I sat at the back of Britmums blogging conference 4 years ago in a session about how to make money from blogging, thinking it was a very distant possibility. On Saturday I sat in the same seat, this time it was me preparing to talk about how to make money blogging, and how blogging became my job.
My blogging journey has been slow and organic, but just as my youngest started school full time I found I was really able to make money from blogging and my freelance income was verging on full-time. My income comes completely from blogging or related activities and opportunities that arose because of blogging. I blog here, and at my main blog A Residence about family lifestyle which is now part of Wayfair.
I outlined at Britmums that I make money from blogging though:
- Paid Ambassadorships
- Sponsored posts
- Consultation with brands on working with bloggers
- Blogger Outreach freelance for an agency
- Making videos for brands and Netmums You Tube
- Competition prizes
- Travel and other review opportunities
- Commissions for magazines
Here are the things I think that helped me along the way, I think they could help whatever you are doing though!
Have a Hire Me page and an email signature
This blog needs one, but over on A Residence I have one and it is the most visited page, I also share what I can offer on my About Me page. I try to keep it up to date with examples of recent projects and achievements.
Use your email signature to link to your blogs and social media, if appropriate, and why not add a link to awards, successes of examples of your work.
Have a trophy cabinet.
Whether it is a page or in my case part of your about page have a place to celebrate your achievements. From awards and press coverage to screenshots of comments, tweets or interactions that show you are an important online influencer. Do ask people’s permission to include them.
Have a media pack.
You can’t master every platform, especially if your blog is only a small part of your time. But share the stats for the platforms you are proud of, you can add the others later as they grow. Don’t forget testimonials, influencing people and engaging people is often as powerful, if not more powerful than numbers.
Keep involved in the blogging networks and forums for your niche.
For parent blogs, Britmums, Netmums, Mumsnet and TOTS all connect brands with bloggers, all have been really great in terms of opportunities to work and to promote my work. Keep an eye on their newsletters for new opportunities.
Talk to the Universe, be your own PR
It sounds a bit hippy, but asking the universe works. Social media gives you access to much a much bigger universe, so do use it to let people know what you can do or what you are hoping to do next.
Make creating a successful story about your blog, yourself, your achievements and your skills part of what you share on social media. No need to brag, be humble and thank those you’ve worked with and who have helped you on the way. But don’t be shy, people love good news!
Several opportunities have come about from non blogging friends on Facebook seeing what I am up to. Twitter is also a great place to strike up conversations with brands and I am working on my LinkedIn now!
Celebrate your success
Invest up to ten percent of what you earn in rewarding yourself, or simply creating a celebration, this will motivate you to earn more.
Invest in your skills
Its rare to make all your money out of blogging, but blogging related activities can be really lucrative and you pick up a lot of skills as a blogger. Video making, design, writing, blog writing for a brand, copy writing, photography, presenting videos, blogger outreach, social media account management, social media consulting.
Your blog can be the perfect place to advertise your skills.
Focus on the skills you enjoy and pay or trade with other bloggers for help with the ones you don’t enjoy.
The medium is the message
It can be a creative challenge to develop content that appeals to both readers and to brands, but it is worth taking the time to create some really strong posts that demonstrate the kind of skills brands will want to see when deciding whether to work with you and that really engage your readers. Here is one of my favourites.
Killer posts. Knockout photos, video snippets, punchy, carefully checked writing. Video is so easy these days, you can make a short Instagram video on your phone in minutes.
Build up your portfolio of great content across the topics you love so that you have examples to share with PR companies and brands, and don’t be afraid to send over relevant examples of your work. Put together a pitch document which you can edit and tweak when new opportunities come along.
Competitions can be lucrative
I love the creativity of blogger competitions, and the odds are often incredibly good. I always weigh up the amount of effort, against the prize and how well the content fits my blog. Like many bloggers, I have some reservations about brands working in this way as those who don’t win are promoting a brand for free, so you do have to feel really happy about your time and the content you create here.
Super Lucky Di is a real inspiration to me in terms of the creative output, her work really shows that an inspiring brief, fun and creativity alone can be reward enough, but she makes a good living from it too.
As my Gran always said, you have to speculate to accumulate. Same goes for blog opportunities, the bigger they get, the more work you have to put into applying.
Consider working for free/less if money couldn’t buy the experience/skills/exposure
I chose to get more involved with Comic Relief and Team Honk after an incredible trip to Ghana. I worked for free on fundraising and awareness raising and did it with no agenda. But when I reflect, the skills I picked up, the people I met and the opportunity to really show what I am capable of is both personally rewarding and has definitely helped me professionally. I’ve had job offers based on people seeing what I am capable of, Team Honk was an incredible opportunity to create a campaign ourselves, to collaborate with a brand, yet be really self directed.
I’ve done unpaid ambassadorships, for the perks and they were also a good way to learn about working with brands and to network with other bloggers. They’ve led to paid ambassadorships.
Sophie spoke after me, from the agency Propellernet, she agreed that having a sliding scale and flexibility in your approach and expectations of brands, rather than a fixed rate card, is key to getting hired.
We joked about how the apple tree I accepted in exchange for a post on Waitrose apples is now bringing a whole lot of joy to our garden. I reckon in 10 years it will have paid for my time on that toffee apple recipe many times over and has led to more work with that agency.
I’ve learnt not to say yes to stuff I really don’t need/want/have time to write about – but do ask to be kept in mind for other opportunities.
Collaborate with other bloggers.
Collaborating with Annie and Tanya to raise over £40,000 via Team Honk for Comic Relief over the last two years, and to get 200 people to pass on a baton from Lands End to John O groats taught me anything is possible if you work as a team, ask for help, set deadlines, apply some creativity, time and problem solve. There is no way I could or would have done any of that alone. We are three very different bloggers, but our combined skills made so much happen.
You don’t have to travel half way round the world of course. In Nottingham I have worked with a small group of other bloggers, we called it blog clinic and it was all about setting measurable goals, helping each other identity ways to achieve those goals and holding each other accountable. All four of us have gone on to exceed those goals, whether it be the amount of money we made, our stats, awards or rankings.
Take a risk and jump
It was necessity that finally kicked me into action, there was a cash emergency and to make money from blogging was the quickest and easiest option, but it is too easy to put your goals aside unless you are under pressure. So set goals and get someone to hold you accountable.
Nurture your contacts.
Becky who knows all about how to run a uk parenting blog, she has several, taught me all I know about this, and I interviewed her here:
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Embrace change, blogs, like babies grow up
When Wayfair wanted to buy A Residence, my first blog, and to employ me on a freelance contract I wasn’t sure in my heart. I’d built up a blog over years, as I had ‘built up’ my own babies. But in my head I could see it was an amazing opportunity to really grow the homes and lifestyle elements in that blog.
Having grown in confidence and technical skills I felt confident enough to move the more personal content out here and to build up parentshaped. Both sites now feel like slightly different homes, but both of them still very me. I am really enjoying collaborating with Wayfair’s creative team and building new skills.
Creating awareness online
I summarised some of what we learnt about creating awareness online for charity in this video, but it applies generally too:
Hope you find these insights useful, it was hard work to make money from blogging and it took time, but it really snowballed.
Good Luck with whatever you are currently working towards. If you have any questions, please do leave them below, or seek me out on Twitter @pennyalexander_. If you have enjoyed what you read please subscribe for more updates from parent shaped: