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At A Blogging Crossroad

If you are reading this post, chances are that you’re a subscriber or have visited via social media. Thank you for visiting, reading and commenting. The reality is, whilst I love to write and share my stories, recipes and reviews with you, the bulk of my traffic comes via the unreliable and erratic world of internet searches rather than consistent, dependable traffic. So, I am at a Blogging Crossroad…

Footpath signs in Switzerland pointing in various directions to various sights

As an outsider looking in, you probably think I have a fairly good blogger’s life and, you’d be right. I get invited to events, have scored a couple of short trips and occasionally get sent products. A box of muesli however, does not cover the costs of running a blog let alone provide an income or even pocket-money. When I say costs, I mean fees such as domain names and web hosting but I also mean my own time. My witty bon mots, historical research, writing, editing, recipe preparation, photographing and more, all takes time. We all know, time is money.

The time has come to make a decision. Do I A) take steps to generate some income to cover costs? or, B) do it for the love of a good bowl of muesli? (The answer in case you haven’t guessed is A) It’s what is known as ‘monetising a blog’. It’s a simple formula:

more traffic (visitors) = improved ranking = ability to generate greater income

As this is a brave new world for both of us, I wanted to share with you some things that may look or feel a little different on TIFFIN going forward. Whilst things may look or feel different, good content, great recipes and fun stories will always be at the heart of TIFFIN.


Commissioned Stories
The eagle eyed amongst you may have spotted that in the past 12 months, I have partnered with a couple of companies to write some paid posts. These stories use my original content. I still take the time to write, edit and photograph and do not use media releases or pre-written posts supplied by the sponsor. I like to think that regardless of who is paying for my time, you are getting an enjoyable story, set of tips or recipe like this one for BBQ’d Spring Vegetable Salad, rather than just an advertorial. I am always transparent about paid posts via an *asterisk at the top of the story and a disclosure at the bottom.

BBQ barbequed asparagus, corn, capsicum and zucchini with grill marks, in a salad bowl


Affiliate Links
Affiliate links are links from TIFFIN to online retailers. I prefer to use affiliate links rather than advertising banners because I already use links in my stories to share interesting websites or background information so it’s a style my readers are comfortable with. If someone purchases an item from a retailer via the link on my blog, I receive a small commission. The emphasis is on small but hopefully it will add up. I have selected affiliate companies that are directly related to the topics on my blog: food and travel. Most are Australian companies, with the exception of well known international travel wholesalers. (Need a hotel room? Click here and show me the money!  Of course, you’ll need some travel insurance with that…)

You won’t see hundreds of links that have nothing to do with the story. Just an occasional link that is directly relevant. The links are located within the story or at the end. I am always transparent about affiliate links, with a disclosure at the bottom telling you about the link and that I will receive a commission if you purchase via the link.


Subscription Pop Ups
Don’t you just hate them? The reality is, they work. There is a huge amount of research and a whole industry around pop ups and the number of ‘conversions’ to subscription. Do you know what my two most popular posts are? They are the two that are constantly in the sidebar – Ribs and, Gem Scones. I get visitors to them every day. They visit, they cook, they leave. What if only one visitor a week subscribed via the pop up? It would garner me an extra 52 subscribers a year who would hopefully return to the TIFFIN when they got a new post in their inbox. Remember: more traffic (visitors) = improved ranking = ability to generate greater income

A set of old fashioned gem irons with cooked gem scones in them

If you’re popping in for the recipe, why not pop in an email address?

So, I’m giving pop ups a go. For now. To start, I’m targeting the pop ups on popular pages so I can test the waters and see what works. At some stage I’ll be setting a pop up to the home page but for my tastes, that’s a little aggressive to start with. Let’s see what happens over the coming months.


What’s In It For You?
I’ve talked a lot about me in this post but what’s in it for you? As my traffic improves, I would like to think that this will provide more opportunities for both of us. Perhaps prizes, discounts, vouchers, opportunities to attend events. Some things may work, some may not but if I don’t give it a go, I’ll never know. I hope you will continue to visit and take the time to comment. I love comments! If you are not a subscriber, and you have gotten this far, I hope you will consider doing so to show your support. If you are a subscriber, please show me the love by sharing this post on your social media networks (there’s a share button at the bottom).


What are your thoughts about this? How do you feel about links and pop ups? Do you think I should monetise my blog or write for fun? Will you keep reading? After all, you’re my readers so I’m keen for you to join in the conversation.

Fiona xx

*This post contains affiliate links to Hotels Combined & Covermore Insurance. I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) from any purchases made via the link.

41 comments… add one
  • Francesca April 5, 2016, 6:52 pm

    I write and research for nothing at all except for the sheer love of writing. I don;t like blogs with pop ups and advertising and tend to avoid them like the plague. I understand your viewpoint- and why not give it a go. I have noticed for a long time that you have tried to increase your readership through various means but some of your best writing is devoid of this hype, and perhaps I have failed to comment or encourage you. Good writing and content doesn’t need to be commercial at all. I suspect you have a paid job? But there you go- I have said my rambling bit- and good luck with it all.

    • Fiona Ryan April 6, 2016, 2:10 pm

      Francesca – I will always continue to write as I love writing and I feel I have a clear voice. Thanks for your compliment about my writing style. It’s not a crisis of conscious as much as a taking stock. A ‘what if I did things differently?’ question to myself. I appreciate your input and I hear you on the pop ups – that’s why I am am taking a softly softly approach to see what eventuates. Thanks for taking the time to make a considered response.

  • Joanne T Ferguson April 5, 2016, 7:17 pm

    G’day Fiona,
    I think all bloggers question at sometime during their journeys, why they still do what they do! Here is a rhetoric question for you: Why did you go into blogging in the first place? I totally agree with Francesca in having a disliking of pop ups and advertising that visually takes away from the site. I also agree that “good writing and content doesn’t need to be commercial at all.”
    Perhaps a “time out” is in order for you to listen and hear your instincts about what you genuinely want to do. Blogging in very hard work as you know. I personally don’t think one can put a price on passion and unless it is going to be and have your full time effort, why not simple take a step back, breathe and enjoy the blogging journey as there is always something to write about and intrigue and entertain your readers and you do a great job in inspiring and brightening people’s days. Please believe in yourself like your readers do and please know you are appreciated for what you do! There are always ways to find a balance that allows the soul to fly…you seem to temporarily lost your way, but you will be able to find it again one day! Hope this rambling helps too! lol

    • Fiona Ryan April 6, 2016, 2:16 pm

      Hi Joanne – nice to hear from you. I know there have been some challenging times on your own blog and know the amount of effort you have put into yours so I appreciate your words. I’m certainly not doing it for the money that’s for sure but I won’t deny that some money to cover costs wouldn’t sweeten things. I don’t feel I’ve lost my way – this is a year of taking stock of a lot of things in my life, the blog is just one. Thanks for your thoughts. I’m hearing a strong theme of ‘no’ to pop ups so I’ll take that into consideration.

      Wow – 2 comments within an hour of publsihing I’m rocking it!

  • Lee April 5, 2016, 8:26 pm

    If i like the blogger and the content i’m reading, advertising doesn’t matter to me one bit.

    • Fiona Ryan April 6, 2016, 2:17 pm

      Lee – I’ll continue to strive for good, entertaining content. Thanks.

  • Michelle April 5, 2016, 8:36 pm

    Go for it. Love a pop up.

    • Fiona Ryan April 6, 2016, 2:18 pm

      Love a pop up – you may be the only person that tells me that Michelle. Thanks for letting me know.

  • Beck @ Goldenpudding April 5, 2016, 8:52 pm

    Gosh, it’s a hard decision Fiona….I have a day job that pays the bills, so I’m happy with blogging ‘for the love of food’ at this stage, but I’ve read many posts by bloggers about this decision – if you don’t already read him, Adam Roberts at http://www.amateurgourmet.com has written a series of posts about the state of play with blogging as a paid career, and how hard it’s become…
    In terms of feedback, I don’t mind some reminders to subscribe/comment, but really don’t like the pop-ups that don’t let you leave until you do…I’m also generally not a fan of subscribing via email to get post reminders, I follow you through my Wordpress reader, and that’s my preference as it has all my followed blogs in one spot. The blogs I subscribe to via email are ones that offer a newsletter with additional content etc.
    Affilate links are fine, I think they make sense, and if I’m gong to buy something anyway, I’d rather someone I know get the commission 🙂 Sponsored posts I’m less sure – they always seem a bit dubious, no matter what caveats you put around them (and this applies to everyone).
    Good luck with whatever you decide

    • Fiona Ryan April 6, 2016, 2:27 pm

      Hi Beck – yes I do know Adam, I saw him speak at EDB in Perth. Did you go? I’m not looking to move to a fully paid career in blogging as yes, for now, I have a job. I also think about the possibility of covering my costs and even supplementing my income so that perhaps I can cut back to a 9 day fortnight and spend at least 1 day a week in ‘work time’ doing a job I love rather than just doing a job because I have to. I hear what you’re saying about WP Reader but I also know that a number of my subscribers are not bloggers so don’t use readers or RSS feed. The two companies I work with have a flexible approach towards sponsored posts that works for me. They don’t ask me to include advertorials or even tell me what the topic is. This works for me as I have creative control. I know some companies don’t work that way though. I definitley know I won’t be making a motza from affiliate links so it will be interesting to come back in 6 months and see what is happening re: links, pop ups, sponsored posts. Thanks for commenting.

  • Sue April 5, 2016, 11:08 pm

    Hi Fiona

    I think affiliate links are a good idea but not so keen on pop ups or commissioned stories. Having said that why not try a few different options and see if your readership drops or rises and then go with what you feel is best. Either way I will still read.

    • Fiona Ryan April 6, 2016, 3:06 pm

      I’ll definitely be trying a mix of options so I hope you stick around to see what eventuates. Wow – this is your first comment ever. I hope to see you back on a more fun topic!

  • Anne April 6, 2016, 5:42 am

    You can only do what’s best for you. You’ll lose a few regular readers and with luck gain new ones. As soon as I see a post is sponsored, I stop reading but I keep following the blog until I feel I’m reading fewer than I close. I’m not a fan of pop-ups but hey ho that’s life and all it takes is a click to close them.
    Hope you come to a decision that makes you happy.

    • Fiona Ryan April 6, 2016, 3:39 pm

      Hello Anne – nice to hear from you. It sounds like pop ups drive us all crazy but someone must be filling them out otherwise they wouldn’t be so popular. Anyway, that’s why I only have them on a few pages to try them out. If nothing else, this post has generated a lot of conversation so it’s good to have some input. Thanks.

  • Lisa April 6, 2016, 7:51 am

    I really love the transparency you are going for here. I don’t think there is anything wrong with trying to earn an income from blogging. You need to do what is right for you. I have been guilty of reading great content and not interacting as much as I should. My time is short, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to support people whose work I love. I will work on that. Good luck to you Fiona!

    • Fiona Ryan April 6, 2016, 4:05 pm

      Hi Lisa – thanks for your comments. I’m finding the discussion very interesting. Bloggers in particular seem to have much stronger views. Everyone’s time is short so don’t feel guilty. I am the same – busy life, busy job, blog… (and I don’t even have small children like you do. Simply visiting or reading or commenting is support in itself. cheers!

  • Heather Scott April 6, 2016, 10:55 am

    I will continue to read whatever you write because I like you and your style. I also think you have great integrity so I’m sure you’ll get the balance right 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan April 6, 2016, 4:07 pm

      Hello Heather – thanks for your vote of confidence.

  • Tandy | Lavender and Lime April 6, 2016, 1:59 pm

    I’m all for making money from a blog but personally I don’t like the pop ups and have disabled them in my settings 😀

    • Fiona Ryan April 6, 2016, 4:08 pm

      Thanks for the feedback on the pop ups – it will be interesting to see if I get any results.

  • sherry from sherrys pickings April 6, 2016, 3:47 pm

    hi fiona
    i know what you mean. blogging takes a lot out of you in terms of money, and time and expertise and effort. i look at it as a hobby rather than a job and just decided to wear the costs of whatever. i am surprised that pop ups apparently are successful. i know they drive me mad and i always ignore them. i have to agree with Beck re sponsored posts. there is always a different tone no matter how many caveats there are or how neutral the blogger thinks they are being. anyway i wish you luck with your decisions I will be here as a faithful reader:)

    • Fiona Ryan April 6, 2016, 6:24 pm

      I can see the majority here don’t like pop ups. Still, there is much data to suggest they do work. The jury is out. Thanks for being a faithful reader & commenter Sherry. I just need another 10K of you – perhaps you can be cloned : )

      • Beck @ Goldenpudding April 6, 2016, 7:37 pm

        Just to clarify on the popups Fiona, I don’t object per se, I just really hate the ones that won’t let you close them without ticking the box – I close the window if that happens. I’m sure yours wouldn’t do that though 🙂

  • Elizabeth April 6, 2016, 5:00 pm

    Oh Fiona,
    I’m always thinking about everything you have talked about 🙂 I think that what ever you choose to do with your blog, it is YOUR blog 🙂 some people love it (like me) and other just come for a few posts and leave 🙂
    Personally, anything that keeps you blogging is fabulous!
    I’m in!
    Liz xxx

    • Fiona Ryan April 6, 2016, 6:25 pm

      I’ll definitely keep blogging Liz. I have so much to say – even if no one is listening! I appreciate your kind words.

  • The Hipsterette April 7, 2016, 4:50 pm

    Hi Fiona
    I think it’s fine to try something new to see how it works out. Blogging is quite an expensive ‘hobby’ so why not try and recoup some costs! It is best to just get on and do it – if you stop for too long – like I did – you can find it hard to get back on track again. Good luck – I’ll monitor the site with interest.

    • Fiona Ryan April 8, 2016, 4:17 pm

      I definitely won’t be stopping – just trying some other things into the mix. Thanks for your support.

  • Bonny April 7, 2016, 6:52 pm

    Good on you! My girlfriend and I are running a blog, trying to build it up to monetise it and it is CRAZY HARD WORK. You deserve to put up a few little things that will help you to continue to write for some extra cash. Should everyone have the benefit of your website with none of it going back to you? All the best!

    • Fiona Ryan April 8, 2016, 4:19 pm

      Hi Bonny – yes, I think it will be quite some time before we are all able to make enough for a Carribean holiday. It’s true what you say about people benefiting. I had never thought about that aspect. Though even I get annoyed by pop ups, now that I think about them in context of your response, I can understand why.

  • Glenda April 8, 2016, 3:09 am

    Hi Fiona, I must admit, I don’t like blogs with advertising or sponsored articles. I don’t like feeling I am being sold something. I prefer to read the blogs of people who are doing it for the fun of it. I wish you luck though.

    • Fiona Ryan April 8, 2016, 4:23 pm

      Thanks Glenda – I think that regular readers will see little difference. I want to capture those people who swing past but may never return.

  • Anne April 8, 2016, 10:38 am

    I started blogging as a hobby but now I am looking at ways to make money and I have done a few affiliated links. Must admit I hate pop ups!

    • Fiona Ryan April 9, 2016, 9:35 am

      So it seems that pop ups are unloved by most of the world. I keep hearing they capture readers/leads but I’m starting to wonder who actually fills out these pop ups. I can’t imagine making much money on affiliate links – maybe if was a very specific products that people were after. It costs nothing to be an affiliate so that’s why I’m giving it a go. Thanks for taking the time to comment Anne.

  • Tania @ The Cook's Pyjamas April 8, 2016, 11:27 am

    I applaud you for this post Fiona. As people we (hopefully) changeover time and move forward. Your blog should be a reflection of you and where you are at now. Mine has definitely undergone a few rebirths as I, and my focus, has changed.

    I am not a fan of advertising, but I have it. Last year I managed to cover all my blog costs as a result of it, so I’m keeping it. And you know what, I may have lost a few people but my numbers continue to climb so it obviously doesn’t bother everyone.

    People come to your blog because they are attracted by your writing, and what you have to offer. Those that like what they see don’t care about the rabbit food upended on the back mat (oh wait … that’s my place 😉 ). They come to visit you, and won’t get distracted by the bells and whistles around the edges. I find I don’t even see advertising on blogs if I am genuinely engaged with the writing.

    I haven’t had much success with affiliates myself so will be interested to see how you get on. I am just starting to experiment with pop-ups, despite disliking them. To prevent this from being an essay, feel free to drop me an email and I can give you a better idea of things that have worked (or not) for me. Good luck with moving forward.

  • Kate Petersen April 8, 2016, 5:15 pm

    Hi Fiona,
    We met at EDB 2014 … you’re a great writer and you offer a stack of value to your audience. I think you should give ‘commercialising’ your website a go. If the content is good, advertising doesn’t bother me. If you lose a few followers, you’ll no doubt make them up with new fans. Change is the only constant … go for it!
    All the best, Kate
    P.S Most publishers/authors wouldn’t consult and be as transparent as you have been so thats a big plus for me 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan April 9, 2016, 10:01 am

      Hi Kate – wow, 2014 seems a long time ago doesn’t it? Thanks you for your kind comments and for contributing your thoughts to the debate. I loved reading about your off the grid musing in your most recent post.

  • Jem @ Lost in Utensils April 9, 2016, 11:00 am

    Some great info here Fiona and food for thought (no pun intended!). It’s actually quite interesting timing for me to read this. Very helful.

    • Fiona Ryan April 10, 2016, 9:56 am

      Hi Jem – yes, well as you can see, people have very firm opinions on this so it will be interesting to see what happens. To date (just going on a week), I have garnered no additional subscribers via my pop ups on the selected pages… So glad you took the time to comment. cheers!

  • Gretchen April 11, 2016, 9:24 pm

    Nice transparent post. Must a struggle most bloggers face. I’m looking forward to send the changes and will definitely continue to read your blog, maybe even find more time to comment consistently!

    • Fiona Ryan April 12, 2016, 10:00 pm

      Thanks very much for your feedback and support Gretchen.

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