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Blogging Q&A

Blogging has evolved so much over the past 10 years and it's crazy what once used to be a hobby for many can now be a full-time career. Today I'm answering your blogging questions about money, building a following and more!

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HOW MANY HOURS PER WEEK DO YOU SPEND BLOGGING?
I average around 20 hours per week, but likely much more when you include social engagement. I work on the weekends a lot, and bulk work on Sunday evenings at a coffee shop for 3-4 hours. It's a way for me to escape after a weekend with kids, but I also get a ton of work done!

HOW DO YOU BUILD YOUR FOLLOWING?
Four or so years ago loop giveaways were new and widely successful in increasing followers. I participated in a couple, but honestly hated doing them so I stopped. I know many bloggers who have 500k plus followers today and a big reason for this large following is because of their giveaways early on. To be honest I'm kind of pissed at myself I didn't participate in more, but I'm proud of everything I've done with my blog. There's no secret sauce, and it's frustrating as hell trying to grow today. It was so much easier when the market was less saturated. I would say there are three major things it's important to focus on in the beginning.

1.) Identify your niche and stick to it. I cover a few topics; motherhood, career, travel, home decor, and sometimes food and budgeting. I know if I focused on one topic vs. all of these I would have way more followers, but to be honest I don't want to and I'm OK with that decision. Some examples of a niche topic would be Gluten Free Recipes, Everyday Makeup, Minimalist Fashion, Kid's Activities, or DIY Home Decor. If you are the expert in a particular topic, people will continue to find you and your following will grow quicker than if you cover a large range of topics. Food bloggers grow fast because who isn't searching for recipes or restaurants in their city?!

2.) Post high quality and well lit photos. You have to be conscious of your Instagram aesthetic. To get people's attention it needs to look cohesive. When people visit your Instagram page, they should know the story you're trying to tell by the last 6 posts.

3.) Provide value to your readers.  Every post you write should provide value to your follower via inspiration, entertainment or help. Are you teaching them something new? How to create a new makeup look, how to pay off debt, how to make a family friendly dinner in under 30 minutes. Your knowledge, expertise and unique story is what makes your content special! Be authentic because people can sniff out the fakeness. People want a reason to say "ME TOO!", they want to know they are not alone in their struggles so find ways to allow people to open up.

HOW DO YOU BLOG WITH A FULL-TIME JOB AND KIDS?
It's extremely hard, but I think I'm just wired to do this. They say bloggers are mostly Enneagram 3's and 7's. I'm a 7w8. I think some people just have the drive, and some don't. When it's 9pm and I'm exhausted after work and getting the kids to bed, I genuinely want to work on my blog. If you don't love what you're blogging about, you won't be able to sustain both. My boss and co-workers know I blog, which is part of the reason why I landed many of my marketing roles over the years. During my lunch hour I will respond to emails, but I don't write for my blog during work hours. I'm way too busy at my day job. I batch shoot outfits with a photographer to save time, and I shoot most of my content on the weekends. I rarely ever have any down time, but I enjoy staying busy.

DO BLOGGERS EVER PITCH BRANDS THEY SEE OTHER BLOGGERS WORK WITH?
Definitely! If I see a blogger work with a brand I'm interested in then I know the brand is open to influencer marketing and I might email the brand. If a good friend of mine works with a brand I love, I will sometimes reach out and ask for their contact. I will NOT reach out to a random blogger and ask for their contact. That is extremely rude. There is definitely blogger etiquette that some people don't abide by.

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HOW DID YOU START YOUR BLOG?
2011 - I was married, no kids, living in Abilene, TX , working a day job, getting my MBA at night and I was still bored. I had been following bloggers for a few years, such as A Beautiful Mess, Jen Loves Kev, Kelsey Williams and Kendi Everyday (she was in my college sorority). I absolutely loved fashion, and wanted to channel it into a blog, but never considered myself a writer. I wanted to call my blog 9-5 Fashion but it was taken. I mainly wrote about my work outfits and what I did on the weekends. I wrote a post a few years ago about how to start a blog if you are interested in starting your own. The market is definitely saturated however everyone has a unique story to tell, so I encourage to start one if you are passionate about it!

HOW DO YOU MAKE MONEY?
There are numerous ways you can make money blogging, but if you are just starting out know that it might take longer than you think to make significant amounts.

1. Paid Collaborations
My largest income stream is through sponsored collaborations via blog posts, YouTube videos and social posts. If a brand reaches out to me they usually know exactly what type of content they want and if I reach out to a brand I will pitch them different ideas. I'm not a huge fan of making YouTube videos, but I learned how to make them just in case a brand wants me to make one. I've made a few for travel collaborations as well as Homes.com (see house tour here). Back in the day brands always wanted a blog post, but today it's mainly Instagram posts and stories. To be honest an Instagram post is way easier than writing a blog post, because I only need one photo vs. multiple and I only have to write a caption vs. 500 words. 

2. Affiliate Marketing
I am a member of Reward Style and use their LiketoKnow.it app to link most of my items. If someone makes a purchase I make a small commission. I usually make about $100 a month from this.  Some brands will give bloggers a code or special link and if a consumer makes a purchase using that code you can make a commission. I once made $20,000 in less than 3 months by giving out a coupon code that MANY people used! 

3. Site ads
Another popular way to make money blogging is through ads on your site. I use Google Ads and every time someone visits my site I make a few cents off the ad that is shown to them on the side of my blog. I don't choose the ads, Google does based on the person visiting my blog. I don't make much via ads, but think about the bloggers who have millions of visitors a month! I have friends who make thousands a month just off of ads, especially if they have a very popular pin on Pinterest. Think about the top pin for a Mac & Cheese recipe. It likely gets thousands of clicks a day, which means every time someone clicks on that recipe and goes to the blog post the blogger makes a commission! Basically I'm telling you that Pinterest is EXTREMELY important especially if you are a travel, home decor, craft, or food blogger.

4. Products
Another great way to capitalize is via a product such as e-books, online courses, photo presets, and tangible items like clothing or coffee mugs. If you are a pro at something such as iPhone photography, you could sell an online course or e-book and teach others how to do the same.

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO BUILD A STRONG FOLLOWING?
It's hard for me to compare how to increase readers today vs. when I started. Blogging was so different, and being paid to do it seemed hilarious. I NEVER thought I would make money, and admitting I had a blog was embarrassing. These days many people start blogging simply to make money, which is not a great way to start. I think when I had my twins in 2016 I reached 1,000 Instagram followers and it was a HUGE achievement. In all honesty it is VERY hard to grow. Some bloggers go viral, some have connections with big bloggers who give them shout outs, some buy followers, some pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to participate in secret giveaways, and some simply have a unique niche and grow organically.

HOW MUCH DO YOU MAKE PER MONTH?
I make $1-3k per month but that is never consistent. I tend to work on 2-3 sponsored posts per month which is about all I can handle with my work schedule. Q3 and Q4 is the busiest time of the year. 

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Photos: Madeline Harper | Location: The Ruby Hotel 

WHAT EXPENSES DO YOU HAVE AS A BLOGGER?
I pay a yearly fee for my domain subscription via Go Daddy, monthly Lightroom subscription to edit my photos and my photographer's rate for photoshoots. I do buy props for certain photoshoots if I need to, but overall my expenses are pretty low.

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE OR HURDLE WHEN IT COMES TO BLOGGING?
Time. I think if I had more time I could really invest more in to my blog and the content I create. I would write more, shoot more, and film more. I've never been able to commit 100% to it because of my day job, but that's a choice I've made. Another challenge is simply technical. I would love to switch over to Wordpress, but I'm scared something will go wrong and I'll lose everything.

WILL YOU EVER QUIT YOUR FULL-TIME JOB AND BLOG INSTEAD?
Not in the foreseeable future. I would need to make 10x what I make in blogging currently to quit my day job. I'm very lucky to love what I do professionally, which is marketing at IBM. I can attribute blogging to my success in my career and vice versa. Both roles have helped me to get where I am today. I think about what blogging would look like for me if I could go ALL in and dedicate all of my time to it, but what holds me back? Risk. Blogging in my opinion is too volatile. I find comfort in a paycheck every two weeks, my 401k and health insurance. I have friends who've gone all in with blogging and have done really well, but they hustle like no other. Being a business owner is freaking tough, and I'm not ready to go all in.

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Thanks for following along, especially those that have been reading the past 9 years! If you have any additional questions feel free to message me on Instagram or leave a comment here!

1 comment:

robinjack said...

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