Ask Jo: Links and Blog Courtesies

Every so often questions and comments come from readers that I think others would like to hear my response to.  That’s when I feature them on the blog.  This is one of those days

I’ve had a question two (now three) times in the last couple of weeks.  I’ve had it in the past too.  I ignored it then.  The first time most recently that the question came,  I thought I’d let it pass as it’s an awkward answer to write but then the question came around a second time after I wrote a second blog post so I thought I should answer the question.

The first time the question was asked, it came in reference to this quilt, Pumpkin Patch by Bonnie Hunter.  I had written an “Ask Jo” post after someone asked me for the measurement of the pieces to make this quilt.  You can read that post HERE.
You can find my original post about the quilt HERE if you want more info on the quilt.

In the comments, Ruth said, “Jo, you mention Bonnie Hunter but you don’t post a link to her blog, and it isn’t one of the blogs on your blogroll. It might be helpful to add her info to this post, since you show the beautiful Pumpkin Runner she designed, and to your blog roll if you want.”

The second time a similar question came after I wrote another blog post about a Bonnie Hunter quilt I was sewing…It’s the quilt you see in the “Sew with Jo” link below.  The quilt is Holy Toledo.

You can watch the episode here in the blog post or you can find it HERE on Youtube if you missed it.  You can read the whole post that the question came from HERE.

In the comment section, Amy asked,…I love your ‘Sew with Jo’ videos. Keep them coming! Would like to see another floss tube also. I have a question about your links. Is there a reason you linked the Bonnie Hunter book to Amazon and not to her site? Just curious. I have a few of her books, but I have yet to make anything from them. Maybe this winter will be the time to start. Thank you for the inspiration!

Before this blog post published, I got yet another question from Sandra B,
Hi Jo…    On this morning’s blog post, you posted about a UFO you are working on, using a Bonnie Hunter pattern, and anyone who has read your blog for any length of time knows you are a big fan who has completed numerous quilts from her books. My question…when you post a link to Bonnie’s patterns/books, why don’t you link to her website instead of linking to Amazon? That way she would have the benefit of getting the entire sales price and not just a commission… just wondering…    Enjoy your blog so much!  Keep inspiring us!!  I also enjoy your videos…”

First off and upfront I want to say Bonnie Hunter is one of my favorite quilt designers EVER.  I’ve met Bonnie several times.  I’ve hosted two retreats that she has been at.  I’ve always had a great experience.  I think she’s a great person.  I try to catch her blog a couple of times a week.  She has been a great influence on me.  I only have happy feelings towards Bonnie.

Now to the part that people who read blogs but aren’t behind the scenes don’t always know or understand that kind of gets awkward.  My blog is part a journal for me…and part a business.  It is the truth.  I make money from the blog through advertising.  A portion of it goes back towards expenses as there are some.  A portion of it buys my craft supplies and a portion buys my groceries among other day to day living expenses.  Now more than ever as I’m not doing full swing childcare, I need to watch out for myself.  Prior to my ending regular childcare, and prior to Kramer’s death, the blog income was more or less my spending money.  Things changed.  I have to make a living.  Trust me, I am not rolling in life insurance money and there are not big 401Ks to fall back on.  I’m okay…but I have to work to be okay.  So, I work but I do all I can to make it not look like or seem like work.

One of the ways for me to get money via the blog is through advertising.  That’s why you have to put up with looking at ads.  I hate it but as I said, I have to do it to support the blog expenses and my living.

Another way to make money from the blog is through affiliates.  When you buy something from Amazon, if you use a link from my blog, I get a small tiny commission.  So for example when I did the post about things I loved from Amazon, if you bought the popcorn popper, ( Find it HERE)

Amazon paid me something like 4% (I’m not sure of the current percentage) of the cost of the popper.  You didn’t pay any extra for the popper.  Amazon gives that commission to me more or less as an advertising fee because you likely wouldn’t have bought the popper had you not heard how much I love mine.  Some of you, like me before I bought mine, didn’t know the microwave popcorn popper existed.

By the way, I only ever write or provide links to things that I truly, truly love.  I’d never endorse anything I don’t like.

So…now that you know how affiliates work.  I want to put this all into perspective in regards to links to other items like Bonnie Hunter’s books.  If I link to Amazon, and you buy the book, I get a commission.  If I link to Bonnie’s site, I get nothing.

If you go to a quilt shop, the owner of the shop makes a model of a quilt and has the book on display next to it that she can sell and make a profit from, that is completely normal.  The quilt shop owner sells the book and makes a profit.  No one thinks anything of that.  It is a business.  The shop owner certainly doesn’t say “Wait, you don’t want to buy that book from me,  you want to buy that book directly from the designer of that book.  Here is a link to her online shop so you can buy the book.”  That would be silly.  The owner put in all that work to prompt you to buy the book, why shouldn’t the shop owner get a profit from the book?

Now, let’s transfer this all to me.  I’m a little like that quilt shop making a display quilt.  It doesn’t make business sense for me to send someone elsewhere to purchase a book that I can offer through Amazon and make a profit.

I certainly understand that the author gets a smaller profit this way, but still, there is a small profit and I did, through the making of the quilt and periodically blogging about it, expose a lot of people to the quilt, the designer’s blog, and the designer themselves.  A quilt shop doesn’t provide any links or praise or recognition of quilt designers when they make quilts and sell books.  I do.  I believe I am supporting the designer but in a way, many of you cannot.  I support them through free mentions on my blog and other social media platforms (essentially free advertising for them) and links.

Remember, I am a business.  Small and tiny, but a business.  I need to make a living thus I link to Amazon.

…and no.  I don’t make quilts designed by others with the intention of making a profit.  I make them because I love them and if I happen to make a small commission because a book got sold through Amazon, that’s an added bonus.  If a designer offered a commission to me for linking to them instead, I’d do that, but an offer like that has not been extended to me, so I haven’t.

As far as a blog roll goes…I really don’t pay attention to or use my blog roll myself.  In fact, two years ago I took it off the blog.  I really don’t like it there.  It’s more cluttered and the blog doesn’t look as clean.  But, I had blog readers write and ask me to put it back so I did.

Now to the blogroll portion of the question:  My original blog roll started as a listing of blogs I liked.  Then I got too busy writing my own blog to read other blogs.  Back then, if I read someone else’s blog roll and they had my blog on their blog roll, I would reciprocate and add their blog to my list.  I don’t do that anymore as honestly, I really don’t read many blogs…3 maybe and one isn’t even about quilting or crafting.  I’m too busy doing my own stuff.  You all like to read two posts a day here and in order to that, my computer time needs to spent writing those blog posts.

Nowadays, if I have time, and if someone writes and asks to be added to my blog roll, I often add their blog after I go and check their blog out.  Bonnie has never written to me and asked me to be included on my blog roll. So in keeping with my way the blog roll has been currently managed, I haven’t added anyone who hasn’t asked to my blog roll.

Have you looked at Bonnie’s blog?  The last time I looked, she didn’t have a blog roll.  I am not listed on her blog anywhere.  She has provided no link to my blog.  She has not made any of my quilts.  She has done no promotion of my business.  I don’t expect her to.  She is running her business how she wants…but, I also want to run my business the way I want.  Remember, we BOTH have businesses.

Overall, I believe I’ve done a lot of free advertising for several designers.  Over the years I have done Crazy Mom projects, Patchwork Times projects, Country Threads projects, Quilted Twins projects, and Quiltville projects.  I believe I’ve been fair in linking to their books and free patterns if I use them.  I believe I have been respectful and honored all copyrights.  In the future, if I happen to make a project by other designers, I will continue to link and do what I feel is fair and respectable in terms of their business AND my business…but, I will treat them all as business decisions remembering that they have bills to pay AND I have bills to pay.

The bottom line is I need you to know, I am a small business (correction: tiny business).  Sometimes I have to make business decisions.

Before I close, I want you to know, I am not at all upset by the questions that were asked.  I know they were asked by people that don’t know the behind scenes of blogging and that part of blogging can be a business.  I know those that asked the questions likely didn’t see me as a tiny business. That’s all okay.  I glad that all came to light.  I love that my readers feel free to ask me most anything and I really want you all to keep doing that.

Again, before I close, I really want to make sure that everyone knows, I completely and totally respect and admire Bonnie.  She has blazed a path into the quilting world that is admirable.  She will always be someone I look up to.  I appreciate that she runs her business, in fact, I admire her and her business.   I always have and I always will.  Absolutely nothing in this post is meant any other way.



38 thoughts on “Ask Jo: Links and Blog Courtesies”

  1. Well stated. A nice look at behind the scenes blogging and money-making from it. I think people think you blog for the fun of it and there’s no fees to you as a blogger. But that just isn’t the case. And any blog that I’ve ever read that took on this subject has said just what you said, there’s not a lot of money to be made. On a slightly different subject, do your kids pay you when you do daycare for them? And in reality that is none of my business. So don’t answer that in a future column. Thanks Jo.

    1. Lisa…my kids do but they pay less than the going rate. It’s a deal we worked and it works marvelously. Besides partial money compensation, the kids pay for pizza if we order out. They pick up milk on their way home. They grab a couple of loaves of bread and a bag of potatoes for me. It’s all part of the pay too. It really is a great deal as I don’t think they realize how much all of that adds up. Craig will go through my lawnmower and get it ready this spring and there will be no charge. I so appreciate that. Being I have other grandkids who I can’t care for as they live too far away, some compensation is necessary to be fair…but being they do all these things for me, we’ve decided that this all works well.

  2. Judith Fairchild

    Hi Jo, I consistently read two blogs yours and Bonnie Hunter’s. I enjoy both! And look forward to them. I. Got my wool mat after both you and Bonnie reccomended them. And used your link. There are other things I will probably get in the future because you have reccomended them. Thank you so much for all the work you do. I have been watching your videos and learning from you there also. Thanks again.

  3. Jo, I really enjoy reading your blog once or twice daily and love your friendly writing style and all that you share. Hope you are able to continue for a long time. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I think the title of this blog should have been ‘the more you know’. :) Thank you for the clarification. I have a blog too but I don’t use it as a business. I understand now what you need to do and I respect that. I will continue to read both of your blogs and follow the links to anything I may want/need in the future. I love your little business and have purchased a few patterns. Thank you for letting us into your life and sharing your love of quilting. Continued success!

  5. Jo, this was an excellent and thorough explanation. Your comparison to quilt shops really brought your point home too. Thank you for all of your great content and now your videos – love them!

  6. Thank you for the simple explanation of how blogs work. I’ve been trying to remember to check your Amazon account before ordering anything. Have you ever thought of taking Sunday off from blogging like Bonnie does? I absolutely love your two posts per day but also understand how much time it takes for you to do so. You deserve a day off to focus on yourself and your family. By the way, I had a dream about your awesome sewing room last night, I was sitting at your tv tray sewing next to you. I guess I shouldn’t have watched it a second time before going to sleep!

  7. I too am a small business owner and my first reaction to this post was that it was a bit snippy. Then I remembered that quilting is my hobby, not my source of income. If I had a blog based on my business, I’d feel the same as you. I have two of Bonnie’s books so far, one preowned from eBay for around $7 and the other bought through Amazon because I had a $10 promotional credit. Her Essential Triangle Tool was also purchased through Amazon as I had another $10 credit. I can’t say for sure that I used your links for those. While I do intend to purchase the others from Bonnie herself if she has another sale, I won’t hesitate to buy from Amazon using your links if I can find it a few dollars cheaper. I am hoping to purchase one of the Nido wool ironing mats after Christmas and you will definitely be getting a commission on that. Yes, I considered one of the cheaper mats, but your recommendation and stellar reviews have led to the Nido mat.

    As for your blog roll, it is your blog. If you want to remove it do so. I seldom click on it due to the fact that I like the format on other blogs better, where the blogs are arranged by the most current posts. I can easily see if anything new has been posted versus clicking on a link for a blog that hasn’t been updated in a year or more. I do religiously read a few blogs everyday, yours and Bonnie’s are among them.

  8. Thank-you for saying so much. I am not sure I would have. It is interesting to read the question you get. Some people are so loyal to a few people. Happy Creating.

  9. Your pizza spaghetti idea is the bomb! I made it yesterday and is a new favorite in our household! Thanks for the inspiration!

  10. This article about blogs was very informative and well written. Especially about the quilt shop owner as an example. I don’t read the blog rolls but I do read your articles listed, most recently about machine binding. I’m always interested in your family life and wish you well.

  11. Your post was well written. I can’t imagine anyone, especially Bonnie Hunter, would take offense to any of your comments. I’m sure you’ll get the same questions again and again and now you’ll have this post you can refer them to.
    If it weren’t for you posting about them in your blog I probably wouldn’t shop at Whittle’s Fabrics and Quilted Twins. You are very good at giving credit where credit is due.

  12. Jo, thank you for offering up the clarification to those questions. I really enjoy your blog and hope you continues to write it. I have also purchased a few items on your amazon links and I have enjoyed each item, thank you for the reviews. I think I need to check out that popcorn popper.

  13. A very well written post, Jo. Thanks for taking the time to clarify why you do what you do. I appreciate your blog for what it provides as I appreciate Bonnie’s for what it provides.

  14. I never gave this issue a thought until I read the comments and could see that the writers had a point. Then I read your very excellent quilt shop analogy and saw this question from a whole different perspective. Thanks not only for the explanation but for reminding us there there are always two (sometimes more) sides to every story. That’s especially important to keep in mind these days.

  15. Hi, Jo. I am pretty new to your blog but I really enjoy it. I also love seeing recommendations for products from folks who have used them and can demonstrate how they work for them. I really enjoyed your Christmas gift recommendations. I don’t know how it is done, but I would love it if you would include a link and have your own Amazon store even with separate sections for the products you talk about so I could get right there instead of going back to find the post. (Bonnie Hunter did this recently, and I thought it was brilliant.) If I need to purchase something anyway, I would just as soon give the benefit to someone I “know”, sort of. I have metal shelves but had not found anything that really fit so I am going to go look at those totes you shared! Thanks again.

  16. Jo, it is kind of you to take the time to explain this to your readers. I was a bit surprised however, as I understood all of these details from reading your Blog daily over the years. Perhaps they are new readers?

    Your business your way.

    Great arrangement you have with the kids for sitter fees. Partial barter for services is a wonderful exchange of value. I wish our country would get back to this!

    Happy Friday to you! Enjoy those Kramer grands :-)

  17. Jo, Thanks for your interesting explanation on blog advertising. I so enjoy reading your blog and am amazed at how much you accomplish. For those asking for links, google is your friend.

  18. Well, there you go…I learned something new and interesting today. I always wondered how these mysterious things work and you explained it really well!! Thanks to those who asked the questions and THANKS to you for the concise and informative answer!! Keep your needle threaded…

  19. Jo, regarding babysitting, I didn’t have grandmas nearby to help when my kids were growing up but what you described is the way my friends handled it as well. Most had a daycare provider but needed help when the provider went on vacation. Or grandma babysat one regular day each week. A wiw-win for all involved, including the kids!

  20. Jo – I always find it interesting when you share with us some of the ‘behind the scenes’ of how blogging really works. I found your explanation of a local quilt shop selling books and patterns and not telling customers to get them from the designer interesting. It makes complete sense to me. I’ve always felt that if designers aren’t happy with their commissions from selling on Amazon, they wouldn’t have items there for sale. That is to say, if a designer didn’t want to sell on Amazon, they would only sell their books and patterns themselves.

  21. Jo;
    An excellent response Jo! Very nicely explained, although I will say. anyone can certainly type in Bonnie’s website and purchase whatever they choose. As for the kids, we are very close with ours and appreciate whatever they do to help us on occasion. So we try to return the favors as often as possible.

  22. I really enjoyed the comparison of a blog with the quilt shop selling books, patterns and fabric! That makes total sense now. I appreciate you educating us all when we ask difficult questions. Your sewing room looks very usefully organized! Thank you!

  23. I don’t know how you have the time to do everything that you do! You are very gracious to explain to everyone how your blog works. I love hearing about your family and appreciate what you share about them. They sound like very loving children and wonderful grandchildren. You are a lucky woman to have them. I’m excited to hear about the twins to come! Thank you and love Marybeth’s saying “keep your needle threaded”.

  24. Well said! I don’t know why everyone who reads your blog has to tell you what to do!

    I remember Bonnie took her blog roll off many years ago because people were complaining about it.

    Keep up the inspirational posts! I always love to see what you and your family are doing.

  25. You handled those questions with grace, Jo. I’ll admit that I wondered why you didn’t provide a link to Bonnie’s blog, but your reasoning makes complete sense. (Plus, it’s easy enough to copy and paste any name mentioned and pop it into to search bar in order to visit someone else’s blog to see what they ‘re up to now!)

  26. Well stated. Thank you for your clear and concise explanation. I now have a better understanding of the world of blogging.

  27. Well said Jo! I already knew all of that but most folks don’t. Now, about those links you share to Amazon. I left a comment yesterday on the sewing room post about the shelves and totes you use and not able to get the link to work to Amazon. I have in the past tried a lot of your links to Amazon and can never get it to go to Amazon. It goes to an error page. I just tried again on the popcorn maker and again, I got the error page. So, suffice it to say, you are losing money by us not being able to get to Amazon through the link you provide. Something is broken in that link??? Yes I can go google the stuff myself and search Amazon myself, but, I want you to get something for telling us all about this stuff after you have done the tried and true for these items. I said yesterday that I have no problems going to Amazon links on other peoples blogs. Something is broken here and needs fixin’.

    1. Lisa. You are the only person who has ever said the links aren’t working. I’m wondering if maybe you have a setting on your computer that doesn’t allow pop ups. I’ll have Kayla look into this.

  28. Jo. Well done. I did buy the popper after reading your blog, linked to Amazon too. I love the thing. It is great to be able to pop a little healthy mid afternoon snack to eat while quilting in my Corona safe space. Thanks.

  29. Jo, The links are finally working today!!! Wooohooo! I noticed someone made some changes and some of the words within your post are not green. They weren’t yesterday. I knew it wasn’t on my side because I click on other bloggers amazon links all the time with no problems. I tested the popcorn link today after noticing some changes in your post with words in green and it works so whatever someone worked! Thank you!

    Now if we could just click on your pictures to make them bigger for my old eyes, I
    would be in heaven. LOL!

  30. Pingback: Ask Jo: Sewing Room and More | Jo's Country Junction

  31. Pingback: Ask Jo: Amazon and Quilting Books | Jo's Country Junction

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