It was a dream to start my blog. In 2016 it had been something that had been on my heart to do for a while. It’s so surreal that I am actually living it out. Being very honest I didn’t really know what all it entailed. I just knew that I wanted to share my everyday style with my women. Once I started I just kept working to build my brand. I was basically walking into running a blog blind. A lot of this was trial and error. While I do think it has been a great learning experience it has been a bit of an undertaking.
My blog went from generating almost nothing, to 6 figures in 1 year. It has been a whirlwind and I have just been trying to catch up with this. It’s important to ensure that you are running your business efficiently and to the best of its ability. I am in HR and never expected to be running a full time blog and a business so quickly. It got a little overwhelming, and I never expected to have so much to do behind the scenes. So keep on reading my blogging tips to help your grow your business and take your brand to the next level!
When I started getting income I was just tallying it in a notebook. To be honest I didn’t really realize what it could grow to be. The problem with this is it quickly can cause your business financials to get unorganized. I started having vendors that had outstanding balances that hadn’t paid, but because I wasn’t managing my business finances things were falling thru the cracks. It’s so important to be on top of your business financials.
I know if you are at the spot I was you may think, “well I am not really getting consistent income from blog”. Y’all just BE READY! I recommend using an accounting software or spreadsheet to track you income and expenses. I did try various methods, but found good ole’ Google sheets work best for. I used this method so I could share it with my husband as he helps manage the business finances.
As you start to get campaigns you they will all be on different timelines. Keep organized and track all the deals that come through.
How you obtained it ( I track if it is a direct deal or what agency I am using)
Deliverables (What are the requirements of the campaign)
Dates: Contract signed, Content Review due, Posting date, Invoiced Date, and anticipated pay out date)
Payment terms: important so you know when it will pay out. Whether Net 30, 60 etc.
Pay out Method
Paid Amount Column (this deducts from my outstanding due)
These are the core columns I recommend to include. I have a few others but these are the main ones. It’s important to regularly maintain this and update information. I do also divide the spreadsheet out by Quarters and then have formulas to add the quarters and annual totals.
Your tracking will vary but it is so key to start preparing for the money you will receive. Let’s just go ahead and claim it now! You will earn money, so get yourself ready!
You will also want to make sure you are tracking your expenses as well.
We initially were putting my blog income in our personal, but it made it hard to decipher business expenses from income, what was a blog expense vs. personal. I now run all of my business expenses through my business account. Our accountant stressed the importance of this for tax purposes. It also helps you identify quicker when brands have paid out. Weekly Rick goes through my account and will then mark on my income tracker what brand payments we received.
Bonus tip: One thing I learned is that all brands and agencies have different payment terms. As a newbie to this I just thought I do the work and then I get paid immediately. That is not the case most time. After you have completed all deliverables you may get paid Net 30, 45, or 60 days. Hang on to those vendors that pay out immediately, those are amazing! I now try to negotiate with brand on my payments. Just remember this so you can plan your payments accordingly.
Like any business there are documents that are regularly used in my business. I wanted to share a list of important ones you will want to have.
Media Kit – This is essentially like your resume. Check out Etsy to get one!
W-9 – Many brands will request this at the same time the contract is sent out.
Invoice Template – You can make this custom with your business branding or use Google Sheet/Excel. After almost all the campaigns I do direct I will have to submit an invoice. So it’s important to have it ready!
Content Calendar – To stay organized I recommend having this to keep track of your posting schedule.
Additionally, you will be receiving a lot of contracts. I know it’s easy to get excited and just sign the dotted line. But pump brakes. Ensure you read the contract and agree with all the terms of the contract. It’s easier to hash it out in the beginning than after it has been signed. Protect yourself and your business.
Prior to having a content calendar I would just post at random. My content had no flow, and I definitely wasn’t really posting on trend. Outside of when I want to post something random or as it happens, I post with purpose. This is not as easy as you would think. It requires putting time aside and looking at your outstanding campaign list and also keeping a balance of your own content. Because you do not want the only time you post to be paid campaigns.
When I work on my editorial calendar, I plug in all the posting due dates first, then fill in my own personal content list. I would also recommend thinking about the timing of your content to ensure it is relevant to your audience. Example…I probably wouldn’t post OTK boots and sweaters in July. I don’t think its relevant for me or my audience. I had to start being aware of this.
Early on, I would be kind of late to the content party. I would start to see bloggers sharing Fall content and then I would be running out to get items for Fall content. Be proactive and start thinking ahead. Spend time on creating this content calendar, it will also help you create a cohesive feed. When I plan out my content I try not to have back to back duplicates. I do a lot of mirror selfies, and I typically don’t have 2 mirror selfies back to back. Or I won’t typically have two back to back home posts. Be strategic, and this is something I wish I did earlier on.
The moment your business starts generating consistent income I would strongly recommend educating yourself on Sole-Proprietorship or L.L.C. I am not in the slightest a lawyer. So I strongly advise you to educate yourself on this. I had to. I did make my blog business and L.L.C after some advisement. Connect yourself with someone that can help you understand what is the best route for your business.
I am still working on getting my schedule to move seamlessly blog wise. I have stressed to you all the importance of having a content calendar. However, in addition to that you want to have a general business calendar. Whether that be locking in your brand calls to blogger networking event. If your personal life has a calendar, so does your business! Running a business it can get easy to be pulled in different directions, so I even plan my day out to ensure that my day remains productive.
This is the part that I will say I wasn’t mentally prepared for. I just wanted to post pictures and write blog posts. However, so many things require upkeep.
Website – I have now hired a web developer to help me with the upkeep of my website. They will handle site updates, site crashes, changes to my blog. This for some may not be needed but definitely was for me since I am not tech savvy. You also have to account for the maintenance of drafting your blog and getting it ready for a publish.
Social Channels – You will regularly have to manage and maintain your social channels. For the longest I had a Facebook page but never really did anything to with it. I am getting intentional with my Facebook page and I am gaining 75-100 new page likes each week. I did simple things like update my cover photo, add more detail in my about page. Same goes for Pinterest. I stopped using it and was only sharing on my private boards. I started working just being intentional with maintaining more than my Instagram.
Email – I am regularly cleaning and organizing my inbox. I have a folder for Declined pitches (it’s important to circle back with these), Prospective Pitches, Active Campaigns. I also maintain my contact book making it easy circle back with brands.
Running a business requires maintenance, so make sure you are not pushing ahead and moving so fast that you forget to provide upkeep to every aspect of your business.
First, do not undervalue your worth. You have something to offer to these brands and it is important to price yourself accordingly. I was previously undervaluing myself. You want to base your rates on the deliverables requested, your engagement rate, time, and photography fees. Never be afraid to tell a brand what you are worth. If they can’t meet you at that rate, NEVER be afraid to walk away either. Not all money is good money.
I would recommend reading Influencer. This book was suggested to me and I found it helpful creating my rates and understanding the industry a bit more.
Once I got my rates I then created a rate calculator in google sheets. I then just plug in the amount of deliverables and my photographer and any other misc fees. Then my spreadsheet tells me my total rate for the project.
Make sure to regularly update your rates as your reach continuously increases.
I have talked about this in some of my previous blogging tips series. It is important to remember that as you are growing your blog, brands won’t just fall on your lap. I carve out a little bit of time each day to pitch to a couple brands that I would like to work with. I want to share this because I know you may just see on my Instagram brand deals. However, there was work behind those.
Pitching starts with creating your brand goal list. Then go through that list and ensuring that you can add value to each of those brands. From there I will visit the brands page and scout out their Press contacts and draft an email.
I recommend doing this regularly as you can’t expect all brands to come to you.
Y’all having a great relationship with brands is so important. From the first pitch email to thank you email at the end.
I learned through this process that brands/agency love consistent communication and meeting deadlines. The majority of my work comes from repeat brand partnerships. And if I didn’t have great communication, brands would’t work with me again.
So while it is easy to focus on content and growing your platforms, you have to make sure you are intentional and make time to respond to emails in a timely manner and follow through on the brand requests. Value your brands and I promise it will give you repeat collabs.
I know so often we talk about the aspects of a blog that stand out the most, like making money and how to grow your blog. However, there are a lot of behind the scenes that go into making your blog and brand successful. I wish I would have known about some of these blogging tips early on, as it would have helped make my blog more efficient earlier.
There is so much that goes into the Instagram feed and the blog posts that you see. It’s important to know this if you plan on having a successful blog. I love having my blog but it does require work.