Privilege Blog

The Privilege Annual Report To The Board – Wrapping Up 2015


Over the years I’ve habitually reported on the workings of this blog to the “board.” That means you. Doing so feels right, it’s a way to retain transparency without cluttering my writings with this kind of statement; “If you click HERE I will earn $0.16, if you buy THIS I will earn $4.05.” Or, on the other hand, “THIS has no monetization, your click will generates no profit of any sort.”

And, as always when one summarizes one’s efforts for a kind audience, the act of reviewing is useful to the worker herself. No further ado.

The Statistics of “Privilege” The Blog

  • 65,100 page views/month – holding steady from 11/2014
  • 25,200 unique visitors/month – up 20% from 11/2014
  • 53% repeat visitors – down 10% from 11/2014
  • 3500 subscribers (including email, Feedly, Blogger, Bloglovin’) email subscribers come to the blog and thus are included in page views, the others read in their platforms of choice and thus are not. Up ~15%

Strategic Issues

2015 didn’t surface many questions of readership strategy. Feels like the blog grows organically, as will most satisfying projects. I made very few efforts to promote Privilege last year. Few guest posts, if any, no brand competitions. Any press has been accidental; any mentions in the blogosphere just a conversation between friends.

As for content, I have made the transition from all personal style all the time to what is generally termed, in the blogosphere,  “lifestyle.”

We can deconstruct that word another day.

Monetization – 2015 Gross Income

  • Earnings via affiliate sales: ~$2000
  • Earnings via sponsored posts: ~$600
  • Earnings via ads and other paid clicks: ~$8000
  • Total up 5x from 2014

Strategic Issues

As you see, my earnings increased significantly, although they do not approach professional levels. Why the growth? I switched my primary monetization tool from RewardStyle to ShopStyle. RS uses affiliate links, i.e., commissions on sales, SS is a pay-per-click model. I have also established PPC relationships with some advertisers. This approach has been more profitable for me, and also feels more in line with my writings – i.e., while I’m not always saying “Shop for this,” I’m often saying, “Look at this, think about this, imagine this.”

I’d like now to revisit the question, why monetize at all? Reports to the board rely on bullet points.

  • Monetization provides a metric for someone like me who simply cannot relinquish the concept of achievement. I enjoy seeing the click results come in. They are like little chirps of companionship and participation.
  • And, as I said in 2014, in retirement these earnings are by no means nothing. They facilitate new sneakers, native plants, a jacket, a tray.

What are the risks of monetization? Alienating people, of course.

As it turns out, this process is somewhat self-regulating. If I don’t offer enough monetized links, I don’t get the feedback I enjoy. If I offer too many, you leave.  A lot of inner dialogue ensues, sometimes other bloggers raise their voices on the topic. I listen to them, but I continue. I listen to you who read and support the blog even more. Monetization talks, but emails from readers are more articulate.

Extraordinary Items

I usually take a break after one of these reports, like accountants after Tax Day. But last year, during several months of illness that kept me sofa-bound, I kept writing. It sustained me. This year, as it happens, we have just moved my mother into an assisted living facility. Her Alzheimer’s has progressed to the stage where she cannot remain at home. She needs a schedule of meals, activities, and sleep that even full-time home care can’t provide. As the only retired sibling, I’m doing much of the leg and paperwork. That’s as it should be, but I’d like to wait to take a blog break until the process is completed.

That means I’ll be here writing, occasionally distracted, always aware of the privilege. Onward. Thank you very much for reading. Those who comment, and it is by no means required, we’ve heard again and again that you are one of the best parts of this blog. Thank you for talking.

51 Responses

  1. I’m so sorry to hear of your mother’s continued decline. Hopefully knowing she is well cared for will provide comfort.

    I think your blog is well-balanced both in monetization and content; I’m glad to see it’s reflected in the numbers. Well done, Lisa!

    1. @Leslie K, Thank you so much. And it is a comfort to see Mom in a place organized completely around the right way to take of someone in her state.

  2. Very interesting. So far, mine is just a wee hobby blog, but it’s good to learn from the “big girls” in the field, and I do enjoy your posts. I can’t imagine how I could ever monetize my blog, since I write about about experiences and personal philosophy, rather than fashion and decorating. Nevertheless, I enjoy learning from style role models like you.

    1. @Rhonda Gilmour, Glad it is useful. My blog began as stories about my family background, and general musings on life. It grew into style because I saw that I could write about style, still address the questions of social meaning that interested me, and entertain myself and others. I was, essentially, taught by my readers. And other bloggers of course.

  3. My thoughts are with you on this journey of caring for your mom at this stage of her life. I help out when I can with the care for my 92-year old mother but the heavy lifting is being done by my brother and my sister who live closer by her.

    1. @Jane, Thank you. I will now be the nearest of her children. I’ll be visiting often, but heavy lifting will be done by the staff.

  4. Life has a way of working around it’s most unfair aspects. Thankful that you can do the heavy lifting, sorrowful that anyone has to.

    Thanks for the report. Next year, let’s have the BOD meeting in Capri!

    1. @Patsy, “Thankful that you can do the heavy lifting, sorrowful that anyone has to.” Yes. And Directors’ meeting in Capri! Or, say, Hawaii! Or, hey, Machu Picchu!

  5. Your annual report is always really interesting to me, Lisa. My two (and a half) year old blog has about one quarter the subscribers and page views of yours…. not that I spend my time comparing myself to other bloggers…just the ones whose writing and general blog approach I admire, like yours. I’ve been thinking of “monetizing” in some form. Still mulling that over. But what does concern me is that my readership has seemed to plateau. Not sure why. Not sure what to do about it, if anything. Perhaps I need a new way to get it “out there” although I post on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as well on several “blogger link-ups” and in several Google+ communities that are relevant to my content. I think what I do need to do is take some time to give the whole thing an overhaul, maybe a new look… with the same writing style and topics. Can’t (or won’t) change that… I write about things that interest me.. and have no desire to do a blog limited to just one of those interests. Just thinking out loud, here, you know.
    Hope the move goes well for your mum. Hard job that. Hang in there, my bloggie friend. xo

    1. @Sue Burpee, No cause for concern. I’ve been writing this blog since 2009! I recommend guest posting for the big bloggers in your domain. I did that with Sally of Already Pretty, Tish Jett, etc. Maybe you and I can find a guest post you could do here, if you like? One caveat, I do find that readers like some constraint on topics if you are going to grow beyond sheer personal blog status. At least, one topic per post, and then a sense of categories that you are writing in, i.e. this is a house style post, this is a garden post, this is a fashion post, this is a, well, meaning of life post:). Also, develop a sense of post lengths, i.e. 1000 words, 500 words, 200 words, and mix it up. But, of course, you didn’t actually ask for my advice. Ha! Oops?

  6. Hi Lisa,

    I read your blog regularly, tho I am not a subscriber. It’s pleasing to me to have corners of the world that I can visit when I need a certain kind of stimulation of the intellect and soul. I don’t buy anything, tho sometimes I click through to see what you’re talking about.I think this is my second comment in 4 or 5 years.

    This is all to say that you may not get dollars, cents, or a lot of click counts from me, but I am here! I appreciate your grace, transparency, and self-awareness. I am very glad you are there, sharing, and writing when you can and care and need to write.

    Many thanks, and much peace,

    1. @Lynn, So nice to hear from you! The clicks, or dollars, are in no way a requirement. You all give me so much in so many ways. I hope everyone always feels free to interact here in whatever way they like, from a quick read, all the way to full on commenting, following style recommendations, and meeting up in person. I aim to serve. Thank you so much.

  7. I am impressed by your earnings as your blog does not seem overly commercial to me at all. Something to think about for my retirement years, though readership of my blog is nothing compared to, but like you say, enough $ to provide a few extras.

    1. @Cathy, It’s a fun project, figuring how to monetize and with whom, in a way that mirrors what you wanted to say anyway.

  8. I commend you on the development of your blog. Guess I’m a member of your BOD, since I’m a frequent, if often nonsensical, commenter. WooHoo! I love this blog, and the comments. I especially like that you reply to those who comment.

    Am also so sorry you had to move Mom from her gorgeous home. I hated having to move my mother from her not nearly so lovely home. I know you have the satisfaction of knowing you are making the right, if often difficult decisions.

    1. @Mary anne, The way I imagine this, every reader is a member of the BOD. If you comment, or email me, you’re a voting member. And moving my mother was absolutely the right decision, in the end. She could no longer appreciate her beautiful house in any way that compensated for her feelings of anxiety and frustration around navigating a world she can’t manage any more.

  9. I hope your mother’s transfer into assisted living goes smoothly for everyone concerned.

    1. @Wendelah, Thank you. So far so good for Mom. Nights are still a problem, but we are working really hard, as is the staff, to sort it all out.

  10. Like Cathy I don’t find your blog at all excessively commercial – I read it for the writing really and why shouldn’t you earn something for that ?
    I echo my best wishes for your mother’s now necessary move . My mother had vascular dementia and died while I was still trying to sort out domiciliary help . She was 90 .

    1. @Rukshana Afia, Sorry for what you went through. My mom is *only* 83. We are so hoping that comfort and happiness, in her terms, is possible. And thank you for enjoying my writing – that is my highest-level goal.

  11. I move to give Lisa a raise! Since we are your board, of course. I hoped that made you smile.
    Was the NYT’s Alzheimer’s piece helpful? Or too close? I haven’t been closely touched by the disease – yet – but I feel like I have a much fuller picture.
    I’m glad you are not going away – I don’t really like your absances.

    Here is a distraction – I just got a pair of the black and white stripy palazzo pants (target) – but other than a white t-shirt I’m stumped…I’m trying to branch out and love how the pants feel (I’m 50 but continue to enjoy skinny jeans) so palazzo is new to me…

    Hang in there, have a cup of tea in your garden and appreciate your moment if you can

    1. @Jb, A raise! That is very cute. I think this is all merit-based – I just have to keep doing the best work I can, and taking on the opportunities that support that work. Always feel free to make requests or offer suggestions. And, for the pants, I’m thinking how about a floral print tee:). Seriously, one in bright colors, or in black and white? Where the pattern figure contrasts just enough with the stripes? Depends on your coloring, but I think it might work.

      On the other hand, a white tee is great;).

  12. I simply love to read your posts and am happy that you are doing well.
    This whole thing seems very interesting to me and it is so good that people who have to share and give a lot, have many possibilities to choose in a world wild/ wide web .
    It seems fair to me that all the time and effort (and it really is a lot of time and affort here) is prized.
    I could see (almost)all your skills from your past :-)
    Life really is like a box of chocolate,isn’t it?

    But,than, I am very sorry about your mother-although from my experience,living in a good assisted living facility is the best choice. She needs 24/7 care and there is nothing else to do in a modern world.
    It is sad to think about it,even for me as a stranger,I’m so sorry that you have to go through emotional experience like this,but love,care and your memories are something to stay with you for ever

    1. @dottoressa, I am gaining as much from my efforts as my mother is. We have a complicated history, she and I, mostly on my side. This is a way to even out the story, which it seems I needed to do.

  13. I don’t often comment, but feel the need to respond to the Board Report.
    Keep doing what you’re doing! I think your organic growth and development of the blog is what keeps it ‘real’ and authentic. Your business nous is such that the monitised component value adds rather than takes over, as I’ve seen happen in other blogs.
    I’m a big fan and admire your honesty and style.

  14. Oops posted before I finished. I also wanted to add my thoughts of support aTe with you at this challenging time in your Mum’s care. Look after yourself!

    1. @Meg, Thank you very much. If the monetization adds value, dang, that’s the best news. In fact that idea is often part of my internal discussion. Part of what I can do for you is highlight those objects of beauty, desire, utility, good value, that you may not have time to find. <3

  15. I thoroughly enjoy your writing, your style and the fabulous community here. Congratulations on your success in visitors and income – you should be very proud of your intended and unintended accomplishments!
    What an excellent way to supplement retirement income doing something you truly enjoy while bringing us along on your journey.
    Gone are the days when one could exist solely on social security, and thankfully there are so many more options to the retired for additional income. When my time comes to officially retire, I will continue my online skin care, and add online teaching which seems to be a growing market. Teaching will keep my mind sharp and provide satisfaction of investing my years of experience in future generations.
    The love, care and support you are providing to your mother is hopefully bringing you comfort and peace. Sending good thoughts and prayers for your family.

    1. @Candace, Your plans sound so well thought out. Online teaching is a growing field, and the need for qualified teachers is huge. Thank you very much.

  16. You have a very vast audience and it is well deserved as you have worked hard writing and researching new topics with which to keep us entertained…thank you for your mentoring expertise way back when I first started my blog.
    I am sorry to hear that your Mother has had to move into a facility…my husband’s Mother had to do the same when our 24 hour in home care workers could no longer cope with her needs.
    If I may offer any advice it would be to relocate her closer to where you live so that you do not have that long drive…
    Please take good care of yourself Lisa,

    1. @Bungalow Hostess, Thank you. Mom is now only 30 minutes away from me. I will be seeing her a lot. I haven’t been doing a good job of taking care of myself, at all. I’ll have to refocus now that Mom has moved.

  17. Very interesting report Lisa. I need to figure out where to click.
    I hope your mother’s transition to the assisted living residence goes smoothly. Thinking about you and your family as you all go through this.

    1. @Susan D., Thank you. Go on clicking as you please. I write these reports to feel the freedom of transparency, and I so don’t want to have the information constrain you! <3

  18. Never really noticed or cared that you were “monetized”. I come for the writing and enjoy it very much. We are heading down the same road with my mother-in-law, so I will be interested to see your thoughts on the transition. It’s a horrible disease for the family as well as the victim.

    1. @Carol, Thank you for the kind words on my writing. And for coming by. And it is an Alice down the rabbit hole experience to me – you simply can’t predict what’s coming, nor how you will react. So complex. Sorry to hear about your mother-in-law, I hope her course is as smooth as it can be.

  19. I appreciate your blog and am glad that you get some compensation from the clicks to your “recommendations”.
    Hope your mom’s transition goes smoothly for your family.
    Thanks for the report to your stakeholders and keep up the good work! (hehehe)

  20. Always interesting to read these “board reports” — I can understand the drive to have “measurables” for something that takes so much time and energy, although I’ve decided against monetising for myself (perhaps that decision might be different if my stats were such that I could expect to make real money! ;-)
    Selfishly pleased that you won’t be taking your usual break right in, and I really understand why you’d want the continuity of the writing and the reader contact. I’ve contemplated taking a few weeks off blogging while I’m going through the TimeSuck that is Moving, but there are too many times when I need what the blog gives back. I hope you find solace here because I know how tough it is to care for an ageing parent with declining cognitive abilities, especially from just enough distance to be manageable-but-very-wearing. xo

    1. @Frances/Materfamilias, The TimeSuck That Is Moving!!!! Oh lordy. So, yes, you and I are here blogging for similar reasons right now. And some day, some day, you and I can spend more time together than your last trip to SF, and can talk more, if you feel like it, about your mom. Here’s to a good move, and that patio in the sky.

  21. I second Lynn’s comments. It’s never occurred to me to subscribe as checking email is a chore; checking in via the blog and finding a new post however is a treat, a matter of preference. I find the entire issue of monetization fascinating. My thirteen year old is very savvy about this and is in the process of creating a you -tube channel for which he has immoderately high hopes. I think that I’m supportive but am not entirely certain. What happened to a simple paper route?

    I empathize with the situation you find yourself in with your mom. Some seasons of life are distinctly bittersweet. I’m sorry.

    1. @LB, Distinctly bittersweet. Occasionally hallucinatory;). And I think a monetized feed is the paper route of 2016. Apt metaphor;).

  22. It makes sense to me that you might want the writing and reader contact right now. Take a break when it is good for you. But then of course, I selfishly always enjoy your posts. And I’m sorry that your mother’s decline has progressed to this point, but understand fully the demands of caring for someone in the later stages of dementia. It is a wise, but still hard decision. Take Care.

    1. @Mardel, As I see my mom now, and having experienced the demands of coordinating in-home care, I am in awe of anyone who takes on that work. I think now of writing a “Dementia Will,” to let people know what I wish in that eventually.

  23. Catching up a bit here. Sorry to hear about your mom. Hope you can recall some better times over this Mothers Day weekend.

  24. The monetization arguments always make me laugh. Who cares?! I had no idea a blog could actually still make that kind of money so brava. But it seems like a lot of work so I’ll leave it to you. Moving family into assisted care is so hard, hardest on the one physically taking them and leaving them. Facing the contrast between our outside world and their inside world. You’re good to step up and take the large share of the work.

  25. DearHeart, xo xo xo.

    Yes to a raise!

    My mother thrived at her assisted living residence. It was comical how my siblings and I interpreted her desires as we were putting her darling little suite of rooms into shape, found that each of us 3 had an entirely different sense of what she’d want!

    Re further diversion for your sofa time, unless you’re already following Reggie on instagram. Miss his blog, but I’ll take him any way I can get him!

    Sending love.

  26. I am so impressed by your report – though it does make me wish I was a bit more organised. Ahem. Sorry to hear about your mum and hope things aren’t too testing. Keep on blogging.

  27. I love these posts – your candor keeps me coming back, Lisa :-) I can honestly say, this is the only interesting Annual Report I’ve read this year! Happy to hear that your blogging brings you fun money and that you have returned to health! Giving you many thoughts and good vibes to help you through as the main caregiver for your mother. I cannot imagine how difficult that must be, on every level.

  28. Lisa– I’ve been a reader for a while and always enjoy your thoughtful posts and musings on life. I’m so sorry about your mother. I live far away from mine and know that there will come a time when we will need to move her closer. I so appreciate you being transparent. I knew there was some value of the clicks (which I think is a fine way to run a blog) but never knew how much. I very much appreciate understanding how things work. Thanks so much and have a wonderful weekend, Beth PS– The post you did on your stepmother’s triptiks is saved for the future. One of these days, I am going to re-do my bedroom and there will be a home for her beautiful photographs!

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