People used to give me the strangest looks when I told them what I did.
‘You’re a…. what?’ they’d reply, a confused look on their face. ‘A blogger,’ I’d reply, almost apologetically. ‘A writer who publishes on their own website.’
I’d been a true life journalist for more than 15 years when I shifted over to blogging. Big Sis was a year old and I was pregnant with Lil Sis, and I was finding it increasingly hard to juggle my freelance journalism on top.
I decided I needed to do something a bit more family friendly while I was on maternity leave – and that’s how I became one of the UK’s very first ‘Mummy Bloggers’.
Back then the focus wasn’t about how to make money from your blog, it was more about having a creative outlet and meeting up with other bloggers and – if you were lucky – getting some baby food samples slung your way every now and again. But then more and more people began reading the posts, finding comfort and companionship in the words of their fellow mums as they openly discussed the good, the bad, the funny and just plain awful aspects of motherhood.
Fellow parents were turning to us for advice, trusting our ‘real life’ recommendations over slick promotional advertising, and we began to realise we had a value. Companies and brands also began to understand the potential of this captive audience, and blogging went in a whole new direction.
First it was fancy products to review – everything from breast pumps to pushchairs – followed by lavish events and movie screenings and launch party invites. It was a whole new world of reward and recognition.
Then the paid work began to trickle through, and it began to dawn on Mummy Bloggers, who until then had been writing purely to cling on to our sanity, that we could actually make a living out of this little side hustle.
Now, nearly 11 years after I pushed ‘Publish’ on my very first post (about going to the London Baby Show, if you’re wondering), no one looks at me blankly when I tell them what I do. Blogging is now a respected and professional industry, and had completely turned traditional marketing on its head.
In fact, the media landscape is now teeming with bloggers. There are many myths and misunderstandings about influencer marketing, but while traditional print media is dying a death, there’s no sign of this industry slowing down: budgets that used to get poured into celebrity endorsements and print media are now being diverted to bloggers and social media personalities – from those who have millions of followers, to ‘micro influencers’ with just a few thousand.
But it’s not too late to start blogging and find your niche, and maybe even a new career.
HOW TO MAKE MONEY FROM YOUR BLOG
Anyone can make money from blogging, BUT you have to put the hard work first and it’s not as easy as it looks.
It may seem obvious, but first and foremost you have to know how to write. You wouldn’t try to play football if you were terrible at sport; likewise, if you don’t have a talent for storytelling you should give blogging a miss.
Find your niche: what are you passionate about – all things family, travelling, vegetarian cooking, decorating on a budget? Your enthusiasm for the subject will shine through. Social media prefers a warm ‘first-person’ style that invites the reader in and gives the a little peek into their lives. Read and proofread to make sure your spelling and grammar is spot on – there’s nothing more distracting than a post littered with mistakes.
Learn about search engine optimisation (SEO). It’s a complex subject and it’s really easy to feel overwhelmed, but to explain it very simplistically, SEO is a certain structure and wording you use in your posts that allows search engines, like Google, to find your post in an endless sea of online material. The more people who find it, the more important Google deems your page to be, and the more people it sends your way: this is called your traffic.
While your main focus should be on creating interesting, well-written content, the secondary goal is to continually increase your traffic. In a nutshell, the more people who see your pages, the more value your blog has to people who might like to advertise on it.
This advertising can take several forms, all of which need to be properly disclosed to meet legal, ASA and CMA regulations (read more about the advertising guidelines):
This is when companies send you items, free of charge (so your ‘payment’ is the product) and in return you give your opinion on them. People will read your post to get your genuine thoughts, so it’s important to be honest and as objective as possible, and not feel obliged to write positively simply because you got the item for free. These should be clearly disclosed either as an advertising post, or a post that been sponsored via the provision of gifted samples.
When you get paid an agreed fee to write a post about a company, brand, service or product. This must be disclosed as an advert if the company also has any control at all over what you write, even a small as giving you specific links or keywords to use, or simply asking to see the post before it gets published.
This is when you agree to host third-party content on your website. You agree a price with the client, after which they send they send you a pre-written post that you publish on your blog. Again this must be clearly disclosed at the beginning of the post. Also remember that, as the publisher, you’re responsible for everything that appears on your blog, so make sure nothing in the provided post (including imbedded links) is illegal or offensive.
If clients are on a straightforward mission to build back links, they may offer you a fee to add one to a post you’ve previously written. This is arguably the simplest method of how to make money from your blog. However, you should consider a couple of things first: is it a link that’s relevant to your post and usual content (otherwise, this could alienate your readers, who might see you as ‘selling out’)? Where do the link go? If it goes to a poor-quality site, it may adversely increase your spam score and lessen the value of your blog. Also, if it’s a do-follow link, consider if it’s worth risking the wrath of Google, which discourages the practice of accepting payment for links and may penalise you by making it harder for people to find your blog, thereby reducing your organic traffic.
These are tracked links to the products and services you mention on your blog. If someone clicks through from your site and ends up buying the product, you receive a small commission from the sale. There are a wide range of companies to choose from, do your research to find the one that you feel suits you best and offers the best rewards. All posts containing affiliate links need to disclosed as such at the beginning of your post. The #affiliatelink tag should also be added to any social media promoting those posts. The rewards per sale are small, but can add up quite nicely over time, and it’s passive income, meaning you’re potentially earning money for very little extra effort.
If the design template of your blog allows it, you can sell space in your side bar (the column that runs vertically down one side). You can advertise this space yourself, or sometimes companies will get in touch directly to ask if you’ll host an advert. Some offer to pay a set amount each month, others give you an agreed amount each time someone clicks through to their website (usually this is only pennies per click, and is paid out once a set minimum amount is earned).
Paid social media posts:
You may get approached by a brand asking you to create an image for your Instagram profile or Stories, post a message on Facebook, or Tweet out a message. These are generally quicker and easier than writing an entire blog post, but fees are usually less – ranging from a few pounds to a few hundred, depending on the size of your following.
Just like the famous line in Field of Dreams, ‘if you build it they will come’. Concentrate on filling your blog with interesting content and, in time, the paid work will find you. But, if you want to hurry the process along, you can sign up to specialist companies who link bloggers up with brands, such as Intellifluence (check out their Influencer Spotlight for an idea of the range of bloggers they work with).
Join some blogger support Facebook groups, where you can ask for advice about other influencer networks and also swap information about paid posts.
Or, you can even contact a brand directly to ask about collaborating. Be sure to clearly outline what you can offer, and what you expect back in return (smaller businesses will probably be more amenable, as it’s a more direct, personal arrangement). You won’t always get a positive response, but, equally, you could win some lovely jobs with this proactive approach.
So now you know the basics of how to make money from your blog, but the most important piece of advice is to enjoy what you do and take pride in your work. Passion and professionalism will help your blog stand out, and nab you those dream jobs. Good luck!
• you may also like to read ‘How to Work Successfully from Home’