So, the question of bookbloggers getting paid seems to be coming up quite a lot recently and I wanted to weigh in and plays Devil’s advocate for a short while (get your pitchforks ready!). This is more of a think piece and I’m looking to get some real feedback on it. We all know, as bookbloggers, that this is a totally divisive opinion, and that’s why I’m aiming to add some balance to the argument.
Other niches v Bookblogging
First of all, I think it’s super important we take a look at other blog niches and how much they earn. I’ll focus on the top 5 niches, they are;
- Personal Finance
The Blog Millionaire (Brandon Gaille) undertook a huge research project which analysed blogging niches and their median monthly income. You can check it out here. Below is a breakdown of what these blogs earn per month on average;
- Lifestyle – $5,199
- Parenting/Mommy – $5,150
- Personal Finance – $9,100
- Food – $9,169
- Travel – $5,000
How much do bookbloggers earn? Great question. And the truth is, I don’t know. Apparently it’s not enough for anyone to take nay real interest in it. does that tell you all you need to know? What I can guarantee you is it’s nowhere near even the lowest median income from the niches outlined above. Why is that?
Why it’s hard for bookbloggers to earn money from their site
Well, it may be due to the price of the product they’re reviewing i.e. books. Books nowadays are super super cheap and so any commission earned from them is going to be minimal. We’ve all seen a horde of books on Amazon selling for 99p/c. If a bookblogger earns 10% commission on that, it’s only around 10p/c per sale. You’d have to have a truck load of people buying through your unique link to actually make any real money. Ads are a good way to go and if you’re getting mountains of traffic then a bookblogger could do ok. Handling images and media with the utmost care is a primary focus of the new editor. Hopefully, you’ll find aspects of adding captions or going full-width with your pictures much easier and robust than before.
Bookblog community backlash
There is an awesome post written by Drew over at the Tattooed Book Geek about the dilemma of bookbloggers asking for money to write a paid review. Also, why not check out the comments on Drew’s post, there are some very strong opinions on there and it sums up the general feeling of bookbloggers. There is a strong feeling amongst other bookbloggers that it is ‘unethical’ to write a review on a book if you’ve bene paid for it. I can certainly see that side of the argument. After all, as bookbloggers, aren’t we supposed to be objective when reviewing books? How can we remain unbiased if we are getting paid for a review? These are great questions and I think they can be answered.
I think there’s a feeling among bookbloggers that we are the most ethical of niches. I beg to differ. I read a bunch of blogs form a whole variety of niches, and I find them to be as ethical as then next niche. It isn’t the niche that’s ethical, it’s the blogger themselves. Hey, aren’t we all individuals? Damn straight we are, so why paint all bloggers with the same brush attached simply because of their niche? You’re right, we shouldn’t. Whether or not a bookblogger is able to write a negative review despite being paid is certainly up for debate. BUT. May I refer you to the whole “we’re all individuals” spiel above? Yeah, I can. Would I feel comfortable writing a negative review about a book despite the fact I’d been paid for it? Bet your ass I will! Personally, I don’t post negative reviews, even if i didn’t like the book. I prefer to take a strengths-based approach. I always keep in mind that what I’m reading is someone’s baby, and it’s taken countless hours to create this. Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean that no-one else will. There’s a reader for every book! I would trust the bookbloggers I follow to give me the low-down on a book regardless of whether they’ve been paid to post it or not.
Other niches such as beauty bloggers get paid for reviews so why isn’t there an issue with their credibility/objectivity?
This seems to be a huge issue in the bookblogger community and it made me take a look at all of the beauty vloggers my wife watches. They are paid to promote and review products and they’ve built faithful audiences while they do it. Sure, some will call into question their objectivity. But their recommendations are tied into their credibility and, therefore, their success. So why can’t a bookblogger get paid to write a review on a book, say it’s either great or not-so great, without feeling as though they’ve sold their soul to the devil?
How long it takes to read and review a book – why shouldn’t we get reimbursed?
I’ll use my personal example here. I work 40+ hours a week in a highly stressful job. I then come home and read a book. It takes me anywhere between 5-10 days to read a book (based on 1-2 hours reading per night). That’s mainly because I have a relationship to contribute to and other hobbies. It then takes me around 2 hours to write the review. Plus an extra 30 minutes for images and editing. Plus another 15 minutes for SEO. Plus another 20 minutes to post to Amazon, Goodreads, and promotion for the author. THat’s around 13 hours of work. yeah sure, I like reading most fo the books I buy/get given. But it’s still commands the hours a part-time job would. So why on earth can’t I get reimbursed for that? I look at other blog niches and they can charge for reviewing products. It seems a bit unfair right? There are some caveats though… Unless you’re J K Rowling or Stephen King, there isn’t a lot of money in writing books. Bookbloggers provide a great service for new, independent, and self-published authors. They provide free promotion and marketing for an author. I personally love that part of bookblogging and it’s what keep me going. But for other bookbloggers, they’d like to be recompensed for their precious time. And I get it. After all, I work damn hard on my blog, and I love writing about books. It’s why I started blogging to begin with.
When discussing this subject, I know there’ll be bloggers on both sides. So, with that in mind, see the extremely poignant quote below;
Be Impeccable With Your Word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love. Don Miguel Ruiz
To summarise, I think there’s a great deal of logic on both sides of the argument here. I get the argument about being ‘objective’, I really do. I can also see why many do choose to charge for their reviews; they take a good chunk of time if you’re doing them properly. Other niches of bogging manage to make a good amount of money but unfortunately bookbloggers don’t. One thing I am willing to say though, is this; the judgement passed on those bookbloggers that do choose to charge for reviews needs to stop. Aren’t we all preaching individuality and acceptance within the blogging community? I certainly think we are, and that’s a major reason why I love the community. We need to remember to get off our high horses every once in a while. The air of superiority with some bloggers is cloying. I haven’t got time for that. None of should have. So, why shouldn’t bookbloggers make money from reviews? Because of the law? No. It’s because of other people’s opinions. That’s sad. While other niches stroll ahead and forge careers as ‘influencers’, bookbloggers will have to wait a little while for the general feeling to calm down. Until then, why not have a little bit of fun? SHOW ME THE MONEY!
I hope this post has helped to spark some opinions and I’m dying to hear them. What are your thoughts? Thanks for reading!