This is a difficult article for me to write. This is not because of the gravity of the topic or a lack of knowledge of the topic at hand. I hestitate to post this because it may seem self-serving, but that is certainly not my intent. This article stems from concerns I have in the ways people feel they can support their favorite bloggers, most notably when it comes to advertising. So to correct some false assumptions and to provide information that may be of benefit to the blogging community, I humbly present this article, hoping people will see it as an article directed at all bloggers and readers of every blog, rather than an attempt to solicit support for myself.
There are many ways you can support your favorite blogger. Some of these are moral, some spiritual and some financial. I will go through each one of these categories and suggest some ways you can be supportive of those people whose web sites you enjoy reading.
This one may seem obvious, but to support your favorite blogger, visit his (or her) site. Bloggers are notorious for tracking statistics and often know just how many people visit their site. So show your support by visiting often.
When you visit, why not leave a comment? This shows the blogger that not only are you visiting the site, but you are reading the articles enough to form an opinion. Don’t leave a comment just for the sake of leaving a comment, but if you have been touched by an article, or if you have a concern about it, let the person know.
If you have a website or blog of your own, link to your favorite bloggers every now and then. When a story catches your eye, link to it (preferably with a trackback). Once more, this shows the blogger that you are reading and enjoying his site.
Encourage your favorite blogger every now and then. Send her an email to say that you appreciate all of the time and effort she puts into her blog. Let her know that you appreciate her dedication to writing articles about children, writing reviews of books or movies or anything else. Let her know that you are thinking of her and praying for her. Which leads nicely into our next point…
This is the support bloggers receive that they may never know about. But it is probably the most helpful and definitely the most underappreciated. Pray for your favorite bloggers. Pray that God would continue to cause them to seek after Him and to be able to share what they are learning with others. Pray that God would make them content with how He is blessing them in their online endeavors. Pray that they would be good witnesses for Him. If your favorite blogger is unsaved, pray that God would stir her heart to seek after Him and ask for opportunities to witness to her, even if it cannot be face-to-face.
Speaking personally, I am so thankful for those who pray for me. When people share that they have been holding me up before the Lord it is such a comfort and such a blessing. If you are going to do any one thing for your favorite blogger, do this. Pray for him (or her).
There are also ways of financially supporting your favorite blogger.
Clicking on ads can be a good or a bad thing, depending on the circumstances. In general, you should only click on an ad if you are honestly interested in the site or product being displayed in that ad.
It is important to note that advertising comes in two broad categories. The first is simple banner ads. In this system, advertisers either pay a set amount to have their banner displayed for a certain amount of time, or they pay for a certain number of impressions, which refers to the number of times the ad is displayed on a page. While there is no real harm in clicking these ads, even if you are uninterested in the product, it may provide false results for the advertiser. He may see a lot of traffic coming from a particular web site and decide that he will continue to pay to run his ad on that site. But if the site’s owner has specifically requested his visitors to click the ad, this provides false data. Some advertisers do not mind since any click is a visit to their site. Others do. So generally, do not click banners unless you have some degree of interest in the product.
The other category of advertising is pay-per-click. This includes, most notably, Google’s AdWords program which is used by many, many bloggers. In this system, the advertiser pays a set amount to Google each and every time a person clicks their ad. A portion of this money then goes to the owner of the site displaying the ad. Recently I have seen a few bloggers ask their visitors to click on their Google AdWords advertising. This is not only clearly forbidden in Google’s terms of service, but it is also unethical. Google’s program is designed to drive high-quality traffic to web sites. In theory, only visitors who are interested in the site’s content should click on an ad and visit a site. So when the advertiser hands over the ten or twenty or fifty cents for a click, he is assuming that the person coming to his site has seen his ad and is interested in his product. If bloggers are soliciting clicks as a personal favor to them, this is in clear violation of Google’s program. Google watches for people violating this and will revoke accounts if they catch find violations. So bloggers, don’t do it! And visitors, only click those ads if you are genuinely interested in what is being offered. If you are genuinely interested, clicking these ads is a great means of support.
Many bloggers have affiliate accounts with various companies. The most popular of these is Amazon. When you click on an ad, like the ones you see in book reviews at this site, and then purchase a book, a portion of the proceeds (between 5% and 7.5%) goes to the site owner. While the payout is quite low, it can accumulate over time and provide a nice bonus to the site’s owner. So if you read a book review and intend to buy the product through Amazon, show your support for the blogger by linking through his affiliate account. Anytime you buy through Amazon you can link through one of these ads and the blogger will receive credit for all the purchases you make in that session! This is a great way of supporting your favorite blogger.
Several bloggers, myself included, also offer affiliate programs for web hosting. If you need hosting, sign up through one of these people. Others have affiliates offering music and just about everything else you could need. Look for them and use them!
In short, if you are going to buy something, why not see if one of your favorite bloggers has an affiliate account you can tap into.
Many bloggers offer products through their sites. For instance, Jollyblogger is selling t-shirts. Others sell coffee cups and other items emblazoned with their logo. You get the idea.
Many bloggers have what is known as a tip jar. These are the little buttons on their site that say “Donate,” “click to give” or something similar. Some people use PayPal’s service and others use Amazon. In either case, dropping a few cents (via credit card) is an effective (and safe) way of supporting your favorite blogger. Even dropping just a dollar or two per month into a tip jar can make a difference when enough people do it.
To conclude, there are many ways of offering support to your favorite blogger. You can do so with something as simple as an encouraging email. You can be deliberate in purchasing products through the site that recommended them to you. And best of all, you can pray.