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1 Jan

How We Made Over Six Figures Our First Year Blogging Full-Time

By Sarah & Robbie Tripp

There’s a handful of common questions we are asked on a daily basis from followers and people we meet in real life, but perhaps none more popular than these two:

What advice would you give for starting a blog?

and

How do you actually make money off your blog?

These are great questions and we wondered the same thing all the time when we were just two kids in college. How are these bloggers making so much money? They actually get paid on top of all the free clothes and trips? How on earth did they get so lucky? Well, after deciding to jump in headfirst and chase our dreams by starting Sassy Red Lipstick in 2013, we’ve learned the answers to these questions firsthand. We’ve already shared our top five tips for new bloggers, so now we want to focus on the second question: How do you actually make money off your blog/social media?

Related: Sarah Tripp Featured in New York Magazine: How To Make Money on Instagram As an Influencer

Before we begin, we just want to say that because blogging is still relatively new, there are no instructions, no map on how to get where you’re going, you basically just set goals and keep pushing forward in the dark until you strike gold. Like any other entrepreneur, bloggers/influencers who have successful careers are anything but lucky–they are just damn hard workers. Building a business that doubles as your personal brand is an absolute roller coaster, and you have to be prepared for the ups and downs.

Fortunately, 2017 was the year where all the hard work we have been doing over the past four years really started to pay off. By working tirelessly and creating quality content, we were able to check off every one of our goals we had set at the beginning of the year. We negotiated several five-figure deals, and successfully completed campaigns with dream brands such as Nike, Aerie, COVERGIRL, Walmart, LGNordstrom Rack, and others; one of our Instagram posts went massively viral and landed us on Good Morning America, People, GLAMOUR, BBC Radio, E! News, and just about every other major news source nationally and internationally; we were both verified on Instagram and signed with agents. All of this contributed to us far surpassing our income goal for the year.

Four long years of late nights and stressful days, dreaming, thinking, building, branding, designing, conceptualizing, networking, screaming, crying, laughing, and sweating has brought us to this point. They say that entrepreneurs are those who work 80 hours a week for themselves so that they don’t have to work 40 hours for someone else. How true that is. It may look glamorous from the outside, but most days we are at home glued to our laptops and phones from the moment we wake up until we go to sleep each night. It’s a different kind of grind, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Sometimes we have to pinch ourselves to think that we are actually living the life we had imagined when we first met as a junior/senior in college and started this journey together. To this day it’s still kind of crazy when we think about how we are able to live in the most expensive city in the country and have financial freedom all because of a blog we started when we both had less than 1,000 followers on Instagram. Of course, it wouldn’t be possible without each and every one of you and we cannot express how grateful we are to have you here. The messages of positivity and support we get from each one of you always brighten up our day and means the world to us. Whenever Sarah shares a body positive post and gets all the love flooding in, her heart sings. Whenever Robbie writes a new article or releases a new creative project and all of you check it out, support it, and share it, he is so incredibly grateful. So let us say before we go on: thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. We wouldn’t be able to do any of this without you. We hope you feel our appreciation every time we make it a point to respond to your messages or post something you asked for. We appreciate you so much!

Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty, what you all came here to read. We have learned that many people are interested in knowing how to create a successful blog, how to make money off their Instagram, and other similar questions about creating a profitable personal brand on social media. We sat down together and wrote out a few things we’ve learned while building our personal brands into our full-time career. We are both big believers that there is enough room for everyone to be successful and that it’s important to help lift others up when you’re in a position to do so. Robbie always says that living your dreams is the best way to inspire others to live theirs. This is why we are always happy to answer questions on this subject. If you see something we didn’t cover here, feel free to shoot us a DM on Instagram.

Without further a do, here’s how we made well over six figures in 2017 on this blog and our social media platforms.

Consistency.

Sarah
@sassyredlipstick

As I mentioned above, this key behavior applies to any successful business: consistent effort. You have got to say what you’re going to do and then actually do it. There’s a popular inspirational quote that says: ‘the hardest part is getting started.’ It’s so true. I started following fashion blogs in high school (Cupcakes & Cashmere and Blair Eadie were my first obsessions) and into college I always dreamed of having my own. But I never knew where to begin and it honestly just seemed too overwhelming. It wasn’t until Robbie came into my life and gave me the encouragement (and tech know-how) to start my blog that I actually made it happen. Looking back, I’m so mad at myself for not starting earlier and getting an earlier jump on the trend! But I guess hindsight is 20/20.

However, I am proud of myself for starting and never stopping. Since releasing my first blog post in September of 2013, I have never gone a week without posting on my blog. For example, I can’t tell you how many girls have come to me over the years, so excited to start their own blog and asking me a bunch of questions about what they should do. I’m always happy to answer and share what I’ve learned in this industry. These well-intentioned ladies think up a catchy name for their blog, photoshop a header, buy a domain name, put up a few posts, and then…within six months their blog is completely inactive. Don’t be that person! If you want to do something, start and then never stop. That’s the key to success. There are no shortcuts, there are only those who are most consistent and work harder than the rest. Being a boss means taking control of your life and not accepting anything less than what you want. Brands want to work with bloggers/influencers who are professional and have built a platform that produces quality content consistently. Followers should never have to guess when and if you are going to post. Set a schedule and then stick to it. Always remember, consistency is key.

Realize that it’s purely a numbers game.


Robbie
@tripp
To be successful in any game you have to understand the game itself. When it comes to being a blogger or social media influencer of any kind, you have to remember this: the size of your following is inseparably linked to your income. Let me break it down: the goal of any influencer is to work with major brands, right? So think of your dream brand. Now ask yourself: Why would that brand want to work with me? I’ll tell you this right now: it’s not because you’re good looking (although being gorgeous like Sarah certainly doesn’t hurt), it’s not because your captions are funny, or anything like that (although great content is of course necessary), it’s because you have built a loyal audience that follows you and engages with your posts. Brands are not paying for you as much as they are paying for your influence. They want your followers, they want your ability to sell and promote. You’re not a celebrity spokesperson, you’re an influencer! Think about it: there are plenty of people who post ridiculous, wacky things but they have half a million loyal followers and get thousands of likes so brands flock to work with them because they can clearly get impressions on their content and influence people to react, shop, or otherwise engage. It’s purely numbers game.

Brands want to use you to advertise their product and they want to reach as many people as possible. The game has changed. These companies aren’t using TV, radio, and print anymore, they’re using bloggers and social media influencers. This should tell you one thing: do everything you can to market yourself on social media and build an engaged audience. Over the past four years, Sarah and I have taken countless chances on countless different Instagram marketing efforts. Some worked and brought fashion-interested women to her account, while others failed and we lost money. (Full disclosure: going viral and making international headlines certainly doesn’t hurt. Another reason to focus on making great content that cuts through the noise.) The point is: invest in yourself and engage like crazy. You’ve got to get your name and content out there as much as possible so people are visiting your page around the clock. While at blogger events, I’ve heard some bloggers talk about how they don’t want to be “superficial” by “getting caught up in the numbers game.” While I understand what they’re trying to say and totally agree that it’s important to be authentic, I also laugh to myself because it’s like a basketball player saying he doesn’t want to get caught up in working on his jumpshot. When it comes to making money off your blog/social media, you’re only as good as the number of people you can reach and influence.

Get some help.

Sarah
@sassyredlipstick
I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve been very lucky to have a husband and business partner like Robbie who not only pushes me to succeed but has always enjoyed helping me with every aspect of this blog. I meet plenty of women who are trying to do this completely solo and I really respect their grind. That being said, my advice to any aspiring blogger is that you are eventually going to get to a point where in order to do it right, you’re going to need some help. Robbie and I have been doing this together for four years straight, day in day out. Granted, when my blog was smaller I could handle most things on my own and so it was fine that he was working full time in an office at that point. But in 2016-2017, when we started to pick up steam and see the success we had always dreamed of, SRL became such a huge task that legitimately became more than a full-time job for both of us. Most days, from 8am to 11pm, we were both answering emails or doing photo shoots or searching for brand contacts or a million other little things. (Luckily Robbie was between writing projects this summer so he could dedicate a lot of time to the blog, otherwise I likely would have needed to hire an assistant.)

Knowing how to scale a business is just as important as knowing how to start one. One person can only perform so many tasks in a professional way, so you have to know when to start delegating responsibilities so you can keep growing. In September 2017, I finally signed with an influencer agency. It was scary and hard to give up control {and a percentage of our campaign compensation} but a dream come true at the same time. Not only am I now connected with the world’s biggest brands through my agent, but working with an agency has allowed Robbie and I to focus on what we love most: creating content, traveling, and building our empire. Don’t see hiring help as a nuisance, see it as a result of your successful growth!

The Entrepreneur’s Dilemma.


Robbie
@tripp

I meet so many aspiring creatives who want nothing more than to turn their passion into a paycheck. Whether it be photography, music, blogging, etc., there are so many people who are currently working a job they don’t particularly like so they can pay the bills, while at the same time wishing more than anything that they could just go full-time with their photography or their blog or whatever their passion truly is. They lament about how they don’t want to keep working their boring job but can’t see how they’d be able to pay rent and eat if they quit their job to chase their passion full time. It’s a fair concern: paychecks are steady when you work for someone else, and they’re not guaranteed when you work for yourself. To make matters worse, these people can also taste the possibility of what they could accomplish if they were able to dedicate all their attention to their passion. They think about how much more work they could get and how much better they would be at their passion if they could just focus on it full-time. At the end of each day, they don’t dare do it because they’re scared their passion won’t pay the bills. They fear they will end up moving into their parents basement or going on food stamps. This quandary is what I call The Entrepreneur’s Dilemma. And there’s only one true solution to breaking out of it: you just have to take the leap of faith.

When Sarah and I left our full-time jobs, there was no real assurance that we would be able to support ourselves. The fact that we live in the most expensive city in the country raised the stakes even higher. Not having a steady paycheck was scary, and it was real possibility at the time that we wouldn’t have enough coming in to make up for the salaries we left behind. But we did it anyway, because we were ready to bet on ourselves. Realize that your entrepreneurial spark will never be ignited until you force yourself to go all in. It is quite literally a sink or swim situation and if you are wanting to live the life of your dreams, you’ve got to chuck yourself into the deep end. I don’t know anyone who has built something successful out of nothing while they worked a full-time job that dominated all their energy and waking hours. Sure, they may have had a great idea and started building the foundation in their spare time while working another job, but it quickly got to the point where they had to choose: go out on their own and create their success or stay tied to the security of a steady paycheck. My advice? Bet on yourself! The only way to create a career where your life belongs to you is to get out of the rat race. Think big, dream bigger, and then roll the dice. Who better to invest in than yourself?

Outward bound.

Sarah
@sassyredlipstick

The amount of hours we have spent over the last four years seeking out just a single email address for the right contact at the right brand is unreal. Most people would probably think we are crazy if they knew how much energy we poured into that, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s this: you’ve got to create your own opportunities. Sure, there are the Something Navy’s and Gal Meets Glam’s of the world who have an email inbox that is probably flooded with 50 major dream campaigns daily, but if you’re not in that elite 1% yet, then it’s time to start shooting off emails like wildfire. Don’t hold your breath for inbound inquiries or you’ll be waiting forever. It’s all about the outbound grind.

When you’re building a blog or a career as an influencer, no one is jumping out of their seat to come work with you. You have to go to them. Sit down and write out some goals of brands you want to work with and then get to work. Become a pro at using LinkedIn and Google to find the right person at the right brand. Don’t just email their info box because you’ll almost always get lost in the shuffle. Find their marketing director or social media coordinator and send a professional yet personable email. Design a good-looking media kit that exhibits your stats and showcases your branding. Sell yourself! When you’re first starting out, the best way to get work is to ask for it. I’ve been doing this for a long time now and just this past year have the emails started rolling in to the point where we no longer have to spend forever trying to dig up the right contact and wait weeks to hear back, if ever. Get out and start knocking on {digital} doors. It’s the only way to grow your business and keep the work coming in.

——

We hope you found the above tips useful and are motivated to accomplish your goals this new year! 2018 is going to be amazing and we hope you all are excited for what it will bring you. Believe in yourself and do something each day that gets you closer to your dreams. We are so humbled and grateful that our hard work paid off in 2017, and we want to see you succeed as well! Feel free to message us on Instagram or shoot us an email if you have any questions. We’ve got some big things planned for the 2018, so stay tuned!

Last, just want to give a special thanks to our friends at McLaren San Francisco for partnering with us for these beautiful photos! They were so awesome to work with and the final result speaks for itself. We got to enjoy this incredible 2018 570S Spider and it did not disappoint. Definitely check them out on Instagram @mclarenSF and show them some love!

ombré sequin dress
red Valentino heels {also here}
red Chanel jumbo bag
Ruby Woo lipstick

red suit
black button-up

photos by Alexis Exstrom

24 Comments
  • Brittney Lyon

    I waited all day!!!! Beautiful Post!!!! Very Motivating!!!!!

    January 1, 2018 at 7:54 pm Reply
  • Lili Sulastri Zainal Abidin

    This is the most incredible post ever. I am going to share this with my sister, Asmah, and together we hope to make sn impression on our creativity. Thank you very much.
    Love you, Sarah and Robbie.

    January 1, 2018 at 8:43 pm Reply
  • Carlie Sauer

    Love this post you guys are so inspiring!

    January 1, 2018 at 8:49 pm Reply
  • Christina

    Thank you Thank you! This post was so motivational and helpful. And you both look fabulous, wishing you all the luck and best wishes for 2018! Happy New Year 🎉❤️✌🏼

    January 1, 2018 at 8:58 pm Reply
  • Natalie Lange

    Wow, this was really awesome. It was honest and to the point. As the Co-Founder of Change Is Ours, Inc., non-profit organization, this write up really resonated with me and my partner. You’ve truly ignited our fire for 2018, and we’re excited to change the world one city at a time; cause we’re going big, ain’t nobody going home.

    January 1, 2018 at 8:59 pm Reply
  • Sara Benallack

    Thank you for this truly honest post. You have become my current blogger obsession ;-) just like those you mentioned in this post. The best thing you say is that you believe there is room enough for everyone to be successful and it’s important to help lift others up – this truly shows how wonderful you are.

    S x

    January 1, 2018 at 10:48 pm Reply
  • Nikki Walwaikar

    Love this post and will help any new buddin blogger like me.. thankyou

    January 2, 2018 at 8:44 am Reply
  • Brooke

    Congrats, Sarah and Robbie! You both deserve all the success that’s come your way. The hustle is real and y’all embrace the dream day in and day out — in public AND behind the scenes. Happy New Year to you both — looking forward to what’s to come in 2018. 😘

    January 2, 2018 at 8:51 am Reply
  • Grace

    This is awesome!!! Not only great biz & blog tips but life tips in general! Can’t wait to see the impact your empire is going to make on the world this year.

    xo
    Grace | miss-graciela.blogspot.com

    January 2, 2018 at 10:02 am Reply
  • Jenessa Sheffield

    Ive read this probably ten times now aaaaand don’t make fun but I totally got choked up the first time ha call it crazy hormones but I think it was a burst of hope. I’ve been grinding for YEARS!! Hoping for my year to come. This post gave me the motivation I needed to continue to hustle and push harder than ever again this year. Cross your fingers that 2018 will bless me the way 2017 blessed you. Congrats on your success doll, you deserve it!

    xoxo Jenessa

    January 2, 2018 at 10:17 am Reply
  • Emily Martin

    Sarah & Robbie,

    Amazing post!! I loved reading all the entrepreneur stories and such (which I can relate to). And you’re so right, reach out, reach out,?reach out to those dream brands. I love the beautiful Mclaren cars what a stunning backdrop for this post ❤️

    Congrats on an amazing year and many more to come!! Hope to see you both soon.
    Emily
    http://www.JSFashionista.com

    January 2, 2018 at 11:03 am Reply
  • Tayler Malott

    Such an incredible post! You two are such an inspiration and this was just the motivation I needed to start 2018! Can’t wait to see all that is in store for the two of you this year!

    XO,Tay

    January 2, 2018 at 12:06 pm Reply
  • Caitlin | Beauty & Colour

    Wow, congrats and awesome tips!

    Beauty & Colour | Vegan Lifestyle Blog

    January 2, 2018 at 4:49 pm Reply
  • Jaqlyn Sweetman

    Obsessed with this post! You guys literally motivate me every single day. Obviously the photos were fantastic, but your tips are amazing. Thank you guys!

    January 2, 2018 at 5:11 pm Reply
  • Tabitha Faith

    Sarah,
    You’re such an inspiration! I always come to your blog when I need motivation for life. Thanks for paving the way and sharing your success story and tips. You are awesome!

    January 2, 2018 at 5:57 pm Reply
  • Aryanna | Rosé & Chambray

    What an inspiring post!

    I started my blog last year after years of dreaming, and it’s been the greatest decision I’ve made in a long time. I still have a LONG way to go with where I want my brand to be, but I’m closer than if I’d never taken that leap of faith in the first place.

    Seeing you do your thing over the last few years definitely helped inspire me to get off my butt and get to work! I’m truly so proud of you and happy for you :)

    Thanks to you and Robbie for sharing this very valuable information, and wishing you all the best!

    Xx,
    Aryanna
    http://www.roseandchambray.com

    January 2, 2018 at 6:38 pm Reply
  • Brooke Taylor

    I love y’all and I love this post! So informative and encouraging. Question: what was your social media following like when you first felt comfortable reaching out to brands for sponsorship opportunities and/or products?

    January 3, 2018 at 8:25 am Reply
  • Saachi

    Every word in this post is so genuine. It feels like we’re talking face to face. You could hear my worries and respond to each of them. Its exciting to start the year with this inspiration and I’m sure there’s a reason I was led to this page. I’m not a blogger yet these points are so relevant to what I’ve planned for my future. Great going and good luck! Love seeing your posts on Instagram.

    January 4, 2018 at 4:11 am Reply
  • Lindsay

    I love this post! Your blog is so inspiring and real. I have so many more goals for my blog and Instagram after reading your blog posts. Thank you!

    January 20, 2018 at 3:24 pm Reply
  • Nohemy Adorno

    I came across your blog via a BlogLovin Newsletter. Thank you for these helpful tips. I wish you continued success in your endeavors.

    February 9, 2018 at 12:46 pm Reply

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