The Business of Blogging Q&A

1. Biggest lesson you’ve learned on the business side of blogging? 
Learn your analytics. Know how much you are making companies, so you are confident in your rates and don’t settle. Don’t accept partnerships that aren’t exciting to you.

2. Do you still enjoy it as much as you did in the beginning? 
Yes and no. It is definitely more stressful now and not carefree like it was when we had no responsibilities, but it’s also much more rewarding now. We can’t imagine not doing it. We still love it, and get excited to share things/connect with you all. So while there is more stress, there’s also more reward!

3. How do you budget when so much is commission based? I struggle even with a regular salary. 
Only 1/2 of our business is commission based, and we have a general idea/goal of what it will be monthly. We know what we have to do in order to hit the numbers. We know what is coming in from brand partnerships months in advance, so this definitely helps with planning/budgeting.

4. Why do so many bloggers seem to discover/promote the same product at the same time? 
This should actually be a question directed towards brands, not bloggers. Most bloggers cringe when this happens, to be honest. Some brands have big marketing pushes where they will hire 10+ bloggers for the same product at the same time. It’s a strategy they use to get as many eyes on whatever it is they’re trying to promote at the same time. We (+ other bloggers) don’t know when we sign a contract if this going to be the case or not. We only find out after posting and seeing so many other people posting around the same time. It doesn’t mean it’s not authentic, it just means that brand would rather have everything go ‘live’ at the same time instead of spacing it out.

5. What are your top 3 pieces of advice you would give someone wanting to get into blogging?
1. Don’t expect instant gratification/success.
2. Do it because you love it and are passionate about it, don’t do it if you’re just trying to make $.
3. Be unapologetically yourself and you’ll attract your people. Don’t try to be what anyone else is/do what anyone else is doing because you think it will make you more successful.

6. Is it a constant battle to regift and give away all of the products you’re gifted? It gives me anxiety. 
Yes, it is. We truly wish brands would reach out before sending gifted product and some do, but a lot of times it’s just a random PR list that we are on. While we are super appreciative of the generosity, it gets overwhelming – but we do end up donating a lot, giving to friends, or doing giveaways.

7. How much time is spent on your phones every day? 
Pretty much all day, every day.

8. How long did it take you to start making consistent income that you could depend on?
3 years

9. How do you set the price for companies since there are 2 of you? Do you both work on every partnership? How do you split income? 
We set our rates based on our numbers and analytics. To a brand, it doesn’t really matter that there are 2 of us. No, both of us don’t work on every partnership, we split them up and just try to keep them as even as possible. One of us will take one partnership, and the other will take the next, etc. We split everything 50/50, unless a certain partnership is city specific/there’s an event to attend, which is rare.

10. Recommendations around the finance/tax side of things for those starting to monetize? 
Start setting aside $ for taxes right away – as soon as you start to monetize. Talk to an accountant, try to estimate how much you should be taking out of each paycheck for taxes.

11. How much time do you spend each week on all things Somewhere, Lately? More than full time? More than you did in your corporate positions? 
More than 40 hours/week, but not sure how many hours exactly. Maybe this is something we can try to track and report back?! We are working 7 days/week, but it’s totally up to us. We could take on less, but we just don’t lol.

12. How much energy do you put into website-y things like maintenance, SEO, tracking, etc? 
Minimal. Maybe not the best answer, but it’s the truth. We do not enjoy the tech side at all, and hired someone to handle this for us.

13. Is there a tax or financial incentive to those massive blogger/celebrity giveaways?
Thinking you’re referring to the Kylie Jenner type of giveaways? Those are crazy. We get DM’s for those a lot lol. When giveaways find a celebrity or a big-time blogger to take part in a giveaway like that, part of the ‘buy in’ fee (usually between $4k-$10k+) from the smaller bloggers/brands goes toward paying that celebrity. That person is basically getting paid (a huge fee) to sponsor that giveaway. It’s nuts. If you’re referring to loop giveaways you see a lot of bloggers doing, then most likely no. That’s just a group of girls coming together, pooling their $$ to do a big giveaway.

14. How do you stay consistent with regular posting, even in times of feeling uninspired?
We’re not always the most consistent. Especially during quarantine and early pregnancy when we were super sick, we’ve felt uninspired many days and have posted a lot less. But if that’s how we’re feeling, we will share it! Of course we have numbers to hit as a business, but we try not to force it.

15. Do you supplement your income with anything besides blogging? 
We did years 1-3, but not now.

16. How did you get started and learn what to do? It’s so overwhelming. Are there classes you took? How much $ did you have to invest to get it started? 
We just went for it! We both had full time jobs at the time, but it was something we enjoyed and were passionate about. We both had blogs previously that weren’t really going anywhere, so we decided to come together and create something new. We had the goal of turning it into our full-time career, but we had no idea how to do it, nobody to mentor us, we just learned as we went. We started for about $30-$50 maybe…whatever the cost was for a template off of Etsy (was not more than $30), and purchased a domain name. We weren’t making any money right away because 1. We had no audience, and 2. We were not accepted to any affiliate networks until we had been blogging for a couple months, so we just shared outfits/pieces we already owned. We were just excited to be doing it because we loved it! We knew we wanted to build content, so we focused on writing 5-6 blog posts/week! More than we do now ha, but a lot has changed since we started. Blogs were more like IG at that point.

17. How long from when you started until you landed your first brand deal?
Almost exactly 1 year.

18. I know bloggers all make money different ways. Some from affiliate link earnings, and some from only taking brand deals. Which category do you fall into? 
We are pretty even at 50/50 which is our preference! We don’t feel financial pressure to accept brand partnerships we aren’t excited about, and we really love the organic side of it (sharing links for things we buy/love) rather than just brand deals/ads.

19. Have your rates changed since your first brand deals? You don’t have to share $ amount but maybe %? I find the business side fascinating.
Yes, our current rate is 6x’s higher than our first signed brand partnership.

20. Do you get paid for ‘likes’ on IG?

21. How many contracts do you currently have? I hope that’s not rude. And how do you organize and track paid content? 
We currently have over 40 active contracts with brands. Some of these include multiple partnerships with the same brand(s), but they are all for separate collaborations/partnerships. We have a content calendar and a document we work from to keep everything organized.

22. Do you ever promote a product that you later feel like wasn’t a good fit? 
Not anymore, but we definitely have in the past when we first started getting brand deals. You have to make mistakes to learn.

23. How many employees do you have?

24. How do you make collages/graphics? Is there an app? 
We have a graphic designer who makes them for us now, but we used to make our own on Canva! It’s very user-friendly!

25. What is your least favorite part of blogging as a job? How did you know it’s what you wanted to do?
We love that this is our FT job. That was our dream when we started it, but we had no idea if or how we would get there. We started it as a hobby for fun. But now, it’s a business. It’s 24/7 and never turns off. It’s contracts, deadlines, getting ready to shoot projects when you would rather spend time with family. Staying up late to answer emails and DM’s when you’d rather just watch Housewives. To answer the question, probably just the fact that we are never fully “off.” When we worked corporate jobs, it was easy to leave work at work, but that’s not the case with this job because it’s much more personal. The hours are definitely more flexible, but we never feel like we’re not working. There’s always an email to respond to, DM’s to check, or something to post about. Probably something we need to work on – taking time off. We’re sure anyone who is self-employed or a small business owner can relate.

26. Do you think you would be able to do this full time (financially) if your husbands didn’t work? 
Yes, we would be able to.

27. What did your growth timeline look like in terms of $$$ amounts? Not asking for actual dollar amounts, but % wise? For example, do you look at growth like typical small businesses? YOY growth?
Yes, YOY growth is something we are always focused on/have a goal for. We’re thankful in that every year since we started, we have grown. It may not always be that way, and that’s why we plan/prepare, but so far we have experienced YOY growth every year. Year 1 we made peanuts. Maybe enough to buy something here or there, but nothing more. I just went through our records…when we started, it took us 5 months of blogging 5 or 6 days/week before we earned our first commission check for $208. 5 months! Year 2 we did a little better, but just enough to have some “fun money” to buy clothes with. Year 3 was when we started earning an income that could replace what we were making in our corporate jobs, and that’s when we decided to take the leap and go full-time. We’re now headed into year 8 which is so crazy to think about! Our 2019-2020 YOY growth as of now is 166%.

28. How was it going from a “normal job” to being self-employed? Specifically from a finance perspective, how did you close the gap when transitioning?
Thrilling, scary, exciting, nerve-wracking, liberating. All the emotions. We waited until our income was consistent and more than we were making at our corporate jobs before we left to be 100% self-employed.

29. How many sales do you get on average when you post smaller priced items vs larger priced items?
Typically, the number of sales goes down as the price increases. We sell much more (quantity-wise) when we share lower priced items. Our top selling price-point is $50-$100. On the flip side, the lower the price point, the lower the commission. So we could potentially earn more from selling 15 units of one item vs 100 units of another item.

30. Do you actually make real money? Or do your husbands support & fund this as a hobby? 
Yes our husbands support us, but not financially ;). Touched on this on stories, but a lot of times people discover bloggers/influencers after they’ve been working at it for years, and don’t see the struggle that is the beginning. Just like any business. We have built this over the past 8 years and we are really proud of how far we’ve come and the business we’ve built. Women always say they want to support other women, but one of the most common questions we get is “What do your husbands do for a living so that you can afford XXX?” Sometimes these questions are genuine, but sometimes they’re definitely meant to be condescending. We love our husbands and their work ethic, but they are not the reason we can afford XXX. Men are celebrated for their success, and women are often asked “But, what does your husband do?” This happens in any profession, not just what we do.

31. Do you think people underestimate the earning potential of this as a career? 

32. Do you pay quarterly taxes or once/year?
Estimated quarterly and then settle up on the difference at tax time.

33. What has helped you with budgeting throughout the year for taxes? 
Paying quarterly, and knowing our tax rates based on earnings so we know how much (% wise) to save from each check for taxes.

34. How do you prevent over analyzing what you’ll post about?
We just don’t. And sometimes that can bite you in the ass lol, but we would rather just be ourselves than analyze every little thing we post/guess what everyone wants to see/try to please everyone. No matter what we do or don’t post, someone is going to not like it. No point in over analyzing it. Just be yourself and post what you want. It is your page after all ;).

35. How do you earn money off of your own personal blog, like who pays you if it’s YOUR blog? I hope that’s not a rude question.
Not rude! We are paid two ways: 1 – Commission from affiliate links. These are links we share on the blog and instagram. If a sale is made from that link, we will earn a commission on that sale. Most brands fall between 7-15% range. 2 – Brand partnerships. Brands pay us to work together/feature their brand whether it’s on the blog, instagram, stories, etc.

36. Ways to gain an organic following? 
Do it organically, lol! We are going into our 8th year of doing this and feel happy with the following we have. For us, it’s not as much about the number of followers, but the community we have! We appreciate that so much. Some girls have been blogging for 3-4 years and have over a million followers, so it’s just different for everyone. We don’t do a bunch of loop giveaways to gain followers, we know you see some people do them once/week. That’s just not us. Not saying we’ve never done them or we never will again – because we loved the Peloton one we did at the beginning of quarantine. It was such a fun thing for a time when a lot of people were feeling super down. But, we typically do not do more than one/year, and it has to be with people we actually enjoy following/woudl want to intoriduce you all to. Ok, going off on a tangent, but for us there has been no “secret,” it’s just been about being consistent, staying true to who we are, and never giving up. Don’t try to guess what people want to see, just be you. You’ll find your people!

37. Do you have a manager/agent? If not, why? How many bloggers have agents or managers that you know of?
No, we don’t. We’ve been approached by several agencies, but we don’t feel like we need one. We have an amazing assistant who helps keep us super organized, and the three of us manage all of our brand partnerships together. Many of our ‘blogger friends’ have managers or agencies they work with, it’s not uncommon. We work with different agencies, but we aren’t signed/married to one.

38. How do you negotiate with brands/determine how much to charge? 
This took us quite a while to learn, honestly. It’s such a new industry and there isn’t a lot of information out there, so it can certainly be hard to know. Now that we are going into our 8th year, we’ve pretty much got it down. We have heard of suggested “formulas,” but in our experience they are way off. In the beginning, we had a few friends we could ask, “Hey, do you think this is an OK $ amount to charge?” Also, in the beginning, brands would typically come to us with their budget, whereas now we are asked for our rates. We have a set minimum rate for typical SOW (blog post, IG post, stories, etc), and if a brand is interested in working with us and we are interested in working with them, we will send our rate. We don’t negotiate a lot at this point, and are fine to say no if a brand cannot meet the rates. This also took us a long time to learn, but it’s ok (and important to) stick to your terms. It’s ok to say no.

39. Do you ever share anything just because you like it vs. it being sponsored by a brand? 
Yes, everyday!

40. Are there ever months you worry about income/expenses? 
Thankfully at this point, no. But we know things could always change, so it’s not something we take lightly, and why preparing/savings is super important as with any job.

41. Why do some bloggers minimize the fact that a post is an ad and say when something is NOT AN AD? 
We have never understood this. To us, it looks like they accept brand deals with brands they don’t actually like/use. Because what is the difference to you whether or not you’re getting paid to talk about something if you actually it? Maybe it’s a strategy to get people to trust/purchase, but it doesn’t make sense to us/makes us trust them less.

42. What happens when deals fall through or you decide you don’t want to work with a brand? 
This doesn’t happen often, but it has happened. Nothing major happens, we move on. We’ve only requested to be released from a few contracts based on changes they requested or things that were not made clear before agreeing to a partnership. But typically everything is pretty straight forward from the beginning.

43. How much of what you guys wear (including bags) is gifted vs individual purchases? 
Most of the items we wear/share, we have purchased ourselves. We share gifted clothing too, but would say the majority is purchases we’ve made ourselves. Maybe 75/25 if we had to put a number on it? We buy all of our bags.

44. What % of things do you buy and return? Thinking of the Nordstrom sale as an example.
We don’t buy/order something unless we think it’s something we’re going to keep – like most of you, probably. During the Nordstrom sale, we go in store to do fitting room try-ons, but definitely do not buy everything we share from the fitting room. However, we will say in the beginning when we had a shopping budget of $0, we would 100% buy things and return them lol.

45. Do you ever work on a trade basis? Like if a brand sends you something, will you post about it? 
Not typically, no. We definitely share & post things organically that brands send, but we never agree to a partnership or sign a contract based on trade/gifting.

46. Have you ever had issues getting paid by clients you’ve worked with?
Not really, no. Sometimes brands do get behind on payments, but we’ve never had to chase anyone to get paid.

47. What does a typical partnership look like?
There is no set typical partnership. They could be a single contract, a multiple-month partnership, or a year-long partnership. Some partnerships offer gifted product, others we have to purchase product ourselves. And the requirements vary as well – some are just stories, IG post + stories, blog post + IG + stories, etc. They’re all different.

48. What’s your favorite type of partnership? Blog posts, stories, IG post? 
Stories! It feels the most organic and is the most fun for us to do.

49. Do you have to ‘turn in’ brand partnership requirements? Like turning in assignments for college? Lol
Yes ha! It’s very similar. We have to turn in everything – images, text, and analytics. Some brands require pre-approval before going live and others don’t.

50. Do you get annoyed when other bloggers copy you or blatantly rip off your ideas/posts? 
Sometimes, but oh well. It doesn’t really hurt us, so we just get over it and move on.

51. When you say you’re paid every 2 weeks, is this from ongoing partnerships? Is it steady? Or is it like you make a lot one pay period and then nothing the next pay period?
We have several year-long partnerships, monthly partnerships, and commission from affiliate links. In the beginning it was obviously pretty unpredictable, but at this point our commission earnings and partnerships are steady. Some paydays are lower than others like any sales position with commission, but it doesn’t fluctuate that much for us.

52. Do you still pitch brands, or do they approach you? If you do, how do you pitch a company you’d like to work with? 
Now most of our partnerships come from brands or agencies who approach us, but we definitely pitched a ton in the beginning! It’s kind of like cold calling (fun, we know). At that time, we set a goal of reaching out to 2 brands/day each – so 20 brands/week since there’s two of us. Many emails went unanswered, but once in a while we would get a response and that was so exciting! We’re sure there are tons of examples of pitch emails out there, but be sure to personalize the email to the specific brand you’re reaching out to every time. Tell them what you love about their brand/company, why you would like to work together, and how you could benefit them!

53. How do you set work hours? What about insurance, PTO, maternity leave?
We don’t do a good job of setting work hours, this is definitely something we need to work on and set boundaries with.

54. How long does it take you to do a blog post? For example, if you end up turning these Q’s into a post, how long did it take to transfer questions and answer them in a post? 
It totally depends on the type of blog post, this one took 8-9 hours from start to finish. #coffeetalk is the other post that takes about the same amount of time to complete, depending on how many questions.

Hope you enjoyed this Q&A! Let us know if you have any other questions!