First things first, in order to generate income from your site you need to have traffic. You need hits, you need engagement, you need trust and you need influence. Far too many bloggers assume the label of 'blogger' gives them an automatic right to demand payment, gifts or freebies - but if you don't offer a brand value, then there's little reason they're going to want to work with you. If you're only recieving a few thousand hits a month or only have a couple hundred social media followers, focus your attention on growing your presence first. (I have loads of posts here, all about starting and growing a blog, that may be of help.) Once you've got that sorted, here are five ways I make money from my site and role as a blogger - and you could too.
The most obvious way to make money, but also the most intrusive. I used to host banner ads, MPU units (the square ones on the right hand side) and background takeovers, but made the decision to remove them about two years ago. You're paid a small fee for every impression on your site, meaning there's a direct correlation between hits and income; the fee decreases all the time as readers get so used to seeing them (and therefore ignore them/don't click for more info,) making them slightly redundant in my opinion. The income I generated off the back of these didn't justify the negative impact it had on the appearance or user experience on my site (as there's no real control over what appears and when,) but for many this is the easiest way to commercialise a blog. Collectives such as Glam Media serve ads to your site via a small piece of code that you embed, with you just collecting your fee at the end of every month. However, I prefer to sell space occasionally to small businesses, bloggers and brands I'm working with on other projects - where I have control over the look, feel, message and placement. Effortless, but worth really weighing up the benefits.
2. AFFILIATE LINKS
3. SPONSORED POSTS
This is where the majority of my income comes from, as I believe it to be the most effective and enjoyable for both parties. I work with brands to tell a story, host a giveaway, discuss a brand campaign, run a reader trial or share content in the most relevant way. The brand pays me for my time, for the key links and information to be included that they need, for final approval before publishing and an agreed date for promotion. I'm able to write these in my normal style and in the way that I know my readers will get most benefit from; the selling points for the brand include the fact that it's more 'natural' content and that the post can contain all their key marketing messages. This kind of collaboration is much more effective than a banner ad or seeding campaign, as there's context and passion behind the information. If you're interested in working with brands in this way, it's worth setting up a media kit and outlining your costs so there's clarity from both sides.
Because of my knowledge of the beauty industry, digital platforms and bloggersphere, I work with a lot of brands and agencies on a consultancy basis. It could be providing insight on current trends, identifying future opportunities or consumer needs, showcasing case studies of best practice, reaching out to bloggers or internal training. I've worked with a huge number of 'mega brands' to feedback on their product ideas, marketing concepts and outreach tools, or simply helped write leaflets for new launches. The possibilities are endless and somewhat exciting - however, you do need a lot of experience and knowledge to be able to do this. It's also not a regular income source, as the opportunities tend to come around only a select number of times per year; it's worth building relationships with brands and making your expertise known if this is something you're specifically interested in.
I don't mean sticking a picture me with my thumbs up on the front of an eyeshadow palette, but more working with brands on a strategic level to help educate and (at the end of the day) sell product. From filming video content, interviewing ambassadors or reporting on fashion week news, to being a guest on QVC or providing quotes to use within marketing material - the value of a blogger's opinion increases every day. Consumers want to know what a 'real' person thinks, especially if they're exposed to pretty much every new launch that hits stores. I've been part of some really exciting projects over the last few years, including filming some mini videos with Boots, appearing as a guest of UltraSun on QVC, testing out skin creams for Channel 4 and interviewing experts for E45. (More on that later!) These may or may not feature on my blog, but it's fascinating to see brands using bloggers to endorse or celebrate a product more and more.
So there you have it, the five main ways I generate an income from my role as London Beauty Queen. I hope it helps to de-mystify how bloggers make a living, as well as giving a little boost to those of you wanting to do the same. Remember, the title of blogger doesn't automatically entitle you to demand a fee - like anything in life, you have to build up your portfolio and experience first.