MY STORY

If you’re new here, I’ve been blogging since October 2010. That means, I’ve had this website (although its changed 3 times) since then and I’ve been updating it with blog posts consistently for the last 5 years. I started my blog for free on the website www.blogger.com and 4 years later switched to www.wordpress.com where this website resides. Blogger.com is free and has a great built-in audience but I wanted more ability to sell from my website and advertise so I made the switch to WordPress. I pay a yearly fee of about $250 for hosting, website security and backups with GoDaddy.com. I started my blog out of sheer passion. I loved to write and I loved fashion and it allowed me a place to share that passion with like minded people even though I was working in the healthcare field as a Doctor of Physical Therapy.

Last year I quit my job when confronted with a pay decrease and decided to try my hand at Full-Time blogging. You can watch the video on my Youtube Channel here, this was literally a few weeks after leaving my job. It felt logical. I had 20K followers on Instagram at the time and I’d already been blogging for 8 years. I already had an engaged audience and I was already pulling in about 30K a year just from blogging on the side. I told myself I’d do it full-time for 6 months and if it didn’t work out I’d find another Physical Therapy Job. For reference I had about 12K saved for a rainy day. I was not saving to quit my job at that point. Thus, I had enough money in the bank to pay my rent and bills for about 4 months. That first month of full-time blogging I made 8K which was more than I made being a senior physical therapist and director of a private practice. But it wasn’t just the money that kept me going, it was all the freedom and free time I had to actually do the things that I wanted. It wasn’t easy though. It was definitely the hardest thing I ever did but it was also the best year of my life. 

TO SUMMARIZE

20K Followers When I Went Full-Time Blogging

12K in the bank (4 months of survival money)

Already making 30-35K yearly from blogging on the side before going Full-Time

Made 8K my first month of Full-Time Blogging (3 Campaigns)

Being that I’ve been in the game for a hot minute before going full-time, I’ve already written a TON of blog posts about how I managed my time blogging while having a full time job and exactly how I make money blogging. I would implore you to take a look at all of the blog posts below for more in-depth information. Posts that have a $ next to the title are the posts that talk about money.

BLOG POSTS ABOUT BLOGGING + ENTREPRENEURSHIP

7 Tips to Elevate Your Blog

5 Things I’ve Learned Since Becoming a Full-Time Blogger $

Full Time Blogging The Good, The Bad & The Ugly $

How to Make Money Blogging in 2019 $

How to Start & Make Money From A Side Hustle $

4 Easy Ways to Elevate Your Brand, Blog or Business

How I Made 3K in 1 Week On Instagram $

A Week Balancing My 9-5 and Blogging

What Being Laid Off Taught Me About Being a Full-Time Blogger $

HOW I MAKE MONEY

Whew, I could and maybe should write a book about the money because that is what everyone wants to know. I mean I get it…people see an Instagram ad and think how the hell does she pay her rent by posting an Instagram photo? How is she able to pay her bills and travel? How does she budget when her payouts aren’t consistent the way a 9-5 hits every 2 weeks? Pull up a seat, grab your coffee or wine and let’s get to it. 

I have multiple streams of income and I do not depend on brand collaborations to pay all my bills. Although at this point I could solely live off of brand collaboration payouts. I make enough in brand collaborations per month to pay my rent and all my bills and be able to buy 5 pair of Chanel shoes if I choose to LOL. But I also have to save a lot for taxes (about 35K this year which I already have saved up for next years taxes so IM GOODT) and I also have a savings because who knows when I’m gonna have a bad month? I do my own taxes and have been doing them myself since I was 18 years old. I also invest heavily back into my business (website updates and backups, sites fees for my magazine, photography fees, fashions, equipment, outsourcing work, travel for new content and more). Here are all the ways I make money outside of brand collaborations. Please note, I was making money from all these streams before I ever went full-time blogging. 

Steele Magazine — I have been putting out my digital and now print Steele Magazine for 5 years. This was the first year I charged for not only the digital issue but also the print issue. This is a passion project for me because I don’t make much money from it and the work it takes to create, print and mail it is exhausting. I’m now gearing up for the 6th Issue so stay tuned. I’ll also be posting How to Create an Independent Magazine Blog Post soon.

My Pitch Templates for Bloggers, Influencers + Business Owners — This is one of my bread and butter streams of income. I make enough money from sales alone to pay my rent. This has become my savings and play money. I don’t buy anything until I sell something. I don’t have any credit cards (except one for building credit) and I don’t spend money I don’t already have. 

Affiliate Links Sale Commissions via RewardStyle — This is another bread and butter. If I never got another campaign, I could count on this money and my pitch template money combined to live off of monthly. It takes forever to genuinely start making money with RewardStyle. You have to post links like your life depended on it every single day. Pin links on Pinterest. Post Links in Description Boxes on Youtube. Put links in swipe ups on Instagram. Embed links in all your blog posts. Remind readers that this is how you make money often. RewardStyle payments happen every two weeks but the actual payout from the commissions can be anywhere from 2-6 months! So yeah, it’s slow but once you get the ball rolling, it really rolls.

Youtube Ad Payments — I also make money from running ads on my Youtube Videos. Youtube has also increased my Instagram, Blog Readers and Newsletter Subscribers. I grew from 2K to 14K subscribers in a little over 6 months and those numbers increase by the hundreds daily. I find that longer videos work better for me. That’s not the case with every one and something you’ll have to discover on your own. I’ve made anywhere from $200-$1300 per month from Youtube alone. You HAVE to be consistent. You HAVE to post often. The more you post, the more money you make, the less you post the less money you make.

CAMPAIGNS

Many people don’t know what a campaign is or how it works. There are a few ways to work with a brand: Directly or through an Agency. 80% of my brand campaigns come from Agencies that the brands have hired to find influencers to create content for that brand. 20% come from the actual brands reaching out to me directly. Working directly with the brand almost always pays more. I know what to charge because I talk to my friends in the industry. We all talk about how much brands are paying for campaigns, how much a certain person got based on their following and we align accordingly. This field is very new. The only way you’re ever going to know what to charge outside of just asking for what you’re worth as far as time spent creating, editing, photography fees and such is to talk to those who are doing the same thing. Which is why it’s essential to build a strong network of peers who are already in the industry. You’re gonna need a few people you can call and bounce ideas off of.   

WHEN I STARTED WORKING WITH BRANDS

I’ve been working with brands ever since I started blogging in 2010. Brands would send me free things and I’d wear or review their products for free. I did that for several years before ever making a dime with brand collaborations. I needed that experience to hone my skills and get some actual work under my belt. It’s ok to do things for free or for a product you really love. But there comes a point when payment is necessary based on what the brand is asking for and expecting from you in return.

HOW I PITCH MYSELF TO BRANDS

I started pitching myself after I’d been blogging for 2 years. At first it was just pitching to get into fashion week because that’s really what I was focused on at the time. I was doing a ton of fashion show reviews and up and coming designer reviews. I had to teach myself how to get into fashion week. From there I started pitching to smaller indie brands here in New York City that I wanted to work with. From there I move up to more lifestyle and luxury brands. Now that I have a ton of work under my belt, I don’t find the need to pitch myself as much. I make a list of 3 brands I want to work with every quarter and relationship build with them and pitch them every month.

THE PAY

Brands have a lot of money. This is a billion dollar industry. They are essentially paying influencers what they would pay triple times that for a studio, a model, a makeup artist, a photographer and more. I learned what my rates are by talking to other influencers in the industry. I see what they charge and I charge accordingly based on my following, my ability to sell, and the work that goes into the content I create. My fee fluctuates depending on what the brand wants. I could be here all day listing out ways you can work with brands but you can just check out This Rates Sheet on my Etsy Shop. If a brands wants usage rights, that’s extra on top of my standard fee. That is where the major money is because you are essentially selling away the rights to those photos/content for that brand to use for anything from printed ads to billboards. Brands also pay for exclusivity which means that you won’t promote or mention another brand for X amount of days or months who is a competitor to that brand. Most brands pay out within 30, 60 or 90 days. Though I have found that the majority of my campaigns this year paid out within 30 days, which is awesome because 3 months is a long time to wait for payment.

Larger brands have more money and new brands have less. It’s really about working with the brands you already love, wear, use and support so that it flows organically with your content. I’ve made anywhere from $500 to $10000 a collaboration this year. Overall, I’ve made over 100K from all streams of income this year and 80% was from brand collaborations. In my best month I made a little over $22,000 and my worst month was $3000. The most lucrative time for me during this first year of Full-Time Blogging was 3rd and 4th quarter or Summer + Winter when I made between 15-20K each month. The slowest time was Spring or the beginning of the year. At this time of year brands don’t really know how they’re going to allocate their budgets for influencer marketing yet. I average about 4 campaigns monthly and 100% of those campaigns are brands or agencies reaching out to me.

GET THE LOOK

Rachel Comey Dress c/o Shopbop| All Saints Boots | & Other Stories Sunglasses


A LAST WORD

Another question I got asked a lot was how do I stay consistent and motivated. Honestly, I don’t have an answer for that. I’ve always been extremely passionate about writing and creating. It’s something I CAN’T NOT do. I’d explode. You either have it or you don’t, self discipline that is. There isn’t going to be anyone looking over your shoulder telling you to get that blog post up, or shoot those outfits, or edit that video or respond to those emails. It’s all you. You can either buckle down and do the work or live your life wondering what could have been if you’d stuck with it. Dedicate yourself to your passion the way you dedicate yourself to your 9-5. I manage my own finances. I don’t have a manager. It’s all me, getting up every day and doing what I need to do to keep a roof over my head and live the life I always wanted. You don’t need to start out with all the answers. I didn’t know what I was doing, I just started. I write about what I feel like writing about. I dabble in everything I’m interested in. You don’t need a plan. Just start. The longer it takes you to start, the further behind you will be. All the things you need to know, you’ll learn on the way. I’m still learning every single day. 

Thanks so much for supporting me this year by reading my blog posts, watching my Youtube Videos, engaging with my Instagram Content, using my links, buying my templates and magazine. You all have been integral in helping me to live my passion. I hope that this post can answer some of your questions and give you all more insight into entrepreneurship specifically relating to Full-Time Blogging or Influencing. This has been such an amazing year. I was able to work with some spectacular brands, visit some inspiring places and really see what I’m made of. I can’t wait to see what year 2 of Full-Time Blogging brings. 

Tune into my Instagram Live Tonight at 6:30 PM EST for more!

xx

Monroe

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Special thanks to Shopbop for sending over this lovely dress!


24 Comments

  1. Carin
    November 4, 2019 / 9:53 am

    Thank you for all the insight and info! This was such a good post and now I hit like on your YT videos before I’m even done watching because I know it’s going to be good! Wishing you continued success

  2. Lavette
    November 4, 2019 / 10:37 am

    Great post!! Thanks for sharing and your energy and passion alone is inspiring!!!

  3. November 4, 2019 / 11:00 am

    Thanks for sharing SO MUCH about how you make it work and for sharing all that helpful advice Monroe. This gets me so excited for where I could take my blog too. Would appreciate if you checked it out. ~ Monika

  4. Ann
    November 4, 2019 / 2:14 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! You give hope to us new bloggers! …and may you have continued prosperity in all you’re destine to do. God Bless you richly!

  5. Mariame
    November 4, 2019 / 3:13 pm

    Thank you for sharing information on blogging. This really taught me a lot.
    BONGO.

  6. November 4, 2019 / 3:27 pm

    Can I just say you’re ridiculously inspiring! You’re the hardest and I mean HARDEST working blogger I’ve ever see. You’re the definition of being fueled by passion and that why I’ll always support every sponsored piece you put up. Keep doing you and know you’re pulling up a vast amount of colored girls behind you. Bravo!!

  7. Angela aka AHairAngel
    November 4, 2019 / 4:24 pm

    Thanks for all of your contributions. You give me new ideas constantly and your fashion tips keep me shopping.

  8. Smooth57
    November 4, 2019 / 4:33 pm

    You are so smart Monroe and I am so proud of you! You are in an industry that discriminates often and yet you have carved out your lane and did not take no for an answer! I admire your grind and love your style ! I was lucky enough to get your Steele Magazine and I was so impressed. But what would I expect from the lady with the impeccable and unique style and hella educated
    ! #blackgirlmagic.

  9. Monica
    November 4, 2019 / 5:31 pm

    This blog was jammed packed with info . Excellent read

  10. November 4, 2019 / 8:11 pm

    Really loved this post. I read it twice & now about to read the highlighted ones. SUPER informative. Thanks for sharing these tips. It’s like God sent you to me as I legit relaunched and rebranded my blog on Saturday. That’s when I stumbled upon your youtube so YAYYY!

  11. November 4, 2019 / 10:21 pm

    Sis! This was sooo soooooo much great information! You are the absolute best!!! Can’t wait to see what’s next for you

  12. Shavonda
    November 4, 2019 / 11:08 pm

    Yesssss Monroe!! Congratulations on a full year of FT influencing friend. I’m so happy for you and I’ve LOVED watching you thrive in this space. I couldn’t agree more about creating a right community of fellow influencers. It’s all so new and we are literally making it up and paving the way as we go. It’s an exciting time and I really wouldn’t want it any other way. Here’s to another year of growth and prosperity!

  13. November 4, 2019 / 11:46 pm

    Thanks for sharing your experience and knowledge. I am a new blogger. However, I’ve been an fashion influencer before that term was invented. LOL. I am now teaching myself the ropes of an social media influencer. You are one of the few bloggers who I follow consistently. You keep me entertain and engage! Although, it takes me about two days to get through your long videos. I enjoy your content and look forward to meeting you one day.

  14. Lynn B
    November 5, 2019 / 3:43 am

    THIS WAS THE APPETIZER, SOUP, SALAD, MEAL AND DESSERT FOR GETTING STARTED BLOGGING!!!!!!!

    BON APETIT❣

  15. Darsha Freeman
    November 5, 2019 / 9:41 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this info. I love your videos and pictures. I’m a grandmother of 3 year old little girl who loves her fashion already. She’s starting early. Lol! And my daughter is interested in blogging. I’m passing this info to her asap. Once again God bless you for sharing, good luck to you on your journey of success.

  16. Monica Hughley
    November 5, 2019 / 5:28 pm

    Thank you for sharing! This is such a selfless act to share all your information! You are a gem by beautiful sister!

  17. November 6, 2019 / 7:53 am

    You brought ALL the tea girl!! So glad more of us are being open about how the blogging world works, both for the benefit of our readers and also others who are interested in the business!

  18. mm
    November 6, 2019 / 11:09 am

    This wonderful! Thanks for sharing

  19. November 6, 2019 / 6:03 pm

    Great job Monroe! It’s awesome to see thriving Black bloggers. The one thing I know I need more of is other full time blogging friends, that’s a goal for me next year for sure. Thanks for opening up the door to your life!

    be well,
    Leslie / @hautemommie / http://www.thehautemommie.com

  20. November 7, 2019 / 1:37 pm

    Hi Monroe congrats on your 1yr Anniversary! Hopefully one day we’ll meet in person. I enjoy your energy! This post was very informative I shared it on Pinterest. Much success I have a few more post on here to refer back to. Salute

  21. Aeryn TheSuperWise Williams
    November 14, 2019 / 2:18 am

    I rarely leave comments on your posts — or on any blogs that I follow, for that matter.
    BUT…I must for you.
    You have really inspired me to pursue my own dream and vision of stepping out of my comfort zone. I, too, have invested so much into the career that I have worked so hard to build — outside of fashion. It’s the scariest thing to imagine life outside of a “steady” paycheck — something dependable and consistent.

    I am currently deployed. My job takes me so many places…and while I am grateful, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that fashion and beauty is what will bring me the most joy.

    When I get home, this final time, I will go for it. In baby steps at first — of course…but I will finally follow my heart and my true passion — fashion.

    I will be purchasing your templates…and I will be closely following your advice.

    You’ll be aware of my progress. I have already manifested as much.

    All that is left to do is to walk into the reality of it..
    Girl…let me put my soldier pads on — because I’m quite sure I have my work cut out for me…but I have decided that I am ready.

    Thank You, Monroe.

    All The Best,
    Aeryn

    • monroesteele
      Author
      November 14, 2019 / 9:33 pm

      WOW! Thank you for this and you don’t need luck! You have the passion and thats all you need!

      x
      Monroe

  22. November 17, 2019 / 8:14 pm

    What a great post. Thank you for keeping it real and you are so right either you have self discipline or your don’t. No one has to want it more then you do. I know you didn’t just start but it’s amazing to know and see that yes it took time 9 years really and you didn’t give up. Thank you for sharing your journey so far as well as saying that you dabble and write about what interests you. Sometime I get nervous on what to write and the themes etc. Happy I found your YT channel and blog.

    Much Love,
    Sadé

    • monroesteele
      Author
      November 18, 2019 / 5:09 am

      Its so true. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment!

      x
      Monroe

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