It’s a fair question. Blogging isn’t a typical job where you go to the office and get a paycheck, and most people are curious about how this blog generates an income.
The first thing I tell people is, I didn’t get here overnight. It definitely takes time, consistency, and commitment to build a blog worth monetizing. You can’t make much money on a blog until you’ve grown a decent sized audience of people who trust you.
I started this blog almost 10 years ago with absolutely no expectations — except that I probably wouldn’t keep up with it for long. I never even kept a diary for more than a week. Nowadays I spend anywhere from 30-50 hours a week on the blog or blogging-related activities, and I make enough that my husband stopped bugging me to go out and get a “real job.”
I was a school teacher before we had kids, and I always expected I’d go back to some type of work in the schools, but as my blog grew, it became increasingly obvious that I would continue to pursue this line of work. It provides an incredible amount of flexibility, which is awesome when you’re a mom, and I absolutely love what I do here.
A blog is just the 21st century version of starting your own business. The nice part is, the start up costs are low and the risk is small. The hard part is, well, everything else. Haha! Like most people who are self-employed, bloggers wear many hats. It can be overwhelming at times, but as my revenue has grown, I’ve been able to hire out more of the tasks that I’m not so good at — like bookkeeping and design and technical stuff.
I love creating content and the conversation that develops from my posts. For years, I cobbled an income together with various odd jobs — blog design, consulting, freelancing, etc. Now I’m happy to say I can put 100% of my time and attention into my blog because it is finally self-sufficient. But it took about 8 years.
It doesn’t take everyone 8 years, of course. These days, a new blog is born every minute, and sometimes they will generate a nice income within the first year or two, but I can promise you, that doesn’t happen without blood, sweat, and tears.
So back to the original question . . .
There are a variety of ways to make money with a blog. Blog can generate revenue with a combination of ads, affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, and sales of products such as eBooks and online courses. Many bloggers also take on freelance writing assignments, some form brand ambassadorships, others provide consulting to brands, and some even sign book deals or are paid for speaking engagements. It varies greatly depending on the type of blog and the goals of the person running the blog.
My revenue comes mostly from the first three sources: ads, affiliate marketing, and sponsored posts. Since switching to fashion blogging, my revenue model has shifted a bit. Sponsored posts used to account for the majority of my income, but with my new fashion focus, affiliate marketing is slowly taking over. Ads do okay, but they’re definitely my 3rd biggest source of revenue, and they have been for a long time.
Let’s break it down.
Ads are what you see on the sidebar and at the top of my site. With these ads, I’m paid based on impressions — basically how many times my blog is viewed. So the more people who visit, the more ad revenue I make. That means that in addition to researching, shopping, putting outfits together, taking pictures, editing pictures, and writing posts, I also have to spend time on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter, making sure my posts get out there where people can find them.
I am a part of an ad network that manages my ads. I don’t sell ads directly to the brands, therefore, I don’t have a lot of control over what is advertised. In fact, a lot of what you see in the ads on my site is based on what you are shopping for and searching for — that is because Google runs the ads and they tailor the ads you see to your search habits. Pretty clever, huh? And a little bit creepy, I’ll admit, but that’s the way advertising works in this digital age.
Affiliates are basically a commissions-based revenue model. When I link to products that I’m wearing at Nordstrom and other websites, I get a small percentage of the sales made when you click on those links — anywhere from 2% – 15%. Rest assured, you don’t pay a penny more when you shop through my affiliate links than you would otherwise, and I also cannot see what you actually purchase; I only see what products are purchased. This is very helpful to me because (besides helping to support my website) it shows me what types of products resonate with my readers and what I should show more of.
I’m not always able to try on the products I link to, but I only recommend products I think I would like, and therefore I think YOU might like them. I can’t always vouch for the fit and quality, but I do my best to select things that have good reviews or are from brands I trust.
I also use the LIKEtoKNOW.it app, which allows you to shop through my affiliate links on Instagram. If you sign up with them, every time you “like” one of my Instagram posts with a LIKEtoKNOW.it link, you will get an email with affiliate links to the products on the website where I found them. Pretty nifty, right!?! If you want to know more, I wrote a post explaining LIKEtoKNOW.it.
Sponsored posts are when I partner with a brand and write a post about their product or service — or sometimes just a related topic. I am paid a flat rate that we agree upon. I always tell you within the post that I am partnering with a brand, and I try to tell you towards the beginning so no one feels duped. Not that you should, because I only partner with brands I actually use and trust, but I do understand that feeling and try to be up-front so I don’t lose your trust.
Besides the time that I put into my blog posts and the behind-the-scenes running of the website, it is very costly to run a website the size of mine. My hosting alone is $2400 a year. Plus there are apps and plugins, and it’s necessary to redesign every few years to keep it current. All of these expenses add up quickly, and without revenue from ads, affiliates, and sponsored posts, I wouldn’t be able to provide all of this information and entertainment for free. I do my best to keep ads from over-powering my content, and I only take on affiliate partners and sponsors that I can wholeheartedly endorse, but they are necessary to keeping everything running smoothly.
I hope this post helped demystify the topic of how to make money blogging. It’s a fair question, and one I know a lot of people wonder about. I’m always happy to answer any questions you may have. Just leave a comment on one of my posts, or zap me an email. My inbox is always open. Ha!