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reality TV reviews, news, and analysis since 2000

How reality blurred makes money

How reality blurred makes money
How does reality blurred make money? Read on to find out! (Photo art by Karolina Grabowska/Pexels; reality blurred logo added to original)

Today is tax day in the United States, the deadline for filing and paying taxes—and a day to celebrate just how unnecessarily screwed up our system is.

In the interest of transparency, sharing knowledge, and giving behind-the-scenes details, I thought I’d share just how reality blurred makes money—especially now that this is my full-time job.

Looking at last year’s income for Reality Blurred LLC, this is how it breaks down:

  • Advertising: 97.6 percent
  • Subscriptions/memberships: 2 percent
  • Affiliate revenue: 0.4 percent

Honestly, that wildly disproportionate reliance on advertising is a little terrifying. That’s because ad revenue is dependent on things I ultimately do not control: website traffic and brands’ desire to spend on online ads. If either one of those drops, yikes!

That’s one reason why I offer ways for readers to support my work—which I’ll discuss more in detail below—and why I’m looking for other ways to diversify those sources of income.

At the same time, I started reality blurred in 2000 as a labor of love, and I still do this work because I truly love it: I’m passionate about sharing information and analysis of reality TV, and talking with you all about all of it.

That’s why reality blurred will always be free to read. Of course, it is not free to produce, both in terms of expenses and my time, thus the ads and asks.

Part of why I’m thinking about revenue and trying to diversify it—i.e. bring in more that’s not just ads—is because I’d like to continue to expand reality blurred’s coverage.

Because I am one person, and our cat is of no help at all, I cannot expand my output without, well, burning out again. I’d also like to share this platform I’ve built with other writers, and pay them for their work, which is something I’m starting to explore.

Before we take a deep dive into exactly what brings in money that keeps the pixels glowing, please know this: The single-greatest thing you can do to support my work is read it, and you’re already doing that, so thank you! That’s enough.

The second-greatest thing you can do is share stories you love and/or enrage you with friends, colleagues, and family. The more people who know about and read reality blurred, the better.

How advertising on these pages works

Brightly lit billboards with logos and words on tall buildings glow at night; people and cars move on the streets below
The ads on reality blurred aren’t exactly like the ones seen here in Times Square, but may feel like it sometimes! (Photo by Jose Francisco Fernandez Saura/Pexels)

Every time you visit a page here, tons of things happen behind the scenes. So get ready for a journey into the weeds of online advertising!

To start, when you click a link, advertising scripts load. They do all kinds of amazing things, such as measuring the height of the story you’re about to read. That’s because I’ve asked my ad company, Mediavine, for 30 percent ad density, meaning less than one-third of the space in the article will be taken up by ads. So they need to measure to know how many ads will fit.

If you think about old print newspaper pages—where I got my start!—they could often be 50 percent or more advertising. Of course, the experience is different reading online than in print, where the ads were all bunched together.

Before every single ad loads, an auction takes place. Really! And this is how most advertising on the Internet works today. A bunch of advertising companies bid on the right to show you an ad, based on all kinds of signals, like your general geographic location, the type of computer you’re using, or previous sites you’ve visited (cookies!).

It’s important to note that I know none of this. I have no idea what ads you see, or why you’re seeing them. I have no access or even knowledge of the data that’s being used, which is kind of terrifying—and which is why you can also opt out from that across the Internet.

All I eventually see is information about how many ads loaded, and how much advertisers were willing to pay per 1,000 impressions of their ad.

For example, in its first four days, last week’s Survivor recap earned $2.09 for every 1,000 people who viewed each ad. As of Sunday, that was 2,594 pageviews. About 21.5 ads loaded per page each time, and 84.8 percent of those were actually viewable. Altogether, that’s earned me $108.79 so far.

While old-school ads measured clicks, what matters now is if you’ve seen the ad. If 50 percent of an ad is visible to you for more than one second, I get paid. (Yes, the technology knows how long an ad was visible for in the browser window. Incredible!)

One of many reasons I like working with Mediavine is that I appreciate their technology—which gives us choices—and their transparency about their tech.

For example, their InView technology 1) blocks off a space so that, when an ad loads, an article’s text does not jump around and annoy us, and 2) that makes an ad visible for a bit longer as you scroll.

Mediavine also protects us from bad ads.

Speaking of ad content: Ads are categorized, and I’ve asked Mediavine to block ads related to guns and firearms; hunting and shooting; tobacco; and diet products. I allow all other ads, including those related to sexual and reproductive health; religion; and prescription drugs.

Because it’s up to the advertisers to categorize their ads, sometimes those filters fail, which is why you can report any problematic ad you see. (Feel free to let me know if you’re seeing multiple ads from a disturbing category, but individual ads are basically impossible to track down, which is why using the reporting tool is the best option.)

One final note: Some of this will change soon, as Google phases out its use of third-party cookies, something Apple and Safari have already done. That’s been delayed until 2024, but when that happens, ad revenue will drop, because ads won’t be as targeted.

That’s why you’re probably seeing a little heart and share icon hovering at the lower-right part of your screen right now. That’s another Mediavine product, Grow.Me, which offers you a way to save and share stories you like here and on Mediavine’s 10,000 publisher partner sites.

For those who choose to sign up and log in, you become Authenticated Traffic. That’s a fancy way of saying that pages you read while logged in will be used to serve you more-relevant ads.

Again, this is all totally opt-in only—but it will be so helpful to the independent publishers you know and love. For more about that, I’d suggest reading this.

Subscriptions: newsletter upgrades and Patreon

A glass jar with cash at its bottom; a yellow label says, in handwritten black marker, "tip" with an image of a heart and dollar sign
An old-school tip jar, the non-electronic kind. (Photo by Sam Dan Truong/Unsplash)

In its simplest form, this form of revenue is an electronic tip jar. For one-time contributions, you can send money via Paypal.

For recurring contributions, i.e. memberships or subscriptions, I’m on Patreon, which is where I first dipped reality blurred’s toes into these waters.

Today, though, the best way for regular contributions is via my newsletter. That’s because on Patreon, 5 percent of your contribution goes to Patreon, and I also pay payment processor fees (i.e. credit card fees) on top of that.

My newsletter, however, is mine, so more of your subscription is going directly to reality blurred.

Even better, when you upgrade your subscription, you can pay what you’d like.

Yes, instead of doing periodic sales or coupon codes other such nonsense, I’ve set things so you can choose any amount, from $2/month on up. (That minimum is so most of your contribution isn’t lost to payment processing fees.)

If you’re already a subscriber, all you need to do is click the upgrade link in any newsletter. Or just type your e-mail address here, and a button to upgrade your subscription will magically appear:

By the way, newsletter subscriptions are processed through Stripe, and I’ve opted to give one percent of that revenue to helping combat climate change via Stripe’s carbon removal program.

Affiliate revenue

A box with a smile logo on it, taped with black tape that has images of bells and evergreen branches
An Amazon box sealed shut with winter-themed tape (Photo by Wicked Monday/Unsplash)

As a person on the Internet in 2023, I imagine you’ve encountered affiliate links before, and know the deal. Basically, if you click an affiliate link and eventually buy something, I get a small percentage as a referral fee.

I only add referral links when I think they add value; I’ve never accept payment for placing a link.

Those links range from, say, a DVD of an old reality TV show, to most of the items on my reality TV gift guide.

They also include links to books, for which I’ve started to use instead of Amazon, in part because of’s support for independent booksellers.

There, I’ve created lists of my favorite books, books about reality TV, and books written by reality TV personalities. If you buy a book, I get 10 percent, and still contributes to local bookstores.

Fun fact: Anyone can become an affiliate on, so if you regularly share books with, say, friends or family, sign up! You’ll support bookstores and yourself.

Finally, in this category, I also include reality blurred merch, as I get a small part of the cost of anything you might buy with the reality blurred logo on it.

And that’s it! Thanks for reading this. Like I wrote earlier, just being here and reading the words I’ve typed is the best support imaginable, and I appreciate you!

All reality blurred content is independently selected, including links to products or services. However, if you buy something after clicking an affiliate link, I may earn a commission, which helps support reality blurred. Learn more.

More from reality blurred

About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

Discussion: your turn

I think of writing about television as the start of a conversation, and I value your contributions to that conversation. We’ve created a community that connects people through open and thoughtful conversations about the TV we’re watching and the stories about it.

To share our perspectives and exchange ideas in a welcoming, supportive space, I’ve created these rules for commenting here. By commenting below, you confirm that you’ve read and agree to those rules.

Happy discussing!

Betsy Lenke

Wednesday 19th of April 2023

Hi, Thank you so much for writing this information. It's interesting and it is full of your integrity. If you have any time, maybe you will dig deeper into messaging about carbon capture. Re Stripe, I find their organization, they took over weebly accounts, and their carbon ideology, 'problematic' for sure. Thank you.


Tuesday 18th of April 2023

I enjoyed this article very much. I own/created a daily webzine, Gothic Bite, and I'm lucky to have volunteers as writers. However, I am looking into growing it to what I know it can be. People in horror and Gothic communities reach out to us for advertisements for which we have price cards. But this can help us greatly. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Sharing your article on Facebook and Pinterest so far has me hope it helps. I believe in supporting one another in the indie community.


Tuesday 18th of April 2023

Question... if I upgrade to the subscription newsletter, is that a one time cost? Or is it a monthly subscription cost like Patreon? Thanks!


Wednesday 19th of April 2023

@Andy Dehnart, Great, thank you!

Andy Dehnart

Tuesday 18th of April 2023

It's monthly just like Patreon. You can cancel or adjust at any time, though!