Broke and blogging or why affiliate networks aren't for me

With LTASEX, money has never been the focus. Regardless, it'd be nice to get something other than kudos for my hard work. To that end, like a lot of bloggers, I've been a part of many affiliate networks but I just can't do it anymore.

Last year I worked 20-40 hours a week on LTASEX related projects. Publishing 5 days a week, doing photo shoots, dealing with emails, maintaining the site, planning events, etc. - it's a lot of work. From all that work, I brought in less than $1400 in revenue. Considering the monthly costs to maintain the site and how much I personally spent for our first three LTASEX socials, my actual profit was about $300.

Despite the fact that I'm currently and was then a part of several different affiliate networks, I did not receive a single cent from any of them in 2013. In fact, I've never received any money from any affiliate network ever. When I think about how much work I've put in behind the scenes dealing with eager affiliate reps, putting up ads and dealing with the invariably terrible websites, it makes me so mad.

Affiliate networks work under the same basic principal as Mary Kay, Avon and Pure Romance: do the work but only get paid if you're lucky enough to seal the deal. While I don't like these commission only jobs, I know they can work, if you're smart about it. Since affiliate networks are set up similarly, they originally seemed like a good-ish idea. After three years and zero return, the math just doesn’t seem to be working out, in my favor at least.

When I first started trying out affiliate networks, I knew the rub. I knew that I was giving away valuable ad real estate for free without a guarantee of return. Regardless, I took the opportunities because I didn’t have very many options. I hoped that one of them would resonate with my readers but none of them did - no matter how hard I tried.

At this point, I'm just throwing my time and effort into a black hole and I'm done. I’m not bitter about the lack of return but I simply can’t keep letting these networks suck value and energy - unless I'm getting paid upfront.

My ad space is valuable because I make and facilitate great content that people want to read. That content is then published to a gorgeous, easy-to-use self-designed website. From my efforts, in 2013, LTASEX had 123,615 unique visitors come to the site. Those are eyes that I earned through hard unpaid work. After all that work, I shouldn't have to give away my most valuable property for the opportunity to possibly make money, maybe.

Affiliate networks make no investment into the sites they're on. For them, it's all about getting eyeballs on their brands as cheaply as possible. In this case, cheaply is a word that means I don't get paid for my time and personal investment. It's just not a smart business decision.

If Microsoft went to CBS and said "we want to put an ad in front of your viewers but we won't pay you a dime unless we make money directly from that ad," CBS would laugh them out of the room. CBS put in the time, money and effort to make their show a success. Why should Microsoft be able to capitalize on that for free?

As an independent content creator, I have no delusions about my earning potential. I know I’ll probably never make my entire living from LTASEX but I also know that if I can’t then no one else should either.

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