5 Financial Realities of Being a Blogger/Online Influencer
Ahhh, the mysterious world of blogger income! If I had a dollar for every time I get asked, "So you make money doing that?" or "So how does one make money doing what you do?", well, I probably wouldn't be writing this post right now. The "profession" (if you will) of blogging and more recently, "online influencing", has only taken off within the past 5-10 years; so it's totally understandable why people are so curious about how someone can make an astounding income by simply sharing their craft or lives online.
When I started blogging and creating YouTube videos 5 years ago, I had no clue I could earn a steady income doing so, much less that it would end up being my career. As the years have passed, I've been presented with many opportunities to start making money. I think the mysterious part about blogging in general is how many different ways you can be paid. For example, my first experience was monetization via my YouTube videos. Next came affiliate links, freelance writing, and eventually brand sponsorships. I think many people, still to this day, assume that blogging is getting a little freelance check here and there, which is why I'm here to enlighten you on the ups and the downs. These are 5 financial realities of being a full time blogger or online influencer.
- You have great, decent and not-so-good months: Most bloggers who have only been in the game a couple of years will experience this shift in monthly income. Essentially, being a blogger is basically the same as running an at-home business. Some months you are presented with more opportunities and more pay than other months. For new bloggers, I always suggest keeping your day job until you are confident enough in your monthly earnings to make the switch from part-time to full-time.
- You are hardly ever paid on time: This is quite frankly the most frustrating part of being a blogger. It feels great to work with brands and companies that you whole heartedly believe in, but most of the time your pay is "lost in translation", for lack of better words. I have very few companies and brands that I work with whom I can count on to pay me on the exact date that I am contracted to be paid on. Sometimes you're paid MONTHS behind what you are supposed to be, which can be a real piss-parade for budgeting. On numerous occasions I have just had to downright harass companies to send late payments. One of the main problems I find is that brands contract through what we call "middle men" or agencies to handle paid campaigns. This means the brand you are working for essentially hires another company to deal with your payment and communication process. I have seen a lot of unethical practices happen through this method. Brands, if you are reading, keep your work IN HOUSE!
- You're paid in multiple ways: As stated above in the intro, there are so many ways you can be paid working online as a blogger. The most common, in my opinion, are brand sponsorships and affiliate links. If you are a YouTuber, adsense (money you receive from video ads) can also make a nice contribution to your monthly income. You can also become an ambassador for brands and receive monthly or yearly compensation. To be honest, I am sure there are many more ways that I am not familiar with or haven't even been presented with yet. Just know you will have a million W-2 forms coming in from so many different outlets at the end of the year!
- Negotiating is key: If there's one thing I've learned from brand partnerships, it's that negotiating is not off the table. Most brands and companies have a "flexible" or "strict" budget to work with. When a brand emails about a potential partnership, usually they will throw their lowest number out at you to see if they can bait you on it. Knowing your audience value and what it is worth to brands is very important to determine what kind of pay is fair. Often times brands are happy to accommodate your requests if they are reasonable. Sometimes brands say they're on a strict budget which will only allow for a certain amount of pay. When this is the case I negotiate the amount of work I will provide for them (ex. brand wants 2 posts for "x" amount but I offer 1 post for that "x" amount). I don't think anyone really likes negotiating when it comes to money, but there have been several times I've been thrown quite insulting offers (most of which I don't even respond to) so it's important to stand your ground so that both ends can meet a happy agreement.
- Your earnings can be limitless: Something that really blows me away, even after blogging for over 5 years, is that you will never be stuck at the same yearly wage as long as you work hard, keep your content fresh, and never stop thinking of ways to make your content better. There are so many amazing opportunities that come along with blogging and being an online influencer. It's truly a job that doesn't feel like a job. After being out of college for nearly 3 years, I'm making more money than what I would have if I started a general 9-5 job in my degree major. I always try to encourage those who want to start blogging to just go for it. It may take off slow or it could take off steadily - you never know.
Cheers to following your passions!