Thanks for joining me in part two of this two part series on the business of blogging. If you haven’t already, please read How Bloggers and Influencers Make Money, Part 1.
I hope it’ll open your eyes to the side of the internet you don’t see. Perhaps you’ll be able to have more patience, appreciation, and understanding towards sponsored content and creators working to earn an income.
I know that everyone will have a different reaction to his post. I’ll definitely get some judgement (especially from other bloggers). But that’s okay and I hope you see this series as a chance to learn. It’ll be learning opportunity for me as well.
This is a vulnerable post. Thanks for reading!
How Bloggers Make Money, Part 1
Yesterday’s post (Part 1) about How Bloggers and Influencers Make Money covered the following topics:
- How the conversation started
- Why I’m writing this post
- How “Bloggers” or “Influencers” Make Money, and Why.
- What is Affiliate marketing?
- How I make Money Through Affiliate Marketing
- My Favorite Products and Why I Recommend Them
- What is Sponsored Content?
- Losing money on sponsored content
Today’s post will cover the following:
- When I say YES and NO to Sponsored Opportunities
- My Commitment to You (and Myself!)
- Why Sponsored Content Should be CELEBRATED!
- Why I work for Money so I can Post for FREE
- How much MONEY I made in 2018 through Instant Pot Cooking
When I say yes and no to sponsored opportunities
It can be tempting to take any and every opportunity that comes up. Especially when you’re first starting out. I think we’ve seen this all too well on Instagram.
*cough* #hairgummies #skinnytea #watches #proteinpowder #supplements *cough*
But I am very picky and can almost always tell when something is worth my time to explore or not.
I ask a lot of questions beforehand, and ask what makes their product better than the competition. If they ask me to promote a product that can be purchased, I always ask for as generous of a discount as possible for my readers.
There are also some products that I just KNOW I won’t use (specifically Instant Pot accessories), and so I will not review them. I participated in 5 sponsored campaigns last year.
I say yes when:
- It’s something that I think would add value to my life
- An answer is provided to solve a problem I have (or that readers have)
- I say yes to a lot of UNPAID content as well if it fits my criteria of spreading goodness and positivity and it is something that I can stand behind.
I say NO when:
- The product/service is low quality or not useful
- I don’t feel a good vibe with the person I’m communicating with
- It doesn’t resonate with my audience
- I can tell their intentions are not good or if they are unprofessional
- The product/service doesn’t align with my personal and brand values
I give reviews only on the products I have and use, so I can’t speak for other brands. You may have something similar that you love, and that’s awesome! I don’t have the resources to buy every single IP accessory at every price point to review, so I just share what I have and works for me.
Also, I say NO 10x more than I say YES.
One last thing- this applies specifically to sponsored content. My audience is 91% women between the ages of 25-45. That means that many of these women have children and families.
I also share my life as a mom, tips for kids, and baby products that I have purchased and like. It doesn’t have anything to do with Instant Pot cooking, but it does have to do with me and my life.
My Commitment to you (and myself!)
I hope by now, you can tell that I really think my opportunities through and that I am not taking every opportunity to make a quick buck at your expense.
That being said, I know it’s a little …mehhh… when we see sponsored content, especially for things that don’t seem like a good fit with an account on Instagram or other social media.
I commit to you that I will clearly disclose when I’m being compensated for any work.
Sponsored Content MUST Be Disclosed
FYI, any and all sponsored content MUST be disclosed according to the FCC. So the #AD or “Sponsored” label you see flying around is actually required when you’re getting paid to talk about a product.
Bloggers (even huge ones) can generally be a little sloppy at this because it isn’t enforced very well, but it IS the law. It can make content a little off-putting sometimes, but it is what it is.
Mess up, ‘fess up
Being genuine and honest about everything in my life is something I really strive to do. I just want to OWN who I am, and be unapologetic about being me. Sometimes I post unpopular opinions (Instant Pot Pot Roast comes to mind), but I just give my honest thoughts.
I make mistakes (plenty of them!), and I will totally own it when I do. If you ever want a LOT of engagement on your social media posts, just missspel something or make a mistake. Or have food in your teeth.
It works every single time. So. many. messages.
ANYWAYS. I trust you as my friends, and I don’t want to betray your trust. I’m not perfect, but I’m trying my best. I respond well to constructive advice, and I honestly try to give the benefit of the doubt.
Hopefully you will do so with me as well.
I will only post things (paid or unpaid) that spark joy, add value, or that I truly enjoy. Pinky Promise.
If there’s something I say or do that offends you, please (kindly) reach out to me so I can address your concern. I will mess up, so please be patient with me. I’m not ever intentionally doing something wrong and I’m always eager to learn.
Sponsored Content on Sunday
Sunday is by far the internet’s highest traffic day, but I’ve chosen not to post any sponsored/paid content on Sundays. This is because it goes against my personal values and beliefs. And you can rest assured I will NEVER post about alcohol, weight loss tea (#heavycreamforlife), or supplements. I commit to having integrity in all aspects of my life.
I promise, I’m trying.
Why Sponsored Content should Be celebrated: An analogy
Through the grapevine, I found the original source of a great analogy I loved. Live Free Miranda compared sponsored content online like an art gallery show. Say you willingly walked into an art gallery show for a friend. Heck, a coworker, a casual acquaintance, or even a pure stranger!
You walk into their art show and start looking at their pieces and love them. All of a sudden, you walk up to a lovely piece and you see a SOLD sign next to it.
What would your initial impression be?
If there was a piece or two out of the whole collection that was SOLD, wouldn’t you celebrate that? WOOO HOOOO that is SO cool that one sold! Good for you, girlfriend!!
Or would you think, JEEZ you REALLY sold out by selling that or getting that piece commissioned and putting it in your show. You should have just created that piece for free just because you love ART and NOT MONEY.
You’ve totally lost credibility to me as a creator. If you love art so much, how dare you try and make money from it?
Ok isn’t that an awesome analogy? No one would say that, EVER! So, I really hope and pray you will help support me, and be happy for me, that I was able to do something I love and help put socks on my kid’s feet. Or at least pay for my website fees for things that help bring you fast, clean, tried, tested, and true content.
I Work for money so I can post for Free
99.98% of the things I post are FREE resources for you that hopefully, you enjoy. In the second half of 2018, I spent approximately 3-5 hours a day creating content and managing Instagram.
This includes writing captions for Instagram stories, recording snippets of cooking in 15 second intervals (makes a recipe take 4x longer to cook), and responding to messages.
From Instagrammer to Blogger
I still spend time on Instagram, but if I move that time over to a website, I can still share the same content with more people, and also help earn income. The average of 4 hours a day was only managing ONE social platform (not Facebook/Pinterest/Website).
I answer 99.9% of my direct messages and questions on my posts (It’s not 100% because I occasionally miss/lose one or two) If you’ve ever sent me a question, I hope you’ll agree that I try to be very responsive.
So basically, I’ve become a free Instant Pot helpdesk. People ask me to figure things out. I had one lady call me on Instagram leaving voice messages because she was at someone’s house buying an Instant Pot on Craigslist and had questions about it (I answered and helped her not buy a completely damaged pot).
I have readers message me in a panic at 1:45 am freaking out about their yogurt not setting or some other potential disaster. If I’m awake, I try my very hardest to help. I care so much, and I really want to make my page an inclusive community where people feel heard and appreciated (because I DO!)
How $ money $ helps me say yes to you
Now that I have a website and other social channels, I’m investing more time and money to make this a helpful and educational safe place to learn. I’m working close to full time in the wee hours of the night to make this the best place I can to share my love of cooking and food.
I am NOT getting rich quick off of this. But I do have and take occasional opportunities to earn money off of the above mentioned channels and more, which (I hope) will continue to open doors for me in the future.
When I’m working on free resources and content, it’s taking time away from something else in my life. If I go on TV or to events, I buy 3-4 recipe’s worth of ingredients and find and pay a babysitter (tv segments are not paid).
When someone asks me to test a recipe or technique, I go and buy the things for that recipe and test it on my own. Paid opportunities help me pay for those things, making it easier to say YES to YOU.
Getting paid for a painting in an art show isn’t selling out. Unless the piece is blatantly NOT something you’re proud of or looks like YOU. It doesn’t make the artist love painting any more or less.
It definitely DOES makes it easier to say YES to other opportunities in life like helping someone in need, being generous, and not feeling guilty about the time invested in the 99% of the work that isn’t paid (time that could be spent at a salaried position).
Earning income doesn’t make me love or hate cooking any more or less. But it does allow me to grow and expand as an individual and person. I’m going to be totally transparent: I do expect to earn an income from my efforts with my new website and ventures.
But it is NOT the reason I started IPC, nor my only reason I keep doing this. I have loved cooking, sharing, educating, and connecting at any level since I was a kid. I’ve always thought about doing this “one day,” but I never expected it to be now.
I really had to muster every ounce of courage to do this, but I’m so happy. And I’m so happy and grateful you’ve chosen to support and cheer me on in any way.
While I am not going to get rich quick (it is definitely not guaranteed now or in the future), I do have goals. I figure, I absolutely LOATHE cleaning and I LOVE cooking and spending time with my kids. If I can make enough supplemental income for our family so I can hire a hardworking individual to come help me with my laundry and dishes, wouldn’t that be AWESOME?
Someone else who wants/needs to earn money can, and I get to spend MORE time cooking and with the kids. I hope that someday I can do that!
Brett and I also have so many more goals bigger than ourselves that we’re working towards (not just hiring someone to help with my housework).
We want to serve missions for our church together. We want to start a charity. We want to instil service and giving in our kids by giving them the opportunities to serve like I had.
In high school, I worked with a humanitarian organization called Operation Smile that provides free operations for children and adults with cleft lip and palates. It changed my life.
I was able to go to Amman, Jordan and China as a high schooler and my dream in life is to go back and do missions with my kids as soon as humanly possible. So, thank you for helping me inch toward my goals!
How much Money I made with Instant Pot Cooking in 2018.
Now that you’ve read through two short novels, you’re finally to the part you actually wanted to read. Spoiler: it may be surprising or disappointing.
But, I hope you’ll also realize that I’m not in it purely for the cash and that I really have worked hard just because I DO love it so much. I’m not doing this to elicit any sort of response- positive or negative.
Reading income and traffic reports from bloggers like Pinch of Yum has been super inspiring and helpful. Even though I’m new, I want to also give back in a small way by sharing my experience. I also want to share with YOU, my audience, the side of Instagram or the internet you don’t normally hear about.
Instant Pot Cooking 2018 Income Report
This is reporting all my income earned last year through my Instant Pot Cooking Instagram account. I also had a free Weebly site that I was just posting recipes to that people were requesting. The Weebly blog did not make any money (I didn’t even know how it would). I didn’t start this website until February 4, 2019.
In 2018, I had $292.36 deposited into my savings account through affiliate links. I earned a little more than that the end of the year, but I won’t see that money for a couple months after the earning month. This is after the return window has passed for those products, and Amazon can stop holding their breath.
I earned $1,535 with 5 sponsored posts in 2018. Due to contracts and my respect for the amazing companies that I have gotten to work with, I’m not disclosing the exact amount I earned from each company. But this is the total amount.
So, in total, I earned $1,827.36 in 2018 (this does not include what I SPENT). That comes out to $152 a month, $35 a week, or $1.45 an hour (if I only spent ~4 hours a day, 6 days a week on Instagram).
My final thoughts and request
I’m definitely not getting rich off of this. And luckily, my husband’s job allows me to stay home with my kids and work on this new project after the kids go to bed. It is a huge blessing. My income doesn’t pay our bills or the mortgage, so there’s not as much pressure for me to say yes to every opportunity I get. I truly only say yes to the things I want to.
But, please DO keep in mind that some creators out there DO rely on their blog income to pay their bills, feed their children, and put gas in their cars.
Sponsored opportunities allow them the freedom to create FREE content for us to enjoy, so I hope we can celebrate and support those posts more often (like, comment, and share), rather than smirk and get upset about it.
If you really do hate it, just keep scrolling. No biggie. As long as the content is good and not spammy or totally disingenuous, let’s cheer them on! Their painting sold!
Thanks for reading this short novel on sponsored posts. This post is brought to you by my husband Brett, who has been entertaining two extremely grumpy kids while I spent 8 hours writing it.