BLOGGING: Money, Morals and What I Wish Brands Knew

I’m having one of those days. I’ve already texted Jen who I usually go to when I’m feeling pangs of defeat stemming from blogging. I just heard that a blogger got a five figure huge campaign. This has to be like the 3rd campaign in a matter of a week that I’ve heard about through the grapevine paying out huge payments. I am happy for these bloggers, because like me, they are women of color and like Issa, I’m rooting for everybody black. But I can’t help but sometimes feel like I’m a little behind. I expressed this recently in an Instagram Post and the responses I got were overwhelming.  I have been blogging for 8 years and last May, I almost quit. I’d been in a huge slump and no matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to get ahead. For every step forward, I felt I’d taken two steps back. After I wrote this post, so many people encouraged me to keep pushing. So for a full year, I’ve been posting regularly 2-3 times weekly, putting out quality content and Fashion Steele Magazine. I make time to hone my writing skills, step up my styling and really dedicate myself to blogging because I love it. I have come a long way and I have been so fortunate to work with amazing brands but more than that I’ve been able to inspire people. 

MONEY

Blogging, if you consider it a business can cost you a lot of money. I didn’t see that return for years. I’ve spent a total of $3900 on blogging to date from January 1, 2018 alone. I’ve been blogging 8 years by the way, so you do the math. I keep track of all my blog expenses each month. Most of that goes towards site maintenance, upkeep and add-ons, photography, camera rentals & equipment and travel expenses. I have no problem spending money on myself and on this space, because I know it takes money to make money. The more I invest in myself, the greater the reward when it comes to working with brands. I know there is a huge market of bloggers, specifically black bloggers, out there and there is enough money for us all. I make a very small percentage of money back from affiliate links. You know when I suggest something and hyperlink it, or include a get the look photo and you click it and buy something from that site, I get a commission from that sell.
My commissions from sales make up roughly 3%-4% of the money I make from blogging. It can literally be .62 cents- $60 roughly on what I make from a sale. It’s hardly ever more than $3 a sale on average. Please don’t think bloggers, especially micro-bloggers, especially black micro-bloggers like me, are out here getting filthy rich from affiliate links. More over, please support me and bloggers who take the time to find those links to include for you by purchasing from the link. Every little bit helps and it’s just a small token of appreciation you can show. Don’t be that person that doesn’t click links because of that. I find that highly offensive especially if you’re coming here for all the tea and then choosing to just go to the site yourself. That’s really messed up. Yeah, I said it. Support this here space if you can. Most of my money comes from brand collaborations and from selling my template packages. Speaking of which Fashion Week is just around the corner so you may wanna go ahead and check these out.

Photography & Editing by Denisse Benitez (Stay tuned for this Preset she’s dropping soon too!)

Grana Silk Dress get similar Here || Oversized Denim Jacket || Mango Clear Bag (currently on Sale) || Chanel Pearl Mules (Check out my Box Opening Video of them Here) || Half Sunglasses || Vintage Chanel Earrings 

GET THE LOOK


MORALS

Now there are people who cut corners. You know the ones who jump 20K followers in a month on Instagram. The real tea is those like bots that like random accounts photos to get those accounts to follow them.  Or even worse those follow, unfollow bots that people have following accounts and when they follow back, unfollow them. You can easily see who is doing this by looking at your followers likes: are they liking random accounts photos every few seconds/minutes even in random hours of the morning? Well, they paid for that. The thing is they usually don’t have quality followers or engagement (comments or likes proportional to their following). The math is pretty simple. I’m not knocking any one who has bought followers. Like I said, I don’t judge people for the choices they make in life. I’ve even succumbed to the temptation and promptly lost the followers I bought in an IG sweep. Karma really is that bitch. It didn’t feel good. So I decided never to do that again. But the temptation can be strong when I see those who don’t really work at this thing, reaping all the benefits. What I have to remember is what’s for me is for me and I know how hard I worked to get here. 

WHAT I WISHED BRANDS KNEW 

I know Fohr has had some heat on them lately but personally I’m glad that companies like theirs exist. They are one of the first to try to actually authenticate genuine following and engagement. Yes, there are ways to fake engagement by using comment pods and loop giveaways that get peoples following up (Denisse who took & edited these photos wrote a great blog post about this very thing). So people can still kinda fake engagement but what Fohr is doing is a real start. I want brands to stop looking at that number on instagram and wise up. Take a look at someones blog. Do they post regularly? Are they getting any comments? Actually read their blog posts and captions. Do they have anything to say besides: Outfit on Fleek? Then brands wonder why they don’t get the return on their investments. Of course Instagram algorithms are f*cking everybody over at the moment so it’s harder to decipher, but I can’t wait until authentication is a rule, not the exception. 

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PS. If you blog or are looking to be an influencer, I highly recommend this book to get you started.

xx

Monroe

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20 Comments

  1. July 30, 2018 / 8:40 am

    Totally understand your frustration girl! I’ve chatted with a few brands lately and it actually seems like a lot of them (at least the ones with personnel capacity) are digging deep into engagement and moving away from working with influencers simply based on follower counts. On their end, they lose money working with people without any real influence (or bought engagement) so they’re wising up by force. That said, because the market is so saturated it can be difficult for brands to find those of us who aren’t featured on reshare pages or don’t have management so it’s more important now more than ever to establish relationships, go to events/conferences, shoot out cold emails to pr companies, etc. We just have to work smarter and more strategically as the industry changes!

    • monroesteele
      July 30, 2018 / 8:57 am

      Personally I don’t think even 85% of brands are yet looking truly at engagement. So perhaps we differ on that point. It still seems pretty numbers driven (more specifically Instagram Followers) to me. I do agree that features help and can be leverage when reaching out to brands and pitching which I do on a weekly basis but that alone isn’t enough. Conferences and events help build connections, this business can be more about who you know as well, but I’m not sure if that ever really manifest into paid opportunities. I think bloggers, those who consider this a business, are doing everything right. I think it falls more to the brands to do the work if they want good returns on their investments.

  2. Yaqueen
    July 30, 2018 / 9:55 am

    You ALWAYS have quality content that is visually appealing, entertaining and thoughtful. We appreciate you and will keep supporting You!

    • monroesteele
      July 30, 2018 / 10:11 am

      Thanks so much. I appreciate your support and everyone who reads, clicks, comments, likes. It makes a difference. I do it out of love but it’s nice to know that people really enjoy the content.

      xx
      Monroe

  3. Daphne
    July 30, 2018 / 10:11 am

    Hey hun you always looking gorgeous i love your style continue to do what ur doing you are doing just great .

    • monroesteele
      July 30, 2018 / 10:13 am

      Thanks so much Daphne. I love a good slip dress. Its so easy! I appreciate you reading and for your encouragement.

      xx
      Monroe

  4. July 30, 2018 / 10:24 am

    I live for you and your authenticity. I’ve only been doing this blogging thing for a little while and sometimes I feel so defeated and lost. Thanks for shedding light, and teaching us/me how to keep on and not get overwhelmed by what others are doing and accomplishing. By sharing your frustration it actually inspires us.

    Have an awesome week!

    Ken #siddyinthesity

    • monroesteele
      July 30, 2018 / 11:24 am

      Thank you Ken. I think its important to show that everythings not perfect. Some people feel like Ive made it and i’ve had tons of great opportunities but even so sometimes I feel far behind. You are so right about not getting overwhelmed with what others are doing or accomplishing. We each have our own time. Thanks boo and we need a date soon.

      xx
      Monroe

  5. Faith
    July 30, 2018 / 10:51 am

    Your work is on another level and speaks for itself. I hope these brands will soon wise up and spend their money on influencers who actually have worked hard to have influence.

    • monroesteele
      July 30, 2018 / 11:25 am

      Thank you Faith. I think eventually it will be the standard and that makes me happy. I do it for the love it blogging for sure. I can’t not do it. But it would be nice to be recognized by brands for the work that actually goes into it. I think Im getting there. This year alone I’ve done so much better in terms of creating better content and securing brand collaborations. Thank you for your support.

      xx
      Monroe

  6. July 30, 2018 / 10:51 am

    I always love your content cos it has substance. Sometimes when you try to stay legit in this crazy saturated space, you wonder if it’s worth it vs. taking the shortcuts. Sending you positive vibes and encouragement. xx

    • monroesteele
      July 30, 2018 / 11:26 am

      Thank you Belle for reading I appreciate you reading and your encouragement. I definitely feel like just taking shortcuts sometimes but my OCD just won’t let me do it LOL. I’d rather know I earned and worked really hard for whatever comes my way.

      xx
      Monroe

  7. Mary
    July 30, 2018 / 2:20 pm

    Yes!! Yes!!! And Yess !!! That is all …(drops mic)

    • monroesteele
      July 30, 2018 / 2:39 pm

      Haha thanks Mary! I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.

      xx
      Monroe

  8. Gloria
    July 30, 2018 / 2:32 pm

    As the “minority” struggles are nothing new to us. But we see you sis and it’s bc of your hard work, attention, dedication, and overall reacheability that I’m sure we all love about you that we are here! I always feel like I can relate to not just the things you say but also your fashion sense and the way you engage with us and your thoughtfulness in acknowledging that we are important. I pray that you reach the highest star and I know you can! Stay forever true and be forever blessed! ❤️

    • monroesteele
      July 30, 2018 / 2:39 pm

      Thanks so much Gloria. The struggles are real. Thanks for your support.

      xx
      Monroe

  9. July 30, 2018 / 5:31 pm

    Hi Doll!
    I seriously understand where you are coming from. I have only been blogging for 2 1/2 years and I am sure you can remember the frustrations of your beginning years. I just wanted to say you have inspired me with your authenticity. When I first started, I followed outside of women of color bloggers and thought I could gain knowledge from them. But now that I have found bloggers like you (us) it makes me look at the game much differently now. It’s nice to hear a more experienced and influential blogger being real , but keeps slaying. So thank you for that! Keep slaying and you have a supporter here! XO

    Akia Danielle

    • monroesteele
      July 30, 2018 / 5:40 pm

      Thanks Danielle, It does get easier overtime for sure. When I started blogging as so foreign no body really knew what they were doing. lol. Im glad you found some bloggers of color that you can follow as well. thats important for sure. Thanks so much for reading and for your encouragement.

      xx
      Monroe

  10. Jasmine Terry
    July 31, 2018 / 11:00 am

    I have been abnormally absent from insta lately, and I’ve just gotten back into the grove. I’ve been wanting to get into blogging and instagram feeding for a while, but see how rapidly it’s growing and think that I can’t keep up. It’s a little daunting to think about it, but reading your blog and admiring your feed gives me hope that maybe I can do it. Your posts are so organic and beautiful. I love that you give advice for people and have been consistently and I think that makes you all the more relatable. You are a real person who post real stuff and isn’t afraid to speak on things that other people shy away from because it will hurt you with brands. More brands should want to work with you because you stand out. In a sea of the same post different person, you give natural and quality content. It’s a shame the more brands don’t see that.

    • monroesteele
      July 31, 2018 / 11:09 am

      Thanks so much Jasmine. It can be a little daunting even for the most seasoned blogger/influencer. I just take it one day at a time. As far as how my IG feed looks atheistically, I’ve stopped caring if my photos match up or not. I think thats helped to take a lot of pressure off when posting. Thank you so much for your kind words about my content. Thats really what matter the most. I think brands will come around slowly but surely when they arent getting the traction they thought they would based solely on Instagram followers. I still have hope. Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment and good luck with moving forward with your blogging!

      xx
      Monroe

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