How Blogs Make Money: Tactics for Influencers, Podcasters, and Websites

This article may contain affiliate links; if you click on a shopping link and make a purchase I may receive a commission. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
How blogs make money, a guide to how blogs, podcasts, and even news sites make money from affiliate sales and promo codes by Wardrobe Oxygen

I want to ensure all Wardrobe Oxygen readers understand how blogs and social media influencers make money. You deserve to be an informed consumer. Whether you realize it or not, people are making money from you surfing the web, reading newsletters, scrolling through social media, and using your favorite apps. So, how do influencers and blogs make money?

If you're wondering if I have any business writing about how blogs make money, here's a little about me. My name is Alison Gary, and I started Wardrobe Oxygen in 2005. I now regularly create content for this site, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, as well as the occasional newsletter and YouTube video. I have also created user-generated content for brands, been paid to discuss blogging and influencing, and paid to write articles on other sites, and likely within a year, I will be updating this article to add another way I am making money as a blogger.

I received my first free product from a brand within the first few months I created Wardrobe Oxygen. I made my first dollar from my blog two years later, and in 2017, I finally had the confidence and savings account to quit my full-time job to focus on my blog.  I am the sole provider for my family, and while I will not share specifics, I net six figures from my job as a blogger, influencer, and content creator.

How Blogs Make Money (ask well as influencers, podcasters, news sites, and more)

Bloggers make money in various ways: they can get paid as brand ambassadors, earn affiliate commissions on products they mention or review, place ads on their site, or become Instagram influencers—like the ones you see on your feed all the time. Some bloggers even create their own product lines. And if that's not enough, some bloggers even earn money by creating content for brands (sponsored posts as well as user-generated content, which I will explain below).

In this article, I focus on how blogs make money because I consider myself first and foremost, a blogger. I am on social media, but the primary focus of my business is this site, AKA a blog. However, all these ways of making money as a blogger work for influencers. And influencers are more than folks on Instagram and TikTok pushing products and being paid to wear and use certain brands.

Does your local newscaster use her Facebook account to promote a local event? That newscaster is an influencer. That movie star who shares her favorite skincare brand in multiple interviews? She is an influencer, even if she doesn't mention the business relationship with the brand. That artist who thanked a hotel for their stay? Influencer. Dermatologist on TikTok who recommends a product and shares he is NOT being paid or in a relationship with the brand? Still an influencer.

Essentially, any creator who uses their platforms to promote specific products, brands, or events is an influencer, whether or not they get paid.

Keep this in mind as you read interviews, see segments on talk shows and pop culture news shows, and view the social media platforms of your favorite musicians, actors, TV personalities, athletes, and other celebrities. More folks are influencers than you may realize. And blogs are gaining popularity again, so you will find a lot of your favorite influencers now pushing you to their websites to also make money from blogging.

Websites Make Money from Affiliate Programs

Bloggers, influencers, content creators, and other online platforms all use affiliate marketing programs for monetization. They sign an agreement that they will receive a commission in exchange for using links to promote a retailer. This commission can be any amount.

Most clothing companies (what I primarily write about) are between 3-20%. Some companies offer a flat rate per sale, especially when it is the purchase of a service or a membership. Such commission rates can be negotiated depending on the affiliate program and the retailer.

This is the same method used by social media influencers. That button on an Instagram story, that link in bio, that shopping app (such as LTK, which used to go by the name rewardStyle). Influencers also make money from affiliate programs.

What does this mean?

Let’s say I’m wearing a red sweater. I share a link to where you can buy this same red sweater, and one of the scenarios below take place:

  • You love the sweater, click on the link, and immediately purchase it. I will receive a commission, which is a percentage of the price of the order.
  • You love the sweater, you click on the link, add the red sweater to your cart, but before checking out you peruse the site and add additional items to your cart and purchase in one single order. Most likely, I will receive a commission on a percentage of the entire order, not just the red sweater.
  • You are interested in the sweater and click the link. You decide not to purchase it, but peruse the site and add something else into your cart and purchase it. Most likely, I will still receive a commission on a percentage of your order.
  • You are interested in the sweater and click the link. You decide not to purchase it and close the tab on your browser. I could still possibly make a commission on your next order from that website.

Affiliate links have cookies, which can last from a day to a month. You can open back up that online boutique two weeks later, buy absolutely nothing I recommended, and I can still potentially make a commission on your purchase.

If you use a different device or browser, clear your cookies, or switch to Private mode, the cookie will not “connect” (at least not yet, they're figuring out how to bypass different browsers and devices). Many cookies “break” when an affiliate link opens up in an app (however, affiliate programs are beginning to provide “deep links” that carry the cookie to the retailer's app so a commission is still generated.

If you close out the browser, but click on a link to that retailer the following day, the new affiliate cookie will replace the original. Last click wins. This holds true on mobile devices as well as laptops. And it doesn't have to be the same product. You can click on a link to check out a sweater on Amazon, decide not to buy it but the next day, buy toothpaste and protein powder… the owner of last click you made to Amazon just made a percentage off your order.

screenshot of the google search page on a laptop after searching for the phrase, "best sneakers for plantar fasciitis"
A screenshot of the Google search page in Google Chrome. It shows the results after searching for the phrase, “best sneakers for plantar fasciitis.”

Now I'm going to blow your mind. Let's say you go to Google and search for “best sneakers for plantar fasciitis.” You will see something similar to the screenshot I shared above. Below the search field, you see a carousel of different sneakers available at a variety of retailers. What you may have missed, is that above this carousel is the word, “Sponsored.”

Below, you begin to get search results of links to sneaker brands. And again, what is above those links? “Sponsored.” Someone paid to have that link show at the top because they will benefit from your click and buy. And when you click on those links? Google also makes a commission.

Someone will make a profit off your online purchase; you have the ability to choose whom. If a website, a blog, or an influencer inspired you to make a purchase, go back to their platform and click a link for that retailer. It doesn't have to be the same product, just any link for that retailer before clicking, “purchase.” (Though clicking on the original review or mention is nice for analytics).

This is why many bloggers have a “Where I Shop”, or links in their Linktree or bio to storefronts or their LTK profile. it’s an easy way to get that last cookie and commission for the sale.

Websites, Influencers, and Podcasts Make Money from Promo Codes

While some companies use affiliate links, others choose to use a promo code. This is especially popular for podcasts, videos, and social media. The company tracks how many sales were used with that promo code and provides a commission (flat fee or percentage).

If you want 20% off that thing you learned about on a podcast but don’t want that podcaster to make any money off you; you can search for another code with Google. However, know that influencers (and individuals who get promo codes from refer-a-friend programs) will go to coupon sites and the comments of blog posts and share their codes.

On top of that, coupon code and deal sites like RetailMeNot and Honey make an affiliate commission off of your visit. So, instead of giving the commission to the person who introduced you to the product, you’re giving the same amount to a complete stranger and/or a major corporation.

Affiliate programs are seeing the popularity of promo codes. Brands I have worked with or years have changed their business methods and are now offering influencer and blog-specific promo codes.

If your favorite influencer tuned you into a specific product or brand, ask them if they have a promo code. There's a chance they already have one or can acquire one within a few days from their brand contact.

How bloggers and influencers make money

Blogs and Websites Make Money from Ads

The first money I ever made from Wardrobe Oxygen was from ads. I joined the BlogHer network way back in 2007 (it's now under SheMedia). I hardly knew any HTML but was able to add some code to my Blogspot blog, and the ads showed up magically and earned me what I called, “beer money.”

These days, ads are essentially the same. Site owners, however, have more options for ad networks and have more control over what types of ads they permit. I know as a member of Mediavine I can choose to not show ads that promote firearms, sensationalism, weight loss, and other topics not in line with my values. I am able to choose where the ads are placed on my site, if they have audio, and some other details to better fit my brand and audience.

I share this because if your favorite blog or website is featuring advertising offensive to you and you believe others, you should send them an email and let them know. It may be an advertiser that snuck through their filtering system, it may be something they didn't realize could be offensive and will stop featuring, such filtering may not be available with the ad network they chose, or they support such offensive content. It's worth asking and not assuming. Be an informed consumer.

With that, ad blockers are popular; I don't criticize anyone who uses one. And if you don't use one, you need to realize you are a consumer just by scrolling through a site with ads. Choose where to get your content. Traffic to a website, reading posts on a blog instead of in your inbox or RSS reader… this creates ad revenue.

If ads are preventing you from being able to read a website or blog, let the owner know and provide detail of the browser and device (we also love screenshots). We don’t always see what you see, and while we desire revenue from our ads, we’d rather have you be able to enjoy our content and remain a fan.

Influencers and Blogs (and even News Sites) Make Money from Sponsored Content

Companies will pay bloggers, influencers, celebrities, and websites money to write about them. This can come in the form of a mention in a video, podcast, social media, or blog post. Some news sites even feature such paid content. Per the FTC, we are all supposed to clearly state this sponsorship before you read or hear anything about the company and “above the fold” (you don’t have to click to read more to see the disclosure).

Usually, these kinds of sponsorships have a contract. The company will have specific guidelines – post on this specific day, have these many photos, and be sure to discuss this one aspect of the company. Sometimes, these contracts can be negotiated for deliverables, expectations, and rates.

Companies will often offer direction for the content, at last in regard to format, platform location, wording, and theme. Different companies will have different ideas on creative freedom, but usually they want influencers to create the content they know will appeal to their audience.

Some companies ask to review sponsored content, occasionally requesting edits prior to it being published. Some companies are adamant about the type and location of disclosure of this paid partnership. Contracts may require very specific wording, and ask that competing brands not be featured within a certain timeframe before and after sharing the sponsored content.

What is User Generated Content?

User generated content (UGC) is content created by a person instead of the brand. And there's a possibility that you've created UGC without even realizing it.

Testimonial videos. Using a retailer's hashtag and showing up as a photo on their website on a product page. Brands featuring influencers and real-life customers in their feed. These are just a few ways brands gather user-generated content. Some UGC, as you see, is free. And some they pay folks to create.

Like sponsored content, UGC has a contract. Use certain retailers' hashtags and you're signing a contract, you're just not getting paid. But influencers create UGC and many folks who are not traditional influencers are paid by brands to create testimonials, getting ready with me (GRWM) videos featuring a certain product or brand, styled product photos and videos, recipes, modeling for websites and social platforms, and much more.

Sponsored content and user-generated content opportunities sometimes come directly from the company or its PR firm. However, most are through influencer networks.

What is An Influencer Network?

An influencer network is the “middle person” between the companies and the bloggers and social media influencers. The influencer signs up to the network; most are free, though there are some you have to pay to join. The influencer adds their site’s URL and connects the network to their social media channels and Google Analytics (tracking pageviews and more for websites), writes a brief bio about their brand, and occasionally links to previous content they are proud of and represents them well.

Some influencer networks only negotiate sponsored content. Some are also affiliate platforms or ad networks. Brands will often use a combination of different influencer networks as well as in-house and contracted influencer relations teams to promote products, campaigns, and collections.

A company will come to an influencer network with a goal. I want 25 bloggers between the ages of 24-35 who are moms and live in a major metro area to try out our face cream for 30 days and share the results. The influencer network says no problem, uses the stats they have for each member, and offers potential candidates. The company then can say yes or no to these candidates.

The network does all the communication with those approved to be part of the campaign. Some influencer networks offer campaigns and invite members to pitch themselves to be a part, and for others, you have to wait for an email offer not even knowing the campaign was a possibility.

You, as a reader of blogs and viewer of social media, can rarely tell if a sponsored post is directly from the brand or through a network. Some, like Collective Voice (formerly known as ShopStyle), will require disclosure that mentions both them and the brand. Others prefer to stay behind the scenes. It doesn’t really affect your experience; the only one affected is the influencer.

Bloggers Make Money from Guest Posts and Selling Links

Brands and marketers will email bloggers, offering to write a “quality guest post” for a blogger’s site and pay the blogger to publish it. These guest posts may read like a blatant ad, some read like it was written by AI, and some sound exactly like the voice of the blog. Unless the site uses a byline, it’s nearly impossible to distinguish these from sponsored posts created by the website or blog. These are done to increase awareness and to use the Google ranking of the blog to reach a larger audience.

Some companies will pay money to have a “do follow” link added to a blog or website. This goes against Google's Terms of Service, but folks still risk doing this as if not caught, it can be lucrative for the blogger and improve the Google ranking of the site that receives the “do follow.”

Influencers Make Money from Creating Products

eBooks on how to blog. T-shirts with their sayings. On-demand courses.  30-day capsule wardrobe workshops. Private member-only Facebook groups and Patreons, message boards, and newsletter subscriptions like Substack. These are a few of the many possible products that a blogger can create to make additional income.  Depending on the kind of product (say, t-shirts sold on Zazzle or Shopify, printables, ebooks), this is a great form of passive income – build it once, and it sells for months or even years without any work on the blogger's end.

In recent years, influencers have collaborated on or designed fashion, jewelry, home goods collections, and more.  Sometimes, the influencer creates their own product and company.  Many times, the influencer offers some style direction, but the product is created by the parent company. 

This can prove extremely lucrative for the influencer, depending on contracts, involvement, and such.  With the popularity of influencers and many having equal or larger audiences to actresses and other traditional celebrities, these collaborations also prove lucrative to the parent companies.

Can Bloggers and Influencers Have Their Own Product Line?

Yes! Bloggers can earn money by creating their own product lines. This may be creating their own business and brand or having a company invite the blogger or influencer to assist in designing a limited-edition product line.

Some examples of influencers and bloggers who have their own product line or business that they own are:

Some examples of influencers and bloggers who have products or a product line hosted by another brand are:

A good way to look at the difference between product lines owned by the influencer and those hosted by another brand is if you think of Chip and Joanna Gaines, hosts of the HGTV show, ‘Fixer Upper' and influencers (they do promote products on their social platforms). The Gaines have their own business called Magnolia where you can buy product. However, they also have a line hosted by Target.

Some of the most common products that bloggers create are makeup and skincare products, but there are many other items that you can sell as well. There are product lines for almost any niche, from camping to parenting, beauty to home renovation. The best thing about having your own product line is that you will be able to earn money from it!

Blogs Make Money from Donations

Especially during the pandemic, the audiences of influencers and creatives began asking for ways to “tip” their favorite people or donate in thanks. And many influencers, myself included, found ways to make this happen. I use Buy Me a Coffee, but there are many other virtual tip jars like Support Me on Linktree, Facebook Stars, TikTok Tips, TipJar, or a personal Fundraiser on Facebook, GoFundMe, or another donation platform.

A lot of creatives also share their Venmo or CashApp screen names to gather donations. With journalists being let go from so many publications, influencers of color often making less than their white peers, supply chain issues, and budget changes with retailers, AI, and algorithm changes favoring forums over blogs, a small donation to your favorite creators can make a big impact in their life and their morale.

How Much Money Does an Influencer Make?

In a perfect world, bloggers make a rate dependent on their traffic and/or the results of previous campaigns or affiliate sales. The more traffic you have, the more you make because you’ll have more eyes on the product. If you’ve proven that your existing audience already likes the product, it’s easy to be paid more because the company knows they will get a return on investment. Some companies have larger budgets, and some contracts have additional asks (shares on social media, posts on Instagram, etc.), therefore offering a higher rate.

Being an influencer today is even more like the Wild Wild West now than it was a decade ago. There’s no consistency or gauge for rates that all companies follow. There are some guidelines mentioned in courses and content geared towards bloggers and influencers, but I can share from personal experience, that few follow that guide and the size of a company does not determine the size of their influencer budget.

How Does Website Monetization Affect You as a Reader?

Vote with your wallet, and your fingers. If you like an influencer, like their content. Engage. Leave comments. Share it. Click on their links. Tell your friends.

Companies are becoming much better at recognizing fake followers and engagement. They would far rather see real people interested than just that influencer’s friends. And I know I am not the only one who finds true follower or reader engagement motivating. Sometimes it can feel like you're creating in a vacuum. Comments, likes, recommendations, and shares show our content matters, and helps us better understand and cater to our audiences.

And if you don’t like an influencer, don’t follow them. Don’t “hate read,” don’t talk about them on message boards, don’t link to the content you want to snark about on Facebook, and don’t even type their name. Any mention, even on Reddit, benefits an influencer. It brings them higher in Google rankings, and it introduces them to a new audience who may be a fellow “hate reader” or may actually become a fan. There is no bad press; some believe there is no bad engagement when money is made from it.

How Do Blogs Make Money? The many ways that bloggers, influencers, podcasters, and even news sites make money from your eyes and clicks.

Questions About Online and Social Media Monetization

How can I tell I am reading a sponsored post?

The FTC states it needs to be clear before you read anything about the product or brand that sponsored the content. However, brands and influencer networks may have other requirements instead or in addition to the FTC expectations.

For written content like a sponsored or paid post on a blog or website, the mention of sponsorship should be before a single affiliate link. Some require the mention before any written content, and some are fine with it after the first paragraph, but it should always be “above the fold,” which means you can read it without scrolling.

For social media content, a paid partnership should be very clear before requiring you to listen to or click on the content. For videos, it should be said or as a text overlay in the first few seconds. For captions, there should be a hashtag that clearly explains the relationship. Some platforms like Instagram have what we call a “handshake tool” which shows the paid partnerships at the top of the content.

Some brands use specific hashtags that include the words partner or ambassador. You will see influencers use hashtags like #sp #ambassador #partner #gifted to disclose the partnership. However, the FTC and several companies require additional transparency, notifying audiences of affiliate links and using clear hashtags like #AD and #sponsored.

To learn more about influencer disclosure please visit:

How can I tell I am clicking on an affiliate link?

Usually, an affiliate link is shortened, either with bit.ly or a company’s custom shortener. Left-click the link and choose “open in another tab” and watch the link. It will switch from being shortened to being quite long.

Some, like Amazon’s, may have within that long URL the name of the site (my Amazon affiliate account is so old you’ll seepart of my site’s old name in the link). Others, you will see things like “affiliate” “affprg” or “shareid” in the link. Also, anything after a “?” in a link has some sort of tracker or cookie to gather data though it may not specifically be for an affiliate program.

I use Rakuten. Will an influencer still make a commission on my purchase?

Last click wins, and when your last click is to Rakuten or any other cash back program, you are the one who wins. Rakuten is essentially an affiliate program for you, the consumer. Instead of the website or influencer making the commission, you do with your cash back.

My personal opinion is to get that cash back, my friend. As you can see from this article, I can still make money as a blogger. Scroll through my articles, tap to read other articles, follow me on social media and engage with my content there, buy me a “cup of coffee,” or share my business with others. All of those methods will benefit me and any other influencer and will likely prove more lucrative than your purchase at Target.

What form of monetization makes the most money for a blogger?

Oooh, that totally varies, as I touched on above. I know bloggers who make my yearly income in one month just from ad sales. I know bloggers who don’t use affiliate programs and make a good living just off sponsored content. I have plenty of friends who hardly make a dime off their blogs but make great money from social media.

I have friends with ten times as many followers as I do on Instagram. They're lucky to pay their rent each month. I also have friends who may have a social presence but make the best money from creating user-generated content.

It’s all about the influencer, their preferred method of monetization, how much traffic their site gets, and what kind of audience they have (interests, reading style, etc.). This is why I am skeptical of courses that teach influencers how to make money; no method is right for all creators.

What is it like being a full-time blogger?

I became a full-time blogger in December 2017.  The biggest thing I noticed that changed is every single post mattered and consistency mattered.  I think the same holds true for anyone who owns their own business.  You can't just decide to close the store on a Tuesday, one bad Yelp review can kill your business, you can make 50 great lattes and screw up just one and it's for someone who has never been to your cafe before and now will never return.

Income as a blogger isn't consistent.  I know the minimum each month I need to make to pay the bills and the amount I need to make for us to be comfortable.  Anything over that has to go into savings because it's totally possible that I won't make that minimum next month.  Affiliate revenue is held up because a brand won't pay the affiliate program.  A sponsored post went live 103 days ago, and the influencer network contact has ghosted you even though you're filling her inbox with emails about your missing paycheck.

You can spend twice as much time this year preparing for Amazon Prime Day, the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and crafting gift guides and not even make half of what you made last year. You can be getting great opportunities for sponsored content month after month, and then suddenly, it all dries up for a quarter for no reason. Google or Instagram will change its algorithm, and your tried and true methods will no longer draw eyes to your content. And we all saw what happened with the pandemic.

Influencing as a career can be stressful, and it can cause you to make rash decisions like partnering with brands you usually wouldn't feature or taking rates lower than you deserve.

Again, I think anyone who owns their own business can relate to this.  We've all agreed to work with a client who didn't give us a good vibe, and we regretted it.  We've all taken gigs for less than we deserve because we got them during a dry month.  We can only hope to learn from our mistakes and do what we can to prevent ourselves from being in the same situation in the future.

I think all business owners can also relate to the occasional mistake of forgetting our purpose for our paycheck. When you're struggling to make your month, or even when you're positively killing it and everything you touch seems to be turning to gold, you can get focused on the revenue and not the work and who we work for. Meditation, writing, therapy are all good ways to stay on track, remember how you got to this point, and to work with your heart and soul and not your calculator.

If you have any other questions about how bloggers make money, ask in the comments and I will answer to the best of my ability!

I originally wrote this blog post in 2019 but republished it because I think it is very important information all should read. Remember it's not just blogs blogs and influencers who make money in this manner. Most professional websites and news sources on the internet, podcasts, newsletters, and Facebook groups employ at least one of these money-making tactics. Be an informed consumer.

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  1. Thank you so much for this very detailed and thorough explanation … as well as taking the time to share it with all of us. There is so much to absorb, I’m going to re-read so I can really understand.

    I’ve been following your blog for a year or so … very glad to have found it! I appreciate your honesty about products/fashion and the tips you give!

  2. Because I read this post every time you update it, I’m familiar with the ideas — thank you! I wonder, however, how many people do not understand that their entire existence is being influenced in oh-so-many ways by social media and other online activities, including Google searches. If you expand that influence to the media, you realize that we are rarely, if ever, thinking for ourselves using pure factual information. Add in AI and we’re [potentially] doomed!

  3. Your blog is one I look forward to reading and you’ve introduced me to a world of interesting brands. Also love your instagram stories. Good to know about affiliate links and the “last link wins. “

  4. Thank you! You underscore how important it is to understand the system in which we partake and to follow only the bloggers who really have something to teach/tell/observe. I used to work as a sales associate in department store (gloves, hosiery, and the big one: bridal), and I have felt that glowy feeling of a mutually satisfactory transaction from both sides. Nothing wrong with open-eyed transaction.

    Sometimes I look at this blog like a one-woman magazine, wherein you do a lot of presorting and considered review on my behalf, which supports my time management and decision-making. I did not know – but surely must have been registering unconsciously – your discernment in selecting ad content. Thanks for your useful, hard work.

  5. Great information! Thank you for sharing and educating. I’ve definitely been influenced by you and made some purchases, so I will be more mindful of “last click wins” in the future!

  6. I think what I like and appreciate most about you, aside from your style and approach to fashion, is your openness and transparency–about everything having to do with your job, both the recommendations you make and the behind-the-scenes peeks at HOW you work and get paid. Thank you!

  7. I read this every time you share it again, as it’s very helpful , & it seems like there’s something new I learn each time. Thanks for being so transparent! That’s good to hear about the apps starting to be able to get affiliate links working. Thanks, too, for updating your blog so that it’s even easier to find your affiliate links. A question I have: if I order online through your link but pick up at a local store, do you still get the credit for the sale? I’m assuming “yes” but wanted to make sure.

    I am continuing to think of you, your sister, & your family over the holidays, as you navigate this time after your mom’s passing.

  8. Thanks for providing this information–it was very interesting! I read your blog, a humorous book/life blog, and a couple of recipe blogs exclusively so any fashion or related purchases are all yours. I’m glad to be able to contribute in any way because you’ve provided huge value and entertainment to me over the years. Happy Holidays to you and your family!

  9. Thanks for updating this! To clarify, if I click on your link and then I click to activate Ratuken before I check out, then you don’t get the commission, Ratuken does?

  10. Thank you for reposting/updating this. Of course I’m on the outside looking in, but I always like to learn what it looks like from the inside.

  11. I read a number of blogs, and you are the only one who has every been 100% transparent about monetization. Among many other things, I really appreciate that about you. Thank you, Alison, for being so open and honest!!!

  12. This is as interesting today as it was in 2019. Thanks for updating and republishing this important info. I’ve recently noticed several of my old favorite fashion and style bloggers (not you) have begun monetizing their site, and honestly, I”m tired of the constant onslaught of manufactured needs and desires. Knowing what they’re doing and why they’re doing it (to make money) lessens the sting, but I wish bloggers were more upfront about turning their online hobbies into full-time jobs. Also, as consumers, we are free to pick and choose, while being honest with ourselves about what and how much we really need to buy. It’s hard, though, to want to support a blogger in her small business without wanting to constantly buy, buy, buy.

  13. This was incredibly comprehensive and informative. I am embarking on a new online blog project that is for fun, and to become familiar with the tools available now, but of course it would be wonderful if down the road it could bring in some money too. Thank you for being so transparent and taking the time to compile all of this info. You’re the best.

  14. I tend to read your sponsored posts more than anyone else’s because it’s like you’re taking us along with you on the journey of “this is a product I’m trying out from a sponsor” rather than others trying to disguise it as much as possible (we can still tell it’s sponsored, right?).

  15. Wow, what a terrific write-up!

    Just a quick note: OldNavy/Gap/Banana Republic are one of the few brands that I, as a Canadian, buy online, so I always click your links first. But in the last couple of weeks, I’ve been getting this message:

    “The link you clicked on is malformed. Contact the editor of the originating page.”

    It’s only with Gap/ON/BR. All your other links work great!

    Thanks for this terrific blog.

    1. I think that’s because they’ve now separated their affiliate programs and we now need to choose which country we’re linking to. And then on top of that I often can’t access the links for other countries. It’s sooo annoying, especially since the world is getting smaller and there are more international readers and shoppers. But thank you for trying with my links, I hope to give enough info that you can search for the item yourself.

  16. Stupid question time! You mentioned that ads bring you money but weren’t very clear about how exactly they do that. Is just having ads show up on your website enough, since the company assumes that means more eyeballs on their copy? Or do ads only generate revenue when someone clicks on them? What if it’s the same person clicking on them, or if it’s the same ad showing up between paragraphs & you click on 2 of them by mistake? Thanks for answering!

      1. I love how you reveal the workings of your business. Your family has gone through so many changes in careers through the years. I still wish your hubs would do some guest reviews/style opinions on the blog. There seems to be very little middle aged man fashion writing around that isn’t outright shilling. Also I’ve seen quite a few pics of you on poshmark lately. D ont think it’s your accounts?

  17. Hey Elison,

    Here after a long time and like always loved your post. I do missed reading your posts as I was busy with one of my new projects, but will be regular from now on.

    Keep up the good work.

    ~ Donna

  18. Great informative post. I’m happy to read sponsored posts because I know you’re getting paid for your work. You work to find sponsors that are a good fit for your blog and your audience. Now I’ll go click “like” on all your facebook posts…

  19. Thank you so much for this well thought out (and well written) post. As a writer with special interest in wellness and nutrition, I have been asked by both a nutritionist and a yoga instructor to help them with their blogs. I realize I have a lot to learn. This post is a jump start for me.

    thanks again,
    Paula M Bousquet

  20. This is an amazing amount of quality information, which I will bookmark. Thank you so much for your work. As a very small company, I so appreciate this valuable post. You have made me a subscriber.

  21. Wow, so much to think about from this post! Thank you for sharing! I’m definitely going to start using affiliate links more carefully. I’m the type of person who clicks a link then thinks about it for awhile before purchasing the item. I’m going to make sure I go back to the blog post or instagram post to refresh the cookie and make sure my commission goes to someone I choose to support.

    As a random comment, I really love when you mention how long you’ve had an item for (and provide links to old posts, if they’re available). For example, your mention that you have had a banded waist Lands End dress for years made me look at the brand in a whole new light! I also like when you mention that an item has worked for you through size fluctuations over the years (I think you mentioned a coat in the nsale post?). I constantly struggle against the feeling that buying a brand new item X will solve all the problems I have at the moment. When you talk about how much you use and love things that have been in your closet for years, it helps me to refocus on what I already have.

  22. This and your follow up posts are totally brilliant. I also love your posts on how you have turned blogging into your sole income source. I have no desire to do what you do but I do want to know the ways I can assist you to create the content that I like to read. I use Bloglovin for old school blogs. I can’t get into Instagram. Other than following you on Bloglovin what do I need to do to “engage” more with you? Where should I comment – blog or Bloglovin? Does it matter? Does loving a post on Bloglovin mean anything for you income? Thank you

    1. Comment here, not Bloglovin’. Loving a post on Bloglovin’ will increase my views in their algorithm and possibly increase the number of people who follow me there but it doesn’t help me in any other manner. Bloglovin’ is a blog reader, but it mainly benefits Bloglovin’ and not the bloggers. But all RSS readers are that way. I recommend them because my content being accessible is my top priority, not the views and clicks. Do what is easiest for you!

  23. Wow! What an informative post. Thank you so much for breaking it all down. I’ve been thinking about blogging again but the game has changed so much since I last had a blog. You really explained everything in such an easy to understand way. I think I will give blogging another go!

  24. So I’m wondering… I receive your blog via e-mail, but I also see you on FB, does it make a difference whether I read thru the emailed link or on FB? Would it be better if I used one over the other? Even better for you if I click thru on both?
    I don’t go in Insta very often and sometimes I only look at your stories but don’t “like” your posts because I’m too busy to scroll down for them. Is it better if I do both? I’d be happy to adjust my social media habits to benefit you and your family❣️

    1. You are so sweet! I honestly want you to do what feels comfortable for you. I offer so many different options to reach the content so hopefully there is a good option for everyone as well all read content differently.

      But for specifics:
      – If you have the choice between clicking from an email and clicking from Facebook to my content, Facebook is better. The more engagement I get on Facebook, the more likely it will show up not only in your feed but in the feed of other followers. People can like my page and never see the content show up because of the algorithm. Facebook’s algorithm sees engagement (clicks, likes, comments, shares) and thinks, oh if these people like it, it must be good so we’ll rank it higher.
      – Brands don’t see the metrics of your Instagram stories unless you share them with you. Same with normal Instagram users. So likes and comments of content in the actual feed benefit influencers the most. If you see an account that looks interesting but has what seems like an unusually small following or few likes you question that account. What’s wrong with it? You may be less likely to engage or even follow it. Accounts that have a lot of followers and likes, even if you don’t like the content as much, you may be more likely to follow and engage with. You feel that somehow you’re missing why it’s so popular and hang around and engage to see if it will eventually make sense to you. So more likes on feed content means more chance for making money and also gaining new followers.

  25. Thank you so much for writing this. I’ve been following you on Instagram for about 1.5 yrs and you and other influencers have helped me work with coming to terms with my plus size figure. I haven’t gotten it stellar yet… but it’s much better than it was!
    I’ve been considering a career change recently and think that this has been very helpful also in looking at the nuts and bolts behind blogging. I value your courage, confidence, and joy you bring to your posts!

    1. I am so glad fellow influencers and I have been able to help you with your style journey! That’s so awesome, and my goal with my photos. Do keep me posted on how it goes!

  26. Alison, thanks for sharing this with us. Insider info is always interesting but it’s especially good to know that you’re upfront with your readers. It’s so weird, yet interesting, to read about the sponsored posts & how all bloggers aren’t paid the same for those. I’ve noticed that WalMart is trying very hard to break into the fashion game, based on how many bloggers are pushing it hard. Just can’t help but wonder know who’s getting paid lots & who’s just getting to keep a little merchandise. It’s greatly appreciated that you always start off sponsored posts by telling us it is sponsored. I know bloggers are trying to make a living, but the ones who don’t tell it upfront and instead hide it in very light font at the bottom of the post seem sneaky to me. Maybe they don’t intend it that way, but I would much prefer to know it at the beginning. I wish you continued success with WO; still my favorite!

  27. Thanks for the thorough and informative post. I learned a bunch! I am happy to hear that those of us who do not have the money to purchase items very often still have a way we can support you. I enjoy your content so much and often wonder if I should send you small donations of money in appreciation of your fine writing,

    I am assuming that bloggers who are working in fields other than fashion and beauty operate in a similar manner. For example if my partner and I have have an auto repair blog and a reader clicks on a link for a tool we link to, we will get a small commission?

    1. Yes, if the site that carries that tool has an affiliate program, that link can be monetized. All niches monetize, but different niches find different forms of monetization more lucrative. For example, I am in a Facebook group with a lot of food/recipe bloggers and many of them do not use any affiliate links. They find the time it takes to create those links not worth it for the small amount they make. But they do extremely well with ad revenue and sponsored posts. Each niche is different!

  28. As usual honest and spot on! I’ve been a long time reader and was so excited for you to go blogging full time. A lot of your links etc don’t work for me as I live ‘down under’ but I still click through and look at the thoughtful options you have curated.
    Thanks for a positive, lovely corner of the internet!!
    PS strong is the new sexy I love lifting weights!!

  29. Thank you (as always) for your transparency. I try to always start at WO2 and click through to Amazon.com or other sites before buying. You are definitely my trusted source for honest feedback, and I am always excited to start my shopping from your link. Your explanation helps me understand mire of what goes on behind the scenes, and how to better support you.

    Melissa in AVL

  30. I really enjoy your blog and your Insta postings. This information is an excellent explanation of the “business behind the blogger”. I’m leaving this feedback hoping to help your numbers, if only by a tiny addition.

  31. Hi Alison! This is the first time I have ever commented on a blog. I am a daily reader of Wardrobe Oxygen but I never think to comment. You give us so much good advice and fashion inspiration and I realize I need to reciprocate and let you know I hear you! I just clicked follow on Insta as well. Looking forward to what you have for us next. Thanks for all your hard work and keeping it honest!! Have a great weekend.

  32. Thanks. You made me realize that I need to stop hate reading. Time is too valuable and there are enough things in the world that already upset me. Your post also explains why certain products and companies start showing up en masse on certain blogs. Your Walmart post comes to mind.

    I stopped following one blogger immediately when she started promoting Goop products. Those products are so high priced and low value (to me) that I presume there is a lot of money for bloggers. It’s also possible that the blogger I unfollowed wanted the Goop aura to rub off on her.

  33. Wonderful Alison! I appreciate your openness and transparency about the blogging behind-the-scenes. I love your writing “voice” and I have great respect for your business and how you choose to run it. Thank you for the excellent content.

  34. How long do your affiliate links work? Let’s say I’m going to buy something from Z company and before doing so I search your archive for Z content so I can click on a link to have your site get credit for my purchase. Will that still work even if the blog post was from several years ago?

    1. You can click on a post from way back in 2005 and that link will still give me a commission. Even if the item is sold out, if you buy anything on that site I’ll get the commission. It’s funny I have one affiliate program I use that has an app to track sales and I see a graphic with each link used and I see things and am like… I wrote about that a decade ago! Great question!

  35. If anything, posts like this make me respect bloggers MORE! It looks so easy and effortless that I have a hard time loving the sponsored posts and ads, but seeing how the sausage is made gives me a lot more respect for how the pieces work and I’ve become much better about reading those pieces / accepting the ads. Thank you for the transparency, it makes me a better reader about supporting my favorite blogs!

    1. I’m so glad! I think a lot of us keep it easy breezy because many aren’t just selling items but selling a lifestyle. If we look life is #GOALZ you’ll buy that sweater or that couch or lip gloss to get a small portion of our life. We do the same with celebrities. I guess I am an influencer, but I am not selling a life. I see myself as a writer first and therefore I believe sharing how the sausage is made helps legitimize my profession and with it, my hardworking peers.

  36. This was such an amazing and informative article. I had no idea how this whole system worked. Thank you for being so open and honest about it. I’m going to share this with my network so others will be informed as well.

  37. Great info and so thorough! I have often wondered how people monetize their blogs (the details) and it does sound like a full time job! You do it well. Keep it up.

  38. Thank you, Alison, for such a thorough and detailed post (and for all the work you do on the blog!). I appreciate it and you so much.

  39. Hi Alison. I always enjoy reading your blog. You are an outstanding writer. I am one of those people that uses an ad blocker and a browser that excels at privacy. My privacy is of utmost importance to me and I find it reprehensible that corporations use my private data without my permission to make money. It seems to me that you have traded a corporate office job for a freelance gig that has you running a hamster wheel run by corporations. I am not being flippant, I am compassionate to your plight. Corporations set the rules, make them inscrutable, and then keep changing these rules using algorithms that ultimately benefit only themselves. Like others here I refuse to use Facebook or instagram because of the social and political havoc they have wrecked on our country. Your honesty here has made me angry for the way the gig economy has used hard working people to further the interests of corporate America at the expense of the security of the workforce. I don’t know what the answer is. You are a talented hard working woman. You will figure it out and do what is best for you and your family.

    1. Back again, Alison, to say that your daughter will benefit all her life from having had a mother with your principles.

  40. It bugs me so much when followers complain about sponsored post. Seriously, people are just supposed to make content for free, I guess! And feed their families with hopes and dreams. I think it is amazing the families and individuals that can do something they mostly love and make it work for them.
    Even the people I *hate read* deserve to be paid for my guilty entertainment. 😉

    1. I’m with you Rebecca! Or people who subtly shame bloggers because the items they share aren’t at their price point. They want personal shoppers for free and act offended at having to spend a dime. Go figure!

  41. Thank you for the blog tutorial! I now have an understanding of how it works and will be approaching it differently. I have enjoyed your blog for almost a year and I look forward to reading it. Thanks!

  42. I’ve been following Wardrobe Oxygen and High Heels in the Wilderness for years – they were the two blogs that brought me to this media in the first place – and what drew me and has kept me coming back daily is the quality of the writing. Your content is relevant and resonate, and your voice is authentic. You also have a sense of humor. We support authors we enjoy by buying their books, musicians by buying their music, artists by buying their art, and I see no difference in supporting bloggers. The negative connotation around monetizing blogs in that context seems odd.
    I follow only a few blogs and don’t use IG or FB , so I am glad to know how to demonstrate appreciation and support for your work.

  43. Good info. WO is a regular stop for me now, because I’m the same height/size. I’ve purchased a number of WO recommendations in the short time I’ve followed the blog. I’ve been pleased with most of them. I can get specific if you like, or if it benefits you. If the price is the same using a WO code or link, as I’d see on my own, more power to you, Ms. Gray! Re: blog vs FB/IG – if I’ve read the blog, I might not click Like on FB unless the post resonated, and I’m unlikely to click on the FB post to re-visit the post if I’ve already read it. IG – oy, I’m still having trouble understanding the point of those stories. They can be interesting but frequently have too much verbiage for me to read and process before the next story starts playing. Then it’s frustrating because I might not be able to go back. Some of those I’m following post videos, some just post stills, and since it’s easy enough to post a non-story photo or video on IG, I wonder why it must be a “story” at all. Thanks!

    1. Stories go away in 24 hours so they can be less curated, more off the cuff, and appeal to a different audience. I get ten times as many views on Stories than I do likes on my feed/a photo. If you hold down on a story it will pause which helps with reading all of the text; when I learned that it was a major gamechanger! But there are some, I just don’t watch their Stories. And no one has to watch mine, just what they like. And Facebook, the more you like items from a person or page, the more you’ll see it. Both Instagram and Facebook have an algorithm, the more things are liked and commented on and shared, the more that content will show to everyone. And the more you will see it. That being said, I don’t care if you don’t “like” or comment on it, I want you to enjoy content the way you want in your format! Thank you for this feedback it’s awesome!

  44. Thank you for this detailed explanation. Your transparency is much appreciated. I love your blog and enjoy following you on Instagram. That’s the only social media I regularly use and do enjoy your stories!

  45. Our blog is offered as a tool in our firms design box simply because clients enjoy it. We offer virtual edesign service links for our firm but otherwise the blog is not a revenue producer. Blogs our like our babies. Something we are all equally passionate and at times frustrated with them. So happy to learn more about mechanics of successful bloggers. Your efforts are appreciated!

  46. Good info to have, thanks for keeping it real as always. Useful to know about the last link wins.

  47. Thanks so much and really interesting! And glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t look at Instagram and Facebook. I’m trying to limit my social media time but read my email. Appreciate the info about the links and will definitely use them when I’m shopping. In particular, I’ve enjoyed your skincare information.

  48. Thanks for keeping it real! It’s easy to assume so much when we see your smiling face looking fabulous. The hours at the computer, phone calls, endless emails; all overlooked. I’m impressed that you were able to turn this into something that supports your family. I appreciate how you make a point to share some of the day to day things in your world on Instagram as well as how to style one dress ten ways on the blog. You offer something for everyone. You’re “brand” feels real. And in a world of influencers, that’s more important than anything.

  49. Hi Alison. Thank you so much for posting this. I recently put some ads on my site, and a couple of people have asked me about them. You do such a great job of explaining, so I linked this post on my FB page.

  50. I’m glad to read that I am not the only person who barely looks at insta or Facebook. This blog has been one of my daily joys for more than a year now so please know that your content and honesty are absolutely the best!! We don’t like most sponsored content because the blogger isn’t as honest about the product. But I don’t feel that way with yours and regularly read your sponsored posts. It helps that most brands are my faves.

    Thank you for this eye opening information about blogging. It certainly helps to know how to support my favorite bloggers.

    1. Agree. I always wondered how the business side of blogging worked. Now I know! And I’ll be more apt to click links.

      I didn’t see anything that addressed potential cyber security issues with blogs or links. Might be a good topic for a future post? Keep up the good work!

      1. In what manner? All sites had to switch to HTTPS last year or the year prior so you will see in your browser this is a site that is secure and has been for a long white. I work with reputable affiliate and ad networks and do not offer any downloads. Ads do gather information on your browsing history, that’s why it seems like the ad for that brand seems to follow you everywhere. Google Analytics and influencer brands connected to my social and site can provide general information about the demographics of my audience. I’d love to know more ways to make this blog secure for all of you!

    2. I don’t think it’s fair to say that the blogger isn’t as honest. It’s all about how the blogger approaches the sponsored content. For example, I did a post recently where I styled a Soma dress seven ways. I saw the dress, asked for it free from Soma and found it so awesome I pitched to them the idea of styling it several ways. They agreed, and all the content, idea, styling, wording, etc. are all from me. I had another sponsored post this year where I used the product/s and some I loved and some I didn’t. I was honest in my post and the brand asked me to remove the negative wording but told me I could clarify in comments. Sure, there are some influencers who will lie through their teeth for a few bucks, but you as a blog consumer have the ability to vote with your fingers (and also give them the feedback that you can tell they’re lying). I’m glad to provide you with this post, it’s important to know everything that happens behind the scenes! <3

  51. Very educational. Thanks for sharing. Your post has answered a lot of questions and I appreciate you taking the time to put together such detailed information.

  52. Hi Alison! I think this a stunningly important post, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing it. Keep on keepin’ on, setting an ethical and commercial standard to strive towards. Best, best, best.

  53. Live your content and am more than happy to support you through links or however you make money !

  54. Karen is not the “last person in the world to be a facebook/insta person” — I am. Even for you (and that’s saying a lot) I will not participate in either of those media. Please keep the blog. I check it every day and value your openness and frankness — not to mention the excellent detailed information about clothing, care of body and skin, and life in general. I always look forward to your end-of-week survey of other sites of interest and your expressions of social consciousness (I still remember your post from yea long ago about your encounter with a homeless woman who needed tampons). I am older than you and dress more conservatively, but in plus sizes, so I really appreciate those leads. Keep doing what you’re doing — or if changes are on the way, stay true to the fine and honest personal tradition you have maintained.

  55. I can’t even begin to tell you how admirable it is that you’re sharing this information. To my knowledge, none of the countless bloggers I read have ever shown such a high level of openness. The honorable way you conduct your work is just another reason I’m constantly recommending you. Well done you, Alison!

    1. I don’t think I’m breaking any rules, and this info is all out there but it’s usually on sites for bloggers not the consumers. I can only think the better informed you are, the better choices you can make. And I would rather make money from you by choice than by manipulation.

  56. Very educational post. I’m a blogger myself (not full-time) and I’ve made a few bucks from sponsored posts but that was it. Most of the stuff you mentioned here I had no idea even existed or how it worked. Thanks for sharing, it was very helpful for me.

    1. I’m so glad! Sponsored posts can be lucrative, but I also find that the expectations keep increasing without the rate changing (or actually dropping). If you have any specific questions about monetizing don’t hesitate to ask!

  57. Really thorough article. I’ve only recently started using affiliate links in my blog posts. It amazes me that many of the small and medium sized blogs are the ones who are more upfront with their ad or affiliate relationships. Thanks for this, Alison.

    1. It ruins the veneer of your BFF just by chance having a new fabulous outfit each day you want to replicate. I’m not that kind of brand, so it doesn’t hurt my income. I think the more transparency, the more trust, and the more trust the better relationship.

  58. WOW… Alison, this is the best, most comprehensive write up of what’s behind the blogging curtain I’ve ever read. Thank you so much for this. i read it once this morning, but will be back to read it again (and probably more than once) later.
    But now you have me wondering what changes are coming….please please please don’t go all instagram and facebook, as i think i’m the last person in the world not to be a facebook/insta person.

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