The Impolite Topic: How Much Money Do You Have?


Today we’re going to talk about one of those “impolite at a cocktail party” topics: money. Not the money you make on your blog; the money you start with on your blog. Let’s consider two hypothetical bloogers:

Blogger April works in marketing for a large fashion magazine. She brings in a top-notch salary, which means high-end staples like a few pairs of Louboutins and Prada handbags have been in her wardrobe for years. When she starts a blog, those are the items she wears, posts, links to & gets commission from. Those are the brands she’s on the radar to partner with, advertise for, attend the fashion shows of, get press through.

Blogger Bethany works as an assistant at a small local business. She lives on a limited budget, which means she adores finds from Forever21 & local thrift shops. When she starts a blog, those are the items she wears, posts, links to & gets comission from … you get the rest.

These stories are the same amongst any entrepreneur. There is the new business that launches with $1 million in venture capital behind it, and there is the solopreneur who launches a website for free with little overhead. But I’ve yet to hear a story of a blogger who got venture capitalists to invest in her blog and brand. (Hmm, maybe someone should try that!?) Instead, you start your blog with the money in your bank account and the income from your next paycheck. That affects what you wear on your blog, what price point is attracting your readers, and as outlined above – many variables that follow.

Money is not a barrier to success, popularity or viability as a business in the long run.

There are stand-out “top bloggers” who wear everything from Alexander McQueen to Marshalls. Money is not a barrier to success, popularity or viability as a business in the long run. But the math equation of how they make their income is different. And despite a bloggers tastes, aethetics or what they’re sartorially smitten with — you begin your blog where your current paycheck is at.

Therefore, when working on your own business projections for 2013, look to bloggers whose path is similar to yours. When seeking out a mentor, realize that their income from affiliate links isn’t just affected by traffic, but the price points they’re linking to. And if you’re ever feeling at a disadvantage in starting on a smaller budget, make your business icons women like Bethenny Frankle, Jasmine Star & JK Rowling. You can build an empire from a seed. You just have to know the path that will work for you.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

14 Responses

  1. Tishiannae

    I could look at bloggers who wear designer clothes all day but it is something a dream of and work towards – being able to afford expensive labels but I’m totally content buying things at the prices I can afford, whether that be F21, H&M, and then saving up for classic designer pieces. Money is NOT a barrier and I’ve followed bloggers enough to see them grow from small price points to large (while still maintaining humility), and thats why I love those bloggers and will continue to follow them.


  2. Grace - Stripes & Sequins

    I think this is a great topic, and truly a great point. That said, I would love to see you dive into this further, talking to more bloggers who came from humble beginnings/write about more affordable fashion and have “made it” so to speak in the blogging world. (Bloggers who come to mind here for me would be Dianna from The Budget Babe and Dana from the Possessionista… both of these fabulous ladies have a business model that is very different from that of the stereotypical “style blogger.”)

    This article makes me also think about how different things are now than they were just a few years ago! When I started my blog three years ago, RewardStyle hadn’t come out yet, and I didn’t see a penny for my efforts for at least the first year of blogging. But I didn’t care – that wasn’t what it was about. RewardStyle really revolutionized the blogging “business” – making it easy for bloggers of any size to earn money from the things they wore/featured on their blog.

    That said… I think that the two biggest things bloggers who blog about more affordable items need to do to be successful are first, to focus their efforts on driving traffic, and secondly to consider using a pay per click affiliate network.

    If you can get your pageviews high enough, banner advertisements will more than compensate for the lack in affiliate commissions. This won’t happen overnight, but if you keep at it, focus on your stats and figure out where you can really provide your readers with value… it will happen. For me, it was offering weekly DIY projects – while these don’t really make much money affiliate-wise, they account for a huge portion of my traffic which helps to earn money from banner ads and bigger brand partnerships.

    The second piece of advice I’d give would be to use a pay per click network like Shopsense. You may only make $1.25 in commission for every $20 t-shirt sold, but if you can generate $.15 per click and 200 people click on that item, that’s $30.00.

    I also think that it’s incredibly important when starting out to invest as much as you can from your regular job + blog income back into your site. Those couple hundred dollars you earn from affiliate links + sponsored posts should be going back into the bank… to save for a redesign, new logo, etc. If you truly take it seriously and treat it like a real business, the dollars will come – whether you’re writing about high fashion, budget buys, etc.

    Just a thought 🙂

    • Hilary Rushford | Dean Street Society

      Grace, I absolutely love your points! What a fabulous example of how you can focus on what you can control — specifically, building up your traffic/following/click thrus. You’re exactly who I was talking about in terms of looking for a mentor who did it in a way that works for you. My heart with this piece was that not everyone you look to as an icon may actually be on the path that’s right/best for you to emulate, so be savvy in choosing whose shoes you’re hoping to walk in. 🙂

      While there are many paths to success/income/leveraging a business out of your blog, you’re a a great example of one way to do it: traffic. In my case, it’s been using the blog not as income, but as a marketing tool, to use my styling business to make income. And for others, it’s been the price points & press that comes from starting your blog at the high-fashion level. And of course there’s a 4th way & beyond!

      Thank you again so much for getting clear & specific about exactly which sites & methods a blogger can use to leverage traffic! Cannot wait to hear what more you have to say on your IFB panel next week!

      with grace & gumption, Hilary

    • Desiray

      I totally agree with this article! I believe people are scared to make blogs & express themselves due to the lack of money. This excerpt proves you can start with just a seed♥!

    • Samantha Peterson

      Grace – Such great advice. I’ve been blogging for almost three years, and I could not agree more. Though I would still say I haven’t ‘made it big’, I’ve done this everyday for almost three years because I love what I do and I am passionate about my blog, my readers, and my writing. Do I make enough money to quite my day job? Not even close. I wish this was a topic that more bloggers would broach, especially at these conferences. This is what people want to know. I don’t want to know how much you make necessarily, but how to start broaching the topic with our sponsors or ad networks, etc. A lot of it is being authentic, have a niche, etc. But why be so high level, get down to the nitty gritty. How do we determine what we are worth and how do we put it into numbers. Everyone’s worth will be different to different brands (which allow the affiliate network to shine). But that is my current struggle. I want to start reaching out to bigger brands; I know what I have to offer. But to figure out what realistic rates may be is my hurdle. Bloggers are coming into this realm with the expectation to become big over night and make enough money to quit their day jobs, but unless we educate ourselves we can never be put in a place where we can make the right decisions to better ourselves and our blogs.

      • Hilary Rushford | Dean Street Society


        One panelist from an affiliate network yesterday said that top bloggers are making 10-15% of their income off ads & affiliates. Granted, that could be a non-scientific number. But I thought that one statement alone was an awesome insight into the conversation of monetizing a blog & reframing expectations.

        with grace & gumption, Hilary

  3. Cynthia

    How do you deal with not being comfortable talking about money? I don’t make close to enough to survive as a blogger alone (the money my site makes pretty much covers domain name, hosting and marketing – that’s it), but people keep on asking me about how I survive. I work for my family in a “family office,” but feel uncomfortable elaborating without people thinking “trust fund kid.” I work hard at what I do for family and it’s definitely not shopping all the time!

    • Hilary Rushford | Dean Street Society

      Cynthia, I don’t believe you owe anyone an explanation! I’m really passionate about that. I think we feel far too entitled to know every detail about other people’s lives these days, because reality TV, Us Weekly, social media allow us to get so much more info than we ever had before on people we don’t actually know personally.

      It’s what I’ve been coming back to in a lot of my posts lately both here & on Friday’s on my blog: You only “need” to be having these conversations amongst real life friends. And I say “need” there, because it’s those genuine connections that allow us to get honest advice, feedback, insight.

      The only caveat to me is if you’re teaching other style bloggers how to be a style blogger. If you’re knowingly insinuating that you make a full-time living as a blogger, & claiming you can teach others how, when you’re in fact not. Other than that, your role as a style blogger is to serve as aesthetic inspiration. You are under no obligation to share your finances with your readers. Again, unless you start doling out financial advice.

      with grace & gumption, Hilary

  4. Domenic Robert Bartlett-Roylance

    It’s kind of crap to know that I won’t ever be like uber fabulous upper class chiselled ab penthouse owning slave paying business man in this life time.

  5. fashionandstylepolice

    This is so right up my street. I totally agree. I just started blogging in Oct 2012 and I have fallen in love with my blog. My blog is my baby and I express myself through it. I am content with what I have in my wardrobe, designer pieces have never been a problem for me because I am a sucker for the big names and I have acquired some over the years. I wear a lot of high street too so for me it’s just a mixture of everything.



  7. Alittlebitlady

    Brilliant post thank you!, I am only a month into my blog, and I am constantly learning, its a hard thing to try and compete with the top industry fashion bloggers as you see the income they have to invest in comparison to the ability I have to invest in my blog. However this is my passion and I love developing my blog! I am one to believe that if you put enough effort into something it will pay off regardless of the monetary commitment.