aka: is blogging really worth it
Before I even start, let me say that if you begin blogging because you are interested in making money or gaining notoriety, STOP. The chances of you becoming a 'mega blogger' who is raking in the dough are slim. The chances of you becoming an expert on tv, a go-to for newspapers, or writing a column for a magazine are slim. The chances of blogging becoming your full time job are very slim. It CAN happen, but I want to be realistic with you. There are very few 'mega bloggers' out there, for good reason. WRITE a blog because you have something to say or something to put out there...the rest will fall into place if it's meant to be.
That being said, blogging can bring AMAZING opportunities into your life, and that's what I want to focus on here. Where can blogging take you and what can you gain out of it? I thought I'd share some of my experiences with you:
1. Regular Contributor- For a few years, I had the fantastic opportunity of being a regular writer for Urbanmoms.ca. This site opened me up to a Canada-wide audience and also helped me focus my particular writing style. I was trapped in a cycle of reading 'major' bloggers and trying to emulate them, instead of just being myself. Writing for UrbanMoms provided me with the platform I needed to see what really worked with readers and what didn't ring true. Granted, everyone has their own opinion and your writing will never resonate with everyone, but this national writing opportunity was one that I will forever be grateful for. How did I get it? I wrote a guest post for UrbanMoms that was well received. As they were growing and adding new bloggers at that time, the founder asked me if I would consider writing a blog from a new mom perspective. The rest is history. Something to be said for right time, right place! One should know, however, that a regular contributor is often required to post a certain amount each week, and generally has 'guidelines' (some strict, some loose, depending on the site) to follow for their contributions. If you can get a regular contributor gig on a site you love (like I did with UrbanMoms), consider yourself VERY lucky!
2. Ghost Writer- I am a blog 'ghost writer'. I write blog posts for a few small business, some on a regular basis. I obviously cannot divulge which business I write for (not very ghosty!) but it has been a great experience for me. Although you can't take credit for what you write, there is something very satisfying about assisting a company in growing its social media presence. How did I get it? I was approached by a small business in the fitness industry who was looking to improve their social media presence. I had taken one of their classes and they had read my blog (I put my blog link at the bottom of all my personal emails- good thing to do as you never know who will read it!). From there, I have worked with a photography company and a few mom spaces. I don't advertise but rely on word of mouth.
3. Freelance Writer- Just because you blog does not mean you can write an article. I learned this the hard way. Throughout high school and university, I did some freelance work but had stopped when I started teaching full time. Once my blog gained a bit of momentum, I thought it was time to take my writing skills to the magazine/newspaper market. There are a plethora of smaller publications that rely on freelance writers to make up their content- especially in the parenting arena. It is not for the faint of heart though, and these small publications often have very young and inexperienced editors that can be hard to work with at times. Steady yourself and be willing to take criticism and you can really succeed. Remember, though, that the payment you receive for these articles is often quite nominal and you should focus on the experience that this freelance writing provides you, not the money you receive! How did I get it? I queried a local parenting magazine that is published monthly. I had an idea for a story, pitched it, and was given the green light to write it! That being said, when I was pregnant with William, I all but stopped writing as life majorly kicked my butt. Re-establishing contacts in the freelance world is HARD WORK, so I suggest that you not follow my lead in this regard. Always stay in touch with editors! Remember that you will likely be rejected quite a bit before you get any opportunities, so be prepared to persevere!
4. Advertising and/or Sponsored Posts- This is the way a lot of bloggers make their money, albeit a small amount. Should you reach a certain level with your blog, or fill a specific niche, selling advertising or writing sponsored posts (where you receive product/money in exchange for a review) is generally the next step. Not only does it generate income- anywhere from $25 to $200 a month, on average- it often gives the appearance that your blog is well read and well liked. How did I get it? I do not have advertising on my blog yet. This has been a personal choice. However, I have started to be approached as my blog numbers have grown and am considering the addition of advertising. That being said, I know many fantastic bloggers that sell advertising by approaching local business that fit into their niche and have had great success with this. I will occasionally do sponsored posts through PTPA Media or Mom Central. I am VERY CAREFUL that the advertising I do endorse is realistic. If I do not like a product or had a bad experience, I generally do not feature it or at the try least give the advertiser/sponsor a head-up. I'm not interesting in pimping my blog out to the highest bidder.
5. Partnership- Occasionally, a blogger will have the opportunity to partner with a larger blog, a site, or even a corporate sponsor. This is always an exciting venture as it allows you to work with someone who has a larger reach than you do, but generally allows you to maintain content control. How did I get it? After being chosen as a Circle Of Moms Top 25 Blogger, I received quite a few partnership offers, but the one I took up was with Savvymom.ca, which allows me to upload posts to their SavvyStories. It has generated great traffic for this site. It differs from being a 'regular contributor' as I only upload posts of my choosing, when I choose to do it. Obviously the more often you contribute the better, but if I don't blog for a week it's not a big deal! I don't always get paid for partnerships, but I think their value outweighs the potential money to be earned.
There are countless other ways that blogging can bring you financial gains (no matter how small) and/or success in other areas. Community managers, product tester, conference facilitator/speaker, travel writer, etc. Blogging opens doors. Sometimes you really have to work for those doors to be opened. Sometimes they open without so much as a knock from you. The key, in my very limited and humble experience, is to say YES to opportunities, to work for little to nothing just to get your name out there (but put in as much effort as you would if you were working for $1,000), and to LOVE what you do. It takes time to build a readership, time to find your niche, and time to find your voice.