When people ask me what I do, I usually say, “I own my own business.” This suffices for those who aren’t curious or inquisitive at all. For others, though, they press further. “What kind of business?” And that always stumps me, because my business it multi-faceted and it isn’t easily categorized. Insurance companies and accountants often scratch their head when they are trying to define what I do in one word.
I usually boil it down to “blogger”. It was hard to me to call myself that for a while, because I always thought of bloggers as guys in their mom’s basements ranting about sports or politics. But, after pecking away on this URL for over 6 years, I have embraced the title.
It seems that a lot of people have the same misconceptions about “bloggers”, so I get some quizzical looks when I claim that job title. Like it can’t possibly be a real job or one that actually makes money. And that usually leads to a follow-up question for those who can’t resist…
“So, how do you make money?”
And that is what we’re going to talk about in this first post in a series on the business of blogging. Since we’re talking about business, let’s talk about the money. I mean, if it doesn’t make money, it’s not much of a business, right? No, it’s a hobby.
Now, I’m going to talk about my business specifically, but obviously all blogs and blogging businesses are different. So, just know that going into it. Also, my business has evolved a lot over the years and the money side has as well. How it is now isn’t how it started, so keep that in mind, too.
My business income is broken into two broad categories – Services & Products. Here is how it broke down over 2016…
Let’s start with the larger piece of the pie, the products/merchandise income…
This is income from furniture & antiques sold in the studio, at events, and online, the MMS Milk Paint line, book royalties and direct book sales, and other miscellaneous products like artwork, brushes, and t-shirts.
The services wedge of the pie includes advertising and sponsorship earnings through the blog, freelance writing, styling and photography jobs, design royalties and advances, and speaking engagements/appearances.
I’ll break both of these down further in a future post in this series. This is just a flyover.
The beauty of a diversified income is that I don’t have to freak out if one area is on the decline or has a bad month. I can simply step things up in another area. And there are even “dormant” sources of income that I can start again, if ever necessary. This would include taking custom upholstery and furniture work, design clients, painting murals, or selling out of a retail space.
There is an ebb and flow to all industries and diversity helps you ride the rollercoaster a little more comfortably. The fact that I like variety helps, too! It suits me to have my fingers in a lot of different things.
Keeping all of that income as pure profit would be awesome, but as my income has grown, so have my expenses. Here is how they broke down in 2016…
- Payroll Expenses – covers my employees pay, but a large part of that wedge is my taxes, since I pay almost all of them through my payroll.
- Milk Paint – This is milk paint I purchase for resale as well as investments I have to make in the line, like labels, bags, etc.
- Furniture & Accessories – These are things I purchase to resell.
- Supplies – These are things I purchase to use, like art supplies, props for photoshoots, fabric, materials for projects, tools, computers, camera equipment, etc.
- Professional Fees – These are experts I hire to support or council me in various business matters. It includes my accountant, lawyer, and business coach.
- Other – This is travel costs, all of the expenses related to my studio space, web hosting, tech support, subscriptions, advertising & promotion, and anything else that doesn’t fit in a neat category. This wedge also contains the rest of the taxes I pay.
So, how does all of this translate to useful information for an aspiring or new blogger?
- Blogging can bring in a full-time income. I think in most cases, though, the blog alone doesn’t earn a full-time income, but when paired with all of the other business opportunities a blog can bring about, it can be a successful business.
- If you started a blog and you’re disappointed in the revenue it’s bringing in (or lack thereof), start developing other aspects of your business to create diversity and take some pressure off of your blog.
- When you’re planning and dreaming, it’s easy to focus on the income, but it’s also important to be realistic about the expenses. Every idea takes money and time to get off the ground.
- Keep in mind that it takes time to build up to the point where a blog business is profitable. I worked for free for almost two years before I started to get some good income. Be patient and persistent.
As I said, I’ll share more detail about the money side of the business, but it’s too much to pack into one post, so this gives you some things to digest until the next post in this series.
If you have any questions about the business of blogging that you’d like for me to address, just leave it in the comments section below…