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How I Make Money from Blogging

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:

6 ways I make money blogging - and you can, too

01.
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…

Related:

How Bloggers Make Money: Advertising

02.
Sponsored posts

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!

Related:

5 Things Bloggers Need to Know About Working With Brands

Things Bloggers Wish They Could Tell Brands

How Bloggers Can Work With Brands Without Losing Their Integrity

Can Bloggers Really Be Honest If They’re Being Paid? 

Bloggers Who Don’t Disclose Are Giving Us All a Bad Name

03.
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…

04.
Skimlinks

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!

05.
Book sales

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…

Finally…

06.
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!

Related:

Is it even possible to make money from your blog any more? 

Why you probably won’t get rich from blogging

 

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15 Comments
  • Jenny
    December 4, 2017

    This was so interesting to read Amber. I’ve been debating signing up to Skimlinks for some time, so I might look into it some more x

    Jenny | LuxeStyle

  • Toni
    December 4, 2017

    I write a beauty blog which obviously includes a lot of products. The links to these products aren’t affiliate though, as to be honest I’ve never really understood how I’d go about including them. Perhaps I should look into it more. Even if it’s only little earning something is gotta be better than nothing.

    Toni | sheergloss

  • Emerald
    December 4, 2017

    I love your blogging tips as well as those of other bloggers I follow and I’ve learnt a lot. I’ve been working on my blog the past couple of months with the intention of it going live in the new year (hence spending time building up content), so I do have a couple of questions.

    First of all, do you think it’s a good idea to put up a ‘Work with me’ page pretty early on in a blog’s history? My blog is basically an artist/lifestyle one so will be aiming to make most posts art-related. But that’s not all I’ll be writing about. I don’t imagine I’ll be inundated with requests to write about art products I use, for example (or whatever I write about). However, I am open to making money from my blog and working with appropriate companies.

    Also, is it a good idea to make a point of stating if products/meals/outings are *not* comped and you’ve paid for these things yourself? Personally I don’t think it does any harm to mention you’ve paid for something out of your own pocket and the reason I’d do it is for disclosure and having an honest relationship with readers from the off.

    Thank you in advance 🙂 .

    • Amber
      December 4, 2017

      I think both of these are the kind of thing that there’s no right or wrong way to do it, if you know what I mean? For the first one, I personally think it can be a good idea to “set out your stall” right from the start, so to speak, so that a) you don’t miss out on any opportunities and b) no one can complain if you suddenly announce the intention to make money from it somewhere down the line! So it definitely won’t do any harm to have a ‘work with me’ page, although I find that hardly anyone ever looks at mine – I really wish they did, because it would cut down on the number of guest post requests, etc, but it gets largely ignored, unfortunately!

      With the other question, I don’t normally state upfront that I’ve paid for something myself (unless I’m enthusing about it to the point that I start to worry that it’s going to sound like an advert!), but I do always declare when I haven’t. Legally, that’s all you’re required to do, but I’ve noticed a lot of people starting to use hashtags like #ipaidforthis or whatever (particularly on Instagram), to make it even clearer. Again, I don’t think there’s any harm in doing that either, just so long as, whichever way to choose to do it, you’re really consistent about it, so people know where they stand!

  • Myra
    December 4, 2017

    Comprehensive and cogent, as ever.

  • Trudy
    December 5, 2017

    I might be alone on this, but I really don’t mind sponsored posts, as long as they are about the type of thing a blog would normally write, and are openly declared. I have bought quite a few products from blog posts which I probably wouldn’t have been aware of otherwise. And if the blogger can make some money from me buying the product, that’s even better!

  • Bella Ode
    December 10, 2017

    Hi Amber,

    Thank you for sharing this! I have read your book but it really adds further information.
    I am at the beginning of my blogging journey and it is nice to receive secrets from industry experts especially when it comes to monetizing a blog.
    Thank you again!

  • Wave to Mummy
    December 11, 2017

    I use Skimlinks too and I agree – it’s brilliant! It doesn’t make me a huge amount as I don’t link to products much, but everything helps 🙂

  • Melina
    December 26, 2017

    This was a great read! I found your post on Bloglovin’ and I’m so happy to run into your blog. This post was super helpful, and gave me some ideas on how to monetize my blog. Can’t wait to see what other kinds of posts you make xxx

    Melina | http://www.ivefoundwaldo.com

  • Nathan Watkins
    March 14, 2018

    Skimlinks was mentioned to me today. Does anyone have any idea if it is worth doing or If anyone is making any money from it at the moment?

    • Amber
      March 14, 2018

      I discussed this in the post?

      • Nathan Watkins
        March 14, 2018

        Hi Amber,

        I was just wondering if anyone in the comments may have any rough figures from their own experiences.

  • Nicola
    April 28, 2018

    Hi Amber,

    I’ve been toying with the idea to create a blog for a few years and i am finally going to do it!

    I do have a few questions after reading this blog and i wonder if you could help me!

    When i set up my bog and i have a few blogs already posted, as a first step into trying to gain money, would i then approach Adsense/Mediavine or others myself? i’m just confused how you start that first step!

    Secondly, i think there will also be a lot of video content added, does this change my approach to make money?

  • Melissa
    December 2, 2018

    Hi Amber!
    I recently found your blog, and you have inspired me to step outside of my comfort zone with my own blog and include more personal topics rather than just beauty posts which is what it was created for. I do have affiliate links on my blog, and I signed up for Skimlinks (through your affiliate link)! We’ll see how it goes.
    Thanks for the inspiration, and I love your blog!

  • Lisa
    January 25, 2019

    Hey Amber,
    thanks for sharing this awesome post with us. I loved reading it!

    Lisa | Lisa Carmen

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