I sat down recently and did some calculations to work out in what areas I made my money blogging last year, then to break that down statistically to get a ‘bigger picture’ perspective. It was a personal exercise, done out of curiosity more than any other reason, however once the numbers were in front of me a few points jumped out. I thought I would write about my overall impressions in the hope it is of value, much like how Problogger occasionally does the same.
Diversify your revenue streams
Assuming I’ve not forgotten anything, there are nine different ways I make money either directly or indirectly from blogging (as everything comes under the one business umbrella at tax time, I’m going to count them all), and as you can see this is done in varying degrees.
First of all, I was surprised to see sponsored posts came out on top. I thought book sales would have – and it was close – but there you have it. Now I’ve brought up the subject, I can see why they do attract a lot of focus and energy from bloggers, such as what I saw at the Problogger Conference. What I didn’t mention then, and I should’ve, was that the attraction for bloggers when it comes to sponsored posts is not just the money, but the opportunity to develop a deeper relationship with either the brand they’re writing about or even the PR firm who (usually) initiates it, in case it leads to more regular work in the future.
So, yes, I understand all that, and 26% is a big piece of the pie. But flip that thought over and look at it another way: 74% of my income comes from other means.
It’s not always predictable
Advertising was minuscule last year – sidebar advertising has slid ever since the GFC and while it’s recovered slightly and I’m getting more inquiries again (although I always say no to paid text links), to be honest I didn’t give it much of my attention and the numbers reflect that.
On the other hand, the affiliate number is quite surprising – while it’s only 1%, I only signed up at the end of October. I think to even show up after just 60-odd days is a feat.
Face the music
Regrets, I have a few. Or not ‘regrets’ exactly, more like a reality check. I see areas I could do better in: book sales is one. Freelancing is another (by that I mean freelance writing, but also included what creative work I got published as well). My relationship with freelancing has changed over the years, for reasons too long to go into in this post, but I still enjoy it. It comes down to time management and prioritisation and in 2014, if I want to finish this novel, I have to be more mindful of that than ever.
It’s your time, ergo your money
I can’t remember when I started to charge for giveaways, but it was certainly after other bloggers were – I know because that was how I discovered they were doing it! A few disclosed that administration fees were part of the giveaway arrangement (this is why disclosure is important), so I followed suit, a little cranky with myself for not doing it sooner. Why? Because giveaways are fun – but they can be time consuming, and a hassle if something goes wrong. As far as I am concerned, that’s labour.
Consider developing your own products
I should do more books. Apart from the deep satisfaction that happens during the production period – making something always feels nice, it helps you get through the stressful moments! – a product not only makes money, but helps establish authority. It’s not easy, it takes courage, but it’s worth it. And I will do more books in the future! When I think back over the seven-plus years I’ve been blogging, the best decision I possibly made was doing Surprise! back in 2008. It was a second start.
(Your own products don’t need to be books, of course. Don’t forget services, either.)
I hope that was of use – please let me know if you have any questions, or if this has inspired you to take similar stock of your own blogging ventures. You don’t need to give numbers, obviously, but if you find something interesting I’d love to hear about it.
Please share this post around to other bloggers who might be interested. As I said in the post, I’m all for opening discussion.