So, I’ve struggled with writing this post for quite some time. How do you share your income with others without being received as braggy or arrogant? I finally came to the conclusion, after wading through social media messages and emails about how I land sponsored posts, that this content needs to be shared as a resource. In reality, I’m a *bad* blogger. I’m don’t do most things that propel bloggers into success via income, visibility, or major brand deals. I don’t run ads, I don’t make commission from anyone’s purchase, I don’t post on any kind of routine schedule, and I don’t have a specific niche. If I do anything right, I hope that it’s blogging with a sense of transparency and that serves as resources to others. Today, I’m sharing all my best tips on how to make steady money blogging.
August was a good month. I secured some deals that have been in the works for months, delivered many successful pitches, and had brands reach out to me I had no idea they knew I existed. In this post, I hope the break down this month’s income and provide some tips you should know if you’re hustling a side business in the digital world just like me.
August 2017 Income: $3,998.60
That number is pretty impressive. If I earned that much every month blogging, I would net just under $48,000 – a very comfortable salary for Kentucky living. This figure is, of course, before taxes and before I deducted my expenses. Thankfully, August was a slow month in terms of blog expenses that merely included a few paid ads on Facebook, a business card order, gas to and from meetings, as well as a lens hood upgrade.
My August income came from two primary categories: Blog Collaborations and Brand Strategy Consulting. This first is relatively self-explanatory: Brands pay me to use, review, promote, or photograph their good or service. I disclose this type of work with hashtags such as #sponsored or #ad per FTC regulations. The second category was born from maintaining my brand and gaining knowledge about how to successfully navigate the realm of digital content creation and marketing. In regard to my consulting services, I offer anything from brand/small business development, website design, social media management, graphic design, to photography. Such responsibilities tie in seamlessly with my full time job, so it’s both fun and easy for me to do. I charge either a per project or hourly rate depending on the services requested. I calculate my hourly rate by charging 1.5x my hourly rate at my full time job – it’s overtime, in theory, and keeps everything reasonable for those just getting started!
What You Need to Know
- Stop working for free. I’m not saying you can’t do a collaboration in exchange for apparel you wouldn’t normally be able to purchase, but make sure you always feel like you are being compensated fairly. When I started requiring monetary compensation in addition to products, not only did my income rise, the value of my site and content changed in the eyes of brands. 20% of this month’s income came in the form of gift cards for goods or services I was already seeking, so I had no problem accepting. Find your own balance for the amount you need to earn each month from time invested in your side hustle versus what is extra. Bottom line: blogging, digital marketing, and influencing are work and you should treat them as such!
- Side hustles fluctuate. Let me reiterate, August was a good month. Usually, I can pay most of my bills every month with money I make blogging. Of course, my blog income is directly correlated with how much time I spend writing, posting, and taking photos to represent my brand. I love having a blog in addition to full time employment because I have the luxury of taking time off or slacking if I don’t feel inspired to publish quality content or need a mental health break. Always, always, always seek to have more than one stream of income in case an unexpected hurdle presents itself.
- Pitch the brands that you love. It’s challenging to find a good contact at bigger brands, but don’t let communication hurdles stop you from trying. Create a pitch that’s concise, yet includes specific personal details about why you want to work with a brand and how they will benefit from said collaboration. 45% of this month’s income came from pitches I made to brands!
- Join influencer networks. For my August income, roughly 23% of my earnings came from campaigns tied to influencer networks. This means, I signed up for a group, report my stats, and they show/offer me collaboration opportunities based on brands they’re working with at the time. I’m part of 20+ networks, but only active in 2-3 at any given time. Securing campaigns through influencer networks definitely hasn’t been steady work for me (some months I see zero action), but they usually pay well in my experience!
- Know your limits. I have a bad habit of not knowing how to say no. This is where consulting work gets me in trouble. I’m over the moon that I’ve had so many wonderful individuals and companies reach out to me lately for brand strategy help, but there’s only one of me and 24 hours in each day. For every consulting gig I take on, I’m devoting roughly 5 hours of my time to their brand each week. That’s 5 hours x 5 companies (right now) + my full time job. I don’t recommend working 75+ hour weeks if you’d like to maintain your sanity and social life, but for right now, I’m getting by. Don’t over-commit yourself to your blog and blog work so much that you stop existing in the real world.
- Stay positive. If you’re a blogger not yet making money or not bringing in the amount I shared, don’t be discouraged. Earning money steadily was a 3-year process for me – it’s different for everyone who plays the game. Keep producing content, but don’t be afraid to hire an outside professional to give their opinions on your site and content. Working independently is awesome until you’re the only one providing feedback!
Have questions? That’s why I’m here. Drop me a line below or to my email firstname.lastname@example.org.