I wrote a post on how I make money from blogging a couple of years ago now, but quite a lot has changed since then, and, as this is something I still get a lot of questions about, I figured it was time for an update!
Before I get into the nitty gritty of the post, though, I’ll just quickly say that there are obviously lots of different ways to make money from blogging, and some of them will be more relevant to certain blog niches than to others. This post, then, is simply about how I personally make money from fashion/lifestyle blogging: the blogging industry really does change constantly, though, and I’m always on the lookout for new ways to earn a living from my blog, so I’ll maybe look at making this a yearly post or something, to see how things change from year to year.
For now, though, here’s how I make money from blogging in 2017:
Mediavine Ad Network
Last time I wrote about how I make money from blogging, I was using Google Adsense to manage most of the display adverts you see on the site: i.e. the ones in the sidebar, and in the post itself. Those Adsense ads were making just enough money to justify keeping them there, but not much more than that, so we started investigating other ad networks, and, earlier this year, signed up with Mediavine.
The Mediavine adverts look similar to the Adsense ones (in fact, sometimes they’ll actually run Adsense ads in the slots, just to confuse you!), but the difference in earnings has been huge: almost overnight, my income from display advertising more than doubled, and it’s continued to earn significantly more than Adsense did ever since.
For me, the best thing about switching to Mediavine has been the fact that my income from it is directly linked to the traffic the site gets – so, if I publish a post that’s particularly popular, I’ll earn much more from it than I would on a “regular” traffic day. With Adsense, that just wasn’t the case: I feel like it SHOULD have been the case, but, in reality, it didn’t seem to matter how well the site was doing, my Adsense income would remain the same, which was pretty frustrating.
Mediavine is a little more selective than Google about who they’ll allow into their network, though – they’re currently only accepting sites which get a minimum of 25,000 sessions per month (And note here, “sessions” are NOT the same as pageviews!), so they’re not for everyone: it’s worked out really well for us, though, so while it felt like a bit of a risk at the time, I’m really glad we made the switch. Oh, and unlike Adsense, Mediavine are also really responsive, and will take a personal interest in the sites they accept into the network: and no, I’m not getting any commission for recommending them, if that’s what you’re thinking!
On the minus side, of course, there IS the fact that, well, display ads are pretty ugly, really, and everyone hates them. I mean, there IS that. Honestly, I hate ads as much as the next person, and, in an ideal world, would prefer to have the site totally ad free. Unfortunately, though, I do need to earn money to survive, and, for me, display ads are a pretty good way to do it, as they don’t interfere with my blogging process, in the way that something like sponsored posts do: so, while I get why people don’t like seeing ads on sites, these ones are what keep me in business, basically, and they also give me the freedom to write about whatever I like, without having to worry about sponsors.
With that said, as I mentioned in my previous post on this subject, I think it’s a huge mistake to put all your eggs in one basket, as it were, when it comes to blog monetisation, so I also do…
Boo, hiss! Sponsored posts (When a blogger is paid by a brand to write about a particular product or service) are everyone’s least-favourite way for bloggers to make money, and honestly, they’re my least-favourite way, too. Sponsored posts can actually be really stressful: I talked about this here, but brands will often expect you to work to super-tight deadlines, or will have totally unrealistic expectations which are impossible to meet. They also tend to have very set ideas about how they want the post to be written (So, rather than just saying, “Here’s the product, write about it in the way you think your audience will most appreciate it…” they’ll try to insist the blog post be linked to a specific holiday/event/whatever, which might not be something you’d really want to write about), and those ideas can end up making it all sound very forced and un-natural, which isn’t helpful for anyone, really.
Ultimately, being paid to write a post on behalf of someone else is very different from just writing about whatever you want: the thing is, however, is that, whatever you think of sponsored posts, they can be incredibly lucrative for bloggers (It doesn’t always happen, but it’s possible to make more from one sponsored post than you will from all of your other income streams combined for a particular month…), which is why they’re so hard to resist. My rule of thumb is to only work with brands I feel are a good fit for my content, and I never, ever give copy approval (When the brand asks to see the post before it’s published): I made an exception to this rule one time, earlier this year, and it ended up taking the brand WEEKS to approve the post, after which they insisted that I remove every photo from it that didn’t include their product – never again!
On the subject of sponsored posts, I’m still signed to the agency I mentioned in my previous post on this subject, but the majority of the collaborations I work on now are ones where the brand approaches me directly. This takes up a lot more time (Especially when it comes to chasing payment, which is my least-favourite part of the job), but I’ve found I get more work that way: I’m not sure if I’m just not the right fit for my agency’s demographic, being old and pregnant, and not based in London, but, for whatever reason, I’ve not had much work from them lately, although I’ve had tons of direct approaches from brands. So, the DIY method is working for me for now, and Terry has been taking an increasingly larger role in negotiating with brands, which is a huge help to me: I can’t deny, I’d love to be able to just pass this side of things over to someone else to deal with, though!
Reward Style Affiliate Network
I’ve been a member of the Reward Style affiliate network for a few years now, and it provides a steady stream of income, although, I have to admit, I don’t put nearly as much effort into it is as I could do, and my earnings from it are lower, as a result. For the un-initiated, affiliate marketing is a form of monetisation whereby a blogger links to a particular product, and when someone clicks on that link, and then goes on to make a purchase from the website it directs them to, the blogger earns commission on the sale.
This can be a really good way to make money from blogging (I know that some of the most popular fashion bloggers, for instance, make all or most of their revenue from affiliate sales), but I have two problems with it: the first one being that I just don’t link to enough products to make affiliate marketing as lucrative for me as I know it is for some other bloggers, especially fashion ones. Even at my most productive (and least pregnant!), I’m only able to do outfit posts maybe 2 – 3 times per week, and a lot of the clothes I wear will tend to be older pieces, which I obviously can’t earn commission from. Even when I do, the fact that I mostly shop at low-mid priced retailers like ASOS or Zara (which doesn’t even HAVE an affiliate scheme…) means that I don’t normally earn a huge amount from each sale, although, every so often, I’ll get lucky, and someone will place a huge order with a site like Net-a-Porter or Shopbop, which I’ll earn more from.
This is what I meant earlier in the post, when I talked about some methods of monetisation working better for certain niches. Reward Style focuses mostly on fashion and beauty brands (although I do find a decent amount of lifestyle stuff on there too), so if you blog about books, say, or gardening, it won’t be of much use to you. Similarly, even if you DO write about fashion or beauty, what you earn will be directly linked to what you write about/link to: I’m constantly getting emails from RS urging me to write sales roundups, gift guides etc, which give you more of an opportunity to link to lots of different items. I did publish a gift guide earlier this month, but, in general, that’s not the kind of content I’m interested in creating here, so I normally give it a miss, even although I know I could earn more from this particular income stream if I put in more effort.
Speaking of affiliate marketing, I also make money from blogging using…
As I said, Reward Style mostly focuses on fashion and beauty retailers: I also occasionally link out to other types of products, which is where Skimlinks comes in. This is a really awesome service, whereby you basically sign up, insert a piece of code into your blog, and … that’s it, basically. Skimlinks will then scan all of the links in your content, and, if it discovers a link that it can monetise, it’ll automatically turn it into an affiliate link, without you having to do anything.
This is a really passive way to make money from blogging (Which is why I like it: as with the display ads, it leaves you totally free to concentrate on your content, while it worries about monetising it), but obviously not EVERY link can be monetised, so whereas my Reward Style income is fairly steady/predictable, I find Skimlinks is much more up and down, and I’ll have a really good month, followed by one where I’ll hardly earn anything from it. Still, it’s so easy to use, that it’s definitely worth signing up to if you’re a blogger who features products from time to time – and yes, that one IS an affiliate link, so if you do sign up, be aware that I’ll earn some commission!
I published my book on blogging advice last year, expecting it to maybe get a few sales in the first few weeks, and then disappear back into obscurity. Much to my surprise, though, sales have actually remained pretty consistent since it came out, even without me doing much in the way of promotion – and by that I mean, “not doing ANYTHING in the way of promotion…”
As with affiliate marketing, this is another way income stream I know I could be making much more of: it’s just finding the time that’s proven difficult! I do have some other ideas for books, though, so it’s something I’d like to do more of: here’s hoping that by the time I sit down to write my NEXT, “How I make money from blogging” post, I’ll actually have done something about that…
Social media promotion
I’m not sure this really counts as a way I make money from blogging, exactly, but my social media accounts are linked to my blog, and over the course of the past year, I’ve been finding that more and more brands are interested in being featured on social media (especially Instagram), rather than just on the blog itself. This is honestly quite surprising to me, as I don’t have a huge social media following, and, ever since Instagram changed its algorithm, I’ve put in virtually no effort at all there. Still, I do make some money from brands asking to do Instagram or Pinterest sponsorships, so I’m including it in my list, just for the sake of full transparency.
* * *
And that’s how I make money from blogging – this year, at least. As I said, though, the industry is in such a constant state of change that this list could have changed completely by this time next year, so I’ll try to remember to update it then: and, in the meantime, if you have any questions, feel free to ask!