Partial feeds, Dave Ramsey, and google shortcuts

I’ve been getting questions from folks wondering why I switched Owlhaven to partial feeds.  Blame it on doing taxes and listening to Dave Ramsey.  John and I are on track to get our last bit of non-house debt   (mostly braces and some random medical bills –last year was brutal!)  paid off by June. After that we aim to attack the house hard and hope to compress the remaining 7 years of our home loan down to 3 or 4 years.  Exciting.

But when I did our taxes this year, I ended up discouraged by my blogging income. Most months it doesn’t do more than fill up a gas tank and buy a book or two on amazon. Don’t get me wrong:  that is a blessing, and I love writing here.  But for my time investment?   I’m pretty darned sure Dave Ramsey would tell me going back to work as an RN would be a better income boost.  Even two shifts a month would beat my blogging income.

That train of thought is what led me to switch Owlhaven back to partial feeds.  You see, every click that comes to my blog instead of reading content via google is a boost to ad revenue.  (Another way to support my blog is to order things on amazon by clicking through to amazon from my site.  Thanks, folks!! I really, really appreciate your support.)

Unfortunately enough folks have weighed in expressing unhappiness over partial feeds that I am wondering if it might be better to switch back to full feeds.  So tricky to balance reader’s wishes for convenience with the desire to be compensated for my work.

One reader did suggest a way to keep the ease of google reader while still supporting favorite bloggers with actual visits.  Google reader has cool goodie called the ‘Next‘ button.  Added to your toolbar, you can scroll through all your blogs (or just a specific category on your google reader blogroll) actually VISITING every single site, simply by hitting ‘Next’ repeatedly.

Here’s how you do it.

1. Open your Google Reader and click on the ‘Settings’ button on the upper right-hand side of the page.  It looks like a gear.  Then click on ‘Reader Settings’.


2. Select the ‘Goodies’ tab, then drag the ‘next’ button to your bookmarks toolbar. You’re ready to go.  Easy peasy, right?

I installed the button myself, have been using it for a couple days, and think it works pretty well.  I’m currently subscribed to about 85 blogs, so we’ll see if the next button is something that I continue to find useful.  I have to admit that partial feeds don’t bother me.  But that’s probably because lots of the time I skim, and usually only read the whole post (either via the reader or the blog) if the first few lines really grabbed me.

Anyway, all this rambling is mostly to let you know that I’m still puzzling over the full feed versus partial feed dilemma. But I did want to explain my reasoning behind the switch, and also to let you know that I appreciate every minute you spend here with me. My aim, always, is to make my content enlightening, encouraging, inspiring, and in every way worth your precious time.


  1. Yeah I noticed too. I’ll admit I unsubscribed completely to another blog just because it was SO annoying! But I did not realize the click-through revenue thing… hmmm.

  2. I only set up my Google Reader about 5 weeks ago in an attempt to help me cut down on the time I spend reading blogs. I didn’t realize, until I just read this (which I clicked on through FB) that you get income through direct blog look-up. So whilst I did notice the partial feed (and wondered why) I totally understand. I’ve followed you for years now, and definitely want you getting the cents from my daily visits. So whether you stick with partial feeds (which I’ll click and read) or go to full, I’m going to unsubscribe my reader to you and come through ‘normally’.

    • Hi Jennifer– I think google reader is really efficient way to be notified of new posts– I love it for that reason. And just to clarify — howEVER you *get* to my blog, as long as you eventually get to the blog itself, that counts as a click/impression.

      And of course feel free to do what is workable for you– I totally understand the busyness of life and the need to prioritize!

      • Another suggestion:

        I love my Google Reader fora myriad of reasons. I don’t use it as a “Reader” per se, only to get an instant snapshot at any given time as to ho has posted,and about what.

        I have the blogs I read in their entirety every day (like you, Mary) and those that I only read depending on the content that day. Google lets you set up your feeds in folders, so I have my “Favorites” and “Everyone Else”.

        To read a post in full, you just right-click on the light blue title of the blog post in your right hand reading pane and voila! You can open the post in another tab or another window.

        When it opens, you are actually taken to the site so it is a win-win. The site gets a click credit and you get to have the ability to see all your feeds in a one-stop shop type of thing.

        I hope this makes sense. For some reason my brain and the task of explaining clearly do not seem to be playing well together tonight.

        All this aside, I am going to try what Mary suggests as well, right now 🙂

        • Kelli, Yes, I also right-click on titles in google reader to read in full on the blog.

          • Mary,
            I have a question. I have you bookmarked on my browser favorites and do not receive your blog through a reader or feed. I just come to your blog everyday to see what you are up to and trust me, I find a lot of great reading. Do you get credit for someone like myself who just comes over to your blog each day or is it really better to have someone come to your blog through a feed?

        • Thanks for this! As I said, I only set it up a at the beginning of the year (if I’d know how easy it was, I would have done it years ago) and its serving its purpose of less computer time. Looks like its set up to make things ever easier (and less time consuming) – will have to add that to my “to do”! Thanks again.

  3. Maybe you could leave blogher and rent out ad space here yourself. I see a lot of people doing that these days and when I check out what they are charging it seems like it could be worth your while.

    • Carrien, I’ve been seriously considering it. Am afraid of the amount of administration it might take, but it may be worth it.

      • I don’t have any advertisers so I haven’t tried this myself, but I’ve seen a lot of other bloggers praise something called Passionfruit Ads (I’m PRETTY SURE that’s what it’s called!) It acts as the middleman, so your administration would be minimal, and I’m PRETTY SURE it’s free! Might be worth looking in to 🙂

  4. As someone who has never blogged and knows nothing about how it all works, I also was unaware that visits to the actual blog site increased your income. Like others, if it’s a blog I want to read, I’ll click through to read the full post. Maybe your explanation of your reasons will be enough to satisfy readers. I dare say, most of us would not be happy about doing our job but not getting paid for it. Best wishes!!

  5. Now that I know the reason, I will be sure to click through to yours and the other blogs that I follow through google. Everyone deserves an income, you work hard on your blog and I enjoy reading it. If one extra click helps you out, I am happy to do it. (Actually, I’d do it even if it took more than one click–but this makes it very easy!)

  6. I never mind clicking through to your blog, I subscribe because you interest me. You should be paid for your work.

  7. I don’t read in a reader, and enjoy coming to your blog every day. Thanks for the time and effort you put into this space. I know that every second counts, thanks for sharing some of yours with us.

  8. Last year was brutal – no doubt!! Saving for adoption, replacing two A/C units, major car repairs, and $11,000+ of medical bills (for six HEALTHY! people) has left us reeling. We’re hoping to be all caught up sometime this spring.

    Does clicking thru via Facebook count as a click for you? The url is

  9. I’ve got my blogs of interest set up on my Google Homepage. It gives me a one-two sentence start and if it interests me, I click thru. I like it better than my Google Reader because it’s on my homepage and not somewhere else.

  10. I read in Google reader also. I tend to unsubscribe to blogs that don’t have full feeds unless it’s one I really enjoy. Even with those I tend to not click through unless the post looks interesting enough (like you said you do)
    I just love being able to read in my reader, it’s very efficient. I also use an app on my iPad to read that is clunky when I have to click over for partial feeds. I have tried using the ‘next’ setting, but I tend to pick and choose from my subscribed blogs, depending on how much time I have to read, and what I’m in the mood for reading 🙂 I have a favorites folder, but even those get picked through because of time issues. We were slammed with expenses last year too, so I commiserate with you 🙁

  11. I too didn’t realize you had a per click income. I assumed that you only made money if someone purchased something via a link on your site. Knowing the reason makes me not mind at all clicking through.

  12. I actually prefer the partial feeds. It allows me to quickly glance through posts I have missed on your blog. When something interests me, which happens often, I don’t mind clicking “more” one bit.

  13. I don’t mind clicking through, I’d rather support blogs I enjoy.

  14. Don’t mind partial feeds at all. Happy to click through to help support the blog!

  15. Thanks for the tip about the Next button. Going to try that out, although I usually pick and choose more. But being a blogger, I like to support other bloggers with the site visits. Re: ads. I don’t know how they compare in income but Google Adsense is very easy to install. Probably like BlogHer from what I’ve read. Maybe you could switch for a few months and compare. Plus, it’s not an either/or thing about selling spots directly (at least not with Google). So maybe you could increase the income by selling a spot or two and still leave your regular ads in place.

    • My understanding is that the BlogHer ad network is more exclusive and pays better than Google Adsense, so I’m GUESSING she wouldn’t want to switch! (I don’t think they let you run ads from both networks, you have to do one or the other). Adsense does let you embed ads in your feeds, though. Does BlogHer do that, at all? Because that would help solve everyone’s issues! 🙂

  16. Call me dumb, but I really don’t understand how this whole thing works, so I will just ask this: Does my clicking onto your sight ( help you? If not, tell me what to do. We, too, love – and hate – Dave Ramsey and are desperately trying to get out of debt. That’s how I stumbled upon being a Thirty One consultant. We prayed for some extra income for that specific reason, and viola! God provided! 😀

  17. thanks for explaining! i must admit that partial feeds annoy me 🙂 however, i LOVE your blog and definitely want you to get “credit” for my reading. i wouldn’t unsubscribe if you keep it partial feed. AND, i would click over to read the full post on a regular basis 🙂

  18. Personally while i hate partial feeds, I think you should keep it. Its only fair to be compensated for your work. And the first few lines let us know if its something I want to read or not. I’ll click through on anything but running! 🙂

  19. The Google NEXT button is my favorite. I’ve been using it for a few years now and I’ve only met one blog whose feed doesn’t work with it. Glad to hear that it works to bring in your revenue!

  20. I hate debt more than partial feeds, so I can live with it :).

  21. I love my google reader “next” button. I use it all the time. The only time I actually look at google reader is to get a feel for how many unread items I have, to look up something I remember reading in the past, or to add a new subscription. Even if I decide that I don’t want to read the entire blog entry, I always end up on the actual blog page. Hey, maybe the blog writers should love ME! I’ve been helping their income just by doing something that I find to be convenient for me! 😀

  22. I use the Pulse app on my iPhone to read your blog. I was annoyed by the change to partial feeds, but now that I know the reason I will happily click through to your site. You deserve to be compensated for your time! I didn’t realize that you didn’t get anything when I read through the rss feed.

  23. Keep the partial feeds. I’d love to know that my clicking is bringing you some income. You are a daily blessing to me.

  24. I don’t love partial feeds, but I wholeheartedly think you should keep it up! I’ll be clicking through to more of my favorite blogs more often now!

  25. Personally I like it this way. I feel like I’m actually coming over to read at your blog instead of just reading another email! And I’m glad to help you earn a buck or two occasionally!

  26. I love my “next” button because instead of just reading, I’m inclined to participate in the comments conversation:) That makes me feel like I’m part of a community and making new friends, not just being a lurker/blog-stalker.

  27. No problem with partial feeds – I do tend to be lazy otherwise and only click through if I am inspired to comment, but this way I’ll come to yoru actual blog more often! Must check my blog settings!

  28. As a blogger who makes a decent income (it pays for vacations and Christmas and birthday gifts)I understand the desire to encourage readers to click through to your actual site.

    However, as a busy, homeschooling mom of soon to be 11 children I unsubscribe from blogs that do not offer full feeds. I simply don’t have the time to click through to each blog or post that I wish to read.

    I chose to leave my blog on full feeds because my primary blogging goal is to encourage my readers to love God, love their husbands and love their children. The income is just a fringe benefit. Also, a lot of my income comes from direct advertising and affiliate sales which makes actual page view rates less vital.

    May God bless as you raise your family for His glory.

  29. I don’t use Google reader, I use the XML feed to Outlook. I basically read the story like an email, then click over to post a comment or read any discussions happening. I agree, Mary, you deserve to be paid for your work. For that reason, I’m really trying to keep visiting. However, I know from past experience, blogs with partial feeds are ones I end up losing interest in and moving on. I go from reading them every day or every other day, to letting them pile up for about a week and then going through all of them at once. After a couple weeks of that, I just quit bothering. I honestly do not know the mental difference between reading it in the post and then coming to the site versus coming to the site to read it, but there is a definite stumbling block. Already this week, I’m a couple posts behind. Maybe it is just me and my quirks. I do hope this works out for you.

  30. For a long time, I had each site in my bookmarks and would have to click on each site to see if there was something new. So when I discovered Google Reader, I was thrilled! All my feeds in one place. But now that I have the “Next” button, it’s the best of both worlds. I can still go to each website, but I only click on one button and it only opens the new ones. Thank you! I am thrilled to be helping you out.

  31. I didn’t get a chance to read all the comments but I agree with what many have said: put more ads up and see if there is a difference. Google Adsense can be installed either in the sidebar, at the bottom of each post, in your feed(!), or all three. Some people have great luck with Adsense. You can also sell 125×125 button ads that are below your network ads. Make it easy on yourself: Sell them for 1 year! Then the maintenance is much less time consuming. (Just make sure you receive payment up front!)

    You’ve done an excellent job of explaining what you’ve done and why, and it seems as though you’ve got great support for it. Keep it as a partial if that’s what YOU want to do.

  32. We are currently working through Dave Ramsey’s FPU and we are excited to see our savings rise and our debt falling. It’s been hard carrying our adoption debt around these last couple of years. 🙂 Now we feel empowered and hopeful. The thing we like best? We’ve signed up for an on-line budgeting software (not Dave Ramsey but another that a lot of Dave Ramsey users have used) and besides the great price ($49.50) for a whole year, we are able to enter our receipts in each day in less than 5 minutes and see what we really spend vs. what we think we spend. It’s been incredible!

    Keep up the hard work on paying your house off. I know I would sleep a lot better each night if I knew the house was completely ours. 🙂

  33. You know, I’m not a fan of the partial feeds because I spend a lot of time on google reader, but now that you explain it, I am more than happy to click through to your site. Thanks for sharing your thoughts so faithfully.

  34. Thanks for the explanation! I haven’t encountered your partial feeds much b/c of how I use Google Reader now, but enough that I noticed the difference.

    Since Google redesigned the whole look of Reader, I’ve been using it totally differently and loving how it’s streamlined my blog reading (most of the times, at least!) and allowed me to be clicking right to the sites more. By putting my Reader on list view instead of expanded view, I see just the titles (this might have been available before and I missed it!) and with the compact view, I can see a lot of titles at once. Whether I am looking at each blog separately or all items, I can scan the titles and click the arrow box all the way to the right of those articles that intrigue me. And yes, I am a little more prone to comment–if I have time!

    My use of these features came at just the time I was trying to reduce my overall blogreading time and my frequency in Reader (with four kids 5.5 and under and all!), but having a hard time cutting any more blogs. Yours is one of the non-friend blogs I just had to keep–thanks for all your encouragement to the parent, homeschooler, foodie, and pennypincher in me!

  35. Definitely understandable reasoning! I say to keep the partial reading because it is only fair that you are compensated for your time.

    As for the “next” button, doesn’t that kill a site’s bounce rate? Having a better bounce rate is great for generating more traffic, especially from search engines, so I always try to click around a site when I am on it. I would think the “next” button would cause a 100% bounce rate from each visitor who uses it.

  36. On some blogs, the partial feed thing really bothers me. But honestly, I adore your blog and if clicking over to read you is helpful to you, I am more than willing to click over to your actual site. THANK YOU for all the parenting advice, insight and inspiration you give me!

  37. Rebecca Dunn says:

    Mary, I like the partial feeds. But I read everything anyway and I come here everyday of my own accord (just by typing in owlhaven). I love what you wite. I consider you one of my “cloud of witnesses”
    Rebecca x

  38. I really wondered if it was just me! I figured I messed something up on google reader. But I understand your reasoning for changing and of course if I’m going to use your advice, as free as it is for me, then I might as well help you be compensated for it somehow. So I installed the next button and I’m going to push it for the first time in a minute here! Thanks and keep writing!

  39. I don’t use a reader, either. It probably would save some time, but frankly, I don’t want Google tracking everything I read

  40. When I first read this post in February I’d never heard the reasoning behind partial feeds. If a blog was in partial feed then I just unsubscribed because I wasn’t willing to go to the blog. But I’ve been reading your blog for years so when Owlhaven went to partial feed I stuck it out, even though I didn’t like it, until this post.
    Now I use the next button every day to read blogs and I love visiting the actual site and leave/receive a lot more comments (and so feel a lot more community).
    So I wanted to come back and thank you for your honesty and suggestions. Thanks!