The pursuit of blogging has become a lucrative business that has taken off in recent years. We’ve all seen local bloggers with thousands of followers who seem to be living fabulously while getting paid for it. Is it all smoke and mirrors?
With the help of publication platforms like WordPress and Square Space, even less tech-savvy writers can create a website in a short amount of time.
But being a successful blogger takes a bit more ingenuity and planning. Writers must dedicate anywhere between 5-15 hours a week for each post and must also know how to market their personal brands by utilizing different social media platforms to increase traffic flow on their sites.
Dalia Strum, who teaches digital marketing at The Fashion Institute of Technology, explains that making a career out of blogging is doable. “A few years ago, blogging was considered a hobby, but we’ve since seen that there could be strong revenue opportunities for content creators and people that know how to generate a large audience with a strong focus on a particular topic.”
In order to become a successful blogger, Strum recommends focusing on relationship building within current and potential audiences as well as other verticals to increase collaboration opportunities.
Katie Schlientz, who runs the Westchester-based food blog Intoxikate, says that she never intended blogging to be her fulltime job.
“I just really wanted to help chefs and restaurants promote the really interesting things they were doing,” she explains. When faced with the dilemma of saturation in the blogging world she says, “I think the bigger challenge to make the jump to a fulltime blogger is your ability to think outside the box and create interesting content in an ever-changing technological landscape.”
Intoxikate generates about $15,000-$20,000 per year. Schlientz explains that it was not designed to be a moneymaker but more of way to connect her readers to the best local resources in the area.
For Eastchester blogger Simone Pillero, blogging became the perfect way to share her love of fashion while making a profit. After becoming the person friends went to for fashion advice, she decided to create SimplybySimone in 2014. “I saw other people blogging and thought since I loved taking photos, this was the perfect outlet for my newfound extra time,” explains Pillero.
Like many bloggers, this is not Pillero’s primary source of income. A fulltime assistant to fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, she is able to make a profit on her site by being a member of a monetization program called RewardStyle. Pillero says, “Almost everything on my site is linked through their platform.”
Through RewardStyle, bloggers and influencers can create links within their posts, which direct readers to a product. If the product is purchased, the blogger receives a commission from the retailer. “I like to think of this as a part-time job, although I do dedicate a lot of time to it,” Pillero says.
In a market brimming with copycat bloggers and influencers, being unique seems an important element for success. Fashion and lifestyle blogger Jenna Nedwick, whose new site Jennaafromtheblog launched this month, explains that one of her struggles when she first started writing was finding her own voice.
Initially mimicking other Instagram captions and stories, Nedwick’s posts now consist of personal aspects of her life. “I noticed that people just want to relate to you and I feel like being myself has really helped to grow my Instagram,” she says.
With almost 10,000 followers, Nedwick, who currently works for a marketing firm, says she eventually wants to become a fulltime blogger. She relies heavily on social media to promote products, while making a small commission using the program LIKEtoKNOW.it which is an extension of RewardStyle.
According to a 2017 Forbes study, Instagram bloggers with 100,000 followers can generate at least $5,000 a post by partnering with a company or brand. But seeing lucrative figures like these, though enticing, can be difficult to obtain. Andrea Worthington who runs the site, Babygotchat, explains that one of the misconceptions of writing blogs is that it’s easy money.
“It’s hard to gain readership without putting your brand out there constantly,” the Tuckahoe mother of two says. She spends about five hours a week writing child-geared topics and makes a few hundred dollars a month from sponsored posts, ads, or social media sharing.
One of the biggest challenges within the blogging world now is saturation. In a recent study conducted by Statista, the number of bloggers will reach 31.7 million by 2020 in the United States alone.
Erin Baker, co-creator of the site EmmaWestchester, explains, “The sponsorships aren’t there the way they were five years ago.” Baker, a retired teacher from Eastchester, says that the cost to maintain her website is about $1,500 to $2,000 a year which includes sponsored boosts and Facebook ads. Writing 2-3 hours a day, the money she makes is nowhere close to her prior teaching career where she says she made six-figures.
Creating a blog is something anyone can do, but in order for it to be successful, it takes dedication. “There are definitely opportunities to generate revenue through affiliate networks, brand partnerships, and even speaker engagements,” says Strum. “This could definitely become a career as long as it comes from a passionate and authentic place of relevant thought-leadership.”