I think that every aspiring beauty blogger hopes that one day they might be able to blog full time, and actually make it their job.
Since beauty blogging really took off six years ago, everything’s changed. Absolutely everything. Back then, it was inconceivable that you might get paid – in fact, I was very anti a commercial aspect to blogging back then. Fast forward a few years, and accidentally, really, and thanks to fortuitous timing, I have a very big site. Big enough, that there is a value to it. I didn’t know this would happen, but it has. Nobody knew the trajectory of blogging when it all began.
So, I said goodbye to my final print job (the one that paid £80 for hours and hours of work – and I kept it because I knew the brands liked it) earlier in the year. So, my blog is really it now – it’s actually 100% my job other than bits of brand consultancy here and there. I’ve done this post, How To Make Money As A Beauty Blogger, just as a general guideline about what’s achievable. There IS enough to go round.
Work On Your Stats
Size does matter, no matter what anyone tells you. However, influence matters too – sometimes it’s who reads your site and not how many. If you love indi cosmetics for example, and your following is heavily indi cosmetic lovers, then you have a valuable and niche audience that is not as reliant on volume.
It’s not reasonable to expect to be paid if you’re doing generic beauty on a small scale. Smaller scale only works for niche.
I keep a small ad bar of four ads a month. I don’t want commercial activities to dominate on my site – I write for readers, not brands. I source those privately and there is no cut to anyone else – the ads are exceptionally good value for the hits they get, but I don’t ask crazy money for them. I’m more likely to have a good compliment of ads if they’re highly competitively priced. The downside is that you cannot rely on this every month.
Some bloggers already do this, and I think it works really well. Who knows your audience better than you? Nobody. So, if you know you’re getting lot of interest in, let’s say hair removal, approach the brands and let them know there’s a lot of activity in this area. They may want to pop something in your side bar because the timing is good – but they can only know that if you tell them.
You can choose to outsource your ads to an agency such as Glam Media or The Handpicked Collective. The higher your stats, the higher you will be paid, usually, although sometimes there is a standard rate for sponsored posts across all blogs.
If you are absolutely loving a product and can demonstrate your enthusiasm, then you might want to approach the brand. But you need to have something to offer, over and above. Where you may have thought to do some swatches and a quick over-view, it might be that you can do something more special and detailed on a sponsored basis. But, you’ll need to have some creative thinking on this and some good pictures.
Brands love cool ideas. If you have an idea to do something you haven’t seen elsewhere, contact a brand and ask if they’d like to collaborate. When I worked with the Body Shop, it was originally my idea to work backstage for the day – nobody had ever offered them that idea before, never mind the time and the effort. And I did a proper day’s work, too. Be prepared to really work for your money.
If you’re always audience focussed, and declare your sponsorships, I find that readers are very understanding about sponsored posts. It’s getting to be that it is almost expected, in the same way that you’d expect to see an ad in a magazine. Except, bloggers do it differently, openly and honestly, so don’t accept anything where you can’t be positive about the product. There is no point in taking something, struggling to find the good in it, and then all your readers who try it on your recommendation hate it…nobody wins in that scenario.
Ideally, with a sponsored post, you need to go above and beyond what you would normally do, or find a different angle to write about. Brands want your creativity and ability to engage – not a picture of the product and a few words. They can get that for free.
Again, back in the day, I was totally against affiliate links (where you get a very small cut of any product that a reader buys via your recommendation link). I’m not a shop and I don’t want a shopkeeper mind-set because it then becomes quite hard to stick to your ethics. However, I now use three of the main affiliate programmes (Affiliate Windows, Skimlinks and Reward Style). Because my blog posts more about things that haven’t yet launched, it’s not a big source of income, but it’s a little bit that helps.
Again, I think blog audiences are far more tolerant of affiliate links if they see it doesn’t skew your view. Affiliate links can be a little bit addictive but it’s important not to push it. It can have the opposite effect you were hoping for.
Affiliate links are also very useful for letting you know how readers interact on your site – you’ll know how many clicks you sent to a featured site, for example, and how many people bought from your link. That’s very handy for know how to best blog about the things that resonate most with your readers.
This is how most of the high rollers make their money. They have good agents that (try to) charge a fortune! It would be safe to say that the whole of beauty world reels in shock sometimes, but when you have millions of relevant people flocking to your site, then you can legitimately charge what brands are willing to pay. And, let’s not forget, every single viewer and reader has been worked for and earned by hard work. I don’t really know of any lazy, accidental blogger/vloggers. A 70 hour week is not unusual.
I have an agent – I never, ever thought I would, but I have to say that it’s one of the most useful things I’ve ever done. I’ve chosen not to hand over my brand relationships – I still do all of that because I think it’s very important – but Laura is the buffer between the marketing budget and my brand relationships. It means I never have to have the awkward money conversation or even arguments that might disrupt my relationships, which are predominantly with the PRs. I still source a lot of my own work and then hand over for negotiations, but having an agent also means that I get opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise had. It’s a collaborative relationship. Several agencies have sprung up – Gleam Digital, Handpicked, WAR, FabTrade, Red Hare… and lots of smaller ones. Mostly, they’ll specialise in particular areas such as You Tube or Instagram.
Don’t sign to anything unless you are really clear about terms – it’s completely possible to do this on your own, but you need plenty of time and patience, and commitment to brand relationship building.
YouTube isn’t interested in nurturing new talent – or even talent spotting. They’re interested in high roller stats from the get-go. Then, they’ll get behind you. They say the best way to make an impression, numbers wise, is to buddy up with someone who is already doing well. Which as you can imagine is far easier said than done. That’s kind of a call out for some to help others up the ladder, but once you have an agent, their preference is for you to keep your activities ‘in the family’ so to speak. But, if you’re doing reasonably well with your stats, you can look at taking ads on your YouTube channel.
Never Think You’re Valueless
There isn’t a beauty blog out there that doesn’t have some value – it’s not always a commercial value, and not everyone is going to make it commercially. That’s just a fact. And, don’t forget that not everyone wants to. However, there’s a thought process from many brands that blogs don’t show ROI (return on investment) and that any coverage should be completely free because it’s on a blog. Well, beauty bloggers are good natured on the whole; we post about all kinds of products with no expectation of payment – the majority of content on blogs is unpaid. But there isn’t a brand in the world that has a right to be on your blog. They should earn their place there. Whether that’s via a collaborative, mutually beneficial relationship or by supporting you with ads, it’s not really any kind of satisfactory relationship where one of you feels entitled and one of you feels owed. The beauty industry has everything to thank us for so when I hear that phrase – no return on ROI – it makes my blood boil. If the brand was expecting sales people, then maybe it’s not as good ROI as they wanted. But, it’s not a blogger’s job to sell products!
Share Your Knowledge
It’s a really good idea to share what you know – blogs are (or used to be) all about sharing and community. Nothing bad will happen if you’re generous with your knowledge. Personally, I try to retweet generously when I can and if I’m offered a job I know isn’t right, I will recommend someone who I do think is right. I watch several up and coming bloggers and recommend them to PRs hungry for new faces – the internet expands to fit – it’s not like we’re going to run out space! Brands will remember you for being generous and karma pays back, I find.
Watch Your Tax
Assuming that you do make some headway commercially, income is income, and you do need to declare it.
All products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.