You Don’t Need a Massive Following to Make a Living Blogging

fashion model mirrorMost of you have probably already read Fashionista's article about “personal style bloggers raking in millions”, but in case you haven't, the gist of it is that there are some fashion bloggers out there who make hundreds of thousands of dollars – possibly “millions” – off their blogs, from affiliate links, personal appearances and brand collaborations, and you too (!) could be one of them if you blog about your passion and wait.

Okay…now, can we get serious? As Cora mentioned yesterday and Jennine mentioned earlier in the week, there are LOTS of paths to success as a blogger, and being a full-time blogger is NOT EASY. There's no doubt that some fashion bloggers are making a lot more than others, but the hard truth is that there are thousands of us out there and only maybe hundreds who make a living blogging.

I've never been one to discourage anyone from dreaming, or reaching for the stars (millions) as it were, but I'm also practical and believe that having a more attainable goal is, well, more attainable. If your goal is to make enough money from your blog to be able to support your shopping habit, then you can absolutely reach that with enough work, focus and the right monetization strategy for your blog. If you'd like to make enough to quit your full-time job, then you can do that too, given enough time and planning, trial & error and very hard work.

To make millions from affiliate links and brand partnerships is a different story altogether. You have to have loads of traffic, dedicated readers who will buy via your links, and – my opinion here – a perfect combination of “model” looks, money to invest in the beginning, and killer photography.

You also must work VERY hard, and dedicate all your time and energy towards making your blog work and your brand partnerships successful. But being realistic again, it takes so much more than just “hard work” and time to make a million dollars from a blog – especially in the fashion industry (which is fickle, fickle, fickle, and appearance-based).

So how much CAN you really make??

I've told my story plenty of times both here and on my own blogs, but basically I've been blogging for nearly 10 years, 8 years full-time, and DO NOT MAKE MILLIONS. When I wrote the piece about my income streams, I disclosed that I make the highest percentage of my income from affiliate commissions. The bloggers in the Fashionista article apparently make upwards of $50,000 a month on affiliate commissions, I make on average $3,700 a month. There, I said it – some months I make $700 and some months I make $5,000, but I honestly can't imagine ever making $50,000 a month (not that it wouldn't be nice). I'm obviously not one of RewardStyle's “top tier” bloggers, but I don't need to be, and I am thankful EVERY DAY that I can write about my crazy obsessions and make enough to live off of. I would do it even if I didn't make one penny.

I am thankful EVERY DAY that I can write about my crazy obsessions and make enough to live off of. I would do it even if I didn't make one penny.

Luckily – right now – my husband and I together make a great living, and maybe I don't have as much pressure on me as some do, but it wasn't always so. I got divorced in 2005 and shortly after quit my full-time job to devote everything to my blogs. I had to buy my own health insurance, take back over all my living expenses, and it was HARD. But I kept my goals simple and attainable, and pushed through. The rest, as they say, is history.

Over the years, I've made much more and I've made less. In total, I make a comfortable living from a combination of affiliate income, ad sales and freelance work – all thanks to my blogs. One of the great things about a blogging career is that you'll have limited expenses/overhead compared to owning a brick & mortar shop, for example. Expenses can add up though, and you have to be constantly vigilant that you're investing your money wisely and getting a good return. Kpping airtight accounting records are key too – knowing exactly how much is coming in and going out will help keep you focused and make you more aware of what will make you the most money.

Honestly, I don't know or care how much other fashion bloggers make; I try to stay focused on my own successes or failures, but after the hundredth article on the same five bloggers making bank on their blogs, I thought it was time for some reality. Of course there are bloggers who make millions, and of course you have the potential to make millions from your blog, but WILL you?

What do you think? Do you have realistic blogging goals in mind? Or would you rather shoot for the stars?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

60 Responses

  1. Nadya Helena

    As much as you try to be discouraging, I’m sorry to say this article is actually very encouraging for me. Yes, we all love the prospects of going into the millionairista club, but having an achievable goal makes us more realistic about what we can do with what we have, and therefore tones down the stress factor. I keep having people (different persona each time) tell me it would almost be impossible for me to get famous and big and recognized globally and all. What they don’t get is that I’m not delusional. I know what I can and cannot do in the meantime. And if I had listened to those peeps in the first place, my blog would be non existent, which would be a big bummer and a sure path that I would not go anywhere.

    eyeshadow illustrator

  2. Liza S

    Thank you so much for the great article! Made me think about some important things connected to blogging.
    But was there a post somewhere about bloggers making $50,000 in a month? I’ve heard about different numbers, but $50,000 seems a bit unreal (or probably I haven’t seen such an amazing blogs haha)

  3. HauteFrugalista

    agreed!!! Its all about been grateful and happy! it might not be millions or the jet-setter life but you still get to do what you love and have enough to eat and play. The problem its when we get greedy! when we are happy, we work hard, become successful and eventually the money will follow. I have learned this from experience.
    When I started blogging I just needed a creative outlet, didn’t know about the whole community or the blog boom, I just wanted to write. Now, Im an expert and host for tv, do partnerships with brands, host events, freelance for different outlets, and do other things I never imagined. You have to see yourself been successful and work hard for it!
    Dee Trillo

  4. Loma Sernaiotto

    I always blogged because I love it. Sharing things I love, making new friends. I think being passionate about it helps a lot when it comes to building traffic and earning money. I’m trying to keep my goals reachable, cuz once you set up a goal too high you quit even berfore starting. I think the key words are dedication and discipline. If you ever sabotage yourself then you wont ever reach your own results.
    I blog for 4 years at http://sernaiotto.com (portuguese) and I am recently getting results when it comes to traffic. But I’m just starting to improve it, with SEO and a lot of IFB tips. If I keep dedicating myself to it, I guess it will give me better results pretty soon.
    We cannot give up!
    I love this article. Thank you for the motivation! <3

  5. Chary

    Wow, this was such a great read and definitely informative. I just started my blog and I have no insights about how to monetize (even after reading IFB articles), and how to gain sponsorship! How does that work?

    Gretchen, you’re doing something right and it’s nice to know that you’re grateful for your successes! That says a lot about you as a person. Best of luck on your endeavors! (:

  6. Onianwah

    I started blogging as a hobby and only recently found out the money making aspect of it. I would love to feed off the blog cos I love it but my goal is to be a one-stop destination for all things makeup & beauty related in Nigeria. Not very sure if that will rake in millions though. What do you think Grechen?
    There is so much to learn and always so much to do. Hopefully I get there soon ie. making loads of money off the blog; and even if I don’t…..o well, I will still love blogging.

    Lagos, Nigeria

    • Grechen Reiter

      barbara – as I mentioned in the article, it’s really hard to make “millions,” but if you make a plan and work very hard (the key is also to connect with the right partners/sponsors for your blog), you CAN make enough to live on. Even in Nigeria 🙂

  7. paula

    Same situation here – I’ve been blogging fr ages and I am the one aiming to at least get the blog expenses paid – it’s hard – and the light is not always perfect, and Brazil is still kind of closed – and to be a successful blogger it seems that you need to post daily outfits.. when I’m more like a normal person who can post normal outfits…
    however, having my readers commenting and interacting – on facebook or wherever else they decide to comment is enough – I wish here girls would be more united and try to get like as a stron community as in the US, Norway and other countries.
    Great post.

  8. Shainna

    I needed to read this, I’ve been unemployed for a year now, and have been relying on unemployment to get me by. But now more than ever I am trying to leverage my blog to push me in a direction that could be beneficial for me. It’s hard out here. but I love it.


  9. Monique

    Thank you so much for the honest truth, and for being so open about your own success. I’ve recently had a discussion with a friend about how so many entrepreneurs (whether they be a fashion start-up, bloggers, coaches, etc.) proclaim that they are making so much money and how easy it is, and you can see right through the fluff. I love this dose of reality. I was so disappointed by the Fashionista blog post you are referring to from earlier this week, get real. If that was supposed to make me believe that I could make millions too, it didn’t; I was completely discouraged thinking that I needed to be more successful. Thanks for helping me to snap back to reality, between this post and a post about how to diversify income I read today, I’m going to get back on track and make my own individual, ATTAINABLE, goals. (If anyone’s interested: http://www.copyblogger.com/writing-career-diversification/?mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRonuaTOZKXonjHpfsX56%2BsvXaWylMI%2F0ER3fOvrPUfGjI4ATcVqI%2BSLDwEYGJlv6SgFT7HNMaNo3bgJXxE%3D)


  10. Makea

    I read that Fashionista article and was a little sad that I didn’t have any affiliate marketing in place on my blog, but honestly, that’s not why I blog. I blog because I need an outlet for all the fashion stuff that I consume on a daily basis. My mom can only smile and nod for so long before her eyes glaze over. My ultimate goal is to be stylist and I blog for creative outlet. If I could make some money off of my blog I would love to- gotta afford my Vince leather hoodie some way-but RewardsStyle turned me down 🙁

  11. Andrew

    I always think of blogging like acting. You can LOVE acting, and work really hard at it. Millions want to act- but we don’t have millions of successful, famous actors. Just because you’re not wealthy doesn’t mean you should stop though.

  12. Juliana

    Fifty grand a month seems like SO much money. I mean, I knew that some fashion bloggers make millions a year, but it still comes as a bit of a shock to me. Not in a bad way, of course, because it’s really amazing when you can make a living off of something that you love doing. I only hope (and work my butt off) to someday be able to achieve that with my blog, or anything, really.

    – Juliana

  13. jacqueline Jax

    I have been blogging full time for a couple of years and have discovered that its all in your creative presentation of the links that makes the difference. If i work with an advertiser i make sure that i focus my full attention on their brand like it was my own. That way everything works successfully. Xoxo, JAX

  14. SecretStyle

    It is amazing how much some fashion bloggers do make, right now I am just happy to build traffic on my blog and anything over and above a a bonus!

  15. Nicole

    I am in the process of setting up a blog. I just wanted to thank you for your articles and advice. I take notes on most everything you post, it is extremely helpful and I know I will be thanking you immensely when I get going. This piece in particular helps to remind myself to keep my goals realistic and also what areas are important to focus on to make some money while enjoying what I am doing. Keep up the fantastic work! Really enjoy your writing and always gives me something to think about and learn from.

  16. Sheryl Blasnik

    Maybe we need some big television producer to come up with the next great fashion reality show. How about a Project Runway meets Fashion Star for bloggers?? I don’t know how you get “discovered” and grow your following in leaps and bounds?

    I also read the article published on Fashionista.com and was blown away by the salary potential a fashion blogger can earn. Style Bloggers are the new models and they do not even have to attend go-sees or pay a modeling agency to represent them.

    Thanks Grechen for your honesty. It has inspired me to want to succeed at this even more and with press credentials to NY Fashion Week maybe I can use that as a platform to advance my blogging career. It will certainly provide me with an abundance of content.


    • Grechen Reiter

      Sheryl – i LOVE this idea. someone should pitch it 🙂
      or wait, didn’t i hear that there was already such a show in the works??

      • Lauren

        There is a show coming up this fall on the cooking channel about popular foodie bloggers, so you could definitely get a show about fashion bloggers!

  17. Ais

    There are people who have made millions inventing something, and others that won’t ever see a penny. Painters that have world fame, and those that don’t. Musicians that get their big break, and… you get the idea.

    Don’t quit your day job until you’re 100% certain you can support yourself with only what your blog can generate. There’s nothing worse than realizing, too late, that you can’t make the rent. 9-5 may suck, but it beats not having a roof over your head.

    Personally, I blog as a hobby and I don’t have affiliate links up yet. I’m not sure I even want them. Extra cash would be nice, sure, but would it be worth the clutter with such a small readership? Food for thought.

  18. SabinaSabina

    Thanks so much for your article. Having done free lancing in journalism, still working self employed I think has from the very beginning helped me managing my blog and my expectations. Although blog has been picking up speed as of last year when I decided to invest more time and energy. Haven’t decided yet on where I want it to go and to stay focused is certainly one majoy quality to keep in mind. I think one of the reasons I love your site here so much is for articles such as yours.
    Styleblog Only In Frankfurt

  19. The Science of Happy

    Great insight! And I guess it also depends on the location your based in, I can see this being more of a career path in America than say, the Dominican Republic! I would love to blog for a living but I don’t think it’s a realistic option for me right now!


  20. Olamosh

    Thanks for this write up Reiter. Am a full time tech blogger who fall in loves with TECH as a whole and blogging cos of writing skills. I believe in blogging but i don’t always advice people to be a full time blogger cos its not easy, it is always easy when you have work hard to bring your blog to the limelight (loyal & regular readers). I generate revenues from google adsense, banner space ads, infolinks and rendering IT related services like web development, blog development, seo service & writing….


  21. Arielle Rasoanaivo

    What a great article! I It’s very informative and really makes me re-think of the possibility of being a full-time blogger in the future; it’s a good motivation! Thank you for writing this x

  22. Moacyr

    Very interesting article on the blog.
    Congratulations on your courage to be a full time blogger, as you said, is not easy.

    I would most practical tips as to start, how many hours per day of work, interesting partnerships.

    I work in the field of luxury homes and also did a blog where I try to speak of the rise of the real estate market in Brazil.

  23. Franny

    I’m kind of interested in your income level. First of all, I command you for sharing it with us since money is always such a touchy subject. I was wondering what you were doing to reach such levels to reach around $3700 a month. Does that come from a large following? It just seems like a (great) high number!

    • Grechen Reiter

      hi Franny – no, i don’t have very significant traffic numbers or a very large following, but i do have very loyal, engaged readers who have been reading for 3+ years (a lot of my readers have been with me for more than 6 years). they trust me – which is really all it takes…

  24. Tami Von Zalez

    I think I’m pretty realistic about my blog. Since it is a niche with a number of offshoots, it seems like I am still discovering myself and my audience. I also love taking whatever creative path my blog takes me. Lately, I’ve been writing more – I think that is a good thing!

    I’ve mulled over monetizing the blog and accepting sponsorships but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I have stopped following a number of blogs after they started posting ads or it became a “what can I sell my readers now?” type of blog.


  25. Kim McLeod

    Thank you, Grechen, for your gracious honesty and transparency. You really were the reason I got enough “guts” together to start the blog I’ve been thinking about for years, but was just too scared to do. Mine is in such the early stages, with the basic premise, can I discover and write/share/blog about style, clothings, all the things I love, while still being a mom to 2 boys, especially dealing with our one who has autism? I constantly question why I DON’T think I should be able to pursue this passion??

    I love my part-time, at home job that I have; but I sure would love, down the line, to find a way to add a bit more in to also “feed” my passion/interest in shopping for clothes, etc.! You are very encouraging because you are very honest and, knowing that I am a hard, realistic worker, this continues to fuel my optimism, desire and love for all of this!

    A million thanks to you. I’m so glad I discovered your blog; you are just terrific.

    xox Kim

  26. Amy

    Hi Grenchen

    I feel compelled to take this opportunity to thank you for all ur honest but yet inspiring posts:) I love ur candid writing, your realistic approach is refreshing and gives me hope that my blog too, some day will bring me a decent income whilst allowing me to continue blogging about my interests and passions. On IFB, finding your own voice is often spoken about and I aspire to find my own truly individual voice 🙂

    Thanks again x

  27. Nasreen

    I read the article and just dismissed it, everyone should set realistic goals and if you happen to make millions then thats great!


  28. debiparna chakraborty

    I am right now at a stage in my life where I am looking into making enough money that will help me pay actual bills. I love blogging more than anything. But I have very little idea about how to make money out of affiliate links. Not all affiliate links bring money, most are free ads basically, several brands want to pay in store credits or products. I attend events free of charge of course but going to and coming means expenses. I don’t think I can make money via links which pay only when the readers buy through it. But I have driven traffic to several brands. I just don’t know how to sort of make brands see that.

  29. Olia

    Of Course, I would absolutely love to make living out of my blog, but to be honest, I have only just started and my plan is to use it for my future career, as I am studying fashion at university.

    Please feel free to check out my new fashion blog and give me any tips if you wish. Thank you.

  30. Morgann

    Love this, and yes, it is encouraging!
    Even though the reality of making 50k/month from a blog is equivalent to making it in Hollywood. Unfortunately, this is a fickle business as mentioned, and besides the excellent imagery and web design, the “model looks” are what makes so many of these top tier bloggers so successful. Many of them do have a point of view and good writing/content besides OOTD’s, but they all look like they belong on the cover of Elle.
    I have dreams of making more than spare change off my blog and know I can get there…in time. I don’t have model looks (mainly because I’m a size large), but I know I have great editorial content & an eye for affordable (everywoman) fashion!
    The main point though is that I too blog out of passion and would do it for free.

  31. Christina

    Great post Grechen, as always. I applaud your honesty. I think everyone, either those who shoot for the stars and are committed to making 50,000 a month, and those that are more than happy making $4,000 a month benefit from knowing the facts and real life accounts. This is true in any business. It’s research. But it’s also important to note that when comparing yourself to other bloggers or other businesses you don’t know their story, what they’re hiding, or the truth. A major publication could be making 50,000 a month in revenue but zero profits. They may be spending 60,000 on Google Ads. It’s all relative and there is so much involved, that merely looking at someone’s ‘affiliate income’ is inherently flawed.

    If we had their income statement, that would be a different story 😉

  32. Northern style exposure

    I honestly think it’s icing on the cake when I make money off my blog. I haven’t yet made it a primary purpose of my blogging. In saying this, I still make money off my blog through affiliate links, sponsors and mentions. I wonder how hard it would be shifting my focus to profits? I worry because I have seen some bloggers in the past make the shift but their content suffers… How are you striking the balance?


    I know that there will always be someone bigger, better, stronger, etc than me. That’s okay. My blogging income has increased steadly each year. From products, to products + tiny income, to products + tiny bit more income, to products + wow I making income. In this next year, I hope to get less products and more income. I like hearing about what these mega babes do to reach for the stars. It’s always nice to know a good path.

  34. CJ

    I don’t take it against them that they rake in thousands of dough. I think it’s amazing and why not blog for money? What I am a little bit upset about is the PR of companies who get the same bloggers over and over plus other bloggers who purely blog just for money, while that in itself is absolutely acceptable to me, most blogs who blog purely for money sound rather generic and/or detached with their posts. Blogs aren’t really (imho) made for news that chuck out information, information + personal opinion is what it’s all about.

  35. Dixie Lincoln-Nichols

    This is such an excellent article. I quit my job about a year ago, but it was not to start and make a millions, or even thousands of dollars from my blog. I have another fledging business that needed my full-time attention. I started the blog because I love fashion, and have always wanted to. I actually started one in 2004, but never published it. I couldn’t care less if I made a dime, but I have made a small amount of money from my Ads. As a matter of fact, I was quite shocked when I saw the pending deposits in my account. It is very hard work, but if you love it for what it is, and that’s FUN, then I think you can keep a calm and clear head.

    Thank you for sharing your honest opinion Grechen!

  36. Krissy

    well to be honest, I love both posts!!! Thanks so much for the more realistic perspective and both endgoals & paths seem super positive to me so for a gal who’s working a serving job right now I’m just super stoked and willing to put in the hard work & effort.

    Thanks for sharing Grechen!

    -K from loveyouduh.com

  37. Adela

    I love this article. IFB has been huge help and inspiration for me. I’m not making any money yet, but I’ve had some nice freebies and try to improve all the time and work hard and whatever I get is a bonus. I love blogging and the community and if I don’t make millions I will keep on going anyway 🙂
    Adela x

  38. Fashion-isha

    Thank you for your honesty and disclosing how much you make! I read the other article and got really excited about using affiliate links but I have to say I’m really upset at RewardStyle right now. When I revisited them they had locked me out of my account and then made me reapply. Then I was told I wasn’t accepted. They had approached me to sign up originally when they first started so it was a real chutzpa. I use ShopSense now and love the money I’m making from the pay per clicks but it’s far from what I’d like to be making. Now I need advice to get my traffic up. I have a very nice loyal following but it’s not going up! Help!

    Thanks again so much for inspiring us!


  39. Agnes W

    Wonderful words of advice that while it’s great to dream, we also need to make sure that we are being realistic. From experience, the more attainable the dream or goal is, the more likely it is to manifest itself. I’m inspired – Great article!

  40. Melinda

    I enjoyed reading this and agree, millions would be nice but hundreds is more attainable. Gearing up to do just that!

  41. Holly Mackenzie Cupp

    I’ve been fashion blogging since 2009 and I’ve yet to make even a hundred bucks off of my blog but I keep on blogging why? because I love it! As a SAHM of 5, If I could do this for a living that would be FANTASTIC but for now I’ll keep on learning the ins and outs and writing for the love of writing as I pursue a degree in healthcare.

  42. Maggie A

    I believe especially now that fashion bloggers have become so mainstream it is much more difficult to reach that earning potential. I don’t think its impossible, but it maybe equivalent to hitch hiking around the world. lol

    Maggie A
    Love Mavin

  43. Pam E

    THANK YOU! I want to make enough that I will be happy with Myself & what I do! & I want to to do what I love & Thank You for being real With us, I really think some bloggers use credit cards & things, Or It may be all their own! Now I feel Like. I’m not the only one, trying to make it, while i’m still scraping for Money But at Long as I’m Happy!
    Xoxo Pam

  44. El

    I started my beauty blog less than a month ago and I love it! I feel like I’m on the older end of the beauty blogging spectrum at 36. It’s slightly depressing when I see bloggers that are 18 and the other day I cam across a great one from a 15 year old girl ha! It’s a little discouraging but I love writing about makeup so I keep on plugging away. It’s so exciting when I see my pageviews go up (some days I’ll only have 3 or so pageviews lol!). I’m still trying to increase my traffic and hoping that having a Twitter will help too. I guess my end goal is perhaps a few bucks and some freebies, but mostly I’m doing this just for the fun of it! 🙂

  45. Nick

    Having a lot of traffic definitely helps. However, having the right traffic is more important. The name of the game is finding targeted traffic that is more likely to be interested in your blog’s niche.

    Before you go about figuring out a way to make money, find what it is you want your blog to be about, narrow your focus and create the kind of content that will attract the right kind of visitors. If you can get the right “eyeballs” to your sight, then you have the potential to make money.

  46. Fraukje

    Interesting post. You read everywhere people making tons of money blogging, but almost nobody comes with thge numbers. Thanks!

  47. Arapuk

    It was only this year that I have started blogging (even though I don’t fancy calling it that). I didn’t start with the goal of making a living out of it, much less millions! I felt the need to speak to… well, to whoever might eventually stumble upon it.
    But, as everyone, I too hear about those who make millions. So curiosity brought me here. Very interesting article!
    It opened up my eyes to the perspective of getting some income out of my blog, which is an awesome added bonus to doing something I am truly enjoying. And it helped in keeping my feet on the ground, but without forcing me to give up the idea of eventually making millions… of people happy to be following my content!

  48. Savita


    I like your blog as well as your writing style. Please visit on my blog and suggest me what do i do the next on my blog, I want to earn money through my blog. Currently i do part time work on it but i want to be join it as a full time job and business as well. This is my kindly request to you and please suggest me through mail. I actually want to be real fashion blogger.

  49. Wafaa

    Thank you for this amazing article, I just started my blog one month ago, having lots of dreams and high expectations out of this blog, my dream is to land a job in the fashion industry and be a fashion stylist, I know it’s still too early to even get noticed but I have great hopes, I’m reading all your articles and using lots of blogging tips, hopping my hard work and my dedicated time into creating a great post content will get me where I want one day, your article is very encouraging and gave me a boost of motivation, thanks a million 🙂

  50. Diatta @ Femme Fitale Fit Club

    Very good article. I say this to my other fitness lifestyle bloggers who may get discouraged – if they keep their eyes on the prize, stay consistent and keep pumping out quality content they will grow. But it won’t happen over night. I will also take loyal readers and followers any day over large numbers of random folks. My loyals keep me afloat and that is real talk!

  51. Ani

    Thanks for this article! It came right on time – I recently started blogging and despite of all the fun I know it could be more than that and you just told me a realistic fairytale.
    I guess a combination of persistency, skills and a little bit of luck is the key.

  52. Sunny sharma

    As in search of going full time blogger the key things required i have been stumbling upon a lot of reads but you give a clear view about what to expect and what to target. I have just started blogging hardly 12 posts old but it does not discourage me. I will keep my passion awake and try to find out my niche into that. Thanks

  53. Liam @ the watch blog

    Interesting read. I’ve only just got into 3 figure earnings per month but I’ve grown my readership by 60% month on month for the last 3 months so soon I should be able to hit 4 figures soon enough.