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When I started blogging it wasn’t to do with getting paid or making it a career. I literally started blogging to document our daughter’s weaning journey and to give me something to do during maternity leave.
But now, many people start blogs with the soul aim of getting paid, getting sent things to feature, getting press passes for events and having experiences that they don’t need to pay for. I wrote about how to start a mummy blog and now I’m back to try and explain how you go about making money blogging.
How to start getting paid as a mummy blogger
I know you hear it a lot, but content is king when it comes to being successful and getting paid as a blogger. You need to think of your blog and social channels as your online portfolio, like a CV. And each different channel is another string to your bow and another potential source of income.
So, make sure as well as your blog that you sign up to as many social channels as you can manage, creating content for all of them. And no, you won’t get paid for any of this at the start. You just need to create content and blog posts for the love of it and to showcase what you can do.
Focus on creating useful content that people might find when searching the web. Stuff like days out, recipes, life hacks or cleaning routines all do really well through search engines and social media. Whatever you’re interested in, create content around it and make it worthwhile, useful and evergreen – so it will still be read year after year.
The more content you create, the more there is on your blog for people to find and the more views you get and the more engagement you get on social media, the more prospect there is of people finding your blog and potentially working with you.
But when do you start getting paid?
Yeah I know. You want to be paid. Right now. Not in six months when you’ve created a bank of content. But, you need to be in this for the long haul. Create content and also make sure that your blog has everything brands and PRs need on it to see instantly if you’re the right fit for their product/service and can contact you easily.
I wrote this post about making your blog appealing to brands. The main thing is to have your email address somewhere easy to find. Have links to your social accounts and make sure your blog says where you are – UK based and which area is great.
Once you have a blog and social channels full of content, you can start to respond to blogging opportunities and approach companies for work. They’ll also start to find your blog and contact you naturally if they want to work with you too.
When should you start charging?
I’m often asked by other bloggers when to start charging for work as a blogger. I think the main crux of this is whether you see blogging as a hobby or a business. Blogging for me is now a business, and has been a business for me since I gave up my day job a few years ago. I have to prioritise paid campaigns over hours of work with just a product in return and because of that, I charge for the work that I take on.
But, it will come as no surprise, that long before I was ever offered paid work through my blog I was offered products to review and days out to enjoy and write about. This helps build content on your website, expand your portfolio and gives you content to show other prospective clients. It’s also amazing for anyone blogging as a hobby. Who doesn’t love ‘free’ stuff?
However, the things you’re sent aren’t free. They are given in exchange for exposure and promotion. You create content around the product or ‘free’ experience and you promote it on your social channels. This often takes hours of time which you often can’t justify doing without payment when you start to think of your blog as a business.
There will inevitably come a point where you’d like to be paid. That will be a different point for everyone and I think the main thing to look at is what you can offer brands. Do you have a big audience, or great engagement that justifies being paid for work on the blog?
It may be that you’re happy getting products and experiences to review and you don’t actually mind not getting paid. In which case, carry on as you are and enjoy your hobby and your space online. But, there may be a point where you’d like to start charging for the work involved.
When you reach that point, simply reply to collaboration opportunities with the question – what sort of budget do you have available for this campaign? The worst they can say is it’s purely a gifted collaboration and then you can decide whether it’s worth the work without payment or not.
For me, I now charge for pretty much anything that our family doesn’t need or that we’d be better off buying ourselves. With many low value products it doesn’t make sense to spend hours creating content when I could just buy the product and save myself the work.
But, the best part of a decade ago when I started blogging, I’d happily review anything that came my way to build relationships, create content and get my blog out there regardless of the product value or the time involved.
Even now, if a small or new business is trying to get noticed I will try and help them in any way I can – offering reduced rates for content creation or by sharing products on my Instagram Stories or featuring them in my monthly Liked & Loved roundup. Everyone starts somewhere and I try and be as flexible as I can – and it’s worked for me so far.
One thing I feel I should mention before I get too deep into this post is the importance of upfront, clear disclosure. Anyone with a website or social channel where they are receiving payment or goods and services to promote has an obligation to disclose the relationship to be transparent with readers and also to comply with industry guidelines.
You can see the latest information on the ASA website but, you won’t go wrong with putting ‘AD’ whenever you have received anything, right at the start of the content. I go one further by explaining the AD – putting something after it to let readers know the relationship. For example AD – Gifted Products, AD – Press Trip or AD – Affiliate Link. Plain old ‘AD’ I reserve for work where I have been paid actual money for that content.
As a best practice, I put AD at the end of any blog title that has been paid for and then at the top of the post I’ll add a full disclosure – this is a paid post, the products featured were sent to review, we were invited on this hotel stay to review etc.
Where do you find blogging opportunities?
Over the years the ways I have found blogging opportunities have changed massively and a lot of blogging networks and communities that I used to love have shut as times have changed. But, there are still failsafe ways to find work as a blogger.
Facebook is awash with blogging groups and many of these are dedicated to blogging opportunities. These can be anything from reviewing personalised clothing to trying out a new brand of coffee or featuring a new £1k TV bed. There are also paid opportunities at times too. Search Facebook for blogging groups and see what comes up. Some will be for advice and chat and others are dedicated to opportunities.
The same goes for Twitter. If you search things like ‘looking for bloggers’ on the Twitter search there will be people looking for bloggers and influencers for all sorts of things. Reply to any that are relevant and then forget about them.
From experience, you won’t be the right fit for everything – and at first you may not be the right fit for anything – but don’t be disheartened. Keep replying to opportunities whilst creating your own content for your blog and in time you’ll find opportunities that are perfect for you.
What about blogging networks?
Tots100 have a chart of influencers, they run regular events and have a real community feel. Mumsnet have opportunities that come out on a weekly newsletter and Britmums usually email opportunities out to relevant members too.
There are companies like Get Blogged, Bloggers Required and The Blogger Programme where you can see opportunities and apply for them if you’re eligible. If you sign up to their newsletters you’ll get informed of new opps when they come out. New platforms like this pop up from time to time and some last a while, others fizzle out quite quickly. These ones have been around a while.
One slightly controversial platform for making money as a blogger is Tribe. With Tribe, you see opportunities, create content that fits the brief and then the brand decide if they want to buy it. This is backwards to typical blog work – where you’ll get commissioned and then create content to a brief, knowing you’ll be paid at the end.
But, Tribe is great for anyone that has over 3k followers on a social platform. It’s a good way to start creating blog content for brands, giving you good experience of working to a brief and, as you can set your own price it’s great if you’re new and not asking for too much. But, many experienced bloggers won’t use Tribe because the rates are notoriously lower than when working directly with brands.
How do you work directly with brands?
If you want to work directly with brands you do it either through a PR company or literally through the brand. Eventually, PR people will find your blog and the more you work with people and do a good job the more work will follow.
One thing I have done from time to time is emailed new PR companies to introduce myself, tell them about my blog and to ask to be added to any influencer mailing lists or directories they might have.
With brands, you can always reach out to them on social media or look for press or media contacts on their websites. Often, brands are open to collaborating if you can pitch a good idea to them.
I had one of my first big breaks in blogging as a Graco ambassador when I pitched to review a pushchair that could be used from birth but also with an older child. Having a new baby and a toddler at the time I explained how I could use it for both children, showing the versatility and I was sent one to review – and I worked with Graco for a long time after that.
When do you pitch?
I find it best to pitch when I have something that I really feel I could promote – a need for me that would make great content for my audience. This is often a media pass for a day out or a review hotel stay somewhere we’re planning on going. Or, it could be something we need – a new vacuum cleaner, a scooter or garden furniture.
When you have a need you can approach the brand and explain what you’d like and what you can offer in return. A blog post, social promotion, a video – and who will see it? How big is your audience and how engaged are they?
I also pitch when I have a great idea for content but need something to help put it together. That could be anything from DIY supplies to food, specific genre toys or furniture.
Response Source is a fantastic resource if you have an idea and want to see if anyone is interested in working with you on it. It lets you send journalist enquiries direct to an industry or sector in one go and if the brands or PR companies want to work with you they then get in touch. They also have a fantastic press release database where you can read press releases, feature the information and respond to them with a collaboration idea if relevant.
For full disclosure, I’ve never pitched for paid work. I look for paid work and apply for paid opportunities but I haven’t ever sent an unsolicited email asking for paid work. People do but I wouldn’t know where to start.
For me, the key to getting paid work, and getting it regularly enough for blogging to be my full time job, has been building relationships with people, creating content and always keeping the momentum going. When you’ve worked with someone once they’re more likely to be open to working with you again. Always pitch to previous clients for future work.
Blogging is a full time job – whether you’re getting paid for it or not. There is content to create, social media platforms to engage on and admin to do behind the scenes. But, once you start you just keep going. And each day that you’re creating content or engaging on social media keeps that momentum moving in the right direction.
All the time there’s momentum, more people see your content and consider you for opportunities and potentially email you to discuss working together.
How can bloggers get paid?
There are so many different things bloggers can be paid to do and the most common one is sponsored posts. This is where a brand pays you to create blog content but, at other times, a brand might pay you to host a guest post for them, so you don’t have to create the content yourself – just publish it.
You can also add adverts to your website to get a passive income. I’m with Mediavine who now have a 50k sessions per month criteria to join but there are other advertising networks you can try. The only other one that I have used is Adsense.
Another income source is affiliate marketing where you add affiliate links to your content and when people click on them and buy something you’re paid a small amount. This could be pennies for an Amazon purchase or more for subscription sales etc.
I’ve also been paid to create videos, to film raw footage and take photos for brand usage, attend events and to create content for social media campaigns where no blog content is needed. There are also lucrative ambassador programmes at times where you’ll work with a brand for a year, regularly promoting them in exchange for payment and product through the year. Everyone loves an ambassador role as it usually means you have a guaranteed income for a set amount of time – something that is often rare in blogging.
There is so much you can be paid to do as a blogger and it’s really nice to have an income made up of lots of different income streams. There’s always extra things to charge for too – things like image usage rights and exclusivity periods you can charge additional fees for and don’t have to just agree to them as standard.
Follow vs NoFollow
This is something that comes up for most bloggers at the very start of them getting paid work. It’s a question I have been asked so many times in blogging groups that I feel I should mention it here too.
Just like disclosure, when you receive something – products, services, payment, and event etc – you should make the links related to that on your blog nofollow links. This is a Google guideline and you can find out more here. There are more options now like sponsored tags added to links, rather than just follow/nofollow, but it’s easier just to stick to the basics for this post. If you leave the links as organic follow links and Google thinks those links have been purchased – with payment or product – you risk getting a Google penalty.
I know many bloggers who have had Google penalties and have been able to get them removed without too much trouble. Also, when you start blogging you may not get much traffic from Google so it may not seem that important whether Google is happy or not. But, further down the line the follow nofollow debate may hold more weight for you.
The majority of bloggers are asked to create or host content for SEO purposes, to raise the search profile of a brand to get them appearing higher in search results. SEO work usually requires follow links, as follow links are more valuable for them when link building, and can be in the form of inserting a link into existing content on your blog, hosting a guest article with links embedded or creating a new article using specific links and anchor text.
Really, when it comes down to it, it’s a really personal decision whether you accept follow links or not. It also varies massively between bloggers. I know bloggers who won’t accept follow links because they get so much Google traffic it isn’t worth the risk. And others who morally feel nofollow links are the only option for them.
But there are bloggers who will happily accept follow links for any amount of money as they need the cash, and others who will accept follow links but only when paid a premium for them. So, the choice is yours. Unlike disclosure, which is an industry requirement, follow links are just Google’s stipulation and come down to what you are comfortable with.
How do you know what to charge?
When I started working on paid campaigns I would just charge what I thought my time was worth or accept what the brand offered. This may have been £50 or £100 for a piece of work. Gradually over time I increased my fees, when people accepted them more than declined them until my rates got to a level that I was comfortable with and felt right for the work I was doing, as well as the audience I had established.
When you first start out it’s always hard to know what to charge and there aren’t really any industry standards where influencer pay is concerned. My best advice would be to charge what you feel comfortable with, be happy to negotiate and increase your fees over time as your website and social channels grow.
What about paying tax?
One of the most important things when you start to earn money from your blog is to make sure you’re declaring that income and putting money aside to pay any potential tax bill and National Insurance contributions. It’s also worth noting that if you currently claim any kind of benefits these payments may change once you start earning additional income.
Do you have to pay tax on review products?
Now that is the question! Whoever you speak to at HMRC and whichever accountant you’re using will give you a different answer. However, my accountant specialises in the creative industries and understands blogging. From their perspective, if items are sent for review, they are a tool of the trade – we need them to do the job – and so you don’t class them as income.
However, if you are sent gifts or anything you don’t actually need for you job, it needs to be declared as income. Plus, if you sell any ‘tools of the trade’ you would need to declare the sale price as income. You also need to declare any affiliate income and any gift vouchers you are paid as these are as good as cash.
Lastly, if you start a blog with the soul aim of making money from home, as a way to earn money online, be prepared for hard graft. It takes a lot of time, dedication and hard work to build up a website and social channels to the point where you’re making a regular income.
On the flip side, if you have started a blog to get your thoughts out there, to be creative and to ignite your love of writing – never forget that. You’ll be asked to write about anything from MOT testing and car tyres to LED lighting and bird feed. At those times, remember why you started your blog and decide where to draw the line with the work you take on and the collaborations you agree to. Your blog, your rules.