As often as people say blogging is a dying industry or whatever, I feel like I get a new email every day from a reader eager to start a blog and it makes me so happy! I started my blog as a senior in high school with so many worries, always scared that I was going to make a mistake that would doom my blogging career forever. What if I’m not on the right platform?? Do I need a separate Twitter account?? Am I posting too much, or too little???
I get those same questions from new or aspiring bloggers all the time, so it’s obvious this is a pretty common feeling. But I promise, starting a blog really isn’t as scary as you might think it is! In reality (as harsh as it sounds), no one really cares if you started on Blogger and switched to WordPress a week later, or if you started using a new Instagram filter, or if you changed your sponsored post rate three times in one day. I’ve changed my blog’s name three times, gone through countless themes, and still don’t really know what I’m doing on Instagram, and it’s been like 3 years.
I wanted to make this post a round-up of all the questions I get asked most often, no matter how minor or simple they sound. I’m also trying to be super transparent about all this stuff, so I apologize in advance if any of the advice sounds too harsh! And ask more in the comments if you don’t see yours answered here!
should I start my blog on *insert platform*?
Here’s my spiel on blogging platforms:
The platform you start on depends entirely on your needs, so it might be different than what you see everyone else starting on, and that’s okay. I get this question a lot without any details about what the person’s blogging goals are, or what their budget is, and those are the things that matter. I wrote this post on choosing between all the major blogging platforms out there with the pros and cons of each, so read that and leave a comment here if you have any specific questions about them!
should I already have posts written up before I launch my blog?
If you already have a social following and an audience to advertise your launch to, then I would definitely recommend getting some posts done so your first readers have something to, well, read!
Most new bloggers don’t have that social presence yet though, so “launching” is more for yourself than anyone else. I don’t really have a specific day I’d say I started my blog on. I just started posting for myself and eventually shared those posts on social media, and I don’t regret not planning it out more!
I think setting up a ton of hype around a launch date without an audience to launch to can lead to some bad, misplaced feelings if your blog doesn’t get as many views on that day as you’d hoped for. It honestly just takes time to develop that readership, so you can’t expect 100 views on your first day without a lot of luck or stressful planning!
Personally, I recommend that you just start writing, interact with other bloggers (on their blogs and social accounts), and make use of any “new blogger” threads in Facebook groups like the InfluenceHer Collective. Share about your posts on social media, even if you only have a few followers, but make sure you’re mixing in lots of posts that aren’t about your blog too. Eventually readers will find you, and you’ll know they did for all the right reasons!
how often should I post?
This depends on how quickly you’re trying to grow your blog. If you’re eager to start making money and growing your following, you should post several times a week. If you’re just blogging for fun, there’s really no need to post that often unless you want to!
When I was in the “growing my blog” stage, I posted 3-4 times a week. Eventually I got burned out from that schedule, and for a while I only posted a few times a month (at most). I’m slowly getting out of that stage and trying to post a couple times a week, but I’m glad I took the time to focus on myself and let the hard work I’d done years ago pay off while I took time away!
when can I start making money?
To be completely honest, based on my experience and what I’ve read from bloggers similar to me, you shouldn’t expect to make much money until you’re getting a few thousand views a month. Most of the ways you’ll eventually make money will be based on your blog’s statistics, and some may even take how long you’ve been blogging into consideration.
However, you can start setting up a foundation and strategizing ways to make money as soon as you want! I wrote this extremely detailed, maybe overwhelming post about all the most common ways to make money blogging, but here’s a shorter version geared towards new bloggers:
When placed in your blog posts, these links will earn you money if a reader clicks on and purchases a product through them. Because you need readers to click on them to make any money, you shouldn’t expect more than a few cents (if any) until you’re getting a few thousand views a month. You can start including them in posts whenever you want though, so you don’t need to wait until you have higher numbers!
One of the more fun ways to make money blogging is working with brands, either directly or through influencer networks. This method is pretty dependent on your statistics because part of your value is in your numbers, and brands are willing to pay more to have their products shared about on blogs with more page views.
I would recommend signing up for any influencer networks that you meet the minimum page views for (some don’t even have a minimum), learning about what brands want, and applying for campaigns that fit your blog’s theme. You might not get accepted to any, but that should be expected until your numbers are higher! You can learn about my favorite networks here.
I don’t have a ton of experience with reaching out to brands directly, but I imagine it’s harder to pitch yourself if you don’t have many views or previously written sponsored content to show them. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try, but I want to be totally transparent with this and make sure you understand the reality of getting sponsored!
Like affiliate links, you can start placing ads on your blog whenever you want. I use Google AdSense, and even with over 100,000 page views a month I still only make around $100. I haven’t exactly put much effort into strategizing a good advertising plan, but even being generous, that comes out to less than one cent per view.
You shouldn’t expect to make much at all with ads unless you have a ton of page views, so I wouldn’t recommend placing ads on your blog until you reach that point. A few cents isn’t worth messing up your blog’s beautiful design!
I personally didn’t start making money until a year after I started my blog, and honestly, I didn’t even know you could. I just wrote because it was fun, and that year helped me decide what I really loved writing about. Eventually I found my niche, and had a lot of genuine, quality content in my portfolio for brands to look at.
Don’t stress about making money too early on, because it really just takes time! Focus on creating great content, building up an engaging audience, and figuring out what you love to write about, and eventually the foundation you built will help you land some awesome opportunities.
when can I start charging brands for posts instead of just getting free product?
This really depends on where your followers are, how engaged they are, and as always, what your statistics look like.
For example, you could be getting 500 views a month on your blog but have 10,000 followers on Instagram, and I would definitely recommend charging for an Insta post.
That’s not usually where bloggers start though, so assuming you’re starting from 0 followers everywhere, you want to look at your total audience and their engagement with your blog and social media.
The “general” rule of thumb is to charge $100 for every 10,000 page views per month your blog gets. This would usually include a full blog post and maybe some social shares. However, if you also have over 1,000 followers on Instagram, I would consider charging extra for an Instagram post (maybe $50 or more).
I consider Instagram to be a pretty exclusive space, meaning I won’t put up a sponsored picture if it doesn’t match my feed or relate to my followers. I have a little over 1,000 followers there, and charge $100 for an Instagram add-on. This means I don’t necessarily get as many sponsored Instagram opportunities as I could if my fee was just free product, but in exchange my feed is more genuine and my followers get the content they followed me for!
Okay, back to blog posts.
I think you should start charging when you feel like the amount of work you’re putting into a post and the overall value of your blog are worth more than, say, a $15 shampoo. This might be at 3,000 views a month or 10,000 views, it’s different for every blogger.
By the time I started working with brands, I was getting about 20,000 page views a month and the minimum I accepted for a sponsored post was $200 (not including the product itself). I usually spend 2-4 hours on a post, including taking/editing photos. I also took into account the impact that a specific post would have on my blog, like how well the product fit with my theme and whether I could use that post as an example of my work in the future. If it was going to be hard to make a post about that product fit well with my “brand”, I would charge a bit more. On a few occasions, if the brand was one that I absolutely loved and would’ve probably posted about anyway, I would accept less.
I don’t really have a specific number that I would say guarantees you to get accepted for a paid campaign. The threshold varies between networks and brands, and even at 100,000 views I still don’t always get accepted! Just keep working on creating quality content and gaining readers, and eventually something great will come your way.
what blog design do you use?
I’ve changed my blog up a few times over the years, but all my designs are based on “child themes” of the Genesis Framework. Basically, the framework has all the stuff that I don’t need to mess with like the code that makes posts show up and all the SEO/security stuff, and the child theme is where the code for the actual design is. It’s a little confusing, but I don’t really need to understand how all that works to use the themes!
I’m currently using the Glam Pro Theme, though I’ve changed it up quite a bit.
how do I get free products?
TBH, I’m still figuring this one out. It seems like brands tend to care more about your Instagram following than your blog views when it comes to sending out PR packages or free product in general (unless you have a huge blog following), and I have like…1,000 Instagram followers.
I get most of my free product through PR emails like this:
Look at these 7 random products. Please let me know if you’re interested in any of these samples to feature – samples are limited! If interested please send me your shipping address.
Usually the products aren’t that exciting, or are things I don’t need (I get a lot of baby related PR emails…), but occasionally I’ll see something interesting, send over my shipping address, and occasionally get the product.
Honestly, I have no idea how I got added to these PR lists. One day the emails just started showing up (and it’s a LOT of emails), and I stayed on the lists that sent me the most relatable products.
Another way to get free stuff is directly contacting the brand. This is harder if you have a smaller following, because once again, your following is what the brand values you for. I just started emailing brands myself, and most of the responses are no’s. I know it’s because my Instagram following is so low, so I’m working hard on growing that right now!
You can also try joining networks like Influenster. They have product-only campaigns, so you won’t get any money through them, but they’re great for bloggers with smaller followings! Once you sign up, you’ll occasionally get emails asking you to fill out a survey. If you’re a match for that campaign, they’ll send you a “VoxBox” with samples (sometimes deluxe size) of whatever products that campaign offers. I’ve received makeup, snacks, and skin products through Influenster and still work with them today!
what social platforms should I have a blog presence on?
If you want the best opportunity to make money later on, I would have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. These are all platforms that sponsored campaigns often require you to post on, so having an account that you post blog-related content on will be super helpful down the line.
You don’t necessarily have to have a separate blog account, but I honestly recommend it! You’ll feel a lot less pressure about trying to satisfy a personal and blogging audience, and having a separate account gives you more freedom to change either up.
how do I meet other bloggers?
Meeting other bloggers is one of the best parts about blogging! I’ve made so many great internet friends over the past few years, and it’s nice to have someone to talk to about blogging problems when your real life friends just don’t get it.
I met most of my blogger friends on Twitter. I started by following my favorite bloggers there, and searching through the people they follow to find even more. I like finding people through Twitter because I feel like it’s where bloggers are the most personal and genuine. You really get to know about that person and their personality, which is hard to do over the internet!
I also found blogger friends through Facebook groups like the InfluenceHer Collective and Blogging College. These groups are mainly geared towards college-aged female bloggers, though there are tons of other Facebook groups for bloggers that I just haven’t joined yet!
Okay that turned out to be way more extensive than I planned so I hope it’s not too overwhelming!! Like I said, if you’re a new or aspiring blogger with questions that weren’t answered here, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments. I really hoped this post helped some of y’all and you should definitely link to your new blog below so I can check it out!