In today’s post, I want to share with you all about how I make money as a blogger. My name is An Trieu, and I am the founder and blogger behind the blog, Style and Senses, that you’re reading this post from right now.
I hope that sharing my stories and examples will help to answer some of your questions about how bloggers make their money. Hope this will also inspire and help some of you who want to get started on your blogging journey to just believe in yourself because it is possible to make money from blogging!
How I Started Style & Senses
Style & Senses is the blog name I came up with the night when I made a decision to give blogging a try for real. I bought its domain and hosting from GoDaddy back in February of 2016. Previous to that, I did try to dip my toes at some free blogging platforms for fun, so I knew what it was like.
I didn’t start blogging consistently after I made the move to Seattle fall of 2017.
My initial focus was fashion, and it is still my focus until now in 2021. However, my blog has evolved into more like a travel and lifestyle blog.
Fashion has always been a passion of mine growing up, but I never believe that I could make a career out of it. I’ve got to say that to me where I am right now, countless hours are spent with many ups and downs. Blogging has never a thing I start out of sheer luck because I’m not one of those ‘It’ girls who are made popular by social media nor do I think I have the look or one special relatable trait that would ever make it to the ‘popular’ page. However, there is one thing I know for sure: I love fashion and want to have my own brand at some point.
Before thinking of making any money from blogging, you will need to start a blog first! Since I love having a written and visual diary, owning a website/blog makes the most sense for me. I see my blog is like my home. In addition, a website or blog is the most secure and long-term profitable platform!
There are many online forums and platforms that will guide you through how to start a blog.
You will need to come up with a blog name that represents YOU and your brand. Make sure it’s easy for people to remember and does not sound wordy or try-hard.
Then you’ll also need to pay for a domain, hosting, and design for your blog. For example, Style & Senses’ domain and hosting are from GoDaddy, and I pay a yearly fee for it. It is run on WordPress, and I get a new theme/design from Themeforest via Envato Market once every two years. The price of a new WordPress theme, depending on what look you’re going for, can vary from $25 to $100+. I’d advise you to reach out to get help, ask a friend, a colleague, or start it on your own if you’re tech-savvy and curious enough since there are lots of free resources on the internet these days.
Trust me, setting up a blog is not too hard, but the hard part is to decide on what to blog about and be consistent with it. It will take a while before the money starts coming in, so make sure it is what you love doing!
Do you have a good quality camera? Grab a photographer friend or collaborate with a local photographer to help you create good quality photos.
Start listing out blog content, research keywords, learn SEOs, and promote your blog on social media channels while learning everything else in between. You’d have to be the person who wears many hats, if not, collaborate or split the work with someone who does it well.
1. AFFILIATE LINKS
After nearly 2 years of blogging, besides displaying ads (I haven’t done so), using affiliate links and promoting things that sell on the blog are other great ways to make income. There are many affiliate marketing platforms that you can sign up for such as RewardStyle, Amazon Associates, Share A Sale, CJ Affiliate, Rakuten, etc. On these platforms, you’ll be able to find huge lists of products to promote and brands to work with. Some require your blog to have a decent number of monthly unique visitors and followers on other social media channels, and some do not! You’ll also be able to generate affiliate links that will, in turn, be converted into referral commission every time someone buys after clicking on those links on your blog. You can also link them on your Instagram bio, swipe-up (10+K followers), Youtube, and basically anywhere.
RewardStyle: The Dallas-based company found in 2011, has launched LIKEtoKNOW.it app with features that enable consumers to instantly shop via screenshots or likes on social media posts. I’ve recently downloaded the app and posted a few outfits, so search ‘antrieu’ on the app and follow me there!
RewardStyle is one of the biggest monetization platforms that attract lots of bloggers and Instagrammers these days, so of course, you’ll have to apply to get in. In fact, it took me twice! So make sure you post consistently and promote to get a decent number of visitors and views, social media following also helps, too! They would not pay out until you reach $100 commission, so it did take me a bit of time. Blogging money is hard-earned money, guys!
But don’t feel discouraged, you’ll find your workflow, and there’s no better way to realistically blog than monetize your content. Leave affiliate links in your blog posts and your Youtube videos’ description box, or send it to friends! APPLY HERE or I can certainly refer you, so definitely reach out to me!
Rakuten: Besides rewardStyle where I can be able to generate affiliate links, use my own links, and earn cash back, I can be able to get better cashback options from some stores using Rakuten or referring people to SIGN UP HERE!
Amazon has recently launched its own influencer marketing program, and I get accepted right away. Here is my Amazon storefront: www.amazon.com/shop/antrieu – Even though I don’t care so much about the fashion there, I can still link home products and unique finds! It’s nice because everyone shops on Amazon these days. So definitely jump in now and GET STARTED HERE!
ShareASale, based in Chicago, is a 19-year-old Affiliate Marketing Network, and it was acquired by Awin in January 2017. Many popular companies such as TheRealReal, Rent The Runway, Warby Parker, SHEIN, Sally Beauty, Lulu, YesStyle, etc. offer competitive commission rate per sale there. Recently, I’ve become an affiliate with some of those brands but have yet to get started on promoting anything. SIGN UP HERE!
Some brands have their own affiliate programs via Partnerize, Impact, and more!
Google Adsense allows bloggers to display ads on their blogs and Youtube videos. It is an easy way to make money every time a user clicks on the ad. This is called ‘cost per click’ (CPC) whereas ‘cost per thousand impressions (CPM, M is the roman numeral for 1,000) means they’re paid for ad views instead of clicks. YouTubers with at least 1,000 subscribers with more than 4,000 valid public watch hours in the last 12 months can potentially earn money from their Adsense account! SIGN UP HERE!
If you have purchased something from my blog per my recommendation or used any of my links or codes before, thank you!
2. SPONSORED IG POST AND BLOG POSTS
Just like affiliate links, I will not accept, apply for or work with any brands that sell products or offer services that I don’t believe in or don’t use. While bloggers can earn a decent amount of money from sponsored posts, it is not consistent. For example, there will be more product launches and new campaigns rolling out for the holiday season because everyone is out there to shop! It tends to slow down in the summer because people much prefer going outdoors versus staying in and shop.
There are many campaigns that bloggers can apply for, and those tend to require a blog post with a few social shares. Bigger Instagrammers might be able to apply for Instagram campaigns, but those are rare! In the past 2 years, I either get contacted directly via email by the brand owners themselves or their PR/marketing team, other PR representatives via marketing agencies, or anyone that the brands outsource or utilize, really. I’ve also reached out to brands that I love before, but that does not guarantee a reply. I don’t like to do that often because brands might get mistaken that I want free things. Just make sure you leave your blog-related email on your IG bio, on your blog, and everywhere you see fit for any potential brand collaborations and projects.
Some Influencer Marketing Platforms I’ve worked with:
Social Fabric: My first ever paid Instagram post was with Tide Laundry via Social Fabric, and you can see the post, HERE. I was invited to join the platform and later on was able to work on many cool campaigns in 2018. You should SIGN UP HERE and give it a try! A few brand blog posts I’ve completed via Social Fabric: Kahlúa, Henkel® Nature Box, Kroger: Ultimate ‘Get-well’ Care Package, Rite Aid: CND VINYLUX, LISTERINE READY! Tabs®, Walmart: Schwarzkopf color ULTÎME.
Activate: Activate is one of my most favorite influencer platforms I’ve worked with to date. I like that I get to talk to brands directly if they decide to respond to my application. It has taken me many applications, but I do really like the brands that I’ve worked with so far: Billie, IG post HERE, Shapermint, IG post HERE, and Artis, a premium brush brand with a special code and affiliate link mentioned above.
Fohr: I only like Fohr’s IG account and A Drink with James Youtube video series for influencer-related news and IG best practices. In addition, I like that they display blogger/influencer’s statistics on a very nicely laid-out page, but that’s about it. You can view my stats, HERE.
Collectively: So far I’ve done a few surveys where Collectively would send out survey email when there’s a brand project that they think I might be a good match. I’ve only got gifted a few REN Clean Skincare products, IG post HERE, and because of this, I get to try out REN and end up loving their products a lot. This fun Aperol project is also from Collectively. Because I have a smaller following, I am happy to work with brands that I resonate with or projects that I think it’s fun and allows me to be creative!
Mavrck: The team at Mavrck is really good at sending emails with new product launches and brand campaigns, and I get their emails fairly often. They don’t seem to ever pay with cash but rather Visa or Amazon gift cards. Some examples of the work I’ve done are FTD Flowers for Mother’s Day, o.b organic tampons, etc. You can certainly apply for campaigns if you’d like to try out products, but I don’t anymore do it for free anymore. It’s because I do think my work is worth being compensated!
AspireIQ: Paid collab with Empress 1908 Gin on IG HERE
Social Dopler: Read about my work and the Lexus campaign HERE.
In my free time, I do a lot of research and Googling to find out the next opportunities. That’s why I feel like I always work because blogging has immensely integrated into my lifestyle now that I don’t even feel like working.
Anyway, I’ve found there is always something for someone as long as you look and ask for it! Literally, there are many influencer marketing agencies and PR agencies across the US and especially locally, and they can be found by simply typing in some keywords.
I’ve applied for many platforms and even more brand campaigns than I can remember.
3. FREELANCING, CONSULTING, OR COACHING
Well, this I guess only applies to someone who has some skills they take pride in and is ready to become their own boss.
Freelancing, consulting, or coaching can open doors to greater freedom in money and time. Common skills that you can use to do the work for others are writing, graphic design, photoshop, video editing, social media managing, etc. You can research your clients, run workshops, write ebooks that offer solutions that make them coming back for more! If you like to teach, can you teach a valuable skill or connect one-to-one in a unique way that is in high demand within the industry?
I’ve personally known a few people that are able to utilize their Instagram accounts in which they have grown organically to a couple of thousands of followers to get a real job doing social media. Some people have launched online coaching classes teaching other influencers how to pitch their brands and get paid by brands. And I’m sure business or life coach is something you are all familiar with!
For example, I would never have the gut to go freelancing if I was not blogging for a while and knew multiple ways/channels to make money. I had already done blogging and earned some income the previous year. Remember I don’t have big numbers to pitch brands but I know I can produce quality content and my audience is very niche. Brands have hired me to consult for their brand style guide, modeling, styling, writing, and talking about their products! With what I do, I am able to land business for my photographer and travel opportunities.
With all that said, freelancers do not make consistent income. It is why I’ve got back to the 9-to-5 workforce recently so that I can make money to pay monthly bills. I’ve been there, and it’s very stressful. So if you’ve been thinking of quitting your job to go freelance, just work an extra month to save a bit more money because it will help to cover the bills in the months that you don’t have work. It’s just a reality that no one will ever tell you!
4. SALE OLD CLOTHES & CONSIGN DESIGNER ITEMS
I used to use fashion blogging as an excuse to buy and acquire things on a weekly basis. I needed to buy new things so that I would have content to shoot and inspire y’all. With that mentality, I have to pay a fair price by seeing my saving quickly goes down. And it’s really sad! Soon I realize that it’s ok to let go of some of the things that I do not reach for. In addition, reselling, consigning, and buying second-hands are great ways to recycle fashion and extend their life cycle. One’s trash is someone else’s treasure, and I am glad to see the thrifting culture is taking over the fast fashion trends.
If you’re into designers like me, definitely check The RealReal for second-hand pieces and look into their consigning program. I’ve consigned 10+ designer items so far, and they were sold so quickly. Their commission rate for beginners aka Insider ($0 – $1,500) is 55%, and it changes depending on seasons and brands. The next tier is which called Icon ($1,501 – 9,999), the commission rate is 60%, and VIP ($10,000+) is 70%. Always check their Designer Directory for brands that they accept, here, and start CONSIGNING HERE!
Recently, I have been consistently adding new items to my Poshmark account, follow @styleandsenses. Most of these things I’ve had for quite a while, some are gifted items from brands I’ve worked with, and some are duplicate but different colored items that I have already had. Some I have only worn once! I’m selling them because I want to minimize my closet and give those things a new life, a new home.
5. SELL YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY/GET PAID TO PRODUCE EXCLUSIVE CONTENT
Because I work directly with my bf photographer and see him as my business partner rather than just someone who I hire on here and there to shoot with me. I truly consider any possibilities to help him make a few extra bucks. Because of him, I know what is right when it comes to image rights, and I think you guys should know this too!
When brands reach out and ask for hi-res photos of you wearing their products, for example, make sure to tell them to only use them for the web, social media and emails. Photos edited for web usage usually are lower in resolution compared to prints, and I typically ask brands to pay extra if they intend to use my images for ad purposes. That way I’ll be able to use that to pay for my photographer, it’s a nice gesture, you know! I’ve charged a brand $200 for 5 photos of me modeling/wearing their products before. On Social Fabrics, some campaign details do ask if you’re ok to receive X amount of cash so that brands can own your content. That usually is about $200 – 300 on top of whatever you’re being compensated for your work for that particular campaign.
Even though I’ve started my Youtube channel and have yet to find a consistent posting schedule, there are brands that have reached out to me for video rate. Trust me! There are brands out there that will be willing to pay for quality content on your blog/Youtube channel/etc. so that they can repost or use it for their own marketing purposes. Numbers of followers or subscribers do not always equate to money, and I’ve said this many times. I don’t like working with brands who underpay or use the excuse of me not having a tenth of thousands of followers and offer exposure instead. No thanks!
Ways to Build a Blog in 2021: Build Your Credibility
There are many ways to build your blog’s credibility. First of all, don’t believe in anyone when they try to tell and sell you a package or anything that says will you ‘get-rich-quick.’ IT IS A SCAM!
If you’re a beginner, know that bloggers don’t just sit at home and write blog posts all day. And you shouldn’t anyway! Trust me, I do a lot of the back-end work such as updating outdated content, optimizing and organizing old posts, and learn a million other things to promote my blog, apply for brand campaigns, write and reply to emails! Focus on offering useful, quality content that users will find helpful, and money will follow. Or as the saying goes, do what you love and the money will follow. It is true!
Believe me! It has taken me so long to be where I am at right now, my blog and my fashion career, hence I will never take it for granted. I don’t want to ruin it by cheating or even paying for anyone to tell me what to do because my blog is a true reflection of my brand. I’m honest with myself and my readers, and I hope that you know that and will do that, too.
How much money can I make from blogging?
It really depends on how much effort you put in and the time you are willing to invest. To be honest, many beginner bloggers lose interest and give up quickly.
There is no easy way to tell you how soon you would start making money. Some bloggers start making small amounts soon after starting their blogs. Others struggle to get their blogs to take off. Free products are often not free, but it’s better to treat them as a business transaction. Don’t just accept anything and everything. Exposure will not pay your bill!
Once you have your blog up and you have worked hard for a little while, tally up those numbers on Google Analytics and Instagram Insights and start reaching out and applying whenever you feel ready. You will be making money based on how much traffic you get, the monetization methods you use, and the type of work you put in. And it is a myth that no brands want to work with low following accounts! The majority of the money I make is from sale commission either via affiliate links, paid sponsorship, and random consultant jobs here and there. My minimum rate is $100 for an in-feed permanent post on Instagram and $250 for a blog post. It’s negotiable, and I usually offer to send over hi-res images for brands to repost on their social depending on the brands and the scope of the campaigns.
Save & Set Goals
Sure that you’ve heard me talk enough about this SHOP LESS topic this entire year! 2020 is such a transformative year for me, both in my style and personal life. Ultimately, the decision to shop less, even though it was not a choice, was a survival decision. My relationship with money is different now after a few months of going freelance, and the same goes for clothes and how I see blogging in the longer-term.
My goals for Style & Senses in 2021 are to start on email marketing, utilize ads on my blog, and start a shop (via WooCommerce on WordPress). I also would love to file my blog as a business and start keeping track of my income as well as setting aside more money into my savings, of course!
I hope that this blog post has given you some insights as to how I make money from blogging. Please feel free to always reach out if you have any questions about the topics I’ve mentioned in this post! Comment below on how you make your money if you’re a blogger/influencer and what you have found interesting if you’re a reader. Thanks again for reading!