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Making an Income as a Blogger

May 8, 2019

Back when I first started blogging nearly a decade ago (what?!) I had no idea that blogging was something you could make a living doing. I saw a few other bloggers at the time who blogging as a career, but the entire concept was a mystery to me. It wasn’t until a few years later that I started to dream about possibly making blogging something I could do as a career, or at least part of a career, if I worked hard and stayed consistent.

While I still wouldn’t say I “blog for a living” these days, blogging and this platform has been the foundation for which much of my revenue comes from as a freelancer, content creator and Beautycounter consultant. It’s allowed me to share + connect with all of YOU over the last decade and continue to share content to this day. It’s hands-down the best job I’ve ever had and although the content has changed over the years, creating content for Espresso and Cream continues to bring so much life to me.

You’re probably thinking, “That’s great and all, but how do you actually make money blogging?” Well, the answer for myself and for most others I know in the blogging world is complex. Because it’s difficult to make enough money with any single revenue stream as a blogger, most bloggers I know make money through various different revenue streams.

(If you want a really detailed break-down of revenue streams, my friend Jess Keys (who also happens to be on my larger Beautycounter team) did a great post recently on how she makes money blogging.)

What is looks like for me has changed and evolved over the years. About two years ago, right before Collins was born, my freelance income was pacing nearly the same as my growing Beautycounter business. You can see above the breakdown of my income through the end of 2016 and where my revenue was coming from. Full disclaimer: At this point I was losing my mind trying to do ALL THE THINGS in equal measure. Freelance deadlines always looming, constantly saying YES to all the opportunities that came my way because I was afraid to say NO and lose the income potential. Figuring out how to do each thing well with a limited amount of time and childcare. I knew that something had to change for my own health and the health of my family.

What I did love about this season: The diversity of income. If you looked at my pie chart in 2018, it would include very little amounts of freelance, select blogging partnerships, increased advertising revenue and a large portion Beautycounter. Sometimes I wish I could still be as diverse in my revenue streams as I was in 2016, but in this season of life, I have such limited time and capacity to give to work (a choice I’ve intentionally made while our girls are little) that I’ve had to focus and hone in on where I’m spending that time.

So, let’s do a bit of a deep dive into each of the revenue streams listed above:

Advertising Revenue //
Although advertising revenue used to be the core of the way that some bloggers made money blogging, these days the piece of the pie that traditional advertising revenue makes up is very small for most bloggers. I work with Mediavine to run advertising on Espresso and Cream which you probably have seen and noticed at the top of my site, toward the bottom and on the side bar of the site. It’s not a huge amount of money, but it does add up over the course of the year.

Blogging Partnerships //
Blogging partnerships are the type of content you may see when a post is sponsored on the blog or on my Instagram. I work with The Women Bloggers for most of my blogging partnerships and work with brands individually as well. The way it works is the agency sends an email when they have a campaign they are hiring for. Bloggers review the campaign requirements and what the campaign entails and decide if they want to apply to be selected for the campaign. You’ll usually have to fill out a form about the size of your readership and social following; additionally there may be restrictions as far as the store that you regularly shop at or the ages of your kiddos or the stage of life you’re in. Basically the goal of these campaigns is to create natural and authentic partnerships between brands and their core customers/demographic.

Sometimes when I love a brand, I will approach them about working together, which is another super authentic way for partnerships to come about and works well for both the brand and the blogger/bloggers readers because it’s so natural and authentic.

Freelance //
This category was so big for the first years of my “blogging full time” career because of the jobs I had held prior to going out on my own. I had done a lot of work in content marketing and recipe development and was able to leverage those connections to get work right out of the gate.

Let me be the first to say that I LOVE freelance writing + recipe development work and sometimes I wish I could still keep up the pace of freelance work with my other obligations. It’s so energizing to me to use my professional skills and background in this way and I hope that once the girls and their baby brother are older I can take on more freelance work again.

Note that the content that I was creating in this category never saw their way to the blog. This was content that was entirely separate and usually never carried my name along with it, and if it did, it was usually a small byline.

Affiliate Marketing //
This is just a fancy way of saying that when I link to a product through something like Amazon or ShopStyle, I get a very small percentage commission on the sale should you decide you want to buy that product. It’s not a large percentage and makes up a very small part of what I do, but I figure if I’m already going to recommend a product, I might as well link it. Most of the time these products I’m linking are things that I’ve paid for with my own money.

Beautycounter //
I save this one for last because it’s not my primary revenue stream and because all of the things listed above led me to seek out something like Beautycounter in the first place. I joined Beautycounter right after making the leap to full-time freelance/blogging because I was looking to add in another revenue stream to support my somewhat unpredictable freelancing career and modest advertising revenue. I was already using the products (and had been for over a year) and figured I might as well share with you all + my in-person friends and family more about the products and company I had grown to love. Additionally, I had become increasingly convicted about the quality of the products I was using and the ingredients I was putting on my body. Beautycounter offered a solution to everything mentioned above.

So, I joined on a whim, entirely unsure of what it would hold for me and entirely blown away four years later and what it’s done for my family + my business.

In addition to the heart and mission behind the products and the transparency of what Beautycounter was doing to produce safe and high performing products, I was also drawn to the way it could fit into what I was already doing online. Beautycounter was similar to the affiliate marketing opportunities I had leveraged before (where I get a small percentage commission if something is linked and someone decides to purchase with that link) but they paid a higher percentage commission, gave me the opportunity to grow and mentor a team of like-minded women, and it was a brand I could see myself partnering with and getting behind for the long haul, not just as a one-time-only thing.

Additionally, I could see how partnering with a company like Beautycounter – that I was already purchasing with my own money – would/could allow me to become even more selective with the sponsored content I took on and give me more freedom to create content here on Espresso and Cream. And, four years later, it’s proven to do just that. I feel like this space has been able to become very free for me to create content that suits you all and my interests and I get to talk about ONE brand I love so very much.

PS: Regardless of if you have a blog or social following, Beautycounter is hands-down my best recommendation for making a real, substantial living from home with flexible hours and schedules. If you’ve been thinking of joining the Beautycounter team, I would love to talk any time! Just email me (madisonjanemayberry@gmail.com) and I’m happy to chat.

OTHER QUESTIONS
I asked on Instagram for questions and the most common question I got was how to start a blog and make money. I think that’s a really loaded question. You can, of course, utilize all the tools mentioned above. But if you asked me “Should I start a blog in hopes of leaving my full time job?” My honest answer would be no.

Not that it can’t be done – it can! – but for most people it takes a LOT of work for years without making much of any income before you ever start to see any tiny bit of profit. I’ve been doing this for a decade, and I think for the first half of that decade I worked part time hours (like many many hours outside of my full time job) and made zero money. So if you’re hoping to start a blog and quickly turn a sizeable profit, I think there are much better was to do that.

In my mind, blogging has to be something you do because you love it and have an undying passion for the topic(s) you’re writing about and the content you’re creating, rather than hoping to make an income and using blogging as that solution, if that makes any sense.

I hope this was helpful! It’s been a very long and winding road to figure out how to get to where I’m at today, and I’m so thankful that you all have continued to stay here for the ride! This work is something that I love to do and it’s incredibly rewarding to get to do work that I love and make a living doing it!

Our Family’s All-Time Favorite Biscuits

March 6, 2019

Hi friends! I can’t believe that I don’t have this recipe up on the blog. It’s our family’s absolute favorite biscuit recipe and the recipe that my mom made for me growing up, too. I realized I do have a version of this recipe up on the site from years ago, but for some reason I made them with whole wheat flour rather than all purpose flour, a decision I don’t really understand since these biscuits really should just be made with all purpose flour. They are flaky, buttery, perfectly delicious.

Every single time I ask Joe on the weekends, “What would you like for breakfast?” He gets a sly little smile on his face and says, “You don’t want to make biscuits, do you?” Thankfully, they are so easy to make that I am usually happy to oblige. And once you have the method and recipe down, it’s easy to remember and recreate from heart, no recipe needed!

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup milk (whole or 2%)
Additional milk for brushing on top of biscuits

Directions
Heat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper OR use a cast-iron skillet for baking biscuits. If you use a cast-iron skillet, you can skip the parchment.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt until well combined. Add butter to flour mixture and use pastry blender or fork to work butter into flour mixture until the mixture resembles a coarse meal with some slightly larger pieces remaining.

Add milk to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Turn mixture out onto countertop and bring mixture together with your hands. Knead 3 to 4 times until dough comes together. Flatten into a 1/2-inch-thick disc. Fold dough in half crosswise to make a double thickness of dough.

Use a biscuit cutter to cut biscuits from dough. Place on baking sheet or into cast iron skillet. Brush biscuits lightly with milk, if desired. Bake 13 to 15 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown and fluffy.

Serve with butter, jam or honey!

Easy Beef + Bean Enchiladas

February 26, 2019

We might as well just call these “pregnancy enchiladas” since this seems to be one of the few foods that regularly sounds good to me. Even 16+ weeks into this pregnancy I’m still feeling pretty sick to my stomach most days and enchiladas are one of the few foods that I can count on to sit well with me.

While I tend to prefer enchiladas from a taste perspective with regular-old white soft taco shells, for the sake of health seeing as that I’m eating SO MANY enchiladas these days, I’ve been reaching for the whole wheat shells instead. Either will work and both taste delicious!

Easy Beef + Bean Enchiladas
Makes 8 enchiladas
INGREDIENTS
1 can (19 oz) red enchilada sauce
1 lb. lean ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced (for ease and weeknight cooking, I buy jarred garlic)
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained but not rinsed
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 cup water
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend or sharp cheddar, divided
8 whole wheat or white standard-sized soft taco shells (8-inch)

DIRECTIONS
Heat oven to 375°F. Pour 3/4 cup of the enchilada sauce into the bottom of a 13×9-inch baking dish and spread to evenly coat the bottom of the dish. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, brown the ground beef; drain excess grease. Return beef to pan and add the garlic. Cook 2 minutes more or until garlic is fragrant. Remove from heat. Add in the black beans, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, onion powder, water and 1/4 cup of the cheese. Stir until combined.

Spoon mixture by 1/2 cupfuls into the center of eat taco shell. Roll up and arrange filled shells in the prepared pan. Top with the remaining enchilada sauce; top with the remaining 3/4 cup of cheese.

Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake 20 to 25 minutes more or until bubbly and edges are just slightly crispy and browned. Cool 10 minutes before serving.


Healthy Chocolate-Peanut Butter Truffles

February 18, 2019

Friends! Do you ever find yourself craving something sweet at the end of the day but aren’t quite sure what you want/you want something sweet that won’t totally derail your healthy eating efforts? I hope it’s not just me who suffers from this issue. Actually, over time and years of healthy eating, most nights I don’t want something super sugary or indulgent because my body prefers lower-sugar sweet “treats” now that I consume less sugar day-to-day.

Usually I reach for regular old dark chocolate, but lately I’ve been craving something different. So what’s a girl to do? Create her own treat, of course! I mixed a batch of these up over the weekend, and then another batch because I felt they could be just a bit better if they were covered in chocolate, of course, rather than having the chocolate chopped up an mixed into the truffles. The result was delicious, healthy and satisfying!

HEALTHY CHOCOLATE-PEANUT BUTTER TRUFFLES
Makes 14 truffles
INGREDIENTS
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup chocolate protein powder (I used Beachbody’s Chocolate Recover)
3 tablespoons honey
3 oz. dark chocolate (I used a Lindt Dark Chocolate Coconut bar)

DIRECTIONS
Place oats in a high-powered blender and process until a fine flour forms with no clumps remaining. Transfer oat flour to a bowl. Add peanut butter, chocolate protein powder and honey to the bowl.

Use a spatula, or better yet your hands, to evenly combine the mixture into a dough. Shape dough into 14 balls.

Melt chocolate in a bowl in the microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring until smooth. Drop truffles, one at a time, into the chocolate, turning to coat. transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate 30 minutes or until chocolate is set. Store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

Family

Homemade Valentine’s Cookie Bouquet

February 8, 2019

This post is sponsored by Soapbox Influence in partnership with Vanilla Gift Cards.  As always, all opinions are my own. I carefully select which sponsored posts to take on with YOU, my awesome readers in mind! I hope this party helps inspire you this holiday season. #VanillaValentine #VanillaGiftCards

This is the first year that Ainsley has been in any type of formal school (she is in 3-year-old preschool this year) and as my kids have gotten into more and more activities I’ve realized how my mindset around holidays has shifted as well.

While Valentine’s Day in my 20’s was all about romantic love, boyfriends, eventually my husband and things we did as a couple, the last couple years there has been a definite shift toward class parties, Valentine’s Day card exchanges, teacher gifts and more. Don’t get me wrong, I still make plenty of time to show Joe that he matters most to me, but the focus on what I’m getting out of Valentine’s Day has become less and less important.

Since I’m never really the “do things in advance” type mom (and I’ve come to accept this about myself and my life stage) I’m usually doing a craft with Ainsley at the last minute to get ready for “Love Day” as Ainsley likes to call it.

Decorating cookies is a favorite activity in our house, no matter the time of year, so I decided to take Ainsley’s favorite thing to do and put a fun Valentine’s Day spin on decorated sugar cookies! We made a DYI cookie bouquet with heart-shaped cookies, put the cookies in a decorative vase, and paired it with a Vanilla Gift Card from Walmart for a little extra something special. This would be a perfect gift for kid’s teachers, family members, Sunday school teachers and more. I mean, who doesn’t love cookies and gift cards?

If left to my own devices, I would have probably done fancier decorated cookies, but since this was a mommy + me craft, I let Ainsley have full creative control with the cookie toppings of sprinkles and decorative pink frosting. 😉

DETAILS //
I bought a wire vase pre-wrapped with burlap at our local craft store and put a florist’s block (the green foam) inside. Then I stuck each cookie into the foam and taped the gift card onto one of the craft sticks and inserted it into the foam as well. It was SO easy!

CUT-OUT COOKIE RECIPE //
(from a really old “Christmas Cookies” book by Southern Living)
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Desired vanilla frosting of choice and toppings, such as sprinkles and colored frosting

Directions
Cream butter in a large mixing bowl; add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, mixing well.

Combine flour, soda, and salt; add to creamed mixture, blending well (dough will be very stiff)

Divide dough into thirds; roll each portion to 1/4-inch thick on lightly floured surface. Cut with heart-shaped cutters and place 2-inches apart on baking sheet. Firmly press a paper craft stick into each cookie. Bake at 350°F for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Cool on baking sheets 10 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks.

Frost as desired.