A few months ago, I shared my first post in an ongoing series about my experience as a blogger. With nearly 4 years of blogging experience, I have so much to share on the topic. Over the years, I’ve appreciated tips from fellow bloggers and found their info incredibly useful and helpful in my blogging efforts. So whenever I can share experiences, I’m more than happy to! Of course, every blogger has a different experience / feelings on the topic, so please keep this in mind as you read this series.
I’m sure I can speak for the masses when I say the number one question I’m asked is about my blog income stream. Like my recent posts about transferring from blogger to wordpress, I’m more than happy to be transparent with numbers. When I first started blogging this answer was so elusive to me. I always hoped a well-known / popular blogger would just open the can of worms and tell us if it was worth it or not, how much money they made from sidebar sponsors / ads / sponsored posts / product reviews or what the going rate was or what I should be asking for.
But the fact was no one was sharing the true, hard numbers (still don’t totally understand why). And (in some circumstances, like product reviews or blog ad income) truth is your numbers will depend on how popular you are, how many page views you have, etc. By the way, there’s an actual formula which I will share at the end of this post. So that could possibly be why more bloggers don’t open up on this topic.
Let me quickly mention, I don’t claim to be a pro at this. I’m a happy student in this World…always reading and researching, and I learned a bit at the Haven Conference this summer as well.
Personally, let’s say I’m not retiring anytime soon from the blog income I receive. Is it amazing and incredible (and helpful to my bottom line) that I can possibly make money each month by simply writing about my passion topic? Yes, but please don’t be fooled – you have to work hard after your blog post is live to drive traffic to your content. It doesn’t simply happen by writing a post, clicking publish, then sitting back drinking pinot grigio and watching those dollar signs rain down. #iwish I’m sure I don’t make anything close to a full-time blogger. And I’m ok with that. While this blog is my happy escape / part of my business, it isn’t what I do as a full-time job. My passion is working with people to get organized and that’s what I do in real life. The bulk of my income is from working with clients, designing closets and spaces, speaking engagements, and some product photography / video work.
That said, I’m going to break down the income side of blogging into a few blog posts. Why? Because it’s too much to possibly cover in one sitting. Today I’m going to talk about sponsored posts and ad networks and give you my true, hard numbers. But soon I’ll write about affiliate income, product photography, sidebar sponsor ads, product reviews and giveaways. The topic of sponsored posts and blog ad income is a big one in and of itself. So let’s stick to that topic for this post! 😉
To clarify what a sponsored post is vs. blog ad income…
Sponsored Posts = A sponsored blog post is a post which you are paid to publish on your blog. It may be written by you or by the advertisers. I’ve written about this topic before (here) and it’s a great way to generate income to keep your blog lights on.
Blog Ads = A third party company / ad network (like Google Adsense) offers you the ability to put ads on your sidebar. (This is not a sidebar sponsor – that’s different.) Depending on page views / clicks on that ad and sometimes purchases made by clicking through that ad, you are paid a percentage. (This varies with each ad network as well as where you place the ad on your site.)
Those are my own simple definitions for each of those categories and hope we’re on the same page. Feel free to ask questions if you’re confused.
Earlier this year I started using Quickbooks to help run my small business accounting. For the last 5 months, I’ve been tracking all of my income / expense streams – the blog included. I did this for obvious reasons, but I was also running these numbers to find out if the sponsored posts / ads are worth it. Sponsored posts on Simply Organized are written by me, so that’s my time, which is precious to me. In terms of the blog ads, I wanted to know how much each network was paying me so I could decide if it was worth them making the move with me over to the new site. I want to keep the new site as clean as possible and wanted to keep a relationship with the networks that I felt were making the most of sitting on that sidebar. I’ll share more about my networks below.
Anyway, these are hard numbers I’m sharing today. Again, these won’t be as big as a full-time blogger because I work with clients and am not sitting behind my computer all day driving traffic to my site. Since April I’ve made the following:
Sponsored Posts = $820.00
Blog Ad Income = $671.65
Not too bad, right? Again, not retiring – but that’s a decent amount of money for doing a small amount of work. And keep in mind, this is only 5 months of tracking these numbers AND I haven’t done a whole bunch of work on the blog lately as the site was transferring and my work with clients has picked up. Basically, I’m saying there is a whole mess of opportunity here to increase this income…it’s a matter of choosing what’s important to you / your content / the look of your site.
So, let’s talk about my sponsored posts. All of that $820 came from sponsored posts shared with me by a company called Izea. If you’re looking to connect with companies that want to send product and pay you to write a review, start by checking out Izea or similar companies that do this type of connecting. Izea is the middle person between me and a company looking for a publisher (that’s you!) to write about their product. I do have companies that reach out to me directly which gives me more flexibility to negotiate. And in that case, I turn them into product reviews / giveaways instead of a sponsored post. There are many middle companies out there similar to Izea. I mention them specifically because I’ve worked with Izea for years and have a trusted relationship.
That $820 was for 5 sponsored posts over the last 5 months. My going rate for a sponsored post is $150 -$200 each. I came up with that number based on the amount of time it takes me to review the product, conceptualize a plan for using it, photographing and editing, writing the blog content and then promoting the post. As I mentioned in my post about sponsored posts, I’m very picky about what I choose to review and write about. I don’t do it simply for the check. The product has to be in line with my blog niche and if the product makes it to blog, it has to be something I believe in. I don’t promote something for the money. Could I use the extra income? Absolutely! But at the sake of irritating my readers and not being true to myself or my mission statement? No, thank you. I receive daily solicitations from companies that want me to review things like a tea detox program or some kind of software. Clearly, I can’t fit that into the organization / home improvement niche. While their product may be amazing and in my personal life I’d love to try it, I can’t honestly accept it based on the strict guidelines I’ve set up for my blog / business.
Some personal tips….Keep in mind that these are companies and this is your business / website. Personally, I enjoy and take pride in creating a deeper relationship with these companies and over-delivering when it comes to my writing, photography and promotion of their product. If it ends up on the blog, it means something to me. And in many cases I’ve created more business for myself with these companies by being more engaged and personal with them. Meaning, they come back again for additional work. For example, I have connected quite a few with my professional group, NAPO. It’s been a win-win for everyone involved and it also helps them to see I’m not this blogger-bot behind the computer that they think is just generating clicks their way. I see sponsored posts as a way to create stronger relationships and that is always a good thing in my line of work. So I’d encourage you to look at sponsored posts the same way.
Ad Network income…let’s take a look at my income break-down for the last 5 months in this category. I have a few networks plugged into the backend of the site:
Google Adsense = $224.92
Foxwood Media = $222.39
Viglink = $158.36
Rivit Media = $65.48
Those are the 4 main ad networks I receive income from – all of them are monthly deposits into my account, with the exception of Adsense. With Adsense you’re required to hit a $100 threshold before they send a payment. These 4 over the last 5 months totaled $671.65. Pretty decent for just having them sit on the blog. Could I make more? Sure. How would I do that? By placing more ads throughout the blog. As you can imagine, I don’t like clutter in person so I feel the same way about my blog / website. Ads aren’t pretty to me, especially when they’re flashing. When placing ads I keep in mind how I’d feel as a visitor. When I’ve been on site with too many, I immediately click away.
Ads are paid based on factors determined by each network. Some you’ll get paid by visitors just scrolling past the ad on your site, while others pay you if someone clicks through or purchases something. Ads are also customized to the user visiting your site. You’re able to manage what kind of ads will show up – for me I make sure there’s nothing offensive to my readers / their children. But once the user is on your blog, the ad they see is typically customized to them. For example, most times when I end up on another blog with ads, The Container Store will pop up in that little ad square. Of course it does, because most of my time online is spent researching product for clients. So it makes sense The Container Store would pop up for me. 🙂
At Haven I learned about 2 companies that essentially manage all the networks you belong to, should you belong to several. The Blogger Network is one and the other is called Adthrive. I haven’t investigated either, but wanted to pass the names along in case you’re interested.
Finally, just a tip from me to you – keep in mind that ads cause people to click away from your site. That’s their mission. So be careful to not make it too enticing for someone to leave your blog…the point is to have a happy balance of you getting a little income, the company getting a little visibility, but most importantly your blog visitor staying on your site to read your content.
Earlier in this post I mentioned a formula for coming up with your sponsored post rate. Of course, this formula will differ from each blogger you ask. Personally, since I’m a professional organizer by trade, I keep my hourly rate and expertise in mind. But this formula seems to be the general idea heard from most bloggers I know:
Number of page views + Number of twitter followers ÷ page rank number x $ .01 ÷ 2 = your approximate sponsored post rate.
I know, confusing!
Basically, calculate a formula that make sense to you using this as your guide. For example, if Instagram is your platform of choice, choose that number of followers. But then keep in mind some companies working with you may not have a presence on IG and may want you to promote them over Twitter or Facebook. What you definitely want to keep in mind when calculating is how many page views you have per month along with what your hourly rate is. Sponsored posts take a lot of time. Don’t undersell yourself. Early on in my blogging career I was taking posts for $25-50 and the time invested was more like $500! I was so frustrated at the end. It’s all a part of the learning process and when you’re starting out, it’s good to take a solid sponsored post in order to gain the experience.
Follow your gut, you can’t go wrong!
I hope this was helpful! Again, I’m always happy to answer questions or have a dialogue in the comment section. And I’d love to hear about your experience with these 2 income streams. Have a good day everyone!