How Much Money Can You Make Blogging? Our 2017 Numbers and Strategies

How Much Money Can You Make Blogging? Our 2017 Numbers and Strategies

This post may contain affiliate links. See our affiliate disclaimer here.

make money bloggingIn 2015, we decided to start treating our blog like a business. Making money blogging isn’t easy. It requires trust, diversification, and loyalty.

But most of all, it takes time. I love what our friend Nathan said recently:

I hear too many people saying they want to quit their job, start a blog, and that will be their full-time job. And while it’s certainly a full-time job, it’s NOT the kind that pays the bills—at least not immediately.

If you’re starting a blog solely for the money, be prepared for a rude awakening…or at least be prepared to work hard and learn patience! After two years of work, 2017 was the first year we made any real, sustainable income from our website.

Income from blogging—we’re specifically talking about sustainable income here—takes many different forms. We monetize our site in three key ways: product sales, affiliates, and sponsorships.

Here is the breakdown of how our blog numbers shaped up in 2017:

  • Product sales: $2,073.43
  • Affiliates: $11,494.47
  • Sponsorships: $4,500.00

Total blog income for 2017: $18,067.90

In this blog post, I’ll outline the specifics on how much different products earned and the strategies that got us there.

Forewarning: This article is 6,000+ words and will take a good 15 minutes to read. If you’re serious about making money from your blog, I recommend taking notes or pinning this article for reference.

Let’s talk about products first.

Product Sales

We have three paid products that we own:

  1. The RV Entrepreneur Book
  2. A Beginner’s Guide to Living in an RV, my new ebook
  3. “Own Your Day” Shirts

Product #1: The RV Entrepreneur eBook

Average monthly income: $120/month

get paid on the road rv entrepreneur

We’ve been selling Heath’s ebook since July of 2016, making it our first and oldest product. (Yeah, we said we wanted to start treating our blog like a business in 2015 but progress was obviously SLOW!)

In 2017, we made $1,414 selling Heath’s book on Gumroad. We sold his book at $10/book. In case you’re a math person, that breaks down to earning a little less than $120/month or about 12 book sales a month.

As our oldest product, most sales now are evergreen. We have various links to the book throughout the website, but rarely heavily market it. We did have two sales periods where we sent out an email saying the book was available for 50% off, which caused a good spike in sales.

You can also download two chapters of the book free from our book page or many of our podcast episode pages (which after you download the book, you’ll automatically be sent a 50% off coupon as well). Most of our book sales come directly from our book page on our website (which was recently updated to include my book as well) or from the email sequence set up after people download the free chapters.

What’s Next?

As our oldest product, we have no plans for extensively marketing this book moving forward. Right now most of our book sales strategy is focused on my book.

Product #2: A Beginner’s Guide to Living in an RV: Released November 2017

Average monthly income: $900/month (only been released two months)

living in an rv book

A Beginner’s Guide to Living in an RV is a book answering all of the most common questions we receive about living in an RV (what kind of RV to buy, how we get internet, etc).

After writing an initial draft, I sent it out to our email list and 1,000 people downloaded the guide. This validated that expanding the guide to a full ebook would be beneficial to our community. Afterwards, I asked for feedback on the book and had over 50 people give me feedback on the content. I made revisions and added a few chapters and launched the final product on Amazon on November 14th. 

Results: $1,800 in sales in first two months (with over 5K copies sold in first 30 days)

Technically all the sales for my book were in 2017, but you don’t receive your first payment from Kindle Direct Publishing until after your book has been live for two months. This means we don’t count that as 2017 income. (If we did, then we technically made $3,873 from products in 2017, which sounds way more impressive.)

What I learned about self-publishing on Amazon:

  • You can heavily boost your Amazon affiliate revenue by launching a book.

We almost always use Amazon affiliate links when we push people to the book. This has led to a huge increase in our Amazon affiliate revenue.

Of course, I don’t mean that I’m really making affiliate income directly from my book. Any book sales that come from affiliate links are only worth a few cents. But Amazon cookies last 24 hours (or until you click on an affiliate link for someone else). This means I get credit for anything else you buy in that 24-hour period after you click my link. (Ahem, hence why launching a book or sharing Amazon affiliate links during the Christmas season is a great idea!)

We organically make an average of $100/month with Amazon Associates. But in November and December while we were promoting my book, that spiked to $550 and $300 respectively.

  • Launching in a marketplace like Amazon has a snowball effect.

If you’re trying to decide between publishing your book using a site like Gumroad or Amazon, I would recommend Amazon because of the reach. Amazon is such a powerhouse in book sales, you will get so many more eyes to your book. I do sell my book for significantly cheaper because Amazon prices for ebooks stay around $2.99-$4.99 on average, but I have more earning potential than Heath’s book because of the additional traffic.

  • Launching a book doesn’t always have to be about the money. 

Before we move on, I do want to say one thing. None of our products were created with the sole purpose of making money (and they haven’t really), but to establish our credibility in the space. In that way, our books have been hugely successful! Books don’t always make great money, but the partnerships, speaking gigs, courses, etc that come along once you’ve written a book can move the marker.

If you choose to write a book as your first product—which if you have the desire to write a book, WRITE YOUR BOOK!—think about how it can establish your credibility, attract a new audience, and set you up for future success. Don’t worry about how much the book itself makes you, think about where writing that book can take you.

Update: My book has sold over 16,000 copies and earned me over $30,000 in 2018. You can learn how to write, launch, and market your own book successfully in my new course: From Blog to Book.

Product #3 “Own Your Day” Shirts: Released December 2017

own your day

This was a total spur of the moment thing.

“Own your day” shirts were our conference shirts for our first RV Entrepreneur Summit in 2017. Attendees all got shirts at registration, but many people emailed us asking how they could get some as well. So in December, we created a TeeSpring campaign to sell shirts. TeeSpring does print-on-demand and allows you to sell using campaigns. So we sold “Own Your Day” apparel for three days. (You can actually see our “storefront” here, though the products aren’t currently for sale.)

Results: $232 earned over 3 days ($6 profit per shirt)

TeeSpring took their fee, but we had no upfront costs (except for time) and since the shirt design was created months earlier for our conference, we didn’t have that cost either.

We set our apparel prices at lower than the TeeSpring recommended price since we did our sale as part of our 12 Deals of Christmas and wanted to offer the lowest price possible. If we weren’t selling these shirts as one of our year-end deals, I would’ve set sale prices at $25 (profiting $11/shirt) or chosen a less expensive t-shirt.

If you ever run your own TeeSpring campaign (which they are easy to set up and a great way to test a product’s viability without the hassle of inventory), then I would definitely set higher prices than ours if your goal is to make money.

Affiliate Sales

Affiliates are the most profitable way we make money from our blog. Where we made $2,000 in product sales in 2017, we made over $10,000 in affiliate sales.

I love affiliates because they are true passive income. Products take months to create and sell, but affiliates take only a few days or hours. And after that initial investment of time, we have a few blog posts that continue to make us money months or years after writing them. This is what you want! Anytime you can make money off of work you did years ago is amazing.

Not sure what affiliates are? Affiliate marketing is where I make a commission for recommending a product to you. If you use my link or code, I will get credit for your purchase, usually a percentage of the sale.

We are affiliates for a few different types of products:

  • Courses
  • Software or business services
  • Physical products
  • RV memberships
  • Amazon Associates

Promoting each type of affiliate will be different, so when you think about making affiliate sales from your site, make sure you don’t use the exact same strategy for each different types. (Also there are surely many more types of affiliates, but these four are the main ones we focus on!)

Before I go into details for each type of affiliate product, let me say one thing: If you haven’t yet, stop what you’re doing and create a resources page for your website. If your goal is to make money on your blog, this is non-negotiable. This is where you will list all of your affiliates, products, plus an affiliate link over to Amazon for sure. This is one-stop shopping for your readers and will end up being the most profitable page on your website.

Okay if you’ve done that, I wanted to share a few of the big things we learned during 2017 about affiliate marketing.

Course Affiliates

Courses are my favorite type of affiliate. I’m a Googler. If I don’t know how to do something, I’ll be sifting through Google trying to figure it out for myself. Courses eliminate this annoying hassle (though you may have to use Google to find the course…hm…).

We’ve marketed a few courses but stick with promoting two: Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing by Michelle Schroeder and How to Start a Virtual Business by Bryanna Royal.

We currently only promote these two for a few reasons:

  1. They are both written and owned by RVers and one of our business values is to support as many other RVers as possible.
  2. They are super in-depth courses that are right on the money for RV entrepreneurs.

Bryanna’s course is all about building your first online business (I’m talking here’s-how-to-set-up-an-email-address-at-your-domain-name level tactical. It covers everything!). Michelle’s course is probably the best course on affiliate marketing out there. She knows her stuff and it is full of information that has helped us make more money from our blog.

I tell you this not to sell you on these courses but to show you the biggest reason why we promote these courses: we’ve worked through them, found them helpful, and genuinely know that these courses will be beneficial to the student.

That is the real key to promoting ANY affiliate product. If you wouldn’t stand behind the product 100% and be happy to claim it as your own, DO. NOT. SELL. IT.

Dishonest affiliate sales may make you money in the short-term, but you will lose trust with your audience and then you’ll have no one to sell to! This especially true of courses, where sales pages tend to over-promise and content will under-deliver. Please please please, for me, only share affiliate links for products you’ve used and love. 

We’ve been promoting Michelle’s course since 2016 when it first launched and made $1,603 promoting her course in 2017. We’ve promoted Bryanna’s course only once when it launched during the summer, but made $150 in affiliate sales for her course.

How do we promote courses?

Courses are typically the highest priced product you will ever be an affiliate for. They are often hundreds of dollars and a huge investment—both with your time and your money. If you’re going to promote courses, you need to make sure to keep that in mind.

We typically promote courses in two ways: email marketing and related blogs/podcasts.

Email Marketing

On a few different occasions this year, we sent emails to segments of our audience that focused 100% on affiliate marketing (AKA the topic of her course). Those emails were three to four times longer than our typical emails, included charts or images, and shared our experience in affiliate marketing. We shared numbers, details, and talked about specific things we learned from her course (she actually includes a list of companies that you can be affiliates for, based on your niche. So helpful!).

It is these specific campaigns that will yield the most results—depending on the size of your email list, the quality of your content (and therefore your trust with your readers), and how often you jab versus right hook.

You should only send these sales emails if you’ve been regularly communicating with your audience (every week, ideally on the same day every week). We aim to send a maximum of one email a month that includes a pitch on a paid product, but preferably less.

Related Blogs or Podcasts

This is a more indirect way to sell courses. We have a few different posts on our site that talk about starting your business or making money online. In those posts, we’ll add a paragraph or two marketing the course. You can choose how hard you push sales in these posts. For example, this blog is a good example of writing reviews of courses as a way to sell them. Or there’s this post where we add Michelle’s course as a resource.

These are a great way to give readers impressions of the product so that when you do send an email, they think to themselves “I keep hearing about this course, I need to buy it!”

Coupons and Discounts

I’ll talk more about coupons under the physical products section, but if you can get a custom coupon code for an affiliate product, you will sell more. You’ll make less per sale, but hey you’re making money off of someone else’s product anyway. When we promote Michelle’s course through email, we promote with our custom discount code: RVentrepreneur.

Now you’re not selling your audience as much, but you’re giving them a great deal that they can only get from you. Okay for real I’ll talk more about coupons when I talk about physical products in a minute.

Software or Business Services

We all use a bunch of products to run our business, some free, some paid. All of which we would recommend to someone who wants to start a similar business. We primarily promote two companies: ConvertKit and Bluehost.

ConvertKit is our email marketing service. We’ve used MailChimp and Aweber and CK is our favorite. They have all the functionality we need and great customer service. So when people ask us about blogging, I always recommend they use ConvertKit for their emails.

Similarly, when people want to start a blog, I direct them to Bluehost for hosting. We used HostGator when we first started our website, but Bluehost was cheaper and had better customer service.

When it comes to promoting products like this, we simply give our recommendation. This means typically we only earn income when people specifically ask us for a recommendation and we give them our link—though you will see these linked on our Resources page, of course! We do have one old post on our website that is a review for ConvertKit (and the post has gotten so few views over the years I doubt anyone’s ever purchased through that page), but one-on-one recommendations have worked best for us.

Our most recent strategy: The RV Entrepreneur School

In our free course on how to start blogging, I added affiliate links to both Bluehost and Convertkit, since they related to the content. I added in tutorials as well so students can get a better understanding of how the two products work. This has been a great way to get more of our affiliate links out there, however, it required spending weeks working on a course.

Again, making money blogging means playing the long game! Some of these strategies will take 15 seconds, like replying to a post in our Facebook group asking what hosting we recommend. Others will take days or weeks or months of time to write, research, and strategize, like a course.

Weird, weird payment models

All affiliates will pay out differently, but software and services like these are the most unique. Whereas courses will pay you a fixed percentage of the sale (30-50% is average), these are less predictable.

ConvertKit pays you a monthly percentage of whatever the customer pays. So if you pay $29 for CK and you signed up under me, I think I earn $2.90. But I get paid each month. So if you can get a bunch of people to sign up under you, this can be a great passive income set up. We’ve doubled our CK income from $100/month to over $200/month over the past year.

Bluehost pays you a one-time flat fee (so does Freshbooks which I recently became an affiliate for). While you may get paid more upfront than $2.90, it’s a one-time payment. We earned $450 in 2017 from Bluehost.

In either case, if the customer cancels their service, you lose on that income. (I think for Bluehost it’s if they cancel in the first 60 days, but don’t quote me on that.)

If you’re starting to think to yourself, “but how exactly do these companies pay me?check out this post on how we get paid. 

Physical Products

We live in an RV. We do not spend much time looking for physical products to be affiliates for. I’m not going to convince readers to buy things they won’t have space for in their RV. So we only promote one main physical product: weBoost.

If you’ve followed us at all this year, then you’ve heard us talk about our weBoost (affiliate link). This is easily the affiliate we tout the most (they also sponsor the podcast). We tout them for good reason, having a cell booster has been a game changer for us.

Bad internet puts you in a bad mood. And when you’re in a bad mood, you bicker with your spouse. And then the whole house is in a bad mood!

But the weBoost keeps all the bickering at bay. Well most of the bickering, we are human.

Because our weBoost made such a difference in our internet quality, it comes up often in conversation. We’ve talked about in our Facebook group, on our Youtube channel, and on the podcast. You won’t find any blog posts on it or an email devoted to selling you on a weBoost. We use this product every day and that shines through in our conversations. So again, one-on-one recommendations is a big way we promote this affiliate.

We also included weBoost in our 12 Deals of Christmas I mentioned earlier. We told readers we had a custom coupon code and that had to reply to the email to claim their discount. WeBoost doesn’t have any generic coupon codes, but custom codes are generated for each specific sale.

Coupons!

The 4GX-RV cell booster that we use will run you $500. YIKES, I KNOW. Who wants to spend $500 on something just because little old me says it’s amazing? Probably no one.

When we mention weBoost, we include mention of a discount code for 10% off. That’ll save you $50 off a pretty big purchase. This coupon code is the ONLY reason we’ve been successful at promoting this product. (Of course, the product really is amazing, so that helps!)

With weBoost, if you want to use our discount, I email you individually with a custom coupon code (we have a spreadsheet of codes that all look like HEATH-jsf8a8f9dyahsf). I’ve sent out a hundred of these things. That’s 100 personal emails from me saying, here’s your custom coupon code and here’s the model we recommend.

If you’re ever promoting a product that is a few hundred dollars or more, ask for a coupon code. It will provide more value to your readers and it will show them that you care enough to get them that extra discount. The bigger the discount your coupon offers, the more effective it will be.

We have a coupon code for Passport America where you can get three months free when you use RVE at check out. But where we get 15-25 people signing up for Passport America each month through our affiliate link, only a dozen people actually claimed our discount over the past four months. A few free months off an already inexpensive membership wasn’t enough of an incentive, I’d guess.

If you’re planning on using coupons for affiliate sales You should plan on using coupons for your affiliate sales. All you need to do is ask your contact at the company for a custom code. 75% of the time, you’ll get a yes.

RV Memberships

passport america

Let’s keep talking about Passport America. Passport America is our most consistent affiliate income. We’ve earned commission from them every month since February 2016. (Actually, in March of 2016, a $20 check from Passport was our ONLY income that month. I’ll have to write a whole other blog post about the inconsistent income of entrepreneurs!)

Probably 80% of our clicks for Passport America come from this blog, posted in September of 2015. (Notice how it took six months after writing the article for income to start coming from the post!)

In the post, we compare Passport America and Good Sam, the two most popular camping memberships out there. We review both memberships, including screenshots of Passport’s app and explain how much money the memberships have saved us. A couple people a week find our website just from googling “Passport America reviews”.

Writing reviews of products is a great way to sell any affiliate product. Share your experience, photos when necessary, and if the purchase is worth the cost. You should have personal experience with whatever you’re selling anyway, so this should be easy!

We earned $4,170 from Passport in 2017, and like I said most of that is just from our one review of the product.

Amazon Associates

Ah, Amazon. My first affiliate. I signed up for Amazon Associates back in the spring of 2015 when I had alyssapadgett.com.

Technically, Passport America paid us first in February of 2016 and Amazon didn’t actually pay me until April 29, 2016. That’s because you have to earn at least $10 from Amazon Associates before they pay you.

And while it took a year, wouldn’t you believe I was jumping up and down ECSTATIC! MY blog made $10.79! I did it! I made money blogging!

I made $0.64 in June of 2015, $0.36 in January, all those pennies SLOWLY adding up. And then $13.30 in May of 2016. And $97.27 by December. And now since that December in 2016, I’ve been paid every month by Amazon. Like I said earlier, we now average $100/month but got up to $550 back in November when I launched my ebook.

We ended up earning $1,000 from Amazon in 2017, however you won’t see it calculated in our affiliate income. That’s because we choose to get paid via Amazon gift cards. We never actually see the money, but it goes straight to our Amazon account balance every month. I don’t remember the last time I actually paid for something on Amazon (which is probably why I like Amazon shopping so much, now that I think about it).

We use Amazon affiliate links all over our blog when recommending books, RV-related products, Prime, and more. I don’t think we ever intentionally have sat down and said “Hm, how can we make more money from Amazon?” but instead use Amazon as a way to link out to products we naturally mention. (You can also be an affiliate for Walmart or Target—something I learned from Michelle—but I like Amazon best. They have EVERYTHING!)

If you have a blog, become an Amazon affiliate.

Amazon is good practice for learning how to insert affiliate links naturally and if you have a website, it’s fairly easy to get approved. Funny story: The same afternoon I signed up for Amazon Associates, I crashed my website. So my first application was denied because they couldn’t prove my website was real. (Side note: never try to switch hosting without the help of a professional!)

But if you have a website, you’ll likely be approved. The application doesn’t take long and it will take a couple days to get your approval.

Not all affiliate programs will require a full application like Amazon, but the bigger the company, the more complicated the approval process may be.

How do you become an affiliate?

1. Ask. Know of someone with a course? Ask to be an affiliate. All it takes is one email!

2. Google <company name> affiliate or <company name> referral program. Something will come up, likely a page like this. Note: I’m not an affiliate for Wix since we don’t use them, but I like their easy-to-understand affiliate sign up page best!

3. Think about what will best serve your audience. This won’t necessarily help you become an affiliate, but it will keep you on the right path so that you’re searching for and finding affiliate programs that are perfect for your reader. Providing value >>>>>>> making a quick buck.

Can (and should) you be an affiliate for a free product?

I use Trello and Grammarly (which I wrote about here) and while I use the free versions of both products, when you sign up under my affiliate link, I get the paid version for free. It’s not making any money, but it is saving money. I would recommend being an affiliate for free products to test your skills at affiliate marketing. I’ve mentioned a few tactics for how to sell affiliates to your audience, but selling doesn’t come easily for most people. To test your skills and your reach, think of a few free services you use online and grab an affiliate link.

Sponsorships

Sponsorships are probably the biggest misnomer when it comes to income. When I think of sponsorships, I imagine Coca-Cola. I see famous people drinking a Coke and smiling in an ad. It’s all big names and big money flying around.

Most sponsorships aren’t like that. Unless you’re Taylor Swift. And honestly if Taylor Swift read my blog, just kill me now because life can’t get any better at that point.

But back to the point.

Most sponsorships aren’t a person being sponsored, but rather a project, a product, or an event. Think about every college playoff game ever, for example. (Camping World sponsors a ton of them!)

All of our sponsorships have been for specific projects, or our podcast, or our annual conference. No one has ever actually sponsored us, just projects we own. I want to be sure to say this clearly, because people often ask us how they can be sponsored. To which I say, DO COOL THINGS! I’ll talk more about how to do that below.

In 2017, our sponsorship income came from our podcast.

The RV Entrepreneur Podcast

rve podcast logo100% of our sponsorship income included in the report above ($4,500) came from the podcast.

While they are called sponsorships, podcast sponsors are really buying a 30-second ad spot. In this case, you can charge sponsors based on your downloads. We charge $250 per episode and design three-month sponsorship agreements. Creating contracts over a set period of time will cut down on the time you’ll spend researching and courting new sponsors.

These sponsorships will require high traffic, good relationships, and a fair bit of marketing yourself. It takes a few weeks, multiple phone calls, and a good one sheet to convince someone to give you a few hundred or few thousand dollars to sponsor your show (or your video, or blog, or whatever content you want them to sponsor).

Just like with affiliates, you’ll only want to seek out sponsor companies with products or services you use and love. You want your mentions of the sponsor moving forward to be authentic and personable. This year, weBoost and Passport America were our two big sponsors for the podcast. And if you’ve been reading this whole post, then you already know how much we love those companies.

You’ll notice that both of our sponsors are also affiliates. We first connected with these companies by making them money through affiliate links, so when we asked for sponsorships, we had already proven how partnering would be beneficial for them.

How to Attract Sponsors

happy campers
Giving Snagajob a tour of our RV

If you’re looking for sponsors for your podcast, Youtube channel, film, etc., use these rules for guidance before you reach out to maximize your efforts.

Come up with a genuinely awesome idea.

Our first sponsor latched onto the idea of our 50 state honeymoon idea. They saw how they could get exposure in all 50 states and how a guy working a different job in each state would garner attention. All of these things worked together to create something pretty cool and we were able to sell that idea to a sponsor.

When it comes to figuring out what your sponsor-able idea is, dream big. Just “blogging about your travels” isn’t a sponsor-able idea. Do something different.

Level the relationship up to sponsorship.

We have never reached out cold to a company asking for money. 99.9% of the time, that won’t work. This is a super quick breakdown of how our current sponsorships started:

  • Winnebago— Introduced to them via Gone with the Wynn’s in March of 2015 and wrote a blog for them in July 2015
  • Jellystone— Connected with them on Instagram and wrote two blogs for them in November 2017
  • Passport America— Made them thousands of dollars through our affiliate link before connected with them about sponsorships

None of our relationships with sponsors started as sponsor relationships. They started as us creating content, providing value.

If you’re a blogger, write for their website. If you’re a Youtuber, make an installation video or review video. If you’re a podcaster, interview the CEO. All businesses are looking for content.

If you build the relationship by first providing value in a clear way like this, you will increase your chances of leveling up to sponsorships. (And while I’ve said this umpteen jillion times already, remember that this takes time. Four months to a year on average after providing content, based on our experience).

Only reach out to companies with a VERY clear alignment to your project.

Snagajob sponsored our Hourly America documentary. They are a job board, the film was about working jobs.

Jellystone sponsored our Summit. We hosted the Summit at a Jellystone Park.

weBoost sponsored our podcast. We record the podcast using our weBoost cell booster.

The more clear the alignment between the company and the project or event, the more value you can provide for them.

Don’t work with companies if you have a bad feeling about them.

Trust your intuition!

We’ve backed out on negotiations because we got a bad feeling about the company we were talking to. If you feel like they are going to take advantage of you in any way, don’t sign. If you feel like you’re going to have to do things that feel unethical, don’t sign. Most of all, if you feel like the product they represent is hurtful to people or could be hurtful to your reputation, don’t sign. The income won’t be worth the future headache.

The more research and work you can do for your project up front, the better.

It’s much easier to SHOW somebody what you want to do versus tell them. Build a clean website for your project, create a video about it, and be prepared to tell them why you’re the right person to complete this project. Show them that even if they don’t sponsor you, you’re making this thing happen.

See the project through.

The worst thing that can happen is you convince a sponsor to sign onto a project and you quit halfway through. This not only ruins your relationship and your credibility, but will definitely hinder any future projects you want to start.

Know your why.

The biggest question sponsors will want to know is WHY are you doing this.

Why did we start our conference? Because there were no other business conferences specifically for RV Entrepreneurs. Plus, we know exactly how hard it is to build community on the road. Our conference aimed too solve those problems. We were committed to seeing it through because we knew exactly why we started it. If you don’t have a strong why for your project, you may never finish.

What to Consider Before Pursuing Sponsorships

Sponsorships are like the magical unicorn of online income. The premise is great, but people often don’t realize the amount of work that goes into a sponsorship relationship.

For example, our first sponsorship for our documentary paid us $1,000/month for a grand total of $13,000. In our contract with Snagajob, we agreed to work fifty hourly jobs, find half of them ourselves, write 50 blogs, and film a documentary. When you think about the sheer number of hours it took to pull all of that off, we weren’t earning a ton of money for the time we invested.

But that money allowed us to pursue our dream and was a huge catalyst for our RV lifestyle. Not to mention saying you’re sponsored has a certain air to it, don’t you think?

Sponsorship income requires hours of work, not just to build the relationship you need with the sponsor company, but to get yourself to a point where you can attract those relationships in the first place.

I remember Heath and I talking to Thor Motorcoach back in 2015 about sponsorships. We spent hours talking with the right people over there, building rapport, creating a sponsorship doc, dreaming about ways we could partner with them. After a couple months (note: months) of building up that relationship, we sent over our stats and numbers and waited anxiously to hear back.

They never replied and I’m not surprised based on what we sent them. (Knowing what we know now about Thor, we wouldn’t buy their motorhomes, so this really worked out for the best!)

Our blog stats in 2014 and 2015 combined are less than our stats for this month (and I’m writing this halfway through January). Even our social stats are nothing to write home about and they were really low back then.

It’s taken two years, hundreds of hours, 100+ podcast episodes, 30 YouTube episodes (and growing), a million website hits and now I feel comfortable reaching out to companies for sponsorships. Now I can point to stats and examples and say “Hey, here’s exactly how I can provide value for you and your brand.”

If you can’t say that, you’re not ready to pursue sponsorship income.

Okay, that was a LOT.

To recap, here was our website income in 2017:

Product sales: $2,073.43 

Affiliates: $11,494.47

Sponsorships: $4,500.00 

Total blog income for 2017: $18,067.90

For reference, we made $4,314.01 in 2016 and nothing in 2015—though the first sentence of this post clearly states that it was in 2015 that we decided to treat our blog like a business. If I’ve learned anything about business over these past few years, it’s that above all else, everything will take 17 times longer than you think it will.

Are you working on monetizing your blog? What has worked for you? Share in the comments below!

 


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