How does blogging make you money?

How does blogging equal income? And other potentially awkward dinner conversations.

We were at dinner a few months ago with a financial planner friend who finally came out and asked The Burning Question: “Do you make money blogging and if so, how do you do it??”

I think these conversations are really interesting if a bit awkward sometimes, and they’ve been happening a lot lately. Both Garance Dore  and Hollywood Housewife had some interesting perspectives not only on money in the blogging industry but also the continually shifting areas of advertising, etc. Also, Young House Love did an amazing show on sponsored posts with several big-name bloggers that’s totally worth a listen.  If a blogger doesn’t have a product or service of some kind, not to mention the traffic to get that product/service in front of a lot of eyes, I don’t know how they make a substantial amount of money, to be honest. And I’ve heard that complaint from bloggers in the past – “how am I supposed to monetize this thing to compensate for the amount of time I spend on it?”  Good question. And a valid concern for sure.

I can’t answer for anyone else, but here’s how it works for me. The short answer is that I’m not directly making oodles of money from my blog itself. But that’s only viewing it from a one dimensional perspective.  I didn’t start blogging solely as A Way To Make Money. As a freelance graphic designer in 2008, I needed an outlet to show potential clients my design projects as well as give them a perspective into my aesthetic, because I realized early on the value of showing all facets of who I am and how it relates to what I do.  There’s a huge overlap there.

But now that I offer a different kind of design service (i.e., product design), the long answer is that I make money through my blog in my shop. In other words, I blog because I love to have a creative outlet to write, photograph, and design, and my shop is also an outlet to photograph and design. The blog pushes the most traffic to my shop (as does Etsy, Google, Pinterest, etc.), and thus Pencil Shavings Studio is supported through the sales of my shop.  Every time a customer purchases something, it allows me to fund projects, as well as pay my assistant, pay my hosting fees, and keep up to date on software, computers, cameras, lenses, etc. It allows me to pay for things like trips – such as taking all 3 of us to New York next month for the Better Homes & Gardens workshop.

I don’t say it enough, but your support of my shop allows me to do more creative and colorful things. You are trusting me with your hard-earned dollars, and I don’t take that lightly.

But what about affiliates? Additionally I do also make money through affiliate links such as ShopStyle, RewardStyle or Amazon. On certain items (such as in this post on jeans) when you click a link, it will take you to another site and if you purchase that item, I make a small (ahem – miniscule) commission on that item. I earn roughly $100 a month – but I don’t write oodles of fashion posts like many other bloggers.   Other times, I’m paid in products, such as when sponsors send me furniture or fixtures for design projects.  And at the end of the day, my number one goal is that when I work with a brand, it must align with my own values. I want it to be natural and authentic. I work hard to earn the trust of my readers, and I don’t want to rock that boat. When I recommend stuff to you, I want it to be real – something I actually use or find to be interesting.

What are your thoughts on the monetization of blogs? It’s a touchy topic for sure. I’ve seen several blogs turn into one long sponsored ad. And I’ve heard the frustration from both readers and fellow bloggers alike. I’d love to hear your perspective too.


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