Hey girl hey! I get a lot of questions about what I do, primarily from people who just use social media to post pictures of dogs and check up on their distant relatives. Trust me, I know, it can be confusing. “You get paid to do what?” “Brands just SEND you stuff?” “How does posting on Instagram make you money?” Today, I’m breaking the fourth wall, and letting you in on some beauty blogging secrets. If you’ve ever wondered what beauty blogging is like, keep on scrolling!
1. Gaining a following
People always assume that gaining a following is the easiest part of blogging. WRONG. Social media sites *ahem, Instagram* make it nearly impossible to gain followers who actually LOVE what you post. They tell you to make sure you’re liking and commenting on others’ photos, but then block you for liking too many. They tell you to make sure you’re posting consistently, then ban you for posting too much. I have known bloggers to be banned for weeks from posting, which is DETRIMENTAL to our business. That could literally shut down a blogger from making any money for months! Although it’s not about the numbers, numbers help us when it comes to working with brands, and making money. If you want to follow me on Instagram, click HERE! I love to make new IG besties!
2. Brand deals
Speaking of working with brands, one of the most lucrative, yet difficult ways to make money is through brand deals. Essentially, brands can approach bloggers to post for them in exchange for money. There are usually a lot of behind the scenes things that people don’t realize. A lot of people just assume that a brand emails me, sends me product, I post, and then I get paid the big bucks. Not quite….
First and foremost, it usually starts out with an email. Either I emailed the brand, or they emailed me. Oftentimes it comes through an agency who represents that brand. The email starts out with what they would offer me in exchange for a few key things. Usually, what they want is a dedicated blog post, a static post on my Instagram, videos of me using the product, a Facebook post, and various mentions of the product throughout the year. This whole process could take anywhere from one day to a few weeks.
There is a huge stigma attached to bloggers getting paid for this work. Let me tell you, I don’t know a single blogger who isn’t working his/her butt off to make these types of deals go as smoothly as possible. I also don’t know of a single blogger who is being paid money to promote a product they don’t like. For me personally, when I first get one of these emails, I evaluate whether or not this is something I would use. If it’s not, I immediately respond back with a decline. Next, I evaluate if this is something my audience would benefit from. I have turned down brand deals before because it genuinely didn’t seem like a product my followers would want to hear about. You have to make those decisions for yourself and for your following. The center of my blog is solely about education and teaching, so if a brand doesn’t teach ME, I’m not into it.
Full disclaimer: I have made hundreds off brand deals, while some bloggers have made millions. It’s all about your following and how much time you can commit.
3. Drafting for brands + due dates
If I make the decision to go through with the brand deal, it’s time to start drafting. Many brands will ask for a few drafts before your post goes live. They send you brand imagery, post ideas, and links that you need to have present throughout your posts. Like I mentioned above, this can take awhile to perfect. Brands want to make sure your absolute best is what is presented to the world.
Have you ever seen a blogger post multiple brand deals, sponsored posts, etc. in a row? There is usually a reason for this! Brands have their own unique due dates for everything. When you first sign your contract to do a project, you are notified of each due date. The first draft might be due two weeks before the final project is to be uploaded. These due dates are out of the blogger’s control, and can sometimes fall back to back. No, we aren’t deceiving you, it’s just all a part of the process. Although I understand how annoying it may be from a consumer’s standpoint, it is quite literally how we can make a living. If you really want to help that blogger out, something you can do without spending a penny is liking and commenting on their sponsored posts! It shows the brand that their following is engaged and buys into what they say.
4. PR gifting
Another huge aspect of beauty blogging is getting free product. Usually, when a brand sends you free product, they expect you to post about it, but it’s a lot more laid back than a deal would be. Oftentimes, brands will start out with gifting opportunities before they decide to offer you a full out brand deal. It’s a great way for both the blogger and the brand to determine whether or not the other one is a good match for each other.
Like I mentioned before, I have made hundreds of dollars in brand deals, but I have received thousands of dollars in free product. It is the best perk of the job. Not only does it benefit you, but it benefits your followers as well. It helps me get a good idea of what products work, and which ones don’t. More times than none, I love the product I get. Even if it doesn’t exactly work for me, I know that it will work for some of my followers, so I will still post about it. I always put out a disclaimer in that situation!
Similarly to getting brand deals, one of two things happens: either I reach out to the brand (more common) or the brand reaches out to me. In either case, I always go through the same process that I do with brand deals: is this something I would use, is this something my followers would use, and is this something that I can put an educational spin on? If it passes through those three questions, then I will accept. If not, I move on.
5. Working with other bloggers
This is by far my favorite part! I love getting the chance to meet so many different people who do what I do. Most bloggers I’m sure would agree. Yes, it’s fun getting free stuff, and yes it’s fun getting paid, but being able to brainstorm with like minded individuals is so rewarding. I have made so many friends that I consider to be close to, even though we live hundreds of miles away! How cool is that? I’ve even made blogging friends in the area that I am moving to this summer, so I’ll have built-in friends that have the same interests as me as soon as I get there.
On the flip side, there are cliques in blogging as well. I have experienced this, but don’t really want to focus on it. The blogging world is mainly comprised of women, and we’ve alllll seen Mean Girls. There are cliques in any industry, it’s natural. I don’t focus on it, even when I don’t understand why people are like that. I just continue to do my own thing regardless. Not everyone is going to get along, or get to know each other, and that’s totally okay! The vast majority of bloggers are inclusive, kind, and fun to talk to.
6. The work that goes into each post
This is the part that genuinely shocks people when I tell them. Like I mentioned before, brand deal posts can be very time consuming, and for good reason! But when I do my own post without having verbiage from a brand, it can still take me awhile to get it all done. For a blog post, I could spend days working on it. I start out putting it into a Google Doc so I don’t lose it. Then, I go through and manually copy and paste everything into my blog server. This process can take hours due to formatting and placing things in the right area. Then, editing! My least favorite part, but the most important part. Sometimes I slip up on this, and my fiance will text me when I have grammatical errors. Or maybe I just add them to make sure he’s paying attention.
Once everything is formatted how I like it, I begin to do the graphics for my blog post. This is my favorite part, partly because I’m a Photoshop fiend, partly because I love the design process. I will purposely spend hours on my graphics, because it is the part that I am most picky about. If it doesn’t look perfect, I won’t post it. I am constantly going through my blog and changing up everything. It’s the most important aspect to me, because it’s what both the readers and brands see first when they come to my blog. It’s the face of my brand! I want it to be pretty. When the graphics are all done, I add them throughout the post.
The last step before I post is going through and adding affiliate links. Affiliate links help me to see what my readers are buying. It also is another way I make money. Essentially, if you purchase from a link I provide, I get a commission. I’m not talking hundreds of dollars, I’m talking a very small percentage of your purchase goes into my pocket. The best part about it for me is that I get to see what you all are genuinely interested in. It gives me a roadmap of what to post more about so that you have the best products to purchase. I haven’t made a living off of affiliate links, but affiliate links can be the best way for bloggers to make a full time living. I know of a blogger who makes almost $500,000 a year just sharing links to products! What a dream.
8. Investing in blogging
If someone would have told me the money it takes to invest into a blog, I’m not sure I would have ever started! At this point, I don’t think I have profited quite yet. I have probably spent thousands on my blog. The biggest way I have invested in my blog is through courses and equipment. Other bloggers sell courses that help you learn the tricks of the trade. I have been so fortunate to take some amazing courses from bloggers that I look up to.
Blogging is not a get rich quick type of job. It takes a lot of investment for sure. Camera equipment, lighting, backgrounds, and so much more can be costly. I’d like to say that there is a more cost effective way to have everything you need, but that isn’t the case. Pretty much every cent I make from blogging goes directly back into my business. This isn’t me trying to complain, I love spending money that I know will eventually have a return. It is just the reality of blogging, and something that I did not realize the extent of until very recently.
9. Promoting yourself
Do you ever see a blogger post constantly about their blog? Maybe they’re asking you to follow them on Instagram, or to go like and comment on their newest post. That’s because literally everything we do is based on how many likes or comments we get. It’s becoming even more important than how many followers we have nowadays! People liking and commenting on our posts, as well as sharing them is one of the most important aspects when it comes to our careers. If people aren’t getting social with us on social media, everything we do is done in vain. So when you see a blogger talking about how they would like for you to go follow, like, comment and share, it’s not just us wanting to become famous, it’s us wanting to put food on the table.
However, it doesn’t just stop there. Once we post, we need to go and share it EVERYWHERE. Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, blogging groups, email, the list goes on. I think I spend more time getting the word out about my blog than I do actually writing it, honestly. It’s really fun for me though, because way after the fact, someone will tell me that they were able to read my latest post, or purchase something from a link. It really makes all the hard work worth it!
Bottom line, blogging is not easy, but it is a very lucrative job. Although there seems to be a stigma attached to blogging and all that it entails, it can be a highly successful career just like any 9-5 job would be. It takes a lot of work, a lot of back end knowledge, and a lot of work/life balance to make it all come together. It’s not a get rich quick type of job, it takes years to build your brand and get recognized. What other questions do you have about blogging? Let me know in the comments below!