How to Monetize Your Ministry Blog

I remember the first time I received one of “those” emails.

A lady had written in all caps saying, “HOW DARE YOU CHARGE FOR THE WORD OF GOD?!!!!! SHAME ON YOU! I’M DOING MYSELF A FAVOR AND UNSUBSCRIBING.”

Her comment really stung my heart.

I had offered nothing but free content on my ministry blog for four years. I had poured my heart and soul into my readers. I had also covered the expenses of running the blog and hosting it from our family budget. I’d  never had ads on my site or asked for a thing from my readers. (Which, in hindsight, was part of the problem… but we’ll get to that.)

But I knew the Lord had given me a resource to create- my first prayer journal- so in obedience, I invested to hire a designer to create the journal, paid for a service to deliver it, and upgraded my hosting… and here I was being shamed and reprimanded for “selling” the word of God.

Ouch.

It was a double slap in the face because I knew chances were good the same woman had gladly purchased a Beth Moore Bible study along her spiritual journey and thought nothing of it. And she probably gladly supported her pastoral staff; maybe even gave to other ministries.

It was wrong of me, though, to charge for a prayer journal.

Annnndd, I struggled. So much self-doubt, questioning myself,  and feelings of shame.

computer + How to monetize your ministry blog

The Struggle with Monetizing a “Ministry Blog”

I wondered if I was wrong for “selling” spiritual growth resources?

Was I causing people to stumble? Was I compromising my message?

Was I truly, as others accused, nothing but a sell-out by asking people to purchase something? And since I was running the blog to minister to others, should I be giving everything away for free instead?

I sure got the emails saying I should.

But I also knew that even ministries have to be self-sustaining… otherwise, they cease to exist, doing NO-body any good… and we didn’t have the wiggle room in our missionary family budget to foot the bill for providing free resources.

{After all, free resources aren’t free to the one who gives them away.} 

So I prayed. A LOT. I searched God’s word and called out to Him and asked Him to search my heart and reveal any impure way in me. I learned some surprising tips about blogging.

I spent months soul searching and praying through these questions with the Lord and He, in His goodness, began to give me some wisdom, peace, and understanding when it comes to monetizing my blog.

It was messy (par for the course when God births something new, right?) but what formed from those months of searching is what I call a “Philosophy of Monetization.”

In my opinion, every Christian blogger needs a Philosophy of Monetization… and the earlier the better. It will look differently for each person and that’s okay! But each of us needs to wrestle through the hard questions of WHY we do what we do and also HOW we will sustain and evaluate it.

What is a Philosophy of Monetization?

The POM was a document I wrote that outlined and clarified my beliefs (and included Scriptural support for) regarding each of the following. At the end of this post you can sign up to get a copy of it as well as a template for writing your own POM:

A. My biblical responsibility to my readers (how to decide when to make content free vs. paid and how to determine which affiliate products to share)
B. How the ministry would pay its bills and what to do in the event it wasn’t able to
C. My reader’s biblical responsibility to me (yes! This is scriptural as well. Keep reading)

It took me a long time to settle into and “own” these beliefs because, as you can imagine, this was all new to me! Being in traditional ministry my entire life (where the ministry operated on donations or gifts from members) I’d never HAD to think through any of these things. I had a lot of assumptions about money and ministry and what serving others looked like that had to be re-shaped and filtered through the Word of God.

Like I said, it was messy. But it was SOOOOOO worth it and the fruit of doing that hard work has been beyond my wildest imaginations. It has helped shape HOW I blog, WHAT I create, and how I serve my readers while also being a good steward of my time and resources.

Below are a few things the Lord showed me that have shaped my Philosophy of Monetization. At the end of this post, you can sign up for my FREE resource for creating your own Philosophy of Monetization as well as receive a copy of mine.

Lessons God Taught me that Shaped my Philosophy of Monetization

1. He reminded me that I don’t answer to man. I answer to Him. (Galatians 1:1,10) I learned there will always be someone judgmental, unfair, quick to make assumptions, jaded/cynical, or full of self-righteousness who feels the need to reprimand or condemn. The truth is, I don’t give an account to them. Ultimately, I’m not doing this for people- my job is to focus on pleasing my Commanding Officer (II Timothy 2:4) and being a faithful steward of what He has entrusted me to do.

 

2. He reminded me that no one places his or her lamp under a bucket. That would be silly, wouldn’t it?  If you have a lamp, you place it on a lamp-stand, as high up as possible, so that it will give light and help as many who need it. If God has given me a lamp, in the form of a Spirit-birthed resource, practical lesson I’ve learned, or story that could help another, I need not be ashamed of placing it on a lamp-stand. In fact, that is what stewardship demands. A steward is required to be faithful… and that means doing the best we can to multiply what we have, not bury talents, gifts, experiences or callings in the sand in fear or trepidation. (See Matthew 25:14f)

 

3. He showed me stewardship also means being self-sustaining. If you have a car, being a good steward of that car means keeping it running and in good condition. This means adding gas, getting the oil changed, and making timely repairs. Not doing these things would shorten the life of the vehicle. It doesn’t do you any good if the car doesn’t run because you failed to take care of it properly, right?

Likewise, a blog that shuts down because it can’t be maintained (i.e. pay its bills) serves no one.

I remember being broken hearted when another blogger friend told me she was shutting her blog down. When asked why, she said her blog was doing well… in fact, too well. Her email list was growing so rapidly that she could no longer afford it. Since she had no income streams in place, her only choice was to shut it all down, which she did. 😭

Most people (both readers and beginning bloggers) have no idea what it takes to keep a site up and running. While the expenses start out very low, they do grow as the blog does. Many bloggers don’t realize this. Talking with other more experienced bloggers about their monthly expenses or looking at other blogger’s monthly income reports can be very useful in knowing what to expect. As an example, here’s a screenshot of just ONE expense I’ve paid for this year (for my annual email service):


That’s a lot of money! As you can see, if I (or anyone else) is to minister online, the ministry has to build in ways to sustain itself… and I believe, should do so from the very beginning. You can only grow as deep and wide as your foundation. <—– sit with it. #wisdom

 

4. He showed me that I’m doing my readers a disservice by giving everything away for free. Now hang with me here! While most of the content I provide is still free, I came to understand it’s in my reader’s best interest to offer paid resources. Say what? Why?

Because asking someone to be personally vested and put a little skin in the game ensures they are far more likely to actually use the resources we provide. If we gave all our resources away for free, chances are extremely high they would be downloaded and never looked at again. There is simply too much noise out there competing for our attention. That’s NOT what we’re after!

What I want the most for my readers is for them to experience life transformation. This only happens, however, when they take action and actually USE the resources God has led me to put together.  Placing a small price on a resource is a way you and I serve our readers by 1. forcing them to make a choice and commit to their own growth and 2. raising the stakes to ensure they take action on the commitment they DO make.

Scripture also teaches that the one who receives a blessing should return a blessing to the one who bestowed it. This is ALL over Scripture and there are many awesome reasons for it (a study on this is extremely insightful!) When we don’t allow for reciprocal blessing, we rob our readers of something very special. In shortl, it is more blessed to give than receive. The ministry shouldn’t be the only one with the opportunity to give.

 

5. Finally, He schooled my heart with a humbling truth: the worker is worthy of his/her hire. (Luke 10:7, 1 Timothy 5:18) Although it seems humble to refuse payment for your labor of love (and undoubtedly sometimes it is), accepting it is WAY more humbling. It means that I embrace my own value, contribution to the Kingdom, and God-given purpose. Wow, that’s life-changing!

When we see what we do as God does- work worthy of financial renumeration- it gives us honor and dignity like nothing else. God’s approval is humbling. Just as Christ’s gracious call of Peter to, “Feed My sheep” three times after his denial of Christ, so His call on our lives motivates, lifts, frees, and empowers us. It’s why we work very diligently at what we do, investing hearts, souls, money, blood, sweat, and tears.  If someone doesn’t value what we do, or begrudges the low fee we ask for our resources, then they aren’t the person we are meant to serve. And that’s fine! We don’t need to serve everyone; we ultimately just want to be faithful to serve those God sends our way and who see the value and blessing in what we have to share, just as God does.

computer + how to monetize your christian blog

So… How to Monetize a Christian Blog 

I know this has been a long post and I’ll wrap it up, but we still haven’t talked about how to actually monetize a Christian blog, lol!

This is a question I get a lot so I want to invite you to learn more about how to monetize a blog via a special FREE, LIVE workshop I’m hosting with two of my Christian blogging friends (Christa Hutchins and Crystal Paine).

Crystal will be sharing from her 12 years of blogging experience the easiest, fastest ways to monetize a blog. I use these same ways as well!

Join us for this very special live webinar training with Crystal Paine on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019 at noon central and learn:

  • 5 ways you can start monetizing your blog,
  • the #1 mistake most bloggers make that keeps them from earning an income,
  • and how to build a profitable blog on a shoestring budget.

As ministry bloggers, we have a higher calling than just doing something we enjoy or love. Likewise, our purpose is far bigger than *just* providing financial support to our families. We have the privilege of doing Kingdom work… regardless of the niche we have chosen for our blogs. We are the aroma of Christ in every place we go, offline or on.

And God gives us permission to steward this Kingdom work unashamedly.

Join us for this ONE TIME ONLY opportunity with Crystal Paine on Tuesday, Sept. 17th to discuss very practical ways to do that.

Sign up for the live webinar here!

P.S.  If you can’t attend the webinar live, that’s ok.  You’ll receive a recording afterwards, so go ahead and sign up!

Grab the Philosophy of Monetization Toolkit here.

Similar Posts

10 Comments

  1. Arabah– you are a blessing! Thanks for sharing this. Points 4 and especially 5 about being worthy of hire are insightful. This topic has been something I have struggled with since I relaunched my blog in May/June after taking a 7 year hiaitus–that’s a long story – let’s just say that I had my own plans and wasn’t waiting for God to reveal His so I did my own thing for a while, even though I thought I was serving Him faithfully with leading Bible study and other volunteer positions at church. And now here I am, doing a different job during the day than I planned and blogging at night. I signed up for the webinar but may have to catch it later. I do have your Trust without borders devotional and am enjoying that! One thing for you–could you send the Philosophy of Monetization? I don’t see it attached for me to sign up for –only your Abide mini course.
    Blessings as you minister to others! Cindy

  2. Oh Arabah, I absolutely love this post! I know this is definitely a topic that Christian bloggers struggle with. I have as well in the past. I signed up for the webinar and cannot wait! Thank you for all that you do!!

  3. This is exactly what I needed to read!! Unfortunately I guess I am too late for the seminar – any chance it was recorded? Absolutely been wrestling this out and seeking His answers

  4. Hi!
    Thank you for allowing God to use you in this space. I too, struggled for the longest time about selling Christian books and my faith-based fragrance line. It’s encouraging to know I am not alone. God didn’t give us these talents and gifts to just collect dust until he returns. In my time with Him, he laid on my heart that the service and products I provide are not for me, but for His glory. I don’t know if I’m planting the seed or watering the seed with services and products, but God will make it grow. To him be all glory, honor and power. I just need to be a ready vessel. May God continue to bless you and keep you!

  5. Thank you for this! It’s something I’ve been struggling with as well. I started my blog to help our family income, but over time started to wonder if my motives were wrong. I want to help wives, but first and foremost I want to serve God.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.