Blogging as a job – the industry, tips and media kits!
Hello Explorersaurs! Since I started my old blog(s – it had a couple of rebrands!) – a few years ago, I often entered the discussion of blogging as a job, an income source, and of course the topic of whether or not bloggers are legitimate, trustworthy etc etc. It all started as such a small niche of people where income was little to none, but people just enjoyed rambling away online. Now blogs cover every genre you can think of, and people start up all too often looking for an income source and not thinking too far ahead. I think blogs are like (free) shiny magazines, but far more relatable. Honestly, the more the merrier when it comes to blogs, but, if you’re looking to start one up as a business or to gain traction there are a few things to consider, and really a few things to just be aware of on your venture.
The first thing to think about and something to regularly check in on and evolve (if needed!) is why you’re actually blogging. If you’re looking for a site you can grow, and you’re bothered about having an audience and a cheeky little subscription tracker, think about how you can bring value to other people. As with any business really, considering why people should choose you is the starting point to guide your posts. Usually we have top level categories and then lots of subcategories that can get seriously detailed. For example, Explorersaur is predominantly a travel blog, and within travel there are lots! But going deeper, we talk about budget travel; how to see the world without earning ££££ on the regs, travel with family and friends, and the bigger niche of ours is couples travel and the things you can do with your partner abroad. Whilst not every post has to fit in and you might talk about a few different topics, it’s always good to have your main idea within your branding and guiding you on post ideas and your tone of voice.
In terms of the blogging industry, I think it’s so important to have the mindset that there really is room for everyone. So many people say the market is over-saturated and speak about imitator blogs, (yawn) but realistically with the huge audience that regularly turn to blogs, there is absolutely room for more. As long as you’re happy and not overly comparing yourself or other bloggers together, you. do. you. For all the bad industry comments there are 100 good ones!
Once you’ve planned your blog, platform hosting is going to be the first practical step. There are a huge amount of free and paid options, that generally come with a range of different tools and capabilities. Unless you’re totally set and committed, I think it’s generally a good idea to start free and then upgrade from there. It can be awkward exporting your entire blog to reupload if you change servers, so this stage is really worth spending some time on researching.
For me, WordPress has always been the best way to go. Blogger was the OG rival here, and now loads of sites like Wix and Squarespace offer alternative options to look at. I haven’t tried every option so can’t totally comment of everything, but out of the paid options, capabilities, plugins, themes (the list goes on,) WordPress generally offered the most for me for the best price. I currently use the business plan which offers security, hosting, SSL certificate and more in one. Basically, I don’t have to pay other companies for different areas of my site, and it’s all under one roof. I used to host through WordPress’ sister brand BlueHost, and after some trouble and hacking, had to pay a new site for security. All in all, it was a giant pain and it’s so much better to have it all-in-one for safety and when you do need help with the technical jazz. What I would say for sure is do some research into both the good and bad – look at reviews online and see what provider will offer you the most.
There are lots of Facebook groups for bloggers where you can chat and ramble about all of this, so if you’re open to a conversation on it or if something is just too hard to get, have a search here as there are some fantastic people online who will help you out.
Pretty much all blogs worth their weight will have an integrated strategy with social media – it’s really just marketing a business isn’t it? As a beginner (or really anyone without 8792 hours in a day,) it can be hard to manage every social media under the sun. Rather, it can be more beneficial to fully focus on two or three, and you can add in new ones as time goes on – if you feel like it.
One of the best ways to drive traffic without already having a huge social media following is Pinterest. There are a huge amount of Pinterest tutorials and advice to get the most you can out of it online, so it’s worth having a Google to get to know the business side of promoting on Pinterest. Lots of blogs have thousands of monthly views from Pinterest as it generally works as a search engine. You can set your account to a business account for free (much like Instagram,) and see your analytics, plan your content, and learn more about your audience. Canva is a brilliant tool to use alongside Pinterest and make your photos grab attention – you can use a lot of these features for free but the premium version is well worth it in my opinion!
In terms of monetising your blog, there are a few things to consider. First is working with brands and collaborating, as I’ll go through in more detail in the next section. Another thing to look at is affiliate programmes. Generally most companies are connected to affiliate companies that allow you to earn a % of sales through using their links, that track when customers come through you and your platforms. It’s important to only ever include these where relevant, as readers will always be put out when you’re plugging non-stop without a whole lot else going on. When you time it right and relevantly, it can be a good way to earn some money through no extra effort to the posts you’re already creating. Some websites have their own schemes like Amazon Affiliates and eBay, whereas other brands work with a third-party provider like AWIN. You generally won’t be able to use these with a free blog and have to be self hosted, with your own URL. (For example, not explorersaur.wordpress.com, but simply explorersaur.com.)
Working with brands
I think one of the main reasons people are drawn to blogging are the shiny press packages and collaborations you see all over social media. Some people seem to go on 10 free holidays a year and never need to buy clothes or products as they’re all gifted to them – the Love Island effect in a nutshell! I’ve worked on both sides of this coin arranging work for companies with bloggers, and being the blogger myself. Whilst it sounds super dreamy, there are some things to consider when looking to work with brands.
Credibility is absolutely key when you’re looking at working with brands. All too often you’ll receive emails from brands wanting to work with on new launches or products, but if they’re not a part of your niche or won’t be relevant to your audience it’s really not worth it; as it can be brand damaging when you’re obviously not into it. (Think of the reality TV influencers repping weight loss teas – wrong for so many reasons – who had never even used it, YIKES McGee.)
With that being said, there are a few things to do when you want to work with relevant brands. Firstly, be approachable. Most social medias have a contact option so always include your email here – you can just set up a new one if you don’t want a risk of unsolicited messages. Along with this, it’s usually a good idea to have a PR/contact section on your blog. Brands will often use this as scope to see you’d be interested in working with them, and won’t spend a huge amount of time looking for a contact option if it is not simple – so let’s make it simple! You can also reach out to brands you would be interested in working with. Check you’re right for them first by seeing who has worked with the brand on social media before – are their followings all a similar amount, do you align? Perhaps their photos are all predominantly white and bright, are yours fitting? Sussing this out makes it easier to know if it’s worth both of your time by emailing, and most companies have a PR email on their website. (Don’t go straight in with the DM as chances are you’ll get lost!)
Another thing to consider is Media Kits. Media Kits are essentially a PDF (usually) of your brand in a nutshell. This would include your name, blog, niche, social followings and statistics, brands you have worked with before, and sometimes pricing. (Although if this varies per collaboration it is not a necessity.) There are lots of tools you can use to create a Media Kit, but Canva is the best I’ve found so far. (There’s a giveaway to win a free 4 month premium trial below so check it out if you’re interested!) When you start a conversation with brands it’s super handy to send over as it shows professionalism, and answers their initial questions in a nutshell to see if you’d make a good fit.
There are a few blogging companies that allow for collaborations with brands – both paid and gifted. It’s worth exploring everything out there – I will have a post up soon about all the platforms I use. As a start, companies like Tribe and Get Blogged are well known. There are also great local marketing agencies that allow you to get collaborations in your area – such as Social Suss. Shoot them an email to sign up as a blogger.
I have a huge amount left to discuss with you regarding blogging, tips, working with brands (things to look out for etc,) and media kits, so keep an eye out here on Explorersaur if you’d like to hear more!
Here’s a cheeky little giveaway you can enter to win £100 worth of media kit designs and a 4-month premium Canva subscription! It is open internationally and will last for one week.a Rafflecopter giveaway