I started my blog Gibberish is My Native Language several years ago as a way to stay in touch with my co-workers when I moved away. We used to have long conversations about products and I’d give them my opinion on all sorts of stuff, from coffee machines to computer mice to board games.
My readership grew as time went on. Key articles like my experiences with SentryPro XFC drew tens of thousands of visitors. I soon outstripped the el-cheapo level of hosting from DreamHost, and pay extra every month for a virtual private server with dedicated CPU and memory resources. Traffic peaks during the summer as more people “discover” SentryPro XFC, and during the months of November and December as people look up product reviews for gifts.
The hosting costs are never super crazy, but these days money is money.
The other material cost of running Gibberish is buying all of the products I review. I never receive free merchandise from manufacturers or retailers. I have received evaluation products in the past, but always return them when I’m done with the review and often at my own expense.
Here are some ways you can help Gibberish, and why I made a recent policy change to my blog.
- Buy a product through an affiliate link. Some of the products I review are sold by Amazon.com. I usually include links to the products on Amazon. I receive a referral fee if you click on the Amazon product banner and buy that item (or any other) during that single visit. Amazon sends me an electronic gift certificate at the end of the month. These certificates help fund additional gadget purchases for future reviews. The good thing about the affiliate links is that you probably would have bought something from Amazon anyway. The affiliate fees are paid by Amazon, so you pay the same amount either way.
- Google ads. This is my big policy change, as I’ve been reluctant to have any advertising on Gibberish. I wanted it to be clear that my reviews and opinions are mine and not influenced by ad revenue or relationships with companies. I’m not a big fan of the Google ads, but they are a compromise between defraying some of the operating costs of the site and allowing specific vendors to bombard you with advertisements.
- Join Gibberish’s Facebook page. A lot of my repeat visitors subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed, and a few appear to check the home page on a regular basis to look for new articles. Joining the Gibberish Is My Native Language Facebook page is another, easy way to get site updates. I’ll also use the page to run give-aways and other nifty events. The Facebook group is a free way for me to drive traffic, and additional traffic helps with the Google ads and the Amazon affiliate program. Plus it makes me feel good.
- Tell your friends. Word of mouth is a great way to get new readers involved. Some of my friends who have converted over to using the Aerobie AeroPress have sent their co-workers or friends here to learn more about the nifty coffee making device. Any additional readers you could send over would be much appreciated.
So, about the policy change: for almost six years I was reluctant to put any advertising to the site. I wanted people to read my reviews and know that I didn’t receive any compensation for the item I was writing about. I was hesitant when Google released their AdSense program. I was concerned that any negative review I wrote would have an ad from the very company I was panning. I was super concerned about my SentryPro XFC post. I thought it would be tacky for a Sergeant ad to appear after hundreds of people talked about their pets suffering from a terrible product.
Google allows me to block certain categories or specific sites from being advertised. For example, you won’t see any religious, political, or adult-oriented ads on the site. You also won’t see any from Sergeant.
So far so good, but there’s always a chance that something will slip by. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you see a questionable ad.
Hopefully adding AdSense will help defray the costs of hosting the site. I don’t expect to ever make any money on this site, but every little bit helps. Thanks for reading Gibberish, and thanks for your support for almost six years.
[edit, December 11, 2011] My blog and image server are now hosted with KnownHost. They do not have an easy way to accept donations, so I removed the hosting donation option from the bullet list. Thank you to those who contributed to the server hosting fund, it is by far my biggest monthly expense.