I started to comment on Parajunkee's newest Blogging 101 post and then it turned into a really long response so I decided to post it. Click here for her newest post on Book Blogs VS Mommy Blogs and then the rest of this post will make more sense.
I didn't start to blog about books to make any kind of profit or to even get free books. I started my blog as a place to list all the books I read and why I liked them for my friends (who are always coming to me for what they should read next). Suddenly I came upon book blogs and realized that my idea was not original! I don't have a moderation button in my brain so like anything I took it full steam ahead and started reading like crazy and doing reviews and hiring a fantastic designer ;) Like you I never get over the pretty brown boxes that come in the mail full of free books that I would have otherwise purchased.
Would I like to get payed for reading and reviewing? I feel like I kinda am. I would have spent $30 on that hardcover book I have been dying to get which would have meant gas to get to the book store and a $5 coffee from Star Bucks. So basically I get payed $40 to review a hardcover and about $25 to review a soft cover.
I have tried Amazon Associates and felt really weird about doing it. When you click on one of my new BIG lists the picture will link you to an amazon store for more information about the book. I have even included an amazon store on my web site (which I am going to remove). I use Live Writer and an amazon plug in for doing these BIG lists because its easy and takes up less time then searching for a book cover, copying the book cover, going to amazon or the authors web site and getting there link and then putting it all together. If someone clicks on the button and buys the book I'll get a whopping 4% in commission. I worry that my readers will think I am trying to make money off of them so I think about stopping but I have yet to make a single cent so it really doesn't matter.
As far as contests that require you to be a follower. This is an issue I have thought about a lot. I don't want to jump through hoops to win a book so I don't want to do that to my readers either. Will I start following your blog on a regular basis if I only joined to get a free book? Maybe if you have great content. If its just a tweet or a follow that's fine with me as long as its not required. You get more entries for the more you do...I can live with that. If I am doing a contest that I am paying for myself most of me is doing it to thank my loyal readers but some of me is doing it to see that "follower" section grow. If you don't care how many followers you have I would be surprised. I care more about how many comments I get then about how many followers I have but I can't help but feeling happy and successful when my follower number rises. The fact also remains that the more people you have following your blog the more likely publishers will want to send you free books.
I also just started doing a MommyIsh blog called Bumps Ahead. I am not a mother but I have been trying to become one for a year and a half and after spending hours looking up answers to a million questions regarding fertility I finally decided to start my own blog and share all the information I had gathered. My blog focuses on product reviews, articles, web site links, etc on infertility/fertility products. The goal of this blog is that it grows with me when I get pregnant and the reviews will move onto baby products. I want a "everything about trying to get pregnant and being pregnant and having a baby" web site. The whole point of the last few sentences is that I agree already with Parajunkee that the mommy blog community and the book blog community are different. As far as advertising on my "mommy" blog....I don't like how it clutters up the blog templates, if I did do it I would have to be very specific about what I am promoting, is the review not enough promotion? How much do they make? So many questions.
When it comes to reviews on my new blog I didn't review the fertility drug Clomid to get free fertility drugs I did it because I want to share my opinion about the product. Will I accept product from companies in exchange for a review? Absolutely! Raising a child is expensive so free product is welcome but I am still going to express my honest opinion on the product the same way I do with a book.
Lastly I keep saying "free books" and "free product" but its not really free. Publishers, authors, or companies don't send you a book or a product for nothing, they expect a review. If you took the product and didn't hold up your end of the bargain or give quality reviews they wouldn't send you stuff.
Wow that was one heck of a rant lol.