In January 2017 I applied for a part time job. It was in a totally different sector to my previous career, the money was hideous, and I would have needed to pay childcare fees for my two children to accommodate the hours. The reason I applied for it is because it was term time only, 17 hours a week, local and I felt the extra money would be handy for the little extras that crop up and squeeze the budget as a one income family. Birthdays, holidays, Christmas…there’s always something to stretch the budget around every corner.
I didn’t even get an interview.
This really made me consider the approach to my blogging. What if my blog is the answer right under my nose? I’ve spent every day since 2015 crafting a platform, building a brand, and cultivating an engaged audience. What if blogging could be the work that works for me? After all, I’m a huge endorser of the amazing Anna Whitehouse (aka Mother Pukka) and her #flexappeal movement…what if I could be my own boss, and create an additional income doing something that I love, whilst being able to be at home, at the nursery gates, on the school run and navigating the weekly juggle of extra curricular activities? Take breaks when I choose, and work from the sofa in my PJs and slippers. It’s the stuff of dreams right?
It’s a phrase you hear bounced around a lot. My blog will always contain the parenting and interiors niche it started out with. It will still host #coolmumclub and it will always be home to the online version of a good natter with another parent about [insert issue here]. But it will also contain posts inspired by sponsored content, product and event reviews and relevant and informative guest posts too in the days that I previously didn’t post. Ultimately I’m an unemployed Mum seizing an opportunity. You don’t begrudge Rooney for being paid to play football, do you?
So what goes into earning money from a blog?
Here is a lowdown of what’s involved in making money from your blog. I really believe once the novelty wears off, if you remain committed and focused, this is an achievable goal for any blogger. But it’s not a walk in the park – there’s proper stuff to consider and stick to, so it’s no quick buck. If anyone ever believed blogging is a way to freeload or nab goodies for doing very little, then you couldn’t be more wrong.
Going Self Hosted
Most bloggers start off on a free version of WordPress or blogger. In order to be paid for work via your blog you need to be on self hosted platform like TSOHost. I went self hosted via this platform just three months into blogging and whilst it was a steep learning curve, if I can do it, you can. TSOHost offer a service to transfer content from your old blog to your new, and with a new found freedom you can get creative with your design and profitable content.
From day one I instinctively started a spreadsheet of all money in and out related to my blog. That includes domain name fees, hosting fees, conference tickets, travel, business lunches as well as any money coming in, however small. You’ll need to know every bit of this so if you aren’t keeping records that is absolutely critical – start now! It doesn’t have to be anything fancy – just make sure you have it on record (and backed up).
Registering as Self employed
The HMRC stipulates that if you are earning money in exchange for goods or services (including online services) you need to declare it by registering as self employed. This is a big and scary step when you first start making small amounts, but is actually really straight-forward and only takes a matter of minutes online.
Even if you don’t earn much, you still need to complete a self assessment by Jan 31 on your income. If you earn less than around 10,000 you won’t have a tax bill, however it’s still an important process and again, completed online it is only an hour or so’s work.
A media kit is a great way of laying down what you offer in terms of views, DA, social media following and content. You can include logos and even some Instagram examples showcasing your style. I have two media kits, one with and one without guideline fees. There is a caveat that all fees are negotiable but it’s a solid starting point and will add a sense of professionalism to your negotiations.
What to charge?
Aby from You Baby Me Mummy has an excellent guide on how to charge brands on her blog based on your DA. I laid out on my media kit fees for sponsored posts, guest content, reviews, advertising, social media campaigns, and event sponsorship (in three tiers bronze, silver, gold). You’ll get a feel for what to charge with time and experience, but don’t undervalue yourself! Be prepared to negotiate, play hardball, and ultimately walk away. With your first paid assignments, you may accept a lower fee or value product, but as your audience grows along with your confidence, slowly start pushing it upwards until you feel you have reached a ceiling for now.
Most blogs contain on their site a disclosure policy in their menu as a cover all; You can create one via www.disclosurepolicy.org. It’s hugely important from an ethical and reputation perspective. Don’t try and pull the wool over your readers eyes, they aren’t daft after all. Any sponsored or collaborative content should be declared as such with a note like ‘collaborative post’, or something that means the same in other words. A clear image is also a good way of identifying these posts, like my tried and tested logo.
Follow or NoFollow
Brands will make it clear early on whether they want follow or nofollow links. Most will want follow links as this is what boosts their SEO. Google has guidelines about paid articles including follow links and as such you can incur a penalty for doing so. It’s something to bear in mind and ultimately – it’s your blog so you need to make a risk assessment as to what you are comfortable doing.
Where are all the offers?
If you are hoping to work with brands through blogging, there are a few ways to get started. Firstly, do some reviews of stuff you love, just for fun. Think of it as showcasing your skills. You may get offered some small fry deals to begin with, but if you’re committed to this goal, think of the long game. Start small and be patient. You could try pitching to brands you love – be prepared for knockbacks but keep trying and you might find some opportunities by being proactive. And finally, focus on growing your blog with great content. As your audience and social media followers increase, as will your profile, and your attractiveness as a brand representative. I noticed a big change once I tipped over 10K followers on twitter.
Is it still you in there?
Ultimately, I think the balance is all about retaining what makes your site yours – unique and what your readers want. Varied content can however bring interesting new subjects to your readers and so makes it a win:win situation. You can turn down stuff if it’s utter drivel and you’d be embarrassed to share it on your site. You can annotate or introduce guest pieces so they suit your platform. And you can revert back to the old style blog whenever you like.
At the moment, I only blog after kiddo bedtime or during nap times (which are fading by the day). I have plenty of ‘no blog’ evenings and days, depending on what’s going on with us. My daughter often gets up at 5am so often I’m desperate for bed in the evenings or half asleep in the dark watching Peppa Pig whilst writing my latest post. With just one morning a week child free, and 100 other things to do other than blog,I’m probably spending between 10-15 hours a week blogging. So, maybe it’ll turn into the dream career around my family…or maybe we’ll just see what happens. But I have begun to realise that anything is possible.
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