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Totally Together

The Business of Blogging

June 10, 2009 by  

How to Make (real) Money Blogging

I actually wanted to title this post series “The Bidness of Blogging” because I find the word “bidness” absolutely hysterical, but that wouldn’t be a good title.

I hope this series of posts (I’m not sure yet how many there will be. I’ve got a lot of stuff floating around my head!) will explain why.

(I have given my 5-year blogging update, here.)

Part 1: My Story

I started the slow cooking blog last year as a 2 part challenge. I wanted to see if I could:

1. make money off a free blog

2. use my slow cooker every day for a year

The second part: using a slow cooker every day for a year was a gimick. A schtick. I needed to have something to write about on the free blog I was interested in starting. The free blog I was interested in turning profitable. It certainly helped that I have a deep and abiding love for the slow cooker, and that I am not a good cook without it.

Ever since I thought about having children of my own, I wanted to stay home with them. I wasn’t opposed to working, though, which meant that I turned a bit obsessive about work-from-home ads and websites and resources. I wanted a quick and easy and painless way to work from home in my pajamas, with my kids.

I had begun working for BlogHerads at home on a contract basis in the fall of 2007. I read blogs for them, make sure the ads are in compliance, and pick post headlines from blogs to feature under the graphic ads. The only problem? I wasn’t a blogger. [updated: I no longer work for BlogHerads. I quit to write the first cookbook].

In order to understand my job properly, I needed to start a blog.

I understood a bit about how google worked, and learned through research that the more focused the writing, the quicker google searches would find me. Although I greatly enjoy reading personal and parenting-focused blogs, I was (and continue to be) wary about sharing too much personal information with the internet. I liked food blogs—I liked the tight focus and the limited personal sharing. Once I figured out that there wasn’t a blog (that I knew of) about slow cooking, the light bulb went off.

Oprah would call it an “a-ha” moment.

And so I wrote out a business plan. Yes. A business plan. Because I’m a complete dork.

I can see how a business plan wouldn’t make sense to a lot of bloggers, but it made perfect sense for me. I had goals I wanted to achieve, a time-line for doing so, and an exit strategy.

The one year exit was very important to me, and to my family. It would not be a sane thing to do (for me) without an exit strategy.

I wrote that I would stick to the following:

–I wouldn’t buy a domain name. I wanted to prove that a free blogspot blog (something looked down upon by many seasoned bloggers–in fact at last year’s BlogHer conference I had a few marketing people tell me that I would never be considered credible with a blogspot blog) could turn a profit

–I wouldn’t spend money on the blog, other than groceries. I would use the free site counter, etc. This changed (adapted!) after the 2008 BlogHer conference, when I learned that I really needed a new camera lens and a light source in order to take pictures of food properly. I’ll write more on that later.

–I would post every single day, no matter what

–I would be honest about my failures/flops

–I would misspell the word “Crock-Pot” to snag google searches

–I would use the word “recipe” and “crockpot” in every single post title

–I would step away from the computer after a year, and not try to promote the site, but let it stay up for google searches (this is a bit of a problem, because in order to keep the ads on the site, I need to post once a week—I’m still trying to figure this part out)

I also jotted down some goals about daily web traffic, income, and a book deal. The Secret in action!

Some people jump feet first into blogging with the idea of making a ton of money.

While there are definitely people who are making a ton, most (MOST!)  see a very modest and not regular income. The internet ebs and flows–my daily traffic is about 10 thousand people a day in the “off” season, and triples during the fall/winter months. While I do have quite a few RSS subscribers (65k) people mostly  come through google searches, facebook shares, and now through Pinterest.

I make a full-time living blogging.

I feel like I’m living a dream life, and just couldn’t possibly be any happier. I make my own schedule, am the full-time care giver to my children (I’ve got three), and I work when I want to work, and from the kitchen table. I’m not anybody special.

If I can do it, so can you.

Honest. Hopefully these posts will be of service:

coming up next: Figuring Out Your Internet Voice

 

This is part of the Business of Blogging series.

Part 1: The Business of Blogging

Part 2: Figuring Out Your Internet Voice

Part 3: Writing for Search Engines Doesn’t Mean Selling Your Soul

Part 4: Is Self-Esteem Tied into Sitemeter?

Part 5: Patience, and Other Blogging Virtues

and other stuff:

10 Best Business-y Books

Creating a (non-cheesy) Vision Board

Working from Home with Small Children in the House

Post a comment · 32 Comments »

Comments

32 Responses to “The Business of Blogging”

  1. Nowheymama on June 10th, 2009 11:28 am
    1

    I think it’s great that you are writing about this! I came at blogging from a different point (“I want to HELP people! With my silly little blog!”), but I am so interested to hear your story.

  2. Erin Long on June 10th, 2009 12:14 pm
    2

    OK- Bidness would have totally hooked me, but you obviously got me anyway! I’m really looking forward to the rest of your posts on this subject. Love your blogs, even though one is a blogspot (sigh…) You make me laugh and think- two very good things. Keep it coming….

  3. Jamie on June 10th, 2009 1:25 pm
    3

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for this. It is great to have someone explain this. I can’t wait to read more!

  4. $5 Dinner Mom on June 10th, 2009 1:29 pm
    4

    Fun to read the back story Steph! I didn’t know some of it! Can’t wait to read more…

    Erin

  5. Melissa Henning on June 10th, 2009 1:38 pm
    5

    thank you for posting this. I Iike bidness too. You’re funny! I still don’t completely understand how I can make any sort of income blogging, but I have my blogherads up, and need to figure out what to do next. I am currently looking for a full time job, that I guess I don’t mind going to, but I really love staying home with my son and watch him grow up. I would love to write up a bidness plan too, but I have no idea what I’m doing, and I don’t think my “exercise journal” will ever make any money. I can’t even get any more readers than what I have (23). And I’m sure I have all of those readers, thanks to you! (so thank you very much for them!)

    I look forward (as always) to your next posts :).

    Smiles and blessings,
    melissa :)

  6. Loree on June 10th, 2009 2:01 pm
    6

    Thanks for this info. I’m new to the blog world (I know, where have I been?) and I don’t have a blog or plan to have one, but this is all so interesting. And yes Melissa, I found you through Steph. Thanks to both of you for the time you spend blogging!

  7. Connie on June 10th, 2009 3:11 pm
    7

    I’ve been surfing the net for many years, but I still don’t seem to understand some of the “new” stuff, such as Blogging. I’m glad you’re going to explain it for us non-bloggers :) Thanks. Connie

  8. Gina on June 10th, 2009 4:24 pm
    8

    I would have laughed at bidness, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

    Thank you for listing your goals. I’m in the middle of figuring mine out and it’s helpful to see how you planned things out.

  9. Jen on June 10th, 2009 4:45 pm
    9

    Thank you for posting this. I feel like I learn something every time I read your stuff.

  10. Cinde on June 10th, 2009 6:30 pm
    10

    Hi Stephanie,

    You are the inspiration behind my new Gluten Free Taste of Home recipe blog. I love your crock pot blog, and I thank you for this “behind the scenes” peek into your blog history. I look forward to your continuing writings.

    Cheers!
    Cinde :)

    Visit my blog for delicious Gluten free recipes:
    http://www.glutenfreetasteofhome.blogspot.com/

  11. LeftofOrdinary (aka Cookie) on June 11th, 2009 7:49 am
    11

    I’m always inspired by your focus, determination and moxy.

    I always knew you’d do great things and am not surprised (though thrilled to the bone for you) to see you at this point in your life.

    I look forward to hearing more of your story and hoping to use some of your ideas to help me through my own projects.

    Cheers to your success!

  12. Eileen on June 11th, 2009 8:42 am
    12

    Thank you! I’ve “followed” you for a while and loved the way you approached your blog. I like the idea of a business plan for your blog…makes perfect sense and it’s exactly how I am approaching my own blog (after many years of using blogging to simply whine about my life!).

    The exit strategy is a good idea…however, you did such an amaxzing job with the crock pot site that it’s sad to see the posts stop…what if you commit to just adding one new recipe a week to keep it active? Or…you can do a “best of” post like many bloggers do, where you link back to favorite old posts and then there’s no real “work” involved…..

    Please keep writing about this though!!!

  13. Bama Cheryl on June 11th, 2009 2:55 pm
    13

    Interesting to get the backstory of your Crockpot blog and way of going about it. How about the profitability? Did that part succeed?

  14. Sandy Cooper on June 11th, 2009 6:45 pm
    14

    Oh…I’ll be back for the rest of this series for sure! Thanks!

    Sandy

  15. Christina Howard on June 15th, 2009 6:51 pm
    15

    Thanks for sharing this aspect of blogging. I have had an offer from a friend to start a blog on his Web site about disability and independent living, and a lot of the topics I would consider writing about are also topics I’ve considered as chapters for a book proposal I have outlined. I know that you have a book deal, and so as someone who is considering starting a blog that I want to use as the basis for a book, what advice do you have in terms of copyrighting/protecting my work, and also securing the rights to incorporate readers’ comments into the final book if they have something insightful to share, or something that works well as a counterpoint to my opinion? Thanks for any advice you can offer to would-be blogger/authors.

  16. gfe--gluten free easily on June 17th, 2009 5:26 pm
    16

    Great post, Stephanie–thanks! I’ve read other posts like this one with advice on blogging, but some were too technical and didn’t seem like a match for what I wanted to accomplish. This post is very helpful. Now let me read part 2. :-)

    Shirley

  17. PastaQueen on June 19th, 2009 9:05 am
    17

    Steph, do you have tips on how to write a business plan? Are there any examples or articles online that you can point me to? Thanks!

  18. Nowheymama on June 26th, 2009 11:33 am
    18

    Quick random question: what layout did you use on your blog? I’d like to have one column on either side of my posts like you do. Thanks!

  19. sharee patten on November 7th, 2011 9:38 pm
    19

    Do you use Adsense? I just started my blog. thanks!

    • Stephanie on November 8th, 2011 6:50 am
      19.1

      Hi Sharee,

      Yes, I do use Adsense on all the sites, and am happy with it. My biggest paycheck comes from BlogHer, but between BlogHer, Adsense, and Amazon Associates the combined total is a pretty good salary!

  20. Kim on June 25th, 2012 12:57 pm
    20

    Hi, thank you for this post. I was just wondering, how do you actually get the money (if you get some), I mean do you receive them via bank account or how ?????
    Greetings

    • Stephanie on June 25th, 2012 3:23 pm
      20.1

      Hi Kim,
      I don’t have a paypal account, and ask that checks are sent to the house. Many of my friends prefer to be paid via paypal, though. Amazon takes off $15 a month for not having paypal, but we have had uncomfortable issues with paypal in the past, and prefer paper checks.
      If any company pays out more than $600/yr, a 1099 is issued for tax purposes.

  21. Cheryl K on March 30th, 2014 5:22 am
    21

    So pleased to see this series…I loved blogging (not for profit) for several years until my husband suddenly passed away a year ago. I sort of lost my focus and interest. But I’ve moved to the Cities and am feeling ready to get back into life! I saw your tweet and the Pinterest link…just perfect timing! Thank you.

  22. Stephanie on June 16th, 2009 11:28 am
    21.1

    Hi Christina,

    I, personally, wouldn’t put something “out there” that you are trying to sell. It worked ok for the slow cooker book, but my advice would be to write your book proposal, secure an agent, and start submitting. If the publisher would like some added publicity—great—you already have content you can tweak for the Web, but if your goal is to have a book, start working on it.
    –steph

  23. stephanie on June 19th, 2009 12:38 pm
    21.1

    Hi Jennette,
    A long time ago, I checked out a few business plan books from the library (Business Plans for Dummies, that kind of thing). I got the basic idea from reading those books, but a lot of what a *real* business plan does is to convince banks or lenders to give $$.

    Instead, I mostly just wrote down an objective, and a few strategies I had to meet that objective. I included short (3-6 month) goals, long-term (5 yr), and intermediate goals. I had a few “dreams” which I also wrote down, just so I could visualize what I wanted and let the universe know. That’s totally new-agey and The Secretish, but there you go. I figured it couldn’t hurt.

    Once I met or exceeded the goals I had, I tweaked. There were a few traffic numbers I didn’t meet, so I tweaked again, and made a decision to either let them go, or up publicity, etc.

    I’m sorry to not have a more concrete example—there are tons of basic business plan outlines on the web, but I really think you need to customize your big picture ideas down into easy chunks for you.

    xoo steph

  24. PastaQueen on June 19th, 2009 12:42 pm
    21.1

    Thanks, Steph! That is really helpful advice. I believe defining goals and writing them down is important. I have a list of 5 big goals I want to accomplish this year taped above my desk so I see them every day. It helps to keep me moving forward in life.

  25. Stephanie on June 26th, 2009 11:48 am

    Hi there, do you mean on the slow cooker site? I was able to add a third column by using this site, Tips for New Bloggers. I was scared to do it, but backed the blog up the way they recommended, held my breath, and did it. It worked!

    good luck!
    xoxo steph

  26. Nowheymama on June 29th, 2009 12:35 pm
    21.1

    Yes, the slow cooker site! It’s one of the few blogspot blogs I’ve seen with 3 columns. Thanks so much–here I go to try it!

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