by Daisy Luther
It seems as though nary a week goes by without someone complaining about the ads on my website or the fact that I’m an Amazon affiliate. The complaints range from courteous all the way to lofty insults. Some people say it’s “selling out” and others say, “Daisy’s only in it for the money.”
Here are a couple of recent comments that inspired this article.
The Organic Prepper website is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. THAT’S ALL I NEED TO KNOW. Nobody reads or investigates anything. Especially when the truth is staring you in the face.
That was on an article that contained no affiliate links whatsoever. Pretty random complaint.
And of course:
I despise all the ads. I don’t want to read peoples so-called blogs. When you have to go through 15 different ads. Clean up the page please. I won’t be back if it doesn’t get cleaned up. I’ll post on my Facebook -Twitter Instagram not to be bothered with the organic peppers.com we’re not here to make you rich we’re here to learn you’re supposed be teaching.
On the bright side, most of the comments here are positive and supportive and I appreciate that more than you know. You wouldn’t believe what a smile it brings to my face and how sometimes I make my family stop what they’re doing so I can read them a particularly kind comment.
Anyway, this is in response to all the people who think that any site which earns money deserves their scorn. As well, I thought some folks may just be interested in the way it works to run a website of this size. Most of us avoid transparency because the moment we say something about omg-I-got-a-coffee-at-Starbucks or I-went-to-NYC-with-my-kids some yahoo says “You did that on MY dime!”
But, let’s try some transparency and see how it goes.
How much money does this website make?
I’m not at all apologetic about the fact that this website nets some pretty good money. After all, I’m running a business.
Each year, the gross income of this website is between $79,000 and $110,000. That money is earned in numerous ways. Here are a few of them:
- We have ads.
- We are part of the Amazon Affiliate program.
- We recommend products we trust from a few small businesses, from which we receive a small commission.
- We sell PDF books.
- We send out one sponsored email per week.
As you can see, only one of those monetization methods takes any money from your pocket, and it’s totally up to you if you want to buy one of our PDF books. If you choose not to, it’s no big deal. We keep the prices reasonable, around $6 to $10 per book. If you want a PDF book but you can’t afford to buy it, we offer them for free, no questions asked.
If you purchase a product from Amazon through one of our links, you won’t pay anything extra but we’ll earn a 4% commission. So, if you buy a book we recommend, we’ll get 40 cents. We do not recommend any products we haven’t used or read ourselves unless there’s a caveat, like “I haven’t tried this product but it has excellent reviews and may meet your needs.:
The rest of those methods all pay for us to be able to bring you content to read absolutely free, aside from the relatively mild inconvenience of any ads being in the midst of what you’re reading. A lot of websites are putting up paywalls to fund their efforts. We’ve opted for minorly annoying ads so that you don’t have to pay anything.
How much does it cost to run this website?
Before I earn a penny myself, I cover the expenses of running the website. I went back and checked my tax return for 2018 so I could give you the exact number.
Last year, before my own pay, I spent $40,046.65 to run this website. Holy snappin’ pussycats, that’s a lot of money. You may be wondering what I spend it on. Here’s a list of what I pay for and why. It’s probably not comprehensive – these are just the larger expenses.
- Hosting – One of my biggest expenses by far is hosting. I work with a company that provides top notch service. This prevents me from getting hacked, protects the privacy of those of you who visit the site and keeps things up and running when we get an unusually high burst of traffic.
- Staff – Some folks kindly donate their articles while others write for a living. Another large expense is paying writers and for someone to help out with the emails I receive every day. Some days we get more than 500 emails, so that’s a job in itself.
- Tech support – Heaven help us if something breaks and I’ve got to fix it. I have a tech guru on my payroll because, well, something always needs fixing. I have another person who works on an hourly basis behind the scenes to keep things ticking along.
- Email service – I send out emails absolutely free to more than 30,000 people who have signed up and requested the newsletter. This costs more than $500 a month.
- Security – Even beyond our hosting company, I have additional security on the website. You can’t imagine how many times a day someone tries to hack in. The reason I need this added layer of security is that hackers like to put malicious links in trusted sites that people will innocently click on and BOOM, their computer has a virus.
- Photos – We purchase stock photos to keep things looking good on the website.
- Financial fees – We pay fees on Paypal as well as Stripe so that we can protect your personal information when you make a purchase from us.
- Odds and Ends – I have a variety of plug-ins on the site that allow it to function better for you – these help me make articles printable, they help make it easier for you to share to social media or friends, they help us catch typos and grammatical errors…the list goes on and on. We also pay the company that handles our theme and design. Needless to say, it’s not cheap. I also pay for a physical mailbox in another town to protect my privacy.
I didn’t start out spending $40K a year to run a website. When I began, I didn’t have much traffic to support and I used free themes and if stuff broke, it just stayed broken. But as our traffic has increased – we had more than 3.6 million visitors last year – our need to make our site fast, secure, and responsive has increased.
Is Daisy over here getting rich?
Lest you think I’m on my way to purchase my second yacht, let me be perfectly clear. I’m not over here getting rich off running a website. Last year, my personal earnings were $31.809. It’s plenty to get by on and I’m very grateful to be earning it, but it’s absolutely not enough to buy that mansion on the water. It’s too much to get cheap healthcare and not enough to pay for health insurance. But we live a comfortable, thrifty life.
This is my only job and it’s a full-time job. This is what I do for a living.
I work a lot of 10-14 hour days to earn that money, but some days, I work less. I can’t remember the last time I went a full day without at least checking in to clear comments on the website. Most of the time, I work 7 days per week. I do have the flexibility to choose what time of day I work my hours.
Generally speaking, I get up at about 6 am, grab a coffee, and work in my pajamas until noon. Then I have lunch and figure out what else needs doing that day. Sometimes that’s it until later at night when I’m clearing comments, other times, I bring lunch to my desk and work non-stop.
But I am SO LUCKY. I really love what I do. I love that I get to work from home. I love that I get to spend all day researching something that interests me. I love that I get to know a lot of you and that it feels like we’re a neighborhood full of real-life friends when we chat in the comments section. I love that I get to write because this is my passion.
And most of all, I love that I get to help people. If anything I’ve ever written has helped you out, made you feel less alone, or given you a solution to a problem, that is the biggest reward I could ever earn.
So there you have it.
I hope now that it’s clear why I run ads and accept commissions for my recommendations. I know that most folks have no idea what goes on behind the scenes of a website and I hope that this answers your questions. Please know that every website out there of any size has to earn some money to fund their efforts. And all of us deserve to get paid for the jobs that we do, right?
If you have other questions about expenses or anything, here’s where to ask them.