I'm obsessed with popular fashion bloggers. Seriously – I love looking at the beautiful photos and trying to copy the way they style outfits. Somehow, even though I have similar items I never know how to put them together into something magical. Fashion styling simply isn't a skill that I have (and usually anytime I look good someone has styled it for me!) Something about these women makes fashion so much more accessible than styled shoots you see in magazines. But I often wonder, how do bloggers make money in this niche? Is it different from my own?
I'm also a fan of anyone who can make a living as a digital influencer online.
For fun and because I find it interesting, I'm digging into how much it costs for popular fashion bloggers to make money online and how much they make each month.
Whenever I need a break from writing/editing/running my business, I spend a few minutes perusing popular fashion bloggers' sites.
I'm not sure of any fashion blogger who releases their earnings the way personal finance bloggers do with income reports, but there are SEVERAL fashion bloggers (many of whom I follow) that belong to a millionaires club. Even though they make money in much the same way that personal finance bloggers do (affiliates, appearances, sponsored content) for example, I often wonder about the start-up costs.
After all, some of these bloggers advertise incredibly high price items…do they eat that cost and hope to see a return on investment? Before the fame and free samples from fashion houses – how much does it cost to start a fashion blog?
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How do bloggers make money? Let's Detail the Income Streams for Fashion Influencers
These are the easiest way to get started making money with any kind of blog. Google Adsense or other networks can give you ads where you earn money every time someone clicks. (There's also Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) ads, where you get paid upon a completion action like a purchase or email sign up.)
Typically this means advertising bloggers sell themselves and not through an ad network, usually in the form of selling links (don't do this, this is bad) or ads in the sidebar. This is less common of a practice now, but still done.
Using the Blog as Portfolio or Lead Magnet for Another Business
Many people overlook this because it's not “direct money from the blog,” but the blog itself can be a huge, valuable marketing tool for a blogger and their skillset. Take Lindsey from Sell Eat Love (below) who works in fashion wholesale or Luisa who works as a nutritionist. A fashion blogger (or any blogger) can also represent their photography, home decor, or coaching business online as well – even through fashion photos, no less.
Affiliates are an amazing source of passive revenue, but you have to have traffic in order for things to get sexy. It's a numbers game. If fashion bloggers have an affiliate link that converts at 1%, that 1% gets a lot bigger when it's 1% of 1,000 people vs. 1% of 100. You feel me? Still, affiliates are a great way for bloggers to earn money, and the best part is that you put the work in once and then promote it over and over.
Sponsored Posts and Brand Partnerships
If a brand has a certain amount of visibility, a big business or brand may approach and ask for publicity or coverage of a product and these can pay well.
It's a balancing act: between working with the brands and their priorities, charging what you're worth, making sure you're not burning out your audience when you start promoting your own stuff – sponsored posts can be a lot, and are a deceptive amount of work (they look easy but they're not.) Still, working with high profile brands is fun and raises your own clout and credibility. All it takes is one big brand to work with you and then you can leverage that when you're pitching/fielding pitches from others.
Many of the “bigger” fashion bloggers have not gotten into creating their own clothing/product lines. While a lot of investment and work up front, these can be profitable. Since bloggers come with a built-in audience already, marketing and getting rid of inventory can be easier for them than other retailers.
Even if you're not in fashion, you can make your own products for your blog. I have never had as much fun with my blog as I did when I started making my own digital products and worksheets. I had so much fun in the collaboration process with my graphic designer and I'm a little obsessed with worksheets. (See this post, here for proof.) Plus, they're another member of the passive income do-once-and-earn forever cannon. I'm still making money off products I made over a year ago!
Digital products are great because you can offer readers a low cost way to interact with you (and better still, get used to buying from you!)
The advent of the instagram “swipe up to shop” feature for those bloggers with over 10,000 followers has also proven a boon to fashion bloggers who showcase their outfits (and popular sales) on a daily basis. Affiliate commissions (similar to those outlined above) offer between 5-10% of the product payout, so the larger the following, the more you stand to make. This post from the Penny Hoarder goes into greater detail on how one instagram fashion star earns her stacks.
But what about the business costs for fashion bloggers?
Thankfully via my friendship with noted photographer Shelby Steckbauer, I have access to the best and biggest fashion bloggers in Atlanta who kindly took the time to answer my questions, namely, “How much does it cost to be a fashion blogger?”
Meet Luisa from Peaches to Pearls (she was recently named one of Southern Living's fashion bloggers to follow!). She also admits to keeping costs low – only spending $200 to start the site and $80 a year maintaining it. She saves money on her fashion site by taking her own photos and highlighting trendy but affordable brands, but admits that site income varies month to month. Primarily she makes money from sponsored posts.
Lindsay of Sell Eat Love did not start her site to make money, although now she estimates she earns around $500 each month from affiliates such as Like To Know It and sponsored campaigns. (Uhm, hello…what a sweet side hustle!) Lindsay works full time in women's apparel wholesale, so she's fluent in fashion. Although she spent ~$275 starting her own site, Rozier outsources fashion photography each month, “But it's best money I spend,” she says. “Having professional photos makes your blog (and you) look more professional.”
Even the gents are starting to get in on the fashion/beauty blogging landscape. Wesley Oakes, the blogger behind Imanscape.com, makes $1,000 each month from his website, primarily from Media.net ads and marketing Amazon products for affiliate revenue. Although he initially started the site as a source of side income, Wesley recently started reinvesting his earnings back into the site. “I now spend $500+ per month on the site,” Wesley writes. “This is because I'm looking to grow revenue. I'm just reinvesting profits back into the website. Before I did all the writing myself and didn't begin reinvesting earnings until the site was making $700/mo.”
Are bloggers really making as much as we think?
In my research for this article, I also had the chance to chat with mega site Activate by Bloglovin'.
Thanks to Activate I was able to get my hands on some data about the income opportunities for micro influencers (Those with less than 100k followers on any platform) :
- The majority of influencers (84%) charge under $250 for one branded Instagram post and 97 percent charge less than $500
- Blog posts allow for rich original content and 87 percent of influencers charge under $500 per branded blog post
- 90 percent of influencers have fees under $250 per branded post
- 83 percent of influencers charge less than $150 for a branded Tweet
But with these prices, even assuming a diversified offering of posts, products, and affiliates it can be hard to crack six figures each year.
I'll admit, I find these answers surprising. I was under the impression fashion, beauty, and food were more lucrative niches (as opposed to personal finance.) However, even though they're more lucrative, they're also more crowded.
The bottom line of all of this is that if you want to blog, start a blog.
Do it because you love it and not because it's the hot new way to earn money.
If you want to become a popular fashion blogger, be sure your pictures are above and beyond what you can do on an iphone. You may not get rich quick, but in the process you'll make a nice side income and learn a few new skills that could make you very marketable in your offline life.
And for the very lucky few, starting a blog (fashion or otherwise) could lead to your own multi-million dollar empire. If you have the knack, all it takes is web hosting, an iphone, and your own personal sense of style.
What do you think? Who are some popular fashion bloggers you admire?