If I have discovered anything since I started teaching blogging, it’s that I really enjoy sharing knowledge. I’m not saying I know everything – heck, the longer I’m around the more I realise there’s so much I don’t know – but the benefit of experience, over eight years, certainly helps. In the spirit of combining both, at around this time last year I published a post about how I made money in 2013 and it got a really positive reaction. I thought I would do the same again, partly to see if things had changed (yes) and why (various reasons, see below).
This post is based around blogging income, and is quite heavily influenced by my own opinions. These may not apply or be relevant to everyone, but I hope they will be generally helpful. Here they are.
Diversify your Income Streams
This was my first tip in last year’s post, and so it is again. As you can see in the graph above, I counted 12 different ways I made money by, or through, blogging. This is up 33% from the previous year. Some of the new ways – particularly sponsored social media – were done because I had a good relationship with a brand, or their PR firm (note: good PR peeps are worth their weight in gold), and I wanted to ‘test the waters’. I said ‘no’ to quite a lot, the same as I do with most offers, but I don’t think I will go down that road much further than what I already have. Well, we’ll see, anyway. Brands are changing the way they want to engage with bloggers, particularly the different ways they want to see bloggers spread key messages. And I know a lot of bloggers, in turn, are more interested in wanting long-term relationships with brands, rather than one-off campaigns. I certainly fall into that camp and am lucky enough to have had some wonderful experiences.
I think I will add a slight caveat to the tip this time around: diversify your income streams… but don’t lose sight of what’s already working. For example, I got occasionally preoccupied with what affiliates I should have on the blog, researching and fixating on reports – and only saw a 1% increase. I was losing time to other things that were paying off, like getting back into freelance writing again, which showed a big jump. When I realised what I was doing, I stopped and re-focused – and felt much better for it.
Remember your blog is a great asset – and if it’s not, it could be
When I showed last year’s graph to a blogging class, a student challenged my inclusion of the category of ‘editing’ on it, because how was that making money from the blog? Aren’t they two different things entirely?
I said no.
The editing work that came about was because of my blogging and writing record, and this is the way the blogging and writing industries can work. Yes, the rumours are true: sometimes it’s a case of not what you know, but who you know. Of course, to get hired (and re-hired), you must do your very best work etc. but I make it clear that for many well-reputed bloggers, and for their readers especially, their blog was the beginning, the origin; where they were discovered; where relationships and loyalties are forged. This becomes more clear once your blog rises in the search rankings and pretty soon people are googling your name, or blog name, to find you. To say you haven’t found work via your blog – even if it wasn’t set up in the first place with that explicit aim – isn’t to say it can’t or won’t happen. This is when persistence and dedication comes into the mix. And passion. If you tend to it, it will grow. It requires patience.
Do for yourself what you would do for others
This is an area I’m really trying hard to work on because I’m the first to run to YouTube for a bit of mindless procrastination (Jimmy Fallon is adorable, no?), but if you’re working for yourself, you’re often doing that stuff on your time. If you charge $50, or $100, or $200 per hour and you waste 20 minutes in a YouTube spiral, think of that in dollar terms and you’re less likely to do it. I’m not saying you should turn into Jack “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” Torrance – and let’s not get into the “it’s research” debate! – but everything has a time and place. Long story short: if I wouldn’t do it in an office, or another position, then why am I doing it to myself?
Another thing I’ve tried is outsourcing. I’ve used Fiverr – a site where you can find someone to do tasks for you, starting at – you guess it – $5 a job. Alternatively, I’ve seen bloggers advertise for short or long-term PAs or VAs, and I must say I’ve come close to doing the same thing a number of times, particularly for things such as sourcing and editing photographs. It’s something I enjoy, doing, actually, but can be such a time suck and takes me away from other very important jobs, such as writing and coming up with editorial ideas, pitches, content plans, commenting on blogs etc. There’s so much to do!
Getting to that stage in business must be incredibly exciting, although I have heard tales of recruitment when there have been disappointments, either through miscommunication or delivery of work, and it’s ended up being more stressful than helpful. I admit that’s what’s held me back.
Anyway, long story short: work hard, keep your eye on the clock, use an app or internet-blocking device if prone to distractions, and get to it!
When I look back over at 2014, the biggest thing that leaps out at me is: opportunity. There’s many I took, others I should’ve chased down harder, and some I was plain happy to let go. The middle bunch, the ‘ones that got away’, are what I hope to concentrate on this year.
Please, if you have any questions, ask away. If you found this post useful or interesting, I would love if you shared it around. Here’s to a prosperous 2015!