Doing What I Love (For A Living)

Blogging as a business...from hobby to livelihood. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Once upon a time…

I began blogging in 2007, because I couldn’t find any style blogs or websites that focused on women over 50. (How things have changed since, and for the better!) Starting a blog was easy; I opened up a free Blogger (blogspot) account, picked a template, and started writing. And then kept going.

In 2012, I went to log on one morning only to get an error “this website does not exist.” WHAAAAAA???? 😱 I had no tech support, no “help desk” to go to. Blogger is a G**gle-owned platform, and I could find no resource or contact to learn what had happened or why. Five years of work had vanished just like that. After a few days of panic and no answers, I tried to log in to Blogger for about the 100th time and received a response asking me to reset my gmail password. I did, and a few hours later my blog re-appeared, intact.

I never found out why my blog was removed, or whether the password reset was what brought it back. What I did learn, and fast, was that on most free blogging platforms, you do not own your content. The platform provider does. (That also applies to social media platforms like Instagram.) This was unacceptable to me, so I started researching how to set up a self-hosted site.

Taking control…

In 2013, I migrated une femme d’un certain âge to a self-hosted WordPress platform. That means that I pay a web hosting service to store and deliver my data to the internet as as you see it here. Over the years I’ve:

  • upgraded the hosting platform to accommodate increased traffic, for faster loading and to improve your reader experience,
  • contracted for ongoing tech support and guidance from chloédigital,
  • invested in some format upgrades for better performance across all device types,
  • utilized an email service that allows you to subscribe to receive new posts,
  • hired a freelancer periodically to update old links and expired content

I don’t have a staff and still do most of the day-to-day work on the blog myself, but even so it now costs several thousand dollars a year to maintain.

Going Pro…From Hobby To Livelihood

In 2016, the company I’d worked for since 1993 was downsizing. They offered me early retirement and I accepted, hoping I might be able to make a modest living doing something I love. And for the most part I have.

Unless they are selling their own products or services, bloggers generally make money four ways:

  • Collaborations with brands (often in the form of sponsored posts)
  • Affiliate links that pay a small, variable commission if a reader makes a purchase after clicking on a link (at no additional cost to the buyer)
  • Display advertisements
  • Donations or paid subscriptions

Bloggers can make a lot of money with sponsored posts. I haven’t done them often, and only accept offers for brands or products that I would otherwise recommend or believe would be of value to you.

Almost all of my blog income has been from commissions from affiliate links. That’s allowed me a large degree of independence to write about and recommend products authentically, and not because I’ve been paid to do so. But with so many brands and retailers struggling to stay afloat, I’m not sure that I can count on this as much in the future.

I’ve always wanted all of my content to be free and accessible to everyone, so am not yet ready to consider adding a subscription paywall.

That leaves display advertising. Other than a couple of small business ads early on, I’ve mostly turned down opportunities to have display advertising on the blog. I didn’t want it to negatively impact your reading experience.

But I’ve recently made the decision to incorporate some display ads on a test basis, for a couple of reasons. First, I’m trying to “walk the walk” when it comes to sustainability and consumption. Being able to diversify my blog income means I’m less directly reliant on purchases for support. Which means that I can focus more on creating content that’s not necessarily product-based (something many of you have told me you’d like to see).

In the near future, I’m planning to roll out some personalized style services that I hope will be helpful and support what I do here. (Much now is dependent on the situation with Covid and how long we need to maintain distancing measures and travel restrictions.)

You may begin seeing ads within the next few days. There may be more placements for an initial trial period to test what’s most effective. After that I’ll be able to tailor how many and where they appear. I appreciate your patience and support as we work out any issues, and as always, thanks for reading.

Bon weekend!

Stay in touch.

Affiliate links in posts may generate commissions for unefemme.net. See my complete disclosure policy here.

72 Comments

  1. Lily
    June 6, 2020 / 3:09 pm

    As a blog consumer, I read blogs as a modern day version of coffee talk around the kitchen table with neighborhood friends. When a friend becomes that woman selling over-priced candles, kitchen gadgets, lingerie, jewelry, etc, etc, it ruins the relationship. Just my two cents. I will skip over ads.

  2. Lily R
    June 6, 2020 / 3:47 pm

    Yours is often among the first emails I open during my daily scroll – for ideas and candid assessment. I so value your ideas, introductions, commentary, straight talk.

    Appreciate the transparency and understand the desire for this direction. But, wonder how to maintain credibility and objectivity?

    Will endorsements reflect your true opinions, or be influenced by sponsorship? Will sponsorships affect your commentary on competitive products? Will you feel comfortable posting negative reviews of sponsored products? Saying nothing – an act of omission – is an unfortunate direction, as I have come to rely on a straight story from you. And so, this new direction introduces a note of caution that has been absent thus far..

    Wish you luck.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      June 6, 2020 / 4:25 pm

      Hi Lily, perhaps I wasn’t clear in my post. I’m not planning to do more “endorsements” or sponsored posts. The display ads I’ve mentioned will be automated images appearing in various locations on the blog. I fully intend to create content as I always have: honestly and objectively.

      • Lily R
        June 6, 2020 / 5:50 pm

        R…E…L…I…E…F

        Thanks, Susan. I’m sure your many fans appreciate this clarification. Look forward to our continuing relationship.

  3. Cynthia
    June 6, 2020 / 4:42 pm

    Love your blog and insights on fashion and travel. I do appreciate your transparency. That everything works with the ads.

  4. Beth Senn
    June 6, 2020 / 4:50 pm

    A virtual color consultation would be awesome. I have enjoyed following your journey with color. I find as I get older it is more difficult to determine What works best for me.

  5. noreen kelly
    June 6, 2020 / 8:28 pm

    as others have mentioned it was interesting to get an insight into the admin of your blog. i have bought multiple things via links on your blog and dont have a problem with ads

  6. Holly
    June 7, 2020 / 7:11 am

    Thank you for your clear explanation of the blogging process as I think all of us certainly appreciate it. I especially like your blog because you model outfits and readers can see what clothes look like on a real person. So many blogs only list outfit ideas and it’s more helpful when we can see what the suggestions look like on a real person.

  7. June 7, 2020 / 1:11 pm

    Great explanation and, a very well thought out blog. Blogging, the learning curve, the content schedule are all very time consuming and our time is money. I admire that you worked for the majority of the time you have had the blog. I tried that. Back in 2013 for a year. And with a 12hr a day job in product development, merchandising, travel and showrooms, I could not keep up. I admire that you are looking in all directions for solutions and it sounds like you found a way to begin this new phase. And thank you, thank you for no advertising ‘in motion!’ They drive me crazy too!
    I really like the idea of consulting. Your color experience in London was such a good read. And we have seen the amazingly positive results…
    Good Luck, Susan

  8. Lagatta de Montréal
    June 8, 2020 / 5:44 am

    My only annoyance about ads (other than vulgar or borderline porny ones) is that some feature shapeless loose clothing as “age appropriate”. I certainly read newspapers (in print or online) though there are ads. The only content I pay to read (other than journalism) is related to my work or studies.

  9. Lee Rosenthall
    June 8, 2020 / 7:42 am

    Appreciate your explaining the history and giving us a heads-up about future changes. Wishing you the best!

  10. Felicia
    June 8, 2020 / 10:06 am

    Hi, Susan,
    Excellent explanation! I wonder if you’ve considered Patreon as a potential source of income. I use it to support several authors and I know at least one blogger who’s trying it. Might be worth a trial balloon. I’ve read your blog for ages, it seems, and share your passion for Paris.

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