lewis and heather

My 5 year-old son and I

I started Dollar Store Crafts in 2008, never dreaming it would become as popular as it has. This blog has opened up a lot of opportunities for me, and I have loved every minute of working on it! Because we do things magazine-style around here, I don’t get a chance to talk to you personally as often as I should. So, I decided to open up a spot on the weekends for myself to write a personal-style blog entry (just like in the good old days! Did you know I’ve been blogging since 2000?). If you don’t like personal blogs, feel free to skip this post every weekend. I won’t mind!

If you DO want to get to know me a little bit more, this will be the place to do it. I will try to let my personality out just a little bit more in these posts!

I plan to use this column to share what’s going on with me, what’s going on behind the scenes at Dollar Store Crafts, and any other thing I feel like.

Item #1: A For-Profit Blog

I love Dollar Store Crafts. I love it more than you do. It’s my baby, and I have spent the better part of the past three years thinking about this website. I spend all of my free time, and a lot of my other time tending to this site, from overseeing writers, to collecting great ideas and sharing them, to writing articles, AND to working on the business end of the equation. For the first year of its existence, Dollar Store Crafts was ad-free. I just wrote the site for the love of the content and for the love of writing and sharing with others.

I didn’t even know how popular this site was. I had no idea what the traffic numbers meant compared to other sites. Then, a wise friend and mentor told me that I could “monetize” the site to make some money.

“Monetize” isn’t a dirty word

You might cringe when you read the word “monetize,” but it’s not a dirty word. What is dirty about getting compensated for 60 hours a week of hard work? What’s dirty about being able to pay for original high-quality content from our contributors? What’s dirty about supplementing your family income, and getting paid to do what you love? I wrote about this topic at length on my craft blogging resource site, Crafterminds: Why Readers Hate it When You Make Money.

You don’t feel dirty when you read MarthaStewart.com or Craftzine.com do you?

Money = More Content for You

Here’s the thing: I’m not interested in monetizing at the expense of good quality content. When I first put ads on this site, I was posting one feature post a day, and 2-4 original tutorials a month.

That was 30 posts a month, average.

In this month (October 2011), we have posted: 85 posts. A whopping 16 of those posts were original tutorials, or 4 tutorials per week. Four of the posts this month were “sponsored” or promotional, and the rest were features of the best crafts we’ve seen this month.

There’s no way we could have increased our content to that level (averaging 3 posts a day) without bringing money in on this site.

How We Make Money

There are a few ways we bring in money: ads (mostly 3rd party ads, served by “ad networks”), sponsored posts (I always try to tie them into things you would be interested in AND provide some unique content so the post has value beyond being an advertisement), and with giveaways.

Which brings me to

Item #2: Giveaways

You might notice that last Friday, we posted a Giveaway post. While giveaways are not unheard of at DSC, they are few and far between. I started DSC for the love of crafts, and for the love of sharing good ideas, and I have tried to keep that theme consistent in all of our content. BUT, I polled the DSC Facebook fan page, and 88% of the responses said they loved giveaways, and that DSC should have more of them.

Since giveaways are a possible way to supplement our site income, I have decided to be more open to holding giveaways. I will curate the giveaways to make sure that they are a good fit for our site, and I solemnly swear to keep DSC as non-tacky as a dollar store-themed website can be.

Now It’s Your Turn

That’s it for this weekend. Please feel free to sound off in the comments about what you’ve read here. If you have negative opinions, that’s fine too, as long as you make sure to be constructive in your criticism. After all, you can see now that there’s a real person behind this blog!

Do you like the weekend confessional? How do you feel about this blog being for-profit? How do you feel about giveaways?