Real Talk: Money & Blogging/Instagram

making money from blogging

I started blogging back in 2012, documenting my London Marathon training and trying to coerce friends and family into sponsoring me. I didn’t even know you could make money as a blogger. And the word ‘influencer’ hadn’t been thrown around willy nilly like confetti at a wedding.

I definitely wouldn’t have gone into blogging for the cash. Because although I do make money from it now, there were years and years when I spent far more on my blog than I made from it.

However, I’ve been asked to do an honest post about money and blogging/instagramming so here it is… (note, this post was originally published in 2018 but has been updated for 2022!) 

I’m not going to dive in to what I actually charge. Partly because I don’t have a flat rate (I work with brands on short term/long term collabs and will negotiate a rate that both the brand and I are happy with), and partly because I don’t ask what my friends earn at dinner parties – however, I do wish there was more transparency between influencers and I’m always really grateful when those I know share their thoughts/rates if I ever ask! 

With that said, I will share a little on how I work with brands, and some rates that Later published in a report from a few years ago.

income streams for bloggers

Real Talk: Money & Blogging/Instagram

How to make money from Blogging and Social Media 

I feel so lucky to make cash from blogging and instagram – it allowed me to go back to university without having to get a ‘normal’ part-time job. And more recently, has allowed me to drop my hours at the hospital in my job as a Dietitian. And I am totally aware that it is thanks to all of you guys that I can do this (so thank you SOO much!). It’s really can be full-time job. But for the most part, a very enjoyable one.

Do brands pay? 

By now most brands are more aware of influencer marketing and how it works, and not only this, but they are now dedicating budget to work with influencers. I remember listening to an Instagram live with Teri from aFoodieStaysFit share that she has something like 17 different sources of income in terms of her blog, instagram, and other business areas. I was shocked – and it’s made me start to think about my own business strategy going forward. 

Here’s how I make money from my social media/blog (for now…)  

Sponsored Posts

The main way I make money is through sponsored Instagram posts and blogs. Brands will usually email me or DM me directly. Although occasionally I get work through influencer platforms.

I get paid by the brand to test out and share my thoughts on the product in a way that hopefully resonates with you guys, the readers. If a product is not good enough to share, I simply won’t. And I’m always honest in my reviews. I NEVER post pre-written content. However, in most cases, the brand asks to see the post before I publish. I always retain creative control and have actually pulled the plug on collaborations when they wanted to use wording or push something I didn’t stand behind. And I always try to prioritise what feels natural to me to talk about on here. What I think followers will like and companies I respect.

I won’t promote something I don’t like. And always ask to try a product before agreeing to work with a brand on a project. And will showcase the positives and negatives in any review (like this recent Hoka Carbon X3 review). 

Brand Content Creation

More recently I’ve also been creating content such as recipes, nutrition tips, nutritional advice etc for brands to use on their own channels. For example this collaboration with Mash Direct, the sponsors of the Belfast Marathon. 

Affiliate links

When I love a product and there’s a good affiliate link (I use LiketoKnowIt), I will use it on my blog and social media. Affiliate links can make a couple of pennies to £10+ per purchase through the link for bigger, more expensive items. (I would imagine that fashion bloggers can make a lot of money through affiliate links). It doesn’t cost you any more to purchase through an affiliate link but is a great way to support content creators. And shows brands what kind of content & product the readers/followers want! 

Ads

I used to use Mode for Ads on my blog until they went bust. And now I don’t have any, although I am looking at some other options. I know that they’re big for YouTubers but they aren’t something I like too many of on blogs because they can make it so difficult to read on a phone! 

Ambassadorships/event attendance

Usually when I work with brands on an event, race or ambassadorship, it’s along the lines of a sponsored post. And I’ll create a certain amount of content in exchange for a trip or payment. Ambassadorships tend to be longer term partnerships with brands that pay less per post than I’d usually charge. But are mutually beneficial and I love working with brands in this way. It has to be said that many brands do not pay for ambassadorships or event attendance. And will give product in exchange for the collaborations.

Podcast

During lockdown I launched and published two series of the Cook Eat Run Podcast. And I was grateful to gain sponsors for both series to enable me to pay someone to edit them for me. I broke even on the podcast. There are plans for the podcast to come back this Summer. So send me a email, DM or leave a comment below for any topics you’d like covered! 

My Book

It was amazing to write a cookbook in 2019 (although I’m not sure it could have been published at a worse time as all races were cancelled in 2020!) These are available to purchase online and in book stores, but also directly from my website here on my shop page. When you purchase directly from me on the blog, I get the ££ minus postage/packing. I was paid an advance while writing the book which went towards my time and ingredients to create the recipes.

If you haven’t got a copy yet, why not download three of my favourite recipes from the book to try.

making money from blogging

Spending/Outgoings 

It should be noted that I am terrible with money, I can be a bit of a shopaholic although I tend to spend on travel, running kit and Pret coffees. I see the travel as investment into myself. And reinvest a lot of the money I make on my blog back into the website & IG. 

I pay Phil, my photographer for any videos and photographs he takes, this is probably my main expense for the blog aside from taxes, travel (and more recently, some SEO help) Now that I don’t live in London, it can rack up going to events, races or shoots in town and I’ve tried to say ‘no’ to a few more evening events to save on travel time and money.

On top of those expenses, I also have the costs of running the blog, such as hosting platform, domain name, troubleshooting when things go wrong in the backend (that cost me a LOT of money in 2021 when I had a hacking issues for months!), and website bits and bobs.

Photography has to be my number one blog investment.

And something I’d recommend to anyone who wants to take their blog to the next level. Whether that is working with a photographer, photography student or taking a course to improve their own skills. I think improving my photos helped me work with more brands, push up my rates and generally have a more professional look.

More recently I paid someone to redesign and organise my blog and another company to help with my SEO – an area I know nothing about.

I’m also considering taking a course to learn more about the business side of things including sales and marketing. 

making money from blogging

Influencer Management

I know a lot of influencers work with great management teams, however sadly my experience wasn’t an altogether pleasant one…

I tried working with a management team who approached me at the back end of 2017. It all seemed a bit too good to be true, and after getting me one really well paid job, (which incidentally, I wasn’t paid for until 5 months later), they seemed to stop doing the graft work of getting jobs, and relied on the contacts that I was bringing in – and taking their cut from those contracts. On top of that, they actually just added more work to jobs. Rather than cutting down the to/fro of emailing with a brand, I now just had extra communications with my management who would then report back to the brand. Not only that, but I heard after cutting ties with them that they were quite rude and difficult to work with from PR friends! 

making money from blogging

Please let me know if there are any other questions that you have that you want answered….leave a comment below or DM me on instagram!

Photos by Anna Jackson taken at Rancho La Puerta 

7 Comments

  1. August 11, 2018 / 6:07 am

    Hi Charlie, thanks for posting such an honest and informative post about money and blogging. I’ve made lots of links with companies, collaborated on some campaigns and had my fair share of products etc, but that next step of earning actual money does seem to be one that I’m finding more difficult! It’s interesting too to read your advice about photography and I will be taking that on board!

    • charlotte
      August 16, 2018 / 4:05 pm

      I’m so glad you found it helpful!

  2. August 12, 2018 / 7:39 am

    Thanks for sharing this Charlie – it’s great to hear how other people do it too. It’s especially interesting to hear about your experiences with management – it’s been something that we have considered in the past but had been worried about. I don’t think we’ll bother!

    • charlotte
      August 16, 2018 / 4:04 pm

      Happy to chat through my experience in more detail via email 🙂

  3. Heidi
    August 13, 2018 / 5:15 am

    I am just wondering if you consider receiving products for free “sponsorship”, even if you are not getting paid to talk about that product? I’ve noticed that a lot of bloggers say that posts aren’t sponsored but they received the goods being discussed at no cost, and sometimes even travel & accommodation. In my mind, if you didn’t pay for something and you’re talking about it on the blog, it’s a form of sponsorship whether you get paid additional money or not.

    • charlotte
      August 16, 2018 / 4:04 pm

      I generally don’t unless the agreement is a post in exchange for a product. For example, I’ve been given the PT course and therefore I would call it sponsorship and acknowledge this as the agreement is that I’ll share my experience. However I wouldn’t if it was an energy bar – and usually I don’t guarantee posting about items that I’ve been sent. It depends on monetary value too!

  4. charlotte
    August 16, 2018 / 4:03 pm

    I generally don’t unless the agreement is a post in exchange for a product. For example, I’ve been given the PT course and therefore I would call it sponsorship and acknowledge this as the agreement is that I’ll share my experience. However I wouldn’t if it was an energy bar – and usually I don’t guarantee posting about items that I’ve been sent. It depends on monetary value too!

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