What did you feel when you read this headline? Probably a mixture of curiosity and skepticism, right?
It makes sense. We’re all curious about how other people make money, especially if it’s in a non-traditional way like running a blog or online business.
But the Internet is flooded with outrageous, clickbait-y headlines about making money online, and most of them are total nonsense.
So before going any further, let me give you some proof.
Here’s a screenshot from Wave, the accounting software I use for my main website, The Modest Man:
I hit my first $10k month in September, which is why the total is only $61,638 for the year so far. I’m expecting to close out 2016 with somewhere around $85k from my style blog.
I’m showing you this because I want you to know that I’m not some snake oil salesman trying to make money by teaching other people how to make money.
And I’m not a millionaire either. Far from it! But I am making a living as a blogger, and I want to help you do the same.
The purpose of this post is to explain where the money comes from. Got it? Ok, let’s move on.
How does a fashion blogger make money?
Like any other type of blog, fashion blogs typically have multiple revenue streams. My revenue falls into these three categories:
- Affiliate commissions
- Product sales
Some bloggers also do consulting or freelance writing, which would be a fourth category. I try to stay away from these activities because they’re not scalable.
In other words, I became interested in online business because I was sick of trading my time for money. Consulting is literally trading hours for dollars.
Not that there’s anything wrong with this. I did lots of consulting to keep the lights on during that awkward transition between the 9-to-5 job and full time blogging.
But consulting and freelance writing isn’t part of my long-term plan.
Let’s look at each category in greater detail…
Advertising & Sponsorships
There are so many different kinds of ads, but I find it helpful to categorize them like this:
- Direct ads – space on your site that you sell directly to a client
- Indirect ads – ads that are served up automatically by an ad network
- Sponsorships – any form of content that you’ve been paid for
For example, if you look at The Modest Man homepage, you’ll see a leaderboard ad right at the top:
That’s a direct ad. I sell that space to brands that want to get in front of my audience. They send me a check (or PayPal), and I place their banner on my site (I use AdRotate to manage these ads).
If you scroll down a bit, you’ll see some sidebar banner ads:
Some are direct, but most of them are served up automatically, usually based on visitor data. This indirect ad space is managed by AdThrive, and they’ve done a great job increasing my RPM over the past few months.
Sponsorships are a different animal entirely, but let’s be honest, they’re still a form of advertising.
For TMM, sponsorships are blog post and/or videos that are either directly about a brand (like a product review) or a tangentially related topic.
For example, a watch company sponsored a post about how to dress for the airport. It wasn’t directly about their products, but they were mentioned throughout the post.
If a brand wants to get targeted traffic to their website, a sponsorship is the way to go. That’s why it’s not cheap, and that’s why it’s such a big part of my business.
I used to negotiate sponsorship deals myself until I joined MENfluential, a media network that acts as a liaison between influencers and brands.
This was one of the best business decisions I’ve made. It freed up a bunch of time and led to better (and more) sponsorships.
When you’re an affiliate for a company or brand, you earn a commission on sales that can be traced back to your promotion.
For example, if I link to J. Crew using an affiliate link, then you click that link and buy something, I’ll earn a percentage of that purchase (usually between 4-15%).
Affiliate revenue is huge for fashion bloggers because they link to clothes all the time. One outfit idea post might mention 10 different clothing items and accessories.
So why not turn those links into affiliate links and get paid for supporting your favorite brands?
There a many different affiliate programs, and I’m not going to discuss the pros and cons of various programs in this post, but I will tell you about my two favorites:
These are two of the largest and most popular affiliate programs out there, and every fashion blogger should join both.
Note: rStyle is an invitation-only platform. If you’re interested in joining (or have been rejected), let me know.
These days, many bloggers sell their own products – everything from ebooks to actual clothing.
I’ve dabbled in both physical and virtual goods, and I think both are great options. If you have an audience, you should something they can buy (and a decent idea of what they want to buy).
Currently, my only product is a digital guide called The Modest Man Style Guide. It’s for guys who want all of my best advice in one concise PDF.
On average, it sells about one copy per day, which comes out to about $800/month.
Not exactly retirement money, but here’s the thing:
It’s totally passive income. I worked really hard to create the guide, from writing the content to putting together the photos and graphics, to creating the sales page.
But now it’s on autopilot, and it generates revenue every month.
If you’re a blogger with even a small audience, and you don’t have some sort of digital product for sale, I strongly recommend putting something together soon.
So that’s how a fashion blogger makes money with their website: advertising, sponsorships, affiliate commissions and product sales.
There are definitely other ways to monetize, but these are the most popular methods.
Questions? Leave a comment below!