This post is by Ashe Mischief
One of the first things I hear out of new bloggers’ mouths is– “how do I grow my traffic? I want to make money off my site.” I think it’s Darren at Problogger who says quite honestly, if you’re getting in to blogging to make money, you’re in it for the wrong reasons.
The fact is, fashion blogging is an ever growing niche, and brands only have so much money in their marketing budgets. They have to be discretionary as to how they’re spending it and where. Couple that with the fact fashion blogging is a niche that feels limited in HOW you can make money.
There are a handful of fashion bloggers who make a full time living off of their blogs, and they’re an inspiration to us all. One thing they all have in common is ingenuity in HOW they’re making their money. Gala Darling sells ads on her site, yes– but she also sells a monthly podcast and freelance writes for sites like Red Bull’s China Shop blog. Grechen from Grechen’s Closet runs 6 sites, builds relationships with brands, and is an inspiration when it comes to creating great content while utilizing affiliate links. Most bloggers would like to earn something in exchange for the hard work, energy, and creativity they’re putting in to their blogs, but the fact is that most of us do it for love and passion only.
Fashion bloggers monetize their site in a number of ways– each with their own pros and cons. Before you begin trying to monetize your site you should develop a media kit— make sure you have all relevant information that an advertiser could want!
Banner ads, text link ads, RSS ads, and ad networks– they’re all the first place bloggers look to when wanting to monetize their sites. Ads can be sold individually or through an ad networks– you may get paid by impressions or set a monthly rate if you’re selling them. Google Ads and Text-Links Ads are examples I’ve worked with if you go the route of the ad network.
- Can be sold on a month-to-month basis.
- Most blog layouts contain the ability to host many ads– whether banner ads or text ads. You have the option to control the quantity and maximum profit.
- You can hand over your ad work to a network– where you put in the code, they generate the ads and you passively earn income.
- Are banner ads becoming irrelevant? I don’t know. Fashion bloggers tend to think that sponsorships and banner ads are the means of blogging full time. But the fact is, as more and more of our readers syndicate their content through websites like Blog Lovin’, Google Reader, they’re not visiting our sites. So why should a company invest in a banner ad, when the target audience they’re trying to reach isn’t actually visiting the site regularly? However, that doesn’t mean that traffic gained through search engines won’t attract click-throughs.
- Some ads, like text link ads and their networks, can hurt your credibility with search engines and cause you to lose PageRank.
- You’re competing with more bloggers for limited ad budgets– advertisers are going to want to stretch their budget to reach the most readers and the most active communities that they can.
- Ads can be cluttering, decrease the load time of your site, make it look cumbersome and overloaded. It’s also important to try and keep your ads relevant to the site, otherwise you end up looking like your site is full of spam.
Affiliate companies, like Commission Junction, Google Affiliates, or Share a Sale, allow you to link to products through reputable companies; when readers click those links, a cookie is embedded in your browser. If you buy anything through that site (and through that cookie), the site owner earns a commission on the sale (typically 4-8%).
- A passive means of earning income–while inserting the links can be time consuming, once they are in, there is nothing else to be done. It’s up to your reader to click & buy.
- You can earn money on your own purchases (with the exception of Amazon.com).
- It’s a great way to support your fellow bloggers–maybe they’re affiliates with a company you aren’t, and you can purchase through their codes.
- In a tighter economy, people may be spending less money (and therefore, less likely to buy before a cookie expires).
- Readers can be distrustful of affiliate links.
- Some programs, such as Commission Junction, financially penalize you if you don’t make sales in a certain period of time. If you’re not a link heavy blogger like I am, this can be financially harmful
- Should be used consistently to generate long-term and ongoing cash flow.
Selling/Creating External Products:
Creating and selling your own external products can be a great way to monetize your blog. Gala Darling has found great success in selling her monthly podcasts; Problogger makes a substantial income off his monetized forums, e-books for Problogger and Digital Photography School, and many bloggers have shops associated with their sites (selling clothing, accessories, jewelry, art, and more).
- Monetary gain is higher– you aren’t splitting percentages with other companies (like with affiliates).
- Products can be created/marketed/distributed on your own.
- You can create your own affiliate program– this encourages other bloggers to sell your product on their site. While you’ll earn less (from paying out their commission), you’re earning more because you’re maximizing your audience.
- A large, dedicated following of readers is useful to ensure your product sells.
- Products can be time consuming, and there’s the “nobody knows” factor on how well the product will sell.
Trades: Freebies/Swag/Store Credits
While it’s not putting money into your bank account, many companies will offer you store credit, products, or gift cards in exchange for reviews or even working for them. As more and more companies utilize blogs as a means of outreach, they oftentimes hire bloggers to create that content.
- Who doesn’t love free products? It can help supplement your shopping habits– by working with a company whose products you would already buy, you’re saving yourself money at least.
- Built in content– if you love a product, you’re given content for not only their site, but your own site as well.
- Working for trade, products, or credits can devalue your work. Once you start accepting products in place of payment, the company may be more reluctant to pay you in cash at any point.
- It’s not money. If you’re pursuing your blogging professionally, product trades won’t pay your bills, pay off your debt, or buy you groceries.
Monetizing your site is a time consuming and many times frustrating process. But as more and more bloggers seek to use their blogs as an income stream (or the jumping point for a new career), bloggers need to be persistent and creative in how they make money.
For those of you who have successfully monetized your site–what methods have you worked with? How successful did you find them?
Image by and Nancy says