Let's talk about business today. Just so you know, while I have always viewed blogging as fun, it's also become a substantial source of income. I know a lot of you want to earn from blogging, too, that's why I think you might find this post interesting.
I have three blogs. Topaz Mommy, Beauty For A Living and this. So far, this is what I have observed:
Beauty For A Living is the hardest to update because I'm just not a good beauty/fashion blogger. I'm not vain enough to want to try the dozens of products sent my way and yet I'm too vain to post "before" pics.
Because of my job as a magazine editor, there is some concern about my posting honest reviews on products. It's okay if the reviews are good but if I say something negative, the magazine advertisers may be offended. Actually, even a positive review may be seen as trying to curry favor with clients. Clearly, any review presents a conflict of interest.
So I just post press releases but I make sure not to copy-paste! I always try to inject myself in the PRs. Nevertheless, PRs are not what readers want to read. So that blog is going pfffft! I've mulled over abandoning it altogether (and I have, time and again) but even if I don't update it, it's still the blog that earns most via Google Adsense. Yup. Of my three blogs, it's the least visited and read but it's the one that has the most Adsense income! That's why I can't delete it!
Maybe when I'm no longer a magazine editor, things will look up for Beauty For A Living. So I'll keep it, let it earn Adsense money. It's passive income.
Topaz Mommy, meanwhile, has become my favorite blog. Since becoming a mom, my heart is devoted to my two sons, and where your heart is there your treasure lies. So obviously, my treasured online home is now Topaz Mommy. I find it the easiest to update. Among my blogs, that one has enjoyed tremendous growth—from 16,000 monthly views at the end of 2011 to 33,000 at the end of August. That's more than 100% growth in just 7 months.
Income-wise, Topaz Mommy hasn't earned me a lot of cash but it's earned me tons of free stuff from mompreneurs who want to promote their businesses and from big brands that want to promote their mommy-kiddie stuff. Diapers, toys, nursing wear, books, etc. I haven't actually written about all the gifts I and my children have received. But I will get to it! Meanwhile, thank you super duper!
I also want to say that I only accept gifts from brands I believe in. If I don't support a certain product, I just say, "Thank you but I cannot promote your brand/product." It's not so serious. Sometimes I say, "My children don't go to school yet so summer tutorials aren't relevant to us." Or I say, "My children are boys so I can't do a review of the hair accessories you design for little girls." Or I say, "I'm currently breastfeeding so, though I'm very tempted, I can't avail of your free diet and fitness program that will guarantee I'll lose 20 lbs in a month."
I'm beginning to think of not accepting products altogether actually. As I mentioned in this post, my mommy blog has begun looking like a press release/promos website. I certainly don't want that. Besides, it's exhausting running contests—the checking of entries, the picking of the winner/s, the communicating with winner/s and losers, the sending out of the prizes (plus the shipping's on me, too!). It's become work. And the blog isn't earning me enough for it to be work.
Follow my train of thought here please. I started Topaz Mommy because I was scared shitless of mommyhood. I wanted friends, other moms to help me understand what I was going through. Then when I became a mommy, I wanted to share the joy of having kids. I am so happy to say that all that I hoped to get from mommy blogging—friendship, wisdom, joy, support, community—I got.
But ever since my mommy blog exploded this year, it has felt like work! If it's going to feel like work, then I should be paid to do it. But that would make mommy blogging a chore, you know? Sigh! I haven't decided what to do. On one hand, I love supporting businesses (I'm an entrepreneur, too!). On the other hand, I want to reclaim my mommy blog! I hope I find a solution to this.
Now, as for Topaz Horizon... This is my oldest blog. It's my personal blog of frivolity. Well, at least that's the idea. Thing is it never remains frivolous! I start talking about love, marriage, relationships. I go on and on about financial planning, homemaking tips, career decisions. I even dispense advice now and then.
Topaz Horizon is also my biggest blog. Ergo, it earns me the most income. And I don't mean gifts; I mean money. It's still not earning enough for me to quit my job, though. Again, that's mostly because I refuse a lot of offers—endorsements, sponsored posts that would be in conflict with my job or my beliefs and lifestyle. I tell ya, if I accept everything that comes my way, I certainly can be a stay-at-home mommy. But I have to have this thing called integrity and sometimes I ask myself why I have to have that haha!
Now, as I mentioned above, Topaz Mommy is the blog that's dearest to me now. I honestly don't know what to do with Topaz Horizon. Since becoming a mother, going to parties and events and basically going out of the house has lost all charm. So now that my life is just office-home, it's not very exciting anymore. Therefore, there's not much to write about here. My readers can tell. Topaz Horizon's stats, while still very good (at 45,000 views a month, it's still bigger than Topaz Mommy's), has plateaued.
This blog needs to grow if I want it to earn more income. I've not made it a secret that I want Topaz Horizon to earn money. I've always said that I'm a writer so I got to get paid every time I write. So I have to do something to make this blog grow!
My friend, Mariel of NY Minute Now, told me I should just turn Topaz Horizon into an advice column. Our favorite Elle columnist is E. Jean. I can be an Auntie E! I do get quite a bit of mail asking for advice on love and career. I don't know why you guys do this! Y'all make me feel old, ya know!
Another idea is to make this blog an outfit blog. There's a lot of fashion blogs out there, and they all happen to feature young girls with tiny waists and cellulite-free legs. They also have a penchant for Korean/Japanese fashion. None of which I, in my mid-30s, can relate to. I can't wear pekpek shorts anymore because I have stretchmarks running up and down my thighs. And many of the outfits on those fashion blogs aren't fit for real life! I'm a mommy, a career woman and an entrepreneur. My clothes have to work with me.
So while I was bitching about this on Facebook, my friends suggested, "Why don't YOU do it?" Argh. Because I don't have the time! Fashion blogging is serious business! I have full respect for those little girls. The styling, the shopping, the perfect mani-pedis, the hairless legs, the perfectly styled hair, the makeup, the looking for backgrounds to pose against, the posing, the pretending-there's-no-camera... That is hard work, folks. I don't know if I'm up to it.
What do you suggest for this blog? What do you want to read? What do you want to see? Help! I'm planning major overhauls come 2013. I'm talking to an artist regarding a redesign for all blogs. I'm talking to blogging mentors. I'm evaluating if sponsored posts help or harm my blogs. I'm evaluating if I should refuse sponsored posts and just accept advertising OR if I should take away the ads (they're cluttery) and just do sponsored posts. Sooo many things to think about!
How about you? What's your blog plans?