Whenever I tell people what I do, the conversation immediately turns to money. It seems like everyone wants to know how to make money blogging.
For a long time I dodged those questions because, frankly, I wasn’t making any. But this summer I started blogging full-time and really figuring out how to make money with a blog.
That’s why I’ve decided to sit down and let you know how I created an awesome flexible job for myself and fulfilled my dream of being my own boss straight after graduating. After all, my dream might be your dream too!
Before we start, I’d like to point out four things. Firstly, I’m not some crazy money-hungry monster trying to rob her readers of their hard earned cash. The money I make comes from PRs and different companies and it enables me to write lots of awesome free content for you guys.
Secondly, although I occasionally get paid (I’m definitely not getting paid for every post I write on here) I have as much integrity as I did when I was starting out and making nothing – or making big losses if you believe that time is money.
I’m glad I get to do this full time but I know that my success is mainly down to you – my readers – and that I owe you a lot. That’s why I’ll never be dishonest with you or compromise the quality of my writing for a slightly bigger pay check.
Thirdly, although I mainly write about travel, lifestyle and fashion my advice on how to make money blogging applies to all niches. Whatever it is you write about, these tips should be useful – albeit some more than others.
And finally – this post isn’t a roundabout way of fishing for compliments or rubbing people’s noses in my success. I’m definitely not rolling in dough and could be making a lot more if I was working at a “normal” job.
The median wage in the US is $26,695, in the UK where I live it’s £26,500 ($39,584). If I make $12,000 again in the next 6 months – and there’s no guarantee that I will – I’ll be making $24,000.
And that is not even my actual profit. I have business expenses from travel costs and insurance to web hosting, design and plugins. And don’t forget all of my photography and video gear as well as my beloved MacBook Pro aka basically my entire office.
I also have normal human expenses like wanting to sleep in a warm bed, eat food and wear clothes. Greedy, I know.
But despite not making much money (yet…) I also get to be my own boss, get paid to travel around the world and have a lifestyle many people who are twice my age and make three times my annual salary only dream of.
How did I do it? Business Sabina is going to take over and tell you all about it. She jokes a little less but really gets shizz done and knows how to make money with a blog. My apologies for the blunt delivery – it’s not me, it’s my alter ego.
How To Make Money Blogging
I would be doing you a big disservice if I just wrote down the ways I make money without a huge disclaimer. You see, you can’t just start a blog and make money using the methods below.
If you’re new to the blogging world, read my post on how to start a successful travel blog (my advice applies to all kinds of blogs, not just travel blogs) first and then come back here. Don’t worry, I’ll wait!
Ready? The truth is you need a solid social media following, steady traffic and contacts to take your blog from fun hobby to money-making business. If you don’t have an audience, nobody will pay you (aside from spammy online casinos looking for a link to their website in exchange for $10).
There’s no good definition of what constitutes “good” traffic or social media numbers. For me, crossing the 1,000 follower threshold on Facebook was the breaking point when I started getting sponsorship offers – you can read about how I got there here.
But I only really started monetising my blog last summer, one and a half years after launching it. At that point I had about 50,000 followers across all my social media channels. Sure, I’d been on a few unpaid press trips before that – but none of that is helpful when you’ve got rent to pay.
I spent those one and a half years bringing out regular high-quality content, attending lots of travel blogging conferences, meeting new people in the business and growing my social media following… all while getting my university degree and working part-time (here’s how I managed to travel as a student).
In short, I worked pretty damn hard – and for free – before ever getting paid. There is a lot more to blogging than posting pretty pictures on Instagram (although that is a big part of it and you should totally follow me #shamelessplug). You need to hustle a lot just to make a dime!
Even now with more than 70,000 followers across my social media channels, I still spend a lot of time growing my following. I’m constantly liking, sharing or commenting. Constantly – I can’t remember the last time I took a day off.
My iPhone screen is the last thing I see before I go to bed and the first thing I see after I wake up (although I’m trying to change that). It drives my boyfriend crazy and it’s far from healthy.
In short, I put in a lot of work behind the scenes and although you may not see it, that is the true key to my success. Blogging is like any other industry – you get what you put in and working hard is an important precursor to success.
One further disclaimer – I’m not saying you will make $12,000 in half a year using these methods. You might make a lot less, you might make a lot more. It all depends on your business savvy, the size of your following and who you know.
I’ve only included how much I made to give you an idea of what someone who has just started doing this full time is making. I have no idea how much other bloggers make because a) I don’t ask and b) people are secretive (understandably so, to be fair).
As a result I’m not sure if what I’m making is the industry average or if I should be making a lot more.
What I do know is that I’m making an amount I’m able to live off – and I’ve only just started properly monetising my blog and doing this full-time six months ago. It takes many businesses years to actually make a profit, so I’m not complaining.
This concludes my long but very important introduction. If I haven’t completely discouraged you yet and you’re still keen to learn how to make money blogging read on…
Sell a product or service
Selling a product through your website is hands down one of the best (and smartest) ways how to make money blogging.
I know, it seems like weird advice coming from a girl who is not actually selling anything through her blog at the moment. But trust me – it’s something I’m working on at the moment and wish I’d started sooner.
So… what should you sell? Tonnes of stuff. If you’re crafty, you could create things and sell them on Etsy. If you’re a digital design whizz, you can offer those services to other bloggers – selling blog designs, banners or logos. If you’re a good writer, try getting freelance gigs through your website.
Some bloggers also teach blogging courses, but for this you need to be very advanced and experienced in my opinion. And that’s not all – being an expert at something doesn’t mean you’ll also be good at teaching that thing. Teaching is a skill and it’s not as common as people tend to believe.
Try to pinpoint what you’re really good at – the things that make you stand out – and figure out how you could sell that as a product or service. There is no one-size-fits-all answer here, you need to analyse your skills and find ways to monetise them.
The key is using your blog to reach potential clients and then market your services to them. Subtly. Do not convert your blog into a horrible marketing machine though. If your blog loses its soul I guarantee your readers will notice and that they will not be happy.
I realise this isn’t the case for everyone, but press trips and FAM (familiarisation) trips are one of my biggest earners. Many bloggers are happy to go on trips for free but I’m not one of them.
Press trips aren’t just for travel bloggers – many lifestyle, food and fashion bloggers now go on press trips around the world as well.
If you’re promoting someone’s product, hotel or destination via a specific hashtag you’re essentially doing marketing for them and that should, in my opinion, be a paid service. I have a proven track record of delivering great results to brands and a very engaged audience, so why should I not be paid?
However, make sure you can always deliver what you promise. Never lie about your stats or be dishonest with PRs – it will come back and bite you in the butt.
Note: If you’re receiving any free items or payment for a post, you must provide a disclaimer at the bottom of your post stating this. Keeping these things to yourself is not only dishonest, it’s illegal or at least a legal grey area.
Here’s an example: “I was compensated by Kittens R Us to write about these fluffy kittens on ‘My Awesome Blog’ and received them free of charge for the purpose of this review. But as always all opinions are my own.” (And so are the kittens now.)
Video and photo production
In order to get paid, I sometimes offer additional services to brands such as video or photo production. Both my boyfriend (check out his channel here) and I make travel videos for different clients, from tourism boards to hotels.
These videos can either go on your YouTube channel (here is mine) – this is usually a good idea if you have a large audience and they’re more person-centric. If you’re doing a general promotional video, you can also sell it to the client and let them feature it on their channels.
If you have impressive video or photography skills, put them to good use. They’re a great way to make money blogging and to set yourself apart from others in the same field.
Sponsored posts come in many shapes and forms and I refuse 99% of the offers that come my way. I’m not even exaggerating. I never have (and never will) published a post written by somebody else about I company I have no prior experience with.
I only ever accept sponsored posts when I get full creative control over them, write them myself, know and love the company and feel like the promotion feels natural.
Rates depend on the size of your audience and whether you’re including social media promotion in your price or not. The Guardian interviewed a few bloggers from different niches and you can have a look at their figures here.
Sponsored giveaways aren’t too different from sponsored posts, but I decided to make them into a separate category to remind you that (if you have a large engaged audience) they are something you can be charging for as well.
How much you charge can depend on many factors including the value of the prize, what the company are asking for and what you get out of it in return.
Do what feels right – you don’t always need to ask for money and if you do, you always need to justify why you should be paid.
A brand ambassadorship is a longer-term partnership where you promote their product or service more seamlessly, often across your blog and social media. I think brand ambassadorships are one of the best ways to make money blogging.
Sponsored posts are like one night stands, where brand ambassadorships are like proper relationships that allow both partners to grow and improve. They also stop your blog looking too commercial and constantly promoting new brands.
Affiliate links are a great way to make a bit of cash. Anytime someone purchases a product through your affiliate link you make a small cut of the selling price at no extra cost to the buyer.
I know many bloggers make serious money through affiliate links and while I’m not one of them, I do occasionally get a little welcome boost.
The most popular affiliate programme out there is Amazon Associates, but you can find many others from Etsy to smaller fashion boutiques or e-book stores.
The key is inserting affiliate links into posts that get a lot of traffic and contain things people are likely to buy – like my post on ‘How To Start a Successful Travel Blog‘ or ‘20 Inspiring Female Travel Memoirs‘.
Note: I always write a disclaimer at the bottom of any post that contains affiliate links to make sure I’m being fully transparent.
Twitter chats are a fun way for brands to connect to their customers and they often use bloggers and online personalities to reach a new potential client base.
I’ve worked on Twitter chats for a number of brands including KLM and Air France, both airlines I like and trust. The key is – as always – choosing brands you believe in and which are relevant to your followers.
In other words, if a football manufacturer were to reach out and offer me $1,000 for a Twitter chat I’d still have to politely decline. I write about travel, fashion, lifestyle and food – nobody comes here to read about football.
This summer I became completely obsessed with Instagram and have since amassed a following of more than 20,000. While that isn’t much in the world of Instagram, brands are definitely beginning to take notice.
I haven’t done many promotions on Instagram, but it’s something I plan on doing more of in the future. I’d also love to grow my account and do some work through it separately from the blog… are you following me already?
This year I’ve decided to feature a few travel blogs in my sidebar every month. This gives you guys more exposure, helps me get to know some amazing up-and-coming superstars and also allows me to cover some small costs of running my blog.
If you’re a blogger and would like to book a spot, click here for more info.
As ‘Girl vs Globe‘ moves from pure travel into more of a lifestyle and fashion blog working with brands is becoming easier. We all wear clothes every day, but not everyone travels regularly. With that in mind I have big hopes that in 2016 I’ll be able increase my profits.
But at the end of the day, this blog isn’t a get-rich scheme. I appreciate that it allows me to travel and do what I love, but I refuse to compromise my integrity for a few dozen/hundred/thousand bucks. The best part of my day is reading your comments and emails, and realising that I don’t need to be a qualified psychotherapist to improve people’s lives…
What do you think of my tips on how to make money with a blog? Are you using any of these and how are they working out for you? What would you add? Let me know!
PS: If you found this post helpful, please don’t forget to share, pin, tweet, like… you know the drill. It would mean a lot to me.
PPS: If you’d like to chat to me about travel, blogging or are simply looking for like-minded ladies (many of whom are bloggers as well) check out Girls vs Globe – my Facebook group for female adventurers.