In this blog post, I tell-all about my decision to remove ads from my blog, High Desert Yarn. The reason goes beyond the annoyance of ads for visitors, and myself. Keep reading to learn about this new change to High Desert Yarn in 2024.
Before we dive in deep, please keep in mind that…
- Most crochet designers are a one-person operation. Most crochet designers start out completely on their own. Most of us are still doing this by ourselves. Some of us can afford to hire help. Some of us barely make the ends meet for our business.
- This post is lengthy to explain the whole ad-revenue process, and how it links to free blog hops.
- I wrote this blog post from my perspective and experience. It is a reflection on the crochet designer/blogger industry, and how High Desert Yarn (HDY) fits into this industry.
- This blog post IS NOT to degrade ANY crochet pattern designer/blogger. But I do believe we (as crochet designers/bloggers) need to give some serious thought to free blog hops, how it’s affecting our beloved industry, and if it’s the best strategy moving forward.
Thank you for understanding. 🧡
Let’s Learn WHY Bloggers Use Ads
The Simple Reason – Ads are a Source of Income
Websites are expensive to operate. Hosting fees, domain name, SSL certificate, hiring a web designer, and more add-ons cost money. Most of which are reoccurring expenses year to year. Someone pays for the website to keep running, and the money comes from somewhere. Bloggers finance blogs through digital products, affiliate sales, teaching courses, and/or ads.
Ad revenue is a popular way to cover the costs of running a website. People visiting the website is all it takes for ad revenue to profit the blogger. Then, the blogger doesn’t need to ask for a sale from their audience, but to ask their audience to visit the blog. After the website fees are paid, the extra ad revenue goes into building the business, or the blogger’s personal finances. That sounds like a double win, right? You (the consumer) don’t have to buy anything to support the crochet designer/blogger; while the designer earns an income from their work.
Bloggers put ads on their websites, because the opportunity to earn a large income through ad revenue exists. Some bloggers make hundreds or thousands of dollars each month in ad-revenue alone. That is incredible! The hope of earning a large residual income is a big reason why bloggers put ads on their blogs. It’s what I hoped for when I started this blog in January 2019.
Ads Provide Residual Income IF People Visit the Blog
Please note there is a big IF in this process.
Ad income works if… bloggers are approved for a well-paying ad network.
Bloggers can apply to a well-paying ad network if… enough people to visit their blog.
For a crochet blogger to partner with a well-paying ad network (one that pays $100s – 1,000s per month) the blogger needs roughly 50,000 sessions (visit from 1 person) to their blog in a 30-day period to qualify for the ad-network. Ad-network requirements vary between ad networks, but the pay also varies.
If both of these things happen… then they will earn a decent income from blogging if… people keep visiting their blog.
By this point, there is enough website traffic to earn a decent residual income month to month. The website costs are covered with extra income to be spent elsewhere. But, getting to this point costs the blogger time to learn then, implement SEO and marketing strategies. Or it costs the blogger money to hire someone to do it for them.
SEO and Pinterest Marketing are two proven ways to increase website traffic. But, they are long-game strategies. It can take months for the effort to pay off, but designers have bills to pay today. Plus, being patient isn’t easy in the fast paced world we live in. This tension leads to a popular short cut.
The Shortcut to Long-game Strategies is Free Content
Free blog content comes in various shapes throughout the crochet industry. You can go to most crochet designers’ websites and find a dropdown menu of free resources. These resources include—stitch tutorials, yarn information, care guidelines for different fibers, pdf printables for tracking projects, pattern roundups, how to articles, crochet patterns, etc.
There is nothing wrong with free content.
As a beginner crocheter, the free stitch tutorials and patterns I found on the internet were invaluable to me. I didn’t live near a library to find books teaching crochet. Plus, I didn’t live near another crocheter who could teach me in person. My crochet beginning relied on the crochet designers that shared free instructions in exchange for my time spent on their website.
The value I found in free crochet resources is a huge reason why I offer free crochet resources. Sharing my knowledge base, and a handful of my patterns, is needed to build the crochet community at large. So, taking ads off my blog isn’t about removing all the free content. But, it’s about exiting a rat race of getting onto the best ad-network.
What is valuable any longer to High Desert Yarn (dare I say the whole crochet community) is participating in free pattern blog hops. These blog hops serve the host the most, the participating designers second, and the crocheters (you) the least. Personally, I’d rather come up with a way to attract enough website visitors without using other designer’s hard work as my solution.
The Elephant in the Room – Free Blog Hops
If I haven’t stepped on your toes yet, I might do so here. Please read through this section thoughtfully. Consider the impact of free blog hops to the crochet community as a whole. My intention isn’t to hurt anyone; it’s to make the crochet community a better place. 🧡
Blog hops are a means to an end.
Did you know that blog hops featuring a free pattern every day exist because of ad-revenue? Bloggers host a blog hop, usually for a month, to gain the sessions to apply for one of the better ad-revenue networks. (The ones that require 50,000 sessions in 30 days. That’s A LOT of people to attract to your blog in a short time period.)
Blog hop hosts donate their time to write the event page, create marketing photos, wrangle participants, design crochet patterns, and provide customer service. Blog hop hosts do a ridiculous amount of work for the event. But, the only way for a blog hop to be successful is for 25-30 other crochet designers to give away one of their patterns for free.
Blog hop participants give away a pattern for free for 24 hours. In exchange, they could gain newsletter subscribers, social media followers, and ad revenue. They do not earn a percentage of the host’s ad revenue. They do not gain enough sessions in a 24hr period to apply for a new ad network. The majority of their effort goes to supporting the blog hop host, and the host’s business.
As a new crochet designer, it’s easy to get caught in this riptide of blog hops. The hope of doing one more blog hop, to gain a few more newsletter subscribers, who may buy a pattern… will eventually build the business of her dreams. But how can you build the business of your dreams if you’re consistently building someone else’s dream business?
After acknowledging the flaws in the free blog hop system… I wonder if there is better way to build crochet design businesses?
Let’s Set the Record Straight
I’m a Past Offender of the Blog Hop Host
You can easily scroll through past blog posts to find the blog hops hosted by me. The Comfy + Cozy Blog Hop from Fall 2019… that landed me a spot on Ezoic (the ad network I recently left). I had over 10,000 page views in 30 days!
The At Home Blog Hop from April 2020… that earned me about $200 in ad-revenue. It paid for half of my website costs for a year!
Each time I participate in a free blog hop, I earn $10-20 from ad revenue from Ezoic in one day. If I do at least one per month, that covers the remaining half of my website costs for the year!
Earning ad revenue through blog hops often feels like trying to catch pennies raining from the sky. My hand-eye coordination fails while my hands miss the coins, and they ping my eyeballs. Ouch! Grasping for pennies left me out of breath, distracted, and discouraged.
After 3 years of participating in, or hosting, blog hops, I jumped out of that routine in 2023. Giving away my time, creativity, mental energy, and pattern sale revenue drained me to the point of massive burnout. The quality of my crochet patterns suffered, and lacked the enthusiasm infused into my best-selling crochet patterns. (Y’all, I’m so sorry that my patterns stopped being of excellent quality.)
The truth became stark once I compared the math between selling crochet patterns, and giving away crochet patterns. Selling 100 patterns in a year at $4 each, after all the Etsy fees, covers website costs for the year. While I would need to give away 10,000 crochet patterns in free blog hops to cover website costs for the year. It’s the bold, black writing against the white wall that I needed to change the direction of High Desert Yarn.
How I’m Moving Forward with High Desert Yarn
First, I’m saying no to free blog hops. Even if a designer friend needs a spot filled, I cannot break that promise myself. Instead, I’m going refine my current patterns to re-release them. Also, each new crochet pattern will be extremely well written, and infused with that pre-burnout enthusiasm.
Second, I’m creating High Desert Yarn into my cozy corner of the internet. My hope for HDY continues to be one of encouragement + empowerment for crocheters and women. HDY is the place to come if you’re wild about crochet, over the moon with hand dyed yarn, and your love affair is nature. We’re going to keep learning together on this fiber journey.
Third, I’m saying goodbye to Ezoic and Google Adsense. Ads are officially off the blog, and I couldn’t be more excited. Although necessary in some cases, ads drive me crazy. Aesthetically, they never looked great on the blog. Some visitors thought they were scam pop ups, and other times the ads would crash my website. With the ads gone I can focus on creating a space that I’m proud to invite people to visit. Maybe, someday I’ll put them back on, but for the time being I’m focusing on other revenue sources.
What’s Next For You…
Here are a Few Questions to Reflect Upon
Free blog hops encourage people to be consumers. At this point in the modern world, consumerism is “the norm”, so it feels acceptable to download all those free patterns. But, how many of those patterns have you crocheted? One.. five.. ten? There are 45 pdfs from free blog hops in my Ravelry Library. I’ve made ONE of the forty-five. So, what is the point of downloading patterns if I do not crochet them? Why are you holding on to patterns to maybe, someday crochet?
Instead of hopping from blog to blog for a free PDF pattern download, what if you decided to support designers in a better way? The better way to support crochet designers is to put money into their bank accounts. Designers are small businesses, operated by one person (in most cases), and yet, we still expect them to give away free PDF patterns on top of the generous free resources.
Two Ways to Support Crochet Designers with Your Time or Money
- TIME METHOD – If you want to crochet a pattern that is free on the blog, AND the blog has ads, then, stay on the blog to work from the pattern. Support the crochet designer through your time. Do not screenshot the pattern. Do not copy + paste the pattern to print it. Don’t cheat the designer of the income they hope to make by offering a free pattern supported financially through ads.
- MONEY METHOD – Buy the pdf pattern, or request it for a birthday/holiday gift. Most patterns are highly affordable in this current economy. But, if you are tight on money, then opt for the Time Method. If you love a deal (who doesn’t?!) then, subscribe to a designer’s newsletter. Most designers LOVE to spoil their loyal audience with exclusive coupons, and sales.
If You Made It This Far – THANK YOU
Thank you for reading through this post to the end. It’s long, and may bring up uncomfortable thoughts/emotions. My hope is that you learned a little more about the crochet industry + community. All of us make up this glorious, vibrant, beautiful crochet community. None of us would be where we are without the designers who came before us. Let us now rally around our favorite designers so that the next crochet generation has something to stitch.
Thank you for reading and supporting the work I do at High Desert Yarn. 🧡 – Joanna