Thoughts on one year in business (including income from blogging)

Business

Thoughts on one year in business (including income from blogging)

Business

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Back in October 2012, Uniquely Healthy Ltd started officially operating as a business. This last year has been one crazy ride and I feel like I’ve learned a hell of a lot!

I have to say I’m proud of what I have achieved. I’ve gone from working in full time employment to part time employment and eventually I am hoping that I will have enough income to make working for Uniquely Healthy my full time gig. That is a very scary, but exciting thought!

It is not all sunshine and unicorns though. As much as the last year has been amazing, it has been very hard. I’ve worked 70 hour weeks, dealt with serious financial worries and really just questioned whether or not this was ever going to work. I’ve had to take a long hard cold look at myself, and ask if I’m really up to the job of working for myself. There has been many, many days when I’ve seriously just thought I should give up and go and find a ‘proper’ job. 

Yet, the more I do this, the more I bloody love it. Whenever I get an inspiring testimonial from a client, kind comment on a blog post, an email from a reader or a see a child drinking one of my green smoothies at a community event, it reminds me why I want to keep going. The thought of touching someone else’s life in a positive way, even in the smallest way, is what keeps me on this path. Thinking to the future, the hope of being truly in charge of my own destiny and achieving ‘success’ (my version of success is probably a lot different to what other people think of as success) keeps me pushing forward. 

As well as health coaching, selling the Super Conscious Living Programme (and future guides) and the community work I do, which at the moment will probably increase, I have also been lucky enough to have opportunities to write for some other sites and publications which has been excellent. In addition to that, I also get some income from blogging.  

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I know that blogging and receiving an income from it, is a pretty controversial topic, but here I’d like to be open about my experiences with it. Keeping Healthy Getting Stylish is part of my business, a massive part of it, and yes I do blog to create income, something I don’t feel I’ve ever hidden. However that is not the only reason I blog, if all the income disappeared overnight I would still blog, as I did for a number of years before I tried any kind of monetization. I never started the blog with an aim of doing it for an actual job, in fact I didn’t even realise that was a ‘thing’ you could do! But as the blog has grown, I saw that I had the opportunity to make this into something more than a hobby. Who wouldn’t want to make a living doing something they love and are passionate about?

I gain a small (yes small, I’m not sitting here making a ton of money, believe me!) amount of income into the Uniquely Healthy business (so I pay all my taxes properly!) from sponsored posts and advertising. I have really had a steep learning curve when it comes to sponsored and guest posts, and I’m the first one to hold my hands up and accept I’ve made some bad judgement calls in the past, usually when I haven’t listened to my gut feeling!

I am fully aware that these kind of posts can be a total turn off to some readers. I think about this blog the way I think about the blogs that I read, I don’t mind if a blogger chooses to make income through appropriate sponsored posts, if they don’t interest me then I just skip them. Like wise with advertising, it doesn’t bother me on other blogs unless it’s those ones that jump at out you! I try and focus on sponsored content that I create myself, or post guest posts I feel are genuinely helpful or interesting, and as far as possible I try and keep paid for content to a certain level. The income I gain from those posts, means I have the ability to dedicate more time to creating what I hope, is really helpful, interesting, inspiring and engaging content, as well as free resources. I do know that I will lose some readers because I do some of these kind of posts, and that is something I have to accept as I know it’s just not everyone’s cup of tea. I’m not here to defend my decisions on blog monetization, I guess it’s just to explain how I got to this point! 

This last year has been the most challenging, yet rewarding year of my life. I’ve done things I would have never dreamt of. I was talking about this with a friend yesterday and I realised that part of the reason I’ve progressed so much this last year is because I’ve just closed my eyes, took a deep breath and got shit done. I used to over think every little thing, but eventually the time comes for you to take action. At the same time, I have learned that approach can lead to added stress, and something I will be doing more of in the future is starting to say ‘no thank you’ a lot more often! 

For you guys that do read, and have stuck with me through the changes to the blog, and even more, have actually supported me through becoming a client or purchasing the Super Conscious Living Programme, you have no idea how thankful I am to you! I think seeing the little community that has grown on the SCLP Facebook page is yet another cherry on top of the Uniquely Healthy birthday cake! So fingers crossed, Uniquely Healthy will continue to grow and grow. I have some big plans for the future!

Any other business owners out there? What lessons have you learned? What are your thoughts on blog monetization as a blogger and a reader?

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42 Comments

  1. Nadine

    Keep doing what you’re doing chick, I think you and your business model are fantastic! Your whole mantra is refreshing and I look up to you big time :-) Just remember you do what you do because YOU enjoy it and it’s your happiness that is priority in life.. you can’t please everyone but like you said it’s those that stick by you that make it all worthwhile!

    HAPPY 1st BIRTHDAY!!! :D xx

    Reply
    • Laura

      Thanks so much Nadine :-) That comment has certainly made me smile!

      Reply
  2. Tamzin

    I have worked for myself for 3 years but since April have for myself completely. Its been hard and I don’t see it getting any easier very soon but as you say I love my job and what i do so I will take the rough with the smooth and carry on regardless! I do earn a small amount from my blog but I think its completely fine to do that its like a job so why not get paid?!

    I’m so glad things have worked out for you and I hope you get all that you want and deserve through all your hard work x x

    Reply
    • Laura

      Thanks Tamzin, and congrats on the 3 years for you! I think it is about taking the rough with the smooth and just reminding yourself why this approach is worth it :-)

      Reply
  3. Jo

    Hey Laura, I really appreciated your blog post on your business – I have just launched my new business and it’s a scary time putting yourself out there to the world. It was reassuring for me to know that I’m not alone and that there are other women out there going through similar experiences and taking the leap to try and make a difference in the world :-)

    Reply
    • Laura

      Thanks Jo, I think us ladies in the biz need to stick together! :-)

      Reply
  4. Helen Phillips

    Laura, I can honestly say that you, your blog and uniquely healthy have changed my life!! I’ve been reading this blog for about 2 years now (and I had a very unproductive week at work when I first discovered it and read all the way back to post 1!), and your refreshing way of thinking, talking and eating has honestly helped me so much with some major issues I’ve had in my life for at least 10 years! I’m half way through the SCLP, and it’s just confirming so much stuff for me that I had already started to realise through reading your blog!
    I’m so impressed with what you’ve done with your business…I hope one day I have the guts to do something similar…that’s my goal!
    Seriously…well done, happy 1st birthday and I can’t thank you enough!!! x

    Reply
    • Laura

      Wow Helen, thank you so much for this! Your comment really made my day and means a lot to me. I’m so glad that the SCLP is linking into the kind of approach I talk about through the blog as well, yey! Wishing you all the luck with your own business goals!

      Reply
  5. Lauren (@PoweredbyPB)

    This is a great post and rally interesting. At the minute I am thinking of starting up my own business and going back to study nutritional therapy, it’s a big risk but something I am so passionate about and that I really want to do. This has been really helpful, so keep at it!

    Reply
    • Laura

      Thanks Lauren, hope if you decide to go for it, it all goes well. I think pursuing anything you are really passionate about if worth it!

      Reply
  6. Christina

    I think they key is always honesty. I think every blogger knows how to make it clear that they’ve been gifted something – for me, I just introduce it with a sentence like, ‘I was kind enough to be sent…’ and others prefer a sentence at the bottom of the blog post. Like you said, if people aren’t interested in that particular blog post they can skip over it – and I think it’s just fantastic that you’re at the stage that KHGS is part of the income that you earn – you’ve worked so hard for it!

    Reply
    • Laura

      Absolutely. I’ve noticed a couple of bloggers posting stuff that feels like it’s sponsored but with no form of disclosure. I know there is pressure from PR people to drop the disclosure but it’s still not acceptable in my eyes. My approach is to make sure that I say something that is clear that the post has been remunerated in some way. It is nice to have some income from writing about stuff I love!

      Reply
  7. Alex

    I think I’ve gone totally the other way with blogging. I love it, but with my old blog I felt I’d got myself into a hold with sponsored posts and I really didn’t like writing them. I like writing what I’m passionate about and I felt like some of the ones I got paid for weren’t my best work. That’s why on my current blog there’ll be no advertising, no sponsored posts, not even freebie reviews – it’s just me and my passions. It’s not a choice for everyone, and I certainly don’t mind reading other blogs with ads and sponsored work, but I felt I couldn’t write the way I wanted to anymore. Your sponsored work has been really useful to me, and your iHerb discount was gratefully used!

    On a totally unrelated note – stationary on your desk in teacups. LOVE IT.

    Reply
    • Laura

      Good for you Alex, it must have been a big decision to make, but I think if you stopped feeling comfortable with that way of blogging then a change was needed. I kind of like the challenge of writing posts that are engaging and interesting around a topic for sponsored stuff, another reason why I am trying to move away from the guest stuff to posts where I write the content myself.

      Yes the tea cups are awesome, I love having them on display and they are so handy for paperclips!

      Reply
  8. Caitlin R

    HI Laura

    I’ve been reading your blog for over a year now, and now seems like a good time to comment!
    All I really wanted to say was thank-you!

    I’ve been making some lifestyle changes over the past 8 months or so, having got back from an 7 week overseas holiday feeling just a bit meh from eating (and drinking) so much. Nothing drastic, just eating better (and not so much) and exercising more often. On top of that, I’ve now been living out of home for about 2 years (I’m a student and lived at home for the first few years of my degree) and I finally realized I can and should take a bit more responsibility for what I do and don’t put in my mouth!

    I live with two other girls, who are also both pretty healthy eaters and my gym-buddies. But we also all have some different approaches to food and exercise, and your blog has really helped me to accept that I need to do what feels right for me and my body, and that none of us is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in our approach.

    So I guess what I’m trying to say is that reading your blog, and seeing your journey evolve, has helped me to keep a lot of perspective. I’ve been able to focus on what works for me and what I enjoy, and I’ve been able to let go of a lot of guilt (that I didn’t even realize I had!) about what I ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’ be doing, which I think has helped me so much to get well on my way.

    So keep doing what you’re doing, and if you get the chance to make money out of it, then I say go for it! I certainly don’t feel like you’re ever anything less than totally honest.

    Caitlin

    Reply
    • Laura

      Thank you so much for this Caitlin! You have no idea how happy I am just reading this, that is totally my aim with this blog – to help people focus on what works for them and let go of guilt and ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways of doing things. I hope the remainder of your time at uni goes well, it certainly helps when you have some gym buddies! Thanks again for this, made my day :-)

      Reply
  9. Jemma @ Celery and Cupcakes

    Really interesting post. You have been so brave to set up your own business and put yourself out there. It can be so scary to bite the bullet and just go for it. Congrats on taking that leap of faith.
    There is a whole issue of sponsored posts and bloggers making money from their blog. I have made a few mistakes myself, topic wise and trying to find the right balance of my own content and sponsored content. However, I try and pick sponsored posts that I feel will be interesting to my readers, if not they can always skip that particular post as I do sometimes on other blogs. I think it’s important to always note that you are being paid for these posts too.

    Reply
    • Laura

      Thanks Jemma, it was really scary indeed! I think you have exactly the same approach to sponsored stuff as I do. I completely agree on the honesty and disclosure issue, I know there is pressure from PR’s to drop the disclosure but to me there’s no excuse to not disclose in some way.

      Reply
  10. Nicky @kabochafashionista

    Keep at it lovie because what’s most important is that you’re doing something that you love and are passionate about in life. Success comes from that and everyone can clearly see that you love what you do and not only that, but at the same time you’re helping so many people so it’s a million times better! I think you’re very much up to the job and you’ve proven that yourself by sticking it out for a year and helping so many people in that time. A year is nothing in business, especially when it’s new so you’re doing amazing :)

    I’m just starting to set up my own business this year and whilst it is kinda scary, I know I’ll be passionate doing it and very happy that I am my own boss, doing what I love. I guess I also come from a business family so I feel confident that it’s in my genes and I’ll get support when needed which helps a little :)

    In terms of sponsored posts..I mean I can see why bloggers do it. We all see the offer of money and want it because in the end, that’s what we work for and it’s very tempting. It is easy to skip over the posts that don’t interest me which I admit, is probably the majority…but as long as there’s plenty of posts about you, your life, recipes and whatever, like there is, I don’t have a problem with it really.

    Reply
    • Laura

      Thanks chick! So excited to hear about your new business, am I right in thinking it’s protein snacks? You are very lucky to be able to set up with a lot of support behind you, can’t wait to see what you achieve!

      Reply
  11. Sarah Kit Farrell

    In the time I’ve been following you, I’ve never felt that you’ve violated my trust or admiration in the process of making a little cash via blogging. Your openness and honesty go a long way in generating loyalty. I was so pleased to have you in my “class” at Integrative Nutrition, and I definitely look to you for guidance and inspiration in my own blogging and business. Way to go, Laura! You truly have no idea how many people you impact.

    Reply
    • Laura

      Thanks Sarah! So glad you posted this comment, a. because it’s so lovely to hear from you and that you feel happy with the openness I have with the blog and b. because somehow I have missed your blog and now I am following you so can keep up with your posts. That smoothie sounds amazing!

      Reply
  12. PoPpy @ Persistence Over Perfection

    I don’t have anything against people making money from blogs in the way that you do it – it’s very appropriate to your ethos and you obviously take care to ensure the sponsored content is relevant. I have come across blogs who don’t do this and just post any old irrelevant sponsored posts, this tends to make me disengage with the blog a bit unfortunately – I skip the sponsored post and come back another day, but I’m less likely to chose to read a blog with lots of irrelevant sponsored posts than one that keeps the content blog-relevant like yours :) I’m glad you’re enjoying the challenges of your new business – it’s both a fantastically scary and liberating thing I’m sure! Well done for taking the plunge :)

    Reply
    • Laura

      Thanks chick! Yes I think relevance is really important, I know that’s where I feel I’ve gone wrong in the past but I feel more comfortable with what works here now. You are so right – the business is certainly liberating and scary!

      Reply
  13. catherine

    Really refreshing to read an honest and informative post about this kind of thing. I agree, sometimes sponsored posts can turn a reader off. BUT if they fit with the content, don’t replace the content, and the actual content is still awesome (which yours always is!) it doesn’t matter to me at all if a blog takes payment. I’ll always be a loyal reader :) Keep going :)
    (It’s also lovely to know how much you genuinely care about your readers!)

    Reply
    • Laura

      Thanks Catherine, it certainly is something not a lot of bloggers talk about, perhaps a worry that it might attract some negativity. Thanks for that positive feedback though, that is exactly the balance I am going for so it’s reassuring to know that it is coming out that way for readers :-)

      Reply
  14. Claire @ Flake and Cake

    Love this post Laura, it is so interesting to hear from the other side of a business blog. I don’t mind seeing sponsored posts/content on blogs I read – often they’re interesting or if not I skip it. I certainly wouldn’t stop following a blog I liked if they put up sponsored content, I think it great some people can make a little from giving so much to others.
    I love your blog, from the design to the recipes and pretty pictures. I think I can always take something away after visiting, even if it is just feeling calmer from checking in or having a look through your archive.
    Keep up the brilliant work, can’t wait to see where your passion and talent will take you (and us readers!) next.

    Reply
    • Laura

      Thanks Claire! That is all really great of you to say so, I’m so pleased that you enjoy the blog :-)

      Reply
  15. Emma

    Thanks for sharing this Laura. Huge congrats on one year in business! I’m thrilled that everything seems to be going well on that front though I’m sure it’s a hard slog, especially when you’re still only just getting started.
    As for the sponsored posts, I respect that they’re crucial to earning a living from blogging, so, as long as they’re as relevant as possible to the rest of what you’re writing about I don’t have any issues. If a reader isn’t interested in that post, just like any other post, they can just skip it.
    All the best for your next year in business :D

    Reply
    • Laura

      Thanks Emma, fingers crossed the next year of business will continue well!

      Reply
  16. Amanda @ .running with spoons.

    Thank you for this post, Laura. As you know, I’m just starting out on my own journey as an entrepreneur, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t struggle with doubts and fears from time to time. Your drive and determination have been seriously inspirational to me, and I love seeing you get rewarded after all of your hard work. Being a blogger and knowing how much time goes into it, I don’t have much of a problem with sponsored posts. As long as the blogger is being honest and not overdoing it in terms of how often they do sponsored posts, then I don’t think there’s anything wrong with making money from a blog.

    Reply
    • Laura

      Thanks Amanda, I think all those doubts and fears are natural, the trick is not to let them stop you or lead you to a point of not progressing with things. As I say in the post, there has been times when I’ve had to just do stuff, it’s always worked out in the end – oh and listening to your gut feeling is important too!

      Reply
  17. Maria @ runningcupcake

    I think it is a really interesting topic. I never mind reading sponsored posts, or reviews, so long as they are honest. I have found some great new products that way, and I think sometimes having a guest post is interesting to read as they often are on different topics or from a different point of view.
    There are some blogs (these tend to be bigger US ones) who sneak in links to companies but never actually state they were sent something for free, and that dishonesty puts me off. But I think blogs are similar to magazines- they would have adverts in them too.
    I am always amazed when I read about these “full time bloggers”- I couldn’t imagine how they manage, but with you as you have set up your business too I can see that altogether you have a great career path ahead of you.
    I think the other thing is keeping blogs interesting- when all you are doing is buying coffee and walking your dog because you don’t have a job it gets rather boring to read!

    Reply
    • Laura

      Yep the dishonesty, or just omission of disclosure is something that bothers me as well. I value the trust I’ve built with my readers too much to ever not disclose. Haha, yes I think being a full time blogger sound great, but you need to have a life to be able to blog about it!

      Reply
  18. Mary

    You should be proud of what you have achieved! Starting up your own business is a massive leap and one you’ve jumped into with both feet as it’s something you really believe in – always the maker of a good business.
    Well done on a fantastic first year and I am sure you will have many more to come! :)

    Reply
    • Laura

      Thanks Mary! Yes I think if you really believe in something then jumping is the way to go!

      Reply
  19. Lucy @ Lucy On The Lookout

    I really appreciate your transparency about this topic Laura (and it is always clear on your blog when a post is sponsored which is appreciated too) – at the end of the day I don’t think it is a problem as it seems to me you pick topics which fit into your ethos, so often I’ll find these posts interesting (and for the ones I don’t, I’ll just skip over them wait until you post again ;) ! Which is typical for most blogs, sponsored or not). The fact that you’ve followed your dreams to make a go of this is inspiring, and if you need to do a few sponsored posts along the way so that you can continue doing the bits you *really* love then I can only hold respect for that. Plus anyway, it sounds like you don’t mind writing the sponsored posts anyway, and enjoy reviewing things!

    PS I do admit on other blogs I have seen sponsored posts where I have been like “huh?!” because it doesn’t fit into their ethos *at all*, and I’ve personally had to turn down certain things (erm, goodbye magical weight loss products and online pharmacists!), but I’ve never found that to be a problem on KHGS.

    Reply
    • Laura

      Thanks Lucy! That is exactly my ethos really, and I do quite enjoy writing a lot of the sponsored posts I do. I have had a few approaches weight loss and online ‘dodgy’ pharmacies and told them to shove off, it’s crazy that they think I would even consider posting stuff like that!

      Reply
  20. Joy

    Hear, hear! That you’ve felt empowered, inspired and motivated to create what has become a mini online and people-facing/focused empire is something that should be applauded and celebrated!

    Like Helen above, I spent a criminal amount of time catching up with your blog when I got this iPad nearly two years ago now – to think, all I was looking for was a vegan dessert recipe!

    The whole blog/monetisation thing is admittedly a little over my head as I’m just a reader really, so do what you have to do and keep on keeping it real us all I can say.

    I’ve often shared your blog with friends who are stuck/need inspiring etc., and whilst a lot of people I know are still slow to get into reading blogs, yours us accessible, meaningful and resonates.

    One day soon I hope to be a blogger, if I can just get a few other things off the plate first, and I only think that because you and a couple of people in my life have motivated me one way or another. Starting your own business was such a gamble but it’s paid off so much, and I bet your family’s really proud of you like we all are!

    Happy anniversary!x

    Reply
    • Laura

      Thanks so much for that Joy! I have always wondered how people found my blog, lovely to know that it was through your vegan dessert recipe search! I’m chuffed to bits to know that others have read as well. Very much looking forward to you joining the blogging world as well! xxxxx

      Reply
  21. Rosie @1ManBandAccts

    I read, write, comment on, promote and advertise on blogs.

    As a reader I have no problem with sponsored posts as long as it says so and it’s like the blogger’s usual content, just paid. People have bills to pay.

    In the same vein, I set Adblocker to ‘Not this domain’ for all sites with quality free content. My view is that it isn’t fair to block the blogger’s means of covering their costs or making a living when they are doing me a service. That’s the same whether it’s a company blog with excellent content or an individual blog.

    Sponsors done well are a service to me as a reader. I can find people and businesses that can help fill needs and while the blogger may/may not be endorsing that person, it’s a lot better than searching for Joe Random on Google. There is a lot of trust involved in services provided by most one man bands and so it’s great if I see a business doing what I need on a blog run by someone I love reading.

    I also sponsor some blogs. It’s been fabulous from a business point of view as I love knowing I am contributing to the blogger’s income, I get great access to quality readers, and the service I am offering is relevant to them (and a bit different). It works all round.

    Reply
    • Laura

      It’s lovely to hear how you see sponsored content, and as a business how you support other blogs! I have seen your ad on a couple of blogs, I think it’s such a great way to tap into your niche market.

      Reply

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