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Making money from your website

Show me the money... I wish!
Show me the money... I wish!

Adverts, sponsored posts and trials: how my site makes money and how it doesn’t

In these days of celebrities finally starting to declare what they’ve been paid for while posting on social media, I thought it was time to explain a few things about my site.

You don’t need me to tell you that I am not a celebrity, nor am I paid a fortune for wearing bikinis while digging raised beds (bet you’re glad about that).

I also shop at a certain German discount supermarket because my finances are stretched, not because they pay me either!

The MandyCanUDigIt website started life as little more than a hobby and a ‘shop window’ for my real work – gardening journalism and specialist copywriting.

It has grown during the last five-and-a-half years to take up a great deal of my time and it became obvious that as a freelance, it had to pay its way somehow.

Here are how my site survives:

Online marketingAdvertising

Obvious to everyone, these are traditional adverts, distinctly different from the post or page, with a link to the advertiser’s website. All adverts must adhere to the site’s ethics – organic, etc.

Affiliate advertising

Adverts that link to an external site, eg, Amazon. Money is earned when people click the advert and place an order via the website, which I’m trying at the minute. It’s exceptionally slow going.

Google Ads also falls into this category – I trialled them some years ago but didn’t find them worth my while – and you have little control over the ads that pop up.

Sponsored posts or pages

A company decides they like a post or page, feels it could boost their products, so asks to sponsor it, with a link back to their website. Any pages are clearly marked —Sponsored post by xxxxx. Again, only companies that fit the site ethics are suitable.

Gardening news, plants and products

As I post regularly, I choose to feature new products, plants and places to visit on a daily basis. My criteria? I have to find them interesting and evaluate whether they would be useful for readers.

I concentrate on new gardeners, those without much money or space, the less able and gardening in the north, as that’s where I live. I’m not paid to promote these products – they are there as stand-alone editorial.

Social media iconsTrials and reviews

I get sent a lot of seeds, plants, books and products, as every garden writer does. Anything marked REVIEW is just that – an honest assessment of the product, good or bad.

If items are submitted to me for a season-long trial, etc, they are clearly marked as such and are subject to the same criteria.

Social media

On Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+, I highlight the newest posts on site when published. I’m more active on Twitter, tailoring tweets to match timely gardening jobs, etc.

On Pinterest, I share my best pictures in a rather random fashion and on Instagram, it’s all a bit more personal and not all gardening related, as I do have a little bit of a life!

I hope that helps in these days of ‘transparency’ (yuk) and be secure in the knowledge I don’t have a yacht in Cannes. I don’t even have a rowing boat in South Shields.

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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