Welcome to the annual – and historically popular – post I write about how I make money off this blog. Before I get into specifics, I’ll give a little background as to how I’ve come up with the above chart. If you look at years 2014 and 2013, you’ll be able to tell I’ve made it different this time around. I used to break down different money-making areas into separate percentages, and while that might offer more information visually than this new ‘grouping’ method, it was becoming too fractured. Not only do all those colours combined become hard on the eye, but it loses a sense of the ‘at a glance’ view that pie charts offer (and, I hope, the above one does). There’s a flaw if you have to squint while trying to read everything.
Okay, without further ado, here are my thoughts.
Diversify, sure. But don’t spread yourself too thin
My editing income went up from 6% in 2014 to 48.5% in 2015. That’s a massive increase – and I didn’t take on all the projects that slid into my inbox either. So I was faced with a decision: keep the existing balance and let some areas slide, or work longer and keep up the kind of routine I was already keeping (pitching to publications, sending sponsorship proposals, researching affiliates, negotiating with potential advertisers… the list goes on).
I chose the former.
This wasn’t without some regrets. I miss writing freelance pieces (that falls in the ‘books and writing’ segment in the chart), but when I added up the time spent researching, writing, submitting, then waiting long 6-8 week pay cycles and keeping track of things… it’s getting more and more frustrating.
The editing is satisfying because I do think it’s an area I slip into nicely – I can look at a piece of work and make the kind of required fixes in the relatively quick turnaround period that web writing (and publishing) demands.
Teaching was the second largest earner and again it was genuinely pleasing to work in that capacity. Preparing workshops, updating slides, keeping an eye out for new talent and helping others takes time, but it’s worth it.
I’ll note at this point that my e-course My Creative Process is included in the ‘Content Related‘ segment. For those people who have been irritated in the past that I haven’t distinguished ‘on the blog’ and ‘from the blog’ enough (gee, thanks for that – I don’t HAVE to write these posts, you know!) I’ve made it clearer this time. Content Related is money from on the blog including:
- Sponsored posts
- Affiliate earnings
- Giveaway fees, etc.
And, now, the e-course too.
The Blogging Scene is Changing
Yes, yes, it always is. But there is a difference between things that are instant institutions (Instagram, for example), what’s still finding its feet and could go one way or the other (Periscope) and what’s on the way out (Google+). Bloggers have long been able to predict change relatively well and true – at least in my experience they have. By experimenting in different forms and social media, when the time comes to pivot – and it nearly always does – the direction taken is a relatively straightforward process. Sounds a big ‘bandwagon-y’? It could. Maybe. I prefer to think of it as informed.
I’m not the only one who thinks that blogs, at least as they are utilised by those entrepreneurially-inclined people, are changing. Chris Guillebeau has also touched on this subject.
What does this mean for the little/new/mid-range/part time blogger?
I think, sadly, success *might* (I’m not giving up hope) become more of a numbers game again – especially if you’re starting out and especially if you’re hoping to make some money.
There has been a push in the past two to three years to the side of ‘influencers’ – those people who have a certain clout online without necessarily having armies of followers. It’s the “quality versus quantity” idea, one that was welcomed. Now, and this is my personal opinion, I believe 2015 saw a bit of reversion back to the preoccupation with numbers and stats. I think this is (partially) to do with more coverage of blogging success in the mainstream media – that kind of data (followers etc.) is relatively easy to find and hard to refute. ‘Influence’ is harder to quantify, unless there’s a book deal or commercial partnership to announce, for example.
So what does this mean?
The good news is that the cornerstone elements of blogging will remain the same: deliver regular quality and meaningful content to your audience (existing and potential). Is it that simple? Has it ever been? (*laughs manically*)
Okay, serious again. The tricky part comes with these elements:
- Delivery – What is the best way to get your content out? Writing is still the biggest way, but now there’s videos and podcasting and even purely through social media.
- Regular – Is that once a week? Twice a week? That might depend on your method of delivery.
- Audience – This is perhaps the hardest. It can be hard and overwhelming to be heard among the existing voices if you’re starting out. Capturing and retaining a core readership is integral to long-term success. Notice I said ‘core’ – these are your people, your tribe. They’re the emotional centre, the ones you’re serving. Get that right and the rest becomes easier.
So HOW do I make money, you ask yourself?
If you’ve read this far – first, thanks! You might be interested in this section the most or it could be good food for thought if you apply some ideas to your individual blogging situation. Perhaps you already are earning some money, or you want to leverage that position towards a goal.
I think the most important thing to do is look at your situation: geographic, resources and personality. If you live in a rural area, teaching/mentoring might be difficult unless you do it via Skype one-on-one, for example. Living in a city does have advantages. But if you have a problem standing up in front of a crowd, living in an urban zone, if you do, won’t make much of a difference. In that case, creating products or courses might be better suited to your personality. Create the thing. Market the thing. Sell the thing. Repeat.
Resources – time, support in helping get the job done – in all cases is crucial. Never burnout. Keep perspective. As I’ve said before, “Don’t confuse energy with passion.”
Once you’ve figured out how to best play to your strengths, utilise the tools that can streamline the process:
- Choose imperfection over inaction.
- Make connections with brands.
- Refine your story for greater success.
- Invest in photo editing and social media services like Buffer, PicMonkey, Flickr etc.
And read other blogs that can help, such as Problogger.
If you have any questions about this post or any of the points I made, please leave it in the comments and I will answer. May you have a successful year.