How to make your fortune writing about stuff you love

By Lucy Hooker
Business reporter, BBC News

Image source, Chris Barber

Kat Williams sits at home in her pyjamas with her pink hair and tattoos and writes about stuff she likes.

What she mainly likes are weddings.

This earns her, at the age of 30, between £100,000 and £200,000 a year.

And despite having written about weddings for the past seven years she still does not get bored looking at veils and rings and cake decorations.

"I get excited about weddings. I see a couple in love and they're doing something creative and inspiring," she says.

"I was just obsessed with weddings. And into over-sharing on the internet."

RockNRoll Bride was one of the first blogs in the UK to focus on the lucrative topic of marriage.

Since then it has drawn in thousands of visitors who want something other than the cookie-cutter weddings in the glossy magazines.

Image source, Nisha Ravji Photography
Image caption,
RockNRollBride features weddings not dictated by tradition

Kat publishes pictures of real weddings that she thinks show originality.

For example, the bride who told guests they were invited to a birthday party, but then halfway through the evening changed into a wedding dress and got married.

Then there was the bride who was wheeled to her wedding (at a cemetery) in a coffin, which Kat says was "some kind of symbolism involving rebirth".

Image source, Trish Barker
Image caption,
About as rock'n'roll as they come - Gene Simmons of rock band Kiss and his wife renewed their vows last year, and were featured on Kat Williams's blog

The blog gets about 600,000 views per month.

For potential advertisers, that's a marriage made in heaven - 600,000 pairs of eyes that are immediately contemplating spending a lot of money on a very precise range of products: a dress, a ring, flowers, a holiday, stationery, hairstyling, make up, suits and shoes.

Mummy bloggers

But it is not just high visitor numbers that are attracting companies to work with bloggers.

Advertisers have identified a big advantage in spreading their message via the friend-next-door, coffee-morning culture of the blogosphere.

Known sometimes dismissively as mummy bloggers, there is a growing army of women documenting the humdrum of their everyday lives, attracting readers desperate to know they're not the only ones tackling teething, toddler tantrums or troublesome teens.

And they are writing with humour and personality - siren calls to the marketing men.

"Brands of course are dying to get their hands on these women because it's all about authentic voices, native content, storytelling," says Susanna Scott, a blogger herself and co-founder of Britmums, an annual conference for parent bloggers.

And the stories don't have to be about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. How to cook fish fingers does just as well, she says.

"It's not about being interesting. It's the mundane [things] people want to read about. It's the 'Aha!' moment when you read and think, 'It's not just me!'"

How to write a blockbuster blog

  • Write about something you love
  • Find your own individual voice
  • Tell a story
  • Post every day if possible
  • Don't just blog: use other social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube

Daniel Saynt, chief executive of Socialyte


Mummy bloggers are cottoning on to the growing opportunities afforded by the marketing men - test-drive a new car for a few weeks, tickets to music festivals, meals out, free clothes, cosmetics, toys and travel - simply in exchange for writing a positive review.

Kirstie Pelling, her husband and three children have just been to Dubai and are about to set off for the Philippines and Japan.

The couple make a full-time living writing about their adventures on the road, in their blog, The Family Adventure Project.

Image source, Family Adventure project
Image caption,
Kirstie Pelling's blog pays for the whole family to travel around the world

"We make money through sponsored posts and advertising. We also work with brands, delivering material for their website or their campaigns," says Kirstie.

The Pellings have been to more than 25 countries paid for by Kirstie's blogging.

But it's not just writing. These days a successful blogger must post on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook as well as maintaining their original blog site. Where possible they should also be shooting video and maintaining a Youtube channel.

"You have to be across absolutely everything," says Kirstie Pelling. "We have to work quite hard."


Women bloggers like Kat and Kirstie are only likely to increase their money-making muscle, if the US experience is anything to go by.

Image source, Nadia Aboulhosn
Image caption,
Abercrombie turned to bloggers like Nadia Aboulhosn after accusations of size-ism

There, the most influential bloggers have become celebrities in their own right, earning $1m (£585,000) a year or more.

Even lower profile writers can earn several thousand dollars for a single brand collaboration, according to Daniel Saynt, chief executive of Socialyte, a casting agency for bloggers, based in New York, and specialising in the fashion industry.

Thanks to social media, he says, marketers suddenly have many more channels to fill and not enough content.

And women bloggers are often best-placed to supply it. Women tend to control the household budget, choose the family car and the annual holiday, so female readers are the target audience, says Mr Saynt. And women have a higher engagement around social media.

In the US, Calvin Klein is currently experiencing a "viral moment", says Mr Saynt after asking bloggers (both male and female) to submit pictures of themselves in their underwear with the hashtag #mycalvins.

And last year, after Abercrombie and Fitch was accused online of ignoring larger customers, Socialyte helped them counter the negative talk by hiring dozens of ordinary bloggers, including plus-size women, to write about the brand.

'Reality TV star' bloggers

But while demand for bloggers is growing, it doesn't mean anyone can do it.

It still helps to be young, attractive and wealthy and have a lifestyle that others aspire to. And you have to be prepared to sacrifice your privacy, says Mr Saynt.

"You are going into a world where you are a public figure, where people are going to have negative comments.

"In a lot of ways [bloggers] have become the reality TV stars of fashion and beauty because they're sharing a very intimate portrait into who they are."

And if you want to make the big time, you have to take it seriously.

"You have to run it as a business, 100%, not as a hobby," he says.

"If you approach it as a hobby and think you are going to get somewhere, that's just not the case."

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