As a full time blogger, I get a lot of questions about how I pay the bills. I’m not really one for secrets, and am more than happy to share what I’ve learned over the years with my fellow bloggers. The truth is, it took me many, many years to get to the point where my own blog generates any consistent or notable income.
Even now, the bulk of my income comes from writing for other people’s blogs. I’ve worked as the editor and main writer for The Natural Beauty Workshop for almost a decade now. I’ve done freelance formulation and blogging work for small businesses, like Better Shea Butter, and large companies, like Whole Foods. Right now, I’m also working as a regular contributor to A Beautiful Mess.
Mary Makes Good does turn a profit though – and when you are working as a freelancer, every little bit counts. Here are a few ways I make money on my blog. I hope these resources help you make your own site more profitable. If you decide to sign up with any of these programs, be sure and tell them I sent you!
I feel like it took FOREVER for banner ads to start making me money. Even now, they produce a very small portion of my blog’s income – but at least that portion is steady! My top income producer for banner ads is Blogher. I earn a small, but mighty chunk of revenue every month from their ads. The other ads that you see on MMG are either affiliate programs or are being tested out to see if they are worth keeping.
While I do work with brands directly, a large portion of my sponsored jobs are found through agencies. These agencies sort of work as middle-men between bloggers and brands – hammering out campaign details and courting PR firms so we don’t have to.
The big up-side to working with agencies is there being an abundance of work! Agencies also tend to provide detailed instructions and expectations for each project – making it easy to work on your post. This can also be a great way for beginning bloggers to dip their toes into the world of sponsored content.
The catch is that these opportunities don’t usually pay as much as a blogger might make when working with a brand directly. Working with agencies can also limit you as far as which brands are available to work with and which types of projects are being offered.
All in all, I like working with agencies mostly because I’m not a terribly good negotiator. I’ve been burned by PR firms in the past, spending hours emailing back and forth only to hit a dead end, or in one case, spending MONTHS chasing down a four-figure paycheck. Sufficed to say, working with agencies has its ups and downs. The following are my the agencies I like working with most.
- Everywhere Society
- Massive Sway
- Social Fabric
- The Mission List
- Pollinate Media
- Weave Made Media
These programs work a little differently than sponsored posts as you aren’t typically paid anything up front. Instead, bloggers earn a commission based on traffic and/or sales originating from blog posts, banner ads, email campaigns, social media, etc. In my experience, this only really works when you partner with brands that you know your audience is likely to be interested in. Choose your affiliates wisely!
Some brands and websites offer direct affiliate programs while others choose to connect with publishers through agencies. When in doubt, try reaching out to brands you are interested working with to see if they offer an affiliate program.
- Amazon Affiliates
- Commission Junction
- Creative Market
- E-Commerce Affiliates
- Goodshop / Gumdrop
Another option for working with brands is signing up as a brand ambassador. Brand ambassadors are usually unpaid, but they do often receive free products and/or great discounts in exchange for promotion. Brands typically cross-promote their ambassadors as well, so working with a brand with a big social media following can be an added bonus for bloggers who are just starting out. Right now, I’m working with Westlabs USA as a brand ambassador.
Reading & Resources
You can learn a lot from a good book! Or a good blog, for that matter. Here are some of my favorite places to find education and inspiration for blogging professionally.
- A Beautiful Mess
- Blog Inc.
- Creative Inc.
- Dear Blogger
- Shout Me Loud
- Will Write For Food