As you spend time browsing through your favorite personal blogs, you may notice the increasing trend of donation buttons. These buttons allow for a reader to quickly send a few bucks in the blogger’s direction if they like what they see. From the bloggers that I have spoke with, there is a quite a divide when it comes to their opinion on this practice; some bloggers think it is a great idea, while others think it is tacky. I personally feel that it depends on what type of blog you write, and what you intend the donation to be for.
I use this terminology for blogs that are intended to make their author money. There are obviously varying degrees here, but the general intent of this blog is to provide a substantial revenue stream for the blogger. This is often achieved through all sorts of integrated revenue streams such as affiliate partnerships, advertising, selling services, pop ups, in-line text links, etc.
Donation buttons on this type of blog seems very out of place. The blogger already has one or multiple streams of revenue and it can seem overly greedy to ask a reader for money. With advertising, the reader is allowing ads to be served to them in exchange for getting the content for free (think over the air TV.) Asking them for money on top of that gets sticky. Think of a company like Best Buy asking people on their way out of the store to drop a few bucks in the donation bucket that goes to their bottom line.
Personal / Informative Blogs
Blogs that fall into this category are usually enthusiast blogs or people who have a passion for something and like to write for the sake of writing. They thoroughly enjoy spreading their message and people find their information to be very appealing and useful. This is the perfect site for a donation button. These bloggers are willfully giving up their personal time to educate and help others. They also tend to have a loyal following and usually see a better response when asking for donations.
Personal and informative blogs often times will include other sources of revenue, however, their intentions are usually different. The truth is, it costs money to operate a blog. It might not be a lot, but there are costs associated with it. So often times they will add something like AdSense or a sponsor to help curb the cost of hosting, software, etc.
These are by no means the only types of blogs, and there are often hybrids of the two. If your goal is to help curb costs or to buy yourself a cup of coffee while writing the posts, then great! If it is to add a little incremental revenue to an already filled up affiliate blog, then it can rub readers the wrong way. There is nothing worse than having to close 3 ad pop ups, just to be confronted by a “Please Donate” button.
If you are considering adding a donation button to your personal or informational blog, do not feel bad about it. If you are willing to give up your time and energy to write about things that can legitimately educate and help other people, there is nothing wrong with asking for a little something in return. The best part about donations is that they are completely optional. If someone does not see the value, then they do not have to donate. But if you write good content and are engaged with your readers, you may be surprised.
Eric Stauffer works with a merchant services industry watchdog group called Card Payment Options. For more information about a company that offers easy to use donation buttons, check out their PayJunction review.