"Wait, you can make money through blogging?"
"You do this for living?"
"Wait, so this is your full-time job?!"
Uh, so how many times do I have to tell you "yes" for you to actually believe me?! Yes, yes, and yes!
And yep, that pretty much summarizes a typical conversation that I have with various people when they ask me about my career as a full-time blogger - I kid you not. Since this is such a popular topic that I'm frequently asked about by both peers and strangers, I wanted to shine a little insight regarding how I monetize through my Instagram and blog. This blog post is meant to HELP and ENCOURAGE those of you who are interested in monetizing your Instagram or blog on a professional level. It's definitely a possible feat to turn blogging into your full-time career, but you have to remember that it's not all fun and games like you may think - I'll get to that story in the next paragraph.
First off, let me make one thing very clear. If you're not willing to put in the heart and the hustle or if you prioritize feelings of instant gratification over long-term results, you're better off finding a different job than pursuing full-time blogging. In contrast to society's popular belief, blogging is NOT easy, nor is it fun all the damn time. Like with any other job, there comes responsibilities, deadlines, and tasks that you must complete within a certain time frame. At the end of the day, only a few can really survive this super saturated and competitive industry because they have the ambition and determination to make things work when the results aren't showing up quick enough.
If the previous paragraph didn't scare you off already, then let's get started with this detailed step-by-step guide on how I personally monetize through Instagram and blogging! This post was created to show you how I feed my bank account every month all the while encouraging you passionate creatives to make Instagram and blogging your next part-time or full-time hustle if you're ready for the challenge! Ready, set, let's go!
1. Approach companies with a mutually beneficial proposal.
As an active fashion and lifestyle blogger for three years and counting, I've grown and seen it all. I've witnessed bloggers reach out to companies, only to put themselves first as a priority and not giving a crap about the companies. So ask yourself this - why would companies want to work with someone who is selfish about their own needs? Exactly.
First and foremost, you should work with a company because you actually admire and support their work or mission statement and not because you want to make it rain in dollar bills or products. You'll learn sooner or later that working with incompatible companies will bite you in the ass later, as they may want to create a long-term partnership with you. Eventually, this incompatible long-term partnership will end up jeopardizing your brand name if your aesthetics and style don't align well with this company.
If I ever reach out to a company, it's because I truly WANT to work with this company and I WANT to create content that will help better their brand image and marketing. Also, I make sure to approach the company in a very friendly and professional manner, share a little bit of background information about myself, my analytics and media kit, and what services I can offer to them.
When a company sees that you truly care about their brand mission, they are more likely willing to work with you. However, if you talk to a company in a way where you look like you'd work with just about anybody, you come across as a complete turn-off and you're more likely to experience a higher rejection rate.
Long story short, work with companies who only add value to your brand and personality, and vice versa.
2. In your proposal, create package deals that a company can choose from.
When you dine in at a restaurant, you always want to look at the menu for various options to choose from, right? The same goes with collaboration proposals. Companies enjoy seeing what you have to offer, why you offer these select services, and how your services will benefit their brand.
Personally, I enjoy creating 1-5 package deals ranging from sponsored Instagram posts to Instastory features to Instagram and Facebook giveaways to YouTube videos and more. The possibilities are endless, so be sure to get creative with it and provide them with a few project ideas to choose from!
3. Send me a contract or it didn't happen.
You know the saying, "pics or it didn't happen". The same shit applies here. Contracts are a MUST when it comes to paid collaborations, or any collaboration in general. A formal written agreement ensures that no party screw the other over, whether it's the company or the influencer who's not keeping their word.
With that being said, let me share a previous story of how a company tried to take advantage of my work due to the absence of a contract. We exchanged emails going over various prices and collaboration ideas. Because I didn't have a contract, he "argued" that he didn't understand the collaboration agreement and that I should post for their company for free. In other words, any collaboration without a contract agreement can lead to total manipulation. Eventually, I ended up getting paid for my work, but it took a lot of unnecessary back-and-forth emails that I could have avoided if we had a signed contract to begin with.
Honestly, don't make your contract look like complete shit, but it doesn't have to look like a presidential document either. Below, I've included a few important points that you should include in your contract:
- what services you will be offering to the client
- the price of the services you offer (if applicable) & method of payment
- the payment amount (if applicable)
- the deadline of the collaboration
- your business name and the client's business name (don't forget SIGNATURES and DATES!)
After signing under the dotted line, your collaboration is sealed. You're welcome.
4. Follow-ups are important!
Following up with a company after publishing a sponsored post is as important as following up after a job interview. Whenever I publish a sponsored post, I email the client right away with the respective links of my posts and confirm with them when the payment will process. And don't be afraid to ask for payment - you're doing your fair share of the work so you deserve to be paid! Also, if a client doesn't get back to you in a few days, follow up again! I've learned that a lot of employees just happen to be on business trips or experience a "lost in the mail" moment, but most of the ones that I've followed up with truly appreciate the gesture!
5. Establishing a long-term relationship with the company (if desired).
If this is the type of company where a long-term relationship can be fostered, I would almost always jump at the opportunity to create a strong connection with a company that I wholeheartedly support. However, you have to make sure that continuing a (monthly) collaboration also has to make sense on the company's terms. If you're promoting a winter wear company, it would only make sense to promote this client during the winter and not during the summer, right? All in all, the time/season and frequency that you partner with a company truly matters and may negatively affect the reputation of your brand if done incorrectly.
If you had a great time working with a company (I mean at least I hope you did!), be sure to share this positive note with them! Tell the company how much you enjoyed working with them and if they'd be interested in a long-term partnership. If anything, the worst they can do is turn you down or postpone a potential collaboration to a later date in the future. Whenever I am able to work with a company more than once, it brings a warm fuzzy feeling to my heart because it makes me realize that I've built a professional and genuine relationship with the client all the while staying true to myself and my brand name.
The last topic I wanted to discuss was the use of the popular hashtags #sponsored or #ad.
A question I get asked frequently by both followers and influencers is...
"Are you getting paid if you add #sponsored or #ad at the end of your caption?"
The answer is yes and no. I'll go over more precise details of when to use these hashtags below based on my personal experience.
When to use #sponsored & #ad:
1) Campaign Guidelines
You must hashtag #sponsored or #ad if a brand's campaign guidelines specify that you must include these hashtags on your social media posts. It doesn't matter if the campaign is paid or not; if it's specified, you have to use it.
2) Receiving payment from a client.
Even if the client does not tell you to do so, just include one of the above hashtags yourself. It's like putting your name on the top right hand corner of your assignment - it should be naturally done. Also, if I heard correctly, I believe it is against the law to not include one of these hashtags if you're being paid for a sponsored post. If you're getting paid for your post, do remember to include #ad or #sponsored at the end of your caption. After all, it's better to be safe than sorry!
Whew, now that was a mouthful of the financial side of my career in one post! If you guys enjoy reading more informative and finance related posts like these, please click the heart button at the bottom of this post and leave a comment on what topic you'd like to read next! Thanks for reading, and I'll talk to y'all next week!