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5/2/16Blogging + Money Matters

BTS-JB Being a ‘blogger’ is pretty weird. Most of the time, when I tell people that I’m a blogger, the response I get is a head cocked to one side and a question like, “you can make money doing that??” There is a lot of mystery and snark around the idea of blogging as a career, and many bloggers catch a ton of heat for creating sponsored content, for being ‘fake’ or for ‘branding’ themselves (or their children) for a pay check. There’s also a climate around blogging / bloggers that suggests vanity, vapidness, and self aggrandizement.

Today, I wanted to open up this conversation a bit, hopefully dispel some rumors/myths and maybe (and this is my most optimistic self talking) even start to change the climate around the way we think about blogging as a career. I want to start off by saying that I have been somewhat shielded from the sh*t ton of snark and criticism that many of my colleagues receive and have received over the years. I’m not entirely sure why that is. I’m grateful for it (seriously, thank you). But because I’ve been largely shielded from it, it puts me in a unique position to bring up the convo, hopefully, in a open and honest way. Also because, the few negative comments that I have received over the years hurt me so deeply, that I want to try and curb some of the hate that bloggers get.

Last week, Emily Henderson (who’s a friend of mine) detailed what goes into making a blog post for her and her team.  And while I’m sure the process varies for every blog and blogger, the general system, from brainstorming to execution, is probably pretty similar across the board. Case in point: blogging is a lot of work. It’s super fun and creative, it’s a cool job for sure — but it’s still a job.

Like magazines, movies, T.V. shows, or radio, it takes a lot of skill sets and time to pull off creating daily content. But it seems, of all creative jobs, bloggers are often expected to do this all without compensation. When I’m watching my favorite TV show (that I’ve paid to watch because it’s on HBO or Showtime or whatever) and I see product placement for a soda brand, or a car, I don’t really think twice about it. When I open up my favorite magazines, that I’ve paid money for, thirty percent of the content is ads. I see celebrities from Beyonce to Helen Mirren touting products. But bloggers are the only group of people that I see consistently apologizing (or feeling the need to apologize) for sponsorships. Why is that?

I pick my sponsors very carefully on this blog. I don’t want it to feel cheesy. I always disclose partnerships. I don’t support and publicize brands that I wouldn’t use. I want to give you all great content and I want this blog to be an inspiring place of discovery. But I also want to make money. I’m not ashamed of that. I’m a business owner and an entrepreneur and this blog supports me and my family — especially while the design/product side of my business is still in its infancy.  As it is, I turn down about 70% of the ad/sponsored post opportunities I get on the blog and on social media. Sometimes, it pains me to do so, especially while I’ve still got serious credit card debt. So when I do create sponsored content (and I’m sure that this is the case for most bloggers) I do it with excitement and pride. I’ve worked my ass off to get to the place where I can attract sponsors, and I work with brands that I admire and it feels great.

So why all the drama?

I think part of the reason bloggers catch a lot of grief for creating sponsored content is that the whole thing is shrouded in mystery. How much money are bloggers really making? We see bloggers with fancy studios and large teams–it’s all very illusive! So let’s talk about it. I make a lot of my money from creating sponsored content that I then ‘distribute’ to my audience across the web. So, in that sense, when I create sponsored content I’m kinda like a creative ad agency (like Mad Men, only with no cigarettes and way more women of color ;)).  I come up with ideas that I think my audience will like, create the concept, find locations, shoot the post and create great images around it, write and layout the post and then share the content (usually) across all my social channels — which for me is:

Blog: 100,000 unique visitors per month
Pinterest: 1.2 million followers
Instagram: 187,000 (@JustinaBlakeney)
Instagram: 224,000 (@TheJungalow)
Facebook: 12,000
Twitter: 8,000

…Which means that my content has a total reach of 1,731,000. And just to put that in perspective, the Vogue magazine circulation is 1,259,826. And while Vogue magazine charges $196,535 for a one page ad in their magazine, a sponsored blog post on The Jungalow with ‘social media amplification’ on all channels costs between $5000-$10,000.  And the more my following grows, the more that figure goes up. Holla. On a good month we make anywhere from $20,000 -$40,000 from creating sponsored content. On a bad month (like every January!) we make nothing! It evens out. This money goes to supporting both branches of my business, the social media/blog side and the creative design studio. Right now I have three people that work with me and agents, attorneys, bookkeepers, and accountants that are also paid from that pool, and I work about 70 hours a week to make it all happen. Also, I’ve been blogging daily for about six years and it’s only in the last two/three years that I’ve been able to monetize the blog at all.

Average rates on sponsored posts on Instagram are around $100 per every 10,000 followers, so if I have 200,000 followers, I might get $2000 for a sponsored Instagram post (of course this can vary but that’s my experience). All of this sounds like a lot of money, but when you calculate the amount of time, effort and expenses that go into building up an audience on these channels, and creating content every day, it averages out (trust me). We’re doing fine but we’re not balling (yet!).

Why am I sharing all this? It’s not necessarily glamorous to see how the sausage is made. I get it. But I think that transparency is often the key ingredient to mutual respect and understanding. I just got my first royalty check from The New Bohemians which means that I’m finally getting paid something for that project (woot woot!) — because after three years of planning, concepting, styling, shooting and promoting the book only now am I starting to see a financial profit. Bloggers are creative hustlers and we figure out how to be creative everyday and get paid doing it. That’s part of the challenge. We pick and choose our projects. Some of them pay well, some of them pay nothing at all. We have to put everything on the scale and figure out what works best for ourselves, our businesses, our brands and our families. We make choices. Some of them are good ones, some of them flop. But we put ourselves out there. We share. We are vulnerable–and I think that mutual respect is paramount.

So hit me with questions and comments. I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time and I’m proud of myself for finding the courage to do so. Ok, now I’m taking a deep breath, and pushing ‘publish’.

This post is sponsored by all you amazing folks that have been faithful, kind, and supportive blog readers over the years–here and around the web. Thank you. <3 ;)

Justina Blakeney Justina Blakeney

Designer, artist, stylist & mama. Founder and CCO at The Jungalow. Crazy for color, pattern and plants!

188 responses to “Blogging + Money Matters”

  1. Sarah Yates Mora says:

    I’m so proud of you!!! Hip hip and looking forward to your continued world domination!!!! <3

    • Tara says:

      I say rock on!
      You earn every penny, no justification needed.
      Do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life :-)

    • Justina Blakeney says:

      ha! thanks Sarah! Right back atchya <3

    • Fiona Loves says:

      I love this!! Refreshingly honest, transparent and real.

      I decided to start a side project and have a whole new respect for everything that goes into running your own business! And also a whole bigger respect for blogging or creating content to showcase your business. It’s really hard work and time consuming!

      Well written and so eloquent xx thank you xx ❤️

    • oh, Justina! This is such a much-needed post and so well expressed. Thank you for taking the time to bring this conversation onto such a well-grounded platform. :)

  2. jennifer says:

    BOOM, love it! <3 I'm so thankful for our friendship and our ability to chat about this!

  3. Aziza says:

    This was an awesome post Justina. I really appreciate your openness and honesty about your blogging journey. I’m an artist whose been blogging (about once a month) about my journey as a maker and my jewelry designs for about 5 years now so I definitely know where you’re coming from on the amount of hours and work that goes into it. I applaud you and wish you lots of luck and love in the rest of your journey❣

  4. Kemi says:

    Wow! Thank you so much for sharing Justina! My question how are you able to find sponsors? Do you just pitch to their publicity teams? Or are you apart of a network?

    • Justina Blakeney says:

      Hey Kemi, when I first started out, I did a lot of ‘spec’ work. I would blog for brands in exchange for product, mostly. Once my numbers were strong enough, when brands approached me I created a rate card and sent it back. My rates were modest (like $200 for a sponsored post). I also reached out to brands myself, again, in the beginning, in exchange for product. Now mostly brands come to me for this type of stuff. I also have several agencies that I work with like Federated Media and Style Coalition that pitch me to brands, and pitch brands to me. Hope that helps!

      • Carsen says:

        How did you get in touch with the brands to exchange for the product?? Just curious how to get this all started! :)

  5. Cyndie says:

    Rock on for telling the truth, vulnerably sharing your numbers and enlightening folks. You are a business just like any other. And you work hard to be paid. Thanks for your authenticity. xx

  6. Justina, I really needed this! Thank you so much! We have admired you for a long time regarding how hard you hustle and how well it seems to be paying off. We have been blocking for three years, and doing a podcast for less than here. Right now we are focusing on the podcast because we can’t seem to do everything all at once. The problem is always balancing content creation with promotion. We definitely get discouraged but keep trying to keep our heads down and just do the work. You are an inspiration!

  7. Oh, and by the way, I just want to say that you are the real deal! Everything you do comes from your heart. Your quality and professionalism is outstanding. And you deserve all recognition and payment that you get! Not yet

  8. decor8 says:

    Justina Love u

  9. Alex says:

    Go girl. You are a queen 👸🏾

  10. Jennifer N says:

    I don’t think I’ll ever become a blogger (I’m a nurse), but I read a lot of them and really appreciate those who are authentic, open and real. The business end of things is something I never knew about, and I find it very interesting. I appreciate those ads and sponsors even more now!

  11. vv says:

    So much respect for your passionate hustle and all your bold moves and honesty along the way! It’s been wondrous, eye-opening, emotional, and inspiring to get to see your and the Jungalow’s growth over these past years. xo

  12. Tutonewman says:

    Great post

  13. Katie M says:

    Not usually a commenter, but had to thank you for sharing this. I’ve always been curious about how the business side of blogging works, and definitely appreciate your ability to break it down instead of glossing over nitty gritty details. Thanks again.

  14. Margot says:

    Thank you very much for this article!
    It explains exactly what many of us (including myself) have to deal with on daily basis. My blog does not have as big following as yours but I feel the same way about being expected, as blogger, to work for free when everyone else is charging for similar promotion. It is not easy but I love the freedom of creating my own content :)

  15. Christine says:

    I am so proud of you for sharing this and for all your success. Whenever I run into you, I love our conversations—no matter how brief—because they are real, honest, and inspiring. Bravo, mama! xo

  16. Anna says:

    Thanks so much for sharing! Your work is awesome and its nice to have bloggers like you who are transparent about your work and how your world works. We need more transparency in the world for many reasons. Your courage is inspiring!

  17. Naomi says:

    Thank you for shining some light on this mysterious subject, and for not being ashamed to want to make money – especially for hard work and awesomely creative content. You’re the bomb!

  18. Paige says:

    You’re killin it! This post is awesome and I really appreciate the transparency with numbers. Many bloggers have written a similar post but ironically keep it so vague I didn’t feel like I had a better grasp on the subject. It’s honestly so much easier to support bloggers knowing this information than not–it reminds us that you are people too, working hard, creating content that you are proud of, earning a living for your families. Blogging is supposed to look easy, even though it isn’t, which certainly does not work to your advantage. Thank you for sharing this. Lots of respect for you. xo

  19. Holy cow that’s so cool! Those numbers sound so unreal but they totally make sense for all the work involved AND the value of the platform <3

  20. Rachel says:

    I think this is great and important. I do have one $$$ question though. Did you get an advance on your book? I guess I assumed you and other bloggers did.

    • Justina Blakeney says:

      Hi Rachel! Yes, I got an advance. My advance was $20,000 but after what it took to actually make the book (travel and accomodation, paying project managers, illustrators, publicists etc.) the entire advance (plus some!) went to making the best book I could.

    • Fern says:

      Rachel, I can’t speak for Justina, but I would like to clear up some confusion around advances.

      If an author receives and advance on their published work – it is just that – an advance. Which means it has to be paid back. A traditional publisher will offer an advance on future earnings. So if you are contracted to write a cookbook, you may be offered an advance of say, 100K. The payment will most likely be spread out over the next 4 years. So 25K when you sign the contract. 25K when you turn in the manuscript (often a year or two AFTER you signed the contract). 25K when your manuscript goes to print, and then you final payment of 25K when the book has been on the market for a year. And we must remember that an author has to pay taxes on that amount, and if they worked with an agent, than the agent takes a cut – usually between 15 and 20% of the advance and all future earnings. (and for the record, most cookbook or lifestyle authors are responsible for their own photography and props. So if you were creating can cookbook, you may need to use that first 25K (after you pay the taxes and your agent out of it, so let’s say you have 15K left) to hire your photographer, food stylist, prop stylist and then buy all the ingredients you need to bake your cakes and rent a space to hold your photoshoot. And what you have left over, after all of that, is your payment. WHICH YOU ARE REQUIRED TO PAY BACK TO YOUR PUBLISHER!

      Because an advance is like a loan. It must be paid back. So your book is not considered profitable until your publisher makes back all their costs and the 100K advance you were promised to be paid out has been paid back in full, from sales.

      I think all of us would agree that earning less than 25K a year on a project that is so big, and requires so much work, is not a lot of money in the end or very glamorous. Or enough to support a family or enough to earn in a year.

      So in my example of a cookbook author who gets a 100K book deal, it may well take at least 3 to 5 years to ‘earn back’ the advance – and that is after working on the project full time and in a lot of cases, paying for the project to exist to begin with. It’s really hard work that doesn’t end. A good author promotes their books constantly, even years later.

      Other facts about advances: Most publishers do not require authors to pay them back if that level of profit is never reached. That is a bonus for sure, because it is very hard for most authors to earn back their advances.

      When a book earns enough money, and the author is able to pay the advance back – the author begins to earn ‘royalties’ which is monies above and beyond the advance. This is called ‘earning out’ and earning out is very hard to do. Congratulations, Justina!

      • Hi Fern & Justina,
        All of this is so helpful! To clarify, if and when you are able to pay back your advance, where do the royalty checks come from? The publisher? Or places that sell your book such as Amazon or Barnes&Noble?

        • Justina Blakeney says:

          They come from the publisher!

        • Fern says:

          Hello, Zandra. In most cases your royalties will come from your publisher. Most publishers pay authors 2x a year. Even when you ‘earn out’, your publisher will most likely hold some of your royalties back, in anticipation of book returns. So even when you make a profit, you don’t even get to receive it all right away.

          Please remember that this information, and what I posted above, is general information. You will find other people who have had different experiences. I am just reporting industry standards, not absolutes.

          If you selfpublish, like through Amazon, Amazon would pay you and usually monthly. In that case Amazon would be paying the publisher, which is you.

      • Sam says:

        I’m a former book editor at a big 3 publisher and I think saying that the author has to “pay back the advance” is misleading. I don’t know of an instance where the author was actually required to pay back the advance, and many, if not most, books never earn out their advances. (Any time you see a debut novelist getting a million dollar advance, it’s safe to assume they will probably never see a royalty check for that contract!) The only instances where they are required to return advance money is if they fail to deliver a manuscript or the manuscript is deemed unpublishable and the contract is cancelled.

        • Shelley Davidson says:

          What happens if you paid taxes on the advance and you did have to pay it back? I’m assuming you are out that money? I’m assuming it’s not really structured like a loan as I’ve never had to pay taxes on a loan.

  21. Yaaassssss! First off thank you for putting this all out there. I think the more transparency there is about this topic the better. Secondly, you are CRUSHING it girl and I hope it continues that way for you. You are absolutely one of my favorite voices on the internet and I can’t wait to see what you do next :)

  22. This post is AMAZING Justina. Hats off to you for your honesty.

  23. Such a great piece! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this over-dramatized-always-fantasized life we have as bloggers. I couldn’t agree more with you: quality blogging take a hell lot of time and dedication. I do choose my sponsors very carefully, too. I’ve been thinking of writing a similar blogpost on my blog too, cause I think more transparency will indeed lead to more understanding! Thank you again! Gonna share this on twitter riiiiight now! :)

  24. Fern says:

    Fantastic.

    Perhaps this kind of willingness to pull back the curtain is what has kept the snark away from your brand?

    But I will say that I think people people view ads on a blog differently than ads in Vogue, because Vogue is not an actual person. And many people get to know bloggers because they present themselves as actual people – and then they “become a brand” and it’s hard to know the difference between the person and the brand. People present themselves to their audience as a plant expert or as a designer, and it can be tough to remember that blogging is part of the job description.

    Also, Vogue just asks you to purchase itself, the magazine – and then it is filled with ads that are unrelated to Vogue. Many bloggers, as they create that amazing content, become not just the magazine (if you will), but the models or their children become the models (thus, seeming like employees), the taste testers, their actual rooms, not just a studio or rented space, become the backdrops… and usually the product is pushed on the audience in a personal way.

    I think it feels very different when Vogue shows me an ad for MAC lipstick and my favorite blogger builds a whole spread around it, and here I was just think this blogger LIKED makeup and LIKED sharing about it and now they are saying this common bond I thought we shared was THEIR JOB – I become a JOB DUTY and not a reader they set out to help.

    I hope this makes some sense. I do think bloggers deserve to get paid, and boy oh boy do I think you work hard! I think this kind of transparency will help to close the gap of understanding. I am really glad you wrote this and I am going to share it within my own community.

    It would be really interesting if on a sponsored post, bloggers would report what it cost to create – or a rough estimation. Such as: Sponsored post: People who were a direct or indirect part of this sponsored content were: my lawyer, my accountant, a photo editor, myself, the florist, etc – all the people who were paid money from the budget to create the content.

    For viewers to support this kind of content, I think they need to understand what goes into it and why it’s important. Just as Linda Evangelista so famously said way back when: “I don’t get out of bed for less than 10K a day” perhaps an influential blogger would say “I couldn’t create this post for less than 2K” or whatever that might be.

    Anyhow, great conversation and I will be glad to follow along.

    • Sam says:

      Thank you for expressing this difference so clearly. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head as to why blog readers respond differently to sponsored blog posts vs. more traditional advertising. I totally get the need or desire to accept sponsored posts, but there IS a shift in the blog when what started as a passion project turns into a job and readers are supposed to go along with it, whereas a magazine is editorial plus adverts from the get-go and there is a clear distinction between the two. In blogging, which is so personal, the distinction is less transparent. But I’m really grateful to Justina for pulling back the curtain on this–it makes me respect and admire the blog even more!
      The most aggravating thing about sponsored content, I think, is when you see multiple bloggers doing a sponsored post on the same product or brand at roughly the same time or when a blogger shills for a brand that has little to do with their blog. It does neither the brand or the bloggers any good, I think, and it makes me trust the blogger’s opinion/judgement less in the future.

      • holly says:

        THIS. I totally agree! The feeling is like, “Hey, I thought we were friends! And now you’re trying to sell me something?!”

        Also, re: “A magazine is editorial plus adverts from the get-go and there is a clear distinction between the two” — I’m seeing even less and less of this! I would LIKE magazines to be that way, but I keep noticing Nylon (for instance) will include an organic shampoo in a roundup of shampoos, and then, whaddya know, that same shampoo has a full-page ad in the same issue. It’s like how “advertorials” are popping up and how radio DJs now voice many of the ads on their station. Advertisers are desperate for voices consumers trust, because the clear editorial/advertising split isn’t working so well anymore.

      • As someone who used to work in the magazine industry, I understand that it appears there is great distinction between the two but let me just say that there is not. Specifically in fashion, if you want to be included in edit you better be buying and ad, and editorial is “highly encouraged” to use advertisers products. The lines are much more muddy than they appear, unfortunately, but I do understand that it seems less intrusive to the reader.

    • Tricia says:

      Right, but even when you like doing something. Or really, really, really like doing something, if it takes as much time, effort and money to do it, and other people are reading it, maybe getting paid occasionally isn’t such a bad idea. Sponsored posts are great, IMO, when they are announced as such. Most bloggers don’t try to “fool” people with that sort of thing. We’re all here because we love Justina’s voice and if she can she deserves to make a living off of the unique space that she has created.

      Artists of all sorts do love to create their work. Just because you love doing it doesn’t mean that you should always do it for free. Especially if you need staff to help create.

    • Sarah says:

      I agree with the idea that feeling a personal connection with a blogger does sometimes make the sponsored content feel out of place. I would also argue that almost everything published in a magazine is basically sponsored in less clear ways, especially those related to creative fields. A lot of what gets published is published because brands market really well to publishers, providing their products for reviews, sponsoring events, etc. Although we think we understand what is an ad vs. what is content, we might actually not. At least (good) bloggers are disclosing their relationships.

    • Alison says:

      Thank you Fern for clarifying this! I have felt this way for a long time about bloggers and have not been able to express it and You hit the nail on the head exactly!

  25. love your transparency. there is alway so much hiding of #’s in blogging and I feel that really leads some people astray sometimes. Most other salary data is obtainable, at least from comparables, and love when people do more to put that same information out there for bloggers so that they can make informed decisions about their careers and trajectory.

  26. Anna says:

    Sincerely loved that post! To echo other comments, I really appreciated the transparency and your sharing of numbers. As a longtime blog reader, I think the reason readers react negatively to sponsored content in blogs versus TV or magazines is because advertising has always been a part of TV and magazines. It’s to be expected. Blogs, on the other hand, did not start out as businesses, for the most part. They were personal outlets or ways to connect and share common interests. I think that readers sometimes get scared that beloved blogs will start to lose who they truly are or their authentic voice when sponsored content starts showing up. I totally understand why bloggers accept sponsored content, but if they’re not done well, the posts can be generic and it can get frustrating as a reader to see yet another post about Blue Apron or something. However, I have to say that your sponsored posts have always been extremely well done and I’ve never felt disappointed by them. Your discretion and effort in still making it solid content is obvious. Regardless of how blogs started out, they are a viable business in 2016 and the writer should be compensated accordingly! Thanks again for such a great post.

  27. Gleoneisi says:

    This is the first time I visit your blog, and it was so worth it!
    What a wonderful post! BRAVO!! I follow Dagne Dover and they have you listed as one of the #POWERMOMS that run the world, they made no mistakes in having you there!

    Thank you for being so candid. Today creativity is taking people to so many amazing places, and inspiring more creative minds. Many times those wanting to follow the same steps are eager to learn more, but find themselves stuck and not knowing how to get there. That’s why posts like yours are so important, in getting the word out there. I’ve been reading many blogs for awhile, and I can honestly tell you that I yet to see this kind of breakdown. So for that, thank you! Now let me go and follow you on Instagram! P.S. HIGH FIVE!!

  28. Krati Mishra says:

    Hi Justina
    I am a newbie blogger and it is a scary world out there. I am barely a year old (in blogosphere) and nowhere remotely close to what you have accomplished. But your post resonated with me despite that. I work hard too, single-handed, to create good content (in my opinion) and I am getting better everyday. I have a masters degree and I left a cushy job to be here and take it one step at a time. I too want to make money out of it, hopefully someday. But to get a backlash for finally getting redeemed, that would be heartbreaking. I feel for you (and other bloggers), despite a lack of success like yours.

  29. Sarah says:

    Such an informative post, thank you! You and your brand are such an inspiration!!!! Question- when you were growing your blog, what tools were the most helpful to you- reading, tips from friends, trial and error?

  30. Emily says:

    HELL YES Justina! Thanks as always for your honesty and openness. I know that’s not easy. As someone who has read your blog foreverrrrrr I don’t find the sponsored content a departure in tone or style from the Justina-ness we have always loved! So stoked for your success. As an artist, consultant, mom of 3, and entrepreneur I so appreciate your work, words, and HUSTLE. Xx

  31. Deepa says:

    TOTAL BOSS. Your honesty, generosity and courage in writing this post and putting it all out there continue to amaze and inspire me. Keep on rocking!

  32. T Portia says:

    Kudos for having had the guts to finally write this honest blog. I follow your IG, but have not had the opportunity to read your blog. I have been trying to write my own (blog) for approximately 6 years. Still nothing. What you have shared is just as scary as it is encouraging to me. I sincerely applaud you for putting yourself out there with this insightful post. Hopefully, the response is more positive (but who cares?…really). I wish you continued success in all your endeavors and Stay true to who you are. It would be cool though if you were part of a panel of a team of mostly “successful” bloggers to share your experiences, advice, etc. to tackle the issue once and for all in a public forum of sorts.

  33. bethania says:

    As a crative hard worker who ocasionally reads your blog, who follows your IG account and who admires your work, I am very grateful that you had the courage to speak it out. Information is key and is the better way to keep things going on a regular basis. One thing I think is due in the whole social media area is more transparency. FOr intance, I like to know straight way if a post is sponsored or not. Some might fear this disclosure would make the reader go way, but I disagree. I believe the clear it is, the stronger the connection. It would be a win-win situation. There are different bloggers all around, some may not go all the way you go and make just promotional and sponsored posts disguised as authoral posts. The reader would be better served in a transparent basis. Like in a magazine, we would know what is sponsored content and what is not and everybody would benefit. Do you agree?

  34. BRIELLE says:

    THANK YOU JUSTINA FOR SHARING YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH ALL OF US. AS A BUDDING BLOGER, YOUR HONESTY, WISDOM AND GRACIOUSNESS HELPS INSPIRE ME!

    LOVE YOUR BOOK AND AM SO HAPPY IT HAD BECOME A BEST SELLER. WELL DESERVED!!!!

    NAMASTE.
    BRIELLE

  35. Kim says:

    Your honesty is what keeps your followers coming back for more! Good for you for being so transparent and keep rocking it!!

  36. Elisabeth says:

    Thanks for sharing with us! You are crazy talented and have such a beautiful eye and seem to have such a sweet, genuine soul. I recently stumbled across you and I am so delighted. Can you recommend any good books or resources for beginning bloggers? I love to write and people have told me I should start one many times.

  37. Thank you SO much for sharing this, Justina. Honestly, cannot thank you enough for bringing such freshness and honesty to the blogging world. <3

  38. Alison says:

    Thanks for sharing! You are absolutely right that transparency is the key, and blogging is a job that comes with disadvantages and insecurity, just like any other jobs. I do not have a real blog but read lots of blog posts about home decor. I can see it is something takes talent and time to do. I very much respect bloggers and admire their courage to put themselves out there for comments. I would not be able to handle the negative comments at all.

    One question about sponsored content: how often blog posts, say posts you published, is a sponsored post? Does every sponsored post have a clarification such as “This post is sponsored by such and such”? For example, some renovation posts look very personal, just mood-boards and ideas about a room, with links to products but not claimed to be sponsored, are these considered sponsored post? Posts like “kitchen reveal”, with product links, do they considered sponsored post? Just want to understand how much percentage the sponsor-free content a blog like yours have vs. posts actually bring in checks.

    • Justina Blakeney says:

      Hi Alison! When a blog post is sponsored (meaning I’m getting paid by a brand to post the material) It says very clearly at the end of each post that the post is sponsored. In 2016, I’ve also started to add the disclosure at the beginning of each post, so it’ll say “This post is brought to you by…” If the post is not sponsored, it will have no disclosure, but I may have affiliate links in the posts, which means that if someone buys something from one of my recommendations, I make a small percentage of that sale. Hope that helps! In general I have about 4 sponsored posts per month on the blog (one per week).

      • Alison says:

        Your answer is clear! Thanks so much for clarify. Once a week is not that much at all. I personally think sponsors and ads are fair game since this is how bloggers earn their bread. As long as the bloggers have tried the products and really think they are good, there is no reason to be upset with the recommendation – it is exactly what I am reading blogs for – to find out what to use! If readers donate money every time they like something on blogs then bloggers can be sponsor-free. Otherwise how do bloggers get paid for their time.

  39. Hey Justina!!! Thanks so much for posting this. I love seeing the behind the scenes and I think it aids in the problem in the creative world of comparison…. You never really know how much hard work goes into a “successful” business when you just see a tiny glimpse. And success is a moving target! I always have to remind myself that success for someone else is not necessarily success for me. I sell your book in my shop and think you’re the queen of boho style! Thanks for all your hard work! Maybe one day we will be able to have a sponsored post on your blog! Yay!

  40. I can’t even express how much this needed to be said. It’s always bothered me as a general consumer to see how much flack bloggers take for being ‘sponsored’ when it accepted in other forms of media. Do people really think that lipstick landed in a best-of round up on accident? No way!

    We’ve never done much to monetize our blog or social following until recently and I was astonished change in pace. We are commercial photographers and used to shooting for the magazine industry and for companies directly. Believe me, for what bloggers charge, they work hard. All the prep work a blogger does for a post, we’d have a team of 10, maybe 15 people working on the same content for an ‘article’. Bloggers really hustle and there needs to be some serious respect for that.

    Wonderful post, elegantly written and a wonderful topic for discussion.

  41. This is so incredibly empowering, Justina! Congratulations on your well-deserved success and for putting it all out there in today’s post. It’s about time that we break this negative stigma that surrounds us bloggers. Can’t wait to follow along on your journey of success! #womanpower

  42. Sarah says:

    I’m finding this topic comes up more and more often in other fields too–interior design and home building, specifically–where consumers seem almost angry that the people producing the goods, content, services they consume must be total jerks if they want to make money. For some reason an entrepreneur’s margin is becoming a character flaw. I actually think that blogging and sponsored posts is kind of cool. People can self-publish, create an audience, and marketers are considering these clubs we’ve created to be something valuable. And for readers it’s free! And we benefit way more from giveaways than we did with magazines. The return on investment as someone reading a blog is still better than most magazines I’ve read.

  43. Meg says:

    I actually often think of your blog when I think of integrated ads that work. I think it works because of your enthusiasm for the product and also your honesty. It’s like a friend telling us about a job she did with a company rather than a friend who shows up at your door pitching Tupperware.

  44. Jeff Mindell says:

    So so thrilled that you put this out there. Although I’m seeing the world of blogging very much peripherally, I live and breathe the monetary part of your conversation every day via my own social channels. Kelly and I also strive for 100% transparency across the board and I LOVED your perspective on this! Super refreshing.

    J

  45. Skyler says:

    I have a few blogger friends and have heard them complain when they get criticized on a sponsored post that people don’t think they deserve to be paid. Honestly, I think 99.9% of people have no issues with bloggers being paid. Like others have mentioned readers feel a personal connection to bloggers. When they see a post where the blogger seems truly enthusiastic about a product, and that the blogger would actually use that product in real life, you hardly see criticism. However, when you see a post regarding a product that’s totally out of the blue or when you highly doubt that blogger really uses that in real life… That’s when you see the criticism and it feels the post was done purely for the money. For example, I saw a car post where the blogger went on about how amazing the car was to take them on so many adventures for a weekend and it got criticized. It got criticized because people believed this person only wrote this post for the money and probably didn’t drive this car in real life besides when having to write that post. I bet if the blogger actually drove this car in real life and documented the many memories they’ve had in it… The criticism wouldn’t have been so bad. I also saw Emily henderson’s backlash on her air wick post. I love her and have never thought anything bad about her ads, but this one was the first one that raised my eye brow a bit. You guys definitely deserve to get paid for your hard work!! And I do believe people on the Internet can be such bullies, but I also think maybe when a negative comment is received, instead of being hurt, it can be a time to step back and review how authentic one is being in that moment.

  46. Best I’ve read in a long time on this subject!

    Woop woop from Swedens most read interior design blog (and a full time blogger since 2011, running a million dollar business in swedish)

    Hugs!

  47. Eva says:

    I only can say, I love your posts. They are full of love, kindness and your blog is a real treasure for me. Often, when my day isn’t the way I wanted it to be, I read your posts and I am happy again. And therefor every Dollar you earn is worth it. Often people don’t see the hours of work and effort you push in. They only see the monetary output (if there is any – if there is nothing, there is no complaint, that you push so much work and effort in and – for no money…) and are getting envious.
    Now I only want to thank you for the hours of joy, your post gave to me :-)

  48. Jacinta says:

    Hi
    Love your work and love your honesty about blogging. I started blogging, but I do find it hard to wear all the different hats. I don’t have a team of people working with me (not yet)…
    I’m living in Ireland and it’s only in the past couple of years that blogging has taken off. Love the advice you give. Thanks Jacinta.

  49. Lisa says:

    Hi Love your blog, your style, the whole thing. I especially love your bare all honesty here in this post. I’m inspired by how blogging can be the gateway to getting relevant messages out there, sharing stories, establishing communities, helping others in ways unimaginable. How cool is it to be able to earn a living doing what you love?! Pretty damn cool. Yet, I’m a little worn from all of these “blog branding” posts and sites that really promote the idea of success as 1) money, 2) more money and 3) big money that comes at a snap of a finger. It’s fun hard serious work – what did you write…”70 hours a week, daily, for six years” Talk about earning it. You’re great, you rock and I hope to be as lucky and energetic to see my blog success through. Thanks,
    Lisa

  50. Leslie-Anne says:

    This was so interesting. As a longtime reader it is easy for me to feel like I’m just looking at a slice of your day – because you make the blog so chill- but I do understand this is your work. Anyone who thinks people don’t work for money must have a trust fund! Please keep doing what you’re doing and I hope you prosper doing it.

  51. Victoria says:

    I appreciate the article. Bravo to you for all your success and for leading the way for others to change their money story. My one thing I would add is I hope some day you make $20,000 a month every month without apology. I hate that even part of this article was justifying your salary. Art is incredibly undervalued and I appreciate any dollar that any artist receives. I want all artists to be million and billionaires because I know what that could mean for our world. That’s a world I want to live in. And I thank you.

  52. Heidi Rose says:

    Hi Justina,
    I think a big part of the negativity around this kind of work is the disbelief that you could actually make a living online. I’m a freelance writer and I get that attitude all the time. Even if you are honest about the work it takes, other people push back because they can’t believe it! Being transparent with your finances is true vulnerability, but so is making a living as a creative person. Thank you for your honest words and your beautiful work. You are an inspiration!

  53. Paola says:

    Well expresed Justina! Very eloquent, logical at the same time that passionate argument. Much respect!

  54. Such a great post. I don’t like that bloggers have to apologize for making money either. I love my job and am just starting out making a little always bothers me that we have to also disclose the usage of affiliate links and the fact that we make a commission and that people get so hateful about that. It’s a tiny commission most of the time but people have no problem walking into a furniture store or nordstroms and that those sales people get a commission which is much larger than what we bloggers get. And those sales people don’t need to wear a disclosure on their name tag about their commissions.

  55. Libbynan says:

    Thanks so much for a truly enlightening post. I’m an older adult reader and don’t really use social media. You have let me in on how blogging works and how the bills get paid. I now understand a lot that I didn’t get before. To me this finally explains that blogging is a real job and what all you do. I enjoy reading my favorite blogs and now I get the process. It makes it much more entertaining for me to understand what is going on.

  56. Larissa says:

    We are here for you. Keep up the good work. Sharing the backstage of your work makes me appreciate more your work.

  57. Thank you x a billion for being brave enough to share real deal specifics! Not only is this great info to share with your audience, but as a fellow blogger, it’s also so refreshing! There’s so much mystery with this stuff normally, I find that even fellow bloggers don’t feel comfortable sharing this sort of stuff with one another–and it makes me kind of cray. You are the real deal, and such an inspiration to those of us that are also trying to find our way in the wild wild west of online content creation. Here’s hoping that you only have $40,000 months + and beyond from here on in :)

  58. I love this post! Not only are you providing some truth and honesty about what blogging really takes but it’s such a good reminder that you really have to work so hard to make your business work. I own a children’s clothing company and have been working my butt off for over three years barely seeing any profit…and when I do I invest it right back into my business to better it. It’s slowly starting to pay off but it takes a lot of hard work and patience. I love reading stories like this because it inspires me to keep working hard. Thank you for sharing!

  59. Thank you so much for sharing this. Sponsored posts are my biggest money-maker at this point. I don’t have a big enough following to make a ton off pageviews but I actually LOVE working with other brands to create content, it’s one of my favorite aspects of this whole blogging thing. I really appreciate your openness with this, as a smaller blogger it’s really eyeopening and encouraging to see! Keep up the amazing work, you’re truly inspiring and I’m so excited for all of the new ventures that have come your way as of late!

  60. As someone who has worked with you and now works in the same industry, I do think it worth noting that your hard work has also paid off (in my humble opinion) because 1. you truly are a creative force and renaissance woman, and 2. you are also extremely kind and professional! I assume your clients are always thrilled with their results and excited to collaborate again in the future. You never fail to leave a glowing impression, lady.

    Applauding you from Seattle!

    xoxo

    • Justina Blakeney says:

      Awww thanks Amanda. I’ll always think of the work we did together with Tottini as one of my first real sponsored posts. I remember it very fondly. Hugs to you

  61. Rachel says:

    HI Justina,
    I have been reading your fabulous blog for a while now. Your style, photos, honesty and beautiful personality are so refreshing.
    I have often wondered where you find the time to do everything you do. Every dollar you earn is well and truly deserved. We are currently renovating our house and as much as I am enjoying it, sometimes I feel like looking after our children and the challenges of renovating completely clouds my head! You manage to do all this and still do daily blog posts and amazing designs! so really well done to you super mum! I think its totally awesome that companies want to pay to have sponsored posts on your blog and must be an amazing feeling a s a designer when a company that you totally admire approaches you to advertise on your blog! I have no problem with this at all and agree with what a few others have said that its the way you carefully select the companies you work with that makes it work so well for you. As I sew for my job I can totally relate to people being annoyed when you actually want to earn a living out of it. Would they go into work and do their job for free?
    After years of dabbling I am planning to work from home once our children are a little older and the house is a bit straighter. I design and sew things and would like to focus my creativity on interiors as this is where I feel my heart is. I would love to start my own blog some day too.
    As your company grows do you find it hard to let go of some of the control in not doing everything yourself and letting others make decisions for you?
    Do you try to stick to strict days off or finishing by a certain time at night? It must be hard to get that balance when you work so many hours.
    Any tips greatly appreciated.

    Rachel. x

    • Justina Blakeney says:

      Hi Rachel,
      Thanks for chiming in. As my company grows and I have to relinquish control it’s both scary and empowering. One of my big focus points is finding people to work with my that I truly trust and respect. Having a great team makes it easier to let go. I take weekends off, and if I do have to work on a weekend, I limit it to the night-time hours after Ida has gone to sleep. I try to make him home by 6:30PM each night to have dinner together with the fam, and then usually put a couple more hours of work in after Ida goes to bed from about 8:30 – about 10:30. It’s a lot, but I try to remember that it won’t be like this forever!! Best of luck with finding your balance.
      xx
      Justina

  62. This was a very interesting post. And it has generated some also interesting comments.
    It got me to wondering… I think there are still some mixed feelings about what a blog is, and who a blogger should be. If you told people you were an author, a writer of columns published on the internet… would they be surprised at your making a living from it? But the term blogger… it doesn’t carry the same gravitas.
    And the topic, home decor, often strikes people as… light and nonessential maybe? It reminds me of a post by one of my favorite craft bloggers, The Yarn Harlot. She’s a bestselling author, teacher and speaker, but when she tells people she write books about knitting…humorous books no less… she sees them glaze over. It’s just not… serious work, not impressive (though I think it should be, of course).
    The other thought line I had was a personal one… I have a blog. It was started as a way to communicate with a far away sister who shared a knitting interest with me, and a little to communicate with our friends and family. I have never had any intention of it being more than that. I certainly don’t update it enough to do anything with it! But I feel kind of guilty… like I’m dragging the quality down, I’m a black sheep of blogging when I see others who blog so professionally and with commitment. I don’t want to stop, but I don’t want to speed up either. I’m sensible enough to understand this. But… It may be far fetched, but perhaps some of the negative comments are from others who let the feelings of inadequacy overwhelm them?

    Anyway, thanks for the most educational and interesting discussion.

  63. Victoria says:

    Holy sh!t I love this so much. Girl, you rock! I’m officially a fan! People often think the blogging life is a glamorous one. It can be; don’t get me wrong! But it’s also full of hard work, blood, sweat, and tears, just like any other profession. Thank you for your honesty about it!

  64. Bev Schneider says:

    I have only just discovered you (through One King’s Lane) and I have already bought your book, I think you ROCK and I am only just getting to know you through your book, blog, website, etc. I love all the things you design, make, sell, write about! If you can earn a living with your blog, your fabulous design work, and sales of your products I am absolutely delighted for you! I WANT you to succeed so I can go on enjoying your blog, your (hopefully future) books and your designs. You are amazingly talented. I love your Jungalow! I am SO thrilled to have discovered you. I am a huge fan of your style, even before I knew it was a style. I have been collecting suzanis for years, and a bunch of other unusual things, and now I have the courage to mix ’em up together because I can see how you do it. I adore your Nana wallpaper. Do you think I could use it in a guest bathroom that doesn’t get wet too frequently? Thanks for doing all you do! I can’t even imagine anyone sending you anything nasty. xxxx. ❤️ Bev

    • Justina Blakeney says:

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Bev! And I just installed Nana wallpaper in my master bathroom, so yes, it works fine in bathrooms so long as the bathroom has decent ventilation.

      Have a great day,
      ~Justina

  65. Sandra says:

    I would love to be a blogger but I don’t know where to start. Help?

  66. jan says:

    Right on Justina!

  67. Katja says:

    Hello Justina,

    I really love your openness about this – and if you think about it: you’re blog is like a magazine with daily inspiration. And you’re like a journalist, a writer, photographer, stylist, editor, and all of these in one person. Of course, you’ve got to get paid! And of course, your team has to get paid. No one would frown upon ads in Vogue – and everyone know they’re paid for ;-) So just because you’re your own boss rather than being employed somewhere, you shouldn’t be expected to work for free. You create daily value for your readers and for some, it makes a difference in their lives, and that’s priceless.

    I agree that the Internet is a tough place for people who decide to put themselves and their opinions and taste out there – and haters can hate because they can hide behind their anonymity. Most of the time, I think there’s more behind all the negativity than just their disagreeing with a blogger’s opinion, they’re probably unhappy with their own lives which is why they are jealous of others. And the social web makes it easy to believe that everyone else has a perfect life except for oneself. So in order to change the way people treat each other would mean changing the world for the better so everyone would be happier or at least more content with what they have. While I doubt that’s really going to happen, I am glad that you don’t have to put up with too much of this, I hope it stays that way.

    I think the most important part is that you and your fellow bloggers remain confident – both in not taking haters (too) personal and in getting paid for your work and being proud of it! :-)

    All the best,
    Katja

  68. Thanks so much for this post.

    I’ve stopped trying to blog for money because I just simply wouldn’t be able to handle the more than full time job it is. I keep to flowers and fluff these days. I sometimes work with my daughter on larger projects (Easter and other holidays). The amount of hours that go into one post is exhausting. Honestly, by the time the day of shooting comes I am a mess. This reflects in the posts because I’m so tired I become forgetful. I hear people refer to it as a ‘hobby’ ‘part-time’ job, which for some it is (like me). I however realize that blogs like yours and many others are created by dedicated people who work their behinds off for us, the readers.

    Thanks again for this post. I’m going to pass it on. #goodread

    Cheers, Teresa

  69. Sarah says:

    such a great post justina!
    I have to say that i am not at all surprised that you have been shielded from a lot of the criticism bloggers get- your blog is so authentic and you seem like you haven’t let your large following give you an inflated ego! I think it’s possibly also due to the fact that you are very honest, thoughtful and transparent and that you don’t pretend to be an expert in areas other than design. I think a lot of readers get annoyed by bloggers who get preachy and who feel qualified to give advice on, for example, parenting simply because they have an audience.
    Personally I like your sponsored posts, you choose sponsors well and don’t do them that often. Th only thing I don’t like about them is that they aren’t usually international! I would love to shop on sites you partner with like chairish but I’m not in the US!
    Stay awesome and real, you’re pretty great :-) xx

  70. Murielle says:

    Waou ! thank you so much Justina for sharing this ! I am not a blogger, but the founder of a small French brand trying to find its way the best I can :) and I work a lot with bloggers, mainly in France . I always try to build a good and respectful relationship with any and each blogger I am working with and I definitely agree that transparency is a kea to easy relationships (professional or not by the way!). Thanks again for this post, and I hope to be able to work with you (and pay !) one day ! Have a beautiful day ! Murielle

  71. Catherine says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your great insight! I’ve read a few different bloggers point of view from behind the scenes and this has felt the most ‘real’ I can really hear the hustle in your voice. I hate when I tell people that I have a blog I can practically see their eyes roll and I can’t understand it! I have so much respect for everyone in this community that conceptualizes ideas, creates and shares beautiful and unique content, sometimes for NOTHING! I really don’t mind sponsored posts, to me it’s seeing bloggers creatively challenging themselves to make another brand fit in with theirs. It may be a far stretch with some but it’s still cool. Thanks for sharing, this is really going to inspire me to keep working at blogging and creating things that I like and hopefully others can too.

  72. Justine says:

    Hi Justina! Thank you for sharing your honest post. :) Just a little tidbit to care for your health: you can place a thick book underneath your computer screen so that your screen will be a little bit higher and then there will be less strain on your neck, especially since you have to use the computer so often. Love your work!

  73. Nadine says:

    I’ve found your post very interesting. So, as I wanted to talk to you about your book I must say first that I am glad to be part of your ( woot woot) royalty check from it.
    A few weeks ago I wrote on this blog that I had ordered “The New Bohemians” on Amazon since I can’t find it in France. I received it some time ago and I have read it. I really have enjoyed it and highly recommend it to whoever likes decoration and beautiful books. This book is itself a beautiful object. I use it as a part of my deco in my living-room. I ‘ll send you a photo via instagram ( I follow both your IG).
    I have particularly appreciated some houses or rooms on pages 20/21, 26/27, 50, 59, 77, 78, 83, 84, 103, 110, 140,162, 163, 167,180, 184, 278/279, 282,283, 284, 285, 290.
    I also have found a very good idea to have put DIY pages (Adopt an idea).
    Well, it’s been a long post but I think that preparing such a book must have represented lots of work and stress. So I wanted to give you a real feedback, not just a”Very nice” comment.
    Have a jungalowistic (even if the word doesn’t exist)day.

  74. Gudy Herder says:

    I have bookmarked your post to send it to any brand whenever I get approached to write about their designs offering product in return or similar proposals.
    ¡Vale oro lo que has escrito! Bravo por la valentía.

  75. Caitlin says:

    Amen sister. Blogging is a lot of work! After a year, I’m still not making any money blogging, but I enjoy it so I’m sticking with it. I used to sell advertising for a magazine, and I understand the need to have cash money backing journalism. It’s fine by me, as long as you’re upfront with your followers about what posts are sponsored or are part of a partnership. Next time I hear a snarky comment about bloggers, I’ll remember your words of wisdom:)

  76. Brent says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I literally started blogging a few days ago. And I’ve heard nothing but great news. Kudos to you! This is the type of information is newbies need.
    Cheers

  77. grace says:

    Hi Justina, after being part of partnering with you on a brand partnership, I can testify to all the hard work that you and your team put in to the work and how much passion and pickiness that goes in to everything you do. My perspective has definitely changed and i have so much more respect for bloggers everywhere. Also, might I add, I can tell the difference between bloggers who do it for the love of creativity and some who do it for…other reasons.
    This was a vulnerable post but it was needed and hit everything right on the head of the nail!

    Thanks, Justina!
    Grace

  78. This is my first introduction to your work and I just wanted to shout out and say that it was super interesting.

    Do you ever pursue brands who you’d like to work with? How do you open that conversation up? I gained a moderate following a few years ago from a project I did and I feel like every few months I look at it and think to myself “Could I be doing something with this? Is it worth it?”

    • Justina Blakeney says:

      I pursue brands all the time. I usually start out my finding the right contact person on Twitter or through LinkedIn. Usually, though, when I contact brands I have less ‘leverage’ then when they come to me. I have a media kit and a clear proposal ready for when I do get in touch.

  79. Samantha says:

    QUEEN.

    As a blogger with the smallest fraction of followers that you have on social media, this post did nothing but inspire me to hustle more + grind harder.

  80. Todd Wagner says:

    Thanks for sharing, Justina. I truly appreciate your honesty. xo

  81. Suzy Lindow says:

    You are the Beyoncé of boho blogging as far as I’m concerned, and I adore your style, authenticity, and overall vibe. Thanks for such an articulate and honest peek inside the inner workings of what you do. If only every creative with your clout would have the courage to be so transparent. Having recently gotten the nerve to finally start selling my art, I’ve sought out advice and help from a lot of artists I admired and respected, only to be totally (and purposely) kept in the dark with even silly questions I had like where they sourced their shipping supplies. Like, wtf?? How any of them could see my teensy art shop as a threat or competition is kind of ridiculous and furthermore, just plain disappointing and sad. But love how you are breaking it all down without pretense. Peace and love to you!

  82. Amazing article. Finally someone is taking the mystery out of it and standing up for bloggers. I am making this required reading for all my friends!

  83. Sarah says:

    Your talk at the Design Blogger’s Conference in ATL is still on my mind, Justina! You are so very inspirational and such a breath of fresh air in this hatespace we sometimes call the internet. I can’t thank you enough for being a go-to source for all of my planties, patterns and generally fabulous inspo-needs :D XO, Sarah

  84. Ashley S says:

    Thank you for such a great post! As a blogger making her way up and with so much learn this truly hit the spot! Such an inspiration, too!

  85. leanne says:

    thanks so much for this post! i loved reading it and appreciate how you are so candid about it. :) in this day and age, blogging should be just as respected a career as any other form of media. thanks for spreading your knowledge and experience.

  86. Charly says:

    Hey lady!

    I wrote a comment (my first) a few weeks back concerned that the content quality was changing on your blog (less original content, less DIY, more promotions…or so I thought), and you wrote a SUPER patient and thoughtful response that I’ve forgotten to acknowledge til now. Girl, you should absolutely get paid. We all should. I’m a farmer, believe me when I say that I understand being underappreciated. This post was a good education for me, and I really respect your honesty. Consider at least one mind changed. : ) I think I was just whining because I love to see your projects, and it FELT (might not actually be true) like I was seeing less of them. And, as previous commenters said, it’s a little annoying to see my 4 fav design divas do a sponsored post for the same sponsor within a short period of time. That being said, it’s not about me, and I understand the necessity.
    In your response to my comment, you totally struck a chord when you gently reminded me that commenting on positive things is important too. So here goes: thank you for all that you do! Still a fan for sure. xo

  87. Teresa says:

    Girlfriend, you are the pulse of culture! I just saw jungalicious as an adjetive to describe something I was checking out! Thank you for sharing your vision and creativity! You are real, inspirational and relatable. I feel like you’re creating a tribe, a unity in this huge social media machine. It’s fun! I’ve been piling plants, candles, seashells, seed pods ( you get the picture) on every surface in my house my whole life. I can so relate to you and love your ideas and the things you create! Keep it going girl. Mad respect.

  88. Julie says:

    You said “hit me with your questions” so here is mine;

    I have an outdoor style blog for women http://www.outstyled.com/, we are trying really hard to find “our people” and build a following through FB, instagram, monthly newsletters, and leaving comments on blogs.
    We have been at it for a year and are totally prepared to put more years in, but it feels like it’s taking forever to grow our following from friends and family to strangers.
    When did you start to see this change with your blog?

    julie

    • Justina Blakeney says:

      Hey Julie, I’ve been blogging since 2009 and it’s only in the last 2-3 years that I’ve really had a large following and was able to monetize. It takes time, sometimes things move more quickly and sometimes it’s just about persistence and consistency!! Best of luck with your endeavors.

  89. Ashlae says:

    THIS. I loved you before but now I *really* love you for this. High fives, woman!

  90. This is awesome! I recently started a blog/website and I do charge a tiny fee for wedding vendors to advertise and list on my site, BUT I have been building a group that people use as a resource for their wedding for the last two years so I already have a small following. There will be nay-sayers, but it IS work, so why can’t you be paid for it?

  91. Rose Boccella says:

    You bring joy to me every time I read your blog and I thank you and your team for that. Your creativity, your unique perspective, your originality….you are a gift and I’m happy that you are successful! You keep going Girl!

  92. Catalina says:

    This is truly an informative, intelligent and inspiring post for those of us who are seriously just starting out…myself especially! Very moved by your honesty and transparency in discussing the business side and its “ugly” side, but there are so many beautiful fruits that come from this labor of love! I can see it in each post and this open compelled me to write. Thank you for posting this, as it moves me to work harder on what I want to achieve. Women of color are even more so inspired by your glorious efforts! You go Mija!!

  93. Sarah says:

    I came across this post via the While She Naps email newsletter and just wanted to thank you for your honesty and for being so straightforward. I’m an engineer with a lot of creative hobbies, and although I have no strong desire to do it myself, I find the blogging/creative industry totally fascinating! I tend to agree with what others have said — I think the “backlash” against advertising on blogs and sponsored posts is a symptom of how blogs have evolved from being personal outlets to business platforms. Your commenters here seem to be very comfortable with the way you mesh the two, so you must be doing something right! Great post!

  94. Amanda says:

    Justina, thank you for being so transparent about this! Before I started freelance writing and blogging, I was a creative director for a magazine. It kills me, absolutely KILLS me, how poorly bloggers are treated compared to magazine writers. Let me tell you something; blogging is 10xs harder than magazine work. Why? Because as a blogger, you are doing the work of every department at a magazine. In one day, I wear the hat of the art director, circulation, marketing, its, editorial and janitor. I’m sure you relate. With my whole heart, I hope bloggers realize their power and start standing up for themselves both to sponsors who underpay or expect quality content for trade and also to folks who just don’t get the biz.

    One question I have for you is about credit card debt and if this is too personal, forgive me. In the last year as I’ve been trying to grow my blog, I’ve accumulated credit card debt for the first time. Despite feeling bad about that debt hanging over my head, I am starting to get more serious sponsorships and growing my following so I feel like those investments made with a credit card are paying off in that way. It seems like “editorial budget” bloggers have afford to create their editorial is very hush-hush and I was just wondering if you had to take the credit card route, too. Is that common? How are bloggers making it work?

  95. Julia says:

    Justina, I just want to thank you for this post and am so glad you had the gumption to write and publish it. I have been blogging for 5 years, and naturally follow several other bloggers. I’ve not seen this kind of honesty, especially to the numbers, ever, anywhere. It’s a great reality check for anyone who thinks they want to monetize, or grab that sponsor, or make it a living, not just a hobby. While my content is of a different vein (food/nutrition) every single point you made applies to my field as well. Bravo to you, and you now have a new Insta-fan and blog follower!

  96. Jamie says:

    Echoing all of the compliments and encouragement others have written here, Justina. Thank you so very much for your honesty and vulnerability.

    This conversation makes me think of Teddy Roosevelt’s oft-quoted speech: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. ”

    You, my friend, are not a cold and timid soul. Good on ya!

  97. Kari says:

    I think transparency is paramount to keeping both yourself honest about your brand and your audience happy. I don’t think anyone would argue with you on monetizing the blog. I think where the problems come for a lot of bloggers is when they see the $$$ and take it even though it doesn’t fit with the brand they created. It gets a real side eye from me as a reader if bloggers are talking up their new organic skin care regime and then a month later shilling for a major grocery store brand. It seems really disingenuous . Same goes for gratuitous affiliated linked round up posts. They look like money grabs and degrades my trust in the blogger’s opinion as a tastemaker.
    I’ve also noticed that when called out, either in comments or social media, some bloggers do damage control, deleting dissenting opinions or letting their super fans take the person to task, neither of which is good at cultivating a professional brand. I also severely dislike when bloggers themselves try to distance themselves as a “little ole blogger writing my feelings” than a nationally recognized brand.
    When bloggers use their kids as an internal part of their branding, I worry because there are no protections for them. Between all the social media platforms it’s like they are constantly pressured to perform. Even hollywood has workers rights for children. Where are the rights for these kids? Do they get paid? The overexposure of their lives is worrisome.
    Listen, I’ve worked in advertising for a major blog. I KNOW the ins and outs of the industry. I’m a fan and a skeptic. There are very few that I really trust as tastemakers. And the more money that major named advertisers throw at bloggers, the less I trust their voice as authentic.
    TL;DR I could write a novel about this (including the legalities and my thoughts on bloggers who don’t disclose advertising on social media)

    • BT says:

      I appreciate your thoughtful comment. I wonder how long this model of of corporate sponsorship and affiliate-linked based posting will last? It doesn’t seem sustainable.

  98. Shannon says:

    Hi Justina,

    I found this post through a friend. I’ve been a beauty blogger for the last 11 years. It’s only in the last two that I’ve made an income from sponsored content. Although, my blog launched side gigs for me years ago that have become my day job. Two years ago I launched a bath and body brand, and like you, I’m blogging while trying to grow that business. Which also gets a bunch of shade thrown at me, “A beauty blogger with a product line? How good could it possibly be?” Anyway, I can relate to this post in so many ways. I’m tired of apologizing to people for supporting my family (of 8.) I often get told by friends and family to get a real job. I love what I do and the opportunities it has brought me and I shouldn’t have to apologize for that.

  99. Diarra says:

    Justina!

    You’re seriously…one of the nicest-warmest-genuine people I’ve ever met. Ever. The definition of what it means to be beautiful.

    This of course has nothing to do with your post except maybe it speaks to why you haven’t gotten “a sh*t ton of snark and criticism….”

    :)

  100. If you want to increase your knowledge just keep visiting this web page and be updated with the latest information posted here.

  101. Tania says:

    So insightful! Just started following you on Insta and I love your creativity. Thanks for sharing all of this with us.

    Tania
    http://inspiremyfancy.blogspot.com

  102. May says:

    Justina, I’m a Mom of two beautiful little people, and every timé that I read,watch tour post and IG post I’m proud because of some way. I feel that you are a Inspiración to al moms out there that live, breath and believe of what the work.
    Si from me a BIG BIG huge from Panamá not TVE state the country.
    And not feel bad about it you work hard for make your money enjoy it…. 😁

  103. Tricia says:

    This was a refreshingly helpful and informative post! As someone who is just starting out in my own business, I really appreciate your insight and reality check! Thanks for your honesty!

  104. Thank you for sharing all of this information with us. This is my first time to your site and was sent here by Emily Jackson’s Snapchat. I am relaunching my blog on May 13, 2016 and definitely understand the daily demands of building a blog.

    You are doing a great job and I hope to achieve your success in the near future.

    http://www.mschurchdress.com- May 13, 2016.

    – Aquila
    @MschurchDress

  105. aprilneverends says:

    Dear Justina,
    I never blogged and never will, and frankly I discovered blogs quite recently when it seems blogging is taking new form(Instagram that I don’t have, and such)

    But I worked with people all my life. When it’s about personal connection(which blogging at least seemingly is)-it’s never easy. The more honest and and standing behind your word and willing to understand others and go extra mile for that you are-the more they appreciate what you do. Even when you fail sometimes, to meet theirs or even your own expectations. And you inevitably fail sometimes, such is life. But people are willing to stand there and believe you anyway. Because you earned their trust.

    There are other things of course..you enjoy somebody’s unique voice, because to you it’s especially funny, or endearing, or enlightening, or just feels like home.
    And some people are better in their voices than the others.
    Same as there are many many talented books but few are at the level that will keep them timeless for centuries.
    I’m not comparing blogs to the great classics of literature:)

    But some things are more intangible that they seem.

    So that’s why you probably have been shielded.

    I don’t care how blogs make money; it’s not my specialty, and I don’t have a clue about how most businesses work. It’s just not my forte.
    I am a reader. I seek connection, enlightenment, inspiration, calmness, excitement, other endless things people long for when they read.

    If I find it I continue to read.
    So-that’s why.
    The rest is really details…:)

  106. Erik says:

    Justina!
    I saw you speak recently on the LCDQ panel and thought you were the most informative and certainly most inspirational on stage. I’m so impressed with the empire you’ve created and I can only begin to dream of building something similar. I have always been told that I have a gift for writing, and it’s something that I truly love to do. With a background in, and passion for, design – I’ve thought about starting a blog. My question to you is – how did you get started? Did someone teach or show you? Did you read a book? Did you just jump in and learn it along the way? did you start a website first, and add your blog into the mix? Clearly you’re a busy lady, so I won’t take offense if I don’t receive a response with all of the answers I need…but if by chance you feel moved to bestow some wisdom upon me, I’m all ears! 😀
    Cheers!
    Erik

  107. Oh Justina. Thank you so much for writing this post. The beautiful world of home decor + online marketing is where my career is headed, but the money piece has been a mystery. I really appreciate that you shared so candidly about the blog and your book advance. My last book advance was only $2000 and I’m currently struggling to figure out how to get content on such a small budget.

    I value my contributors, but I also don’t want to go into debt with this project (especially considering how much work it is, right?)

    Any advice?

    • Justina Blakeney says:

      My advice is to offer contributors what you can — even if it’s nominal — and then do what you can to hook them up in other (non-financial) ways where possible. The growing pains are tough in the beginning. I lived on credit cards for a while while getting my book out. In the end it was worth it, but it was stressful for a while. Good luck Desha!!

  108. Erika says:

    This is my first time on your blog and I LOVE what I see! I had a design blog for a couple years and just couldn’t keep it up in conjunction with my 9-5 and family. It’s so much work! Hats off to you (and all bloggers out there for that matter) for the hustle, and the honesty of this post. I’ll be back!

  109. Ruth Sze says:

    Thanks for sharing this! I don’t blog for a living but I love reading the behind the scenes of how things get made and how others work. Truly respect what you are doing! Keep going :)

  110. Cassandra Broder says:

    Thank you for sharing this!!! I think your awesome! And you inspire me everyday! Thank you for being brave! I am creating a blog right now and I only I can be you! Keep up the good work!

  111. Morgan says:

    Love this, and love you! Your honesty, bravery, and beauty is so inspiring, and inspires all aspects of my life, creative or otherwise. Thanks for sharing your light with all of us!

  112. Katharina says:

    No many words are needed! Sei semplicemente grandissima!!!!!!

  113. Hilary says:

    Justina, I saw this post on Instagram and had to come over asap to read it. Thank you a million times over!! Not only is it refreshing as a reader to hear a blogger talk openly about the sponsored blog content, but it’s also tremendously helpful for me, who is a blogger herself, to get a glimpse of what the business side of things looks like for a site of your caliber. I’ve been blogging for six years also but my site hasn’t grown to the point of monetization. I hope that it will someday but, for the meantime, I’m happy to share what inspires me. When that day does finally come, I’ll have you to thank for being so honest about the behind the scenes.

    Keep it up! I’d love to read more posts of this nature.

  114. krystal says:

    LOVE this post! Thanks for sharing!
    xo
    http://www.krystalschlegel.com

  115. Emily Kisa says:

    Thank you for this post Justina, Although I do not blog anymore but I do have a business with my husband and it has been an at times amazing and at times extremely challenging. This post is a good reminder to stay strong and continue working hard. Thank you.

    You are such an inspiration. Thank you!

  116. I loved this post! Your journey and your work are so inspiring. I look forward to your instagram posts daily!

  117. marion says:

    I’ve just started perusing your site. Thanks for sharing how it works. Kudos to you and your team. Looking forward to reading more.

  118. Sarah O says:

    Long time follower (lurker…), first time props giver…
    Justina, you are such an excellent force in the world and I’m so glad you exist! Like, there can be so many awful things happening and the world seems so bogus…but then again, there’s The Jungalow! Anyhow, love you, LOVE this post. It’s fuel for this “eclectic creative entrepreneur” to keep on keeping on.

  119. Justina, this was such a great post. I attended the We All Grow Latina blogger conference a few months ago and one of the speakers touched on the same topic. Both you and the speaker stress the importance and challenges of building your audience in order to command the fees you’re now able to charge. I’d love it if you could share (perhaps in a future blog post) tips on building a strong following, organic versus paid followers, how to maintain an engaged audience, contests, etc.

    Sometimes I come across bloggers who have hundreds of thousands, some even have millions of followers and I just don’t get how they do it! I’m excited to barely be approaching 2K followers on Instagram!

  120. […] post about blogging and money really knocked it out of the park. If you have any interest in how the financial side of blogging […]

  121. Jess Zimlich says:

    I thought this post was amazing, but then I read the comments. You are so loved and respected! Admittedly, I’m a first-timer over her, but I like what I see :)

  122. […] An awesome (+ super transparent) piece about the business behind blogging. […]

  123. Melinda Anderson says:

    Wow! What a great post. Thank you for being so transparent. You are worth every penny. You are amazingly creative AND inspiring. Keep up the great work!

  124. Thank you for being so transparent and clear. I fricken’ love this! No shame in doing something creative for a living AT ALL of course, I think people just can’t fathom doing something they love for a living :)

    Keep on truckin’ and being so inspiring!

    xoxo

  125. What a great post ! Thank you and “bravo” (as we say in French). Yes, it’s not “glamorous to see how the sausage is made” but it’s really great, honest and brave ! Thank you very much Justina, you’re a perfect model for all the bloggers :)

  126. Amy says:

    All my thoughts exactly! Keep on being awesome.

  127. So honest and straight forward. But also very inspirational. Makes me wanna start yet another blog and try my luck!

  128. Amy H says:

    Much respect for bloggers and I totally get that it takes a ton of work to produce the content that you put out. One question based on your total reach of 1,731,000 UVs. Does this take into account the duplication across platforms (i.e. a follower follows you on Pinterest and Instagram)? Is this a question that brands looking to be sponsored ever ask? Just curious given the large fragmentation of how and where to reach users now.

  129. Tianna says:

    thank you so much for this post! I agree with you 10000% lol. I deal with this struggle every day, though it usually comes from brands . My readers are really kind, loyal and supportive which is incredible, but it’s hard to convince brands to spend $$ on bloggers which can be crappy. It’s amazing the following you’ve built – so inspired by you!

  130. Tomi Obebe says:

    This is so inspiring!!! I’ve been blogging for a year and I’m trying to find the perfect formula to grow. How long would you say it took you to see “significant” numbers?
    xx, Tomi
    goodtomicha.com

  131. Tess Felber says:

    This is my first time to your blog and I’m hooked already! Also, I am obsessed with the palm print in your photos!! I wanted to thank you for your transparency and insight on this issue, its extremely helpful when sometimes I beat myself up on not being perfect.Keep doing you, girl!

    Hope you have a fabulous holiday weekend!
    xox | Tess
    Sequins are the New Black

  132. […] Blackeney di The Jungalow è una blogger che ha trasformato la sua passione in lavoro. Ecco come (in […]

  133. […] For a laugh: 35 blogger struggles. I can relate to several of these…along with this post on blogging + money matters. […]

  134. Samantha says:

    Love love love this blog post. Like so much! Thank you for sharing! And you just gave me the push needed to up my rates finally. So thank you for that!!

    New follower!!

    xo,
    Sam

  135. beth says:

    Just heard about this post from the Young House Love has a Podcast. Thank you so much for putting this out there. I am blog reader who always wondered about these posts. I typically only follow DIY/home decorating type blogs and so would find sponsored posts on things like food shipped to your door kind of annoying. After reading your blog and seeing how much $ these posts add to the blogger’s budget I am more OK with it. Though I typically breeze through or ignore those posts -I live in rural Canada -now I understand how important they are to the blogger’s business I won’t be annoyed by them. Though I have never been annoyed enough to leave negative feedback.
    I have appreciated seeing products utilized in blogger’s homes and projects and have learned about things that I can use in my own home. Case in point – I just purchased a specialty window blind that a blogger featured.
    Thank you for opening up a discussion and bringing some clarity for blog readers and social media followers.

  136. Molly Berry says:

    Justina, I’ve loved you and your beautiful energy from the WAC days. There aren’t enough words to express your level of positive influence on me and my career…and ultimately my happiness and authenticity. I feel lucky that I can call you my friend and I appreciate all the feedback and encouragement you’ve given me through the years. One question I have is if it’s necessary to have a blog in order to be work with agencies (like Federated Media or Style Coalition)? Can other social media platforms/presence suffice to build a relationship with agencies? Instagram and a line of textiles for example ;) Love to you!! Molly xx

    • Justina Blakeney says:

      Hey Molly! Yes! There are agencies that work with IGers, Pinterest, Twitter etc. Very specifically — you don’t *need* a blog to make money off of the social media channels. Hope you’re doing well sweetness!!! xxxx

  137. Kim Page says:

    Hi Justina – thanks for your very interesting post. So to clarify – when I see a post ( here or on another site ) that is something like “8 best sofas under $800” is that a sponsored post? Did one of the sofas pitch the idea to the blogger and then the blogger puts that sofa in a post w/ other appropriate sofas? I’m so curious bc I see posts like that all the time and they seem like a lot of work . Sometimes they include an item the blogger carries or designed – sometimes not. But I do love them. :-)
    thanks,
    Kim
    oh, and PS I love your book. Got it for xmas!!

    • Justina Blakeney says:

      Hi Kim! Those roundup posts are generally not sponsored. Most companies would not want you to position their sofas (or whatever) along with competitors. Instead, normally we (and other bloggers too…) would use affiliate links for those posts which basically means that if anyone buys any of the sofas that we recommend, we would receive a commission on the sale — normally anywhere from 2%-10% of the price. Hope that helps!

  138. […] charge smaller accounts for “promotion” – usually around $100 per 10k followers (figure from this post, and in my experience that’s pretty dead […]

  139. Kristina says:

    Hi Justina,
    Adore you and your site! I’m wondering if you could tell me where you purchased the wallpaper in this image? Is it part of your collection? I can’t seem to find it on your Hygge & West… Thank you so much!! XOXO I would love to see you come out with your own tile color range for fireclay!! I will suggest it to them =PPPPP

  140. Kristina says:

    Hi Justina,
    Adore you and your site! I’m wondering if you could tell me where you purchased the wallpaper in this image? Is it part of your collection? I can’t seem to find it on your Hygge & West… Thank you so much!! XOXO I would love to see you come out with your own tile color range for fireclay!! I will suggest it to them =PPPPP

    • Justina Blakeney says:

      Thanks for your kind words!! The wallpaper is actually vintage–found it many years ago at a thrift shop. Wish it was one of my designs! Ha! xx ~J

  141. Jody Smith Ellet says:

    Thank you I am new to this but the information you provided has given me a lot to think about🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏

  142. […] Blogueur et big money : the Jungalow, un blog de plantes dont j’adore l’Instagram, parle honnêtement du travail de blogueur et de l’argent qui va avec (beaucoup d’argent dans son cas) […]

  143. […] the Grit and Polish is SO MUCH MORE than just a hobby to me.  I listened to this podcast, read this post, read this post, and listened to this podcast (all of which discuss blogging and […]

  144. Hi Justina,

    I’m not a regular reader of your blog, but I pop in every so often, and I’m a big fan of your style, authenticity, professionalism and the joie de vivre that comes through in all that you put out there. Brava!!

    Sort of only indirectly-related to the topic of this post, I wanted to say that I’m so thrilled to see your continued success. I remember reading a few posts of yours, a long while back, when you were making an offer on and then buying your current home. I sort of remember you were in a bit of a freak-out because the price at the time was outside of your then-comfort zone. So, what I’m loving and appreciating is that you took that leap, bravely, out of your comfort zone, AND… it seems The Universe “rewarded” that bravery and chutzpah and hard work with greater and greater opportunities for success.

    I’m making up a story that you have not regretted your Big Leap, and that your bigger mortgage payment ended up being not as huge of a burden as perhaps it was in the beginning… all due your your hard work and resulting success. I just think that’s all so cool!!

    Thanks for sharing the inner workings of your journey so transparently and authentically—it’s a joy to behold!

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