Running in Heels started as a creative outlet. While it still serves that purpose, early on I developed a niche and a plan to grow my blog as a business rather than use this as a diary. The point of this post, The Business of Blogging, is to explain to you, my readers, co-workers, friends, parents, and anyone else that it’s not about free stuff: Blogging is a business.
The Work and The Compensation: “I want to start a blog to get free stuff!”
First of all, ‘free stuff’ is a terrible reason to start a blog. All of the work you’ll do is not worth that free lipstick, I promise. Blogging is a passion project, one that you would do for free, and often times do, but on your terms. Once companies get involved they aren’t your terms anymore, and it’s up to you to draw the line. ‘Free stuff’ is great for a while. It’s fun to actually have companies that will work with you when you’re just starting out! The caution is to always know your worth and what will benefit you in this business.
Do you know the classic souvenir t-shirt that says “My grandma went to (INSERT CITY NAME) and all I got was this stupid t-shirt”? I’m at that point with ‘free stuff’. Clothes sit piled higher than my couch, and I have a shopping bag full of beauty products I’m trying to get rid of! The point is, I don’t have room for more ‘free stuff’, and I really don’t want it. On top of not having the space, I can’t pay my bills with it. I can’t go to dinner with a friend and hand the waitress shampoo for her service that night, and the gas pump does not accept hair gummies. What I’m saying is, I love blogging. There are plenty of posts that I don’t make a cent from, but the ‘free stuff’ gets old quickly.
Time and Effort: “It looks easy!”
No one has actually said that to me, but there have been a lot of variations around how simple it looks to be a blogger. Part of me takes that as a compliment because that means I’m doing a good job. In reality this blog is at least a part-time job. I spend at least 25 hours/week working on posts, emails, going to events, photo shoots, etc. While some of that is fun, like the events, they are still working hours where I go to network, promote my blog, and create connections to develop future partnerships with. Photo shoots and writing are the parts I love, the creative parts. Things like searching for keywords, SEO optimizing, and editing photos are certainly work to me.
Truth be told, this isn’t my first blog. The others failed because of the topics in this header. I didn’t realize the time and effort it would take to run a blog, or especially to build a successful business. I know I became successful the moment I started treating my blog as a business, and was then validated when I started making a profit in my first year. (FYI: PROFIT = REVENUE – EXPENSES)
The Actual Business of Blogging: AKA The Logistics and Legalities
If I haven’t convinced you that blogging is a business, yet there are laws and legalities in place to prove it. First and foremost, bloggers, like anyone else, have to pay taxes on their income. We can also take deductions for travel and other business related expenses.
If you don’t have one already, get an EIN, and use it when you fill out W-9s (tax forms) so you don’t have to use your SSN. Blogging requires a lot of negotiating and contract-reading. Always negotiate before signing contracts, and be sure to remove anything you aren’t comfortable with, and know when to walk away.
The FTC guidelines are in place to protect consumers. In the case of blogging they mostly deal with sponsored content. While still largely uncharted territory, there have been a few cases involving influencers. This year there were 90 letters sent to influencers and brands reminding them about proper disclosure. (See my disclosure policy here and in my side bar. –>) It is my responsibility to be honest with my readers, so you’ll know when a post is sponsored.
The Business of Blogging, is simple, it’s just like any other business fueled by creativity and passion. At the end of the day, it’s still a business.