Fearless Friday: The business of blogging! (part I)
Happy Friday Peeps! Lately, I've received many-an-email from both new and old friends + acquaintances about the business of blogging. It got me thinking...perhaps there's a story here. Maybe I can develop a mini-series on the subject and touch on several micro topics. The questions I've received are all over the map such as:
How do I get started? What platform do I use? What about social media? How much will I make? How much time should I put into it?
While I have no intention of quitting my day job, it's wonderful to receive perks, a nice paycheck for the slush fund or simply to meet like-minded people. Let's dig in a bit, shall we?
Platforms: I started out on Blogger because it was free and pretty dummy proof. I didn't watch a tutorial. I just dove in headfirst and taught myself everything from linking to image sizing to banner ads to social posting. It was great for three years and several logo designs (more on that later) and I learned a ton. As I grew more serious, I wanted to take my site to the next level, develop my own URL and create a more sophisticated aesthetic. Two years ago I moved to SquareSpace and it was the best move yet. Then, I paid (yes, I invest in my blog/business regularly...get ready for that!) a web designer to create a new logo and develop a brand for me.
Time Commitment: What you do with your blog and what you want it to become really dictates your time, investment and growth. If it is simply a hobby or a creative outlet for you...than the world is your oyster...write away! If you want to drive your own revenue and become an influencer...honestly, get ready to spend a lot of time on your blog. I post 5x's a week. On average, a singular post takes me about 2.5 hours to draft. I edit all my own photos, write all my own copy, coordinate my own shoots and of course, correspond with my sponsors on the various project initiatives. And that doesn't include social media. The average social post on one channel takes me about 45 minutes to publish and I always customize my message points for every channel which to date includes Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. And yes, it is 100% vital to your blog growth to post on all these channels. On average I post to my social channels about 2-4x's a day. Still want to do this?
Photography: I started out grabbing photos from the web and of course, crediting them. 365 days in I realized that people really want to see authenticity. They want to see what's going on in your life. Isn't that what blogging is all about? Fast forward to today, six years later, and my husband takes about 96% of my photos while I handle my social feeds. Depending on the size of a brand project, I will hire and pay, "pay" being the operative word, a profesh photographer like Hallie or Melissa to shoot me. Let's be honest, brands come back when you have a strong visual and compelling copy. Be authentic! There's that word again!
Monetization: Transitioning your blog into a money-making outlet takes time, hard work, dedication and a lotta networking. I average about 2-3 events per week. Brands look to see who's attending and amplifying content from said event on their social feeds. Obviously proper hashtagging goes without saying. Do yourself a favor and create a 1-pager media kit that sums up your brand essence and your stats. I recommend waiting six months in unless you're the next We Wore What and sky rocket to success in no time at all! Through trial and error you will learn the industry standard for sponsored blog content vs sponsored social content. I do a mixture of both. And my rates vary depending on the ask. I have a publishing network I belong to as well as several social media publishers. I like the mix because I get to work with big and small lifestyle brands.
Networking: This is the final bucket I will touch on today because I have no doubt your eyes are rolling back in your head so I'll cut to the chase. Like social media, there is no way to grow your blog without getting yourself out there. Not the kind of "...I wrote a post about my views on our next president thus I put myself out there" kinda cyber networking but the real "...I got dressed, went to party, drink C- wine and handed people my card" kinda networking! That's the spirit! Really, I do love to network both for business and blogging. It's how I met the far majority of my close friends. I also recommend finding local blogging chapters in your city. I belong to Midwest Bloggers as well as Windy City Bloggers. Both have provided me substantial opportunities, friendships, education and beyond. Windy City Bloggers being the most active participant in my blogging life. I guarantee there is one in every city and if not...start one!
I'll be sure to draft a Part II to this post if you're interested. My advice in one simple sentence: save up your moolah and take original photography. Oh and open up your social media accounts ASAP! ...till next time!