s the kind of naive (and stereotypically female) statement that makes me cringe. Especially now that when blogs are established, of course some people are going to go into it thinking they might make a business out of it or at least make a little money. Of course they are going to have to analyze why their content is needed in a marketplace crammed with sewing blogs. Examples of what some fashion blogger did in 2007 before blogs took off is not relevant.

  49. I think that veteran sewing bloggers should view themselves as ambassadors. You have created communities of sewists, fabric lovers, machine aficionados. There is genuine all-around generosity and good will created by you for your readers and supporters. It’s for these reasons that commercial interests have approached veteran bloggers.

    It appears to me that sewing bloggers are a cohort for these businesses and the bloggers should be the creators of relationships that benefit them and their audiences, supporters, and students, admirers, and more. Instead, I think that the veteran sewing bloggers should organize themselves into a cooperative so that there are blogger-friendly terms to these commercial relationships. By being pro-active, fairness and other needs of the blogger community can be woven into these relationships.

  50. IMHO, affiliate-linked blogs tend to go, as you said, B-O-R-I-N-G. I like blogs that explain techniques (Peter Lappin, you’re the master), have great stories (fitforaqueen has a silent laugh track), or are simply audacious (oona, I’m talkin’ to you). I’ve seen too many jump the shark when they try to commercialize. Then it’s all “I sewed this, then I sewed this, and then I thought about sewing this and this and this.”

    Affiliate links are fine. Just keep up the quality content, please and thank you.

    1. and i’m liiiiiiiiiistening 😉

      saturday night, reading comments and watching football! AW YEAH BABY. i agree, when a blog goes full commercial, that tends to be what it becomes…one big commercial. and i blog to get a break from that area of life! i do admire those who can use affiliate links judiciously and honestly. i think about it every time i look at my thread drawer…

      this is such a great discussion, renee!

  51. If you write a great blog that people find useful that includes tools, patterns, techniques, notions, etc, that you use, like, and want to recommend, I see no reason that you should not get paid by those sponsors whose products that are getting business from your recommendations. Nobody is compelled to buy ,and you are no more responsible for possible dissatisfacion than any other recommendation that is found elsewhere. Everybody has their own standards for satisfaction. If you write a boring blog with recommendations, people probably will stop reading and you would stop getting paid. Let’s not get all sanctimonius here about getting paid for good ideas and creativity (otherwise called art).

  52. I am grateful to the sewing blog community because I believe it has played a role in the revitalization of the home sewing industry. After working at a fabric store that was part of a regional chain, I left with the impression that there’s not a huge profit margin in the industry. That’s why the chain fabric stores are filled with so much stuff that doesn’t pertain to sewing and why department stores have all dropped their fabric departments. I personally don’t care if a sewing blogger accepts compensation or not. I’m just not sure the home sewing industry has the same resources to compensate as others, i.e. fashion.

  53. Wow. So many responses, and so much to think about with all of them. My hubby is always asking me how I can make money from blogging or sewing, but to be honest, I don’t want to make money. I don’t want it to be work. I find when I sew something and am being paid, all the enjoyment is gone for me. I feel pressured to bring a performance. I think I’d feel the same about blogging.

  54. Hope I am not too late. I will make 3 quick points:
    1. If you accept compensation for writing about a product (even if it’s after the fact), some people will not believe you to be objective (even if you know you are).
    2. If I were an advertiser, I would buy ads along the side of the page, not related to individual posts. I would buy them on the sites that get the most traffic.
    3. I have read most of the comments here and haven’t seen anybody offering to pay for this blogger content they say they value so much. Why is that?

    1. Good points. My response to your point 3:

      –When visitors are accustomed to receiving information for free, an expectation is created. This is a general problem of the web. If you want to charge for content, you usually have to charge at the beginning and persuade readers that you are offering something exceptional.

      –I really don’t mean this as an insult, but I don’t value the content enough to pay for it. I enjoy seeing what nonprofessionals are doing and picking up tips about currently popular patterns, supplies, etc., but I get much more out of classes taught or materials written by professionals. Having said that, I feel as if I know certain bloggers without having met them, so closely have I followed their stories over the years. I have a fondness for some bloggers, like Renee.

  55. Not a blogger but I just want to add- I think part of the reason very few sewing bloggers get compensation is because some/most of the industry doesn’t listen to it’s customers. Machine manufacturers and pattern companies have heard our complaints for years- and nothing has changed. We have complained about pattern sizing, ugly designs, outdated instructions and more- and the industry hasn’t fixed any of it. (Remember Sham’s letter to Vogue Patterns?) We pay much more for our sewing machines than we do for our laptops, software and cell phones- similar technology. Yet the customer support we get from machine manufacturers is sadly lacking. Try getting a machine repaired for free when it’s still under warranty – the charge is automatic and the fault is always yours. Why can’t I get online and ask the manufacturer a question about my sewing machine? I can do that for my phone,my laptop and my software. Why would the sewing industry compensate anyone when they don’t value our opinions? As a group, we need to be more assertive and find a way to have power in the market. We are taken for granted. Prices keep rising but changes we want never materialize in the products we use. Done with my rant. Thanks for listening.

  56. This is ‘not a well thought out’ response despite having thought about it for days, I have so many thoughts – and in some ways it has clarified to me why I blog… for personal creative reasons – and that will continue.
    I’ve really enjoyed this post & comments. It’s a complex issue. Sewing is multi-faceted, so are blogs, readers, blog content and blogger motivations.
    I wonder if some of this discussion, which can become quite heated, is in part due to the clash of a creative and a commercial worlds. As Sallie mentioned, creative industries are often sorely undervalued. I don’t see myself as an artist – but I think it’s an interesting parallel.
    I started blogging because I knew no one who sewed so I blogged, I didn’t feel so isolated. That was nearly three years ago – a lot has changed but my motivation hasn’t. I sew for the joy of it. I have no intention of making money from my blog or making a career of it. It’s not a holier-than-thou stance, it’s just not why I blog. And I have no with anyone who successfully creates a career or income from their blogs – each to their own. I just like to sew and experiment – my appetite seems endless.
    It’s not that I undervalue my contribution… I don’t want to pressure to sell goods for others, sew something or use a product that’s not ‘me’.
    I link to products and patterns I’ve used, disclose when they have been supplied to me. I talk about what I like about the pattern, why (or not) I like it on me, why I chose my fabric etc etc – it’s about my experience. I don’t want to ‘close the deal’ or be responsible for that. I simply want to sew what interests me.
    I’ve received fabric, I’ve reviewed and pattern tested for some… only things that are of interest to me or reflect my style. I acknowledge that there is ‘influence’, of course there is, I always disclose the source of my patterns or fabric in my posts and I’m aware of the potential benefit to the supplier – and I think if bloggers are disclosing that information, readers are aware as well and make up their own minds. I just talk about my experience.
    The ‘Also see’ links are the most clicked upon links in any of my posts – bloggers who have also made the pattern or blogger/designer online tutorials – I think that says a great deal about readers and what interests/motivates them. The community. The multiplicity of interpretations and opinions out there.
    It’s the growing community influence that fascinates me as a blogger – the potential influence on designers and companies to deliver products and services we seek as consumers. Better value, more variation, better quality stock, more inspiration and so on, what we can do as a community.
    I don’t think a blogger has to think ‘what’s in it for me’ or ‘what’s my $$ value’ to value themselves or their contribution to the industry – we need all sorts of bloggers to maintain a balance.

  57. Just one last point… does a recommendation = advertising?
    Is the intention of each the same?
    In the case of many blog posts I would say they are very different things.

  58. Is it possible to add a PayPal or similar button on a blog to receive $ from readers? Sometimes folks may want to give just because you helped them with information in a blog post.”Dang, I wish that I could pay her for telling me that.”

    One of the blogs that I follow is loaded with links to a fabric store (not mentioned here yet) and other companies. She does not participate in blog hops or comment on other blogs.

    She provides awesome tutorials that are free and some you pay. I have paid for some and they are great because she offers real tips outside of the pattern instructions. Her videos are clear and professional.

    I took an in person sewing course that was about $200. The teacher started off by telling the class that she would not offer help on pattern adjustments outside of taking seams in or out. She recommended that folks use a different pattern from the class description if they were plus size.

    There were a bunch of wadders and incomplete skirts at the end of the multi-day class.

    Now back to the blogger with tutorials and advertising. She has a free tutorial using the same plus size pattern that was recommended in my $200 class. I was able to complete a lined skirt with an invisible zipper and waistband (with added length) following her free tutorial in my house on my machine.

    1. I don’t know what to think about your class without knowing how many hours of instruction there were, the class size, and the student expectations. I do know that it can take several hours to make complex changes to a pattern, so it may be the instructor was giving a suggestion that would help people use their time effectively. $200 for a multi-day private class isn’t expensive. I’m not plus sized and I’ve spent a fair amount of money with a private teacher fitting a standard pattern. Sometimes I think home sewers are unrealistic.

  59. I think that this was a very interesting post and subsequent topic. As a long time sewist and reader of blogs, but only a newish blogger, I find this topic fascinating. I have seen blogs that I love go downhill because they’ve tried to capitalize on their success, I could also say that about an indie pattern brand as well. I understand that people need to make livings, but you should take quality control into account. This is seen with small companies who become too big too quickly. I don’t see myself ever making money from my blog, nor do I really want to.

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