I once thought that my income report would be a monthly feature. (Let’s all take a moment of silence for my optimism.) It’s been six months since my last post, so bi-annually isn’t too bad, right?
Things have changed so much since my July 2018 income report, which is why I’m so excited to update y’all! First things first: I’m incredibly proud of myself. Along with my full-time job as a digital marketing manager, I made $1,500 from side hustles this month. More than half of that was from sponsored Instagram and blog posts! It feels weird to share because I worry that it seems like I’m bragging, but I want you to experience the same success — hence my commitment to radical honesty.
As always, I made some mistakes and have a lot to learn, but who doesn’t? I know you’re here for the numbers, so we’ll get right to it.
Sponsored posts: $795
Affiliate marketing: $204
Freelance work: $425
SEO workshop: $75
Total Income: $1,499
Instagram props (flowers, cups of coffee, etc.): $50
LLC Setup: $0 (Gifted by my dad)
Photography: $0 (Vagner Lage is the best husband ever.)
Adobe Lightroom: $14.99
Profit: $1,274 (NOTE: I suck at math. Drop me a comment if these numbers are wrong.)
- I take extreme pride in what I publish. Sometimes that means taking a break for a few days if I don’t have anything to post. You’re supposed to post as often as humanly possible to beat the Instagram algorithm, but I’d rather have a sometimes-stale feed than upload new content that I don’t love. I also try to stand out from other bloggers, which has helped me land some pretty fun contracts with less than 10K followers.
- I’m picky about sponsored content. I said “no” more times than ever this month. There was a time when I was thrilled to have anyone wanting to work with me and I’d work for free or in exchange for a very low fee. I decided that I wanted to only work with brands whose missions I absolutely loved and who were willing to compensate me fairly. This meant saying no to $40 and $50 campaigns from brands I like a lot — but it also meant saying no to companies that promised $$$ but whose products I felt sketched out by.
- I re-evaluated my calendar. My dad is the best entrepreneur that I know, and he gave me some wise advice about events — you have to ask yourself, “How will this help my brand?” Don’t get me wrong — I love Tampa, and this blogging community is top-notch. Going to swanky places and making new friends is literally my dream night out, but I began to RSVP “no” to have time to recharge and remain energetic about content creation.
- I began freelancing again. $425 of this month’s income came from freelance projects including portrait photography, social media management and writing. It’s not as profitable as blogging, but I genuinely enjoy freelance projects and it gives me a way to stay creative when I’m feeling “blah” about my blog. As time goes on, I’ll begin to scale back my freelance work (or only take on work that has an ROI that’s worth it).
- I’m incredibly privileged in a lot of ways. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it a million times — having familial support is a game-changer when it comes to how much I spend on my brand. My husband takes all of my photos, and my parents will occasionally offer to pay for big expenses to help me chase this entrepreneurial dream. If you don’t have friends or family in your corner, it’s still possible to “make it” — but it’ll take significantly more resources.
Some Of My Wiser Choices
Almost all of this month’s campaigns came through CLEVER and InfluenceHer Collective, and I didn’t send one pitch to a brand via email. Otherwise, brands found me through hashtags or while looking for Florida bloggers. (I’ve learned to ask — it’s usually really interesting info!)
Let’s talk giveaways! Okay, so if you’re not a blogger (and even if you are), it may sound wild to spend nearly $200 on giveaways. I also know a lot of bloggers who feel like it dilutes your brand or takes the easy way out. I think that participating in random giveaways all the time won’t provide much value, which is why I instead participate in one or two a month and pay more money to reach my target demographic of American millennial women. I saw an impressive return in January and gained nearly 1,300 followers through giveaways and organic growth.
What I’ll Do Differently
One thing that I want to do in February is to take time off. I’m miserably sick right now, and I honestly think that sleep and stress are huge contributors for me. I’m determined to take more time off this month, even if it means saying no to paid opportunities. At the end of the day, my focus is on my day job, and anything else is just a bonus. The exciting news is that I’ve signed contracts for $900 worth of work in February, so I’m on pace to outearn myself significantly next month!
Questions? Comments? Let’s hear ’em!
Ayana Lage is a fashion and lifestyle blogger based in Tampa, Florida with a background in digital media and content marketing. She’s worked for Bustle, the Tampa Bay Times, the Miami Herald, and numerous freelance clients. As a blogger, she’s worked with 50+ lifestyle, fashion, travel and food brands. When she’s not blogging, she’s focused on her day job in digital marketing, watching Queer Eye, or laughing aloud at tweets from @dril.