Secure the Bag! How to Make Money as a Small Blogger

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So this has been a highly requested post that I was saving for the end of the year! I am going over all my invoices and making sure my accounting dashboard is up to date, but so far it looks like it’s been a pretty good year for the blog! If you are a new blogger or have been struggling to monetize your blog here is what has worked for me as I’ve established myself. I’m still working on it, so please take all of this as inspiration or my personal tips. You should definitely develop your own strategies and test them as you go on your blogging journey.

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Have a professional media kit and rate card

Before you can start making money, you have to look legit! Make sure you have analytics for your blog set up, and all of your social networks are Business Accounts so you can get insights. Then design a stellar media kit and rate card. I use Canva since the templates are so easy to work with. You should also do your research on what is a reasonable rate for you to charge based on your following/blog traffic.

Join Every Blogger Agency/Network

There are dozens of influencer networks/agencies that you can opt into. Most of them require you to make a profile and connect/authenticate your social profiles. Then you will either be in their database so they can include you in lists when their brand clients request influencers for a campaign, and some even show you a list of sponsorship opportunities you can apply to. It makes getting your profile and pitch in front of brands so much easier, and they are usually clear about the deliverables and guidelines, so you know what will be expected and when.

Here are a few that I have signed up for:

Social Fabric

Activate

Hashtag Paid

Fohr

Collectively

Clever

StyleHaul

Some have different requirements to join so check out each website and get to applying! The beauty of these programs is they connect you to brands that are their clients, and are super streamlined and easy to work with. There are several brands and retailers that I’ve worked with through these platforms on multiple occasions, so it gives you a library of content that you can use to pitch the brand directly! I do a good amount of my business through Social Fabric and Clever and they are super easy to work with. There are some tips and tricks you’ll need for a successful application in these networks, so stay tuned for a follow up post on that!

Use Affiliate Networks to Drive Sales

 Affiliate networks are a great way to generate revenue from your blog. Companies like RewardStyle, ShopStyle and Amazon all have influencer affiliate networks. The process is pretty simple – once you join the network you can create trackable links to use for products you post about. If someone clicks the link and makes a purchase, you get a small commission on it. If the customer returns the item within a certain window, usually 30 days, your commission goes away. The commission you get on each sale is pretty small, around 3-15%, but the awesome thing is you get commission of their entire order, not just if they buy the one item you had in the post! So if you start out clicking on an eyeshadow palette I had in a Sephora beauty post, but end up buying $500 worth of skincare, I get commission on the $500 total! So when you have good traffic , spendy followers, and post regularly in can start to add up.

For example, here is a shopping gallery where you can see the items I’m wearing in the images above. When an item is sold out or no longer available, like the Manolo sandals I’m wearing, I link to something similar.

If you click the slip and go shop on Savage x Fenty, I will NOT get a commission because that brand is not in the affiliate network. But I still included it because I love the brand and think you guys should check it out! However the jacket and shoes are from in network retailers so I will get a commission. This is not a very big stream of income for me just because the payouts are quite low and I never link to things I don’t actually like. 

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Not Every #Ad is a Paid One, and That’s ok!

The fact is not every partnership is going to be a paid one, but free stuff is fun too! The fact is a lot of brands do not have influencer budgets, or only spend on bigger influencers or celebrities. However some companies do very generous gifting or products and experiences! I’ve gotten amazing skin care and beauty sets, clothing, complimentary salon and spa treatments, access to exclusive events, and even free travel! If you are new to brand partnerships, working in exchange for product is a great way to get experience creating branded content. It also really helps to offset the amount you spend on things you will use anyway. Plus there is always pressure on a blogger to have new items to post about or review, so having connections to brands that will gift will enrich your content and expand your reach and experience. If you are still struggling with pitching, here are some networks that specialize in getting you freebies!

Influenster

Octoly 

Bzz Agent

6 ways to make money blogging


Pitch Brands Yourself 

Once you have your banging media kit and successful examples of brand work from agencies or free collaborations you may feel ready to start hitting brands up yourself! The art of the pitch is really something that deserves its own post, so more to come. However, the best way to negotiate your projects and payment on your terms is to work with the brand directly. Typically when you get a gig through an agency, the brand went to that agency with a total campaign budget that also included agency fees. If a third-party isn’t taking a cut, you can definitely get a higher rate! I usually send an introductory email with my stats attached and a description of the project or concept and ask if they would like to work together. I usually pitch about 4 to 6 weeks out, so started holiday in October, Valentine’s Day right after New Year’s and am now working on ideas for Spring Fashion in March. The timing gives me time to get my pitch list and concepts organized and ready to go. Plus, you need to get in front of brands before budgets are allocated! Most brands have an influencer marketing budget that they break up seasonally, so you should get on their radar before plans are locked-up and other influencers cast. 

 Create a Product You Can Sell

A lot of bloggers and influencers also earn money selling products. The most common ones I’ve seen are presets for photo editing or e-courses. Some also do merch like mugs, t-shirts, etc. If you feel like you have a service to offer that your audience would be interested in think about selling it on your blog. I’m personally debating putting together an e-course, so let me know in the comments if you’d be interested! 

And Remember - It’s ok to Say No!

Just because you are new to the game and trying to secure more partnerships does not mean every opportunity is right for you. It could be a question of timing, deliverables, the pay being really low, or it not being a brand you vibe with. Personally, I say no to a lot of projects if the I feel what the brand is asking is taking advantage. Because of my background in marketing and my experience in campaign production, I can easily call bullshit when a brand asks for certain terms. I have said no to brands asking for an unfair exclusivity term, image usage rights I was uncomfortable with, and when they ask me to not disclose our partnership. Every influencer and brand knows the FTC requires disclosure so it’s a dishonest practice that will get you fined for not obliging. Evaluate every offer carefully, and do some research in blogger groups or influencer platforms to get a better idea of what is and is not standard to ask in a partnership.


If you are a new blogger or influencer reading this and are hoping to start cashing in, I hope these tips helped! I’ll be continuing this series with posts like the below: 

 

  • Contract Negotiations with Brands so you can get the most out of all the sponsorships that will be rolling in!

  •  Tax Tips You Need to Know for Your Blog

  •  Content Creation Strategy

  •  Double Duty – Managing a Blog and a Full Time Job

Making Money as an Influencer