It doesn't matter if you're not making money on your blog.
You tell someone you’re a blogger and they’ll immediately respond “cool, so you get loads of free stuff?”. The conversation then usually goes “sometimes, yeah”… “so you get paid to just write, it sounds so easy”, and by this point I’ve already given up on whoever I’m speaking to. Not only is it completely untrue that bloggers “just write” and then get free products and money, it also belittles blogging as a hobby/career.
When I began blogging, I had done no research. I just knew that I wanted to write, I didn’t care if people read it or not. Then, I wrote a post I was really proud of and I thought “wow, maybe people should read this”; at this point I had no clue what DA, niche or SEO meant, let alone faffing about with your codes (which I still struggle to do). Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
You should blog because you love blogging, not because you think you’ll get money for simply writing – it’s not that easy, by the way – or because you’ll get free things. That should all be a bonus to the fact that you’re doing what you love and people are enjoying it.
I didn’t get my first completely free product until my Anatomicals post which I wrote in October – I sometimes get free bits from Influenster that I write about, but they send you samples based on what you like. By the time I received my first free product, I’d been blogging for around a year. Granted, I wasn’t as focused on blogging as I am now and over my recent posts I’ve begun to find my ‘voice’, but what matters is that I was loving writing and getting it out there. If getting free stuff is your priority, I suggest you apply to a free samples site, such as Influenster.
And money? I had my first paid post in December; after over a year of blogging. I’m not putting myself on a high horse, either. I have ads on my page, often say yes to collaborations and I email companies when I think I may be able to work with them. It’s rewarding when you realise you’re making money from your passion, but it should be rewarding because people are enjoying your content so much that you can financially benefit from it. I'm pretty sick of people thinking that you must be making money to be a good blogger.
It shouldn’t matter if you’re not making any money on your blog, despite what all of those Pinterest “how I make $45k a month blogging”, “how to turn your blog into a business” and all those posts say. You should be blogging because you love blogging and interacting with your audience.
My favourite thing to do (as sad as it sounds for a 19 year old student) is to sit down and write a post and then take all of the pictures for it. It’s so rewarding to see how much my writing and photography has improved and it's really been reflected in my traffic. It’s not reflected in how much money I’m making, however, as I’m making very little.
But, do you know what? I’m really not bothered. I put affiliate links in when I can, because why wouldn’t you want to make some extra pennies for recommending products that you genuinely love? I won’t go out of my way to write about something if I’m not passionate about it.
If your heart is in the writing and producing, then the sky really is your limit. Thank you for reading my little ramble on why it shouldn't matter. Of course, if blogging is your full-time job then obviously the money matters but if it's not then please don't worry too much about your blogging income. People love you for your writing, not for how many sponsored posts you do!
You only have to spend 30 seconds on Pinterest to come across a “ways to be more successful on your (insert blog/instragam/YT/twit)", and if you click on them they will all say the same thing – BE AUTHENTIC, usually with a picture of a smiley sunny blogger next to it. When I came back to blogging I told myself I was going to let ‘me’ peek through more in my blogs and online, less of that shimmery, perfect lifestyle crap; but it made me realise, what does authenticity really mean?
In general, I am a very sweary person (is that a word? It is now). I don’t mean I swear aggressively, I just often say bloody, shit, crap, the occasional “f*ck” – I’m definitely playing that down, I use the f word all the time – but if I swear in my posts will that make me more authentic? I don’t swear that often in front of my parents (out of habit), so does that mean I’m not being ‘me’ when I’m around them? Absolutely not.
Everything I write on this blog and on my social media accounts is authentic and me. If I’ve had a rubbish day, I’ll mention it – but also, I’d probably say to my friends that I’ve had a “shit” day. This doesn’t mean I’m ‘fake’. In the same way, I’m very sarcastic and definitely take the mick out of my friends, in that loving way, don’t worry, but I’m certainly not going to treat fellow bloggers like that. I’ll let my humour seep through, yes, but would I throw some tongue-in-cheek tweet out to someone who may misinterpret it on the internet? No way.
We are people with different dimensions. We don’t behave in our uni/place of work in the same way we behave with our friends but that doesn’t mean we’re being inauthentic in either situation. I’ve undoubtedly spent too long mulling over the meaning of ‘authentic’ recently, and sometimes I think we can try so hard to be real that we end up getting caught up in that and not doing what we actually enjoy, the writing.
I’ve definitely relaxed into my blog posts more and my traffic is showing that (maybe authenticity is key?) but I don’t think I have anyone to thank for that but myself. I haven’t become the sweary, bantery Soph that my friends see nor have I become the quiet note taker who will occasionally raise their hand in a lecture, I’ve simply become a more confident writer who now has a following and no longer feels scared to hide behind the rose tinted glass that we often see on social media.