This is a post I’ve been putting off..oh..for months? Ever since I started trying to diversify my blogging income and started sponsored posts (gasp!) this year, I’ve wanted to talk to you guys about the mindset behind all of this.
Money + Blogging.
It’s a tricky thing to talk about. It’s kind of awkward and even taboo among some bloggers. (thus stalling on writing a post about it.) Some view it as “selling out” but others criticize bloggers for not taking their blogs seriously and for not taking money for product reviews.
With the conflicting ideas out there…let’s talk about why I decided to make money blogging.
Why Try to Make Money Blogging?
1. Blogging takes a lot of time.
For me, anyways. So much time that it’s like a part-time job. There is recipe creation (and recipe fails), foodie photography, life photography (wait—I need to take a picture for the blog!), social media, site maintenance (or me frantically e-mailing Julie—HELP!! I BROKE IT AGAIN!), photo editing, networking, reading and supporting other blogs and then of course actually putting together the post.
If you are one of those bloggers that can put together a post in a hour and it’s no big deal, God bless you. That’s just not me.
Don’t get me wrong—I still find writing and picture-taking and social media-izing to be fun. This is definitely a creative outlet as well as a cheap form of therapy, not to mention all of the friends I’ve made along the way! (See why I love and hate blogging here.)
With the amount of time I put into the blog (and the fact that I had not been offered a book deal yet—ha! thanks Julie + Julia for unrealistic expectations!) I decided I’d try to make some money by placing a couple of ads onto the site a couple of years ago. Google ads it was! And I started making pennies a day. (I cannot tell you how excited I got when my first check came in the mail!)
Blogging takes a lot of time and is a free service to the readers, so I feel it’s okay to try to make money doing it.
2. The Ability to Be Self-Employed.
I’ve always wanted to work for myself, but I just never knew how to go about it exactly. I tried after high school with an “opportunity” (slash pyramid scheme) for about three years and even after leaving that endeavor, I could never quite get it out of my head that I wanted to do something on my own.
You could also say that with my personality (semi-introverted) that working by myself in my home is a good thing for me. I do need to socialize, but not as much as those extroverts out there. You know who you are.
Blogging is a great opportunity to work for yourself by doing what you love to do.
3. Why Not Me?
After I started interacting with more bloggers and attending conferences..I realized there is serious business slash income potential in blogging itself…not just landing book deals. I also realized there was huge potential in using the blog alongside whatever business you have.
I started seeing posts where bloggers would show their actual income from blogging and blogging-related endeavors. My jaw dropped to the floor when I first saw Pinch of Yum’s income report. (check out their August income report. mind = blown.)
Over time I kept thinking to myself..why not me? Why couldn’t I do what they were doing?
I decided to take the leap of faith and believe in myself.
Getting Serious About Blogging
Last year (2013) I began to think more and more of my blog as something I was proud of. Something I would actually tell people about. Something with actual business potential. No longer just a hobby, but something I intentionally poured myself into and thought about all. the. time.
When I moved to Minnesota, I started applying for freelance writing positions because I realized that I’d had a decent amount of experience creating content online. I actually used my blog as a reference for my writing/content creation. And I succeeded in getting two online writing jobs last year!
I requested a “fancy camera” for Christmas in 2011 and I actually started playing around with the settings and setting up real photo shoots and working with Picmonkey to edit and create beautiful images online.
I began researching a ton about blogging and photography and SEO and intentionally working on my social media presence. I gave my blog a huge makeover and switched from Blogger to WordPress on a self-hosted site with BlueHost. (Thank you, Julie!)
I saw a huge increase in readership last year and I was so relieved grateful all of that work started to pay off by way of pageviews. (slash new blog friends!!)
This year I decided I would make an actual effort at creating income. I realized that Google Ads aren’t the greatest at optimizing income, so I applied (err..re-applied. I didn’t make it the first time and got super discouraged about a year ago) for a prestigious ad network…and I got in! I started applying for networks that provide sponsored posts and started keeping my eyes open for the right sponsored opportunities for my blog.
I’ve also set up affiliate accounts with a couple of companies but more on that in the next post.
My Mindset Behind Sponsored Content
I try to be real in everything I do. Or maybe I’m just bad at being fake? Either way, I try to make sure that what I’m doing on the blog is me and not me trying to be something else.
The way I look at sponsored content is writing a post about a product or recipe that I would probably do any way, just with the benefit of income and a couple of links to the sponsor’s site. Yes, many seem like rave reviews, but that is because I am a fan of the product in the first place. (search Target on my blog. see how many times I talked about it before I did a post for them.)
Believe me, there are opportunities that come along where I turn into one of those cartoons with dollar signs in her eyes, but I have to turn them down because it just doesn’t make sense for my blog.
My goal with sponsored content is providing readers with useful or entertaining information while talking about the brand. I know there are some who just won’t read a sponsored post and I honestly used to be that way out of jealousy and because I didn’t quite get why these bloggers were “selling out.” Then one day something clicked and my thought process changed.
I think of ads and sponsorship like when you’re listening to the radio or free Pandora…yeah some of the ads are annoying (I equate those to the ads on the sidebar that I don’t have full control over), but it’s a free service the radio is providing and everyone working at the radio isn’t there as a volunteer—they are there to make money even if they do have fun doing it.
There are also times when the radio announcer has tried out a product and tells about his or her experience with it (I equate those sponsored talks to sponsored posts on the blog). Not surprisingly, if I’ve listened to the radio personality awhile and like their thoughts and ideas, I tend to like listening to their sponsored talks more.
It’s okay to make money doing what you love. Like a radio personality, it usually isn’t much and it can be hard work with long hours, but it’s still fun and there are many benefits that go along with it.
So Far, So Good
I love the idea of blogging as a business because it provides a space where I can sit alone typing away on the keyboard and/or get nerdy creative with a camera and an editing program. I love the idea that I’m potentially helping people whether it just be through an entertaining fail post or sharing tips on staying active or hosting a love challenge. I love the relationships I’ve cultivated and the confidence I’ve gained in myself.
I love the flexibility blogging affords since with Dave’s job, we could be moving at any time. Plus we travel a ridiculous amount back to Nebraska and it helps to be able to work from there.
I also am very excited to say that I have made a decent amount of money the past couple of months! I’m not a full-time blogger and I’m not sure if I ever want to be (I really like my café job), but definitely a solid part-timer (like 20-30 hours a week if toggl is accurate).
I’m still figuring things out and still trying to improve on a daily basis. I’m still making mistakes (so so many!), and sometimes feel like I’m only beating my head against the wall…but I’m learning. That’s life, right?
I have big plans for the future and I know blogging can help move them along!
I keep saying this lately, but I am so thankful you are reading! A blog is nothing without its readers!
And if you want me to be extra thankful…connect me with a book publisher? Pretty please? Anyone…?
Please don’t ever hesitate to e-mail me if you have questions, comments or concerns: semihealthnut at yahoo.
Your thoughts on the subject!
I don’t mind criticism as long as it’s constructive!
PS I’m all about Pinterest this year, so I would LOVE IT if you could pin one (or two!) of these images!
Pin with me!
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