One of my goals here is to bring more transparency and understanding to the world of blogging and influencing. One being I get a fair amount of questions about how to get started with a blog, IG page, building your own brand, etc. so I want to help answer those questions (PS. Be sure to check ou the rest of my blogging tips posts for more help with that)! Another reason is because I think that with this type of job being relatively new, there is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding around what it actually entails. So with all that said–today I wanted to talk about the different ways that bloggers and influencers can make a living.
Affiliate Links If you aren’t familiar with affiliate links, this is basically where someone can earn commission on an item that they share. One of the best examples is probably fashion bloggers. If you notice, the majority of fashion bloggers use “Like to Know it” which is a platform that allows them to earn commission on items that their audience decides to buy through them. So let’s say you follow a fashion blogger, and you buy a skirt through a link they provided–they will then get a small commission. As they should!
Affiliate links are great in the sense that if you’re going to be buying items and sharing them with your audience, why not make a little money back? However, unless you have hundreds of thousands of followers it’s probably not going to bring in that much of a commission that you can make a living from it. I use affiliate links occasionally but they only make up about 1-3% of my income LOL. I am someone where if I can find a link (affiliate or not) I will definitely share it but my main focus is more on the “ideas” behind my content and not what’s the newest items/trends for you to buy. Not that there is anything wrong with that! Just saying that some brands are more affiliate heavy then others.
As a side note, affiliate links can be a good source of income when starting out because you may not have a large enough following to make a (consistent) income through brand sponsorships. However, with affiliates you’re only making a small percentage in commission so you just want to make sure that you’re not spending a ton of money on items in hopes to make a large enough commission to cover what you spent in the first place!
Sponsored Content with Brands As of right now, this is how I make 97% of my income (just being transparent!) So this is how brand partnerships work. Brands are essentially paying you to have access to your audience that you’ve built. If they believe that your audience and message aligns with their brand’s audience and message then it makes sense for you to promote and share their product with your followers (I hate that word because I don’t feel like anyone is a “follower” but just using it for logistical purposes here). Sometimes this is a one time post and other times it may be an extended contract for up to 6 months, a year, 3 years, etc.
I would say that this is one of the most lucrative revenue streams because brands are established and have money to spend. In 2020, it’s estimated that influencer marketing will be a 20 BILLION dollar industry (crazy!) so brands definitely see the ROI when working with influencers and/or bloggers.
While sponsored content can be lucrative, you have to have a pretty solid brand and following in order to make a living this way. To give a frame of reference, for every 10K followers, an average posting rate is $100-300. Now, there are a lot of factors that go into this besides a follower number. Quality of your brand, how engaged your audience is, etc. But this helps give an overall frame of reference. The other thing to think about is a limit to the number of sponsored posts you can do. Well, I should say there SHOULD be a limit. I follow some influencers where every other post is sponsored and that gets old fast. It gets to a point where you don’t even know what their personal brand is because they are too busy promoting other brands. This isn’t to bash anyone, but I just want to bring up that you have to be careful about the balance of sponsored and non-sponsored content. Not to digress (I feel like I could write a whole post on this and maybe I will!) but this is just something to keep in mind.
Creating Your Own Product or Service Whether you are just getting started and have a smaller following, or you’ve cultivated a larger audience–this is a great option to make more of a sustainable income. Plus, you’re building your own brand through products and services versus just promoting others through sponsored content.
In order to get started with this, start thinking of what people come to you for. What are you an expert in? Then start offering free material in this area and see how your audience responds. If people are interested, then you have some indicator that it would be a good product or service to explore. Examples of this would be running your own challenge, creating an e-book or online course to sell, or creating your own tangible product. For me, I first did the CG Macro Challenge. I had a ton of free tip sheets around macros and I could see via downloads that my audience cared about that topic. Then, I created a paid challenge around that content to help them understand macros even further. So whether your audience is small or large–ANYONE can do this! Just figure out how you can serve your audience and what you can share with them that will make an impact!
An extension of this would be creating your own product line. This is something I’m currently working on (atheleisure line in the works!!) but depending on what the physical product is, I would go the route of online challenges or services first. Reason being is the barrier to entry and overhead is a lot lower with those than creating your own physical product. Creating your own product is typically very expensive and takes a lot of time. And is usually not something that you are even profitable with when you first launch. That being said, this is something that bloggers and influencers can definitely do but probably wouldn’t do it right out of the gate.
Collaborating with a Brand on a Collection/Item Now this route can be a great way to test what launching your own physical product would be like. Typically an influencer or blogger will team up with a brand and they will work together on creating a collection or item. Examples are when Whitney Simmons teamed up with Tarte Cosmetics and launched an eye shadow pallete. Another example is when I partnered with Rokwolf and designed the CG x Rowolf crops, and the current collection I’m doing with Voda Boutique (launching next Wednesday, October 9th btw!!) Typically in this case, the brand takes on the “financial risk” and the influencer or blogger is just earning a commission.
These are the main ways that come to making an income off hand as an influencer or blogger, but if you have any other ones please share with us below!! Would love to hear your thoughts in general on this topic! xxC