I have a large amount of readers that aren’t bloggers. I think we usually assume that everyone who reads our posts “get” everything we talk about, and I’m constantly reminded that the blogger lingo I use isn’t very clear to everyone.
Last weekend, I went away to the Outer Banks for my best friend’s bachelorette party, and my blog was a frequent topic of conversation. One girl asked me to help style her because I’m a “fashion blogger”. Everyone was curious about how much money I make, and how much time I put into it. And no one understood affiliate links.
First, the time? Enormous. A simple OOTD post with minimal commentary takes me well over an hour – resizing the pictures, formatting the post, finding the items to link to and creating the widget – its all pretty involved. Plus, the amount of time to take pictures and edit them, promote the post via Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, reply to comments – it gets to be a lot. And for a bigger effort, like Trendy Tot Tuesday, it takes me hours. So the payoff for my time is terrible, and that is why I’ll never be a full-time blogger.
Yes, I make money on my blog. And there are some blogs that do a great job of sharing that information about what they make, which I find fascinating – a good example is Dollars and Roses, who actually publish monthly income reports. However, this doesn’t seem to be a widely talked about topic. Much like how you don’t share your salary information with your neighbors, it isn’t published on the internet.
Except that I’ve never been one to follow etiquette, and I understand that everyone is curious. I make money in three different ways – sponsored posts/tweets/Facebook statuses, ads on my blog, and affiliate links.
My income is not consistent because I am not consistent. I’m not (and never will be) a full-time blogger. I don’t reach out to companies, I don’t approach ad opportunities, and I don’t take sponsors on my blog in the form of Etsy shops or bloggers. I just take advantage of opportunities that fall in my lap if they feel like a good fit.
I am affiliated with sponsor networks like BlogHer, Clever Girls Collective, and SITSgirls. Through these, I have the opportunity to apply for sponsored posts if I am interested in them. For example, I did a hair tutorial for BlogHer, and a post about Invisalign for Clever Girls. Since I am mostly a fashion blog and I myself have Invisalign, those were appropriate opportunities for me. I also am doing a series of Facebook posts right now about milk. For these opportunities, I typically make between $75 and $150 each.
I have Google AdSense installed, and that is pretty small – like, maybe $10 a month. But when they mail you a $100 check and you weren’t expecting it, that is pretty badass. I also have started using RewardStyle ads on my sidebar to stores I love, and I haven’t had them long enough to determine what the payoff might be for those, but if anyone is curious later, feel free to ask!
And, I do affiliate links and I’ve worked with three companies – Amazon, ShopSense, and RewardStyle. Affiliate links are when I link to an exact product from a store, and if you click over and buy it, I make a small profit. Some companies will give you a little bit depending on just clicks, some only pay out if the item is purchased – and usually you also get a kick back if they purchase other items while on that site.
Amazon seems to be the lamest. I can see what items people have bought after I recommended them, and my current total earnings is $2.22. Apparently you start getting higher percentages the more you “sell” – so perhaps in a year I’ll appreciate using them, but right now they are my last choice. ShopSense was easy to use, and allows you to get paid for each click you send to a retailer. And RewardStyle is invite-only, and they do delayed payments (to allow time in case items are returned, etc), so I’m still trying to gauge how profitable it might be for me – I also LOVE seeing which items I recommended that people purchased (and whoever ordered that white Asos cape I wore last week with the blue pants, you have GOT to show me how you style it!). I also love that RewardStyle tells you up front how much money you stand to earn if someone buys it.
However, per the Federal Trade Commission, bloggers need to disclose when they receive products or compensation for posts, or when they stand to make money (like off an affiliate link, or by a Zulily reward code, things like that). This is my BIGGEST pet peeve because a lot of bloggers completely disregard this recommendation.
For example – this is a sponsored post by Fashion Chalet. This blogger clearly was paid or received jewelry to link back to that retailer’s site. Everything about this post reeks of being sponsored – but she doesn’t disclose it. Its unethical and shady, and quite frankly its an insult to those of us who work so hard to be honest and transparent.
Here’s another one by Kevin and Amanda, and she REALLY should have known better – she is linking to and talking about HomeAdvisor, without closing that its a sponsored post. A link to a prior post says that “HomeAdvisor offered to help us with our pantry project and help us find a trusted, screened, and approved professional for our project in exchange for sharing our experience with them” – but HomeAdvisor is a free service. So she either received a discount from the company she selected, or was paid by HomeAdvisor for the post.
Don’t be those bloggers. Always be honest with your readers. And whenever possible, give them warning! This is why I put my sponsored post disclaimer at the top – so if I’m your favorite hate-read (you all know you have them) or you just hate sponsored posts, you can skip that day.
And when I link to items, I tell you first that I use affiliate links. And while not required, I also tell you where I got them, so that if you hate me and don’t want to give me any money but still like my pants, you can go find them on your own.
Lastly – make sure if you do make money or receive products, you pay taxes. Even if company XYZ only sent you a shirt to wear in an OOTD post, you should count the value of that shirt towards your income. Pay taxes! Its the American thing to do!
So now I’ll step off my little soapbox, but hopefully this explains a little bit. And to summarize for my mom, yes, if you want to buy something from a store I link to, please click my links and buy it
Unfortunately, I have no words left about this outfit. Except that I am having an obsessive love affair with these pants (and their twin that I own in red also), and wear them probably twice a week. For as many times as I’ve washed and ironed them, they’ve held up beautifully. You go, Target.
| pictures by Jess Wright Photography – if you are in the DC area, I highly recommend for weddings, newborns, family shoots, etc! |