Welcome to my annual ‘take a peek under the hood’ post about how I made money from blogging in the previous calendar year. I believe this is the fourth time I’ve written this kind of breakdown and I am fascinated by how much they change. The reasons often correlate to wider changes occurring in the blogging world at the time and what I choose to focus on work-wise and this year is no different.
As ever, I’d be keen to hear your thoughts about how blogging changed for you in 2016 (if it did) – whether you monetise your blog or not. Without further ado, I’ll get stuck into a bit of analysis.
1. Content related revenue was way down
By ‘content related’ I mean money that is made purely on the blog itself – traditionally this has included sponsored content, affiliates, native advertising etc. That tiny orange sliver bears little resemblance to the massive 52% majority chunk of 2014 (if you add all the relevant pieces together). I knew it would be down, but not this low. Honestly? While I understand why, it took me aback. I didn’t have time to pursue potential partners or sponsors like it used to, but I’d hoped for more of a return from affiliates because I still use those.
I think this is the end result of a downward trend I noticed the start of in last year’s post, which was the first I wrote after I re-branded to blogging under my own name and consciously moved away from the ‘mummy blogger’ label. Sometimes I’ve moaned about PR people not really caring or paying attention to bloggers (to wit: I still get emails addressed to ‘Miscellaneous Adventures of an Aussie Mum’ – hello, 2007), but they do.
To put things in a wider perspective I think this also has to do with a wider shift as to where brands want to spend their money (or are told where to spend it). Giveaways are lessening in number – or are being platform shifted, like to Instagram, and staying there, where the brands can do their own marketing, promoting the posts, collecting important information. It makes sense, and you don’t have to rely on external reporting.
Back to that tiny orange wafer – just the sight of it is quite an incentive to do something about it. Thinking positively!
2. Creating your own product(s) is worth it
I mean, read point one. That’s a good example why. Relying too much on others can backfire. The product I’m specifically talking about here is my ecourse ‘My Creative Process‘. I wasn’t too sure where to put the ecourse when I was compiling the graph – in the end, I included it with Books and Writing because it deals with writing in a large sense, but, in hindsight, it was probably a better fit for either Content or Teaching. As my teaching will increase to include my new gig at CAE this year, that will complicate what gets added. So I will either leave as is or move it to Content.
That’s just housekeeping, really. My point is that while it was an enormous amount of work to put together, it continues to do well. I do wonder whether I could shift delivery platforms, but it’s not at that level yet.
I include my books when talking about products. Being a publisher and looking at the production of a book behind the scenes takes away a lot of the romance involved at the other end once it’s out. Don’t get me wrong – it’s wonderful. But it’s complicated. Keeping a sense of perspective helps.
3. Podcasting creates a strange kind of prestige
To be clear, I didn’t make money podcasting. In fact, if I factor in studio hire and labour alone (I record and edit myself), the average cost per hour would probably be frightening. But I’m much better at editing now, so that cost would be coming down slowly, and the structure of the show is quite simple, involving little more than a top and tail, spoken introduction/conclusion and music bumpers.
The story I want to tell here is anecdotal, but still interesting. The week I launched, and the couple immediately after, I have never had so many messages from people hinting (or flat out asking) to be potentially featured. This has never happened for written Q&A-style blog posts. Most of the show had been planned in advance (guests invited, solo episodes from me scripted etc.) and there wasn’t much wiggle room on that front, especially as I’d made the decision to keep to a strict season. The thought of doing an ongoing podcast (solo!) induces my eyes to roll to the back of my head and makes me feel faint.
So the interest was very encouraging – and I took notes, believe me, for the future – and made me think about the current state of podcasting. Things began to click: I saw just how influential podcasting has become and why people want financial help running them. This is where podcasting, then, I imagine, returns to familiar blogging areas when it comes to attracting supporters or grants – things like collecting data (listener numbers or downloads (which are notoriously hard through iTunes)), seeing what kind of traction episodes get on social media when they’re released, reviews, testimonials etc. It’s an equation I understand and ‘solve’ as far as blogging goes, but I have a bit further to go for podcasting.
4. Diversify, diversify, diversify
Editing made up almost half of my income in 2015 – in 2016, nothing.
I had a few projects that kept getting postponed, which was okay because I was busy writing. I find it incredibly brain-draining to do both. Working in this freelancer-y manner can feel quite perilous at times and this is why I’m always so grateful for the other professional/skills areas I have. It’s also why I always give this piece of advice when writing these posts. Diversify. Explore other options; give things a try.
I hope you found this breakdown of interest and if you are a blogger I would love to hear your thoughts about what worked – or didn’t – for you in 2016.
If you’re after some extra help I have a very special 50% off on Skype consultations at the moment. Use the coupon code moneyblog at the shop. This discount expires on the 28th February and may be redeemed up until the end of March. If interested, get in early as there are only a limited number on offer.