So, this is one of those posts that’s been sitting in my drafts folder for a few months now because blogging income can be such a personal topic and can leave you spiraling head first into the rabbit hole of jealousy. There seem to be two camps of bloggers: bloggers who monetize their blog through both advertisements and sponsored posts, and those who vehemently loathe sponsored posts. There are pros and cons to both, but nothing wrong with either. Typically, the transition to monetizing your blog happens after you reach a certain level of traffic, which happens at different times and at different speeds for every blogger. And even then, the decision to accept money or freebies through your blog can sometimes be controversial and make you feel like a “sellout”.
I started this blog in May 2013, so a little over 3 years ago, but I think it was about a year before I really started making any money (or seeking it out) through my blog. So I guess this is really a two year report. I have always tried really hard to only accept things that are relevant to my blog and audience, and you’d be surprised by what I’ve turned down! I think it’s really important to remain true to your values, and why you started your blog in the first place when you start receiving requests for reviews, giveaways, etc. I do my best to only promote things on my blog that I believe in, and if I try something and I don’t like it, I am always honest about my opinions of the product both to my readers and to the company.
I know a lot of people, whether bloggers or non-bloggers are probably curious about how exactly you make an income off a blog! I’m not a huge, highly successful, big-wig blogger by ANY means, but I do have some knowledge to share! I have been blessed to earn a small income (keyword small!) over these past few years that has helped us pay off some students loans and have some extra fun! (Hey, every little bit helps, right??) So, I guess I’d call that a success in and of itself! There are bloggers who make what I have made in three years, in one month, even in one week I’m sure. A full time income from my blog has never been my primary goal, but if that is your goal, maybe this will serve as a starting point for you!
Blogging part time can sometimes feel like blogging full time because it is such a time commitment no matter how big or small your blog is. Every single post takes way more time than you ever think it will. Anyone else agree with that? I am in awe of bloggers who legitimately do it full time and can earn substantial livings off of their blogs – it’s absolutely amazing! There’s definitely money to be had in the world of blogging, that’s for sure. I’m 99% I will never be one of those people, or have the time to even attempt to be, but it’s fun to dream.
So with that said, I thought it would be fun to share a completely real and honest look into the income stream of Sweet Miles. (It’s really not that exciting, trust me, but maybe it will encourage another blogger who’s just starting out and provide a few helpful resources!) And again, I would consider myself a part-time blogger, so this is NOT my job!
The majority of the “income” I make off my blog is through free products. Yes, I make a small amount through ads and sponsored posts, but I’d say if you added the value up of all the free products I’ve received, it would come out on top. No doubt. I’ve had the opportunity to review, promote, and give away a pretty long list of items, and it has been a blast! You can view all of my reviews HERE, but below are a few of my favorites that stand out to me: (*These were reviews NOT part of a blogger network, and I was not paid to write about any of them.)
- New Balance Baby
- SLS3 Compression Socks
- Pins to Kill Custom Leggings
- Under Armour Speedform Apollo
- Pink Blush Maternity
- Pop Sugar Must Have Box
- Asics Gel Kayano 21
- Nike Lunarglide 6
- Brooks Ombre Glycerin 12
- Ignite Naturals Electrolytes
- Janji Spring 2014 and Janji Fall 2014
- Maxflow Headbands
- Momo Bands
This is where most of my highest paying posts have come into play. A blogger network is exactly what is sounds like – a network of bloggers, or influencers, run by an agency of sorts. Specifically, I’ve worked for Acorn, Collective Bias, PopSugar, Influence Central, Fitfluential, Sweat Pink, Girls Gone Sporty, and am a member of a few others. (*Others include Pollinate Media, Clever Girls…the list goes on). To join these networks, your blog typically has to meet a certain traffic threshold in order to apply. Some networks you have to simply hit the requirements, and some you have to hit certain requirements AND apply. These networks, or communities, help connect brands with bloggers, and either post opportunities for sponsored posts, or email out opportunities to their bloggers who they think would be a good match, and then you usually apply for that opportunity.
There are a million different ad networks out there, but the few you probably see most often are Google AdSense, Blog Her, Mode Media, and Federated Media. Each have different requirements to join, similar to what I described above, and the application process is a little different for each. Aside from these three, there are TONS of companies out there who do online ads, and once your blog starts reaching a substantial amount of traffic, you’ll be surprised by how many emails you’ll get weekly from “companies” asking to advertise on your blog. There are also tons of companies out there who do advertisement through links – so each is a little different.
I use Mode Media, and Google AdSense, each for various reasons. You will just have to choose the network that’s the best fit for your blog.
Sponsored Posts/Brands (NOT through a network)
Sponsored posts include any blog post where you’re being PAID to blog about a certain topic, or were sent free product and then paid to blog about it. (Technically a sponsored post is anytime you receive free product OR compensation). You always have to disclose sponsored posts according to FTC rules and regulations. So always be honest with your readers! Sponsored posts can be generated through the blogger networks and communities that you’re a part of, or companies and brands may reach out to you directly. For the purpose of this blog post, this section includes sponsored posts NOT through a network of any kind. So this is income from brands that have emailed me directly, and does not include value of products.
This is an income that I honestly don’t pursue as much as I should, but it’s an awesome opportunity for someone who has the desire to make it happen! There is an UNREAL amount of money to be made from affiliate commissions. Just about any of your favorite products probably have affiliate programs, and even if they don’t advertise them, they often do if you reach out to them and ask! Common networks include Reward Style (liketoknow.it), ShopStyle, ShareASale, and Amazon Affiliates just to name a few. In the state of Arkansas, bloggers are prohibited from becoming members of the Amazon program, which is a huge bummer, so be sure and check your state’s regulations before applying. I tend to get annoyed by affiliate links, so I don’t pursue this income stream very often, but for some bloggers this is WHERE IT’S AT!
Income: $70 (<— I told you!)
And it honestly might be more than that, but I do a really bad job of keeping up with it because it’s never anything I’m that serious about. My goal is to get my ShopStyle account back up and running because I went inactive on it for so long that it kicked me out, ha! One of these days I’ll get back around to doing that so you might see a few more products linked here or there.
I’m just including everything else I’ve done under “other” because it doesn’t really fit in any other category. This might include posts that came about from a brand reaching out directly, or maybe promoting something and receiving perks or rewards for reaching certain goals, etc.
Income: Unknown + $500 in Visa gift cards, hotel room w/two roundtrip flights to San Diego, iPad Air 2, Apple Watch, Saucony ISO Triumph 2 running shoes, North Face Ultra Kilowatt trail shoes
Estimated Grand Total: $6,005.44
It’s not huge, or really that impressive compared to other bloggers, but in the grand scheme of things, it has been a huge blessing and a really fun side income. There are always going to be bloggers who make more than you, who have more followers than you, who get more comments than you, who get more sponsored opportunities than you, and who take better pictures than you. Blog on, sister. There’s a piece of the pie for everyone.
Because of my new job, I’ll be limited by the types of sponsored posts and opportunities I’m allowed to take. So, lots of changes coming, but good changes 🙂
Do you make money blogging? Do you support bloggers who monetize their blogs?