The Pond Gets Loud: The Cost of Book Blogging – What Have We Learned? [Summary]

The Pond Gets Loud: A Summary: The Cost of Book Blogging. An illustration of Xiaolong wearing a lab coat and glasses, winking, standing next to a pie chart on an easel.

Hello friends! A big and warm welcome back to The Quiet Pond. I hope you are all reading some delightful and exciting books.

Our most recent book blogger collaboration series explored the costs of book blogging, and how much book bloggers were spending to maintain their book blogs. As a book blogger based in New Zealand, where books are expensive, I was interested in exploring how the cost of book blogging differs across different book bloggers.

In the last few months, I asked book bloggers to share their costs of book blogging with me. In the end, 25 amazing book bloggers shared how much they spend on book blogging a month or a year and what they spend their money on.

Xiaolong the pink axolotl, wearing glasses and a white scientist coat, in a 'thinking' pose.Today, I’ll be presenting a summary of everything that they have said to hopefully give you an idea of how varied book blogging costs can be. Specifically, I’ll be sharing with you the average cost of book blogging-related expenses book bloggers in this collaboration reportedly spend per month, what they were spending their money on, and the pressures that they feel and why.


A recap

Book blogging not only requires a lot of time, but it can cost money as well. Though the costs of book blogging varies from blogger to blogger – some book bloggers spend hardly any money whereas some book bloggers will invest a significant amount of money into their book blogs and platforms – book bloggers can agree that there is no set way, or a set amount of money that you need to spend, to be a book blogger. Nonetheless, we as a community don’t really talk about the costs – so I called for book bloggers to collaborate with me and talk about how much they spend on book blogging-related expenses.

It’s important to talk about the costs of book blogging because book blogging is an activity that many book bloggers blog do without remuneration. Book bloggers are free publicity for books; they promote books and generate publicity with no compensation. Although many book bloggers do not begrudge the cost of book blogging, book blogging is a hobby that requires an extraordinary amount of time and labour – and in a lot of cases, it costs money too. (Here is a summary of my previous collab, where we explored how much time book bloggers spent on their blogs.)

Thus, this Cost of Book Blogging collaborative series aims to promote transparency, how different book bloggers and their spending differ (there is no right or wrong way to book blog!), the different and unique experiences of various book bloggers and their financial costs of book blogging, but also the pressures they may face or feel to invest in their book blogs.


Where You Can Read the Responses

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading the outstanding contributions that book bloggers have made. In their responses, they detail what they are spending on average a month or a year, what they are spending on, and they also discuss the pressures they feel within the community to invest in their book blogs or books.


The Summary – What Have We Learned?

What did I do to put this summary together?

a presentation board stand depicting a pie graph with a smiley face on it.To put together this summary, I used all the responses that I received for the Cost of Book Blogging series, including a few that were not published, and compiled anything that would be interesting into quantitative data. All respondents were book bloggers. I was particularly interested in any costs that book bloggers spent on anything book blogging related (including books to read) per month and per year, what they were spending their money on, and whether they felt pressure to invest into books and/or their platforms.

Important things to bear in mind:

  • The summary is based on 35 responses, 25 of which were published in the book blogging collab and 10 of which wanted to remain anonymous. This is a small sample size (i.e., a very small group of people), and I wouldn’t say that this data is representative of the book blogging community as a whole.
  • 89% of the respondents were book bloggers, 7% were booktubers, and 76% were bookstagrammers (some book bloggers were more than one, hence the overlap).
  • I made the call for people to collab with me through my Twitter. Thus, people connected to me were most likely to participate. In other words, most of the people who responded were likely to blog about YA fiction or diverse books.
  • All currency was standardised and converted to USD (the most common currency cited in the responses).

Therefore, take the data below with a grain of salt! This should not be cited in any official reports because the sample size is far too small. Rather, use the below data to get an idea of the variance of costs, and to get an idea of what book bloggers out there are spending on.


How long have the book bloggers been book bloggers?

Of the 23 responses that I received (2 did not disclose), the range for the length of time the respondents had been book bloggers spanned from 12 months (minimum) to 108 months (maximum). The average time the respondents were book bloggers was 33 months.


What did the book bloggers do outside of book blogging?

This was not an explicit question that I asked in the survey (so I won’t spend too much time on this), but 14 book bloggers mentioned what they did outside of book blogging. (The remaining 8 respondents did not disclose). Of the 14 book bloggers that responded, 4 book bloggers were full-time students (28%), 7 book bloggers were employed full-time (50%), and 3 book bloggers were employed part-time (22%).


On average, how much do book bloggers spend on book blogging-related expenses per month?

Note: Most book bloggers provided estimates of how much they were spending on book blogging-related expenses. Some response provided responses such as ‘I spend between $20 – $50 a month’. Because the difference of $30 a month is pretty significant, I consistently used the lowest number. This can mean a variety of things: (a) the data may be underestimations, and (b) the data is more likely to account for months in which book bloggers spend less or no money on book blogging-related expenses.

In addition, some book bloggers provided their answers in money spent per month whilst some reported money spent per year. For the sake of consistency, I used money spent per month. Therefore, in responses that book bloggers gave a per year estimate, I divided their response by 12 to get a per month response. This is not a perfect estimate at all, and if I had the resources or time, I definitely would have made a more elegant questionnaire.

To give you an idea of the range: responses varied from spending $0 (minimum) per month to $200 (maximum) per month.

However, on average and from those who responded to my survey, book bloggers were spending approximately $45 USD on book blogging-related expenses per month.

graph-1-expenses.png

Whilst running the numbers for this summary, I noticed that after converting the numbers they provided to US dollars, it would seem that they spent very little on book blogging per month. For instance, a few respondents from the Philippines were spending between 110 PHP to 400 PHP a month. However, after converting these numbers to USD, they spent about $2 USD to $8 USD per month on books. It may seem like readers from the Philippines “aren’t spending that much”, but it should be noted that countries differ in their cost of living, and this analysis unfortunately cannot account for differences in cost of living. In other words, when thinking about the cost of book blogging, take a moment to consider what you consider to be ‘cheap’ and ‘expensive’ and how this may differ to someone else’s perception of what is considered ‘cheap’ and ‘expensive’.


What are book bloggers spending their money on?

I asked book bloggers what they spent their money on, or what they considered to be ‘costs’ of their book blogging. Unsurprisingly, an overwhelming number of people cited ‘books’ as one of their primary costs of their book blogging. Here are the results below:

Of the 35 book bloggers that submitted responses:

  • 91% of book bloggers said they spent money on ‘books’
  • 29% of book bloggers mentioned purchasing props for their bookstagram
  • 20% mentioned purchasing equipment for their blogging platforms
  • 17% mentioned travelling associated with their blogging platforms (e.g., cons, getting to locations, events, etc.)
  • 15% mentioned paying the fee for their domain
  • 14% mentioned book-related merchandise
  • 14% mentioned book box subscriptions
  • 5% mentioned paying for shipping for giveaways
  • 5% mentioned paying for library or audiobook subscription fees

Why are book bloggers spending their money on books or their platforms?

In their answers, some book bloggers mentioned their motivations underlying why they spend money on books or on their platforms. These are some of their responses:

  • They loved reading/books.
  • They wanted to support their favourite authors.
  • They like purchasing props for bookstagram enabled them to express themselves better.
  • They wanted to buy books so they could feature them.
  • They are passionate about books.
  • Buying books gave them comfort.

Did book bloggers feel pressure to spend money on books or invest in their platforms?

Of the 21 book bloggers that discussed pressures to purchase books or invest in their platforms, 18 book bloggers (85%) answered ‘yes’, 2 book bloggers (10%) answered ‘no’, and 1 book blogger (5%) answered ‘yes, but not anymore’.


What did book bloggers feel pressured to spend their money on?

As well as asking book bloggers whether they felt any pressure at all to spend or invest in books or their blogging platforms, I also asked them what they felt pressured to spend their money on. Their answers are as follows:

  • Many book bloggers stated they felt pressure to invest in their platforms financially to succeed (e.g., get the most recent releases, most popular book, etc. to succeed and get views).
  • Several respondents cited living up to expectations, regardless of whether the expectations came from themselves or the community.
  • Several respondents who used visual mediums (booktube, bookstagram) felt pressured to have aesthetically pleasing shelves, backgrounds, to wear make-up, and have a good outfit.
  • Several bookstagrammers stated they wanted the best items (books, merchandise, props, book boxes) to make their feed (a) look better, (b) more interesting, (c) gain more credibility.
  • A bookstagrammer pointed out that ‘big bookstagrammers’ used a lot of props, so they felt they had to do the same.
  • A booktuber described feeling pressure to have good equipment for filming to make good videos.
  • A Black and queer book blogger felt pressure spend money on books because they wanted to represent Black and queer book bloggers as there ‘weren’t many out there’.

Main takeaways
  • Of the book bloggers who responded, book bloggers spent, on average, $45 USD on book blogging-related expenses per month.
  • Book bloggers not only spend money on books, but also props for bookstagram, equipment, travelling to book events, and domains.
  • In general, book bloggers spend money on books because they love books or they want to support their favourite authors.
  • A large number of book bloggers felt pressure to invest in books or their platforms financially.
  • Most book bloggers felt pressure to spend money because investing in books/their platform is correlated with success with their platforms.

It’s important to remember that the statistics presented above are (a) averages and (b) come from a very small sample size!

Therefore, if you feel like the statistics do not represent you, please remember that:

  • There is no one right way to be a book blogger. You do not need to spend a lot of money to be a book blogger. If you spend a lot of money on book blogging, that’s valid. If you spend no money on book blogging, that’s valid too.
  • How much a book blogger spends on books or their platforms is a choice that they make – and whatever choice you make for yourself is valid.
  • Book blogging is a hobby that people do because they love it or enjoy doing it! And if you enjoy book blogging and love spending money on books or don’t spend money on books, that’s okay!
  • The purpose of this collab series was to promote transparency, because we never talk about how much we spend on book blogging. This post is not intended to undermine or criticise bloggers who spend too much or too little.

Let’s discuss!

bao 2Thank you all so much for reading this summary! Although this topic has stirred up discussions in the community – some of which may have been stressful or contentious – I hope that you all have learned something new or paused to reflect on the sheer effort and costs (financial, emotional, and time) that book bloggers give to their blogs and their love for books.

Once again, I am humbled by the amazing work that book bloggers do, and how much they selflessly give and their hard work. For the most part, book bloggers are truly awesome people, and I am honoured to be part of such a wonderful community.

Support our next collab!

Following the discussions about the cost of book blogging, it was clear to me that many book bloggers are ignorant of the experiences of book bloggers outside the UK, US, and Australia. The book blogging experience is not a monolith – and that has been clear across the two book blogging collaborations I’ve done so far – so in the next collab, I will be working with some incredible international book bloggers as they share their experiences in book blogging, being part of the community, and how their experiences are vastly different to more privileged book bloggers.

Let’s talk about it!

  • Were you surprised by the summary? Was there anything that was not surprising to you?
  • How does being a student, someone who is employed or someone who is not employed affect your ability to blog about books?
  • Do you feel pressure – whether from yourself or from the community – to invest in books and your platform?
  • What did you learn from this summary?

7 thoughts on “The Pond Gets Loud: The Cost of Book Blogging – What Have We Learned? [Summary]

  1. So interesting! I can tell you put a ton of work into this, so thank you! Loved seeing all the stats.
    Unfortunately in Canada books are quite expensive (compared to the US) but we also have a really great ARC system in which it is quite easy to get in touch with publishers to be put on their list of bloggers to receive arcs! Being able to reach out to them for arcs has cut down my cost of buying book significantly, and I also have a fantastic used book store near me.
    Always so interesting seeing other peoples experiences with blogging and the costs, I thankfully do not feel too much pressure to invest in things such as new releases as soon as they come out, but can certainly see how people do.

    Like

  2. These collab series are really excellent! It’s so interesting to find out more about different blogging experiences. And I thought that you handled the negative feedback you received with great dignity 💜 Looking forward to the next series!

    Like

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