How I turned blogging into a career: How bloggers make money working with businesses

blogger working on laptop

I wrote a similar post to this a couple of years ago on my family lifestyle blog, but for the purpose of this business I thought it might be interesting to write something up for those who don’t know how blogging and influencer marketing works in terms of making money, and how bloggers work with brands and businesses.

I always get lots of questions about how I came to start blogging, what the point is, and what I actually do when it comes to making money from it.

Surely writing a family lifestyle blog is just a load of self-indulgent waffle?!

I’m sure it can be just that for some bloggers, and don’t get me wrong, it’s fabulous to be paid to write about exactly what you want, so in that respect it is VERY self-indulgent.

But for the past 5 years or so it’s become much, much more than that. Blogging now gives me a significant income alongside this business, and I’ve worked with some big brands and been able to give my family some fantastic experiences too.

But… *spoiler alert*

…In order to make money, bloggers and the like actually have to work very hard behind the scenes for their bread and butter. Sure, they don’t work hard in the way that, say, members of our fantastic NHS do, but there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.

If you’re a business owner who’s curious about working with bloggers and influencers, then read on, and I can tell you how the relationship works from the other side…

writing in notebook

So how did you begin blogging?

I started a couple of other (thankfully, now redundant!) blogs back in 2012, as a result of discovering and reading various US family blogs. Being a nosy sort, I love to read about other people’s lives, especially ones who live in different countries. I thought what a great idea it was to record family life online, and be creative with it in the process. I had bought my first DSLR camera when I was pregnant with my eldest son (now 8), and thought it would be a good way to hone my photography skills with a purpose. Having studied for a degree in Broadcast Journalism, I’ve always loved writing and connecting with others too. At the time I was a stay-at-home-mum to a baby and toddler, and whilst I was fortunate to have the luxury of staying at home with them, after a while I missed doing something for ‘me’ and decided to start my own blog to be creative. After a couple of duff attempts at setting up a half-decent one, and anxious about ‘oversharing’, I decided to start The Spirited Puddle Jumper (hence my blog’s whimsical name that still stands today) and write mainly about crafts and activities for toddlers and preschoolers. Many of which can still be found HERE and are still some of my most popular drivers of web traffic from my Pinterest page After a while I discovered a whole UK parent blogging community, and began chatting online and commenting on other blogs on an evening, joining in with many ‘linkies’ and blog photo and writing projects.

Me, have a geeky hobby? I didn’t know myself anymore!

On my blog I included my contact email address, mainly for other bloggers who might want to get in touch, but after a while I started to get small brands contact me to collaborate.

So what happened next?

I’ll never forget the first time a small business wanted me to review something! They dropped me an email and asked us if we’d like to review a personalised wooden chopping board, in exchange for photos of the product being used and our honest opinion of it. I was absolutely delighted! A business? Wanting little old me to review something? Amazing! And I still get that feeling now when someone contacts me, big or small, and I never, ever take it for granted. 6 years on, it still gives me a real buzz. Since then, the scale of items I’ve been asked to review has gone up and I’ve had some great opportunities, such as holidays and even sofas, but the principle has stayed the same.

So how do you get all this free stuff?

Let’s get one thing straight: IT’S NOT FREE!

Never, ever free – bloggers have to put in the work for these things. And the bigger the product/item/holiday, the more work you usually have to do. This can involve 1 (often more) detailed blog posts, social sharing, maybe hosting a giveaway, hosting twitter chats, maybe filming and editing a video…whatever is agreed with the brand at the time in return for said item and/or payment. And let’s face it, if a blogger blogs just to purely get ‘things’ then it’s probably not going to work out for them long term. You have to have (and maintain) a passion for writing and photo taking that goes beyond reviewing things, and you have to work really hard to maintain a social presence and write vaguely interesting and entertaining content, alongside all the lovely self-indulgent posts.

All whilst getting heard in an ever-increasing sea of digital noise.

Okay, so forget the not-so-free-stuff, how do you earn money?

There are various ways that people earn money from their blogs and social media, and here are the main ones…

  • Sponsored Posts
    • These are essentially an advertorial on the blog with a link back to a brand or company’s website. A brand will pay a blogger to write an interesting post that is relevant to their readers, and will include a link to website or page that they want publicised. I personally only take this on if I think the brand or product would be of interest to people reading my blog, and try and be as creative as possible with these posts so they remain interesting- keeps the brain ticking over! I ALWAYS state if I’m being paid for one of these posts by using #Ad or ‘in collaboration’, so as not to mislead readers. I also have an unwritten rule when it comes to these sorts of posts, and don’t accept money for, or write about anything that I consider ethically dubious i.e. high interest loan companies or sexual drugs like viagra (believe me, I’ve been asked!)
  • Guest Posts
    • Bloggers sometimes accept paid ‘guest posts’ written by brands themselves, who then pay the blogger to host them on their blogs in return for a link to their site (helps with business’ SEO).
  • Social Sharing
    • Sometimes a brand will contact me and pay me to take a picture of something that they want advertising, and then place it on my social channels. Whilst I’m relatively small-fry when it comes to Instagram, some people now earn BIG when it comes to working with brands and showcasing services and products on this platform.
  • Long term Campaigns/Large one-off Campaigns
    • Many brands and companies have now realised the value and influence of bloggers and vloggers, and many have increased their budgets accordingly, meaning there is more money to be earned from longer-term collaborations, or larger one-off campaigns. In the past I’ve worked with a few brands on year-long contracts, and my earnings have varied depending on how many blogs, vlogs and social shares they wanted from me. You usually get paid 50% on signing, and can then expect the other 50% of earnings when the year is up and the project completed.

How do brands decide who to work with?

With my digital marketeer’s head on, brands often work with bloggers who have a decent social presence (although it’s not all about numbers) and something to say for themselves (without mouthing off about other companies and why they’re rubbish- I’ve unbelievably seen this several times from bloggers who are touting for work in the same breath).

A good DA (domain authority) is appealing although not the be-all-and-end-all, possibly a certain number of blog visitors/page views each month (although I have to say that interestingly I’ve rarely been asked for mine), a great attitude and being polite on the initial email contact will also get a blogger far.

Superficially, brands also tend to favour blogs that look ‘clean’, fairly stylish and are easy to read. And of course, different brands are also looking for totally different things when it comes to a blogger or blogging family. For example, I was one of 4 bloggers who got to sign with Little Tikes for a year in 2017, as I happened to be 4 months pregnant when they were looking for blogging mums-to-be who were at that stage of pregnancy.

I have also regularly pitched to brands for work, or if there’s something specific I’d like to review that I think would be a good fit for the company, my blog and my family. I try to offer them something worth their while in terms of a creative blog post idea or social campaign, and the more specific I am with my idea, the more success I seem to have! I pitched to The Great Little Trading Co a couple of years ago for the children to review their lovely play shop and theatre, as our cardboard one had broken after only a short amount of use. They liked my ideas, and subsequently went on to create a ‘Testing Team’ of bloggers, including our family, that is still going strong today.

So that’s it, that’s how blogging can be made into a career and how bloggers often work with businesses.

Not every blogger who earns will have had the same kind of journey as me, and there are also some other ways to make money blogging (affiliate links, side bar ads etc), but this is what’s worked for me, and how I’ve got to this point.

If you’ve got any questions about working with bloggers, vloggers or influencers please do leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to answer them!