Blogging REALLY isn't all about the money, but over the years bloggers have gotten a (mostly-unfair) reputation for taking money for everything, asking for free stuff, and generally acting entitled. Of course, most of us aren't like that, but there is also nothing wrong with getting paid for the work you do on your blog, the relationships you're building online, and the influence you have. We function as a working society by people offering a service to someone who needs it, getting paid in exchange – and Fashion bloggers are no different.
There have already been a lot of great articles written on IFB about monetization, but I've also seen a lot of comments recently asking the question of WHEN to start monetizing your fashion blog. So here goes.
You should start monetizing your blog:
When you have something of value to Provide
I started monetizing my first blog when I realized that I actually had influence and the potential to partner with designers and boutiques for mutual benefit. It took me about 6 months to a year to understand my blog's impact and how I could make money from it.
Now, you can start monetizing from the beginning with Google Adsense if that's your desire, but with regard to working one-on-one with brands nothing takes the place of rowing, building content/influence/etc., and feeling out you're blog's niche and impact for a few months BEFORE you monetize – it's a crucial learning tool.
Once you have a good feel for your brand, your influence, and your “place” in the world of fashion blogs, you will come to monetization with a clearer understanding of your value and what to ask for.
If you're starting to see engagement on your blog and social media, buzz around what you're doing, and you can pick out a clear path towards monetization, you're ready. Make a list of brands/boutiques/designers/etc. you'd like to work with and then start crafting introduction letters. It's helpful if you've given the brand some exposure on your blog already and you can link to that, but always also include your media kit, and a few ideas on how you can work together in your letter – be short, sweet and to the point.
As for what to include in your media kit, there are tons of resources online, including this article at IFB, and here's a link to my media kit as an example. A media kit is easy to put together once you've been blogging for a while, and you have a better feel for what you're adding to the community and the value you can provide to partners. Most importantly, you should include key statistics about your blog and the types of partnerships you offer. You can also include case studies and links to post and social media engagement, change in statistics over time, your editorial calendar, ideas for partnerships, whatever you feel is relevant to showcasing your value to an advertiser.
What to charge for your work is a completely different story and varies from blog to blog – I've always tried to base it on what I'd like to be paid for my time and go from there. Sometimes you just have to choose a number; if you're not getting any advertisers, then it's too high. If your ad space is constantly booked and you have a waiting list, you're not charging enough.
When a brand contacts you
After I wrote my article last week on working for free, I wondered if I might have been a little too positive about it, and feel like I should clarify at least one thing: if a brand contacts YOU asking you to write a post or with an idea for partnership, DO NOT DO IT FOR FREE. (I'm not talking about brands/PR companies sending press releases or basic information to you asking you if you'd write about it, I'm referring to more specific requests)
The brand reached out to you because they believe you have value to them, which they should pay for.
If you're very interested in working with the brand, write them back, sending them your media kit and pricing information. If the brand writes back not willing to pay you, decide what, if anything, it would take for you to do the work anyway (trade, future relationship, etc.) and negotiate from there.
Feel it out; if the brand is big and you know that they DO pay bloggers, but they're trying to get you to do work for free then absolutely don't do it. If the brand is small or new, and they don't have a budget, think of other ways you can work together that will be mutually beneficial. Do not work for no money without getting SOMETHING in exchange that you feel is equitable; perhaps you can ask the brand to post your blog post/photos on their Facebook page, or on their blog – you can work for each other in this way.
In the end, you will know when the time is right to start monetizing. Don't be in a hurry, or feel pressured to do it too soon; enjoy just blogging for a while, creating content, building your community.
When did you monetize your blog?
[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]