I recently went to an event, HGTV Block Party and spoke on a panel. This was my first experience speaking on a panel about Nesting with Grace. I was eager to do it because I am happy to share any in-sight I can. I am that person that questions everything. And I want to know what is really going on behind the scenes. I thought I would share the questions I was asked at this event and elaborate on my answers. This will shed some light on what I do to make money and if bloggers really do make money? And HOW do bloggers make money? And if you are interested in blogging hopefully it will be a tool for you.
First let me say I have been blogging for about four years now, the first year I was not very consistent. This past year and a half I really committed to blogging 3-4 times a week for my content to grow. The thing with blogging is the more content you have the more people will be on your blog! With Pinterest people are always searching for things and they could come across a photo of mine while they are searching for the answer to life’s biggest question and then find my blog! Or maybe just searching for Small Space Living Ideas or Home Decor ideas, either way they hopefully find me!
I want to preface this with this is MY experience with blogging and making money. Not every experience or journey is the same.
Q- Can you REALLY make money blogging?
YES! You really can. I make a full-time income on my blog. The more time and money I invest into my blog, the more it grows. That really goes for anything in life- good things require work. Life is an echo. What you reap you sow. If the passion and desire is there, it can happen. I started to make a decent income after about a year and a half of blogging. That was putting out a new bog post out on average 12 times a month. I also had a strong instagram following that did help to get me there a little quicker, which I grew by consistently putting out content. I was making a small amount of money off of my blog, maybe on average $1000 a month before that year and a half mark.
Where I make my money blogging-
Making Money Blogging with Sponsored Posts-
I work directly with brands and agencies on brand collaboration. If you read my blog you know that I only take sponsored posts if it is something that feels authentic to me and something I would actually purchase or was planning on purchasing. I love sponsored posts because I put a lot of thought, creativity into those posts (as I do with all my posts). But with sponsored posts I will spend my personal money, just not what the brand is paying me to make it even better. And sponsored posts are typically projects that we need the push to do. For instance, with our garden, it was a sponsored post by Iron Craft, meaning they paid us to share their product and send us the fence. We made-over our shed because it would be seen with the garden and we added some extra DIY details. Payment on sponsored posts is ALL over. I think you have to decide what you are willing to get paid for the work and the reach you have. An average of what I charge for a sponsored blog post and social shares is about 2% of my readers, depending on the scope of work it could be more.
I had someone once say, “oh I was excited about this post until I saw the word sponsored”. If she really was an avid reader she would know that “sponsored” really means nothing to her as a reader. It would make zero sense for me to take on a collaboration that my readers wouldn’t be interested in reading, the purpose is to get readers to read what I am sharing and enjoy it. I turn down a lot of sponsored post pitches because it doesn’t fit with my brand.
I have reached out to brands before. I have a media kit that I created myself, just basic of my monthly stats etc. I find a contact for social media and pitch my idea. What it is NOT is “I need a new sofa” and I want you to send it to me and pay me this much. What it IS is “I have this idea that would be great for your brand because…” and I would love to work with you! Then you talk rates after that. And sometimes there is no rate, it is just getting your foot in the door! And you work for trade for that first post if it is a brand you want an on-going partnership with!
Making Money Blogging with Ads-
I was able to get ads put onto my blog when I had over 100k page views to my blog a month. I work with Ad Thrive. And they are awesome to handle it all. I will give you an idea that you can make about 1-2% off of ad’s based on what your page views are a month. My page views average a million a month. There are other resources to put ads on your blog before you hit 100k, I know many who use Mediavine.
Making Money Blogging with Affiliate Sales-
I work with Reward Style- the behind the scenes of the App- Like to Know it. This is where I can easily “link” product that I buy. This is a company that you have to get approved for to join based off your business. You can link things up on your own thru other affiliate sale networks or you can manually do it on your own with each brand. I love this way to share product with my readers. It is a win-win. It also saves me time, they have an easy linking process to get it to the blog. And it changes NOTHING for readers, you are not charged more from an affiliate link. My income varies from month to month but an example is on average I make 1%+ of my page views per month on affiliate sales.
Many of my readers know I make a commission if they purchase something from my blog, so they go out of their way to click on the link on my blog. Or they message me for the link that I shared earlier if they forgot it from Social Media. It helps to communicate that, but not be desperate. I know it will all come around and their is plenty of the drops of water in the ocean for everyone.
One of my most popular pages on my blog is “Shop my home” which is basically a mini home tour and “Shop my Favorite Things” that includes shop-able images of most things we have in our home and my our Favorite things (or something similar). To me that shows that my readers want access to the items I purchase and they want to find them easily.
I don’t work for product. If I want something I buy it. There is so much that is attached to that “free sofa” or “free pillow”- nothing is free and product doesn’t pay the bills. Meaning that free light could cost you 4 hours in writing a blog post and then sharing it across your social media platforms. BUT, big BUT… I have accepted free product if I was already going to buy it and I personally reached out to the company and we had a contract about what was expected for said free product. Just remember what your time is worth. And if you are trying to build up content and can’t afford to buy new things to finish the project then it might be worth it for you. It is all a learning process. Just make sure to talk about expectations.
To Make Money Blogging requires Spending Money-
I pay to have a server for my blog and someone to host my blog. I pay to have someone run the back-end of my blog. I pay someone to manage my Pinterest. I pay someone to manage my email subscribers in my awesome FB group. Basically I tell Kevin often “you have to spend money to make money”. Those words couldn’t be more true for blogging. I did not pay for all those things when I first started. As I grew I needed more help and still need to hire more help in order to grow.
How much time does blogging take?
Time on a blog post- I work about 6-8 hours a day. Just writing a blog post takes me about 5 hours. By the time I edit all my photos, make sure they have the right key-words (to be found when people are searching for a topic) write the post, link to everything on the post, write-up for my newsletter, plan out Social Media shares etc. it is a full day. PLUS all the previous work to do the actual project, take the photos etc. I think you get it. It is not a sit- back and let it happen job. But I can say I enjoy every step of it.
Hours I work- I work while Finn naps or if he is happily playing. He also does a few activities outside the home for a couple hours a few days a week. The girls do camps in the summer and head back to school soon. I also try to work when Kevin gets home early. Then stay up way too-late once kids are in bed.
How do you plan your content?
Basically from what my readers are asking for! Also blog posts are based off of projects we want to accomplish in our home, what friends and family are asking me about, holidays and seasons coming up and collaborations! At the start of every month I sit down and plan what I hope to share and accomplish for the month.
Blogging Q&A- From HGTV Block Party Panel
Q: Tell me about how you got into the influencer space? Did you always want to work in home styling and interior design?
We moved from UT to CT about three years ago where I left a design firm that I managed and bought for 17 years. Once we moved I needed to do something to keep my creative brain active and for my achiever personality. I knew I had a hard time just taking my 6 weeks of maternity leave with my daughters, I needed something. I kept thinking I wanted to start a blog but it seemed way too hard and too many things I knew nothing about. I didn’t even own a nice camera. I just didn’t know how to do any of it. You would think with my background in managing a design store I would. What I did know was I didn’t want to go to clients homes because I wanted to be able to stay home as much as possible with my young kids. And I was pretty burned out of working one-on-one with clients who over-thought and over-anyalized everything. I really wanted to be able to reach more! I was getting questions from friends and family about their home and recipes so I wanted a source to send them to for all I had to share.
I did have a blog spot page called Nesting with Grace back when everyone blogged and before FB. I refreshed it and dusted off the cobwebs and started blogging a little. I started my Instagram about the same time. I eventually bought the name “Nesting with Grace” and transferred over to wordpress.com, It was enough to make me want to quit. But I stuck with it and committed to blogging three times a week and that is when I started to grow. When I showed up more my readers showed up and new what to expect from me.
I have many amazing blogging friends that I reached out to with my questions. Find a tribe is one of my best tips. You can ask “who do you use for this?” “What do you do with that?” But be respectful of everyone’s time. My questions were a quick “hey who do you use to manage your Pinterest or do you do it yourself?” Not “where should I start?” Where to start is by getting a blogging book, listening to every podcast you can on the subject and searching on Pinterest!
Q: Brooke, with your extensive background in interior design, how did you transition from the structure of a design firm into blogging about your design tips for your family’s home?
I actually think they are really similar. I once helped design clients, managed designers and bought for the 6,000 square foot showroom that did millions in sales. The difference now is rather than helping one person with their space I can reach many at once. Empowering them to try recreating a look or try something new from something I shared. I like being about to help a lot more than just one person. We had a successful store because we listened to clients and customers coming into the store. I tried to anticipate their needs and the same goes for blogging. I love connecting with my readers and being an answer to their problem or offer a new way to love and appreciate any space they live in.
Q: Where is the future of the interiors industry heading, in your opinion? Where are you hoping to head with your brand and business?
I think the future is more empowerment and “Can-do” it yourself attitudes. You do not have to be a professional to style your home. There is so much eduction about home styling out there like “how to make a bed” or “how to mix fabrics” that really if any home owner wants to invest a little time they can design a home they love!
I personally hope for more video and education about styling, organizing and making a house a home. Maybe courses on styling or even a book.
Q: What advice would you give to someone interested in turning their love for content creation into a successful business, brand, and career? Anything you wish you knew when you started out.
Think of your friends and what do they keep coming to you for? What is your topic of conversation? What are they texting you advice on? That is your niche! That is what you should be sharing with everyone! I have a friend, lets call her Monica and no matter what I say about styling a home or a little tip I give her or show her she goes crazy over it! Like WHAT?? How did you do that? Now whenever I blog or talk in my stories I think of Monica! It helps me to be more detailed in my sharing! And reminds me that not everyone thinks the way I think or knows what I might have picked up along the way.
Also remember to share YOUR “Story” before consuming everyone else’s. I might go to write a blog post or go to share it to Instagram and get sucked into the rabbit hole. Then consumed too much and end up feeling less-than and that nobody cares what I have to say. Then I remind myself “Brooke you can consume AFTER you share YOU!” Our time is precious if we just keep consuming we won’t have time to reach our goals.
A nice camera and a camera class helps a lot if you are going for the “home decor” type of content. I use THIS Camera and took a $100 camera class at a local school put on by our town. OR pay or do trade with a friend to help you!
Remember only YOU think they way you think. There is enough space in this world for everyones ideas and opinions and there are people out there excited and needing to hear what YOU have to share. You might be the person that changes how they think of themselves or their space for the better.
Book- How to Blog for Profit (I read this book and it was helpful)
Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be (LOVED listening to this book, not just for bloggers)
You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life (tips on avoiding self-doubt, loved it)
The Women with Fire (love them, focused on living your purpose and tie it back to living God’s purpose for us, Loved episode #49 and #55)
Jennifer Allwood Show- Building Your Creative Business (not just for blogging, more about business)
The Life Coach School (amazing podcast about living your best life, very wise coach, she rocks )
Goal Digger (tips for women in Business and branding)
Bossgirl Creative (very detailed podcasts about different blogging topics, I like her interview series the most)
The Influencer Podcast (short podcasts about being an influencer)