Home » Blogging Tips! » Blogging: Behind the Scenes – Part 5

Blogging: Behind the Scenes – Part 5

{Note: Today’s post is not the usual Pretty/Hungry fare… normally around here we’re talking about things like cookiessavvy weeknight suppers, and the special splurge recipes that keep life fun (like this one)!  But today’s post is Part 5 in a series dedicated to all the bloggers out there, in response to your requests for blogging tips.  Blogging: Behind the Scenes provides insight into the methods I use to grow, improve, and monetize the Pretty/Hungry blog.  If you would like to read Parts 1-4 of this series, you can catch them here!  And of course, if you are not a blogger yourself, feel free to disregard today’s post.  You won’t hurt my feelings one bit!}

~

Blogging: Behind the Scenes

~

Hope you’re all enjoying a fabulous weekend so far!

I have learned some awesomely helpful things this month about blogging as a career.  It is exciting (and yes, sometimes a bit overwhelming) to realize how much room there is for growth and development as a blogger.  Sometimes I get a little discouraged about my specific areas of weakness though… for example, I am not ultra tech-savvy.  I don’t write code, and making design changes or upgrades to the site is a significant challenge and time commitment.  As the master of this domain, if I want to see the Pretty/Hungry blog grow and improve, the resources for accomplishing that are available to me… it’s up to me to go out, find them, and start using them!  That is both empowering and intimidating.  Ahhhh!  (Sometimes I really wish I had a super tech-ie assistant to help me make all my blogging dreams a reality.)  For now, though, I’ll continue learning at a pace that fits with my lifestyle and family commitments, and continue to do what I love: cook, photograph, and write to you all!

I want to share some very practical tips with you today… they have to do with writing off the maximum amount of deductible expenses when it comes to your at-home career as a blogger.  Are you taking full advantage of those write-offs?  We’ll talk about all the possibilities in just a bit.  But first, I want to do a quick overview of our income streams for the month of July:

 

Blogging: Behind the Scenes | Common Income Streams

~

You’ll notice a few regulars are missing from the chart above.  This was a slow month both for my e-book “The Unexpected Joys of a Tight Grocery Budget”, and for Bluehost affiliate sales.  To address the dip in e-book sales, I’m considering setting up an affiliate program to help boost circulation of the e-book.  (An affiliate program, essentially, would pay others a percentage of the book royalties to promote it in their own circles.)  I like that idea, but I’m stuck on the logistics of it…. how to go about setting up the program, how to track individual affiliates and make sure they are correctly compensated for the sales they refer in, etc.  So that idea is on hold right now.

As for the income streams that were profitable this month…

Amazon Partnership– This made up 7% of my earnings this month.  Through their affiliate program, Amazon pays me a small fee when someone orders an Amazon product based on my recommendation.  But be assured, I only recommend Amazon products when I think they are an especially good deal and I personally use and love them!  And no pressure… because I’d also be thrilled for you to go find the same thing cheaper at Wal-Mart!  (But as an online shopper myself, I usually can’t resist the appeal of shopping without leaving my couch, so I try to provide links when I can, in case you’re a couch-shopper like me.)  If you are interesting in becoming an Amazon affiliate yourself, here’s some info about it.

Foodie Blogroll Ads-  This ad bar is located at the top center of my blog.  Thus far, income from Foodie Blogroll has been very minimal (this month it represents about 0.01% of my earnings… pretty lame considering the prime real estate that ad bar occupies.)  But I utilize this ad service because it pays “per view” rather than “per click” and I like having that diversity available to me.  I’ve heard that BlogHer ads might potentially be a more lucrative “per view” option, so I’m considering applying to run those instead.  (Again, I’m held back by lack of technical prowess and the fact that even simple changes like these require a significant time commitment from me.)  I’ll keep you posted on what I decide to do about Foodie Blogroll.

Google AdSense Ads–  These ads are located along my sidebar, and they made up about 9% of my earnings this month.  The Google AdSense service pays “per click” rather than “per view”, and the ads are customized according to what individual web-surfers have viewed/shopped for recently.  (Google is smart like that!)  So in my case, when I look at the Pretty/Hungry sidebar, I see ads for maternity clothing and home decor items.  (That’s because we are decorating a room for our 2-year-old to move into, in preparation for the arrival of Baby #2.)  FYI: I’m not allowed to click on my own ads, because that’s against the rules.  I’ve been pleased with the consistency of this particular service, so I’d definitely recommend you give it a go!

Individual Ad Sales–  These made up a whopping 83% of my earnings this month.  Did you know that you can advertise your blog, business, or brand here on the Pretty/Hungry blog?  This site reaches between 600-1,000 people per day and an average of 20,000 people per month!  Additionally, new content is regularly circulated daily on my various social channels (TwitterFacebookInstagram, & Pinterest), reaching 1,200+ followers.  If you think your blog, business, or brand would benefit from an ad or sponsored post on the Pretty/Hungry blog, you can click here to learn more details.

~

What Did I Learn This Month?

1) For starters, I took the plunge and ordered business cards this month.  It was definitely time!  I had found myself in too many social situations where new acquaintances would ask about the blog and I’d end up struggling to summarize it and scribble down the URL on a gum wrapper in case they wanted to pay it a visit.  Now I have a succinct way to describe what the Pretty/Hungry blog offers: Inspiration for your kitchen, your family, and your wellness goals… as well as a place to read and share honest perspectives about the struggles and victories of our everyday lives (especially those pertaining to food, family, and wellness.)  Beyond the succinct description of Pretty/Hungry, the card also provides me with a quick and easy way to share the web address of the blog… it even contains a handy QR code!  No more fumbling to write “www.prettyhungryblog.com” on a napkin that we all know my new friend will promptly throw away or lose in the hodgepodge of her car.  So yes, the business cards were a much-needed item and I’m very glad I went ahead and got them.  P.S. I’ll be doing a post about the fabulous graphic designer who helped me with these cards very soon!

~

Blogging: Behind the Scenes - Business Cards - Copy

~

2) My other big revelation this month had to do with tax write-offs.  Stay with me here, because if you work from home (and especially if you are a blogger), these are extremely helpful insights that you may not know about!

Now, I of course have to give the disclaimer that I am not an accountant, and that nothing I’m saying here constitutes professional legal advice.  Run all of these suggestions by your accountant to double-check that you’re correctly filing your taxes.  :)

Aaaaanyway, if you work from home as a blogger, did you know that the following things qualify as tax deductions for you?

Direct Business Expenses – For a food blogger, this might include camera equipment, a website hosting package, web design services, a spam protection plug-in, business cards, letterhead, advertising/marketing costs, and giveaways.  For general types of home businesses this could also include necessary supplies like copy paper, printer ink, shipping materials, etc.  It also applies to any fees you pay in order to sell an original product (such as the monthly fee to run an Etsy shop, for instance.)

Ingredients/Food – This mainly applies to food bloggers, but not entirely.  Be sure that if you post about a recipe or event you cooked for, you write off the cost of the ingredients you used and save your grocery receipt!  (Even if you don’t post about it, the ingredients are deductible if you are testing recipes for the purpose of using them later on your blog.)  For non-food-bloggers, this also applies to food you consume while working.  Restaurant meals might also be deductible, if the restaurant is one that you are reviewing or planning to blog about, or if the meal is the setting of a business meeting (with co-workers, potential clients, advertisers, and/or other collaborators.)

Mileage – Any driving you do that is related to your home business is deductible.  So for me as a food blogger, this means that mileage to/from the grocery store, to/from local farms and businesses I am reviewing, to/from speaking events, to/from consultation meetings, etc. all qualify as tax deductions.  The current rate (I believe) is 56 cents per mile.  (Double-check with your accountant on the amount, since it could vary state to state.)

Internet Costs – Though this one applies to virtually all home businesses these days, it is especially pertinent to bloggers.  You need to figure out roughly what percentage of your internet usage is devoted to working on your blog.  In my case, about 60% of our internet usage can be attributed to work I am doing for the blog (writing, marketing, communicating with readers & collaborators, e-mail, bookkeeping, etc.)  So I record 60% of my monthly internet bill as a business expense and deduct that total at the end of the year.  Your percentage might be different, but regardless, I hope you’re taking advantage of this write-off!

– Home Office Utilities – If you work from home, in any field, you are eligible to name one room and one bathroom in your home as a “home office space.”  (It cannot be a main living area like a kitchen or living room, FYI.)  You can then calculate the square footage of said room and bathroom, then calculate what percentage those rooms represent of your entire home’s square footage.  That percentage of your monthly utility bill can be deducted as a business expense because it provides necessary utility services to your home office.  (And BONUS: You can also deduct any costs for renovation, re-decoration, or general upkeep of your home office.  We just so happen to be making a deduction for that very purpose this year, to furnish and decorate my home office!)  So in my case, my home office and bathroom represent 11% of our home’s total square footage.  That means 11% of our monthly utility expenses are deductible as part of my business.

Here is a breakdown of what those numbers looked like for Pretty/Hungry during the month of July in my Income/Expenses spreadsheet, in case anything above is unclear.

Blogging: Behind the Scenes -  Write-Offs July

 

~

Now, I know I’ve probably left something important off that list, so please sound off in the comments if you know of other deductions that bloggers should be taking advantage of!  Those I’ve listed above have made a big difference for me.

Also, do not be discouraged if your deductible “expenses” outweigh the “income” side of your blog/business.  Even if the majority of the benefits of your home business come from the tax write-offs side vs. the profit side of the equation, it still works to your advantage.

As always, I really enjoy pulling together these #BBTS posts for you and I hope you find them helpful.  I’ve found that there seems to be a shortage of useful blogging instruction out there on the Internet, so when I find informative sources I definitely appreciate them!

~

Are you deducting every expense you could be deducting as a career blogger?

~

Happy Weekend!

-Carissa

.

.

.

You might also enjoy…

Reflecting on the Highs

Happy 4th from the Pretty/Hungry blog!

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Note: This post contains affiliate links.  See my disclosure here.

 

 

 

2 Responses so far.

  1. Carissa, this was very helpful. We do our own taxes and I keep wondering if we are missing anything that we could be writing off. Only thing you mentioned that I don’t do is the food expense for recipes. I recently thought of that and realized I should check into it. And thanks to your post I had an aha moment and realized that I can also write off some new organizational things that I bought too. (I use them at the small desk that I use for blogging.) Not sure why that hadn’t occurred to me before!

    • Carissa says:

      So glad you can add that to your write-offs now! (At first I got majorly annoyed by the drudgery of saving my grocery receipts, highlighting blog ingredients, and totaling them up each month… but it is so worth it.)