Well, my friends… Another year comes to an end. 2017 has really been an awesome year, both personally and professionally. So I thought I’d end 2017 with a little business talk and some personal thoughts.
Just two years ago Drew and I were only entertaining the idea of moving back to Michigan… Three months later in March it actually happened. I left my job as a full-time dance costume designer in May of 2016 and started busting my ass to make blogging work. You can read more about last year’s recap here.
Fast forward to the start of 2017 and I found myself able to replace my salaried income with work coming in from Fit Mitten Kitchen. Month after month I was actually making a steady income… say what?!
How I make Income as a Blogger/Influencer
Every bloggers’ path is different when it comes to how they make an income. It can depend on so many factors, too. For example: when they started their blog (hello, Pinterest! for the OG bloggers) or how much time they spend building one area of their blog, i.e. SEO (search engine optimization) and traffic building. For me I focused on quality content and consistency that led to a build in pageviews and an Instagram following that allowed me to reach a larger audience. I’ll share more on that later after this section.
A majority of my income comes from sponsored content. I am not afraid or ashamed to say that one bit. Mainly because I am very open and transparent with you all about what is sponsored and what is not. If you’re a long-time reader you’ll see I always disclose at the beginning of each post (i.e. here) to let you know that the post is in partnership with a brand. It is the LAW, regulated by the Federal Trade Commission, that we (bloggers/influencers) must disclose a paid partnership. The disclosure it also supposed to come at the beginning of the post, not at the end.
You may notice not all bloggers disclose properly or disclose at all. Some of them claim to not know while others just don’t do it for whatever reason. But I think about my relationship with you all and I would never want to jeopardize that by not being dishonest (and/or breaking the law).
Davida actually has an amazing post regarding sponsored content: “What I Wish Everyone Knew About Sponsored Content”. Whether you’re a fellow blogger or just a curious reader, I encourage you to check it out. It is SPOT ON.
A resource to check out for Instagram partnerships is “How to Properly Disclose Sponsored Instagram Posts According to the FTC” by later.com.
And a general resource for staying compliant can be found in this article: FTC Disclosures: How to Stay Compliant
Another way I make about 16% of my income is through ads placed on my site. Now I completely understand ads are not the most reader-friendly. I totally get it. However from a business perspective I can’t turndown working with an ad network. I happen to work with Mediavine and they have been wonderful.
If you ever come across an inappropriate ad on my site, please do not hesitate to let me know.
A very small portion of my income, about 1%, comes from affiliate sales. Whether that is Amazon, RewardStyle, or other programs I am affiliates for – i.e. Rachel Korinek’s Lightroom Magic Course, where I learned the ins and outs of Adobe Lightroom for editing my food photography. And also Nicole Culver’s Virtual Summits. I worked with Nicole 1:1 in the later part of 2016 and early 2017 and I highly recommend her services and products. Working with her 1:1 really helped me find the confidence in blogging full-time.
Note I only promote products and services I truly believe in and would never try to make a sale off of something I don’t agree with or haven’t tried myself.
But how did I get there?
As I mentioned before everyones journey is different. Also, not every blogger wants to build a brand or make their blog their life. I’m mainly speaking about my own experience here and what I have built with Fit Mitten Kitchen in two and a half years.
I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again: quality over quantity. I think nowadays most budding bloggers understand this. But back when I first started and likely way before that, so many bloggers were putting out content 5-6 days a week. I honestly can’t even wrap my head around how they did that. I mean, some bloggers STILL do this but they’re able to pull it off – I’m thinking they have house elves like Harry Potter… But I digress. Anyways, I know if I were to try to put out 5-6 recipes/posts a week that I would essentially hate life. ‘Tis true.
So pretty much right from the get-go I focused on producing quality content. Of course the quality of my content has gotten better over time. Hello first ever blog post. But over time I worked on my recipe development and food photography skills to make sure I was giving readers the best that I could.
I think for food bloggers especially, quality is extremely important. You don’t want to share a recipe that didn’t turn out the best or a picture taken over the stovetop in poor lighting.
Instagram wasn’t as popular when I first started my blog two and half years ago, however I knew I wanted to make it a goal to grow it. I didn’t realize at the time how much of an impact it would have on my business. I share a lot of tips on what I did to build my Instagram in this post: 2 Year Blogiversary: 3 Big Truths About Blogging as well as during my interview with Bjork on Food Blogger Pro Podcast.
I spent a lot of time on Instagram (and still do) but I would love to take some time to focus on other areas in 2018. With Instagram’s every-changing algorithm, it isn’t smart to put all of your eggs in the IG basket. That’s not to say I think Instagram is going anywhere anytime soon. But Instagram isn’t everything – finding a way to build a community with increased engagement is key.
Consistency (& grit)
If it weren’t for me setting myself a content schedule and sticking to it (at least for the most part) I don’t think I’d be where I am today. Some people start blogs and just kind of wing it. I started my blog and knew from the beginning I was going to post X number of times a week. Eventually I started using Coschedule to keep track of my ideas and plan out my recipe/content calendar. Having the calendar to refer to helped me plan ahead and make sure I stayed on track.
Again, I talk quite a bit about my whole journey and parts of my process in the Food Blogger Pro Podcast interview, so if you’re up for it I’d highly recommend giving it a listen 🙂
While I would say I was fairly consistent these past couple of years, I was also very determined to make my blog work full-time. When we moved back to Michigan I was in a position to work on my blog full-time without any other side job. I did take on freelance work from my previous employer later in 2016 to help pay the bills, but I was still making my own schedule. Even though I wasn’t making a full-time income when we moved back (not even close) I was truly determined to continue building my pageviews and audience to leverage working with brands.
Each month I had goals set to get me closer to building my income and in the back of my head I was thinking, “If others turned their blogs into a full-time income, why can’t I?”
So with determination, hard work, loads of hours, long days/weeks, consistency and grit I somehow managed to make this little blog work. Much thanks to all of YOU who continue to read, comment, make my recipes and support me.
Guys, I must say this year has been pretty incredible! My first full year of blogging full-time and I’m really proud of how far I’ve come. I’ve had some amazing partnerships that allowed me to grow personally and professionally. And 2018 is already shaping up to be quite exciting as well. I’ll be diving into some more lifestyle content (I know, I said that last year) and give you guys a variety of recipes, videos and more.
In 2017 I worked A LOT but I also started to understand that:
life goes on
breaks are extremely necessary
your mental well-being is equally important (if not more) than your physical health.
While it’s good to be consistent, it’s not good to compromise on the quality of your content just because you said you were going to post Monday/Wednesday/Friday (or whenever). If you’re feeling overwhelmed and not sure where to start, take a week or two off to refocus, plan and then engage. The internet and all of its lovely distractions will be there when you return.
So that is that, my friends. Peace out, 2017. You’ve been grand.
Happy New Year!
If you have any questions or are curious about anything please leave a comment below! I’d love to help you out if I can!