3/06/2020

How I Make Money As A Blogger


I wanted to write this post in hopes of enlightening the general public about what blogging entails and to explain how it is actually a job. I’m a full time blogger and I work from home. I run my blog like a true business. I’m fully LLC’d, file and pay my taxes, pay myself a salary, and function just like any other business.


I started blogging almost six years ago in 2014. I started out of the need to add some creativity to my life. I needed it personally. I was on the cusp of finishing my masters degree while working full-time. Finishing my masters would afford me the time to blog as I could give it a little more focus. At my full-time job, my dress code was pretty boring to me. It wasn’t a job where I felt free to express my style. It was just the nature of the environment. Because of that, on the weekends, I would literally dress in my best. Ha! This is how I came up with the name for my blog Style Weekender. It was all about fashion and outfits initially until one of my readers asked me about my skincare routine. I wrote that post two days later and it was one of my highest read post for a long time. I then added travel, home decor and a lifestyle section. My blog quickly became a lifestyle blog. It was simple mathematics of meeting the audience needs and sharing my everyday experience.



I worked my full time government job along with balancing and growing my blog for 4.5 years before quitting my 9-5 to focus fully on blogging as a career path-still the scariest decision I’ve have made in my entire life (separate blog post forthcoming). Before quitting, I worked a 40hr 9-5 work week and an 40hr blog week. How is that possible? The hustle. When you love something (my blog) and doing it makes you happy, it’s a no brainer to keep going. This was the case for me. I blogged for over 1 year without making a penny, but it didn’t matter. I was happy doing it because I was passionate about it.



In the earlier years, I would go to my 9-5, leave after work with sometimes two outfits in my car. I would change in the parking lot attend an event, enjoy the event and then leave to the next event all in the name of networking with the brands, PRs and other bloggers. Sometimes I would get home at midnight and would have to get up at 6am to get ready for my 9-5.



On the weekends I worked on my blog. On Saturdays and Sundays I shoot content for the week, I would write my blog and social posts on Sundays and put them on auto schedule for the week. This way, while at my 9-5, I could focus there while my blog is set on clockwork. It took a lot if discipline and drive to maintain this balance. I worked every single day.



Now to the business side of things. I know this is blurry and hard to understand to the outside world but, in and effort help you my readers understand the nature of blogging, I will be as transparent as I can be.

Blogging is a full time job for me now. I get paid to write, share, and posts about brands I use and love. Sometimes brands email and reach out to me other times I email and reach out to them. How am I paid? I am paid based on my combined audience size (Blog website, Instagram following, Facebook Following, Twitter Following) and engagement (meaning how many people read my blog and like/comment on my posts on social media). There are ways to calculate these metrics to argue the level of ‘influence’ I can offer a brand. Based on this and many other factors (see some of the main ones below) we agree on a payment amount.


Some of the other factors that goes into how a brand pays me are:



Usage Rights- I own the rights to almost all of the photos I take and post. There’s a charge for brands to use it on their own channels, sometimes worldwide. A simple way to explain this is if you own a property or item, if someone wants to use it, you charge. This is not something new, photographers do the same with photos they own.



Exclusivity: If a brand want me to work with them for a certain period of time and to not work with any of their competitors, there is a charge. The idea that I would have to turn away a ‘job’ from a competitor for a period of time means I’m turning away a chance to make money. So I’ll work out a fair amount (usually a percentage of my normal rate) with the brand, should this happen. It has happened to me MANY times where I have to say no, I cannot work with you because during this time, I am exclusively working with your competitor. This is important because it encourages me to do my best work while working under a contract because the brand is paying for exactly that. I also do not feel the pressure of ‘oh man, I missed out on a job’. Being compensated well leaves me content and keeps me focus on my agreed upon work.



Whitelisting: This is when a brand decides to go beyond my post and content I put on my own channel, to put advertising dollars behind the content, to even expose their product further. There is a charge for this. Remember, I own the content and this is another avenue for a brand to share their product/s by way of my creation if the content. In a sense using my work to do as much advertising as possible. It’s my intellectual property so yes there is a charge.



Next I will talk about some of the hard work that goes in behind the scenes before we get to that perfect pretty picture on Instagram and on my website.



-1. A brand will reach out to me about an upcoming campaign because they’ve seen that I have used their product, or they think I would be a great fit to share their message. Or, I will reach out to a brand that I love and use their products explaining why I want to work together. If I am doing the reach out, it takes a lot of background work to research who to contact and finding that contact. Sometimes I have to look up online searching for an email through multiple different mediums (google, LinkedIn, Facebook etc). Many times, the email I find is not even the person or department that deals with blogger/influencer relations but articulating that email correctly is key to having that initial point of contact to pass on my email to the right person. I cannot just email a brand and say ‘Hi work with me’. I have to tell them why, how, and when at minimum to garner their interest. Many times it takes even two follow-ups to get a response. I set a reminder to follow-up timely if I do not get a response initially. Once I get the response, convincing the brand in email or on a phone call is key.



-2. Once we have decided on working together (payments already discussed), it’s time to create the content. I often have to come up with the planned out idea of how I plan to tell the story around the product and how I use it. Many times the brand has to agree before I even begin to shoot. I will then shoot the content and the brand has to approve it. It’s all in a legal context of making sure I am representing myself well and well as the brand. This is something very important to both parties. I want the brands I work with to feel confident and comfortable with my work and they want the same for me too. It makes for a fun and seamless partnership.



-3. I will now shoot the content. A lot goes into shooting the content. From the way my hair and makeup is done, nails, props, and overall setting. For me, am I telling the story realistically? Where do I use the product. For example make-up, where do I use it most often? In my bathroom. So, the set-up will be in my bathroom or at my vanity desk or in a mirror in my bedroom or living room. Most women put their makeup on in these places right?! I don’t just shoot my content bland. I’ll set it up as realistic as possible. Sometimes I have to buy extra props. One of my biggest expense is fresh flowers. I love flowers all over my home and I love it in my content too. Since it’s fresh flowers, I am always buying-another reason for me to be paid fairly for my work. A shoot usually take me anywhere from 1-3hrs. From getting dressed, setting up, and shooting. We often take anywhere from 50-100 shots just to pick or find one perfect one that makes it to Instagram and blog (for blog I post more pictures).



-4. Editing photos, writing the blog post and captions. I love editing my photos myself. I will sift through all photos and pick a few as options. This takes A LOT of time to pick and edit. It usually takes me anywhere from 1-2hrs to pick and edit my photos. I have a steady feel to almost all of my photos-bright, happy, and engaging. This is how I want people to feel when they look at my shots. So editing it to fit that mode takes time. I use Lightroom to edit my photos. Writing blog posts and captions takes time as I am telling a story and trying to engage my audience and reader. It is important for this to be done right, especially when it is a paid job. I take pride in doing as best of as a job I can. The brand deserves it, they are paying me and I owe it to myself to do my best work. It takes me anywhere from 2-3 hours to actually write my blog and social posts. After editing and writing, sometimes we go through 1 or 2 rounds of revisions with the brand before it can be posted.



-5. It’s time to post. Now I’m finally at the stage to put the content I’ve worked on out to everyone. If I have a blog post, that goes live first as foundation, then I will share it out on Instagram and other social platforms for anyone who want to dive more into the details of the product and brand. If it’s on Instagram only, I try my best to be concise and tell a story that will capture interest in what I am talking about.



-6. I pray and hope my audience can relate, is interested, or really like or love what I am posting about. My goal is share what I’m into and/or using in order to relate, encourage, or provide information for my audience. If it’s received well, people will like it, share it comment on it, and try or buy the product and service.



-7. I often have to report to the brand how well my post was received. In essence, did I do a good job. There are many ways to calculate this based on the terms of what the brand wanted to achieve (sales, sign-up, exposure etc). This is one of the scariest part for me because I ALWAYS want to say ‘it was well received’ but that’s not always the case. Just the same way at any other job, you want to do well and have your boss happy, but it’s not always peaches and rainbows:). My goal is always to keep a longterm partnership with a brand I love and so this is key in doing that.



Once all of this is completed, then I will be fully compensated for the job. Payment terms are usually discussed laid out in contracts (10/15/30/60/90 days) it varies from contract to contract.



Another way bloggers/inflencers make money is by adding affiliate links to our websites (sometimes on swipe ups on Instagram Stories). For example I’m posting my own thing, no brands contracts attached to say an outfit. I will link it out to website I bought it from but in that link, its an affiliate link. Meaning, if a reader click on the link and buys from that website, I make a small commission. It’s not much for me personally, meaning I cannot pay my mortgage and car note monthly with my affiliate links haha. This is why a combination of types of jobs (direct sponsorship, Affiliate etc) all make-up how we earn. Many bloggers sell e-books, courses etc and that’s also a way of making an income. You may ask, why do we need to be paid? Think about it, if a brand is to put their product on the radio, TV, billboard, Celebrities etc...they pay to do so. We’re no different, we also have audience and so to share some product, we also ask for payment.



Another side to blogging is when we travel with a brand and stay at these amazing hotels, dine at fancy restaurants or settings. Before we get on the road or on that flight there are similar discussions as mentioned above. Many times we travel to an amazing destination and our photos, videos and stories are just so amazing for you the audience to enjoy, because it is our job to really bring you on a journey. We are working and we usually have to be up at the crack of dawn, shooting content, posting, planning for the next day and most times we are on a strict schedule, so strict that many times we do not get time for ourselves to really deeply enjoy everything and be in the moment. For me, sometimes it’s days after returning home I reminisce on the trip and those memories in my head is when I finally relive it and enjoy it. Or, from the photos and videos I took. It’s not always the case but many times it is. Sometimes, I will extend my trip for an additional day on my own expense just to enjoy it. Travel is not always paid...personally for me it’s 50/50 possibility depending many factors.



A side of blogging that is not often realized is all the legal intricacies. For every job I do there is a contract or agreement. It is signed by both myself and the brand. Before we sign, there are usually a few rounds of edits on both end of the contract. Both parties want to protect themselves. On my end, I can generally sift through the contract and edit some of the basics, other times I have to send it to my lawyer to explain what something mean and to adjust accordingly. Of course, the lawyers charges me a fee.



The upkeep of being a blogger is also at a cost-hair, nails, outfits, car for driving to jobs or destinations etc. Many people have the notion that we just dress up, get pretty and take a photo and post it on Instagram and it’s easy. But a lot of work goes into it all. From so many different angles.



Working from home is also great but it can be lonely. What I do love about working from home is being able to fix my schedule in a way that works for me. Somedays I am buried in my Pajamas for 2-3 days all day emailing, writing, editing, posting etc. I will break that up with scheduling lunch dates with friends and other creatives to get out of the house or balancing my errands out for the week so I do get out of the house. I’m personally not a coffee shop- computer worker type of gal. I’ll get distracted people watching or talking with strangers. I prefer to stay in and bury myself in work and taking a break that doesn’t require me bringing work out of the house with me. We have a home owners office space where I live so sometimes I will utilize the space and work there.

Okay guys, there is SO much more I could write. This is just the surface if it all. My fingers are tired and I have to get ready for date night for our first anniversary and first time leaving our little baby girl Tori. I’ll see if I can break it all down into topics if you guys want to learn more. I tried to be as transparent as I could. As with any private business some details are kept within the business. For example I won’t share exact amounts I make per job etc...I however always disclose with (ad, sponsored, or in partnership on my blog and social channels when it is paid). Legally, I have to and I love to do so because it’s important for you my audience to know when I am paid.

Ahh if you’ve made it this far, you deserve a star. Thanks for reading and leave any comments or questions you have below on this posts.

Xx
Keyma

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6 comments

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. I love it Keyma. Thanks for sharing!! I didn’t realize so much goes into your posts!! I love that you take your business very seriously ❤️

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  3. Wow! This was both eye opening and inspiring! Keep going! You are a rockstar and I am rooting for you! ❤️

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  4. Now I understand the nature of your work..Keyma...take care of your sweet self.

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  5. Love it!! You're so detailed - thanks so much for sharing! I have a question - could you do a post about how you actually started your blog? Like, step by step (pleaseee!). I've come so close to starting my blog two diff times and just didn't go through. Would love things shared like how you created your blog initially compared to now (if any changes were made), blog info with host, domain, which site to use, if you did it yourself or hired help to create actual wesbite - alllll of that juice! haha. Thank you!!

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  6. I can imagine that every day you go through a busy lifestyle but it is true we must need to maintain our time properly. Sometimes, when we work in a group at that time we can use group calendar to track our members who are working perfectly or not. Again this is free software so you don't need to worry about that you have to pay for it.

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