Hi everyone! Today on the blog I wanted to talk about 10 Things to Know if You’re Going to Monetize Your WordPress Blog. I always seem to get blog questions related to monetization, so for any other bloggers trying to make this a side hustle, or for any curious individuals, this post is for you! In this post I’ll discuss everything from net payment terms to tax tips for bloggers.
When I started my blog, it was a place for me to post thrifted transformations and fun clothing that I made. I never DREAMED that I would’ve come this far! I always get asked “How to Monetize a WordPress Blog,” and this post will share a few ways how! Obviously the easiest way to monetize WordPress is with ads, but I haven’t qualified for Mediavine yet. This all said, let’s get onto the post!
How do Bloggers Get Paid Collabs?
The NUMBER ONE question I get asked when it comes to blogging is how do bloggers get paid? I get it from non-bloggers and influencers alike. It’s also something that probably doesn’t make sense unless you’ve been monetizing your blog for a while now! As I mentioned above, when I started my blog, I didn’t set out with the goal to make money at all. That said, once I started gaining more followers, it just sort of happened!
There are a few ways that bloggers get paid collaborations. The first is through influencer platforms! For those who don’t know, an influencer platform is just a site where companies are connected with bloggers. I have gotten campaigns with eBay, Steve Madden, Honest Beauty, and more through these platforms! They’re a great way to see what brands work with influencers and to discover new products too.
The second way that bloggers can get paid collaborations is by having the brand reach out to them! I would say about half of my campaigns come from this method. A lot of brands find influencers by searching hashtags, geo-tags (tagging your location in Instagram posts), and by recommendations from other influencers! That’s why it’s important to utilize every option you have on social media. Also make SURE to have your email IN YOUR BIO. Not in a clickable link, not just on your website, IN YOUR BIO!!
The final way that bloggers get paid collabs is by pitching brands directly! I had attempted this for a while and felt I wasn’t really getting anywhere. I finally decided it was time to invest in a course that could help AND IT DID!! In Q4 of last year I worked on over 10K in campaigns and about 1/3 came from pitching brands myself. The course that I took is BossPitch by Erica of Coming Up Roses and I saw a return on investment in in LESS THAN A MONTH. Click here to learn more, read additional testimonials, and/or to purchase!
Do I Need to File as an LLC?
Now you may be asking, “What is an LLC?” An LLC is a Limited Liability Company. My CPA said that I personally didn’t need to file as one, but I would suggest creating one if you’re doing this as a full-time gig! The main reason filing as an LLC is beneficial is because it will protect you legally. It means if a brand tries to sue you, they can only touch your blogging (business) assets and not any of your personal assets!
What are Some Tax Tips for Bloggers?
Now personally I’ve had a job since I was 16. That means I have been paying taxes for roughly eight years now! That being said, I really had NO idea what I was doing when it came to paying taxes as a blogger. Luckily one of my childhood friends has a dad who’s been doing our taxes for years! I went to him the first year I started monetizing and realized I had NOT done things correctly. Luckily I only had a few months of campaigns so it wasn’t anything too drastic.
When it comes to taxes for bloggers and/or influencers, it’s pretty similar to being an independent contractor (basically what you are for every company you work on a campaign for) or a small business owner. The items that they claim as expenses and revenue are very similar, if not the same, as what you can claim as a blogger or influencer! I keep track of ALL my expenses and revenue in a yearly calendar that’s broken out by month. Every time I spend or earn money, I put it there so I make sure to claim it during tax season!
What is Considered an Expense and What is Considered Revenue?
I also wanted to add a sub-section to this tip because this was something that threw me for a loop at first. It was really confusing trying to figure out what I can claim as an expense as a Fashion/Lifestyle blogger and what was considered revenue. It’s pretty confusing if you aren’t 100% sure and I suggest talking to a CPA even after reading this post, but this should get you started!
I wanted to first say that CLOTHING AND MAKEUP CANNOT BE COUNTED AS AN EXPENSE. Yes, even if you buy it just for a blog photo shoot, these are considered products that can be used regardless and cannot be claimed. I know, it really sucks, but you can claim so many other things it’s honestly fine. They CAN; however, be claimed as revenue in a gifting form. If a brand gifts you clothing, you have to claim the monetary value of the clothes for your taxes.
- The square footage of your office space!
- Your computer or laptop/any new batteries.
- Mileage for photos, blog trips, etc.
- Photographer/Videographer payments.
- Photo editing apps/Adobe Products.
- PayPal Fees (I’ll talk more about this below)
- Tripods, cameras, and any photo equipment.
- Blog themes!
- Website hosting (Siteground, Blue Host, etc.)
- Parking for photos.
- Gifts to campaign managers for the holidays.
- Props that are NOT clothing or makeup (i.e. flowers or coffee).
- Any blog courses you take.
- Any income you make from brands.
- Any gift cards that you are given for a campaign OR for payment.
- Clothing/makeup/other items gifted to you for a campaign.
- Affiliate Commission!
What are Typical Net Payment Terms for a Campaign?
This is one thing that really confused me at first. I didn’t really get how net payment terms worked or even what they were. I wanted to explain the most common payment terms and what you should expect! Before you start an influencer campaign, it’s likely you’ll have to sign a contract. You need to be sure you read it to entirety every single time! That’s really important. Generally on the last page is where they mention payment terms.
Make sure you know what you’re signing up for and how long it will take the brand to pay you! The three most common payment terms include: net-30, net-60, and net-90 terms. Net-30 terms means that you will get paid in 30 days! Net-60 terms is paid in sixty days and net-90 terms means you’ll get paid in three months. That’s the longest I have personally experience, but make sure to stay on top of it because some brands are not as consistent as they should be.
Should I Have a Separate Bank Account for my Blog Revenue?
I think regardless of the side hustle, you should have two bank accounts! It’s just a really easy way to keep track of what is going in, and what you’re taking out. I have multiple blog revenue streams and know a lot of other bloggers do as well. It’s a really good idea to create two accounts! An example of the revenue streams I have, is affiliate income, blog payments for partnerships, and commission from Amazon and RewardStyle. I think it’s easy to just have them all filter into one place.
Why is a Blogging Contract so Important?
I am not going to lie, reading directions and long contracts has never been a favorite past time of mine. That said, making sure you thoroughly read through and follow your contracts is SO CRUCIAL. Now what is a blogger contract? They are usually PDF’s that have really important info like social share disclosures, timelines, payment info, non-compete clauses, and so much more! They’ll also layout the type of content the brand is looking for (it is SO important to follow these, like really).
If a brand doesn’t send a contract, it’s a good idea to send one yourself anyway. It makes you seem more legit and also helps keep both parties on track! There are many places to find blogging contract templates, but I suggest googling to find a free example, or purchasing one from a reputable source. It doesn’t need to have too many bells and whistles, just the basics!
What is a License and How Should I Charge for It?
When I first started charging for sponsored posts and working on blogging campaigns, I didn’t really focus on what a license was. This was a BIG MISTAKE and I don’t want you to make the same one! Giving a brand license to your photos means that they can use your image WHEREVER AND WHENEVER THEY WANT. A lot of contracts automatically have this built in, so I make sure to negotiate the length or get paid what I know I should for it.
The typical time frame that companies usually want license for is thirty days; however, some will throw in a perpetual (forever and ever) license. I have gotten hit with two of those so far and have negotiated this down to a shorter time frame (while still getting paid). The way that I price this out is by charging a base amount (for 6 months) and then doubling it for every year. It really depends on the quality of your content and what content they’ll have rights to!
What is a W-9 Form & Why Do Companies Need it?
If you’ve filed taxes before (which I assume most people reading this have), you know that companies have you fill out a W-2 Form! Well a W-9 Form is very similar, except it’s for independent contractors. Most brands will require you to use this if you work on a paid campaign with them. This is akin to having an employer ask for a W-2! I personally have one filled out and saved on my laptop and just update the date when brands ask for one.
Is a 1099 Form Different Than a W-9?
When I started blogging I also had no idea what a 1099 Form was. This also falls in line with taxes, but I felt like it would fit better here because it’s a tax form! A 1099 Form is the form a brand fills out and sends you during tax season. It’s very similar to getting your W-2 Form from your employer! The only annoying part is you will get one for every single brand that paid you and you need to keep track of them. I just keep them all in a folder!
Should I Use PayPal?
I used to think PayPal was for soccer moms who loved shopping on Etsy, but I was VERY WRONG! PayPal has become my saving grace and they make having a side hustle so easy. A lot of brands will ask for an invoice at the conclusion (and sometimes start) of a campaign! I really didn’t know what to do when my first brand asked me this, but I realized you can create them with PayPal!
I have saved all of the info requested to my account so every time a brand asks I can just fill in campaign specific details. It’s SO EASY and you can track the ones you’ve sent through the app or website! It’s also helpful because it keeps a ledger of all the payments you’ve received and sent throughout the year. I usually will send a link to the brand in an email and also attach a PDF copy as well! Most brands prefer one or the other so I do both just in case.
I would say that the only downside to PayPal is PayPal fees. The standard that I have heard them take is around 3% of whatever is paid! Almost every brand I’ve worked with has paid them for me, but some brands won’t. That is why I listed PayPal fees as an expense you can claim for taxes! Whenever they are taken out, I add that to my chart and keep track of them.
What is an ACH Form?
An ACH Payment Form is just a payment form! It’s basically a PDF you can fill out with your banking info so the company can direct deposit your money versus them paying you with PayPal or a check. When a company originally asked for one, I was very confused and a bit scared to give out my bank info. That said, it’s been totally fine both times! Just make sure to password protect your documents.
I hope you guys enjoyed this post about 10 Things to Know if You’re Going to Monetize Your WordPress Blog and that it will help you monetize too! These are things that I’ve learned along the way and somehow I know so much more than I ever thought I would. If you have any additional questions, feel free to leave a comment below! I’m happy to answer.
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Photos by Hannah Lozano