From the category archives:

Making Money

Ducksnorts the book

by Bill Ferris on January 10, 2006 · 0 comments

in Blogs to Books,Making Money

Geoff Young has compiled a book highlighting the 2005 Padres season. Geoff is providing the book free of charge. However, donations are probably greatly appreciated.

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Can there be too many ads?

by Bill Ferris on December 31, 2005 · 0 comments

in Making Money

While I won’t pretend to speak for every sports blogger, I think it safe to assume that the vast majority started their sites without even considering the possiblity of making money from it.  Because sports are a labor of love for many, the blogs begin as an extension of that love.  But then something happens along the way, either a ticket broker contacts you, or maybe you see Adsense of Chitika ads somewhere and you start to consider making a couple bucks from your site.

For me, I resisted selling ads up until this year.  Once I got past my bouts with altruism about providing content for free, my next debate was how much advertising to include?  How invasive should it be?

If you check the the Adsense heat map it becomes evident that the best ad positions are those place where you may not want to place ads.  They are key areas in your navigation, or in the midst of your content.  Nobody wants to offend their regular readers by making ads too prevalent, but at the same time it is hard to have success if your ads aren’t visible at all.

For many I imagine it comes down to how comfortable the blogger is with the concept of “blog as business” versus “blog as love.” Over the last several months I’ve been transitioning more towards “blog as business.”  Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t be doing any blogging if I didn’t enjoy it.  But I’m becoming much more comfortable with the idea of actively purusing making money from my efforts.  In fact that was one of the drivers for moving from Blogger to WordPress.  If it was only about generating content, I could have stayed on Blogger forever.

In terms of not offending regular readers, there are a couple ways to deal with it.  The first, and most obvious is to ask?  During a recent redesign I asked my readers if they had a problem with ads.  I didn’t receive a single complaint and several readers encouraged ads.  Now this doesn’t mean I didn’t offend anyone, just that nobody wanted to voice it.

Another option is to only show ads to new visitors, or visitors coming from search engines.  Performancing has had a couple excellent posts about using some built in functions to see information about your visitor and decide whether or not to serve the ad.

Where do you fall on the spectrum?  Do you have qualms about placing too many ads? Are there certain revenue models that you don’t pursue because you don’t like the appearance or the message it sends?  Am I the only one that worries about this?

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Will Carroll has a post about the baseball blogosphere. I wont’ try to characterize the post in a single sentence because it, and the ensuing comments hit a number of issues. However one of the elements that at least got my wheels turning was in defining quality and success in a blog/blogger.

First in terms of defining success Will points out that all bloggers are looking for feedback. That feedback could be in terms of visits, comments, money, and praise. I’d also include additional opportunities as another feedback component, but I like the definition as a starting point. At this point in terms of defining success it becomes a matter of magnitude. Caroll points out that with the exception of David Pinto, nobody is making a living blogging about baseball. Also, he notes that no blogs have the followship that mainstream media has. Again, I can’t argue with the assertion. However, I’m not sure that the lack of the above means blogs aren’t succeeding. As a blogger, I’m satisified that several hundred people care enough about what I think to visit on a regular basis. I consider it a success that the voice of the Detroit Tigers lists my blog among his regular reads. I understand that I probably won’t make a career out of this, but I’m satisfied considering this is a hobby and a passion. The income is just a bonus.
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Paying for blogs

by Bill Ferris on December 16, 2005 · 0 comments

in Blogs & Journalism,Making Money

Deadspin linked to information about a potential paid-subscription area of the Boston Globe. The Globe’s considering monetizing it’s sports content by putting their top columnists in a paid area. In addition to the columnists there would be other features. Amongst the proposed features are blogs from players and managers. Which raises the question, would you pay for a sports blog.

Perfomancing took a brief look at this issue a couple weeks ago and found a tech blog that appeared to be successful offering paid subscriptions to the archives. They identified 3 elements that contributed to it’s success:

  • Scarcity of Information on the topic
  • Business Focus
  • Information contributes to profitability

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Sponsored Links and No Follow

by Bill Ferris on December 13, 2005 · 0 comments

in Making Money

There’s a debate going on about selling text links and the use of the rel=”No Follow” attribute. I have to admit that I was oblivious to this issue until reading this article. Apparently Google frowns on selling links because it hampers the usefulness of search results. Google has taken steps to combat this with their algorithms. The end results is that the selling site isn’t penalized from a search perspective, but they lose the abiliity to pass on their page ranks.

Now Google doesn’t discourage advertising. But it doesn’t want people to sell the equivalent of popularity. The preferred method is to use rel=no follow in your link, which prevents the search engines from following the link when they crawl the site.
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Chitika Speeding Up Reporting?

by Bill Ferris on December 12, 2005 · 0 comments

in Making Money

One of the areas where Adsense has an edge over Chitika (*aff link) is in reporting. While Adsense offers nearly real time reporting, Chitika’s reports are typically generated the next afternoon (noon-3pm ET). I was surprised when I logged in at 8:00am ET this morning to see that the previous days numbers were already updated. There’s no mention of changes on their blog, so I don’t know if this is a fluke.

Now if only they could do something about the auditing process.

*This is an affiliate link. If you sign up using this link I will be paid 10% of what you make for a year. This will not effect your earnings.

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Shopping Season & Referrals

by Bill Ferris on December 9, 2005 · 0 comments

in Making Money

Retailers around the world are capitalizing on the retail season. Sports bloggers have a chance to make some additional money as well. By using an affiliate program, and some timely recommendations there is opportunity to supplement your blogging income. With the holiday season upon us, a post suggesting gift ideas related to your topic or team might be appreciated by your readers.
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Accounting for Bloggers

by Bill Ferris on December 7, 2005 · 15 comments

in Interviews,Making Money

With the year coming to a close, those bloggers who earn revenue from their sites may want to think about tax implications. Brian Borawski, who writes the business pieces for the Hardball Times as well as his own blog (Tigerblog), is an accountant by day. Brian generously agreed to answer some questions related to blogging income and taxes.

Before we get started, it is important to emphasize the following:
The topics in this column are for informational purposes only. It is imperative that you consult with your tax advisor with regard to your unique situation before implementing anything found in this column.

BaseBlogging: What income do bloggers have to report?

Brian: Technically, anything they receive should be considered income for tax purposes, no matter how small. Whether it’s $10 or $10,000, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers it income and it should be reported on your tax return.

BaseBlogging: What are the business structures that bloggers should consider?

Brian:The easiest structure is a sole proprietorship, and in this event they basically do nothing. All of their income and expenses are reported on Schedule C of their Form 1040. This is probably the recommended version if the blogger is making a small amount of money from their blog. Once you get into the thousands of dollars and especially if you have a network or several people writing for you, it might be time to put something a little more formal into place.

One option is a Limited Liability Company (LLC) and these have become pretty popular. They’re less administratively burdensome then a corporation (which we’ll get too) and they’re usually easier to set up. A single member LLC would be set up if there’s only a single/owner member while a multi-member LLC would be set up if there’s more then one owner.

A single member LLC is taxed the same as if you were a sole proprietorship and all of the income and deductions are reported on Schedule C of your Form 1040. A multi-member LLC is required to file the same return that partnership would, Form 1065, with the income and expenses eventually “flowing” to Schedule E of their Form 1040.

Another option would be to incorporate. While there are distinct benefits to incorporating, this is the most administratively burdensome of available entities. This form of entity would be preferred if you have a large network of writers that write, but only a small number of owners. One of the burdens of a corporation is that the owners have to be on the payroll, so if you have a corporation owned by one person, they’d have to go through the process of keeping payroll records and filing payroll tax returns with the IRS and their respective state. Another burden is that the corporation needs a formal board of directors, which requires board meetings and minutes from those meetings. Some states let you have a one person (usually the owner) board, so that makes it somewhat easier.

There are two types of corporations as well. The S Corporation is pretty popular because you avoid double taxation on the income of the corporation because it doesn’t pay an entity level tax. So similar to a partnership, the income gets recorded on your Form 1040 and is taxed at your own marginal tax rate. However, to qualify as an S Corporation, you have to make a proper and timely election.

The C Corporation has some distinct benefits as well, although it has its own pitfalls. A C Corporation pays an entity level tax so the corporation has to actually cut a check to the IRS (assuming it makes money). One nice thing is the first $50,000 in net income is taxes at 15%, so if you’re in the 25% tax bracket on your Form 1040, there’s some savings there. The problem is, if you pull the money out as a dividend, you’re tax again so this might no make as much sense if you’re basically going to funnel all of the money from your corporation into your personal finances.

The other thing to keep in mind is to respect the entity. If you have an LLC or a corporation, you’ll need to set up a separate bank account and the business’ funds should not be commingled with your personal funds.
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Chitika Audit Backlash

by Bill Ferris on December 1, 2005 · 1 comment

in Making Money

Chitika just completed the audit of October revenue and publishers are quite upset. Jensense reports that many publishers saw their earnings reduced by half, or more in some cases. Chitika, which was surrounded by positive buzz early on has had a rough couple of weeks. In addition to the audit uproar, publishers were already frustrated when Chitika changed the ad layout to reduce “curiosity clicks.”

Unfortunately I can’t report on how I was effected by the audit. I only implemented eMinimalls on the last day of the October (and didn’t have any clicks that day). While I was quite happy with Chitika’s performance early on, I’ve become discouraged – at least on my Tiger site. In addition to the reduction in clicks due to the ad layout changes, I’ve already mentioned that I was having trouble with finding suitable products. While the relevancy issue has improved slightly, the clicks and earnings per click already had me discouraged and the auditing news doesn’t help. [click to continue…]

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The Best of Dodger Thoughts

by Bill Ferris on November 28, 2005 · 0 comments

in Blog News,Blogs to Books,Making Money

Jon Weisman, the excellent writer of Dodger Thoughts has compiled the highlights from his 4 seasons of blogging into a book. The Best of Dodger Thoughts is 325 pages long, and in addition contains 30 pages of reader comments.

As Jon points out:

Besides providing immediate enjoyment for you this offseason, The Best of Dodger Thoughts will also have long-term worth as a historical resource. It is a you-are-there record of an important chapter in Dodger history, and also a document of an important chapter in sportswriting history – the first printed compendium of blog coverage of the Dodgers. It will only become more valuable as time passes. For both longtime readers of the website and those who have never seen it, The Best of Dodger Thoughts will be well worth owning.

The book is self-published and can be purchased here for 24.99.

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