In the 2016 Christian Bloggers Survey I learned that your #2 struggle is monetizing your Christian blog.
While there is a lot of information out there about HOW to monetize your blog, this is one of the most common questions people ask me:
Is it okay to monetize my Christian blog?
So let’s talk about this most basic question.
Many (if not most) Christian bloggers view their blog as a ministry and struggle with the idea of making money from a ministry. Maybe it’s okay to dabble in monetization enough to cover the expenses of blogging, but making a profit or real income? That seems to be a different story. It feels like selling out, or charging for spiritual growth.
But the Bible is actually pretty clear on this topic. The apostle Paul addressed it several times.
If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? … The Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. 1 Corinthians 9:11-12,14 (NIV)
One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches. Galatians 6:6 (ESV)
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” 1 Timothy 5:17-18 (ESV)
Paul established that it is allowable to earn an income from ministry, but he chose to support himself instead. Why? Because he felt that was best for him and the people he served. He was from a wealthy family, so maybe he didn’t need to be paid. Maybe it was part of his walk of trusting God for provision each day. I’m sure it was a matter of much prayer since it was a hard road he was choosing. And that is the same for us. Monetizing our ministry blogs is allowable and only through prayer will we know if it is the right thing for us and our readers.
So if it is Biblically ok to earn a living from ministry, why do we struggle so? I think it is actually a healthy, introspective wrestling with our soul. While the Bible indicates it is ok to earn money from ministry, it also warns against two wrong motives that we need to be constantly aware of … greed and taking advantage of people.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 1 Timothy 6:10 (ESV) [emphasis mine]
For the Christian blogger, we could substitute “wandered away from our purpose” into that verse. When the efforts to monetize our blogs cause us to wander away from the thing God has called us to do or the message he has given us to share, that is greed.
I personally struggled with this early in my blogging journey. I was pursuing lots of avenues to establish my services. God had to stop me in my tracks and remind me that he didn’t call me to serve just anyone … he called me to serve his girls. I had to back up and start doing things differently because I had wandered from my purpose.
Questions to ask yourself about greed:
- Am I monetizing to compare myself to others?
- Are the things I’m promoting consistent with the content my audience has come to expect from me?
- Am I choosing who to promote based on how much I get out of it?
Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God. I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 25:27 (NIV)
When, in a spirit of service, we offer things to our readers that truly help, encourage, entertain or inspire them, they generally appreciate it. I’ve had many people thank me for letting them know about other resources, and their gratitude means more to me than the small commission I may receive from their purchase. But offering anything and everything, useful or not, consistent with our faith or not, just because we can is taking advantage of people who have trusted us with their time, friendship and support. They spot it a mile away and the damage done to your relationship is not worth that commission.
Questions to ask yourself about taking advantage of others:
- Am I (or the product I am promoting) charging a fair price for what is being offered?
- Am I properly disclosing that I make a profit from things I recommend?
- Am I directing people to resources that are consistent with my faith and values?
- Is this truly useful information for my audience, or is it just more “stuff”?
Once you are sure that monetizing your Christian blog is right for you, what are the next steps?
I do it by offering my services, being an affiliate for Crystal Paine’s Your Blogging University and walking with you through the Move Forward Mastermind. In fact, Crystal’s resources have been a huge help in growing my income from my online business.
How about you? How do you feel about monetizing your blog? What struggles do you face in making this decision?
Note: This post was originally part of a series on the 2016 Christian Blogger Survey. Find more on the survey and the rest of the top four struggles (balancing family with ministry, building an email list authentically, increasing traffic) here.