The Skinny on Blogging: How Bloggers Make Money
Welcome back to week 6 of my blogging series, The Skinny on Blogging. Last week, Drew took over the blog and discussed all thing photography. From the camera we use to our shooting strategy, you’ll find everything there about how we capture our photos in this post. This week’s topic is one I’ve received many questions about of the course of this series, how bloggers make money.
There are a lot of ways in which bloggers make money, but I will cover the most common ways in this post. Those include sponsored post/social collaborations, sales commissions, event coverage, and brand extensions. Of course there are other ways bloggers have branched out to make money such as writing books, blog workshops, social media consulting and brand ambassadorships, but those are much less common.
Sponsored Post/Social Collaborations
Sponsored post and social media collaborations is probably the most common way in which bloggers make money. Brands request blog posts and social posts in exchange for promotion of their products, and in turn bloggers get paid. It’s the newest form of marketing for brands, and it can generate a generous sum of money to a blogger who has a large following. Most bloggers I talk to say they make the most money through sponsored posts.
How do you go about creating these types of partnerships? As you grow, brands will likely begin reaching out to you. They’ll first offer free product in exchange for promotion. I would recommend not taking it and insist they pay you for your work. Accepting free product only hurts the entire blogging industry as a whole, and chances are, the brand will never pay you if they think you will work for free. I know it’s difficult turning down free ‘stuff,’ but you’ll thank yourself later when you’re getting paid for the hard work you put into your blog.
If the brand you want to work with hasn’t reached out to you yet, then reach out to them yourself. What can it hurt? Tell them why you love their product and how you would promote the brand to your readers. Most brands appreciate you taking initiative and they’ll likely reward you with a partnership.
Sales Commission Through Affiliate Programs
Earning sales commission through affiliate programs is the second most common way bloggers make money. There are two affiliate programs that bloggers use most often, RewardStyle and ShopStyle. RewardStyle offers commissions through pay per sale and ShopStyle provides commissions through pay per click. You have to decide which programs works best for you and generates the most money. If you get a lot of click traffic to your blog, but no one buys your promoted products, then ShopStyle likely makes most sense for you. If you make a sale from time to time then RewardStyle likely makes most sense for you. The average commission on RewardStyle is 10% of the sale, so that far outweighs the .05 cents commission you receive per click on ShopStyle for most.
One thing to keep in mind, is that RewardStyle is an application affiliate program. You must be accepted and approved to be a part of RewardStyle. It is common to get rejected the first time you apply (I did!), as they have strict requirements you should try to fulfill prior to applying. They like for your blog/account to be at least 6 months old, and for you to have created a beginning loyal readership. I’ve heard 3,000 followers, but I’ve also heard some bloggers get denied with twice that following. I would say continue to grow and product beautiful content and attempt to apply every 3 months until you get accepted. You can also have someone a part of the affiliate program sponsor you, and that generally results in faster acceptance.
Event Coverage and Promotion
Bloggers also make money through event coverage and promotion. It is less common than sponsored posts or affiliate programs, but from time to time brands will reach out to you asking you to promote their event, whether it be a fashion runway show or a store opening. You should determine an hourly rate in which you would like to work and provide that to the brand upon them reaching out. When I provide my fees, I make sure to note that travel and accommodations are not included in the quote. You need to make sure you are getting paid beyond what it costs for you to travel to the event. At the same time, I generally do not charge the brand for the time it takes to travel since they are already covering my costs to travel.
The largest bloggers have the ability to make money through brand extensions, which are essentially products created off of the brand you’ve created in your blog. For instance, Barefoot Blonde (@amberfillerup) created a hair extension brand that has done quite well. On the other hand, @SazanHendrix created a subscription program called The Bless Box which is picking up steam, and @RachParcell of Pink Peonies has her own clothing line. If you’re successful enough at blogging, then you’ve likely created a loyal readership that will support anything you endorse. I of course am not at this level, and currently don’t have strong ambissions at this time to create a brand extension, but it is fun to think about. If you created a brand extension, what would you product be? You need to make sure that it correlates with your brand and is something your followers would be interested in supporting. Let me know in the comment section below!
Hopefully this post provides you with a base understanding of how bloggers make money. Blogging is a completely new industry, so we are often reinventing the wheel and finding new ways in which to make a living. The four listed above are the most common ways to get you started, and at the very least it should support a strong shopping habit. 🙂 As always, feel free to leave your questions in the comment section below! I hope you’ll tune in next Monday for week 7 of the series.