Recently I’ve been tagged in a fair few posts on Twitter by wannabe bloggers asking “how do you make money from blogging?”, so I thought I’d give you that sweet hot tea in the form of this article.
“How do you make money from blogging?”
It’s a fair question right? And an important one at that. Hell, if you’re new to the blogging community and you’re looking up all starry eyed at some of your favourite “famous” bloggers, you might be under the impression that you’re just a hop, skip and a jump away from sponsored content and paid-for extended stays in the swankiest hotels, but, unless you’re extremely lucky, you’re in for a rude awakening. A more apt question to ask your fave bloggers would be “how do you spend your money?” because blogging is expensive and knowing where to invest your cash (and where not to) is actually pretty damn important.
With over 360 million blogs on Tumblr alone, it’s fair to say that blogging is no longer a niche or specialist hobby and simply being “a blogger” won’t be enough to make you stand out. But hey, I’m not here to teach you how to blog - let’s face it; there are millions of people out there who are more qualified than me - I’d just like to share some deets with you about how I make my money and maybe save you some time skipping some of the many mistakes that I’ve made.
First of all though, a quick rant on how fucking hard it is to be a blogger in 2019 and why I think that is.
How fucking hard it is to be a blogger in 2019 and why I think that is.
The press love us don’t they? tHeY jUsT LoVe uS. The main stream media like to lump bloggers under one big umbrella that paints us all as cold hearted, money grabbing, clout chasing hypocrites who push products we’ve never even seen on audiences that we don’t really give a shit about. And there are probably bloggers like that out there. There are HUNDREDS of MILLIONS of bloggers in the world and I challenge you to pull together that amount of people working in any industry and not come up with the names of at least a few of them who are both successful AND arseholes. C’est Impossible.
In the almost 2 years I’ve been doing this, I’ve interacted with at least 1,000 other bloggers online and they are certainly not the monsters that the media would have you believe. Sure, I’ve seen some people lying about their stats, I’ve probably unknowingly supported someone who has committed “follower fraud” or failed to disclose a #spon - but, for the most part, I’ve had the pleasure of being part of a friendly and supportive community of hustlers, most of whom don’t spend 6 hours a day instagramming smashed avocado (and even if they did - you do you, boo).
It probably helps that most of the bloggers I fuck with are writing about mental health, disability, body positivity, equality, feminism, LGBTQ+ rights, chronic illness or some other form of social advocacy; and these are just not subjects most people looking to make a quick buck would touch with a barge pole. Most of the bloggers I’ve met became bloggers because they had something that they wanted to say, whether that be a campaign for change that they wanted to push or just a love for a particular topic. Some bloggers love writing, some love food, some love make up, some love journalling about their lives and inviting you in - most bloggers don’t make profit from their blogs - and the idea that they don’t care about their audience is complete bs.
“Influencer Marketing” is NOT a new phenomenon. Celebs and Magazines have been given gifts and fees for sharing their “favourite products” for years - so of course they don’t like it when a bunch of independents come in and take a slice of that pie, all while working for themselves. If you’ve spent months or even years following a blogger or influencer and you feel like you know them, like them and trust them - chances are you are right about them. Integrity isn’t easily faked and if someone was in it for the wrong reasons, you would have seen it by now. Most bloggers I know wouldn’t dream of recommending something they didn’t believe in to their audience; when you ARE your own brand, the buck stops with you.
Multiple Revenue Streams
I’m not lucky enough (or talented enough, probably) to be paid for my words alone, which means that I’ve had to make dollar elsewhere. Money isn’t guaranteed when you work for yourself and the best way to make sure you can pay your rent and afford your noodles is to have as many income streams as possible. I’ve perfected my hustle now and can just about afford to toss some veg in with those noodles, but let me tell you - this is not a lucrative game and I am not anywhere near rolling in it. Here are some of the ways I have made money over the last 2 years.
Yup. This isn’t a real proud moment for me, but a lot of my money has come from straight up asking for my followers’ support. Y’all have seen how much work I put in to changing the narrative around mental health and up until the last 6 months or so every single penny I’d made from Pigletish had come directly from you guys. I’m very lucky in that you have always been able to see the value in the work I do (even when I haven’t) and that some of you have even gone as far as to part with your hard earned cash to buy me a coffee and show your support. Thank you for keeping me in caffeine.
Omg. My tribe, my oxygen, my people. My recovery from PTSD has been a road and a half so far and, along the way, I’ve met some angels - some of these angels have chosen to pledge a small monthly amount of money to become a pigletish VIP (very important piglet) and access content and updates that nobody else gets to see. This is the ONLY guaranteed income I know will come in each month, so I am eternally grateful to these folk.
There are various sites where bloggers can become affiliates of certain brands - I personally have only ever shared affiliate links to 1 brand on my site and I’ve made a grand total of $7 from doing so. FYI - the brand was Amazon’s Audible and I would (and do) refer people to them all the time for free because of the difference audiobooks have made to my mental health. Some bloggers use affiliate links really well and can make some considerable cash from this, but I don’t think I’ve ever really fully committed to this way of making money and try not to advertise too much to people who are looking to read about ways they can improve or maintain their mental health.
When I first started blogging, I spent a lot of time pitching to brands that I was super excited to work with to no avail - my stats and engagement were not where these brands needed them to be and I was faced with a whole bunch of polite but self-esteem-sucking rejection e-mails that left me totally convinced that I’d never make a penny from working with brands. Around midway through last year my stats started to snowball and brands started actually approaching me - and this week I actually accepted one - my first paid post will go up this month. The reason I’m actually glad that this happened later on in my blogging career is because it forced me to find other ways of making money and I didn’t start just pushing sponsored posts out willy nilly (it’s made me super fussy about the quality of brand I am willing to work with too and I am so grateful for it).
Public Speaking, Television & Radio
A lot of my money has come from public speaking, tv and radio - opportunities that are not directly linked to my website, but that have only come my way because of the work I do for mental health awareness. These might seem like unusual ways of making cash for a blogger who is extremely nervous about the spotlight, but where anxiety hinders; passion sure as hell helps - and I feel super bad ass when I’m talking about mental health, stigma and change.
Selling My Creative Work
Mostly my art. I’m lucky to have a very supportive audience who love my mental health awareness work enough to buy my art (or maybe they love my art). I’m pretty new to the world of art, but I do find it a really handy outlet. This is probably the income stream that is least related to the blog as I don’t even post about it on the site BUT I have only sold to my own followers and I wouldn’t be in the position I am with my audience if it weren’t for my blog so… kinda?!
Did I mention I have merch?!?! You can buy one of my cute “It’s OK to Talk about Mental Health” tees and make sure I eat for a few days. I’m just kidding - only buy the tees if you love them please, I’ll survive. But yes, I make money selling mental health awareness merch, like I’m a fucking YouTuber who ever made more than 3 videos or something. Seriously, who do I think I am?! I love the products and designed them myself, so it really does MAKE MY DAY when someone actually buys one. Get them here if you like.
And there you have it, that’s how I make my money from blogging. I’m sure you’re all bLoWn AwAy bY mY HuStLe AnD cReAtIvItY, LiKe i aM aCtUaLlY sTeVe fUcKiNg jObS oR sOmEtHiNg… Anyway obviously the burning question that people want to actually ask is usually:
How much does blogging actually pay?
And like 1) mind your own fucking business - but also 2) I brought it up, so I’ll at least kind of answer.
Overall, I’m definitely operating at a loss - in the 2 years since I started blogging I have spent wayyyyyyy more money than I’ve made - BUT in the last few months, I have SCRAPED by (and I do mean scraped). I’ve had money for my bills and my food - and that’s due to your kindness so fucking THANK YOU, boo. I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for people reading my blog and I’ve been in some dark places during my recovery so I appreciate you all so so much.
With all that being said, blogging, podcasting and working freelance fits around my recovery - rather than my recovery fitting around my work - and that’s the way I like it. Do you blog? If so, leave some comments below about how you make your dollar - I’d love for this to be a safe space for bloggers to talk honestly about money.