Full Disclosure: How I Earn Money Off Of My Blog
One of the most popular questions I’m asked by friends, family, readers and even people I’ve only just met, is how on earth I manage to make money off of my blog. Once I have quickly gone over in my head if I actually want to answer the question or not, or with how much or how little detail, it is actually a pretty fair question. I pour hours of my time into both this site, and The Glossy Guide every single day, at least the same amount and probably more than you would for your average student, or even full time job, but for someone who is not really part of the blogging world it is not immediately obvious how I manage to make money from it. In the interests of full disclosure and transparency (as someone who has been at one time or another heavily involved in the world of politics I still can’t use the word transparency and still keep a straight face!), and off of the back of some simply shocking recent articles on blogger income (who remembers that Fashionista piece on popular bloggers faking free swag?) I’ve decided to properly lay out how I make money from blogging.
Lets start with affiliate links, something which a few years ago totally baffled me, but now I find to be a really useful tool, thanks to some pretty great sites designed for bloggers over the last couple of years or so. Let me first start by explaining how affiliate links. Lets say in an outfit post or a wish list post I link to my current favourite pair of wine coloured J.Crew 3″ Chino Shorts. If you click through to the J.Crew site from my link and purchase something from it either in that visit, or within the (usually) next 30 days by directly visiting the J.Crew site and not arriving at it from another website I will make a small commission from your purchase. It annoys me a little bit when bloggers just drop affiliate links into posts that don’t really have much to do with the post in hand into their posts just to try and make money, but as I do run my blog as a business, and if possible, I do like to link you to where to buy items in wish lists, or I am wearing in outfit posts. I don’t see the harm in making it so that I could potentially make a little money from it too!
On my blog I simultaneously run two brilliant affiliate links programes, both of which I would recommend if you were looking to monetize your blog or website. The first, the easiest to use and the most subtle of these I run is called Skimlinks. It is free to use and sign up with, and you just installing a little code into your site following their really easy step by step instructions. Basically, what Skimlinks does is turns every existing product link to a site within their network (they support most retailers you can think of, even the really small ones) that has not already been turned into an affiliate link into one, so you can make money off of your existing content. It is pretty genius, I’ve been using it for just over a year now with brilliant results. Also, if it means anything I met the guy who is the brains behind the software Joe Stepniewski at the iFabbo Conference in London last Summer and he is super nice, and really interesting to talk to about affiliate business!
The second piece of affilate software I run on my blog, and I’m pretty sure if you’re reading this and you’re a fashion blogger you’ve at least heard of, is rewardStyle (the brains behind I also met at the conference, incidentally). It takes a little bit more effort to use than Skimlinks, but it has a better commission rate and it is a bit more targeted. Essentially you have to go find the product in their interface to generate the affiliate link, but what is nice about it is you can instantly Tweet or Pin the product, with affiliate link attached from your rewardStyle dashboard. Also, every time you ‘like’ something in your rewardStyle dashboard it automatically gets added to your profile on a site called CurrentlyObsessed where you can follow your favourite bloggers and their shopping picks. Your affilate links also carry over to here to, so it is yet another way you can make a little bit of commission.
As well as affiliate links, I also use rewardStyle to run the majority of my banner advertising on the sidebar of my blog. They have a great selection of ads from all the brands in their network which operate with affiliate links which you can just embed into your sidebar. Also, some of my sidebar advertising comes from when brands or social media and advertising agencies email me about advertising on the site, and I negotiate the price directly with them. Obviously I choose my own ads from rewardStyle, but as I’m really OCD about the layout and appearance of my blog, I woud not be able to accept ads I did not like the look or or support the brand of for however much money, even if I wanted to!
Even though I do like utilising affilate links, the biggest source of my blog income comes from running sponsored posts. Now, I know a lot of people don’t like the idea of sponsored posts, but I find that if I put my foot down with what I will and won’t do with whoever I’m working with, and I’m sure to have full disclosure and include my sponsored post disclaimer at the end of sponsored posts, I find that I actually benefit from running them. I never post anything on my blog that I have not written, and sometimes by wondering what I’m going to write about to fit a certain criteria, I can come up with some really creative post ideas that I really enjoy writing and have proven really popular that I most likely would not have thought of without the prompt from my client. Also, a lot of the time when I’ve been talking to you guys, you’ve said sometimes you don’t realise that the post has been sponsered until you reach the end and I discolse that fact. Also, sometimes with a sponsored post I can just have fun and mess around a bit; who remembers my post on matching your new season accessories to the colour of your Smeg fridge?!
*updated 2/03/2014* I am now signed with Glam Media, and it is through Glam Media I run my above the fold (which means the bit you can see on your screen without scrolling) ads, and I do brand collaborations with here on the blog and across social media. All of these collaborations and sponsored posts will still be noted as such, using either my usual disclaimer or something similar on social media, such as an #ad or #sponsored hashtag.
I hope you have all learnt something about how I make my money, as well as how you can implement some of my strategy on your own blogs and websites too. If you’re a brand or social media agency and you’d like to work with or collaborate with me, drop me an email with your ideas and I’ll whizz over my 2013 Media Kit!