monthlyupdates

Blogging as a Business Update: One Year On!

With everything that I’ve been up to lately, I’d completely forgotten that it’s been over a year since I started blogging specifically about well… blogging! 

Last September, I decided to go part-time as a teacher- and wrote my first ever blog post about how I wanted to try and pursue my blog as a business for the rest of the time. This turned into a bit of series- until I decided that it was taking up to much space on my main blog and decided to launch The Bloglancer.

When writing that first post, I remember that many people felt I would only last until Christmas; and going ‘part-time’ without children and just because I ‘wanted to write more’ was a bit of a foolish idea. However, 12 months later I’m completely self-employed! So I decided it was high time to bring this blog series back and let you know how I’ve been getting on!

A Change In Sponsored Content

When I first decided to go self-employed last September, my initial plan was I’d have to do lots of sponsored content! However, a year on, I’ve found that I am actually doing less sponsored content! The difference being that the sponsored content I am doing tends to be a longer-term arrangement.

For example, on my main blog, I’m now a brand ambassador for a gluten-free brand and will be creating a series of recipes for them up until Christmas. I am actually focusing on trying to find these kinds of partnerships now- it means work is more secure and avoids spreading myself really thinly with lots of lower paying ‘one-off’ type ops. I’ve mentioned before in my Pitching Toolkit for Working With Brands that it’s always a good idea to offer packages for more content.

On my main blog, I’ve noticed recipe creation is where I’ve really had to up my game- and I personally think this is how most bloggers make their money (unless you’re Zoella and make your own advent calendar, but perhaps my thoughts on that should be a separate blog post!). I’ve spent lots of time on recipe photos and most of my partnerships tend to be about recipe creation or ‘how to’ articles. I’m happy about this as personally, I’ve never thought ‘sponsored’ reviews are a great idea.

Creating lots of content

As I mentioned in my ‘how to revamp old content‘ blog post, if you’re doing sponsored content, there’s definitely an expectation to create more blog content- so I’ve been experimenting with making sure that there’s lots of non-sponsored content on my blog too!

This is something I feel strongly about gift guides. I know I’ve done quite a few posts on gift guides but I personally think they should be a mix of all kinds of items: samples you’ve tested, items you’ve loved and purchased yourself and perhaps items you’ve reviewed in the past (then you can interlink which is great practice!). I think it’s a bit cringey when you see a gift guide which is basically ‘look at what I’ve been sent’ with little cohesion.

Diversifying Income

Looking back to when I started, I’m definitely doing a lot more different projects than I thought I would. I’ve already talked about how to branch into freelance writing and I’ve also done some copywriting in the past too. I’ve avoided sites like People Per Hour and Upwork as there are so many people undercutting each other.

However, I’d strongly suggest using a portfolio type site (e.g. journo portfolio) and having that linked on your site– I’ve had a few people come directly to me after reading my blog. If you’re thinking about blogging as a job, I’d really recommend thinking about how you plan to diversify. Not everyone wants to write for other sites, so you might think about selling your photographs or perhaps even running a second blog. Remember, there’s lots of ways to make money online. I’d recommend this post by Thrifty Mum for info on things like surveys and mystery shopping.

Tax Trials

I’m now in tax return territory so I’ll give you an update when it’s complete. I’ve been using a cloud storage system (this is a great post on using Xero) o store all my incomings and expenditures and then kept a folder for receipts. I’d hoped this would help me avoid an accountant but I think I’m going to bite the bullet and get one anyway. However, I thought I’d share a few snippets that I’ve learnt in case it’s useful as I’ve been having to go back over my records to find some of these things! Here’s what you should keep records of…

  • Hours worked from home. Even if you only work from home at a weekend, you can claim simplified expenses (more here) depending on how many hours you work. Evenings and weekends can soon add up!
  • Travel. Travel to meetings and events can be claimed- so keep train tickets. For car journeys, you don’t need petrol recipes within reason but you can keep a log of car journeys done and what they relate to.
  • Bettering yourself as a blogger.  pitching toolkitI’ve reviewed hereAny resources you purchase to improve your blog can be claimed as reading up on good practice can increase your income. These can include ebooks (like my), courses (like the one ) or even- if you read them to pitch articles and make some income as a freelance journalist- magazines! I know I’ve purchased lots of blogging books in the past so I’ll be digging through my amazon account later to find the receipts!

There’s lots more but this is something to get started on!

So, 12 months on, I’m incredibly happy to be self-employed; and can’t imagine going back to a permanent job anytime soon. If you’ve enjoyed this, you might want to read my old ‘blog to business‘ transitions posts and do let me know if there’s a particular aspect you’d like me to cover in more detail!

 

 

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How I Turned My Blog Into My Job

 

Hi guys, today I am going to be sitting down with you and telling you all about my blogging journey. I started to think about this when I inadvertently stumbled across my first ever blog from a whole 7 years ago! So I wanted to hop on here to let you know about how I turned my blog into a job and that not everyone is a success straight away. In fact, my blog had 7, yes 7, reincarnations- everything from fashion to music to travel until I finally found my match at A Balanced Belly (and hopefully The Bloglancer will stick around too!)

Find a Blog That Fits

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Image source: http://www.notonthehighstreet.com

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Blogging as A Business: Month 7

 

A Quick note: This is month 7 of my blog to business journey, and the first 6 months of the series appears on my healthy living blog here.  Due to not wanting to duplicate content, I will keep months 1-6 on my original blog but further monthly updates will only appear on The Bloglancer. 

Today is Month 7 of my blog to business guide.New to this series??Then you can start by reading all of my blog to business posts! All caught up?Well, let’s get chatting.

Blog Growth

As always, I like to start off by discussing blog growth. This month has been really good for overall social growth. Namely…

  • Instagram. Since my last blog post, I have started to take my Instagram much more seriously and I’ve jumped about 700 followers as a result? How? Well firstly I was lucky enough to be featured in this Guardian article (more on how that came about later on in the post) and I managed to gain a good chunk of followers from that. However, I’ve also been making a conscious effort to post every single day and to keep up with Instagram stories- which I’m really enjoying. I also found a tool called ‘link tree‘- which allows you to link multiple links in your bio. This has made a really big difference to how many people are actually clicking on the link in my bio- before I never got any direct traffic from the link in my bio but now the figure is into the hundreds. This definitely gives me more motivation to keep growing it!

 

  • Mailing List. Each Sunday I send out a weekly newsletter but I am trying to make this a bit more useful and I’ve been experimenting with free downloads and different things my readers want. I have managed to grow my list to just over 1200 which I am happy with. I’ve noticed this being talked about a lot more in forums and I am happy to perhaps go into more details about it next month? But the biggest thing for me is always offering an incentive.

 

  • My traffic is pretty much consistent- I suspect this is because I have not dedicated much time to Pinterest so the boost from my mailing list and Instagram has prevented a slight decrease from Pinterest. Plan for this month is to go back to Pinterest! As I mentioned in month 2, this is great for traffic.I would strongly recommend Tailwind as this is what took my referral traffic from Pinterest from about 50 views per day to close to 500 hundred! You can use my referral code to get a free month to see if it works for you. Click here to start your trial

Growing My Business

The past few months have been all about being proactive for me! I have noticed my Inbox has not been as busy and I personally think this is because of the number of blogger agencies that are emerging which means brands are outsourcing the work. This is frustrating as I find these type of agencies either have unrealistic expectations (10,000 followers for a tin of tomatoes? I’m ok thanks) or unrealistic aims (who wants to enter a ‘competition’? Not me). It stops us really connecting and having proper conversations but as I’ve said before, there’s nothing stopping us making these connections ourselves and I have been pitching pretty much every day. So much, I came up with an ebook……..

If you want to start reaching out to brands but don’t have any idea about what to say, how to describe the ‘b’ word (that would be budget!) and how to prove you can offer value, then this ebook will help!  You can click here to read more about my Pitching Toolkit.    

It even comes with a ‘cheat sheet’ which cover what to say in awkward blogger/brand conversations!

So, how has my pitching been going? Well, one of the things I am learning is about being flexible. One of the benefits from growing my Instagram is that it gives me more room to pitch in different ways .You may notice that brands say they don’t have a budget (and I cover exactly what to do in this scenario in my pitching ebook) but there’s nothing to stop you being creative with what you can offer. As I am keen to grow my following and not run out of things to photograph, I’ve been happy to accept samples in some cases in exchange for coverage on my Instagram and stories. This has been a great idea as it has introduced me to new brands and has taken the pressure off having to guarantee blog coverage. We often see our blog and social as a whole package but it can be worth being adaptable and considering it in segments. DO you have a newsletter? a facebook group of likeminded individuals? Make this part of your pitch! Rather than doing more for less, it is about being flexible and giving brands choices.

A Different Type of Pitching

I am still pitching every week and see this as a great way of making great contacts. I’m also pitching in a different way! Because of my book release, I’ve also been focusing on getting my name out there. By taking the time to pitch to newspapers and online magazines, I have had coverage in The Guardian, Female First, BT Online and the Press Association. How did I do it? I dropped them an email with an article idea (or in the case of the Guardian article, responded to a journo request) and they said yes. In my case it tied in well with World IBD Day- so it might be worth looking at key dates in your blog niche. I don’t often work for free but offering content to newspapers and online articles in an exception and can be more effective than guest blogging.

Learning

This month has been all about learning.

– I joined Janet Murray’s Soulful PR group (I would really recommend her podcasts which are great for listening on the way to work!) Her podcasts are fab for learning more about working with the media.

– I read a few good books. Wellpreneur is perfect for aspiring health bloggers. I also reread The Million Dollar Blog and Blogging Your Way To Riches. Sensing a theme yet?

 

-On my way to work, I have been listening to podcasts such as: Hashtag Authentic (Instagram Podcast), Ctl Alt Delete and Blogtacular.

 

Looking Ahead

You’ve probably sensed that the past few months have been a bit of a journey for me. Opportunities were easy to come by at the starting of this journey but I have definitely felt the need to be much more proactive now. However, this comes with advantages as I am taking the time to have actual meetings with PRs and really thinking myself about inspirational content. The next step for me now is to start looking towards passive income. This is something that I’ve shied away from me before but somehow stumbled across listening to this free webinar on passive income which was actually really interesting. I’ve never really got on with affiliate programs but I do have a lot of free ebooks and resources aimed at my health audience on the blog- so the next step is going to be to figure out how to turn this into a product. I’m also reading up more on ways to make money online in general and developing more side hustles!

I’ll be next month with another update on my journey- do keep following along and let me know what you’d like to see next!

 

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links