Should I Monetize?

March 2, 2012


Full disclosure: I am receiving a stipend for writing this blog entry. Not on the topic itself, but just for using one of the links you see below. However, it is still an interesting subject, one I have wanted to put out to the blogging community for a while.

When I first started my Japanese blog, Keeping Pace in Japan, it looked nothing like it does now. In fact, I didn’t have too many aspirations at all concerning the material; it was just my thoughts about living in Japan and teaching English. As time went on and I got a little more creative, I started tweaking with the design and adding graphics. Eventually the consistency and quality of writing reached such a level that I noticed I had a significant ripple in the blogosphere of expats in Japan: people emailed me asking for advice, spread my stories with social media.

Then two things happened, and I’ll be honest, I’m too lazy to check up on the emails to see what order they happened in. I received an offer from New Balance to review a pair of their ultralight shoes in exchange for a pair, and someone in Tokyo emailed me asking if I could incorporate permanent links on my site for a few Japanese companies.

I was on a teacher’s salary, and going through it without fail every month with expenses like travel and food. What do you think I said? Send the shoes, and I’ll add the links. I assumed it would only get better from there, with offers of sponsored travel (hotels and flights covered) to exotic destinations in exchange for a simple article. Isn’t that what every travel blogger dreams about?

I did hesitate a little, because I didn’t really like the idea of selling out: giving my blog content over to the highest bidder. But there were only two offers out there, and both consistent with the subject matter of Keeping Pace in Japan: running and Japan. So why not? I can understand the need for full disclosure, as people surfing the web for the best travel destinations might stumble across my blog and think “Wow! New Balance ultralights! Why would he give them such a shining review?? Oh…”

Sadly, I still haven’t exactly decided where I stand on monetizing my new site, Once A Traveler. I’m certainly not going to turn down press trips, but I am desperate enough for cash that I might be tempted by the email promising a couple hundred dollars for very little work, i.e. just posting a link. The problem I now face is the links they want me to promote have nothing to do travel or running.

A link in exchange for cold hard cash. Let the free market decide. I might have compunctions over where this will eventually lead, but I can’t imagine any kind of sponsorship would result in a decrease in readership. The question is, as every artist who has ever existed has had to face at some point: when will I value revenue over substance? When will I be so concerned about how an entry appears to potential buyers that I forget why I started blogging in the first place.

It was never about money. For me, now and always, it is always running and travel. Read on, my friends. More will follow.

e simply ask that you write a new blog post on your site – it can be about anything. Once you have written the new post/article you just need to find a section/word in the content and then link it to

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2 Responses to Should I Monetize?

  1. Steve Miller on March 2, 2012 at 10:14 am

    I really don’t understand why this is such an issue for bloggers. If one is trying to establish the site as a business, then recruiting advertising partners makes sense – as does disclosing them. However, the notion that one sells out simply because they accept payment for a service provided (writing a post or making a video) is something I strongly disagree with. Sure, one is a sellout if the money buys a favorable review, but if the creative control remains with the content generator and the article reflects their opinion then, to me, that is no different than accepting cash to create a piece for another publication. The only difference is where it shows up.

  2. […] rest is here: Should I Monetize? | Once A Traveler Another Travel TipsTwitter Tips for Travel Bloggers | – Award WebWriting a […]

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