For some Singaporeans, blogging can be a good source of side income. But it’s not as simple as writing and posting pictures.
There’s a rumour going around that blogging is easy money. With famous bloggers like Lady Iron Chef and Xiaxue supposedly making thousands of dollars per post, you might think it’s your golden ticket. While blogging can be a good source of side-income, it’s not as simple as setting up a WordPress site.
How Does Blogging for Money Even Work?
Once you make money from blogging, you are basically advertising. There are many alternative terms, such as social media influencer. In essence, the revenue model is the same: you are paid to endorse products, whether as one-off flat payments, the receiving of goods and services, or a commission. In order to understand why this is happening, you need to realise that online content is a lucrative business. For example, let’s say you run a blogshop, and sell handphone cases for S$2 profit per piece. Let us assume you get a conversion rate (i.e. the number of site visitors who buy the handphone case from you) of just 1%. Now if you just have 250 visitors a month, you’ll sell around two to three cases; that’s just about S$4 to S$6. But what happens if you get popular from a few viral hits, and get 100,000 visitors a month? A 1% conversion rate would mean 1,000 sales (a profit of S$2,000) per month. At the very top of the charts, the most famous bloggers can pull visitors in the millions. On top of this, advertisers increasingly turn to bloggers instead of traditional methods, like advertising on radio or TV. If a radio ad costs S$7,000 and reaches 150,000 listeners, why wouldn’t they pay S$5,000 to a blogger for a post or two that will reach the same number? These potential revenue streams make a lot of people decide they’re going to blog for money. However, it’s not as simple as it seems. There are a few things to consider, such as:
- Income from blogging is now taxable
- Becoming a successful blogger is almost always a full-time job
- There is start-up capital involved
- Income From Blogging is Now Taxable
Back in November 2016, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) declared that income from blogging is taxable, so long as you receive more than S$100 in cash or products and services from companies. This is inclusive of things like free meals given to you (if you’re a food blogger), or free cosmetics (if you’re a fashion blogger). The value of the product or service will count as a part of your taxable income. In addition, once you earn S$6,000 or more in revenue from your blog, it must be declared as self-employed income. This does not matter which social media platform(s) you use; income from YouTube, Instagram, or a simple WordPress site all count. Besides having to pay a tax, this means you need to keep proper records. You can get into trouble if you’re asked to produce details of the gifts or payments you’ve received (especially multiple small value items or payments), and can’t do so. This book-keeping process requires time and discipline.
- Becoming a Successful Blogger is Almost Always a Full-Time Job
Most successful bloggers post every day. This is not as quick and easy as you might imagine. Top Instagram users often spend hours scouting for the right location, and then sorting or editing the photos to get the right effect. Written posts take time to compose, and YouTube videos can take days to make. This is why there’s a glaring quality difference between professional bloggers and part-timers or hobbyists. Professionals (who get the lion’s share of views of course) blog as a full-time job; that’s how they can afford to spend hours perfecting a single post. Besides creating the online content, there is a lot of networking involved. To get popular, you need to convince other, bigger sites to syndicate your work (post your content on their site). Reaching out to them, meeting them, and answering all their emails takes time. It is not a network you can build quickly – it might take months or even years of work. Suffice it to say that, if you think blogging means you just need to write and post pictures, you’re wrong. You also need to handle a lot of business development and administration, along with the technical aspects of running a website. Most of the time, successful bloggers are the ones who gave up their day job. It’s possible – but much rarer – for a casual blogger to start making serious money.
- There is Start-Up Capital Involved
Starting a blog is not “free”. You can set up a website for free these days, but there are other costs to consider. For example, what happens if you need photographs for an article? Unless you want to rely on free stock photos forever, you may need to buy access to an image bank. If you blog about current events, you may even be saddled with having to pay a photographer for their images. You will also need contracts when working with different businesses (a law firm can charge as much as S$600 for drafting a simple contract). For media platforms like YouTube, the cost climbs even higher. You need proper recording equipment, a good camera, and an expensive software editing suite. You may also need a registered business address (that means paying rent), if your readers will be coming to you. If your savings aren’t enough, you can use a low-interest personal loan to get started and make up for the interest with your earnings as a blogger. You can compare personal loans for investments for free at SingSaver.com.sg.
Give It a Try, But Expect a Huge Commitment
If you think blogging will make you a living, then do try. But brace yourself for the degree of effort and the hidden costs it will require. Blogging is lucrative, but the sacrifices needed are equal to those of most office jobs.