Now that you've figured out it's time to monetize your fashion blog, how do you do it? There's no “one” right way or the “best” way to monetize your blog, you'll just have to figure out what works for you as you go along, but here are some ideas to get you started:
Sell ads directly
This is my favorite way to make money on my blogs because I love the personal interaction and the relationships I create with my advertisers. When I first started out in 2004, direct ad sales was by far my largest income stream and remained so through 2008. Now, I earn a much higher percentage from affiliate commissions, but still make about 15% of my income from direct ad sales.
Selling ads directly can be time consuming and it's not easy to figure out your banner ad rates, but it can be rewarding and it's the best way to nurture relationships with small boutiques and brands you love. A great way to start selling ads yourself is to target brands/companies you've already written about on your blog and reach out to them with some partnership ideas and your media kit. I definitely recommend doing this first, but if you find that you have a lot of potential advertisers coming to YOU, Passionfruit is a great way to set up an “ad store” on your site that streamlines the process a bit.
Work with an ad network
Using an ad network like BlogHer or Glam is a very easy way to start monetizing your blog, although they do tend to have strict standards with regard to content and traffic for blogs they partner with. I've never chosen this route because I like to have ultimate control over the ads I show and where they go on my site, but if you're willing to give up some of that control, this might be a good way for you to monetize your blog.
Back in the day Google adsense used to mean BIG money for bloggers, maybe it still does for many, but it's no longer the most important tool bloggers use to make money on their blogs. Google ads tend to work very well if you have a LOT of traffic and/or you have a very engaged audience (which is true for all ads). Because you earn money based on clicks (see this IFB article about advertising terms for more information) not sales, placement is very important for Google ads; I tend to earn the most from sidebar ads and ads after my first blog posts. If you have Google search installed on your blog, you can also earn money from ads placed on your search pages.
As I mentioned before, so far this year, about 80% off my blog's income has come from earning affiliate commissions (you earn a percentage of the sale when a reader buys something via your affiliate link). If you are a personal style blogger or shopping-oriented blogger, working with affiliate programs might just be the most lucrative way for you to make money on your blog.
Earning affiliate commissions can be tricky though, and really requires you to have a strong, and trusting relationship with your readers. You must also disclose to your readers that you will earn a commission on sale made through links in your blog posts; the more open you are with your readers about how you're making money from your blog and ultimately their interaction with your blog, the more successful you'll be. I have found over the years that contextual/in-post links earn far more in commissions than graphic ads in sidebars. The more relevant the better, and even BETTER if you own & wear items you're linking to.
I have found the most success working with Reward Style and Skimlinks (these two companies have truly revolutionized affiliate marketing for fashion bloggers), but Ashe has written about her experience with other companies you might want to try.
Use the experience you've gained by writing your blog to write for other publications and/or consult for brands. This is relatively new territory for me, personally, but writing for IFB and my new role as an eBay Influencer is a nice change of pace from writing for my own blog, and provide a nice supplement to affiliate/ad sales income. Freelancing/consulting projects bring you out from “behind” your blog and can be the best stepping stone to a career other than blogging. They're also a great way to capitalize on your influence.
Crosby wrote a great piece earlier this week on selling a product as a way to make money from your blog. This may not be for everyone, but if you have an idea for a product or service to sell, why not try? ProBlogger's biggest income stream by far is selling his e-books, and it's a great way to detach yourself from the volatility of direct ad sales and affiliate income.
How do you monetize your blog?
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