Welcome back for another October Wednesday of Blogging 101! Today is Blogging 101 Week 3: Making Money with Your Blog.
With Heart, Emily A. Clark, The White Buffalo, Sarah M. Dorsey Designs and I are all writing this from our own blogging experience. This is so great for you because you are getting different perspectives and ideas.
This week is all about how to turn your blog from a hobby into a career pretty much. A vehicle to make money and open up other avenues of work. You can’t do it without the things we discussed in the past posts, because those are the building blocks that will set you apart and show the value you bring with your blog.
Besides photography questions (which we will talk about next week–YAY!), the most fielded emails and questions I get from other bloggers is on how to make money.
Stand firm in your mission statement.
Knowing your mission statement helps you sort though all those offers and pitches. Before we dive deep into the how’s let’s talk about the do not’s of making money with your blog. Call this standing firm in your blog’s mission statement. You will not believe some of the offers I have had over the years to promote products and so many of them were SO NOT a fit! The stories I could tell, ha!
I have a very clear idea of what this blog is and what my signature style is about which goes into what we’ve talked about before with branding and growth. I know what I want to share and what my readers are wanting to read from me and the two go hand-in-hand. When you share what is true to you and your style, you attract the people who love that too. This quote below fits my personal mission statement…
-A CARRIE BRADSHAW “ISM”
I had to throw that in there as a nod to a group of blog ladies I love and it fits the point I am making here. I just had funny “Bradshawisms” running through my head this morning as I was writing this. At least, that is the first place I ever heard this quote; if you know the true source feel free to share it! I couldn’t find anything else as a source.
For me, what it comes down to is this. I love high-end decor, designer style, the more unusual and interesting. There is nothing wrong with what the majority of America loves, but I don’t fit that mold. There are a lot of bloggers that are very successful sharing that and that’s all good and well. Let me tell you this though– there is a value and a market for your own weird. The people who inspire me most as a blogger and design nut are the ones that have a signature style and aren’t afraid to share it. I want to work and collaborate with people and brands that like what I bring to the table, not what you can see in a catalog. I’m not knocking catalogs btw–there are some I do enjoy, but my brand is about individualism and expression through design. I want to inspire others to grab hold of their own signature style, not what they can copy from a picture or big box furniture showroom. I want the brand collabs where I can flex my individual flavor.
My advice for this point is simple. Do not sell out to something that doesn’t feel right because they are offering you a lot of money to do it!! Just don’t. It’s tacky and you will lose readers. Stand firm in that mission statement. Stick to things that are true to what you write about and collaborations you want to invest your blood, sweat, and tears into. And trust me, if you blog on DIY or design– blood, sweat, and tears are definitely a part of it!
Also, align yourself with the brands that you want to work with. Follow them and connect with them on social. Give them shoutouts and tags when you use their products in your work. A lot of connections are made over our social networks these days. Instagram has been a huge connecting tool for me! I’ve had so many brands follow me on Instagram and then I’ll get an email or PM from them with a pitch to collaborate. Don’t you just love that? Aside from my enjoyment of using Instagram it has been a really great extension of my blog. It shows brands my photography, design, and styling skills. It has been a great tool to attract more work. Knowing this fact, I am a lot more selective with what I share on IG, because I know it is a direct reflection of my blog.
Great! So, how do I make money?
My making money structure has changed here in year 3 of blogging. Before, I used to do more freelance writing and was a brand ambassador. We’ll chat on that after this breakdown.
Ads. Right now ads and sponsored posts are my bread and butter. This wasn’t always the case, especially when my pageviews were lower. These are my 2 mains sources of blogging income. Ads are easy money. Obviously, the more pageviews you have the better. Implementing ads on your site is something you can do yourself in the beginning. You can set controls on what kinds of ads you want to show. You can also learn how to layer your ads to get the most bang for your buck. I recommend starting with Google Adsense. This is by far the best paying for beginner ads. Once you reach 100,000 pageviews, I highly recommend using Adthrive. Adthrive is a free to you service and they are top-notch in my book. Once I switched to Adthrive, my ad income increased in a very big way. They manage my Adsense ads and the rest of the ads you see on my desktop site and mobile site.
Sponsored posts. This is always neck in neck with my ad earnings. Some months, I make more with ads, some months I make more with my sponsorships. It is completely up to what the marketers and ad agencies are doing and what I chose to take on for that month, but the key is it has to be a fit. I have to be crazy in love with it and it has to check off all those ‘worth my time’ boxes.
I usually only do a couple a month unless I get a really great offer I can’t refuse. I charge based on my time, out-of-pocket expenses, my numbers on the blog and social, my writing and photography. There are many formulas I’ve seen for this. Some are a bit out-of-date though and with how social media has changed I wouldn’t look at any that are over a year old.
A good rule of thumb is to figure your time and work rate:
(number of hours spent creating & writing the post) x (your post creation hourly rate ex. $50)
(number of hours spent on styling & photography) x (your shoot hourly rate ex. $100)
A good rule of thumb to set your reach rate:
(social media worth $50-$200) + (pageview worth/ $100 per 50,000 pageviews)
Add your time and work rate with your reach rate to get your price.
Here’s the deal. There is no set in stone formula. Some of the formulas I’ve seen are so out-of-date and only use Twitter #’s for social reach and some others are pretty consistent and true to today’s blogging landscape. Assuming your writing and photography are where they need to be those hourly rates above are fair. I say know your worth. You have to be able to weigh what you bring to the table and put a number on it. Also, account for out-of-pocket expenses. If the out-of-pocket is huge you may have to increase your price. Some sponsored posts are bigger projects so you need to also look at how much time it will take and how many other things you will have to say no to.
No matter what you should set the precedent that you should be paid for your work. Any brand that wants to market with bloggers sees a HUGE VALUE in it and they have budgets set aside for blogger partnerships. Make a media kit and share with the brands you are talking to exactly what is in it for them to work with you.
I designed this formula above based off of my own expertise and where I spend my time when I work on a project and post. You set your time rate, you set your shoot rate, and your numbers dictate your reach rate. Do what is fair for your talent level and reach. As your skills and following grow you adjust your rate as needed.
One little disclaimer for product only reviews. There are plenty of small shops that will trade product for post and social promotion. This is completely up to you. Weigh your out-of-pocket with the offer and it might be a fit. Do what you feel good about.
Affiliate links. Having shoppable links in your post for your readers is a great way to earn a little extra income on your blog. Amazon affiliate links and rewardSTYLE links are a two great programs. It’s nice for your readers to be able to shop what they like from your post and it can be a benefit to you. I don’t create posts just for this, but when I do source lists for spaces I’ve designed or product posts for things I’ve used I do try to work these links in.
Freelance writing. There is money to be made going freelance. When my pageviews were lower and offers on the blog didn’t pay as well, I did some freelance writing for a couple other brand sites. The one thing I hated about it was it took time away from growing my own blog and working on my own brand. It did nothing to benefit B@H. It was nice to have the money, but after a year I decided to focus solely on my own content to build that up more. For me, it was the right choice for my goals.
Now, the only freelance writing I am doing is for bhg.com, but it is a great fit because they promote my blog too. I am able to balance the couple posts I do a month for them with my own blogging schedule for B@H and it is a beneficial relationship on both sides.
The Misc. Every month, there seems to be an unforeseen money-maker. Sometimes it’s a paid social media gig, an offer to get paid to cover an event, a paid offer to curate my favorites for a brand’s site. It really is a mix.
Other ways to make money. The four things I listed above are how I make my blog money right now. It fits my goals for my brand and my available time. There are other things I have done that can be great for some extra income.
Sometimes brands will ask you to become a brand ambassador. Basically, they pay you per post or a monthly fee to write on your blog about their products. This can be great if you love their products. You sign a contract, usually 6 months or 1 year. I did this my second year of blogging and I am still open to it if the brand and products are right.
Blogger agencies also can be a good fit starting out. They pair publishers (you) with marketers (the brands) and pay you a sponsored post fee. I used them when it was a fit my first couple years of blogging. Some I liked are Clever Girls, Popsugar, and sometimes Izea. These all paid a flat post fee unlike some of the others that pay on clicks. I hardly ever go through an agency now because their payouts are lower and they usually have a ton of extra campaign requirements tied into the post. Every once in a while there is one that is a fit and the pay is worth it.
Offer design services. I offered design consults and created mood boards for clients when my schedule allowed, but lately I haven’t had time to work outside the blog. It’s a nice way to earn some extra money. It does take a lot of extra time, so you have to take that into account.
Sometimes you need to prove your worth before the brands start paying attention. One thing I did my first year of blogging was plan a bigger project. I had a feeling in my gut that this one project would be a good investment in my blog.
Since my blog is about my personal style and our home renovation, I chose a project that people could easily execute themselves and that I was really excited to finish for our home. I took the time to do tutorials and share every detail of it.
That project received a lot of buzz on other blogs and websites and went viral as they say. Months later, it became my first big magazine feature in Better Homes and Gardens magazine. I didn’t have a sponsor for it, no one was paying me to create it. There is a lot to be said for just creating great content and not worrying about getting paid. If you create great content that is organic to what you are blogging about, it won’t stay hidden. People will share it. Brands will start to notice. Brands will want to pay you and work with you.
My #1 tip on how to make money with your blog
Making money with your blog is a process. It is not an instant overnight accomplishment. It takes TIME to make a living wage at it. You need to lay the foundation and show that your work is at a level that is worth its weight.
It’s really important to create content you are proud of. Be intentional with the projects you take on and take the time to make those posts count. Be sure to share them all over your social networks and use Pinterest for every post. Make sure you have a pinnable image that will grab the attention of those pinners! Pinterest, even with all its algorithm changes, is still my #1 referral to this blog.
Also, be teachable. If you aren’t seeing the fruits of your labor, ask yourself some questions. Am I sharing in a way that is easy to understand? Do I need to work on my photography? Am I using social media to my advantage? Am I jamming my blog with too many filler posts just for the sake of having a post? Do I need to work on my writing style? Am I putting myself out there? Be honest with yourself and always grow in your skills.
Stop comparing and enjoy the ride! It’s easy to get caught up in the comparison game. It happens to all of us, we are only human. You may see bloggers having successes you wish you had or you feel should come your way. Whenever that icky jealously shows up, do yourself a favor and focus on your work. Stop focusing on everyone elses!! Take that as your cue to go get inspired! Work on something you are mad crazy about! Enjoy all the little successes along the way because if you are doing great work the big ones are just around the corner. Talent doesn’t stay hidden for long and their is enough room for everyone to have the good things come their way.
No one said this stuff was easy. Blogging is a ton of work. You have to have a passion and talent worth sharing, be a writer, a photographer, a social media guru. It’s a lot of moving parts and every post you take on is a ton of work paid or not. That’s why you have to love it to do it all well.
Check out the rest of today’s posts:
Week Two: Growing Your Blog
Week One: Developing Your Brand
Next week’s Blogging 101 Topic:
Having a Standout Blog
I hope you found today’s Blogging 101 post helpful! I’ve been sick going on 4 days now and I am hoping to feel better soon! I have some kitchen updates to share tomorrow and a special fall outdoor post on Friday.
Have a fab Wednesday!
FOLLOW ME ON PINTEREST
Article Source: Blogging 101 Making Money with Your Blog