We know money is a sensitive topic for many.
But for us, we would like to say that it is not. You guys already know that we love money. It pays those pesky bills, it buys us things we need and want, we get to live a life we dream of because of it. We won’t go sharing our bills and personal details with you guys. But we will be raw and candid on some things that we’ve learned during our one year of blogging (and it’s a lot). And no, we’re not promoting an E-book… it’s all right here!
Blogging can and will make you money, if you’re dedicated and consistent.
For those of you just starting, making money from your blog may sound overwhelming and confusing, but we can assure you that if you give it some time, it will be easier than it all sounds.
There are multiple ways to make money from blogging.
To name a couple, affiliate links and sponsored posts. Keep in mind, we have only been blogging for 1 year. The information we’re about to share with you guys is what we have learned over the course of our year of blogging. We are not claiming to know everything there is to know about how to make money from a blog; we’re simply sharing what has worked for us.
So, let’s get into the good stuff. Let’s be real, that’s what you guys really came here for.
1. Affiliate links
Ugh. We just do not like affiliate links. Don’t get us wrong, they can be great, but only for specific niches. Okay, now that we’ve expressed our complaints, let’s explain.
Affiliate links are links on a webpage which viewers can click on. In exchange, the owner of the webpage can make a commission from each click on the link. There are two ways the owner of the site can make money from a link. Pay per click and pay per sale. These terms may sound somewhat self explanatory, but let’s break it down. Pay per click means the owner of the site will get paid an amount each time the link is clicked. Pay per sale means the owner will get paid a percentage of the item that is sold through that clicked link. So next time you click on a product link on a blog, give yourself a pat on the back for helping support your favorite blogger.
Considering that we’re only 1 year into blogging, we prefer the pay per click method.
We aren’t some super huge social influencers, so getting paid per sale can be a bit trickier. As for the pay per click, any blog/influencer of any size can benefit from a simple click. However, it’s not likely to pay your bills unless you get serious traffic and/or you have an audience who comes to your blog to click (fashion bloggers, this one’s for you).
We don’t really use affiliate links anymore. We used to use them when we first started blogging, but they don’t really work for us, so we stopped prioritizing them. But that doesn’t mean they can’t work for you. Lots of bloggers get supplemental income from affiliate links, and they can look pretty on your website too. So if you’re an aspiring style blogger, affiliate links can be a great place to start trying to wrangle in income from your blog.
2. Sponsored Posts
This one is our personal favorite. It can pay you some big bucks with some hard work. Sponsored posts are when a company/brand pays you to create a post about their company/brand or about a product that they want to promote. Typically, these posts will feature the product in photos and they will include information about the product in the post copy.
In our experience, sponsored content has been our largest form of income from blogging. Sponsored content doesn’t just live on blogs- sponsored content can be seen on many popular social media sites. Let us explain further. Sponsored content can be found on blogs, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube. If you’ve ever watched a YouTube video where you heard “Thank you ___ for sponsoring this video.” or “This video is sponsored by___) then clap for them, because they’re making that coin honey!
What we like about sponsored content is, it doesn’t matter your niche.
There are endless brands for every niche that will pay you an appropriate rate to promote their brand if your audience is a good fit. Brands will reach out to you, you can reach out to brands, and you can also use third party agencies to match you with sponsored campaigns. You also control the price.
There are a ton of posts out there about how to price yourself, but we generally use this equation.
Audience Worth + Production Costs + Creator Strategy Fee + Representation Fee = Total Cost
Those are a lot of vocabulary words, so let’s define them.
You can find the worth of your audience find this using a handy tool called Social Bluebook. They calculate how much your audience is worth, not including anything else that goes into creating sponsored content. For example, Social Bluebook gives you the amount you should charge if you’re reposting a Pinterest photo of the product you got hired to post, and then tagging the company. No caption, no effort. This number is the bare minimum baseline for what you should charge. The other factors that influence your rate are explained below.
AKA how much it takes to create the content, this can include equipment, props, gas driving to a shoot location, etc. A lot of bloggers hire photographers to take their pictures, so that cost would be included as well. Basically, anything that costs you in creating content needs to be taken into account when charging for a sponsored post.
Creator Strategy Fee
This is your creativity. You as the creator have to come up with a creative way to showcase the product and then execute that idea. Often, these ideas have to take into account the company’s branding, image, and existing social media aesthetic. That’s work, and that’s why there’s a dollar amount attached to it.
As a blogger or influencer, you have a personal brand. So you have to ask the question: how much is your personal brand worth to you? Your face is representing this product, and your name is being associated with it. If a company wants you to align yourself with their brand, that’s money, too!
Be wary of companies/brands wanting your hard work for free.
There are so many companies/brands that will try to get something from you for nothing. They will try to ask you to share their product on your social platforms for free, or in other words, for free product. We understand this tactic because who doesn’t want free stuff? It’s can be tempting and easy even to take this bait.
As bloggers, influencers and content creators, we can’t let them off that easy. A big issue in this industry is bloggers and content creators not knowing what they’re worth, and literally giving away hard work for free or for way less than they should. We’ve been there, and that’s why we can say first hand that your work is probably worth 2 or 3 times more than what you’re charging. However, if you calculate your rates using the above formula, you should definitely be confident in the pricing you come up with for your work.
This isn’t to say you should never ever do free work. If you’re just starting out and trying to do more brand work, then accepting free product for posts is a great way to build your portfolio. But the “building portfolio” phase is definitely temporary, and when you feel confident enough in your work to charge for it, raise those rates, girl!
Our above formula isn’t perfect or even original, and we aren’t saying this is the magic formula that everyone should be using. It’s simply the formula that we use when we create our rates, and we’ve benefited personally from using it.
If a company/brand isn’t able to pay you your worth or close to it, you have to be willing to walk away from the opportunity.
We accept free product if the product is of high value (and something we actually want) or if we want to get our foot in the door with a company or brand. If the product isn’t of high value or if we don’t care about brand affiliation, then we decline their offer.
Declining an offer for free products may suck, but let’s be real here, products don’t pay bills. If you put in time, energy, and creative effort into making consistent content, you should be paid a fair price that you’re happy with.
At this point, you may be asking, how do I even get opportunities for sponsored content in the first place!?
You may have heard this a million times before, but consistent, high quality content attracts brands. There is nothing wrong with posting a pic of the new shoes you just got or a pic of your home cooked dinner plate, but it has to make sense within your feed.
There are a couple different things that make up the concept of “consistency” on Instagram or your blog.
1. Editing Style
When it comes to Instagram, try editing your photos using the same editing style to unify your photos. You don’t have to use the exact same settings every time, but you should choose a preset or filter, and generally stick to the same vibe for each picture. For Instagram, you can also get an app to preview what photos will look like on your feed before you post them. This will help to make sure every photo you post looks like it belongs on your feed.
What you post will depend on what your niche is (more on this later). If you want to share a photo of your new shoes, and you’re a lifestyle or fashion blogger, a photo of you wearing the new shoes makes more sense with your brand than a photo of the shoes in the box. Likewise, if you want to share that beautiful home cooked dinner, and you aren’t a food blogger, a plate close up might not be the way to go. Instead, create a table setting and photograph yourself eating with yourself, your spouse, or your friends.
While there are a million different ways to capture your life, part of being a professional content creator is making your content feel natural, effortless, and like it all belongs together. (Even though it’s absolutely NOT effortless. It takes a ton of freaking effort).
Post literally as much as you can. Every day is ideal to grow your audience, people want to follow someone who is putting out content regularly. If you’re already established with a larger audience, you might be able to relax a bit more. But generally, more is more when it comes to how often you should post. We’re not going to lie, it’s hard to post every day. It’s exhausting, and it’s a lot of work, but that’s what needs to happen for growth.
Consistency is key, but it’s not everything.
Once you create a bomb ass feed or blog aesthetic, there’s still more you can do. Like any freelance job, to get paid, you have to seek out clients. One thing we live by is “no one knows you exist until you tell them”. A big part of getting sponsored content opportunities is going out and getting them. I know, vague af. But we’ll break it down more:
1. Join Influencer Marketing Agencies
Influencer marketing agencies are web-based companies that match influencers/content creators with brands and companies for marketing campaigns. Here are some of the agencies we like the best.
On a side note, if you’re really just starting out and want to build your portfolio and get at least a little money, Heartbeat is great for getting campaigns under your belt. Even though you can’t set your own rate, it’s a great beginner tool and we still use them to this day.
2. Reach out professionally
Instead of waiting for companies to find you, it is always an option to go to them. You can find emails for most brands pretty easily, and if you want to inquire about ay ongoing campaigns they may have, or even pitch your own, this is a way to do it. We try to reach out to companies directly several times a month, just to get our name out there. To be honest, it rarely has resulted in a paid opportunity, but it has gotten our foot in the door with big brands.
3. Reach out via social media
Ariana is really good at what she likes to call “baiting” companies. She’ll express interest in a brand by liking a bunch of pictures, and commenting genuine thoughts about their products. This is another way we build our portfolio and relationships with different brands. This strategy works best with smaller companies.
Another way to contact brands through social media is with direct messages. If we can’t find a company’s email, we’ll slide in their DMs in order to reach out.
4. Redirect email inquiries
Reaching out to companies you want to work with is very important. But there will also be companies that come to you. Brand representatives will email you asking for posts in exchange for product, or for posts in general. If we aren’t willing to do a free post for product (which we usually aren’t), we’ll respond with something like this:
Thank you so much for reaching out! We would love to work with ____ and collaborate on a sponsored post featuring your product. What is your budget for this campaign?”
Usually, the response is something like: “oh, we don’t have a budget”. But in other cases, companies have asked us our rates from this point, which we can then share. By redirecting the conversation and making it clear that you expect payment for work, it’s a quick way to weed out time wasters. But at the same time, it’s also professional, and you don’t have to list numbers from the jump. Another benefit of asking for a company’s budget is that it might be higher than your rate, which is always awesome.
Whew! That’s a wrap for sponsored content.
We know, that was a lot. Like, a lot a lot. But don’t worry, you can pick and choose which strategies you want to try based on your own brand. No one knows your work better than you, and it’s important to remember that as you try to grow professionally as a content creator. Finally, let’s move on to the last tip!
3. Hone in on your niche
When we first started blogging, we were all over the place. We created a wide variety of content and tried to be a little bit of everything for everyone. As time went on, we noticed certain types of posts got more traffic. To be specific, our posts where we open up about our relationship got higher engagement than some of our other blog posts, so we started creating more of that content. As we followed what our audience wanted, we were able to hone in on our niche.
In the beginning, we were so set on trying to appeal to everyone that we forgot one key factor, we’re an interracial lesbian couple. AND WE WEREN’T SPEAKING TO OUR OWN AUDIENCE. How tragic is that? We forgot who we were, we didn’t realize our own niche or our potential once we acknowledged our community.
Having a niche is so very important.
A niche gives you the opportunity to create content that attracts a specific group of people, or multiple groups, and they’re coming to you for that type of content. This is another way of saying “you’re special girl”! figurig out what your audience likes to see from you can help guide you to what makes you unique, and being unique helps your blog grow a bigger audience. As we all know, bigger audience means more money, and a big, engaged audience means hella money. Win-win-win.
Having a specific niche doesn’t mean you can’t mix up your content. Sure, you can mix it up girl! But always keep your niche and your audience in mind.
Keep in mind, we’re still growing and learning.
We’ll be hitting our first anniversary in the next couple days, so we know we’re still young bloggers. But we have learned a lot in this year about how to get paid and grow professionally. Everything in this post was learned through talking to other bloggers, trying things for ourselves firsthand, and growing from our mistakes.
If you have other tips about making money as a content creator, share in the comments so everyone can benefit! The purpose of this post is to share information, and we can all make the industry better and more profitable for the creatives within it.
And of course, questions are more than welcome in the comments! Or if you really need to have a heart to heart with us, head over to our Instagram and shoot us a DM.
Thats all for today folks!
Until next time,
Ariana & Hannah