When people ask what I do for a living and I answer with “I run a blog”, the question I get asked the most is, “can you really make money blogging?”. The second question—“how much money do you make?” It always surprises me when people ask the second question, but at the same time, I get it. Blogging is still a relatively new way of making a living. It’s also one that older generations may write off as a real career. A lot of people don’t understand it, and they’re curious! And, I’m happy to answer, because I don’t want people thinking that blogger is synonymous with lazy.
At the end of the day, every blogger is different, the breakdown of what revenue stream brings in the most differs as well. But, I wanted to break down different ways I make money from my blog so that’s it’s not such a mystery.
How I Make a Living from Blogging
1. Sponsored Content
For me, this is the biggest percentage of my income. It’s also one of my favorite parts of my job. It is so rewarding to partner with a brand you truly love and represent them! This can be in the form of sponsored blog posts, Instagram posts, and hosting or attending events and sharing my experience on social media. While I love this work, I have to admit that it’s gotten so much harder with Owen in the mix. Creating content like this takes a lot of work on the front-end. Think planning, negotiating, contracts, draft approvals, etc. and since I don’t have full-time help, my time is limited!
2. Affilate Commission
This is another big chunk of my income, but one that fluctuates like crazy. Some months this is double and even triple what it normally is because of a big sale, or the holidays. Other months it’s just an extra chunk. While affiliate commission is a big part of my income, it honestly scares me a bit because of how up and down it is. I try to look at this stream as “extra” and don’t like to count on it every month because it tends to fluctuate so much.
Affiliate commission rates are constantly changing too, which means if they go down (and that seems to be the trend), you have to work harder to make the same amount of income.
3. Ad Revenue
You might notice that there are ads on my site. Maybe you hate them (I’m sorry!), but they are a nice additional chunk and honestly wasn’t something I really considered until having Owen. I no longer have the time to get 5-6 posts up a week, and running ads on my blog allows me to make some additional income without having to write a whole new post. Diapers, baby food and child care add up, and this chunk helps cover a big portion of that for our family every month! Plus, it allows me to work a little less and enjoy my time with my family.
I joined Beautycounter over a year ago as I love their products and their mission, but after Owen was born, I sort of forgot about this part of my business. Recently, I’ve been spending just a little more time on this area and it’s grown hugely in just a couple of months. What I love about this stream of income is that it’s more evergreen than my style content. Yes, there’s new product launches, but it doesn’t happen as frequently as clothing.
I have the ability to grow a team, which is something that I’ve loved and didn’t expect to care so much about! I work alone, and this aspect of my business keeps me in communication with my team members and makes me feel like I’m working towards something bigger, which is a nice change from working solo!
I’ve you’ve ever considered being a Beautycounter consultant, it’s a great additional stream of income if you’re a blogger or an awesome side hustle if you’re not (perfect for mamas who want safer products for their families). Feel free to email me if you want more info!
5. Blogging 4 Keeps
I won’t lie, this one is another that fluctuates a lot, and Jess and I sort of put Blogging 4 Keeps all on hold after I had Owen. But, we’re ramping back up and we’re so excited about everything we’ve got in the works!
We have plans for a course, and potentially offering different services—depending on how much time we actually have, ha! We tend to get overly ambitious when we meet up, which I love, but a few days later, reality sets in and I remember that we both run our own blogs, have family obligations and need to have a life!
Other Sources of Blogging Income
These are things that aren’t a part of my income right now, but are things that other bloggers do. Some of them are incredibly successful with them too! Hopefully this will give you some ideas on how to grow your income if you’re a blogger!
I’ve always wanted to do a course and Jess and I are actually in the process of creating one for Blogging For Keeps, stay tuned. I love the idea of this because it’s passive income. Yes, it’s a lot of work upfront, but then it can run on autopilot if you set it up correctly! I just need an awesome idea, got any for me?!
Similar to courses, but in an e-book instead. With a design background, I’ve always been drawn to create an e-book since I could produce it myself. Again though, still trying to figure out my killer idea—ideas welcome!
I used to have a service based business. I ran a blog design company for several years before deciding to blog full-time. Honestly I loved that business. Well, until I didn’t. I honestly thought that I would be doing web or blog design forever. Some days I miss it because I still love coding and designing, maybe I should re-open it? The tough part of this for me was the clients and custom projects and I don’t see that getting any easier with a baby in the mix.
If you make something, sell it! Etsy is a great spot, but you can also sell it through your own store on your blog with a WooCommerce plugin. That’s how we run our shop on BFK! Products can be digital or physical.
Blog Business Expenses
This year, my expenses went up considerably. Why? One tiny human—Owen. If I want to get anything done, I have to get out of the house a few days a week. Since Rob works a normal 9-5 (really more 8:30-6) job, I don’t have easy help. We also have no family that lives here, so we hired a nanny 3x a week. It’s amazing, but it’s still so hard for me to get everything I want to get done. Lately, I’ve had so many big ideas that I want to dive into, but I just don’t have the time and it bums me out, but I’m learning so much about being patient and not rushing into things.
- Adobe CC: I use the Adobe Creative Suite for editing photos, making graphics, etc.
- Social Media Marketing/Contributor: Chelsea writes for me several times a month and also helps out with Facebook and Twitter. She was the first outside help I hired and I couldn’t imagine what I’d do without her!
- PR Agency: This is a newer one, but I hired someone to help manage and secure collaborations for me this year. It’s been a huge help to not have to do negotiations and streamlines the whole process! Since I have less time to do this, I’m so happy I have the help so that I can still do this work!
- SEO: Another thing I added this year. I write a lot of content that is evergreen. Which means it’s not going to be irrelevant in a week or a month. So having SEO help to make these posts as competitive as possible is so beneficial in growing my site’s organic search traffic.
- Child Care: Technically not a business expense, but I couldn’t do my business without it!
- Web Hosting: I recently upgraded my hosting to FlyWheel—I’d hit a point where it was crashing a lot on my old host. I loved Bluehost, it’s an amazing platform, but eventually my site just outgrew it—I needed more storage and bandwidth so I made the switch.
- ConvertKit: This is my mail server, I recently switched from MailChimp because ConvertKit worked better for what I was wanting to do! If you get my motivational emails you’ll understand!
- Photographer: I do try to shoot most of my content with Rob or other blogger friends. Although time doesn’t always allow for that. So I do hire a photographer every so often. I’ve been shooting with Hannah Schweiss and she is wonderful and so sweet! I highly recommend her if you need photos for your blog, business or just life!
- Site Updates: This doesn’t happen every month, but occasionally I need to make updates to my site and I always call Rob Sefer. With my design background, I can get away with making a lot of updates myself, but when it comes to development, Rob is my guy! I don’t know what I’d do without him!
Downsides of Blogging For a Living
Commission rates are constantly changing and from what I’ve seen, going down. Which means you have to sell more to make the same amount. There’s also no guarantee you’ll make money—it’s hard work!
Good Months & Bad Months
This is sort of a follow up to no guarantees, but you’ll have good and bad months. It’s important to realize that it’s just the nature of the business and to live accordingly. By nature, I’m a saver. Probably because our parents drilled this into us at a young age. So I always have enough in my bank account to cover 3-6 months of living expenses if all sh*t hits the fan.
Thankfully we get insurance through Rob’s job, but before we were married I was self-insured. It’s expensive, but not impossible!
No 401K or retirement plans here! I had to set up my own IRA and actively make sure I’m setting aside money to invest for our future.
I hope that helps answer some of your questions on how bloggers make money and if you’re looking to make it in the online world, you now have lots of ideas!