Money + Blogging: No Shame in a Side Hustle

Hello, my dears! Today, I want to discuss a topic that I get asked about frequently. A topic that most bloggers avoid getting real with. Before you decide to quit your day job and photograph smoothie bowls for cash, I'm going to lay it all out.

I'm talking about money + blogging.

Benjamins, Hamiltons, paper, green, coin, dough, cash, etc.

No, this isn't something I feel awkward about. This is a topic that I touch on frequently, and I have no shame around it. In short, we live a happy life. Personally, we've been able to move into adulthood without too much struggle financially, and we acknowledge the privilege that exists in that statement alone. Before we dive in, I want to say how grateful we are for all of the opportunities we've been given, but that we've worked hard as fuck to get where we are, and were still going strong! Perfection is an illusion, and sometimes you have to hustle before you land in your dream career. 

I'm going to answer these FAQs with my personal experience. Some bloggers do things differently/have more energy to devote to partnering with brands and reaching out. I usually limit my collaborations to strictly brands I think my followers and readers will like.

How do you make money blogging?

I've experimented with several different ways to make money through blogging, and I've only stuck with two: affiliate links/programs and sponsored content. Occasionally, I've done podcast sponsors, but my turnaround with my interviews has to be lightening-fast most of the time to make their promotional deadlines, fill my weekly slot, etc. In short, I haven't established a system wherein I seal a deal with a brand, have all of my links set up, payments made, and the like in time for my episode to go live. I've also never landed a podcast client who didn't want to negotiate my fee. Enter: affiliate links and partnerships. These are excellent ways to make a few bucks here and there, but it's not nearly enough to pay the bills.

How much money do you make blogging?

It really depends. Sponsored posts and affiliate programs aren't always consistent, but it can range anywhere from $50-$600 a month. I know that's a huge range, but when it comes to paying the bills, even $600 wouldn't make that much of a dent. I think the most I've made in a month off of "blogging" has been $1400.

How do affiliate programs work?

Basically, by signing up to be an affiliate of a brand I'm agreeing to link/promote their product and in return I make a percentage of the sale. It depends on the brand, but with some of the links I've worked with, I'll sell $1000 worth of merchandise (through affiliate links) only receive around $50. Obviously, I'm super grateful for any profit I receive from merely suggesting a product or brand I believe in to my followers/readers. I mean, I do that shit anyway, why not make a couple cents off of it? That's kind of the jist of those programs.

You may have noticed some of your favorite bloggers have a carefully curated online shop of some of the products/programs they frequently recommend and blog about (I have one here as well). Typically, these links will take you through an affiliate link to the product page, where if you purchase it, they receive a small (I mean tiny) chunk. But hey! Anything helps!

Why did you stop your vintage shop?

This question always strikes a little chord in me. Sigh. For those of you who are new here, my husband and I used to run an online vintage shop called BlissBranch. We started it in 2014 and laid it to rest Summer 2016. I blogged in depth about why we made the change, but to sum it up, I was no longer buying vintage and I didn't feel right about selling it. I felt like if I wouldn't buy my own product, what was I doing?

It is kind of bittersweet on the financial side of things, as we brought in an average profit of $6k/month (also, it was both of our incomes, and we were living with bills that were less than $1000/month, so there's that), but we had to simplify our lives in some way to make room for new ventures. I had graduated from nutrition school, and Collin was passionate about focusing on music. I've considered doing it again, usually after I receive comments from you all saying how much you enjoyed it! I loved emailing back and forth with clients, and making these connections with women all over the world.

However, when I expressed my desire to give BlissBranch up one of my friends told me that if I did this, I had to let it die. Kill it for good. If you're reading this, you know who you are! So far, I've stuck with that commitment! ;)

You're also a musician. How do you make money as a musician, and how can I?

It's pretty simple. Unless you want to spend your year touring and living out of a van, I don't think you're going to have the best chance making significant money off of music. I suppose it depends on what type of music you play, if you want to play events like parties/weddings, and how much you have to gamble. Personally, we have two dogs, valuable things in our home, and we like alone time too much to travel with others. We've done it several times, and sometimes we really have enjoyed it, but we never end up (financially) on top. Oh, and if we were traveling in a vehicle with bunks, we shared one. (That may have jaded the experience for me a bit!)

We do make some money off of streams. Usually around $20-$50 a week, which is nice at the end of the month. As an artist, it really gives you perspective into what it's like for the musicians who make the music you listen to. It's pretty cool to think I'm supporting my favorite artists when I'm streaming their music on Spotify!

Do you make money 1:1 coaching? What else can you do as a Health Coach to make money?

When I have clients, yes. I currently don't have any 1:1 clients, but I'm looking forward to launching some new things this year for my ladies! I have several ladies who want coaching but would prefer a group coaching call/Facebook group setting for a smaller fee. If this sounds like something you'd be interested in, comment or send me an email! I've done coaching here in Nashville, and have fallen in love with connecting with clients in person. 

As far as other things one can do after they become certified as a Health Coach, the possibilities are pretty vast. You can focus on public speaking, raising awareness around the food industry, blogging (cough), podcasting, vlogging, you name it. 

Personally, I really would love to publish a cookbook. It's always been a dream of mine! Again, this wouldn't be an insanely profitable project, but it would be an incredible way to spread the word about my mind+body philosophy.

Do you have a real job, or do you just sit home all day?

LOL. This is probably my favorite question, because it couldn't be more spot on. Honestly, I wonder that about most bloggers I follow! 

Yes, I have a real job. In fact, I have several. I work as a social media manager for a company here in Nashville, and I also work a couple times a week at Scout's Barbershop as a receptionist. I have the best friends there -- an exceptional community of women, and the best clients on the planet. Sometimes I get yelled at by someone I told the wrong wait time to. Sometimes I get tipped for literally giving clients complimentary beverages. I fold laundry, I eat snacks, I answer phones. I always leave feeling better than I did going in. What can I say, I thrive IRL!

Hopefully, next month I'll begin teaching Buti Yoga at Hot Yoga East Nashville. That will be a dream come true! We've discussed doing a co-teaching class on Saturdays, and I'm nervous/very pumped.

Downsides of blogging/being present on social media? 

This question is actually something I get all the time, and I'm going to be real with y'all. There are two kinds of bloggers: the ones who obviously control how much you know and see about them, (keeping their professional life public and their personal life private) and then the ones who strive to share (most) all of themselves to prove they're normal people just like you. Despite the fact that I try to be genuine, vulnerable, and transparent 24/7, some people still perceive me as fake and annoying. 

Unfortunately, it's really easy to be snarky and jealous toward people who *appear* to have it all together. It's kind of unavoidable, especially if you're going to immerse yourself in social media. What's important is reminding yourself that whether they're a blogger, celebrity, or both: these people have problems, they take shits, pay bills, walk dogs, tie shoes, laugh, cry, hurt, and bleed just like you. When I receive comments regarding my body, my income, my marriage, my career, my animals, my family, my work, my recipes, my mental health, my place in this world, my originality, etc. ---- it fucking sucks. Sometimes I laugh, sometimes I cry. Sometimes I literally don't give a fuck.

The thing is, I tell the truth. I say how I'm feeling, when I'm feeling it. I'm not quiet about social or political issues. I'm not quiet about (most) personal issues. I'm not religious. I change my lifestyle frequently. I was vegan, now I'm not. I had an eating disorder when I was 17, now I don't. I blog about nourishing foods, and that's my version of intuitive eating. I make music and I make smoothies. I put (most) all of it out there and some people don't fucking like that.

Some people think it's fake, some people think it's annoying, some people think I'm orthorexic, some people think my husband is cheating on me, some people think I hate my in-laws, and the list goes on and on.

I do all of this and I'm a highly-sensitive person. I have boundaries with my followers, but they aren't to appease societal norms. I keep some stuff to myself just because I fucking feel like it. I also swear when I blog because I fucking feel like it. Some people don't like that.

ALL THIS TO SAY that if you get your feelings hurt easily, you may hate blogging. If taking up more space, spreading your light and your own personal voice leads to a few nasty comments, I say do it. It's worth it. It's so worth it, because for every one shitty comment, there's usually fifty supportive ones.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to take the plunge into blogging?

I'm going to preface this question by saying I started my first blog in 2012. It's only been five years, but this internet world has grown immensely. Don't let this intimidate you! Here's a list of my best nuggets of advice:

+ If you love blogs and read them everyday, start your own. You obviously enjoy them, and have plenty of inspiration.

+ Speaking of inspiration, always allow things to inspire you but don't copy someones bio verbatim and just change your name. This has happened to me and it's fucking creepy. Don't try to recreate the wheel. If you like the flow of someone's site, try using it as inspiration for your own.

+ Figure out what it is you're into before starting your blog. Lord knows I didn't do this, and an ever-evolving-blog just gets confusing. Be clear from the beginning whether it's food, lifestyle, fashion, etc.

+ If you're highly-sensitive, sit down and write what your boundaries are going to be. Stay consistent, whether it be not revealing the names of your children or your favorite vibrators. I don't know how open you want to be, but it's good to set your own guidelines.

+ If people are consistently making your mind up for you, speak up. I see this happen all the time, and it can be crippling. Ex. I was getting messages about how ignorant I was for supporting Buti yoga because it's obviously cultural appropriation duh. What did I do? I went to the fucking source and interviewed the founder, discussed her personal involvement in Native American tribes and how Buti is taught all across the world to all walks of life. I told them what I thought, and stopped letting them paint me a specific way. (Now, whether they give a shit if I'm honest or not, that's on them)

+ Post selfies sometimes. We want to see the beautiful face behind the work!

Thanks so much for checking out this post! If you like these advicey-swear-word-laden posts, let me know and I'll try to do more of them!

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