Money. You know that topic you’re not allowed to talk about because it’s bad manners? Well it’s a good thing I don’t have any manners (wait what?) because i’m going there for you guys. It’s important to know that I have a full time job and that my career is #1, my blog is definitely a passion but it is my side hustle, it’s not what pays the rent!
The thing is that when I re-started this blog, I made a mission-ish statement, basically 3 themes that would consistently be the focus of the blog: fun affordable fashion, humor and transparency. This is not the blog that will be all sunshine and rainbows and make you wish you had someone else’s perfect life. I’m a walking trainwreck most days! I don’t want to make you feel like other people don’t have crappy parts of their life too. I want to talk about it all, I want you guys to get that I’m a real person and not aiming to be captured as some fake entity on the internet you should aspire to be. You shouldn’t aspire to be me unless you still eat ramen sometimes when times are real rough and you have credit card debt and your room is literally always destroyed and you’re hungover 94% of the time.
WITH ALL OF THAT SAID, there is good news, and that is the blog is growing! Mid month and already people have looked at my blog more in May than they did in all of April, my social media grows very consistently and in line with the trajectory I was wanting and brands are wanting to collaborate – all of this is GREAT news! With more eyes on the blog, I’ve had some friends kind of hesitantly ask me questions slyly like … “so..did they..pay you for that? you dont have to answer its not a big deal!” or “do you make money on this if i buy it” etc. etc. NONE OF THESE QUESTIONS ARE BAD, in fact, i WANT you guys to know the inside info to all of this. it’s important to me!! I’m not here to dupe anyone and i think it’s important that you understand how this works!
So here are the main questions I get and the answers, please let me know if there are any other questions you have. I’m truly an open book and want you to never feel out of the loop. I’ll pretty much talk about … anything 🙂
1. How do you make money as a blogger??
Biggest question and the one asked most often — there are really 2 big ways to make money: affiliate links and sponsorships. You know how I may have a picture (like the blowing-a-kiss one here!) and then I say “click here to buy a similar jumpsuit!” – you click it, you buy it, boom – i get a commission on that sale. THAT is an affiliate link and they are very common in the blogging world. There are 2 major affiliate programs for bloggers – ShopStyle and RewardStyle – they basically have a massive library of items and i just search for the product i’m writing about and they give me a link that is specific to me. Affiliates don’t only have to be fashion related – Amazon has an affiliate program, hotels, flights – all sorts of things. Sponsorships are when a company comes to you and says they will pay “x” amount of money for a blog post, an instagram picture, an instagram story, etc. and they are more obvious (and i’ll go into this more below). There are FTC guidelines that require bloggers to disclose when we have gotten things for free or for payment, that’s why youll see #ad, #sponsored, #partner in InstaStories or in different photo captions. I will disclose on all my blog posts if the post was sponsored.
Here are an example of an affiliate tool you may see in my blog:
To stay on the jumpsuit analogy, I went to Reward Style, typed in “jumpsuit”, filtered to less than $100, and browsed through styles + stores that I personally like and created this little scroller of jumpsuits with a tool they have for us on their site. If you click any of these and purchase them, I receive a commission into my little account. If you return it within 30 days, my commission goes away – so there’s no cheating the system here.
2. How much money do you make off of affiliates and sponsors every month?
Totally different financial relationships… as for affiliates, i get anywhere from a 3-15% commission off of anything you buy that i recommend – i actually get the commission off of the total cart, so if i recommend something that is $1, you click it and go to the site and spend $5000, i get the commission off the $5000. CRAZY right?! hasnt happened yet but ya know. I am told ahead of time what the commission would be by style but i do not choose styles based on their commission. I actually don’t look at it at all – this is a marathon, not a sprint, and my #1 priority is your trust. I will recommend things to you that I don’t even make a commission on if it means giving you the right advice or something on brand for me. I try to only recommend products less than $100, unless it’s worth it to spend more and then i try to stay under $250. I personally don’t spend more than that on shopping so why would I encourage you to do so? I can make $10 in a month with affiliates or i’ve made as much as $250. I only get paid out when I get to every $100 so there are some months I don’t get a check at all, which is fine.
As for sponsors, it depends on how many sponsorship deals I get that month. I’m finally at a place where I have about one sponsorship a month, but the big bloggers can have 3-4 a week and/or a couple sponsors they sign for a whole year to work together consistently and they receive a monthly paycheck (i.e. fabfitfun, nordstrom, etc). I have received sponsorships for as low as $50 + free product or as high as $500, but keep in mind it all relates to what is asked of me as well. If I have to take off work, hire a photographer, etc. that hikes up the price. It will also be less expensive for me to post 1 instagram than to write a full blog post. I charge a LOT for a full blog post because that holds the highest level of integrity for me. Only the best for this site 🙂
3. How do you find out about these different sponsored opportunities?
I do work with a couple companies and have people at these companies who kind of scout these out for me. I don’t pay them, because this is their full time job and the company they work for is paid by the brands. i.e. X BRAND will pay a company to go find the talent that is perfect for an ad campaign, and my rep would reach out to me to see if I am interested. If it’s something I would like organically on my own and my audience would like too then I will do it.
4. Do you ever say no to someone who wants to sponsor you?
All the time. I say no probably 90% of the time to be totally honest. Would I make more money if I said yes? Sure, but like I said, this is a marathon, not a sprint. This site is a place that you can turn to if you want some cool outfits and some fun trends (more trend posts coming!!! like weekly posts!) and i dont care if i can make another $100 to advertise some shitty sunglasses that will fall apart, i’m not doing it. I’ve also said no to a mens tie company (why does this appeal to me?), a child’s toy company (again, what?), eye drops (i actually totally would have done this as my eyes are terrible, but i did research on the company and wasn’t into what i found), and a sexual lubricant company…that’s just an area i dont feel comfortable dipping into, personally.
5. How can I tell if something is sponsored? Is it a trick when people say “this is not sponsored, I just love it!!!” ?
Like I said, you will see #ad, #sponsored, #partner on a caption or story if it has been paid for by the brand, as well as clearly marked on the blog page. There are extremely strict and scary rules (like i can’t emphasize that enough) about not properly disclosing to the public when something has been paid for. These are to protect you from being duped, basically, and i align with them 100% because you can get in HUGE trouble even as a tiny blogger with 100 followers if someone reports you.
If someone says “this isn’t sponsored i just love it so much!” I used to think that it was a sales tactic but they actually were sponsored to say that. i know now that if someone says “this is not sponsored” and they’re lying, it’s a total and clear violation of the FTC guidelines. When someone says it’s a genuine recommendation, you can trust the opinions are genuine. Unless that person is violating the guidelines themselves, but… that’s the biggest no no in this industry.
Although there are times that i’ve received gifts or free product that i never have used in my life, i will still recommend it to you but only AFTER I HAVE TRIED IT and will be 100% honest about it. There is no FTC guideline about saying nice things about products, we have every right to hate something we receive. But as a blogger, you’re basically in advertising, so i wouldnt do an #ad or #sponsored post for something I hate, I would simply return the product and let them kindly know I don’t need payment.
6. How much money do you spend on the blog?
Ummm lol a lot… but depends on what’s going on. Do I pay my photographers? Yes, unless we have a different agreement. I have about 4 different photographers I work with and each situation is different. I normally pay $25-30 per look that we shoot, and when I meet with someone I will bring 4-5 looks to shoot that should last through a month or so. Sometimes I get the pictures back edited, sometimes unedited, sometimes with a watermark, sometimes without a watermark, all of that affects price. It takes about 2-3 hours to shoot, and we normally all try to do it first thing in the morning somewhere in the city. I’ve put about $500 into the blog website design itself and have more features i’m adding and creating so that will only continue to increase. I’ve also spent another $500 or so on different tools needed but i have not bought a camera which is normally a bloggers largest expense. All in all, i’d say I spend about $3,500 a year on blogging and i’m very financially conservative when it comes to how I spend on my blog.
7. I really love certain bloggers but I don’t think to click the links they suggest, and I hate when they do sponsored posts. How else can I support them?
Being a blogger is a job, period, whether part time or full time. I easily spend 20-40 hours a week working on my blog AND I LOVE IT so that is not a complaint!! AT ALL. But you wouldn’t pay a plumber with apples, ya know? everyone needs to make money. That’s just the truth of it. Unless someone is just churning out ad’s left and right and lost the personality of the blog, keep following them and giving them likes and reading the blog posts you want to read. If you find something online that you want to buy, maybe reach out to a blogger that inspired you to look into that trend and see if they have a link that could benefit you. We love getting those questions. Using my link is free for you, and gives me a bit of kick back to grow and keep doing great things! Also, know that most bloggers are just dying inside having to ever do a sponsored post for something they don’t like, so for the most part if it’s sponsored, it’s something they enjoy.
8. What is LiketoKnowIt and why are you telling me to screenshot my picture??
GREAT question. Let me make this simple. LiketoKnowIt is part of affiliate marketing where anyone can sign up and see different bloggers, their outfits, and where to buy them. You can sign up here to become a member of LiketoKnowIt, it’s free. Once you login and download the app, follow me! I’m @ashli_p 🙂 Ok so you’re signed up, you have the app – that takes all of 5 minutes, honestly – if you ever see my picture on instagram and I have an Instagram link with a little watermark on the corner like below on the left, just screenshot the picture, open up the app and you can see whatever it is i’m wearing (or something similar!) so you can buy the things i’m into – like the pic below on the right. i do not make money on the screenshots, but it is a great indicator of what people are interested in!
does this help? does this give you guys some insight into how all of this works? i dont know why there is so much taboo on everything but i’m not here to act like something im not, or to hide these answers from you. i do this because i love it, i share with you because i’m an open book, and more than absolutely anything, i want everyone to understand we’re all just doin the best we can and sometimes we like to buy cool things. it’s now easier to do that and i’m happy i get to share that with you. commission, sponsorships – those keep the site alive and well, but they’re not why i am here. let me know if you have any additional questions!! i’m sure i missed some of them…