This is a rare kind of post, but think of it as a State of the Laurel Home Address.
I am absolutely stupefied (in a good way) by the thousands (!) of responses I received from the survey I sent out via email Monday evening. (you can access it there, if you missed it.) Over 3,200 individuals have responded and well over 1,200 comments! And so incredibly kind. I am overwhelmed! (the good kind)
Many questions came up; therefore, I would like to explain some things that are going on in the design bloggers world and with me.
But first of all…
Let me assure many of you that I have absolutely NO PLANS WHATSOEVER to go all rogue on you!
Of course, there’s no way to please everyone and I’m not trying to. My philosophy is always, if you enjoy the blog, I’m delighted to have you join us in my digital design salon. If you don’t like it, please don’t read it or complain. Don’t pass go; just unsubscribe. Nobody is holding you hostage.
Oh, Laurel…stop yacking! What is the shameful way that design bloggers make money? Common’ spill the dirt!!! hehehe
Hang on please… I’m getting there, including how I make money.
99% of you are overwhelmingly kind and positive– I am so grateful.
However, there are a number of replies which imply that they don’t understand how things work in the blogging world and they think that I am getting “too commercial.”
And while the vast majority of you get it, and are immensely supportive, I do know that it’s a mystery to many people how all of this works and how design bloggers make money.
Please come a little closer…
Oh common… I took a shower; I put on deodorant!
I’ve got to share a secret with you.
EVERY BLOG IN THE ENTIRE CYBERVERSE EXISTS TO MAKE MONEY!!!
In one way or another.
Ways design bloggers use their blogs for financial gain include:
- getting more clients
- licensing products
- speaking gigs
- sponsorships and brand partnerships
- book deals
Specific Revenue Streams Used By Design Bloggers
- affiliate links
- blog sponsorships
- physical products
- digital products (e-books
Some of you think that by selling products or placing ads that a blogger is “selling out.”
There is a huge difference between selling and selling out. Selling is presenting options that will benefit the reader and selling out is screwing them over.
Selling out is not in me.
However… I’m not going to pussyfoot around.
I am here to make money and lots and lots of it.
But that money is never to come flowing forth at anyone’s expense. NEVER. I wouldn’t want someone doing that to me. That doesn’t mean that you have to like it. But this blog is my livelihood now. It is free to read, but it needs to be subsidized somehow and I have tried to do it in the most discrete, unobtrusive way possible.
But again, if you don’t like it, please quietly let yourself out the back door and lock it behind you.
A few people talked about how turned off they get with affiliate marketing.
If that is the thinking, then it seems that there is a misunderstanding about how affiliate marketing works and I’d like to clear that up.
Affiliate marketing is a win-win situation for all. The vendor, blogger AND consumer.
If you don’t know what affiliate marketing is, here’s a brief explanation.
A blogger writes about a product and puts a link (that has a tracking code) for that product sold online, so that IF anyone is interested, they can purchase that product– or something else from the same vendor.
Some links, the blogger makes a few cents per click and some the blogger makes a small commission, but only if a sale is made. There is no extra expense to the end user.
The purchase is sold directly from the vendor. This is retail we’re talking about. If you are a designer, a lot of these products are available to you at wholesale prices or at least for a greater discount. And that’s where Laurel’s Rolodex can help– a lot. But you have to be in the design trade.
If you are a regular consumer, the sources linked here are as direct as you can get.
But here’s another important point that some don’t realize.
This commission paid to the blogger is a form of advertising often used to replace very expensive traditional advertising such as TV ads, direct mail, catalogs, magazines, etc.
And the price of the merchandise is NOT HIGHER. No, if anything it’s the reverse. The vendor ONLY pays an advertising fee if a sale is made. I think that this is the most brilliant idea ever!
Think of it as a sort of a toll road for brands.
I am exceedingly proud of the work I do and the service I’m providing. In fact, it is the opposite of shameful.
There is absolutely no obligation to click on a link or buy anything, but if you’re going to buy it anyway and you want to support this blog, then how can that be a bad thing? (rhetorical question.)
If you feel jealous that I’ve somehow hit “easy street,” please consider rethinking that.
There is nothing easy about what I’m doing. I love it, but it’s the hardest I’ve ever worked in my entire life.
And I am not making a killing— yet. ;] A good living yes, but not a fortune. Still… I have my
outrageous fantasies dreams. You can read about them here.
Here’s another mind blowing factoid.
My annual expenses related to keeping this blog afloat were nearly $20,000.00 for 2016!!! And that number is going to be larger in 2017 because I had to upgrade my hosting plan and I need to hire more freelance help. You know those ads you see for $3.99.00/ month web hosting? Well, mine is $165.00/month. In fact, I need to have two servers and Blue Host that I highly recommend is one of them. The other one, is only if you have hundreds of thousands of page views a month.
More Stuff That Came Up in the Survey
You will NEVER see a sleazy, annoying google ad (some which cover up the post!) on this blog like they run in the New York Times. :/
errrmmmm… see anything familiar? haha! (not Sean Spicer. Look to the right)
I love it when they show me stuff that I’ve been talking about on the blog!
Re: sponsored posts.
In five years, I’ve done two. Two sponsored posts. Both for terrific products. (Metrie and My Paint Saint) Oh, I’m asked. I’m asked all the time if I’ll write about this or link to that and I say NO because it’s not a company that I want to be associated with. And I will not write about something I don’t love.
Integrity is very important to me.
Every product I link to, I ask myself the question. Would I buy this? Would I buy it for a client? If the answer is anything but a resounding YES, it won’t appear.
There are now many readers in Canada and all over the world, but 88% of my readers are from the USA. There are dozens of requests for products you can more easily get, elsewhere, but unfortunately, that’s not going to be possible except in rare situations.
One of my favorite affiliate networks is Amazon.
Oh my. My wonderful webgeek Eileen Lonergan told me that I was nuts for not being on there a while back and she was right. I just couldn’t focus on it until a few months ago. But it’s so snot-freezing brilliant, it’s just not funny. First of all, you all shop there. And if per chance you don’t, you are missing out on the best deals on the interwebs– and they sell EVERYTHING.
But here’s what’s really great. If you click on an Amazon link, say here, for a book or a ceiling fan and then you remember that you need a case of condoms (which you need to buy online because you don’t want your local pharmacist to know that you’re having sex), Laurel makes a couple of dollars. Isn’t that cool?
The Main Way I Make Money.
The main way I make money is of course, through my products. They are probably one of the most crazy wonderful things I’ve ever done in my entire 61 years. I’m incredibly grateful to the people (and you know who you are) who kicked my butt to produce them. And I’m incredibly grateful to those of you who are buying! And if you can’t, don’t want to, think for some reason that you don’t need them… that is absolutely fine too!
Look, I hope that the non-believers are starting to understand what the deal is here. But if not, it’s like this.
A lot of you go to a house of worship. Right? God’s work. Right? Does the clergyman– the direct link to God work for free?
NO. He does not. Is he selling out because he needs to feed his family? No, of course not!
And if his name is Joel Osteen, he’s a multi-millionaire living in a 17,000 sq ft. mansion that costs $10,500,000.00. And it’s all from doing God’s work! And God bless him for that! Love Joel. I think that he deserves every penny because his message undoubtedly helps a lot of people.
Some more info regarding the survey.
You are not going to ever see anything like this on laurel home. (except in this post as parody) :]
A pair of brand spanking new Levis jeans for only $90 bucks from Shopbop that would be rejected by Goodwill. haha! Uhhh… That is not just ripped at the knee.
It looks like her jeans were attacked by a couple of denim-eating Tazmanian Devils.
Has the world gone barking mad?
The upshot is that your feedback is very useful in helping me create the best content that will benefit the largest numbers of people. Of course, I can’t please everyone. One respondent wants me to include only high-end furnishings. It is EASY to put a room together if you have a ton of money! Just hire Mark Sikes. Okay? :]
But many more of you say that the price point is too high! Oh my. I hear you. I do. Furniture is EXPENSIVE! But some is less so than others and I am always trying to include as much as I can that’s still of reasonable quality. And there will always be some higher-end products.
But what I think I will do is make a new page or pages that will include shopping sources, hot tips, products I love, etc.
If interested, you can check it out. I’ll shout it out when there’s something new to see– most likely at the end of a blog post. If not interested, then you can ignore it. 80% of you love the idea of seeing this information.
Some of you had requests for various topics that have been covered, like window treatments for example. If you are looking for a particular topic, you can use the search box in the sidebar, right under my little bio on any blog page. I use mine all the time. If you still can’t find something, please write me. Of course, I am open to your ideas. But if it’s something too obscure it most likely won’t come up on the blog.
Forget the fashion and beauty tips.
It is only a passing fluffy notion thrown out there. The results are a pretty even mix. But only 30% love the idea. While that’s still a large number, it’s not worth it to alienate huge groups of loyal followers.
However, I just have to say that I swear by this stuff. I mean, I’ve been using if for at least 5 years and it has made a big, big difference in my skin– for the better. I use it during the day too. It’s very light, no fragrance and not greasy, but leaves my skin with a youthful glow. I’m an idiot. I’ve been getting it from the pharmacy and I know that I’m paying double the price available on Amazon!
Here ya go. This is sitting on my vintage beat up leather-topped nightstand. I got the two of them for a hundred bucks 18 years ago.
Now, here’s something that totally shocked me.
Okay, shock is a little strong. But for the home maintenance category, 78% of you fell in the categories that needed help and/or felt it was hopeless. In fact, the hopeless category contained nearly half of you!
22% of you are neatfreaks. No gloating please. It’s just a different brain. God made some of us neatfreaks and some of us
slobs errr…curators of stuff. Curators can learn better habits, but it takes time and due diligence.
Over 7% of you LIKE your clutter! Good for you! I like a person who’s not afraid to buck the so-called “ideal.”
42% Don’t like living like that but feel it’s hopeless.
Nearly 24% live in fear of divorce papers. hmmmm… never mind.
And about 5% of you said that the divorce papers already came and went.
And that’s pretty much it. Again, if you missed the survey, it was sent out to the entire email list on Monday evening or you can access it here. It is 100% anonymous.
I still can’t believe that all of this happened to me. I feel like the luckiest girl on earth!
And believe me when I tell you that it wasn’t that long ago when I was phenomenally stuck, jealous of other people and quite a miserable cow.
But I never lost faith. So please don’t get discouraged if things aren’t happening for you just yet. Sometimes they have to get really bad before they can get better. And if I could turn it around, anyone can!
Guys, folks, friends, wonderful people, I love you all dearly and appreciate you more than I can possibly say!
PS: If you own a Laurel’s Rolodex and/or a Paint Collection, you will be receiving a free gift in a few weeks. It’s my way of saying thanks. And tomorrow is the one year anniversary of the Laurel Home Paint Collection! It’s been a fabulous year!
Addendum: There was a request to see a graphic I made for the Design Bloggers Conference Talk I did last March. I told the bloggers that they need to be willing to take risks— to go out on that proverbial limb.
But my favorite graphic I made for the talk is when I talked about the fact that a lot of bloggers aren’t taking their readers into consideration and there’s too much emphasis on them. Some yes, but too much can turn some off.
There’s an old platitude that Content is King. Fair enough… But it’s more than that.
Your reader is Queen.