Blogging As A Business: How I Turned My Blog Into My Career

When people ask me what my job is I never know what to say. “Erm, well, I have this website, and I write about stuff and people read it and yep thats it.” Reactions range from “ah, you blog for a living? That’s cool!” to “what’s a blog?”. And I mean really, if you can explain what a blog is to someone who isn’t computer savvy without tearing your hair out then you’re a better woman than I.

Increasingly I’ve been receiving emails asking me how to go about the business of blogging as a career, and I love that people are feeling inspired by this online world we’ve created. I am thankful every day that I’m able to do this for a job and that as a community we’ve been able to build something this influential. I’ve worked with some truly magnificent brands in the last couple of years, and really, how lucky am I to be making money from something that started as a much-loved hobby?

So I’ve put together a short (long) guide that I hope will help some of you who are thinking about blogging or a wondering how to build their blog into a career: here’s how I’ve done it (and thank-you to all the questions that came via Twitter and Facebook!). It really is long, you might want to take a loo break before you sit down to this one…

Blogging Professionally: How I Made Blogging My Career

Why do you blog? 

My first blog as an angsty teenager was started back in 2001 (thankfully there is no trace of it any more) and I started blogging about pregnancy nearly five years ago. Back then the blogging community was totally different; there weren’t that many of us and we were really just writing for ourselves and each other. But my motive for blogging has remained the same, and I think this is something that has been so important to the integrity of what I write. I do it for the love of creating a story out of what is going on in my life, to sort through issues in my life in a way that I know how – words have always been so powerful in that way for me – and to connect with other people.

I write about the bad times and the good, and nothing makes me feel happier than knowing I’ve helped someone who’s going through a shitty situation feel not so alone. This motivation to touch people, to make them laugh and to get my words out there is what keeps me going. I would still blog if I wasn’t getting paid for it and I think it’s important to keep that love of what you do evident. I try to be as enthusiastic about my sponsored posts as I am about the posts that come straight from my head and I think (hope) that’s appreciated by the people who read here.

I also feel so inspired by other bloggers out there and that’s a great motivator too. I love A Cup Of Jo, Hey Natalie Jean, Little Green Notebook and Liberty London Girl; mostly American blogs, but then their blogging market is a couple of years ahead of ours. I see aspects of these blogs that I enjoy and try to incorporate what I love about them into my work. There’s no use trying to emulate another blogger, though.. when it comes to creating a space people will want to visit your own personality and originality is key. You are the only person in the whole world with your outlook and experiences and it’s important to remember that.

When it comes to inspiration I look to every single aspect of day-to-day life - the experiences you go through, your kids, the clothes you like to wear, the news you watch on TV. And every time you see something that gives you a lightbulb moment, write it down… I have a list on my phone where I store most of those middle-of-the-night ideas

How do you start a blog? 

For me it was as easy as creating a WordPress account and just letting all my thoughts, feelings and concerns about pregnancy come out into a text box. I had no filter and just wrote and wrote and wrote until I found my ‘voice’. As the years have gone on and I’ve wanted to diversify my content I’ve been a bit more measured in my approach, brainstorming how I’d like my blog to be and working out how I can get there. I write lists weekly about things I want to post on… if I get to a third of them it’s been a good week ;)

It takes courage to write and publish that first post, I get that. There’s no right way or wrong way to do it, but my advice would be to just stay true to yourself. Write about something you’re passionate and knowledgeable about, whether that’s beauty or babies or goldfish. Don’t get bogged down in the technical stuff at the start and enjoy yourself with it.

How much money can you make from blogging? 

If you want to make a quick buck from blogging then it’s probably not for you. It took me two and a half years to start making money and even then it was only drips and drabs of pocket money, certainly not enough to live off. Through my advertising and sponsored posts I now earn about half my income from my blog with the other half being through Freelance Digital Marketing-related activities, most of which have come about because of my blog. It helps that I was a Digital Marketing Manager before Elfie was born and the fact I have a really active online presence definitely drives my freelance gigs. There are other bloggers out there doing the same when it comes to Freelancing: check out Tweet Pin Share from lovely Katie at Mummy Daddy Me and if your blog needs a re-design then look no further than Bryony.

I work about 32 hours a week between the blog and my Freelance work and annoyingly 40% of that time is probably spent on admin: invoicing, chasing invoicing, keeping track of invoices (I hate invoices), tax rubbish, answering queries, sending out my media kit. As my business has grown so has the finance side of things and I keep track of everything using spreadsheets.

With my hours I make enough money to keep us all ticking over – we aren’t millionaires (YET) but it’s more than I’d be able to make at a part time admin job that would fit around the kids and let’s face it, blogging still doesn’t feel like work. It ain’t easy though, I’m ‘on’ all the time and spend all my evenings at my computer. When the school holidays come round it is HARD to fit work in around the kids, ditto sickness (mine or the children’s).

How did you start making money from your blog?

There are a few ways you can make money from your blog. You can look into ad programmes, like Google Adsense, join an ad network (I’m a member of Handpicked Future and I love them) or work with affiliate networks. I use SkimLinks as it’s an automated service and as I’m not blogging much about fashion, which I think is where you can make the big bucks through affiliates such as RewardStyle. Saying that, I earn about 7 quid a month through them so it’s not exactly a big money spinner ;)

There are plenty of agencies offering sponsored posts out there. My favourites are Collective Bias (lovely Jo Middleton is in charge of CB in the UK – you can apply here), TAN Media and iProspect and I’d say it’s definitely worth reaching out to them if you’re interested in hosting sponsored content on your blog.

When it comes to prospective clients I always try to keep any communication as professional as possible and so supply a Media Pack which includes a lovely little background about me, any awards I’ve been nominated for, where I can be found on Social Media and my blog statistics. Bear in mind that lots of companies will enquire about your Page Rank and Domain Authority so it’s worth popping those in too. You can find these things at the Open Site Explorer. If you’re interested in working directly with brands then this is a great resource, and here’s how to draft a great media kit.

Aren’t you selling out by hosting sponsored posts? 

Really, I don’t think so. I see the money I get paid for sponsored posts as payment for all the posts I do for the love ;) And I really do try to make sure they’re all as entertaining as possible, even if they are about supermarkets or vaginas. Plus, companies like Collective Bias are changing the way we work with brands by encouraging creativity when it comes to crafting our posts. My favourite work I’ve done for them was based on gin, obviously.

Blogging Professionally: How I Made Blogging My Career

How do you stay motivated? 

Not having any set working hours is difficult. As is working at home… it’s so easy to get distracted by the TV/washing/lunch/next door’s cat in the garden. I try to stay as focussed as I can when I’m at my computer, but oh look, a pigeon… so I try to mix it up and work from cafes on occasion. I also find that sometimes I can wake up after a bad night with the kids and just feel so uninspired. It’s really difficult to be creative and efficient when you’re running on four hours sleep and your bed is upstairs calling your name.

There are upsides to working for yourself though. On the one hand, if I’ve got a deadline to work to it’s a pain in the bum to tell my friends I can’t bring the kids to a picnic at the park today because I’ve got to write a post about mortgages, but on the other hand it’s great to be able to take a spontaneous morning off if I don’t have anything time-sensitive to deal with.

Writing-wise I find I’m pretty productive between the hours of 7-9pm so I try to get all my posts scribbled then if I can. Otherwise I try to use other empty pockets of time that would otherwise be spent staring into space; train journeys, waiting for school to finish, waking up in the middle of the night, that sort of thing. You’d be surprised how many of my blog posts began their life hastily planned out on my iPhone!

I find it really hard to motivate myself to respond to emails that aren’t urgent (SORRY!). My inbox is always drowning in messages and this is something I wish I could get better at. I also wish I had more time to reply to reader comments and comment on other blogs.

Looking at the bigger picture, it is really difficult to maintain a pace of posting. I’m happy with 3 posts a week but I know other bloggers (like the lovely Fritha) manage up to 5 posts a week. There’s a lot of time that goes into that: planning, photography, the actual writing, editing, promoting… and that’s before you take admin and factoring the running of Social Media accounts into the equation. Especially if you’re working a full time job or you have kids to look after- it can be impossible when the last thing you want to do is sit down at your computer and start writing. But I’ve always treated my blog like a business, even before it made money; it’s something I’m so proud of that I really want to be as successful as possible. I have given up things that I used to enjoy (evening Friends marathons on Comedy Central, going out to lunch) in favour of dedicating time to the blog. So far it’s paying off.

How do you keep your private life private? 

When I’m writing it’s very rare I think about oversharing. Is that weird? I write about what feels natural to me, issues I think others will benefit from reading about or times in my life I want to remember in the future. It is odd when my friends know what’s up with me before I tell them when we meet for coffee or when I’m recognised from my blog in the supermarket (hi Gemma!) (totally made me feel like a rockstar by the way). I guess there are lines I’ve unconsciously drawn; I wrote a bit about dating but won’t write about my relationship, my parents read the blog so I won’t write about sex (Mum: I’ve only done it twice, promise) and I steer away from anything to do with my ex. In the future if the children ever have a problem with anything I’m writing or have written about them then I will respect their wishes and take it down.

Basically, I just do what feels natural.

What do you think? Would you ever like to make money from blogging? Is there anything you’d like to know about my experience? Hit me up with any questions in the comments section and I’ll do my best to answer them. 

79 thoughts on “Blogging As A Business: How I Turned My Blog Into My Career

  1. This is really interesting to read how you run your business. I also have a blogging business but in a completely different way; so I would add to any readers out there wanting to try it, that you can also write business blogs as a freelance blogger in a niche topic that you are familiar with. My ‘niche’ is boating businesses and boating charities.

    I can really relate to trying to fit working at home around sick children etc!

  2. Ahhh my favourites list just grew rapidly! Thanks for sharing Alice, great for a newbie like me. I did actually get up and make a drink before I started reading and it was gone before I got to the bottom. Can you hurry up and write a book please, I enjoy your writing x

    • Thanks Caroline! I seriously could write a book about blogging. Writing this made me realise how much there is to say about it – I love it x

  3. This is really good read Alice, thank you. I left my full-time job last year to spend more time at home and am making a part-time wage from blogging now. I never really thought of myself as being tech savvy but was surprised at how much I do know. There are so many ways our blogging skills can be put to good use and there is a way to make a decent income if you are patient and love it enough :-)
    Working from home is hard though and I agree the holidays are tough when you are on a deadline and have a little one begging you to take them to the park. I find it very hard to motivate myself in the evenings. I feel much more creative first thing so often will get up before my son to crack on with a few things. All those years of wishing he would sleep in until 7.30am so I could sleep in, and now that he finally does, I am still up at 6!
    Well done on all your success my love, you are FAB!

    • Ooh what recipe were you after?!

      I think you’ve hit a really good point there – as bloggers we ARE tech savvy and we definitely undersell ourselves. I don’t think we realise how transferable our skills are. I’d love to expand my consultancy side of things at some point and I made a pact with myself to only ever hire freelancers who are mums and bloggers. Nobody knows how to juggle and organize like we do!

  4. great post Alice, I struggle with explaining my job to people, in fact now I have the online shop too people seem to think that’s what I do..where in reality my shop doesn’t even make half what my blog does. I was completely stumped when a mum at nursery asked what my job was so mumbled something about the internet and social media.. I know when I say the world blog they dimiss it as a hobby but I think things are probably changing a bit in terms of people’s perceptions. Also I love Nat too, big blog crush on that lady for sure x

    • I do the same! A lot of mumbling at nursery ;) I’ve definitely seen perceptions change and I think the outlook for blogging is so exciting at the moment. The world is our oyster! x

  5. Really enjoyed reading this post. I started blogs a couple of times over the past few years but never really felt that they were ‘me’. I’ve recently got the courage to give it a go and have just set up my new blog. This time round I’m doing what just feels right and it seems so much easier and far more fun! Thanks for the advice, it’s so lovely to be inspired by others but happy to allow myself to feel vulnerable and just go for it. X

    • Thanks Stella, this was great to read and you’re so right, when you do what you enjoy it is so much more fun! I’m going over to take a read of your blog right now x

  6. Thanks so much for mentioning me lovely Alice. I really enjoyed reading this post and learning about how you work as a blogger/freelancer. I am so thankful to my blog for the opportunities it has bought me but I definitely think there is a still a bit of ‘confused’ perspective on blogging, especially amongst my friends and family. Although I feel very lucky to be doing this as a job now, it has taken a lot of hard work, missed opportunities and hours and hours (years!) of building it up making no money to make it what it is now. And while a bit of mine is blog stuff, most is still freelance marketing. I have over seven years online marketing experience in a previous role, so it definitely hasn’t just come overnight as you mentioned was similar for you too. Still it’s fab and I love it, so great to work around my girls. x

  7. Really interesting. The trouble with me is I worry about my page rank being slashed if I do a follow link – which most sponsored posts are. Guess I should worry less. I do love collective bias for being no follow :-)

  8. Really interesting and inspiring read. I have been blogging 2 years now (and still feel like a total newbie!) and finally went self employed just before Christmas so I could start saying yes to some of the offers I was receiving (I had NO idea you could earn money when I started, has been an utter bonus to bring in some cash from something I do for love!) I haven’t begun to look into adverts and am only just getting into the swing of sponsored posts, but am hoping that when my youngest starts school in 15 months time that I might be able to build to a point where we can make ends meet as a family without me needing to return to full time work with all it’s associated childcare issues. Not that working from home is without those – I took a call from the Cabinet Office about a post I was doing for Britmums when I was at playgroup last week – it isn’t always easy to juggle professionalism and parenthood is it!

    • Thanks Sonya! I know what you mean, I was all kinds of excited when I started getting offered money for something I so enjoy doing. It feels like I don’t deserve it sometimes! ;) Fingers crossed with scaling it up for 15 months time.

  9. This is a great post!

    I might just refer all the people who ask me ‘so how do you make money from a blog’ to it. Boy do I get sick of that question!

  10. What a great post, especially for anyone just starting out or thinking about blogging. The best advice I ever took on was to start writing as until you start you won’t start to find your own individual voice. That very first post is a tricky one though!!

  11. Great post and thanks for sharing. I have been blogging for 9 months and started to make money after about 4 months. I would love to take things further, but for now I am so grateful for all the opportunities I get. I post everyday, sometime twice if I have a picture post or a competition, it is pretty hardcore :) x

  12. A great post which answers so many of the questions that I see new bloggers, or people thinking about starting blogging, asking online. To me I think one of the most important things to point out is that it can be a long time before you start to make money from your blog. Years in my case, but then when I started blogging people didn’t really make money from blogs at all here in the UK.

    • Yes – that’s a really good point to make. My mum is thinking of starting a blog because she sees all the great experiences I get through mine, I haven’t the heart to tell her how many years of hard work and dedication it takes to get here!

  13. Amazing post and just what I needed to read. I have so much to learn as the ULTIMATE NEWBIE I really do. But I am inspired and in full swing of it. I probably post too much sometimes twice a day, I know crazy. But I have so many things I want to share and get out it all comes flying out of me. Then I think is it stupid should I delete. I over think it all and question it as I really really want to make this my career but like you said I am not in it for a quick buck. I am in it for the love of writing first and the passion for it and hopefully the rest will fall into place. You have great tips here and a few blogs and places I will have to check out. Thank you so much for sharing all your advice too it’s bloggers like you who share these that really help the rest of us and inspire me!!! Keep up the fantastic work. I am so proud of you and glad you have made your passion your career!!! I will keep being in awe of you and learning from the pros!!! ;)

  14. You make me realise there is so much more I could do with my blog what I struggle with is time to do it though. So much excellent advise I have bookmarked you

  15. This is great! I have just started. Not thinking about money at all yet but at the same time I’m bamboozeled (sp??) by how you would physically earn money with your blog. This has cleared a lot up for me. I’m still just writing whatever comes to mind with no real blog niche which will probably appear more or less by itself… rambling now. Thanks for this post, consider it bookmarked ;-)

  16. Hi there Alice,

    Another really good post! I was just wondering how you managed to get visitors to your blog before you started making money on it. As you know, I’ve just started a blog and although I have shared my posts on Facebook, I’m still not getting very many “followers”. Do you have any advice apart from Facebook sharing? I’d be interested to hear your ideas!

    Many thanks,

    Hollie :o)

    • Hi Hollie,
      I think I started getting visitors by taking part in the whole ‘community’ of blogging as much as possible – commenting, getting involved in Twitter, that sort of thing. Twitter has been a huge thing for me and it’s something I really enjoy taking part in! I also try to keep an eye on what’s going on in Tots100 and BritMums and really love going to blogging conferences – it’s a great way to meet other bloggers. And SEO! That’s important, if you can learn a little about basic SEO and make sure you’re doing everything right in that respect :)

      Hope that helps a little!

      Alice x

  17. It’s my turn to feel famous now – it’s like seeing my name in lights (well the closest I’ll ever get anyway!).

    Waitrose aside, I enjoyed this post as while I don’t blog I do work for myself, at home and trying to fit around the kids so I was interested to see when you fit your work in. Like you I find evenings are my most productive but I need to work on using those ‘empty pockets of time’, although drinking a large cup of tea and reading yours and Katie’s (I love her blog too) blogs is utilising one of the pockets perfectly I would say, wouldn’t you? ;-)

    • Gemma, your pieces are beautiful! I’ve seen a couple of companies who are similar to you but their products are always a bit twee for me. Yours are perfect. I’m going to dig out some newborn baby sleepsuits from my baby’s early days!

      I LOVE that empty pocket of time when you have a cup of tea and read blogs. It’s my favourite time of day ;)

  18. This is a brilliant post – I’m totally de lurking to comment after reading for a while! I’m lucky enough to be a full time blogger / health coach / recipe developer etc etc so can relate to so much of this. I’m the same with the over share, I just write freely I couldn’t imagine doing it another way! I’m currently 22 weeks pregnant with my first, so it’s going to be interesting to see how my blogging changes in line with that – and I’ll certainly be looking to your blog for parenting stuff!

    • I can’t believe it took you so long to de-lurk Laura, your blog is absolutely brilliant!! The food you cook is right up my street, I’ve added you to my RSS reader so I don’t miss any recipes. Keep oversharing ;) x

  19. Hi Alice,
    Thanks so much for this. My blog started as therapy but has turned into a whole new life, but what I write is so personal (mostly about my autistic son) and so niche (mental health, relationships, philosophy) that I have been surprised at the response, with mumsnet being a key driver. Monetising it seems like a huge step- and I have struggled with pros because of the brutal honesty of my reviews. But I have signed up to the affiliates and agencies you suggested here, so fingers crossed my stats, rather than my content, do some of the talking for me for a change!

    • I think that’s what I love most about my favourite blogs – the personal realness and honesty of them. Let me know how you get on with the affiliates and agencies – bet of luck!

  20. Great post. It really bugs me when people are all weird about bloggers being paid for sponsored posts and so on – yes it’s a passionate hobby but, er, yes we’d still like to earn some money! As long as the content is a nice fit, then go for it I say. I’m just passed my two year marker and starting to get advertising enquiries and sponsored post requests too. Just figuring out my own personal ‘strategy’ (that sounds so wanky!) I think it’s important for all us bloggers to share info on how to turn blog into money earner – we’re not really in competition as we’re all so unique – so well done for this post. Just discovered your blog via Mumsnet so I’ll be popping by quite often. TTFN! Rachel X

    • This is my pet peeve too! It seems some people are just totally hell-bent on us poor bloggers slogging our arses off for free. We work really hard, why shouldn’t we take all the opportunities that are offered to us?
      Thank you for commenting – I LOVE your recipes and your photography is just beautiful. I’ve added to my RSS reader for meal inspiration! x

  21. So interesting to read about your blogging ‘journey’. Yours was the first British blog I found when I was newly pregnant and looking for fashion advice! I think you were pregnant with Hux at the time, and I had so far only delved into US home improvement blogs. Your voice was totally refreshing and I still admire that today – your posts are honest, thought provoking, never preachy and always read in a conversational style that you might have with one of your girlfriends. I started my own blog last year as I have always enjoyed writing journals and taking photos. My own enjoyment is my main motivation at the moment, but it’s such a buzz to receive comments (Ha! When it happens!) Anyway, I’m blathering on a bit now, but just wanted to say thanks for the inspiration!

    • Thank-you so much for your lovely words Anna! I really loved reading your post on mindfulness. It’s something I’ve been trying to practice myself over the last year and I really enjoy reading others’ take on it. x

  22. It’s nice to know that with hard work and dedication that a blog can become a business. I found this post inspiring. I had been writing on other sites before plucking up the courage of start my own blog and I am really glad that I have.

    I write because I enjoy it, but I would love to be able to make some money from it too. It is encouraging to know that it is possible to earn a small income from blogging.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Thanks Debbie! I’m glad this was useful. I think it’s important as you have said to write because you enjoy it, but making money from it is great too. As you know a lot of effort goes into producing a blog.

  23. Great post! It’s blogs like yours that have inspired me to start my own a few weeks ago. I love reading your posts and it’s great to see you can make a living from something you obviously love so much!

    • Thanks Xanthe! Really glad you’ve started your own. There’s no satisfaction like the satisfaction of a good blog post :) Your photos of Scotland are stunning! X

  24. Was looking for Paleo recipes and stumbled across this-need to get back on the low carb wagon after croissants in France!

    Great post, I feel I’m often educating friends on what it means to blog as a career, definitely not the easiest thing to explain but blogging is becoming so much more well known. In fact I had a meeting not long ago with a huge agent re my screenwriting and they spent the majority of the time discussing my blogging.

    … Blogging in the last 2 years or so for me has become my full time, well paid job (I earn the same as when I directed full time)-advertising historically is always well paid even directing ads for me over docs for example.. and with a background in journalism pre filmmaking and editing a film magazine, I feel that experience and confidence allowed me to become a pro-blogger.

    I always set high rates and know my worth. Vital when carving a career out from the start.

    I love how influential parenting blogging is and the huge doors blogging can and has opened. It has truly democratised the working environment for parents. Flexible, fun, stimulating work for brands I admire. Well done to you too on your blogging work and new job! x

    • Ahh croissants… that’s one thing I find it sooo hard to stay away from!

      I agree it’s vital to know your worth when you blog. I think some newer bloggers are so excited about getting paid that they de-value themselves and accept small amounts. We’re worth so much more!! x

  25. Wow…is it an over share if I actually went to the loo and made a cup of tea before reading the rest of this post?! Brilliant feature- thank you so much for taking the time to write and share your experience, wisdom and helpful links- as a newbie blogger I really appreciate posts like this! I’m absolutely loving blogging and the experiences its giving me so far and the feedback I’ve been receiving, but I would of course ideally like to be earning a wage from it at some point. Will keep blogging away and hopefully get there someday! x

  26. I was glued to every word of this post, thank you. I started blogging for fun but now spend half my working life writing content for other people’s sites and really miss writing for myself. I’m determined to make time for my own blog. It’s always motivating to hear from people who have made theirs a success.

  27. Great advice, thank you so much for sharing. I started my blog partly because I wanted to help but also because (through my work) i saw a lot of people making money out of blogging and I wanted to be able to too. I wanted to be able to do what I love for a living and then donate free time to worthwhile causes.

    However now I realise that what I would really love is my own little blogging community. With people who care and I have that now. Although low in numbers I have some amazing friends and that means so so much. So I try to forget about stats, go back to writing from the heart and just wait to see what the future will bring.

  28. Argh. I’ve taken the plunge. This blog came at a good time for me, i’ve been dithering over posting my ramblings. Not for any gain but just to get started. Some of the things you shared made total sense, a welcome nudge in the right direction! Thanks x

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  31. What an excellent post. Thank so much for sharing all of your knowledge. I am starting to get ‘noticed’ by agencies, particularly now that I’m a finalist in both the MADs and the BiBs but have yet to make any big bucks, just pocket money at the moment. I haven’t written a media pack so will definitely read your advice :)

  32. This is a great post, thank you! Regarding invoices, what system do you use? I use Accounts Portal, which is reasonable but I’m wondering if others have good results with other sites/systems?

  33. Incredibly helpful!
    I’ve often wondered, did you ever feel like giving up when the number of hits to any of your posts went down? Obvs now you are uber successful – but at the beginning?

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