Just got back from a long overdue island holiday last week. It’s been one of the most enjoyable moments in this year thus far, although the post-vacation days have been less enjoyable. Settling pending commitments and tasks after the vacation has fully occupied my time for 2 whole weeks, and that explains my recent absence from this blog.
On the last day of many past trips with friends, when all were reminiscing the good times while bashing the awaiting Monday mercilessly, I often got this quite a lot:
“But you’re not like us. You don’t need to get back to office on Monday!”
To a fashion blogger who doesn’t have a full-time job, that is quite true (rejoice!). And then for the uninitiated, the next line would naturally be:
“So, how do you actually make money? How your blog works? How do you survive?”
I got that very often, both in person and in comments. And then the motivated and the aspired ones would go like:
“I want to start a fashion blog too! You seems like always getting free gifts, clothes and invitation to events. How wonderful!”
On the other hand, there are those who love suspense, conspiracy and with higher level of curiosity:
“So the brands paid you to say good things about them? What if you don’t like the products? Would your blog become less popular if you don’t support them? Do they control what you write? Do you have to write for them even if they don’t pay you?”
Those kind of questions.
Seriously, how do I, or other fashion bloggers make money when all we talk about are fabulous clothes, accessories and products that cost our money?
I guess it’s a great idea to answer the questions here, and to get into the details of what actually happens behind those seemingly rose-tinted windows.
I have relatively young experience in fashion blogging (I only started to blog more seriously in 2012), so this post is far from a “fashion blogging 101”. It is more about telling the story of how this blog runs to my readers.
The Business Model
The fact is, there’s no business model to begin with when it comes to fashion blogging.
As with other type of blogging, or any other types of businesses and industries, you can have a business plan and go by it, but your ideas in the plan may or may not work.
Can I get 10k followers if I create pictures and pose like Blogger A?
Can I hit 50k pageviews every month if I write and dress like Blogger B?
Can I appear on a magazine if I post pictures of me wearing great outfits / branded looks everyday?
Can I get sponsors if I focus on writing about affordable clothing like Blogger C?
Can I get popular if I always gatecrashing fashion shows and show my face? (Haha I love this question)
The answer is Yes, and No.
“Yes”, because it worked before. Someone has done it (refer Blogger A, B and C).
It is also a “No”, because the Internet is pretty unpredictable. (Take the story of Facebook, Psy, Ryan Gosling MEME, Justin Bieber, and so on.) We can’t be sure of what readers like (or that they will like you), as well as what they will continue to like and support in the future.
But there’s one repetitive pattern that seems to appear on every successful fashion blog: Authenticity. (Then again, it doesn’t really guarantee you following and readership.)
Internet is like a shape-shifter – it evolves all the time, and it happens fast. It requires a very dynamic business model. (Come to think of it, what would I be writing when I’m 60? “How to tie your shoelaces when Arthritis strikes?” Hahaha! *jotting down on editorial calendar*)
If we view fashion blogging as a career, it definitely is a risky one without a proper career path, unlike that of a doctor, lawyer and engineer.
So what makes a successful fashion blog? Again, I was told that I need A, B, C, D, E, F etc but in the end of the day, nobody is sure until we figured it out ourselves.
That’s the beauty of it. As it still remains a mystery, it means you’re free to create your own success in the fashion blogging world. Business of Fashion dedicate the section “Business of Blogging” just to discover and understand how some bloggers work.
** Plus point: It helps A LOT if you have good look. And I think capitalising on your good (or cute) looks works very well in Malaysia or South East Asia, ahem.
When I resigned from my full-time job (I was an Assistant IT Manager), my plan was to take a break, and then to pursue a new position in a new environment. But I took a gamble and decided to make a difference in my life.
Creating a fashion blog seems like a perfect combination and a logical move for my 2 biggest passion – blogging and fashion.
Quoting one of my favourite fashion bloggers, Garance Dore – “my blog is my dream.” I treasure this blog like a baby. (Really, it will die if you stop feeding [content].) I treasure every opportunity, people and readers that came to me through this blog. You may call it my dream job, but that’s a big word.
AND, I am really, REALLY lucky that this blog somehow works out.
Back to answering the main subject. And here is how it works:
We know some other monetisable skills
And we know more than just writing about fashion.
For example, Garance Dore is also an illustrator. “Style Bubble” Susie Lau is also a writer and editor, and she used to write for Dazed Digital, Elle etc. Obviously, “The Sartorialist” Scott Schuman shots products for clients since he’s a photographer. “The Blonde Salad” Chiara Ferragni is also running a creative consultancy. “The Man Repeller” Leandra Medine is also a book author.
I’m also a freelance web designer and web developer. (See, don’t assume one doesn’t know about array, variables, function, class and MySQL commands when he writes about fashion. #lol #brag) There are IT projects running alongside this business of blogging.
But there are exception like the BryanBoy, who seems to make a living solely from his blog.
From time to time, brands and businesses would engage fashion bloggers to promote their products and services in the form of blog posts and social media posts. In exchange for the exposure, the brands would pay certain amount according to the level of exposure generated by the blog.
Different fashion bloggers approach advertorial differently. As this blog is very precious to me, I control very strictly on what content appears on this blog – we only write about things we really believe in.
In other words, we don’t say Product A is good if we don’t think it’s good, even if that means we have to say No to an amount of money. We don’t say Product B is bad before we try it.
Advertorials make up a large part of the revenue generated from this blog.
Sponsorship is similar to advertorials but a little different in terms of the renumeration – it comes in the form of products and services. This is part of the so-called “free gifts” that we received. The “gift shower” part isn’t true, because we don’t always receive free gifts.
Fashion bloggers may or may not be required to write about the sponsored items, depending on the brands and the bloggers’ willingness. Same as Advertorials, we review everything that goes onto the blog. (That means, we can say Yes or No.)
When sponsored products are piling up and left unused, some fashion bloggers may decide to sell the sponsored items. However, we have not (and probably will not) sell items that we received as a part of a sponsorship.
Paid Invitation to Event and Campaign
Tightly related to Advertorials are the paid invitation to events.
Sometimes, we get paid to attend events of campaigns, and then to write about it.
As far as I can recall, many events covered on this blog are unpaid, as we attend the events because we think they are interesting, or as a way to support the inviting brands, or the new ideas that we like.
Bloggers do attend events for networking. I, on the other hand, isn’t very good at this part haha.
Collaboration with Brands
More than just the Advertorials and paid invitation, collaboration with brands may include a longer term of engagement in the form of brand ambassadorship, being the face of a campaign, featured personalities, featured writer for the brand’s blog, special design collection, giveaway sponsored by the brands and anything the bloggers and brands can possibly think of.
Top-tier fashion bloggers are often seen doing collaboration works, as they normally have higher returns, wider exposure (for both the brands and the bloggers) and more interesting.
Google Adsense and Banner Advertisement
Saw the banners we placed on the sidebar and the header of this blog? Click on it and we’ll be paid by Google. 🙂 (So yes, you may click on them more often. Haha!)
When readers click on a product link on our site which lead to a sales conversion on the advertiser’s e-commerce website, we will be indirectly paid in the form of commission. Affiliate programs generate income, and the most popular affiliation program that we’re using is RewardStyle.
Online Store / Blogshop
It is a very popular source of income for many bloggers. Our very own popular lifestyle blogger Kinky Blue Fairy has one. “Gary Pepper Girl” Nicole Warne started off her blogging career with an e-Bay online store selling vintage womenswear. The menswear blog “Trashness” went into online business from blogging. And Ms Garance Dore has one now!
We do not have an online store right now. But who knows? 😛
So, there you go.
Making a living from a fashion blog is possible IF you really love fashion blogging, and have a strong passion. Why? Because anything powered by pure monetary intention, vanity and fame will not last.
A fashion blog that can fully support you requires a looooong time to build, and a formulae that somehow, works. (And again, it needs a lot A LOT of patience, time, resources and many nights of 4-hour sleep.)
On top of that, you’ll need to build a certain level of readership, and to have the awareness to monetise your blog as a business. The ways to make money from blog are getting really creative nowadays.
On a side note, there is a question I often ask myself:
How much are you willing to monetize your fashion blog?
(I’m sure you’ve seen blogs full of ads and pop-ups whenever you mouse over any clickable links. That sure can generate revenue, but No, I don’t like my blog to be like that at all.)
Questions? I’ll try my best to answer. Please be nice haha. 😛
P.S: All advertorials, sponsored content and complimentary products and services are disclosed within the posts.
Image by GQ Portugal April Issue, The Selby, The Coveteur, Man Repeller and Garance Dore Goods.