How do you make money blogging?
You make money as a fashion blogger?
How do fashion bloggers make money?
I’ve been blogging now for over 6 years and this is the question that I get asked more than anything else. In real life when people find out that I make a living with LegalLee Blonde they’re usually so shocked that blogging is an income generating career, that of course they can’t help but ask how that works. Interestingly though, I also get asked how I make money blogging via instagram message, by people who (clearly) know that blogging makes money but aren’t sure exactly how.
Today I’m finally sitting down to give you an unfiltered honest look at how I, and other bloggers – especially fashion bloggers – make money blogging.
You all know that this is not my main career as I’m still a full-time practicing attorney. I don’t blog full time, but I am very serious about treating LegalLee Blonde like the business it is. There is a lot of secrecy in the blogger-world, and honestly I think a big part of why is fear. Fashion bloggers have a scarcity mindset and are afraid of sharing resources with each other, contacts for collaborations and even the specifics of how they make money. I am always on board with openness and transparency and have no problem sharing with you all how I make money blogging.
On an unrelated and fully self-serving note, I do sometimes get asked by you wonderful humans who read and follow LegalLee Blonde how you can support me. Most commonly, how you can make sure I ‘get credit’ for things you buy after I share them. I LOVE y’all for that and am so, so, grateful for you wanting to support me. This post should make it clear how to do that.
Dress c/0 (also available in black) // Similar Glitter Heels
Affiliate sales are, quite simply, sales of items that have been shared by the content creator.
On the Blog:
Did you notice the blue hyperlinks above? 95% of the time when I share items on the blog I link them for you to shop both via. hyperlink under the photo of the item (as above) and usually also with an image gallery at the bottom of the post (like below):
Shop The Post:
The biggest affiliate marketing platform in the industry is called RewardStyle. You apply to work with them and, once accepted, you can create customized links from hundreds of retailers. As a blogger I use these links. When a reader clicks through they are taken directly to the item. Since my personal link was used if a purchase is made, I get paid a commission.
Commission rates on RewardStyle vary from 5% to 20% depending on the retailer and the item. Without having done a full analysis, my gut response would be that 7% is the average commission. Meaning if you buy say this gorgeous $74 maxi dress, I would get $5.18 commission.
Now, not every retailer is on RewardStyle (*cough* ARITZIA *cough*) which sucks. However, some retailers have their own affiliate program that you can apply to be apart of. One example is Adrianna Papell; the designer of the white dress I’m wearing in these photos. Since Adrianna Papell is not on RewardStyle I use their affiliate program and so the hyperlinks above route through that.
Have you heard of the LikeToKnow.It app? If you follow any bloggers on insta you probably have! This is a shopping app owned by RewardStyle. From a consumer perspective, it’s an app that allows you to shop easily by following your favorite influencers so you can see what they share. It also has a google type search function (my FAVORITE way to shop) so you can go in the app and type, for example, “white boots” and see tons of options. Whichever blogger’s image you shop from will get the commission. One of the newer features of the app is that you can now do this search within an specific influencer’s content. Meaning, you can go to my page and search ‘summer dress’ and see all the summer dresses I’ve shared recently. Then, similar to hyperlinks on the blog, you click, you purchase and I make a commission. I’m LegalLee Blonde on the LiketoKnow.It app, if you want to follow me / check out what I share!
The number one thing you should know as a consumer is that affiliate sales do not cost you anything. There is no additional fee when you shop a blogger’s links. The commission is paid to bloggers with no additional cost to you. SO, if you want to support me (or any blogger you follow) please, please, please shop through our links!
Importantly – you do need to shop without clicking on any other bloggers links or we will loose the commission. Ideally, click through and then shop right away – before you close your browser window.
Many people don’t realize that the commission is not just for the item we linked. MEANING if you click a link of mine to a Nordstrom dress and while still in the same browser window buy other items on the Nordstrom site, I will still get a commission! This is why (I think) bloggers put out links to soooooo many links – it’s a numbers game hoping you will bite and just buy something.
While this should probably be under the ‘how to support me’ paragraph above, it only makes sense after the above paragraph SO: If you want to support me (or any other blogger) if you’re going to shop at a retailer they link – even if it’s not the exact item they shared – go click their link before you shop! I’ve even had people flat out ask me for a “Nordstrom link” (for example) and I happily will just message them a link to the homepage so they can shop.
Sponsored posts are any content where a brand (or PR agency) is directly paying for the post.
I do both sponsored blog posts (most recent example) and instagram posts (most recent example). I’ll also sometimes do sponsored instagram stories, though it’s rare for me to do just stories and not an in-feed post to go along with it.
I don’t do many sponsored posts in comparison to most bloggers. As you can see, my most recent sponsored blog post was 5 months ago! On instagram, I’d say I do an average of 2 sponsored posts per month. I do this very intentionally because I don’t want my blog or my instagram account to become an ad. I’m lucky in having my other full time job that I don’t need the revenue so I am able to be a bit more choosy about who I work with and when. That said, I do LOVE doing sponsored posts as it still feels surreal to me that I can be paid to be creative creating an image and caption/copy for a brand.
Engage with my sponsored content! It is so easy, especially on instagram, to see a sponsored post and just scroll past it. But please, if you can, take that extra 15 seconds and like the post. If you can, comment on it or send it to a friend! Even save it or share to your stories! It means so, so much to me when people do this as sponsored work is what allows me to spend the time and energy I do on LegalLee Blonde.
Repeat after me: You. Should. Always. Know. A. Post. Is. Sponsored. 👏👏👏
FTC regulations require that content creators let their audience know when a post is sponsored. On a blog post you need to indicate that it’s ‘sponsored by XYZ’. On instagram you need to indicate by saying Ad or Sponsored; at that needs to be above the fold (ie. in that first sentence or two of the caption).
What is awful is the lengths that some people will go to ‘meet the guidelines’ in name only but really be trying to hide the fact that a post is sponsored. Go check out all of Kendall Jenner’s instagram stories for Alo Yoga if you need an example.
Personally, I wouldn’t follow anyone who isn’t straight up about their paid work. There is literally zero reason not to be up front about it. Plus, just because something is sponsored doesn’t mean it’s not genuine. I’ve fully caught myself saying this on stories, but I do hate when bloggers say “this isn’t sponsored, I just love this!” All of us bloggers need to stop saying this because a) if it was sponsored you’d know anyway and b) it being sponsored doesn’t affect what we’re saying. If you don’t trust someone’sreviews/ thoughts when the post is sponsored, stop following them. As a consumer you should 100% trust the people you follow.
While there may be a few key messages brands ‘make us’ include in sponsored content, the heart of what you’re seeing – the opinion, the imagery, etc. is authentic and you should trust what the person is saying.
Now that you’ve read that rant on sponsored posts, let me quickly spill the tea on HOW I get sponsored posts. The main way I get sponsored posts is through direct contacts. I would say it’s a 50/50 split between brands emailing me and me cold emailing brands pitching them. I do also get some paid work through PR agencies such as Talk Shop & PK Communications.
Creating content, either photos/videos or writing blurbs, for brands to use that aren’t posted to the blogger’s own platforms but just sent to the brand for their use.
This makes up only a teeny, tiny part of how I make blogging, but it is worth mentioning. For some bloggers this can be a much bigger part of their revenue stream. I have, a few times, been contacted by brands to take images for them to use on their social media platform without me needing to post on mine. Easy peasy. This type of collaboration can be expanded, and a lot of bloggers will go so far as to take on ‘clients’ and run social media accounts for brands, local boutiques etc.
Nothing on this one! Since this content is only or the brand’s use you may never see it.
Placement of ad; usually in sidebars or pop-up ads embedded on a blog (or in YouTube videos)
You may have noticed a banner ad on the footer of my blog posts, or a side-bar ad here and there (I refuse to do pop-ups 🙅♀️). There are a few different ad companies that you can apply to to run the ads on your website.
To keep this short and sweet, these ad companies pay when someone views (and in some cases clicks) the ad. This is a very small portion of my income but it’s something that I do because it generates income and there is no downside / cost to you the reader. You can easily just ignore an ad if you don’t want to check it out.
Read my blog! I’m probably preaching to the choir here since you’re already reading this post, but in general, the more views my blog gets the higher ad payout I get. So, if you feel so inclined, check out my blog frequently! I have at least one new post a week, and sometimes 2 or 3 posts. 🙂
Not much to spill here, but if you’re curious or a blogger looking to jump into ad revenue, some of the big companies are: AdThrive, SHE Media, MediaVine & Ezoic. They all have different entry requirements. For example, AdThrive requires a blog to have 100,000 monthly views! SHE Media, which I use, requires only 20,000 monthly views. For small blogs there is also Ezoic which requires only 10,000 monthly views.
Sales of items directly created by the blogger. This includes physical items like merch and electronic items like e-books or guides.
I don’t! LOL. I don’t yet have any sort of product that I’m selling but I wanted to include this category for your information since a lot of bloggers do have this. Whether it’s doing a clothing collab (ex. Birds Papaya x Brunette the Label) or releasing an e-book or course (ex. Julie Solomon and her ‘Pitch it Perfect’ course for bloggers), a lot of bloggers find this to be a big income stream.
I also wanted to include this as a sort of manifestation / publicly holding myself accountable, because I WANT TO DO THIS! I have so many ideas for things I’d like to do with LLB, but one thing I would love is to collaborate with a brand in creating a handbag or clothing item.
Well since I don’t have any products yet, the main thing would be to tell me what you’d like to see! Would you be interested in me working with a brand to design a handbag? or a cute sweater? or ? Hit me up with your suggestions! My inbox, DM’s, and comments here are always open.
This is just a personal pet-peeve but OMG the amount of bloggers that say “let me teach you how I make 6 figures blogging!” and sell a boatload of courses on it drives me NUTS when so many of them only make 6 figures because of these courses. 🤯 This is certainly not everyone who makes a course (Julie Solomon mentioned above is great) but with some bloggers it’s very much misleading in that they’ve never actually made 6 figures just blogging without selling their own product. Something to be on the look out for.
I hope you found this post thorough and helpful. If you have any questions, definitely let me know. I would also love to know what other questions you may have about blogging! I’m happy to do more posts on this, so let me know what else you’d like to see me talk about.
Thanks for the honest post! I love that there are so many different avenues to make money while blogging, especially since we all have different stregths!
I really love the way you wrote up this post with the details about each form of revenue and the tea haha. I have definitely taken a hit to my income switching from fashion to books, but I know it’ll change over time. Great article, friend!
Haha thank you! and ya, that makes sense. I love the new route for your blog, i know it;s going to be such a success!
I love that you shared all of the ways a blogger can make money! I am trying to work on my affiliate sales but I find it so difficult to make sales this way! That’s why I prefer working with brands but it’s still important to diversify your income as a business owner!
I totally agree! and stick with affiliate sales – it takes time for sure, I think my first TWO YEARS with RewardStyle I only made $100. It’s a slow burn for sure but the more you grow the more you’ll see those sales coming in.
Loved your transparency here Lee. The blogging/content creator/influencer business is a mystery to most and it’s helpful to educate others on it. Appreciate you!
Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m so glad you liked it!
this is such an informative post for those who are curious about blogging!
Thank you Emily!
I love the post and the honesty!
Danielle | thereluctantblogger.co.uk
Thank you Danielle!
A great resource for those starting out. And I agree it is very misleading to claim total revenue as a blogger when things like courses are their primary money maker! xoxo, Sarah
Thanks! and right!? It’s frustrating that some people do that.
This is sucha great breakdown for non-bloggers! You were very informative.
Thank you so much Anna!
loved reading this and totally with you on wanting to create some kind of product. I do have an etsy shop with Digital download print and presets but want to do something else – you’re inspiring me to make it happen!
xo Laura Leigh
Thanks babe! And yass girl, you can totally get into making something, that would be awesome. Also love your digital print collection on Etsy by the way!
People are so surprised that money can be made from blogging. There are so many different ways!
This is so awesome girl! Thank you for being so transparent and sharing these things because you are absolutely right, a lot of bloggers won’t. xo
You’re so welcome! 🙂
This is a informative post. Personally I don’t want to make any money with my blog. But I do love working with brands.
Thanks! And I totally get that; blogging can be just for fun as well!
Truly appreciate the transparency on this, Lee!
Aw I’m so glad you liked it!