Blogging from your kitchen table about stuff you love is no longer a passion project -- it’s a sustainable way to create a small business.
The pace at which blogs have become monetised -- that is, writers making money from their blog posts -- is skyrocketing.
It’s become such a huge thing that there are now talent agencies for bloggers.
But there is a catch. Making money from your blog usually means endorsing a product or a brand, and this is where agencies such as NuffNang come in.
“Originally when we were founded in Australia it was a real education process,” NuffNang managing director Felicity Grey told The Huffington Post Australia.
“So at first, it was connecting with the ad agencies and educating them about how blogging could help them and their brand. Nowadays it’s an integral part of the marketing mix so most brands and agencies understand what blogging is -- at least on a basic level -- and want to try their hand at it or they’ve been doing it for a few years.”
This is how it works.
An ad agency or a company approaches the agency with a brief. They want to sell a line of superfoods, high-end summer sandals or children’s toys and they want a certain type of blogger to do it -- a health and nutrition expert, a fashionista with a skyrocketing Instagram following or a parent.
NuffNang chooses bloggers who they think will be a fit, usually around five key campaign ideas are pitched to them from the client and the bloggers decide if they’d like to align themselves with that brand, and then write or produce content to share with their readers. Ads are also created and punched through to their blog site, and to other selected bloggers who write about similar things.
There’s no business like blog business
If it sounds like cash for comment, it kind of is. But Grey said the most successful bloggers were the ones who kept thinking about their readers, not just the cheques.
“A good blogger is someone who always puts their audience first,” she said. “So no matter what, the trust of their audience is absolutely number one.
"They’re passionate about really connecting with that audience, so they’re not going to sell something that they really don’t believe in because it is all built on trust.
NuffNang’s Felicity Grey says good bloggers are in such high demand they need talent agencies to help secure work.
“We have bloggers declining campaigns weekly because it’s not the right fit and we are totally fine with that. Because at the end of the day if they do a campaign and it doesn’t fit their blog and they don’t really believe in it then it’s going to be really obvious and the readers will go somewhere else.”
Clients are not permitted to write blog or social media posts and, while they approve the final copy, they are not allowed to alter it unless there are factual errors. This, Grey said, gave bloggers freedom to keep it as real as possible.
“The reason that brands want to connect with these bloggers is because they are authentic,” she said. “The brand needs to build a relationship with the blogger, the blogger needs to build a relationship with the audience but if it’s not genuine then it won’t work.”
Grey said readers understood that bloggers needed to make a living, and this was a feasible and acceptable way of doing that.
“Readers understand the need these days to advertise on a blog because these guys are the editor, the photographer, the CEO, the accountant -- they need to be able to make some money to produce this compelling content.”
Honesty is the best policy
NuffNang, founded in Malaysia and Singapore, has 8600 bloggers on their books and 1 million worldwide. But they have a select group of 32 called the Bloggerati -- influencers with massive website hits and huge social followings.
It’s this group -- spread across subjects such as parenting, fashion, lifestyle, home interiors and beauty -- that clients most want to connect with, if their readers are the target audience for the brand’s product.
Emly Collie aka Melbourne Girl, is one of NuffNang's high-profile bloggers.
These bloggers have worked hard to build a loyal following on their websites and social media channels and are now using their reach to cash in. The Bloggerati are signed exclusively to NuffNang but all the other bloggers -- anyone can sign up to the NuffNang “community” -- can also be put forward for work.
But Grey wared that if you’re thinking about getting into blogging to make your fortune and you try to take a shortcut by fibbing about your page’s visitor stats, your business would be short-lived.
“We’re seeing a lot of bloggers who are in it with the primary purpose of making money and I think a lot of readers these days can see right through that,” she said.
“If there are people out there lying about their numbers and their stats' to get paid, it’s only going to be a very short-term win for them and it’s actually going to hurt the rest of the blogging community.”
Spreading your blogging wings
Bloggers, usually sole traders, can make a solid living from writing blogs and creating video content and posting it online and on their social channels.
But the real trick to creating a successful small business from a blog is to diversify. Grey said the most successful entrepreneurs -- who can earn more than six figures -- were those who leveraged their audience to gain customers for associated businesses that grew as a result of their blog.
“It’s not just the blog,” Grey said.
“They are sole traders or entrepreneurs but they have different facets of the business. So one has a styling business and the blog helps generate customers for that styling business -- it’s used as a marketing tool for that, it’s not a sole revenue stream.”
Anne-Maree Russell began her blog The House that A-M Built about renovating her house. After demand for her services to style homes for auction boomed, she created an interiors and lighting business, Cape Cod Designs, and got her real estate licence and now also sells homes.
Anne-Maree Russell built a successful real estate and styling business from her renovations blog.
Ngaire Stirling launched her blog Brisbane Kids as a tourist guide for travelling families. She now also publishes activity guides for parents in the Brisbane area.
“I think lots of people think ‘I’m going to make a million dollars from a blog’ and that’s very rare,” Grey said.
“It’s like saying ‘I want to be a celebrity’. It takes a lot of work and effort and luck. You can build a sustainable business from a blog, but it also opens up other opportunities and other revenue opportunities.”