How To Make A Living From Blogging

Pictured: Blogger Susie Bubble at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week 2011.

Poppy Dinsey (What Poppy Wore)

Poppy Dinsey, 24, founded What I Wore Today, now known as What Poppy Wore (www.whatpoppywore.com). She set up the blog on January, 1, 2010 to showcase her daily outfits. It was a runaway success and now gets more than 250,000 hits a month. With a new social networking site and iPhone app, Poppy earns $90,000 a year. She lives in Surrey in the UK with her parents.

Poppy says: When I set up the blog, I wanted to see if I could achieve my New Year's resolution of posting an outfit each day for 365 days. The premise was simple: I would post a picture online with a description of what I was wearing. Like many girls, I had a huge wardrobe but always moaned that I didn't have enough to wear, and I tended to wear the same outfits. I hoped the blog would force me to be more inventive with my wardrobe – and, of course, to shop less. I had no idea how much interest there would be.

People loved it from the start. By the second month, they were asking where they could buy my clothes, and I realised I could make money from it. Showing clothes that were no longer on sale was no use – I had to partner up with fashion brands to get their current collections on my site. I now make money from advertising and affiliated deals – so if someone clicks on a link to a store I have on my site, I get a percentage of anything they buy. I also receive items from high-street chains, and wear everything from department store clothes to designer labels. But I don't court PRs and only wear something I've been sent if it fits with my style.

In May last year I quit my day job working for an online property company to blog full-time. The highlight of my career was being asked to be Vodafone's official blogger for London Fashion Week last year. I attended 40 shows in a week. I recently launched a social networking site, where people can upload photos of their own outfits. I've also created an iPhone app called WIWT.

Unsurprisingly, I spend most of my money on clothes, which I think of as a justifiable business expense! My working day starts at 7.30am and I'll often be at my desk till after midnight.

I work from my parents' house in Surrey but travel to London three times a week for meetings. My business is my passion – I don't have time for a boyfriend. I've got a sign up in my office saying, "Sleep is overrated". That sums up my life – but I wouldn't change it for the world.

Poppy's Blogging Tips
1. Get some experience working for a web start-up company. In order to build a brand from nothing, you really need to understand how it works.
2. Think commercially. Lots of people can write brilliantly but can't grasp how to make money out of it.

3. Don't become disheartened if you have only a handful of readers. As the site gains popularity, traffic will increase.

Interview: Blogger Susanna Lau (Aka Susie Bubble)

Lisa Sugar (PopSugar)

Lisa Sugar, 35, founded celebrity blog PopSugar (www.popsugar.com) in 2005. To date, the company is worth more than $10 million. It has spawned several sister sites, including fashion blog FabSugar and food blog YumSugar. Between them, the sites receive more than 20 million visitors a month. Lisa lives in San Francisco with her husband, Brian, 37, and their two children.

Lisa says: It's hard to believe my blog started as a hobby. Just six years ago, PopSugar was a one-woman show – me blogging about celebrity gossip on my laptop at home. It's now a thriving business with a turnover of millions of dollars a year and more than 200 staff. I set up PopSugar because I've always been interested in pop culture, entertainment, beauty and fashion, and I wanted to create a site that was a one-stop shop for all those things. At the time I was working for an advertising agency, but writing was my real passion. In the world of celebrity gossip, the most important thing is constantly having exciting new tidbits of information before rival sites, so I found myself blogging furiously every day – in my lunch hour, in the evenings after work and at weekends. I knew if I didn't continually update the site five to 10 times a day, my readers would start to lose interest.

At the beginning I had no idea how to get scoops. I had to build relationships with celebrity picture agencies so they would send me photos I could write about as soon as they were taken. One of our first coups was being among the first few sites to blog about Renée Zellweger's surprise wedding to Kenny Chesney in 2005. Visitors spiralled from there. One day we had five and the next we had 500. Thankfully, my husband had some technological expertise to help out with the website, so I quit my day job to concentrate on building the business, found an office space and hired a handful of writers.

It was such hard work at first. My daughter arrived six weeks after we launched the site and I had to bring her into the office with me. I was sleep-deprived and still learning on the job. Six years after launch, I never imagined the business would be so successful. We have offices in New York and Los Angeles, and 200 employees – about 50 of whom are writers.

Getting in there first is important, but it's also about good writing, being positive and factually accurate. I no longer have time to write myself, but I oversee the whole business and I'm in the office at our San Francisco headquarters every day. We make our money through affiliated deals and partnerships with select retailers. We also have discount fashion and beauty offers on the site, which generate further income. One of the perks of the job is the amazing events I get to go to. I was overwhelmed the first time I attended the Oscars in 2007 to cover the parties, wearing a designer gown. We now have 15 sites as part of the Sugar brand, and I can't believe how far we've come. It's a dream come true.

Poppy's Blogging Tips
1. If you're not passionate about something, it won't succeed. As a blogger it's got to be something you want to write about every single day.
2. Constantly reinvent yourself. You have to capture the public's mood or you'll lag behind. Your business has to evolve – we've recently branched into video blogging.

3. Stay true to your instincts and your brand. PopSugar is up-beat and never catty like some gossip sites. If we changed tack, we'd lose fans.

Kat Williams (Rock N' Roll Bride)

Kat Williams, 27, created the blog Rock N' Roll Bride (www.rocknrollbride.com), which nets her $120,000 a year. Launched in October 2007, it features real weddings with a quirky twist and gets more than 500,000 hits a month. Kat lives in Reading in the UK with her husband and business partner, Gareth, 32.

Kat says: I wasn't even sure I wanted to get married and never saw myself as a businesswoman, so it's ironic that I've made a career out of a wedding blog. But in 2007, when Gareth proposed, I became obsessed with weddings, scouring the internet for unique ideas. I didn't want my wedding to fit the average, pastel, cookie-cutter mould, so Rock N' Roll Bride started as my personal diary. It took off after other women contacted me to ask if I could feature their weddings, and I realised there was a demand for a bridal blog that promoted individuality.

Before I launched the blog, I worked as a producer for a shopping channel, but last January I quit to concentrate on the business. Now I make more than double my old salary and have no overheads, except my internet connection. All my revenue comes from advertising. I've got a huge following in the UK and US, and feature weddings that aren't quite magazine-worthy, perhaps because they're too quirky. But all the weddings need to look professional and I only work with reputable photographers.

I get 50 submissions a day and I'm very strict about what I feature. I'm currently in talks with a fashion designer about creating a wedding dress to sell through the site. I have more than 13,000 Twitter followers and promote the blog through social media. I'm at my computer for 10 hours a day, but I enjoy it so much that it doesn't feel like work. Gareth quit his job in IT to help with the technical stuff, while I manage the creative side. It's a partnership that works really well.

Kat's Blogging Tips
1. Post regularly. I make sure to post three times a day – it’s important to keep your readers happy and make sure they keep coming back to the site.
2. Create a visible brand for your blog. I paid for a professional graphic designer to build my website so it looks as glossy and professional as possible.

3. Don't be afraid to take risks. I gave up a day job I loved, but the risk definitely paid off.

Local Talent

While big-time blogging bucks are yet to be made in the lucky country, these three homegrown sites are on the rise:

www.stylingyou.com.au

Nikki Parkinson's blog on personal style nets her around $30,000 a year and helps her land styling gigs.

www.sassybella.com

Helen Lee started this site as an online portfolio while at school. Four years later, it gets about 50,000 unique visitors a month.

www.dropdeadgorgeousdaily.com
Just eight months after starting her blog, former magazine editor Kate McKibbin quit her day job and started blogging full-time.

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