How to make money from blogging

Once upon a time, blogging was nothing more than a digital diary. Today, it has empowered a generation of #DigitalBosses. I’m so proud of the Blogosphere community, but there is still a lot of scepticism and speculation when it comes to the topic of monetisation.

The most common question I get is ‘how do you make money from blogging?’. Last summer, I wrote a 101 guide on how to start a blog, I solemnly swore that I would save the money-making side for a full-length post because I knew it would be a detailed cracker.

I have the best of both worlds; I worked in Digital (Affiliate) Marketing for large brands for five years before I became a blogger, model and digital consultant full-time, so I have an inkling of what advertisers and influencers want.

If you’re a blogger, you probably know how a lot of this works, but for ease, I’m going to explain how it works to a complete beginner so that everyone can understand it.

To make this easy to digest, I’m going to split up the sections: Brand Partnerships, Affiliate Marketing, Display Advertising and Public Relations (PR).

Brand Partnerships (Fixed Fee)

Brand Partnerships is primarily ‘Sponsored Content’; this is when a brand pays you a fixed fee to write, YouTube and/or Instagram about a product or service.

The way it works is that a brand would contact you with an introduction of a product, and if agreed, a contract is drawn up with objectives of the campaign. A brief usually has all of the deliverables required, and this includes information about the product, which key messages should be said, hashtags to use and social media handles to tag.

This form of payment has the most scope of flexibility because the brand marketing department usually has the highest budget (some companies assign this budget from the same pot of TV and radio advertising).

Affiliate Marketing (Variable Fee)

Affiliate Marketing is my expertise, so I’m hoping, I can explain this simplistically for newbies. It’s when a brand (e.g. ASOS, Amazon, Groupon etc.) pays out a commission to a publisher (blogger, or any website that promotes products) for every sale generated.

E.g., when someone clicks on my blog and then spends £100, I earn X% of total basket value (excluding delivery & VAT).

Commission range averages 5-15%, and it’s not paid out if the buyer returns the item. If you want to know how the technical side works, it’s all tracked by through the URL which drops a cookie and captures the data. The data goes to a network so they can calculate how much each everyone earns, but you don’t need to know any of this unless you work in the affiliate industry. You just need to know that there is no additional fee for the buyer who is purchasing the products.

There are lots of Affiliate Networks, and I started my career working one at of them, but I currently use RewardStyle who power my shop widgets, I find them very easy to use. Do let me know if you would like me to refer you and I’ll hook you up!

Display Advertising (Variable Fee)

This is when a brand (or media agency working on behalf of a brand) pays you per 1000 impressions or views (CPM cost per mill) or clicks (CPC cost per clicks) generated from your website or YouTube.

I currently don’t work with any display partners because I personally find ad’s on a website super annoying, I also don’t have YouTube, but an example would be:

E.g., when someone clicks on a banner advertisement on my website or YouTube video, I’ll earn £XX per 1000 interactions (impressions) or clicks.

CPM’s used to be fixed, but YouTube has created an algorithm, and each YouTuber’s rate is dependent on content, time of year, how many videos you make etc.

Public Relations – PR (Fixed Fee)

You can build great relationships with PR agents; they tend to be the most friendly! Once you’re on their mailing list, they will send products, gift cards or services for you to trial. There is usually no obligation to promote products unless you sign a contract.

PR’s will choose their influencers based on their audiences being the right fit for the product, for example, McDonalds PR isn’t going to contact a fitness influencer (unless it was some ironic promotion) because that wouldn’t be a right fit for the campaign.

On the topic of audiences, this video explains how to build them.

Remember that Influencers do also have to declare if there are paid, this is seen in hashtags using #ad or #gifted or #presstrip. I’m being paid to write this article by promoting the links in the post.

Like any other job, Bloggers do have to pay taxes so it’s useful to monitor regulations changes. Videos like this are helpful.

And that’s that! I hope the above advice helped explain the monetisation side of blogging and that you’re all clear as a consumer.

What are your thoughts? I would love to hear from you.

Location: Primose Bakery

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The career advice I wish I was given

When I was a little girl, I was the daydreamer in the classroom: head in the clouds, chin nestled into the palms of my hands. I’d imagine myself as this big shot, high-flying businesswoman. She’s-independent-organised-but-somehow-has-time-to-be-s**t-hot. A triumphant movie moment; she glides into the building in her power heels, head held high. Her hair smells of some L’Oreal advert. Her flustered employees crowd around her as she answers their queries in her quick-witted state. Oh, she knows she’s worth it.

Sometime later, I shuffle into the lift in pumps that I keep forgetting to throw out, eyes half open, while trying to unknot my tangled I-just-out-of-bed-so-please-f**k-off hair. I land into the office, screaming every obscurity to myself. ‘Oh F, I haven’t done this! Oh b*llocks, I forgot this!’.

I would love to tell you that my early career was just like my fantasied movie. I wasn’t quite prepared for reality when I graduated. Here’s my ultimate guide on building a happier career.

Be confident in your abilities

Remember, you went through studies, research, tedious application process and interview/pitch to get where you are. The most important thing I would have told myself was to know my worth. Know what you want and have faith that you deserve it. Be kind to yourself; you deserve this role. On day one into my graduate job, I received my first set of emails, and I overanalysed Every. Word. It felt like no matter what the email said, I felt like everyone in the business didn’t like me. Today, I don’t overanalyse in the unnecessary; I’m there to work to the best of my ability, make a positive contribution and get paid. You’re not going to get on with everyone, that’s just business. Own it through your work.

Learn how to manage upwards

Learn how to manage your manager/client. And not in an I’m-a-smartass-I’m-trying-take-your-job kind of way (that will result in the opposite effect). Regardless of whether you plan to stay or leave in some time, learn how your manager works. Some will want you to get the job done, and others will appreciate social interaction more than others. Some will request pieces of work ad-hoc and others will set deadlines. Managers are humans too, they’ll have good days and bad days, but knowing how to adapt to their organisational and communication style will make a heck of a difference.

Work smart, not hard

Society has taught us that the number of hours you input is directly proportional to the amount of productive output that you produce. Well, F that. Working smart is about having the self-awareness about your work style, as opposed to increasing your (ineffective and inefficient) hours. I wrote about this in detail here.

Surround yourself with supportive people

One of my biggest failings in life is thinking that I can do everything on my own. To grow in your job, you need to surround yourself with people who will help you do that. The workplaces I’ve enjoyed are the ones who had the most cohesive teams. Alongside your day-to-day role, support your colleagues; you are all working towards a common goal. A good working relationship is a two-way street: a good manager will be supportive, listen to what you have to say, and take action. A bad manager will not trust you, be controlling, have no interest in what you have to say or your development. If you don’t get along with your manager, then there will be someone else in the company who you can source as a mentor. I look for people who ignite my creativity, encourage me to work harder and challenge me.

Speak up

Whether you have spotted a few things that could be improved, or have some great ideas, you should feel comfortable to speak up (if you feel like you can’t, then I’ve learnt the hard way that you’re probably in a weak environment). The saying, ‘there’s no such thing as a stupid question’, is true in this case. Asking questions will enable you to be better at your job and if said in front of the right people, can benefit you in terms of career progression. I’ve said plenty of silly things, but I rather receive the correct answer than for the issues not to be resolved.

Avoid gossip

Gossip, politics and red tape lurks in every organisation, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. It’s straightforward to become close friends with someone in your company, but unless you fully trust them, avoid saying anything that you wouldn’t want your boss to hear. The same applies to clients.

When it comes to your career, there’s a lot of pressure to do well. My parent’s had high expectations, and I watched them work hard to provide for us. But, if there’s one piece of advice I could give, remember that no amount of money is worth more than your health, so look after yourself. Your career will only work if you put you, first.

I would love to hear your career experiences so far and your most important words of advice! If I’ve missed a key tip, feel free to leave me a comment. I always reply when I can.

Location: Les colonnes de Buren, Paris

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The ultimate Wonga guide to saving money

“Hello? Bank of mum or dad… hello?” *other line hangs up*.

The subject of money is touchy. Most of us, associate a lot of our self-worth to how much we earn. Growing up, I wasn’t surrounded by peers who discussed bank accounts, interest rates and tax with me so I’m excited to share my money-saving tips with you. Whether you’re saving up for a house, dream holiday, or you’re just trying to keep up with your Boujee lifestyle, let’s make it rain, together!

Transfer on payday

I can’t recommend this enough. I swear by it. You need to trick your brain into thinking you have less money than you do. Weird, but it works. Open a completely separate bank account (savings account if you’re genuinely committed) and transfer a realistic amount, every month. You will not spend what you think you have unless you have to.

Write it down

Awareness is powerful. Get organised: log into your online banking or grab your bank statements. Find your favourite notebook (my favourite is from Paperchase). Work out your monthly spend: rent/mortgage, utilities, transport, food, shopping & leisure. Calculate income minus outgoings to find out how much you can set aside per month. Why not open a spreadsheet and be super savvy by calculating the percentage of say, your food spending. Surprise yourself; I was horrified by how much I spent on eating out!

Set up bank accounts to get maximum interest rates

Okay this is complicated, but I learnt this by research, hear me out; I’ve been doing this for years. Open a current account that pays you 5% interest in transferring £X amount (refer to the bank) every month. While you’re at it, make sure it rewards you with cash back – like this one. Then, open a savings account that also pays you 3% interest on monthly transfers – this one is popular. Set up direct debits so that you move the amounts required from your paycheck to your current account and savings account so that you get the maximum interest.

Shop smart

If you have friends who send you pictures with the caption ‘should I buy this?’, I have a neat tip for you. Ask your mate to calculate their cost per wear/use of that item.

E.g. if a coat costs £100 and they plan on wearing it three times, that’s £33.33 per use which isn’t worth it, but, if they’re planning to wear it 30 times, that’s £3.33 per use.

Apply this formula to everything you buy, and you will only buy things you need. Shop using a discount just if you were going to buy it anyway – look out for my yearly Black Friday roundups for the latest.

Generate secondary income

If you want that house, car, dream holiday, as Britney says, you better werk b*tch. Here are my recommendations:

1. eBay – I learnt to eBay when I was young, it’s my second most profitable online secondary income (after blogging). Grab all the items that you no longer use or wear. Put some tunes on, take your phone / fancy camera out and prepare a mega snapping session. Get your selling cap on as you’ll need to write enticing descriptions for your products when you upload the pics.

2. Bar & Waitressing / Nightclub – if you like going to festivals, football matches or racing events, there are lots of temp agencies in hospitality which give you the option to work when you’re available, and you get to go to the events for free! Or, if you much prefer being a night owl, why not try a local club? I worked in a nightclub as a hostess for a while – I was super knackered because I already had a fulltime job, but I was super determined to reach a certain level of savings. It was a big sacrifice, but it paid off.

3. Cashback – I wish I knew about this sooner, it’s a doddle! Sign up here, and click on the links to the brands you’re about to shop. Cashback works in that the advertiser wants to pay you to buy with them over their competitors. It’s that simple.

4. Mystery Shopper / Dining – soo, being a lady of mystery (ha) I’m not going to say whether I have this role or not ;). If you like food or shopping, then this is for you. The way it works is that you shop or eat like a typical regular customer, but you report back on the customer service, atmosphere, cleanliness and quality of food/product. The mystery shopping company uses your data to create better customer service.

5. Focus groups / Surveys – get your thinking caps on and earn by telling research companies what you think. I haven’t done this so I Googled a few and here’s what I found: “www.valuedopinions.co.uk pays from 50p for taking part in a text poll and up to £5 for taking part in an online survey. Rewards are credited to your online account within 28 days and paid when your account balance reaches £10. Yougov.com pays you £1 when you register and then tops up your account intermittently. When you hit £50, you will receive a cheque in the post” – source The Telegraph.

There are also other things you look into like Bitcoin, Match Betting and Index Investments funds – do your research!

Discover the art of minimalism

Having a clear room = organised mind. I highly recommend Marie Kondo’s book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying‘. You know when you’re cleaning your room and you find stuff that you lost ages ago, and you go ‘ooh I didn’t realise I had this!’. The Japanese concept of minimalism suggests that we should only have material things that are in our ‘present’ focus. I love this philosophy because it’s eco-friendly.

Join me in my passionate plea

I want to use my platform to raise awareness that we have awful lack of financial education in schools. If we can teach children algebra, then we can show them how to use money in the real world. We have a severe debt issue, in the UK, according to the BBC 8.3 million people in the UK are unable to pay off debts or household bills. This post contains money saving tips for the everyday saver, but if you’re in serious debt, please get help here.

I discovered how to become frugal at three critical stages of my life:

Adulting sucks, but budgeting is for your future. A year from now, you’ll wish you started today. Make my tips a habit, and it’ll be easy.

Itching to share your best saving tip? I would love to hear it! Please leave it in the comment section below. I know it will mean a lot to anyone that is looking to save up.

Location: God’s Own Junkyard, London

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How to start a blog: my story

I started blogging when I quit my job to travel the world; to share my adventures with friends, who thought about doing the same.

The Wong Blog initially launched as a travel blog; advice on which tour company to use, what to eat & where to go. I never envisioned making a penny from it.

I get lots of lovely messages asking for blogging advice, so I thought it would be useful to compile everything that I’ve learnt into one space.

Disclaimer: I’m by no means an expert, and I’ve dedicated a lot of my time elsewhere in my digital consultancy & modelling, so I haven’t been able to release as many posts as I’d like, but I want to share with you my learnings, starting with the very basics.

The Wong Name

I changed my blog name five times. Once upon a time, it was ‘Small Girl Tall World’ (yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking either), then ‘Monica Wong’, ‘Monica Wong Blog’ & ‘ProjectM’. I don’t want you to go through the same experience because it’s a logistical nightmare to rebrand, especially with SEO. ‘The Wong Blog’ is a play on the fact that Wong is my surname, and I wanted to show a bit of my personality through my ‘wrong’ blog. Make yours, memorable and catchy: like a childhood nickname or favourite food. Once you’ve decided, head over to a domain site to make sure no one has nabbed it first. I use GoDaddy; I highly recommend them, they’ve got great customer service when I’ve called them at midnight, panicking [insert laughing emoji].

Platform

Once you’ve decided on a name, it’s time to go house hunting! There are two popular platforms: Blogger & WordPress. Someone asked me about Square Space and Wix, but in my opinion, they are better for websites. I started on Blogger then migrated onto self-hosted WordPress. Blogger is ideal for beginners & a lot easier to use, but WordPress allows for more customisable options for the HTML savvy. If you’re an online wiz, Self-hosted WordPress has great SEO & analytics capabilities which is ideal for client reporting, I use Site Ground.

Aesthetic

Now that you’ve acquired & named your plot of land, you need to spruce it up! There are lots of places where you can get designs. Blogger & WordPress has lots of free templates; otherwise, search for ‘blog designs’ from sites like Etsy or Pipdig. Your personality should shine through from your content so have fun with it!

Snaps

I wrote a whole blog post about this here. In a nutshell, build up your eye for detail: take lots of snaps. Go out & start taking pics with your phone and start noticing how smaller details can affect an image.

Fashion / Lifestyle Bloggers

Find a photography buddy to take snaps of you: I know how difficult it is if you don’t have photo-willing/taking friends, so why not make a blogging friend and take pics of each other? If you want professional photos, reach out to a photographer who you like the style of; you’ll be surprised to see that some have surprisingly affordable rates.

Beauty, Food & Product Bloggers

If you’re taking product/food shots, practice by putting things together on a table. Move it around; essential products first and smaller items in-between.

Content

Write about topics that you would read yourself. I am passionate about discussing issues that are important, like female empowerment. Alongside this, I write about travel, food, style & beauty. Remember that there’s room for everyone, if postal stamps are your thing, there will be blogs about it.

Social Media

Social Media is going to be invaluable in promoting your blog. My most prominent channels are on Instagram and Twitter. However, some bloggers are killing it through YouTube or Pinterest. Why not sign up to them all? Make sure that all of your channels feature your latest post. Follow and interact with your favourite bloggers on Instagram, big and small. Join Facebook groups & participate in Twitter chats. I try to respond to every comment because I value each one.

Best Apps for Social Media

My favourite app for creating swish looking Blog Headers for your blog or Pinterest is Instasize. I use UNUM to plan my Instagram grid and Unfold for Instastories.

Community

Blogging can be scary & invasive as you’re letting people into your life. In my years of blogging, I’ve only encountered one rude blogger, but (luckily) not one rude reader! Little did she know that I’ve been a digital manager 5 years prior, and if I wanted, I could blacklist her (all marketers know each other). Due to its public nature, strangers & even your own friends can become nasty. I’ve spoken to some bloggers who have lost friends due to jealousy; In spite of this, I’ve found the community to be very supportive. Don’t see other blogs as competition. At the end of the day, it’s a great place to make lifelong friends and learn different perspectives. Everyone is different. You are unique and what you bring is valuable.

How-to-start-a-blog

The advanced stuff

(don’t worry about the below too much if you’re just starting out, just come back when you’re ready)

Learn HTML & SEO

HTML is very handy for making your blog the shiniest without having to wait & pay for someone else to do it. Learn about SEO; Google creates its algorithm based on your content so knowing how to increase your DA is a useful skill to master.

HTML (the codes I use the most)

<p><p/> = Paragraph

<center><center/> = Centre Text

<b><b/> = Bold

<u><u/> = Underline

<a href=”https://www.instagram.com/thewongblog/?hl=en”>Instagram</a> = Links

<img class=”alignnone size-large wp-image-1750″ src=”http://www.thewongblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/How-to-start-a-blog-5-1440×1920.jpg” alt=”” /> = Image

SEO

  1. Feature your links on other sites, you can swap URL’s with other bloggers to improve your DA (domain authority)
  2. Make sure you always name your images with what a person would search on Google to find it, e.g. http://www.thewongblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/How-to-start-a-blog-5-1440×1920.jpg

Know your audience

You will get to know who your audience is. You’ll start to see who interacts with your content and in time you’ll analyse demographic data which shows gender, age & location. Then you’ll learn how about impressions, clicks & the average time that readers stay on your site. My audience is predominately young women, UK & China-based. As a result, I try & cater my content.

Show me the money

The most common question that everyone asks is ‘how do you make money from blogging?’. I will save it for a full-length post because it will be a detailed cracker, but in a nutshell, it’s brand-sponsorships, PR, affiliate marketing and display advertising. As you develop your following, you’ll be approached by brands & PR’s wanting to promote their products. Create a media pack, buy business cards and learn how to negotiate your rates. Remember that most brands want you to market their product to gain more sales, so be realistic with what you can provide a brand for a mutual partnership.

Closing (read these, they’re important!)

I spoke about internet security here. Never post in real time where you are. I’ve seen some bloggers take pictures of a PR package which had their home address on it, doh! Don’t mention private details like your full birth date, mother’s name, where you went to school/uni or work address.

Unless it’s constructive & beneficial, never let anyone make fun of you for starting a blog: your writing, your style, or for taking pictures, they’re only showing their lack of confidence in their own abilities. Everyone has to start somewhere. Doing is always better than regretting. I wasn’t great at writing when I first started, but you don’t get better at anything unless you practice right?

Do not start a blog with the aim of being successful because you won’t be passionate about what you write. You’ll end up putting too much pressure on yourself, and you’ll feel deflated.

Blogging has changed my life unexpectedly. Seeing your comments make my day and I wake up doing what I love. Because of you,  I have a little scrapbook to look back on when I’m old.

If you’re starting a blog, keep me posted. I will support you all the way.

Location: Greece, Mykonos

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How to master the art of not giving a sh*t

Growing up, I used to care about what people thought about me. Today, I don’t give a sh*t. And I can’t tell you how liberating it feels.

And no, this isn’t a post on how to be a total douchebag with no feelings. It’s about letting go of trivial things like feeling embarrassed about buying sanitary towels or caring about how people think we look.

This post is in collaboration with Shein, the destination for the SASSIEST fashion at INSANE prices (seriously check them). Yes, they’re from China, but I do not collaborate with brands that I do not believe in. I’m aware that there are some dodgy international sites whereby they send you a cheap piece of material; I checked these guys for the quality of clothing and for the price, it’s decent. Tip: do check the reviews underneath each product for fit! For 13% off use my code:

thewongblog13

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Right, let’s jump to it.

Learn where to dedicate your cares

When we care about what everyone thinks, we give our control and emphasis to other people, and then we end up feeling entitled to feel comfortable at all times, which isn’t ideal because life isn’t all roses 24/7. Reserve your cares for what matters. Only take actions if you want to, not because someone else wants you to.

Embrace Rejection

I wish someone told me earlier that the only way to achieve your goals is to become comfortable with rejection. I know how much it sucks when you want something so much and not end up getting it. But, you know what? I’ve always ended up with something better later, and I genuinely believe that’s your life-path steering you. Those who are confident in business are successful because they’re content with failure. Have you noticed that the people who don’t care about failure or embarrassing themselves are the ones who seem to get more opportunities? That’s because they are the ones who take more risks. They know what’s more important than their pride. I’ll leave you with this quote, ‘you lose 100% of the chances you don’t take’.

Know your worth

Self-worth is a topic that I write about a lot. Having good relationships with people starts with having a healthy relationship with yourself. If you know your worth, you won’t care about how people perceive you. I wrote about my journey to confidence here.

Closing

No matter how fabulous your life is, you’re always going to encounter struggle, but it’s how you react that makes the difference.

Location: Old Town, Mykonos

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