I dread this question every single time I get asked it. “How do you make money?” I used to dread this question because I didn’t make all that much money and felt like a fraud calling blogging my job. However, now I dread this question because it’s not easy to answer. As a blogger, I make money in quite a few different ways.
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And no, that’s not me bragging, it just means I’ve learned over the years to diversify my revenue streams – and you should too! In the 2019 Professional Content Creator Survey, 59 percent of the bloggers surveyed earned revenue from 4+ revenue streams and only 8 percent of the respondents generated their income from a single revenue source. As bloggers, we need to not be putting all of our eggs in one basket, so to speak.
So, here it is – all of the various ways I generate revenue from my blog! (Note: I had originally published this in 2020, and am now updating it in 2022, as the way I generate revenue has shifted a bit.)
I use Intuit Quickbooks to track my blog’s income and expenses.
10 Ways I Make Money as a Blogger
1.) Affiliate Sales
An affiliate sale is when someone clicks a link on my website and then makes a purchase. I get a small percentage of that sale at no additional cost to the person purchasing the item. This ranges from large companies such as Sandals Resorts, Expedia, Amazon, and Nordstrom to smaller businesses such as Aviator Travel Jeans or Restored 316 (where my blog theme is from).
This is where the largest portion of my income is from at this time. It’s a win-win as I get to share products and companies I love and then earn a commission.
3rd Party Affiliate Networks I Use:
Skimlinks – they have almost every single company on the planet, and they also have an easy-to-use plugin! You just have to apply to Skimlinks, then convert the links you use to Skimlinks’ links (or use their plugin) and voila – you can earn a commission! Click here for the Skimlinks’ website.
RewardStyle – this is the network that makes my Instagram photos shoppable. While I don’t spend much time or energy on that these days, I do still like using the RewardStyle affiliate program. This is because they will sometimes have MUCH higher commission rates negotiated with companies such as Anthropologie or Nordstrom. Click here to contact me and I can submit an application on your behalf for this network.
Shoplooks – this is a network that has just about every clothing brand on the planet + they tend to offer far higher CPAs than the rest of the affiliate sites I have listed here. They specialize in luxury brands and department stores, though. I also have a dedicated Influencer Marketing Specialist here who helps me increase my affiliate revenue and snag some huge brand deals (such as Tory Burch, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, and more). This is my favorite affiliate network. (Click here for their website.)
Affiliate Networks I Also Use:
- Reclaim Collaborative – they feature a wonderful selection of sustainable and fairtrade clothing brands like Mata Traders.
- Awin – they have a wide variety of brands from travel to clothing and more (they’re popular with UK brands, especially). This is also the network that Etsy is on.
- ShareASale – TONS of brands of all varieties. I like using them for Chicwish and SCOTTeVEST links.
- CJ– has TONS of brands as well. I like using them for travel (such as Expedia, Hotels.com, etc.) and also for their technology partners.
- Pepperjam– has a lot of high-end clothing brands such as Madison Style, Amour Vert, etc.
- Rakuten – also has a lot of high-end brands and stores like Nordstrom, Shopbop, Free People, etc.
- Impact– has TONS of brands as well. Their selection is almost as good as CJ.
2.) Display Ads
I know, I know… everyone hates display ads. However, as my site grows, this is quickly moving to my largest steady source of income (even more so than affiliate sales). I’ve gotten a couple of complaints from fellow bloggers (rather ironically) about having them on my site, and it’s usually followed with “you can’t make that much revenue from display ads anyways.” And this may be true if you are not utilizing proper ad management systems. (I was completely guilty of this my first few years of blogging.)
However, since I was accepted to Mediavine’s full-service ad management program in 2019, my display ad revenue has quadrupled from when I was using Google Adsense. (As of 2022, I have moved to AdThrive’s Ad Network. )
Both Mediavine and AdThrive are very dedicated to making sure the ads served on your website are not going to slow your website down! The only downfall to Mediavine and AdThrive is you must have a minimum of 50,000 monthly sessions (roughly 60,000+ monthly page views) to get into Mediavine, and you need at least 100,000 monthly page views to get into AdThrive…and your audience needs to be mainly US-based.
If you’re not quite to the monthly requirement of 50,000 monthly sessions, then I suggest waiting until you hit that magic number before putting ads on your website. I have used Infolinks, Google Adsense, and Media.Net and none of them were worth how much they slowed down my website. You are better off waiting to get your numbers up first!
However, if you REALLY want to try an ad network, I would start with Ezoic. I haven’t personally tried them, but I know bloggers who have. They are not the best and will slow down your site horribly, but their RPMs are at least better than Adsense. You can also remove their ads at any time. Another option is She Media. They seem to be better than Ezoic, in terms of speed and RPMs, BUT they lock you into a 1-year contract – which I don’t love.
This is the monetization form that most people are familiar with as it’s the most obvious. This is when a company pays me to feature its product or service on my blog. I typically do this in the form of a review. Sometimes these are one-off partnerships (like this one with Nasty Gal), and sometimes these are ongoing partnerships with companies I absolutely adore. (Such as Tory Burch.)
I’ve gotten asked pretty frequently too about how to get sponsorships from blogging. So here is how I typically secure these sponsorships:
- Some of these partnerships I secure on my own by pitching companies with a deliverable(s) and my media kit. I’ll look for press contacts via the affiliate networks I belong to or by simply searching their websites.
- Sometimes I get sponsorships by applying to them via blogging platforms such as Shoplooks, Reclaim Collaborative (this sustainable clothing network also has many great sponsored post opportunities, SocialPubli, Webfluential, Activate, Clever, Dealspotr, Blog Meets Brand, Shopping Links. (Note, some of these platforms require you to go through an application process before you can use them.)
- I also will find sponsorships via affiliate platforms (which I mentioned in point 1). My partnership with Sandals Resorts happened thanks to using affiliate networks!
- Sometimes I simply get approached by a brand. Whether they found me via Google or my social media, etc. This is why it’s important to have an easy spot for people to contact you on your website!
Note: as of 2022, I no longer do this. This is because I am now making more money from my blog than by offering these services. It was a great way to make extra income previously, though.
This started because I was getting quite a few questions regularly about how to become a blogger, how to plan a trip to Russia or Argentina or how to dress for an event, etc. And, needless to say, it was getting pretty time-consuming to answer it all. So, I started responding with – “Sure, I can help you with that. That is actually a service I offer. Here is my rate sheet.” And you know what? People were willing to pay for my services.
This is where I come in and audit people’s blogs to find ways for them to improve and increase revenue streams. I’ll make suggestions and present my findings and then have a 30-minute Zoom session to follow up.
Custom Itinerary Planning
After living in Argentina and then Russia for a little over a year at a time – I get asked pretty frequently to help plan trips to these countries… as many people want to visit them but are intimidated by the planning process. Russia and Argentina sound scary compared to countries like Italy or Australia. Having someone who has lived there and experienced it all can make this planning process easier… and hey, that’s me! So, I will come in and help individuals and families plan their trips to Argentina or Russia with customized transportation, accommodation, tours, restaurant suggestions, and more.
Full disclosure, I have stopped doing this as of this year because I really do not enjoy it. (It’s just not for me!) But I used to help people curate their closets or pick out outfits for events. I also would assist at times for wardrobe on photo shoots.
5.) Social Media Management
Note: as of 2022, I no longer do this. This is because I am now making enough money from my blog to not work for outside firms. I actually get to hire my own social media managers and VAs to help run my blog! This was a great way to earn extra income when I was starting out, though.
After 7+ years of blogging and promoting my blog via social media, I’ve also started to get requests from small companies to audit and/or manage their social media. I currently have one client whose social media I manage full-time. However, I will also periodically take on audits or short-term management projects.
There are also times when a company wants professional photos for their website and will hire me to photograph their products. I will then sell them the rights to the photos. (You can see an example of this, here.)
7.) Social Media Promotion / Creator Bonuses
There are times too when a company only wants a shoutout on social media or retweet or a rePin. So, I will get paid for posting a social media post (without any blog post or other promotion needed). This is an example of a time when M&M paid for placement on my Facebook page or when Amazon hosts a giveaway on my Instagram.
This is something I started earning money from in 2022, and it’s when Instagram pays me for the number of views my Instagram Reels get. It’s not a ton of money, but it does encourage me to make Reels vs sharing photos. (The most I make from this is $100 a month…it seems like it caps out once I hit that amount each month.)
8.) Banner Ad Sales
I don’t do this as frequently anymore (as I like to save as much of my sidebar space for AdThrive ads as I possibly can). However, I do still have a couple spots for banner ads that I sell on my sidebar to businesses for a monthly rate.
9.) Clothing Sales (Poshmark)
Because I get sponsored by clothing companies, and because I do also like to shop… I have to constantly be cleaning out my closet. I’ve found that selling my clothing on sites such as Poshmark, to be a good way to free up some space and earn a little extra cash…and ThredUp, when I have A LOT to get rid of. I also use The RealReal for my higher-end clothing.
10.) Walking App Sales
Lastly, I also earn a monthly commission for selling my city-specific travel articles as self-guided walking tours. I do this by converting my blog posts into walking tours with GPS coordinates and selling them via the app GPSmyCity.
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*Disclosure: some of these links are affiliate links. Meaning, if you click a link and make a purchase, Have Clothes, Will Travel gets a very small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible! I am also a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.