Started a blog in hopes of earning enough to quit your day job, or at least to have a flourishing side hustle… only to work your butt off for pennies? In this post we share the most common blogging mistakes to avoid that leave money on the table and keeps you from earning the income that IS possible through your blog! We’ll show you how with our tips.
I see so many awesome bloggers out there with helpful content, beautiful photography, great stories, and so much to offer their audience.
And yet, most of these bloggers are making a whopping $0 from their blogs. Or maybe they’re earning a couple hundred bucks here and there, but can’t seem to get any more momentum.
Does this sound like you?
When we’re not making the kind of money we want from our blog, it often means we decide not to spend a lot of time on it or make investments for growth since we can’t justify the time/money/energy on just a passion project.
And thus the self-fulfilling prophecy begins.
This makes my heart hurt.
You’re putting so much of your soul into what you’re creating… wouldn’t it be completely amazing to get PAID for it too?!
If you’re the kind of person who longs to express yourself creatively AND have full creative control of your work, this post is for YOU! If you dream of quitting your day job, fleeing that monotonous 9-to-5 cube life and finally living life on your own terms, KEEP READING!
Here are the top three mistakes I see most bloggers make that leave money on the table and hold you back from creating your dream life and crushing your income goals.
Blogging Mistake #1: Not treating your blog like a business from the beginning.
I feel that this is perhaps THE MOST important thing I do for my blog. This is not my hobby. This is not something I do just for fun or solely out of the goodness of my heart, despite how much of my heart is poured into my blog.
I am a professional, I keep office hours, I demand to be paid a fair wage for my work, and in turn I always deliver clean, compelling content on (or before!) deadline. I’m reliable and trustworthy in my business dealings, I take customer service seriously and I invest in my business the same way I would if I were running a restaurant, starting an ad agency, or fundraising for a non-profit.
I filed my company as an S-Corp with the IRS. I pay my taxes, use a bookkeeper to track my business expenses and even have employees on payroll. I’m not “just a blogger”. I’m an online business owner. This mindset is EVERYTHING!
When you treat your blog like a business (rather than a hobby or a way to get free stuff) and you’re professional, honest, and entrepreneurial, you actually can make GREAT money from blogging, and even turn it into a rewarding and legit career.
Blogging Mistake #2: Adding one affiliate link to one blog post and wondering why no one is buying.
Think of your top three favorite affiliates that you currently have on your blog (or would want to have, if you’re new to this whole blogging thing).
**For the newbies out there: affiliate marketing is when you receive a commission for promoting someone else’s product, service or program.
Maybe it’s a subscription box you absolutely adore, or a course you took that changed your life, or a product you can’t imagine living without.
You genuinely LOVE these things and want to tell all your friends about it, but when it comes to your blog/social media/email list, you feel ashamed, salesy, and hesitate to talk too much about it for fear of turning people off.
Look, I get it; I’m not a fan of obnoxious, sleazy sales tactics either, nor do I use or promote them.
But here’s the thing: by sharing the incredible brands, products, or services you love that have changed your life for the better, you’re doing your audience a favor by telling them about it. They WANT to know what’s worked for you and get a trusted recommendation. They don’t have time to sort through the gazillions of options out there, which is why they’re turning to you for advice in the first place.
You are helping your readers by sharing about what you authentically love–and it’s more than okay to get paid for that service.
You see, it’s really a win-win-win for all involved:
- The person in your audience who buys the product/service/program is exposed to something helpful or beneficial they likely would not have known about otherwise;
- The brand or person who has the product/service/program is getting extra sales they probably wouldn’t have without your help, so is ultimately making more money and more impact–and thus happy to give away a cut of their profits for your marketing on their behalf;
- You (the affiliate) get to share helpful information and resources with your audience that will hopefully improve their lives, all while earning some money in the process. Yay!
So instead of inserting one affiliate link into a post hidden in the deep maze of your blog and crossing your fingers that it converts, you need to first shift your mindset (which we hopefully just addressed in point #1 above!) and then put together a real affiliate strategy: send a dedicated email to your list solely about this one item and why you love it so much; write a focused blog post about this thing and then share it on social media and Pinterest; do an Instagram story talking about it; research related SEO keywords and craft new content based on that… you get the idea!
Need proof that it works? In 2017, I was earning an average of just $1,005/month from affiliate marketing.
After implementing some of the ideas I just shared above (I go into WAYYYYY MORE detail about this in my course the Six-Figure Blog Academy), I earned an average of $5,714/month from affiliate marketing in 2018, and in 2019 my current average to date is $8,591/month. #itreallyworks
Blogging Mistake #3: Relying solely on influencer networks to get paid sponsored content gigs.
This one is HUGE.
To make sure we’re on the same page, let’s quickly define sponsored content. Sponsored content is content that resembles your blog’s editorial content, but is paid for by a brand/company/advertiser and intended to promote their product. A brand pays you an agreed-upon, fixed and guaranteed amount for you to promote their product on your blog.
I started Root + Revel in October 2015 and even though I barely had an audience, I started working with brands on sponsored content in my first year of blogging. In fact, in 2016 I had completed eight sponsored content campaigns, earning an average of $316.67 per blog post and $25 per Instagram post.
You gotta start somewhere, right?!
After working on these campaigns and experiencing growth with my blog, I knew that sponsored posts would be my best bet at making money from blogging in my second year.
By the end of 2017, I had completed 60 sponsored content campaigns + 8 Instagram-only posts, averaging $991 per blog post and $293.75 per Instagram post (totaling $53,883 for the year).
Come 2018, I was earning over $1,200 per sponsored content campaign.
And now, in 2019, my rate has jumped to $2,000 per sponsored content campaign.
So how did I do it?
Well, a lot of bloggers I see rely on Influencer Networks (like Social Fabric, Activate, Massive Sway, Acorn and others) to connect them with sponsored campaigns.
While this is a fantastic place for new bloggers to start, and can really help you get your feet wet in an unintimidating way, it’s not the only option, nor one I’ve used the last couple of years.
Why? You’re leaving A LOT of money on the table by not pitching brands directly. You are likely to earn FAR LESS through these third-party networks (they have to get their cut, so you don’t receive 100% of the payment), and you also usually have less say over the content, products, requirements, etc.
However, when you establish a direct relationship with a brand, it’s really a game changer; you can negotiate fees, requirements, story angles, product trades–anything you want! This means you can create content that’s more of a fit for your blog, all while making more money.
So how do you establish a direct relationship with a brand?
See some our tips in this post about how to work with brands on sponsored content.
If you want EXACT copies of real pitches I sent to brands–that actually work and landed paid sponsorships–get our Sponsored Content: 10 Pitches That Worked e-book here! I share examples across different niches, plus some notes from me about why it worked, and the fee I earned for the campaign (which will give you an idea of what kind of money you can expect to make from sponsored content at different stages in your blog). Don’t reinvent the wheel–get our tried and true pitches here!
We also get into all the nitty-gritty about sponsored content and other blog monetization strategies in my blogging course, the Six-Figure Blogging Academy! Sign up here to get notified when enrollment opens.