If you remember a couple months back, I did a little “behind the scenes” instagram story chat about the business of blogging. It seems like this is the #1 most mysterious topic that everyone wonders about. Nobody really knows how it works! I love that I’ve been seeing readers asking more questions about this to me and other bloggers, because it promotes more transparency in the industry as a whole. (You know me, aiming to make the internet a more transparent place everyday!)
It’s pretty funny, because people of our generation approach the topic a little bit more gingerly, asking more vague questions here or there, like, “So, is this quarter going well on the blog? Is this typically a slow or busier time for you?” whereas older generations flat out will say, “HA! Do you actually make any money doing that?!” ?
Anyway, that little instagram chat went over SO well that you guys requested more open and frank discussions regarding behind the scenes topics, so I thought this was a perfect topic for a blog post. I hope this gives you a better understanding of how my business works as a whole!
Let’s jump in!
My main revenue streams:
Earlier this week, I came up with a rough tally of how much my business brought in last month based on my different revenue streams, which you can see the chart below. I’ll deep dive into each one below, how it works, and show you the breakdown!
This last month, brand partnerships accounted for a little over 37% of my revenue. This is probably the most commonly-known revenue stream for bloggers, and is traditionally the biggest chunk of most bloggers “income pie” so to speak. (This month though, it was neck and neck with my Beautycounter revenue–more on that later.)
Just like brands would pay for a magazine ad, they pay bloggers to feature their product or brand. How each blogger handles this is very different, and there isn’t exactly an industry standard for how much to charge–we’ll get into that more later. These partnerships are most often “inbound” meaning they come to me vs. me pitching them. These are the posts you see that say “sponsored by” or “#ad” or #sponsored. Bloggers always must legally disclose when they are being paid for something!
Why are influencers so concerned with follower count, like count, etc?
Some partnerships involve a sponsored blog post, which costs a lot more than just a sponsored Instagram post simply because more work is involved and because this reaches a larger amount of people. There is no industry standard in terms of how much a blogger can charge–this is really up to her, but there are a lot of factors that go into how much she can get away with charging. Much of this has to do with how big her total following is, and how high her engagement is.
Speaking of Instagram–the reason influencers are so concerned over how many likes and comments they get? (This is referred to as “engagement level.”) Because engagement level is directly tied to how much money she makes. Personally, this means that I can charge brands a lot more if my photos get 2,000 likes than I can charge if they get 200. Like, A LOT MORE.
Why? Brands want to reach engaged consumers that are going to buy, right? So if a blogger doesn’t get a lot of likes on her photos, that typically tells a brand one of two things: people either can’t be bothered to like them, and therefore, they aren’t really interested in what she has to say, OR they aren’t seeing her photos at all thanks to the Instagram algorithm–regardless, it doesn’t matter, that means the brand is going to see less sales from working with that particular influencer, and therefore, they’re willing to pay less. Or they don’t want to work with her at all.
More and more, brands are starting to care about conversions–that means, they only want to work with influencers who can make them sales. In earlier years, it was a lot about brand awareness (so more like a traditional advertising model) but now, the numbers are where it’s at. If you can’t convert, you don’t get paid–which brings us back to…you guessed it! Engagement!
How do I get these partnerships?
Many of these partnerships I receive through a company called ShopStyle, which is also my affiliate network–but the easiest way to think of them is as a “broker” between brands and bloggers. They are a big company who has partnerships with lot’s of different retailers for both affiliate commission (more on that below) and brand partnerships. The brands pay companies like ShopStyle to help them create robust campaigns with influencers based on what their goals are!
Brand partnerships make up a huge chunk of my income, but they’re also the most time-consuming, and honestly, while I love working with many brands, they can often get taxing.
Why? Well, brands are getting more and more particular about how they want to execute their campaigns, and they’re asking for more deliverables for less payment.
Candidly, what is getting increasingly difficult for me is that many brands just want the equivalent of an ad these days–which, as you and I both know–doesn’t benefit anyone, especially YOU, the reader. This makes it harder for bloggers to talk about their products in the most organic way and in the way that offers the most value to their readers, which is a big shame, and doesn’t sit right with me.
The smart brands are the one’s who give a lot of creative liberty to influencers, because they’re the ones who know how to weave the brand into the best content that provides the most value to their readers. THOSE are the brand partnerships you see make it on the blog, and the ones I’m super excited about and you will likely always continue to see.
Because other areas of my business are growing, I’ve been able to be more and more selective and only say yes to the “no-brainer” partnerships that make me super excited vs. feeling pressured to say yes because I need the money. Win win! An example of these partnerships are my ongoing partnerships with Nordstrom, Lord + Taylor, Everlane, Lululemon, Eataly–all places I spend my own money and that you see me post about on a regular basis when it’s not sponsored.
Another example of a brand partnership I’d take on is maybe a new brand I don’t know about or wouldn’t have used myself, but one I’m introduced to because of a brand reaching out about a partnership opportunity, and one I know you guys would love. This is actually how I first started using Vital Proteins! The brand sent me some products YEARS ago, I fell in love with them and started posting about them organically for a really long time, and then the relationship turned into a paid partnership years later. I do not ever take on partnerships where I’ve tried the products and they haven’t lived up to my approval. If you guys are reading about it–I know you will love it!
As you know, I’ve always been super selective with my partnerships (candidly, it’s not uncommon for me to turn down $10K–$15K worth of partnership revenue in an average month, because I refuse to promote a product or brand that isn’t up to my standards, or yours, or promote a cheesy ad campaign) but this year I’m really hoping to shift away from this revenue model in lieu of others I’ll get into next.
What’s the process look like for a brand partnership?
I got this question a lot on Instagram stories, so wanted to lay that out here! The answer is that every partnership is different, but typically I’d say there’s between a 1-3 week turnaround time from when I sign a contract to when a sponsored blog post goes up. For whatever reason, I feel like sponsored partnerships always come in waves–I’ll not have any for a couple weeks and then I’ll have a ton in one week. Unfortunately a lot of times this isn’t something I can control, since the timing is dictated by the brand. (This week, for example, you will see a lot of sponsored posts because of that reason, haha!)
How it works: It really depends on whether or not I’ve worked with the brand before. There may be a negotiation period on deliverables or rates if I haven’t. Sometimes a brand will reach out with exactly what they want (sponsored blog post, instagram, instagram stories, for example) and then give their budget. If I want to work with that brand and I decide they’re a fit, we will settle on the details from there. Other times they will ask what my budget is for specific deliverables. They may have a limited budget, and then in that instance, we may settle on a partnership that just involves an instagram and instagram stories instead of a full blog post, etc. You get the idea. Often times the brand will have a theme or specific product they want to focus on, and that’s also negotiable.
Then, once the contract is signed, we move into execution. I need to order product if necessary (if it’s a sponsored post, I’m given either a budget from the brand to order clothes myself or I select clothes and they send them to me directly). I need to arrange a time to shoot it (I work with a few different photographers, or, in a pinch, Neal will shoot me, haha). Then I need to edit the photos (if the photographer isn’t editing them–I usually edit them myself for consistency) and then write the blog post, and send it to the brand for approval. Ideally the brand will approve it within a day or two, but that’s not always the case. Then, when the post is approved, then it can go live! Drafts are actually something that is very hard on my business, because I have to put a bunch of work into something that can’t go live until later–and then sometimes I run out of time to work on posts that need to go live the next day. If you wonder why I don’t post on a random weekday, it’s likely because that happened, haha.
Depending on what all is involved (outfit changes, shoot location, how many items I have to link) a blog post can take anywhere from a couple hours to a couple of days to finish. Generally, the more links a post contains, the longer it takes to write, because linking is a VERY tedious process–but I really like to provide you guys with a lot of options, so this is something I invest a lot of time in.
Above: from a recent partnership with Lululemon
Okay, so remember when I referenced Shopstyle above? That is the affiliate platform I currently belong to–they are awesome because they basically allow me to monetize anything I would normally link to on the blog. (This is at no cost to the reader–it’s all negotiated on the back end between the affiliate company and the retailer.)
A similar company to Shopstyle is RewardStyle, who you’re probably familiar with because they own Liketoknow.it–the app that allows you to shop influencer’s instagram posts. These are the two main affiliate networks that fashion and lifestyle bloggers use to monetize their sites–I’ve had great experiences with both companies and both are relatively similar from an outsider perspective.
Affiliate revenue typically actually makes up more of the income pie for me most months, but that fluctuates greatly. This past month was a lower affiliate month than normal coming in around 22% of my total income for the month. A lot of this has to do with the fact that I’ve been so busy that I haven’t been able to get any capsule posts up in a long time, and those drive a big chunk of my affiliate revenue.
How affiliate revenue works:
Retailers pay to belong to the affiliate network, which allows bloggers to generate their own affiliate links to link out to the products. This is beneficial to the retailer, because bloggers are incentivized to share about their products since they can make a commission on whatever they sell.
When readers click through the blogger’s links and make a purchase (any purchase, it doesn’t just have to be the exact item linked), the blogger receives a commission, usually between 10%-13% on average these days. (This has decreased dramatically over the last couple of years, where 20% used to be a pretty common revenue percentage). Again, this is at no cost to the reader, so you guys shop normally, but I make a commission when there’s an affiliate link vs. just a regular link.
Do you make more affiliate revenue on Instagram or your blog?
I make the most amount of my affiliate revenue through my blog posts, not instagram, which is always surprising for people! Why is this?
The main reason is because of “cookie” tracking, meaning, if you swipe up on a link on Instagram, you have to buy the product *right then* (i.e. through Instagram’s browser) in order for me to get commission on that sale. It’s not trackable if you purchase outside the instagram app. I also don’t get commission when readers purchase through apps like the Amazon or Nordstrom app, again, because the link is opened in another app–that’s not something that is trackable, and therefore, I don’t get the sale.
This is the reason you see influencers pushing the LTK app so hard. Because if you shop through the LTK app, they will always get the commission.
How stable is affiliate commission as a revenue stream?
I love this revenue stream because it allows me to curate my content based on what you want and I love–however, I don’t know how stable it is long-term as the influencer space continues to evolve. Commission rates fluctuate often, and sometimes go away completely. However, I have faith that affiliate companies like ShopStyle and RewardStyle will continue to evolve (and new companies will pop up) to where I think it will always remain part of the landscape in some way–it just might look different than it does now.
What do I mean when I talk about stability? I’ll give a couple examples here.
For one, many retailers have started to reduce their commission rates during big sales, so they save money on influencer pay-outs, knowing bloggers will post about the sales anyway regardless of how much commission they pay them. In all honesty, I get it–they’re a business, and that’s the best business decision for them. It’s not something I’m salty about, because I’m also very business-minded, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect my bottom line.
Another example: A retailer might have a bad quarter and completely cut their commission budget due to budget cuts, meaning, you can no longer make commission on that retailer. If that retailer happens to be one of your bestselling retailers, a huge chunk of your income is just POOF–gone. (This has happened to me several times!)
Another important factor to note with affiliate links–they can be passive or impassive, depending on where your traffic typically comes from as a blogger. For example, I still make a lot of commission on older posts that have gone viral via Pinterest, or get a lot of SEO traffic–but those aren’t always the norm. If I don’t post clothing links regularly, I don’t make as many sales. Luckily, I love doing outfit posts, and you guys love seeing them, but it’s a TON of work.
So, while it’s one of my favorite revenue streams because it gives me the most creative liberty to completely customize and cater my content to what will benefit you guys the most, it’s not the most stable revenue stream.
Bottom line–I don’t think it’s a good business practice to ever put all your income eggs in one basket, especially when you’re at the mercy of anyone other than yourself for a paycheck.
Which brings me to my next income stream––Beautycounter!
Beautycounter is also essentially like an affiliate, but a little bit different. I’m a Beautycounter consultant (you don’t have to be a blogger to be a consultant, FYI–most aren’t!) which basically means I’m like an independent sales rep for the company. This is definitely the part of my income that is growing the most, which I am so happy with–this is one of my biggest goals this year is to grow this portion of my business.
This was my best month ever with Beautycounter (thank you to everyone who purchased Beautycounter products from me during the sale, you helped get me to this goal!) and it came out neck and neck with brand partnerships, and more than affiliate revenue–at about 35% of my total income.
I’ll get into the revenue stream part more in a second, but I thought it was most interesting to jump into the state of the business and why it’s something I’m investing a lot more time and effort into.
The state of the clean beauty industry
Unlike the two models I listed above, I believe Beautycounter has a lot more longevity and sustainability due to a lot of different factors, but the biggest ones are the fact that Clean Beauty is far and away the fastest growing sector of the beauty industry, and it’s not going anywhere.
The natural/clean beauty sector generated more than $1.5 billion in U.S. sales in 2017, according to Nielsen, but a new report from Grand View Research predicts that the global organic personal care industry will reach nearly $25 billion by 2025. (Check out this Fast Company article for a cool infographic that shows growth of funding for the fastest-growing clean beauty startups in the past two years.)
From 1.5 to $25 billion in just a few years–think about that for a second–that’s INSANE.
As an analytical, business-minded woman, those numbers make me pretty optimistic that clean beauty is here to stay–and as a consumer, clean beauty advocate, and as someone who eventually wants to be a mother one day, that makes me hopeful that my kids are going to have a future where they don’t have to be weary of what harmful ingredients are in their products.
Second, the Beautycounter business model caters to those consumers who want a customized, personal experience–another growing trend we’re seeing in both e-commerce and brick and mortar.
This is actually the reason Gregg Renfrew, Beautycounter CEO, decided to launch with what she calls the “Direct Retail” model–one that includes independent sales reps, because the clean beauty discussion is one that is best told women to woman, and the story of the company isn’t told by looking at it on the shelf at Sephora. (Although, you don’t have to buy through a consultant at all, you can totally buy through the website not through a consultant or at any of their brick and mortar store locations.)
Renfrew also knew the rapidly-growing gig economy was a smart one to tap into, one that could simultaneous bring awareness to the clean beauty movement in a grassroots way, while simultaneously providing women with a financial incentive to share the products they love while making some money on the side.
Furthermore, consumers (like you and me) are starting to pay a whole lot more attention to not just what goes into their products, but the ethics behind the companies that make them. Being associated with a company that is a certified B Corporation and strives to do so much good isn’t just rewarding for me personally, it’s a smart business decision.
My Beautycounter experience:
Okay, so, backing up to how this all began.
A couple years ago, I fell in love with BC products when I started focusing on switching to cleaner alternatives. (Read my clean beauty journey story here.) I loved the Beautycounter versions even more than my “dirty” products, and the fact that they make so many kinds of products–so it makes it so much easier to switch over your products, since they do all the vetting for you. You can learn more about their screening process here.
Like I mentioned above, the company is dedicated to making the world a better a place–from sustainability initiatives to lobbying for a change in regulation in Washington in the effort to get our product safety laws updated for the first time since 1938.
Long story short–I loved the brand and everything they’re about.
So when Blair mentioned she had also signed up as a consultant, I was like “Oh! that’s a great idea!” Let’s throw another revenue stream into the mix and see where it goes. ?It has grown slowly from there, but really taken off over the past year or so now that I’ve started to focus on it more. I fully credit Beautycounter for opening my eyes to the importance of clean beauty, and turned it into something I’m super passionate about. (I would love to be one of the chosen consultants to lobby in D.C. with them one day! Watch this video if you don’t know what I’m talking about.)
My favorite part about selling Beautycounter is that, obviously I love the products and they’re what I use in about 90% of my routine at this point (plus, I get a 25% discount as a consultant), but most importantly, it all boils down to one thing:
It’s the one revenue stream that really allows me to help people in a way that posting about shoes or dresses can’t.
It helps get safer products that actually WORK in people’s hands:
Not only does this positively affect my readers’ health, but I can’t count the number of messages I’ve received from readers thanking me for introducing them to Beautycounter and how it’s completely transformed their skin and their peace of mind. This means *everything* to me, and is honestly the biggest driver for me waking up motivated each morning!
This works out great, because the Beautycounter revenue model is actually way more lucrative for me when you compare the number of orders sold to the amount of revenue generated–because I not only get 35% commission from every Beautycounter order placed, but I get that for all recurring orders too–without you having to go back and re-click through my links. If you buy something from me at Sephora, for example, you’re not going to go back and re-click through an old blog post before you re-order all of your products (or place any new ones)–so I lose out on all future sales.
Additionally, I’m able to give my Beautycounter clients a lot more one on one attention, because time invested in that business is far better ROI for me (due to the reasons listed above). I’m also able to run my own specials, give out samples, gifts with purchase, etc, because of the way the business is structured. It’s basically like running my own business without the hassle of creating my own product, having inventory, and dealing with all the other huge costs of pains of creating your own product.
**Important to note** Remember, I am also the girl that turns down thousands of dollars in partnerships every month, so I do not promote Beautycounter products over others because it’s more lucrative for me. I am in love with the products and therefore, that is how this revenue stream is growing, not the other way around. If you speak to anyone I’ve ever talked to one on one, I will also often suggest other clean brands if I think those are a better fit for you–and I never promote products I don’t believe in! Not only does that not sit right with me morally, but that would definitely not behoove my business in the long run. I just wanted to make sure that was out there, haha!
Above: Blair and I at the Beautycounter Leadership Conference
It allows me to mentor and work with other business-minded women:
This is the other side of my Beautycounter business. After I’d been sharing my experience with Beautycounter for awhile, I started getting messages from other girls asking if they could sell Beautycounter too (the answer is yes, anyone can!) and if I could help them–so, in all honesty, the mentorship part of the business kind of fell into my lap, but it’s since become one of my favorite parts of my job.
Let’s back up to give you some background. At the time I started using Beautycounter products, Blair and I were running another site called Blogging4Keeps (which is still there and an awesome resource for bloggers!) and doing blogger mentorship programs and workshops, but honestly, for the amount of work it was equating to, it just wasn’t profitable enough for us considering we were splitting profits 50/50. It was also hard running two businesses that were SO disconnected from one another.
To keep going with BFK and make it worth our time, we’d have to start charging people a lot more money (which isn’t something we wanted to do, because who is able to invest that much money without a blog that isn’t making revenue yet?) so that died off–but I really missed the mentorship part of it.
When Blair and I both started getting interest from other girls who wanted to sell Beautycounter–we were like WAIT. This is exactly the perfect balance we were looking for!
Because Beautycounter is a direct sales model, we not only make 35% commission on our personal sales, but also make a 9% residual referral commission from anything they sell (without having to come out of their pocket) so it was a win-win for us. If our mentees succeed, we get a kickback. This means women who want to start their own side hustles can benefit from our mentorship without having to pay anything out of pocket.
(Side note: because I get this question sometimes–BC is not a stereotypical MLM company that requires you to purchase product, carry inventory, invest money you may never get back, require you to build a team to make money, hit a minimum to get commission, etc. Nobody “loses” money selling Beautycounter. The compensation structure is the only thing that it has in common with a traditional MLM. Also, I don’t think it’s for everybody. I think it takes a specific type of person to thrive selling Beautycounter.)
Blair and I then launched our Beautycounter group coaching program, which has now become an ongoing coaching program where we have our own Facebook group full of amazing women, live group coaching calls, and fun challenges to get our team motivated, in addition to one on one mentorship. I always leave our calls feeling so uplifted and inspired, and it’s truly given me access to the most wonderful, supportive community.
As you know, I have a lot of blogger friends, but I wouldn’t say as a whole the blogger community is uplifting and supportive. Quite the contrary actually. It’s been really refreshing to join a group of women who are all invested in helping one another succeed!
(If you have more Beautycounter questions or want to know more about it–you know I’m an open book! Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me on Instagram! I’d love for you to join our BC fam if it’s something that feels like a good fit for you!)
Site Ad revenue:
So, I actually didn’t have ads on my site for a really long time, because I had previously experimented with Google Adsense and just didn’t make enough for it to be worth the annoying ads on my site.
Then, I talked with a different ad company who offered a much higher rate, and I decided to test it out. (This was also extra coverage for the fact that I really wanted to move away from brand partnerships as much as possible.) Ad revenue depends on how much traffic your site gets, coupled with how many ads you allow them to serve up at a given time, as well as the placement of those ads. (You make more money on ads “above the fold”–i.e.–ads above the “scroll line” than you do with ads below the fold.)
As you can see from the chart above, I still don’t make a ton from ads–less than 5% of my total revenue–but they are nice insurance. They’d go a long way in making a dent in our mortgage if all else failed–so hopefully knowing this makes you more tolerant of ads. ?
I also like that ads help me make money on posts that aren’t sponsored, or don’t have affiliate links. Things like “Ask Jess” posts, or my Trader Joe’s favorites posts–those tend to be pretty popular–so if I get a spike in views (or if a lot of people share them on social or with their friends/family)–that boosts my revenue a little bit! Again, not a lot, but it ads up over time for sure!
Future Revenue Streams:
I am constantly assessing the state of my business and attempting to optimize, diversify, and streamline it for the future. In 2019, as mentioned, it’s my goal to focus on adding more streams of revenue (one of them being Beautycounter) and another–creating and selling my own e-products!
If you’ve been following along behind the scenes, you’ve seen me share tidbits about my Trader Joe’s Hacks e-book coming out soon! You guys were actually the ones who pushed me to create this, so I’m SO excited–it’s going to be GREAT. I have over 100+ hacks and no recipe-recipe combinations that involve your favorite Trader Joe’s products.
I think it’s truly going to change the way you approach your weeknight dinners. It will be launching soon–so make sure to get on my Trader Joe’s email list so you’re the first to know when it launches, plus, you’ll get access to early-bird specials and pricing!
This is my first foray into the e-product business, so I honestly have NO idea how this is going to go. At the least, it’s been an insanely fun passion project–and at the most, who knows–maybe these kinds of products can become a much larger piece of the income pie!
More Reader Questions:
I asked you guys over on Instagram stories if you had anything else you wanted me to cover in this post, so I’ll share a few below!
How long did it take you to start connecting with brands and making an income?
I started my blog in 2012–and I didn’t really do anything with it for two years. (I was so embarrassed, I thought everyone would make fun of me, and I didn’t even tell anyone about it for a long time!)
Honestly, I think I started to get my first sponsorships around 2014–but also, the market was a LOT less saturated then. People were still using Instagram as a “photo editing app”–and social media looked a lot different. ?
I don’t think it matters how long you’ve been blogging, honestly–I know bloggers that went from zero to sixty super fast because they’re incredibly strategic and treated it as a business from day one. I don’t think experience necessarily always translates to income growth.
In all honesty, I always tell people who ask this question–if you’re starting a blog to make money, you’re in the wrong business. A blog is something you start as a passion project–not to make a ton of money or be insta famous. If you pour your heart into it, are really strategic, run it like a business, and focus on delivering value to your readers–there’s a good chance the money will come eventually. (At least, that’s what happened for me and everyone else I know.) But there are WAYYY easier ways to make money that provide some of the perks of blogging, but aren’t a corporate 9-5 job.
What was your turning point from blogging as a hobby to making money from it?
Honestly, when I started REALLY focusing on adding as much value as I could to you guys, vs. just posting any random thing I felt like posting about, or anything I felt like buying or wearing–because a lot of times, that’s not what you want to see!
That’s why I ask you guys for feedback, ideas, content requests, poll what your thoughts are on certain items, etc almost every week on Instagram stories, because I want to make sure I’m hitting the mark every time.
My #1 goal with every post is to add the most value to you as I possibly can, whether that’s teaching you how to pack in a carry on, how to style a dress for multiple occasions, how to air dry your hair, or maybe just opening up about my personal life so you know you aren’t alone in what you’re going through. When I get a message like, “how do you always read my mind?!” that is one of the biggest compliments I can receive!!
I think SO many bloggers approach their platform as “me me me” and that’s a big mistake if you’re trying to grow it into a business–I always encourage bloggers to make it about “you you you–the reader.”
Think of it like customer service–like any industry, that’s the #1 most important thing, always. Right? The principles of good business strategy still apply here.
Is there a rule about accepting sponsorships from competitors?
Typically there will be a non-compete for 2 weeks to 30 days, but not always. If a company wants exclusivity for more than that amount of time, I charge them a lot more money for them to “buy out” that period–otherwise it’s a potential loss of revenue. But, for example, I do posts with Lululemon, Zella, and Lolë–they all make activewear, but I truly love all three brands, and I love them all for different reasons (and think you guys will too) so I can still work with all three of those companies super authentically!
On average, how many followers do you get doing try-on collaborations?
Haha I think you mean the try-on lessons in stories I team up with blogger friends for sometimes! Honestly I have no idea. I don’t really track that stuff that closely because it can suck you in and drive you crazy. I don’t get that many followers from that to be honest–I just love the ladies I do it with and always get great feedback from you guys!
How does it work when you go on trips? (Like Patron, Arizona, etc)
Media trips are almost always unpaid, but they’re obviously really cool opportunities! They come about the same way that any partnership does–usually inbound from a PR agency or someone I have an existing relationship with–they aren’t usually completely random, but sometimes they are! The incentive for brands to do influencer trips is that they are essentially getting a lot of free press coverage. I think this can be really effective for brands if done correctly!
My Patron trip was an example of one of those trips. My first AZ trip was a bit different in that I went for a conference with Shopstyle, so they graciously covered the cost of the trip, but the second was for the Beautycounter conference, and that was all paid myself. I don’t get free stuff/paid partnerships with Beautycounter.
While it might just look like bloggers are getting free vacations–that is never the case. Bloggers don’t get paid if they aren’t working on their content, and most media trips are packed itineraries, so it can be hard to find the time to work on other posts. Plus, you’re “on” the whole time shooting, posting, etc while you’re on the trip. While it’s still incredible and so much fun, it’s still “work”–even though it doesn’t look like it from an outsider perspective.
How much gifted (non paid) do you do before requesting payment for mentions?
Honestly I rarely accept gifted product unless I love and use the brand already, is a brand I’ve been dying to try, or it’s a brand new brand that has products/a mission that really resonates with me. I don’t typically give out my address to PR companies because 99% of the time I get sent something I would never something I would never buy with my own money–and therefore, something I would never share with you guys. Then I feel bad they wasted their money sending me something I didn’t want in the first place. (Also I have WAY too much stuff as it is–I have no room for more stuff, haha!) I also never promise any specific promotion in exchange for free items. If a brand wants guaranteed promotion, that would then be a paid sponsorship.
How long were you blogging before you felt comfortable leaving your full time job?
I actually didn’t leave my full time job to blog–I had a full time position as a contract worker for an entrepreneur who ran an online business, so it was the perfect “in between” to allow me to make the jump while still having a pretty guaranteed income. Granted, I didn’t work for her very long–that didn’t work out and I needed to get out of the situation fast so I decided to make a “sink or swim’ decision to do freelance work and try and grow my blog income–and I didn’t sink. ?
At your stage as a blogger, can you accurately predict what your income will be?
HA! I wish. I would say predicting the Chicago weather in May is far more accurate. My income fluctuates dramatically and it always will, it’s the nature of the business.
Is there a reason you stopped using Liketoknow.it?
I moved to Shopstyle exclusively and they are a LTK competitor, so that’s why I don’t post on LTK anymore.
Do you use SEO?
Yes! SEO is hugely important and one of the most important investments that I think any business on the internet should make. I have an SEO manager and she is phenomenal. SEO is my #1 traffic driver and it’s all thanks to her!
How did you learn about it? Did you take a self entrepreneurship class?
?They didn’t have those when I went to college. There is honestly no such thing as a “self entrepreneurship” class–even if such a title exists, there is no way it would take the place of the knowledge and real life education you get by ripping off the band-aid and diving in head first! The best way to learn is by doing! Plus, remember–nobody actually knows what they’re doing in life. ?
Tips for a new blogger?
Figure out what makes you different, and lean into that unapologetically. Find a gap in the market and fill it–narrow your niche–and know who you’re talking to and how you can deliver them as much value as possible. If you’re trying to talk to everybody, you’re talking to nobody! Also, treat your blog like a business from day one if you want it to be more than a hobby. (But having a hobby blog is GREAT! I think everyone who has ever thought about starting a blog should start one! Even if nobody ever reads it–it’s so fun and you’ll learn so much!)
WHEW! THATS IT! This may be the longest post ever written.
Was this informative? Interesting? I hope this gives you a better understanding of how this crazy world of blogging works!
As we wrap up, I want to thank YOU for making my job possible. Every time you like my photo, buy something through my links, share my posts with your friends–you are contributing to my bottom line. YOU have changed my life. I get this wonderful life because of your support. You have absolutely no idea how much that means to me. This is why I get up every day excited to create content to help make your life easier, happier, and more fun!
SO. MUCH. LOVE.