Recently, I found myself laying in the same ultrasound room I visited when I discovered that Dude 3 was going to in fact be a dude.
I wasn’t there for quite as exciting of a reason, and in the absence of something fun to discuss, the ultrasound tech instead asked me about my job.
Naturally, that is when things got awkward.
“Wait, you’re a blogger? Like that’s your job?”
That is my job.
People are regularly confused about what I do, and by people I also mean my own husband.
I get it. It’s odd to make money this way. And new(ish). Twenty years ago people didn’t make money blogging. Heck, ten years ago few people made money blogging. And, it’s not like I went to college and majored in blogging. Or anything that has anything at all to do with anything even remotely related to being a blogger.
In fact, fun history fact, as a girl, when I told my dad I wanted to be a writer he informed that writing wasn’t even a real job. Not one he was paying for me to go to college to get anyway. So I majored in criminology, to become a lawyer, because everyone knows that crime pays.
Also, in yo face Dad!*
But it’s not weird to have questions, even many of those “in the game” have questions –tell me how to make money? How much money do you make? Can I make money too? SHOW ME THE MONEY!
I don’t think I can actually provide clear cut, follow-my-example answers to those questions. I don’t believe there is a formula. There is hard work, smart choices, opportunity, and good old fashioned luck. The first two you can control, the last two you can inspire, and sometimes you just have to have a healthy dose of faith.
Enough of my deep-thoughts-and-big-words, let me try to take some of the mystery out of the whole thing.
Blogging as a Job: How to Make Money Blogging
So, you’re a professional blogger? What does that even mean?
That depends on who you ask. To me it means that blogging is my career. I don’t do it just for fun and I expect to be paid when I do it on your behalf. I have specific knowledge and skills when it comes to things like using social media effectively to grow a business, interpreting analytics, developing content, and managing a community. I write well, am a creative storyteller, and I take decent photos. Sometimes, I’m funny. People like that.
Okay, but do you actually make money blogging? Like cold hard cash you can pay your bills with?
Yes. Yes I do. I’m not one of those people who are organized enough to give you some income break down with charts and graphs and what not. I can tell you that it’s not consistent month to month and it requires constant hustle to achieve. In 2015 DudeMom brought in at least $1000/mo on its own. Some months she just squeaked into that $1000 mark, a couple of times she blew it out of the water raking in over $5000 (it happened like twice). It’s an awesome struggle because making five grand a month is all kinds of fun, but because it’s inconsistent it also makes life planning a challenge.
Whoa, your puny little blog makes $5000/month?! Why?! How?!
Calm down, it happened a few times. But, I like to think it’s because I am just that good. I am, however, not entirely delusional and I also know that it has a lot to do with connections, luck, and brand needs. Some of that you can control, but fact of the matter is, some of it you can’t. Just like all parts of life. There are tons of things you can do to control your blogging income, but I feel like when people say, “Here are the only 5 steps you need to make $5000 a month blogging!” they’re probably lying. Or crazy. Or seriously oversimplifying a process that is difficult to replicate. Not impossible, just not as easy as some bold headings, catch phrases, and $1.99 eBooks try to make it seem.
So what do you do that other people can do?
Nothing. I am an artEEst man! Kidding. I create great content. I am a storyteller. That is my thing and I do it well. Some of that, I believe, is talent. A lot of that is practice. I have been a blog owner for many years, and I was a writer before that. I know my jam and I rock it out –for myself and also for my clients. I purposely select clients that I can write about from an authentic place. It allows me to create content that resonates with me and in turn with my readers. I don’t take on a sponsored post just because it pays $500, I take them because it is for a brand that is authentically meaningful to me in some way. And it pays $500.
Okay, but how do you even have the opportunity to choose? Do you pitch? Do brands come to you?
Both. First, when it comes to connecting with brands, I work a lot with blogger networks. You can read about some of my favorites here: Fantastic Influencer Networks for Female Bloggers. As for pitching, I am actually not super awesome about doing it consistently. If you want some tips on how to do that check out this post: Basic Tips for Pitching a Brand
Now that I am doing the math, $1000 a month isn’t really all that much. How do you live?
I have a sugar daddy. That’s the truth of it. My income was never designed to be the primary one in our home and now, the fact that I can bring in a respectable salary every year is icing on our life cake. If I really needed to support my family this way I’d need to be more organized, and regimented, and dedicated. Instead, I have a diversified income. I write anywhere from 3-15 articles on websites owned by other people every month. I also work as a brand community manager where I manage social media profiles, engage influencers, and build an active community around a product many people enjoy. So, in addition to the sugar daddy thing, this is how I live. And, when it comes down to it, I make the same money (and maybe more) I would if I were a full time teacher (which is what I was before I started blogging).
Okay, well, I’d love to make thousands of dollars a year doing this thing I love! Tell me how right now, in 5 easy steps please.
1. Hone your craft. Develop your voice, become a better writer, learn how to effectively use social media and other marketing efforts to reach people. Learn technical things like how to use SEO and how to design pins for Pinterest. If you need a book to guide you, I recommend Blog Inc or The Badass Blog Planner. In fact, buy them both if you’re hungry. Obviously you can do Internet research too.
2. Be intentional about your partnerships. Select to work with brands you know and love. It will allow your content to be more authentic and engaging for your readers.
3. Build your community. Just because you build it doesn’t mean they will come. Your blog is not a haunted ballpark in the middle of a cornfield. You have to make it engaging and relatable to people who you connect with in some way.
4. Assess your expectations. Chances are, you’re not going to make 50 grand your first year as a blogger. Set realistic expectations with an actionable plan you can follow. Then, you can measure your progress and success and create effective means by which to meet your goals.
5. Do you. Uniqueness is an asset, in real life and in blog life. Don’t get caught up in the brand partnerships and opportunities everyone else is getting. Decide what you love and what you can bring to life and then go after that.