How Do Blogs Make Money?

Image of a woman on a computer with text overlay how do blogs make money?

I am switching things up with my blog this summer (details coming next week), but before I do it I need to make sure all readers of Wardrobe Oxygen understand how blogs and social media influencers, as well as many celebrities and online news sources and other websites,  make money. You deserve to be an informed consumer, and whether you realize it or not, we are making money from you surfing the ‘web, reading email newsletters, and using your favorite apps.  I have been blogging since 2005; I made my first dollar from my blog in 2007 and in 2017 quit my full-time job to focus on my blog.  I will not share how much I make from my blog but it does support a family of three.  How do blogs make money?  I will share the major forms of blog monetization below to the best of my knowledge.

Blogs Make Money from Affiliate Programs

Bloggers, online influencers, newsletter editors, websites, news sources, and other online sources join affiliate programs. They sign an agreement that in exchange for using links to promote a retailer, they will receive a commission. 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. Depending on the affiliate program and the retailer, such commission rates can be negotiated.

Whether you’re visiting my blog or a news site, reading a newsletter in your email or watching an Instagram Story, there’s a good chance that any link you click or swipe up on contains code to track where you found the link and also what and how much you buy from clicking on that link. This link also has a “cookie” which means it will remember your browser for a set period of time (they are anywhere from five minutes to a month).

What does this mean?

  • Let’s say I’m wearing a red sweater. I share a link to where you too can buy this sweater.
  • You click on the link and you buy the red sweater right at that moment, I will receive a commission that is a percentage of the price of the sweater.
  • If you click on the link and you don’t buy the red sweater, but you buy a pair of blue pants instead, for most affiliate programs, I will still receive a commission of a percentage of your purchase.
  • If you click on the link but don’t buy anything. You close the browser and then a week later go back to that retailer and buy that red sweater, or blue pants, or virtually anything… I may make the commission. It depends on the length of the cookie, and it also depends on if you clicked on another site’s link for the same online retailer.
  • Let’s say you love that red sweater so much but payday is Friday. You put the red sweater in your virtual shopping cart and close your browser. Friday comes around, you enter the URL for that store and buy the sweater. If you haven’t clicked on any links for that retailer between the time you visited my blog and the time you bought that sweater, I will make the commission. However, you’re reading an article on Refinery29 or Forbes and click on a link and it goes to that same retailer, even if you close it and don’t click or navigate on the site, they now have a code and cookie that overrides mine and they will get the commission. Last link wins.

If you don’t want anyone to get a commission, there are browser extensions out there that will block the trackers and cookies. You can clear your cookies. You can click on the link and go through the whole URL and find where the tracking code starts and delete it and refresh your browser. I really don’t see why it’s such a big deal to give a site a commission, it’s usually just a few pennies, but it’s your choice and you deserve to be an informed consumer.

If you want to make sure a certain site or influencer gets your commission, just visit their site or online store and click on any link for that retailer before making a purchase. It doesn’t have to be the link for the red sweater, it can be any link. This is why many bloggers have a “Where I Shop” list of retailers in their sidebar, it’s an easy way to get that last cookie and commission for the sale.

Blogs 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 you 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. 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.

Blogs 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. I hardly knew any HTML but was able to add some code to my backend and the ads showed up magically and earned me a few dollars each month thanks to visits to my site.

Ads are essentially the same in this day and age, but they are more infused into a site’s design. Also, site owners have more control over what types of ads and selling what products will show up.

I am a member of the Mediavine ad network. You will see an ad at the footer of the site, ones between paragraphs in articles, and one in the sidebar. Occasionally you will see one if I record and upload a video. Mediavine lets me control whether or not I want that footer ad, how often ads show up between paragraphs, and also I can choose what categories of ads I do not want on my site (for example, you should never see ads for weightloss, politics, religion, firearms, gambling, or get rich schemes on Wardrobe Oxygen).

I deleted ads from my site around 2010 because they looked tacky and didn’t really bring me much money. I joined Mediavine a couple of years ago because I learned from friends that the money was quite good as were the quality of the ads. My friend was right; I make enough money from the ads on this site that I can reduce the number of sponsored posts I do. It is the equivalent of 1-2 sponsored posts (see below where I explain sponsored posts).

Ads can be hidden with ad blockers. If you use an RSS tool, you won’t see ads. The footer ad you can X out. I understand people don’t like the ads, but they can be so lucrative your favorite blog can afford to do more quality content, to get a better camera, heck to continue being able to afford to run the blog. Websites are closing left and right because ad revenue isn’t what it used to be thanks to ad blockers. Ads prevent paywalls and prevent journalists and editors from being let go due to budget cuts. If ads are preventing you from being able to read a website or blog, let the owner know and provide detail (we also love screenshots). We don’t always see what you see and while we want revenue from ads, we’d rather have you be able to enjoy our content and remain a fan.

Blogs 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 an article, video, newsletter, podcast, TV or radio segment, or blog post; a feature in an Instagram photo and caption, one or a series of Instagram Story or Snapchat “slides”, or an entire blog post, newsletter, or article dedicated to them. Per the FTC, we are 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 sponsorships have a contract. The company will have specific guidelines – post on this specific day, have this many photos, be sure to discuss this one aspect of the company, do not mention competitors to that company so many days or hours before or after or within the content, include this wording and/or these hashtags. These contracts may include wording for how long the content must remain public, the rights the company has to the blogger’s photos or words for the content, and that the blogger cannot share specifics about the contract with others. Companies will often offer direction for the content – words to describe the brand and how you should represent it, colors they find on brand, even whether you should or shouldn’t smile. These days, most companies ask to review any sponsored content and offer edits prior to it being published. For some companies, the contract is simple. Others, the contracts can be extremely complex and detailed and sometimes require a lawyer or contracts expert to review and explain. Sometimes these contracts can be negotiated for deliverables, expectations, and rate. Again, it depends on the company issuing the contract.

These opportunities sometimes come directly from the company or their PR firm. However, most are through influencer networks.

What is An Influencer Network?

An influencer network is a middle person between companies and bloggers or 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, occasionally links to previous content they are proud of and represents them well.

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, 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 is a sponsored post is directly from the brand or through a network. Some, like ShopStyle and IZEA, 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. For the influencer network to make money, they get a percentage of what the company is offering for the campaign. The more they make, the less the influencer sees.

There are some ethical influencer networks that offer a fair rate, there are others that take advantage offering ridiculously low rates or just gifted product in exchange for the sponsored post. Companies use multiple influencer networks too. Therefore Jane, Sue, Beth, and Kelly could all be contracted to share an Instagram photo of them raving about the same face cream. They are all between the ages of 24-35 who are moms and live in a major metro area. They have relatively the same number of followers and get around the same number of likes and comments on each post. But Jane received $1,000, Sue got $400, Beth received $75, and Kelly just got three jars of the cream in a box full of sizzle with a branded pocket mirror and a lollypop.

Bloggers Make Money from Guest Posts

Brands and marketers will offer to write a “quality guest post” for a blogger’s site and pay the blogger to publish it. Some read like an ad, some almost sound exactly like the voice of the website. 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. Please note Wardrobe Oxygen never has nor never will accept paid guest posts.

Bloggers 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, message boards, and newsletters. 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 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.

How Much Does a Blogger 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, some contracts have additional asks (shares on social media, posts on Instagram, etc.) and therefore offer a higher rate.

Instagram changed the game. Now, companies will pay based on your number of Instagram followers, and many don’t care or care to learn how to find out if that influencer has bought their following. Companies will even use that Instagram follower number to determine the rate for content on a completely different platform. Being an influencer 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. Many sites will say oh you should pay this much per this many pageviews or followers, but each company has different metrics they care about. And now, those metrics can be fake followers, or just liking their look so much and find them cheaper than a professional model and shoot team, or that they’re friends with your boyfriend’s sister.

Let's take an example of three fashion influencers:

  • Jane has 20K Instagram followers, gets about 500 likes per photo and has an average of 1,000 people look at her Instagram stories.  She gets about 25,000 pageviews to her blog a month.  She writes about fashion – what she wears, sale alerts, beauty reviews, the occasional DIY. She has about 4 sponsored Instagram posts per month and one sponsored blog post. She makes about $15,000/year before taxes and expenses.
  • Julie has 20K Instagram followers, gets about 200 likes per photo and has an average of 500 people look at her Instagram stories.  She gets about 8,000 pageviews to her blog a month.  She too writes about fashion – what she wears, sale alerts, beauty reviews, and the occasional recipe.  She has around 16 sponsored Instagram posts and 1-2 sponsored blog posts a month. She makes about $95,000/year before taxes and expenses.
  • Jenny has 20K Instagram followers, gets about 1,000 likes per photo and has an average of 3,000 people look at her Instagram stories.  She gets about 200,000 pageviews to her blog a month.  Like Jane and Julie, she writes about the same topics of fashion.  However, she every week has a post about what to buy on Amazon, every week shares a collage of must-buys under $50, has a daily newsletter, weekly newsletter, and monthly newsletter and a private Facebook group where members pay $3/month to be a part.  She has 1-2 sponsored Instagram posts and 3-5 sponsored blog posts per month. Jenny makes about $350,000/year before taxes and expenses.

My point with these three is revenue streams, site traffic, and engagement can dramatically affect your income. A blogger may be doing few sponsored posts, but getting a higher rate than your peers because of their engagement or traffic.  A blogger may focus on Instagram and do several low-rate sponsored posts finding that is easy and lucrative.  Another blogger may not do much with Instagram and focus on their blog and newsletter audience.  Therefore, it's really hard to tell how much money a blogger is making just by number of followers or number of sponsored posts. 

How Does This Affect You as a Blog 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 about recognizing fake followers and engagement. They would far rather see real people interested than just that influencer’s friends. And also, engagement is super motivating to an influencer. They realize they’re not sharing to a vacuum, and they get to better understand you and create the content you want.

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, don’t even type their name. Any mention, even hate message boards and shares, help an influencer. It brings them higher in Google rankings, it introduces them to others who may visit and follow either as a fellow “hate read” or a new fan. An audience is an audience and every influencer needs an audience to survive.

Questions About Blog 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. You will notice in blog posts I will state before I mention the brand, “This post is sponsored by XXX.” On social media, that disclosure should be “above the fold” meaning you shouldn’t have to click to read more and see it. It needs to be clear in layman’s terms. It should be the use of #ad, [ad], #sponsored or [sponsored] and/or the “handshake tool” (the little thing that says paid partnership with brand above the photo or content) used on social media, or a clear announcement at the top of the content on a website.

Some brands ask for more subtle of mentions. Many influencers are also more subtle because sponsored content as a rule isn’t as well received as non-sponsored content. An audience is less likely to finish reading, heart, or comment on a sponsored piece of content and an audience is less likely to trust or connect with a site or influencers that publishes a high percentage of sponsored content. These may be with the use of hashtags like #sp, #partner, #collab, #[brandname]partner or #ambassador. Sites occasionally share the disclosure at the end of the article instead of the beginning or use language like, “thank you to this brand for partnering with me.”

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 site (my Amazon affiliate account is so old you’ll see womanwardrobeneeds, part of my site’s old name, in the link). Others, you will see things like “affiliate” or “affprg” or “shareid” in the link.

You know when you search for something in Google and above all the links there is a row of images of that item and links to visit different retailers who offer it? Those are affiliate links and Google is making money off you using them. When you click on an ad, it’s an affiliate link and the ad network is making money off of you. When blogs have those carousels with images of items mentioned in the post; if you click on the image it is will open an affiliate link in a separate browser window and the blog will make money off of you. Newsletters like The Skimm, news sources like Forbes, websites like Refinery29, digital magazines like Vogue… they all use affiliate links. And if you use a site like Ebates or Retail Me Not, if you click through their site to shop (or it opens a pop-under browser window) that site is using an affiliate link. When you think about it, with Ebates it’s like you are the influencer and your cash back is your affiliate commission for the sale.

Tell me about promoted content.

Have you ever gone on Instagram and seen a photo in your feed from an influencer you don’t follow? It may say “Paid Promotion” at the top and when you hover over the photo it may offer a button to lead you to their account page or maybe a link to an external website. You may see similar content on Facebook and Twitter. This is promoted content. Someone (the influencer, the brand, or the marketing firm that coordinated the collaboration) paid the social media platform to show the content to a greater audience.

If the influencer themselves didn’t pay to “boost” the content, they likely signed a contract that included an agreement that the brand could on their behalf. Such wording can be specific or really general. For example, I had one for a quick 60-second video I put on Instagram to promote a TV show. That video was then promoted on Instagram, Facebook, and even showed up in ads between paragraphs on websites like Time and Lifehacker. I had no idea where it was until friends would tell me they were reading a movie review or a recipe and I’d show up singing to them. If I realized how far-reaching it would be I would have asked for more money… or at least done my hair!

What kind 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 posts. I have plenty of friends who hardly make a dime off their blog but make great money from sponsored Instagram posts and stories. I have friends with ten times as many followers as I on Instagram who are lucky to make $100 a month. 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.).

How much money per hour can a blogger make?

In 2010 when I decided to stop treating Wardrobe Oxygen like a hobby and treat it like a part-time job I created a Starbucks rule.  I had to make more per hour blogging than I would being a barista at Starbucks.  Starbucks treats their employees relatively well, there is one walking distance from my house, it's the kind of job that when you take off your apron at the end of your shift you are both mentally and physically off the clock.  I started tallying all my hours – not just writing and editing photos, but taking photos (even the goofy ones for Instagram Stories), going to meetings, being on calls, engaging on social media, answering comments and DMs and emails, even standing in front of my mirror and figuring outfits for shoots.  And I would look at how much I made, subtract any money I spent to make that money, and I had to be making more an hour than a barista at my neighborhood Starbucks.

I have spoken to several bloggers who do not make this much, and several who make so much the Starbucks rule makes no sense.  The biggest thing I've learned connecting with bloggers is that a lot of it is smoke and mirrors.  The most successful-looking blogger could be struggling to make ends meet and the blogger who looks as though she hardly has a following and an old dated blog could be raking in hundreds of thousands a year.

I make more from blogging than I did at my job in Corporate America.  I work about the same amount of hours, but I don't have the benefits of PTO, 401K, short- and long-term disability, insurance, free coffee, free WiFi, free laptop, free printer/scanner, free workspace, subsidized commuting and parking costs, and the occasional happy hour, free bagels in the break room, holiday party, and Tuesday morning donuts. However, I have been able to make it work without much sacrifice for me and my family's quality of life.  Follow this link to read more about my thoughts on the business of blogging.

What is it like being a full-time blogger?

I became a full-time blogger almost two years ago.  The biggest thing I noticed that changed is every single post matters and consistency matters.  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. You can be the most charming and pleasant person but if you get some terrible news before meeting with a client and end up a hair testy, they will decide you're a jerk and tell their friends.  It's not a job, it's not even a career, it's your life.  It's as much a part of you as your family and your pets.

When I was a part-time blogger, I was okay with a slow month.  It wasn't a big deal if I didn't post for a few days, write content that got crickets, shared a photo on Instagram that wasn't beautiful. But now, my family is dependant on the money made from the blog and I need to be more thoughtful with everything I do.  I am more concerned with SEO and Pinterest, I use my Instagram feed less as a place to share my life and more as a portfolio for potential brand partnerships. 

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 the next month I won't make that minimum.  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 sale, Black Friday, Cyber Monday 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.  It 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 that didn't give us a good vibe and ended up regretting it.  We've all taken gigs for less than we deserve because we got it during a dry month.  We can only hope to learn from our mistakes and do what we can to prevent us 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.

Why don't more bloggers clearly disclose partnerships and sponsored content?

Because you don't like it.  Seriously, as soon as an audience sees #ad or “This post is sponsored by…” they X out or scroll on.  It can be a gorgeous photo, a brand that they love, a message that is fantastic, but that disclosure immediately turns them off.  I will get a quarter of the likes on a photo on Instagram if it's sponsored.  I get a third of the traffic on a sponsored blog post.  We don't disclose because you voted with your fingers that you don't like it.

The thing is, I don't believe most audiences know the costs it takes to run a blog. It costs me about $1,000 a month just to have this website exist on the internet. That doesn't include costs for marketing, for tailoring the clothes the brand sent that are too big, for buying props for photos, for traveling to shoots, for boosting content on social media so it's seen, for attending conferences and workshops and buying courses to stay informed on trends and technology, and everything else.  I don't have an IT department to fix my laptop when it's acting up, a corporate headquarters to provide me with a phone line, a business development team to win new contracts, a big-time Xerox machine to quickly run off five copies of a PowerPoint for a meeting at noon, a manager who will approve the cost for me to attend an industry conference or buy a book to become more comfortable with new software. 

Point is, blogging costs money.  You accept ads or paid memberships to see your favorite TV shows.  You flip past ads and sponsored content in magazines to read the articles, and blogs are the same.  Sponsored content is the necessary revenue to bring you the other content you love.  The less you like and engage with it, the less money your favorite blogger can make and the more sponsored content they will take on to pay the bills.  If you like a blogger, engage with their sponsored content.  Like it, comment on it, share it.  If you think it's in poor taste, let that blogger know by email or DM.  Polite and private feedback is better received than blasts on social or a message board.  We bloggers are hard working multi-tasking badasses but we're not mind readers.  And while we do want to make a living, we don't want to lose our audience in the process.

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

82 Comments

  1. Katie F. @kfletcher7
    July 17, 2019 / 4:43 pm

    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.

  2. Claire May
    July 12, 2019 / 7:53 am

    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

    • July 14, 2019 / 1:57 pm

      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!

  3. July 8, 2019 / 12:51 pm

    This was super informative! Have read/loved your blog for years, and I always look forward to your Insta stories as well. <3

  4. July 7, 2019 / 3:31 pm

    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!

  5. Jacqueline
    July 6, 2019 / 11:00 pm

    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❣️

    • July 7, 2019 / 4:46 pm

      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.

  6. Jennifer
    July 6, 2019 / 2:33 pm

    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!

    • July 7, 2019 / 4:47 pm

      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!

  7. Lee
    July 6, 2019 / 3:39 am

    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!

  8. Chris
    July 5, 2019 / 10:59 pm

    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?

    • July 7, 2019 / 4:50 pm

      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!

  9. Sam
    July 5, 2019 / 6:50 pm

    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!!

    • July 7, 2019 / 4:50 pm

      Isn’t weight training incredible? Talk about a life-changing decision! Thank you so much for your support, Sam!

  10. Melissa AVL
    July 5, 2019 / 6:17 pm

    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

  11. Fran Keeling
    July 5, 2019 / 5:58 pm

    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.

    • July 7, 2019 / 4:51 pm

      Oh thank you so much Fran, that means a lot! <3

  12. Johanna Repass
    July 5, 2019 / 5:55 pm

    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.

  13. Jane
    July 5, 2019 / 5:40 pm

    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.

  14. Marlise
    July 5, 2019 / 5:34 pm

    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.

  15. Xat
    July 5, 2019 / 4:55 pm

    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?

    • July 5, 2019 / 5:12 pm

      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!

  16. FourInchHeels
    July 5, 2019 / 3:24 pm

    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!

    • July 5, 2019 / 5:14 pm

      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.

  17. Gay B
    July 5, 2019 / 1:23 pm

    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.

    • July 5, 2019 / 5:15 pm

      Oh please do. Whether or not they read blogs this information affects anyone who consumes content on the internet!

  18. Laurel
    July 5, 2019 / 1:04 pm

    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.

  19. Kris
    July 5, 2019 / 12:25 pm

    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.

  20. Colleen
    July 5, 2019 / 12:13 pm

    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.

    • July 5, 2019 / 12:50 pm

      See, I feel I was more controlled by corporations at my last two office jobs! So much bureaucracy, hiding truths from clients, playing with money and legal regulations and people’s lives to make a buck or win a contract. Creating online products people thought were for education, not realizing what data was being mined from them. And when a supervisor at a previous job used to have me do their expense reports and the government was paying for their sport season tickets used only with their family, paying for their massages and new patio furniture and more… there are very few jobs you can have where you can support your family and in no way contribute to all of this. With a child, I appreciate having a job where I am forced to keep abreast of social media, technology, and more so I can better educate and protect her. Her classmates who have been raised without screens and parents who don’t use technology, they are now at an age where they know how to access the internet on their own and they are making terrible decisions without their families knowing what danger they are in. My job isn’t perfect, the internet is scary and creepy and far worse than any of us know, but the longer I am in it the more I realize most any job is connected. Thank you so much for your support and this incredibly important discussion. Seriously, thank you. <3

      • Anna
        July 5, 2019 / 2:32 pm

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

  21. Rebecca
    July 5, 2019 / 11:52 am

    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. 😉

    • July 5, 2019 / 12:42 pm

      LOL that’s a good way to look at hate reading! Thank you Rebecca <3

    • Nicole K
      July 5, 2019 / 6:15 pm

      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!

  22. Janie
    July 5, 2019 / 11:06 am

    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!

  23. Kristin Sherwood
    July 5, 2019 / 10:57 am

    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.

  24. vicki
    July 5, 2019 / 10:41 am

    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!

    • July 5, 2019 / 12:40 pm

      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!

  25. Darlene
    July 5, 2019 / 10:35 am

    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!

  26. July 5, 2019 / 10:35 am

    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!

  27. Alison French-Tubo
    July 5, 2019 / 10:21 am

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

  28. Anne
    July 5, 2019 / 9:56 am

    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.

    • July 5, 2019 / 12:34 pm

      That’s great feedback, Anne. I get mixed results from my skincare posts and I am glad you lie them!

  29. Krista
    July 5, 2019 / 9:46 am

    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.

  30. July 5, 2019 / 9:07 am

    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.

    • July 5, 2019 / 12:32 pm

      Oh I’m glad this can be a helpful resource for your audience! <3

  31. Dotti
    July 5, 2019 / 9:06 am

    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.

    • Susan
      July 5, 2019 / 10:07 am

      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!

      • July 5, 2019 / 12:27 pm

        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!

    • July 5, 2019 / 12:31 pm

      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

  32. Susan L
    July 5, 2019 / 8:58 am

    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.

  33. MD Smith
    July 5, 2019 / 8:34 am

    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.

  34. Karen
    July 5, 2019 / 8:29 am

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

  35. Anna
    July 5, 2019 / 8:28 am

    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.

    • July 5, 2019 / 8:31 am

      Do not worry, the blog is not going anywhere, it’s my baby, my favorite part of this business, and my top priority!

  36. Judith Reppi
    July 5, 2019 / 8:11 am

    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!

    • July 5, 2019 / 12:20 pm

      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.

  37. July 5, 2019 / 8:07 am

    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.

    • July 5, 2019 / 12:21 pm

      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!

  38. July 5, 2019 / 7:42 am

    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.

    • July 5, 2019 / 12:22 pm

      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.

  39. karen
    July 5, 2019 / 6:46 am

    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.

    • July 5, 2019 / 8:31 am

      OH heck no, the blog will forever be my top priority and favorite way to share and connect with all of you!

      • Karen
        July 5, 2019 / 9:35 am

        Thank you!

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