As a blogger/ influencer of 12 years who went full-time in the industry two years ago, the number one question I am asked when revealing my job is, how do you make money. The answer is simple but also multi-faceted, and sine so many of you have been inspired to make blogging your side job, let me break down the profit potential for you in this post.
Affiliate revenue is when you get a commission when someone purchases a product that you shared on your blog or social platforms. This is generally the first step to making money as a blogger or influencer. Most brands have affiliate or referral programs where you are given a special link, and in some cases, an exclusive discount code to share their product on your platforms. When someone purchases the product through your link, you get paid! Most brands will have a link to their affiliate program in the footer navigation of their site.
Once you have joined the program, reach out to the brand via email and pitch a collaboration. (Get my email “pitch” template here.) Don’t be intimidated if your audience count isn’t through the roof. Many brands are focusing on “up-and-coming” or micro-influencers And therefore are happy to send product in exchange for a social share and inclusion in your blog post.
Best Affiliate Networks for Beginners
- Share-A-Sale (part of Awin) – This is the fastest growing affiliate network with all of the top brands available for promoting.
- Commission Junction – The world’s largest affiliate network. I work with a few international hospitality brands through CJ.com and while it isn’t super intuitive, once you learn the lay of the land, you will be well on your way to making bank.
- Howl – Newer platform with gifting opportunities! I really like how Howl allows you to apply for gifting opportunities with their brands. I highly recommend gifting initiatives for beginning your affiliate journey and Howl makes it super easy. (You have to be approved to join Howl.)
- Mavely– Mavely is similar to Howl but without the gifting opportunities. Instead, influencers have the ability to create a shop page using their affiliate links through the Mavely platform. This makes it super easy to direct your audience to a shop page with all of your favorite products for them to purchase!
- Amazon Affiliates– I use the Amazon Affiliate network the most because almost EVERYTHING is available through Amazon. Also, Amazon now offers their creators several avenues for making affiliate revenue through their Amazon Inspire feed where influencers can upload short form videos with affiliate links, and through their Amazon Live network, where creators can go live showcasing their favorite products and encouraging their audience to purchase!
- Reward Style – Reward Style is one of the first exclusive networks for fashion influencers, offering affiliate links for almost every fashion brand. In recent years, they have expanded their affiliate offering into the home decor space.
- Shop Style Collective – (AKA Collective Voice) This platform is a competitor of Reward Style and therefore they are very similar. I am on both.
Which affiliate marketing platform should you choose? Being on every single one can be daunting. I recommend starting off. With Amazon Associates and one other that best fits your niche.
Reminder: According to the FTC, you must always disclose this to your audience.)
Also, it helps to have a widget for your blog that houses all of your affiliate links in one place while also making it easier to showcase your products. I love Empress Themes Shop the Post Widget! You will notice that some of posts have the option to shop. See below for an example of the shop the post widget.
Ad Space on Your Site
This is when you allocate ad space on your blog and are paid every time someone clicks on the ad. You may have noticed an ad pop-up below. This is an example of delegating ad space for your site. My two favorite companies for sourcing ads are She Media Collective and Google Ads. (See the image below for an example of my bottom bar ad space.
She Media is INCREDIBLE! Not only is their team super knowledgable and willing to help you get your blog set up with their ads, I really like She Media because their ads fit my niche. I never get random ads that aren’t relevant to my content. As for Google Ads, fair warning, this platform is not very user friendly. I always have a hard time trying to get Google Ads figured out. There are tons of companies out there that specialize in helping you get your Google Ads account set up.
Many publishers want to have their voice heard by your audience and therefore will pay a flat rate to have their post live on your blog. Like using affiliate links, you must always disclose to your audience that you were paid to share this post.
But how do you decide if allowing guest posting is right for you? Only accept posts that fit within your niche. You never want to share a post that covers a subject that has nothing to do with your blog topics. This will seem inauthentic and your audience will likely be un-interested. Also, if you decide to allow guest posting, be sure to ask the author if the post is unique to your site. This means that the post has not been shared anywhere else. Google penalizes websites that copy and paste content.
Often times, brands will request a back link on your site. This is when the brand provides a keyword, sentence, or paragraph of linked content to be included in an article that you are working on, or have already published. Why do brands invest in this type of content? Back-linking provides SEO juice for the brand. In other words, when Google sees popular keywords or terms linked to a brand on a relevant site, Google will begin ranking the brand site higher on the search algorithms, increase SEO (or Search Engine Optimization.)
A blog article is pretty self explanatory. This is wen a brand pays you to create a blog article with professional product pictures, popular keywords, and your own personal review of their product. This is one of the highest paying services for a blogger outside of their social platforms. This type of service provides all types of benefits to the brand; SEO, real and relatable review, photos with their product, and content for them to share on their social platforms and in email blasts. See the image below for an example of a sponsored blog article or click here to read the entire post.)
If I can stress one thing to every blogger or aspiring blogger, and I do every chance I get, you MUST focus on an email list. Not only will brands pay for featured placement if you have a large subscriber count, but your email list is a huge asset that YOU OWN. Think about it. You may have over 5,000 followers on Instagram, but if you loose your account or Instagram goes under, you are out of business in a matter of minutes! With an email list, you have a way to reach out to your audience directly. The best part is, this audience took the initiative to sign up for your list, which generally take more thought than hitting a follow button, and therefore, are more invested in what you have to share.
I strive to send one newsletter blast per week but if I am honest with myself, I actually only average about 2 newsletter blasts per month. What do I talk about in these blasts? There is an entire strategy behind it that I will get into in a future post, but for now, just know that you need one. I already know your next question, where do I get an email newsletter? I use Flodesk! With Flodesk, the possibilities are endless. You can build your email list, send emails, set up segments, create landing pages and more! Stay tuned for a Flodesk and Email Newsletter Strategy post coming soon! In the meantime, you can get 50% off your first year of Flodesk HERE!
This is when you are paid to post on your social platform. In my business, this is the most lucrative content when it comes to turning a profit. The rule of thumb is, for every 10,000 followers you have, you can charge $100 per in-feed post. Of course, the type of post matters. Reels rates are much higher than static image posts and carousel posts fall somewhere in between. You can also be paid to share unboxings and reviews in stories. This is generally paid a much lower rate than infeed posts because they disappear after 24 hours, however they are still very effective in driving interest and sales to a brand’s page. Below I have included an example of a static image sponsored post and a reels sponsored post on Instagram.
Non-Posted User Generate Content
UGC means user-generated content. This is when you create content and the brand pays you for usage rights or in some cases, full ownership rights. Because bloggers “have an eye” behind the camera and can produce great photos and videos, many brands will send product and pay an influencer to take photos of or with their product so that they can use the content for various purposes. I have been featured on brand websites, social platforms, branded apps, and even in a commercial during the Super Bowl without ever having to post on my own social platforms. This is a great way to make additional revenue if you do not yet have the follower count on your social platforms.
Often times, in addition to being paid for branded content to be posted on your social platforms, a brand may want to whitelist your post once it goes live. Whitelisting content is basically a business putting ad dollars behind your post to expand the audience and engagement rates outside of your followers alone. There are many different whitelisting payment types but the most common are; paying a weekly or monthly flare rate to whitelist your content or to set up an affiliate link and pay you commissions on anything that sells through the whitelisted content.
I have done both ways. Generally, if the brand is going to put a large dollar amount behind my post, I will agree to an affiliate compensation in exchange for whitelisting. Last holiday season, one of my Vahdam Tea videos sold over $25,000 worth of tea and I got myself a nice little Christmas bonus. If the brand has a smaller advertising budget, I work up a flat fee compensation contract depending on the length of the whitelisted ad.
Local influencers generally create local buzz when attending events and brands love to capitalize on that by paying influencers to attend their events. This is extremely beneficial to a brand, not only for boosting event attendance and capturing content to share on their social platforms, but in most event appearance contracts, the influencer is required to promote the event in the days leading up to and during the event. This type of contract will include compensation for attendance, food, travel, and all content posted to the influencer’s platform.
As a serial entrepreneur at heart, this is one of my favorite parts of being an influencer. When you have a sizable or engaged audience, you are the perfect candidate for creating your own product line! I have seen influencers start a multitude of businesses from coffee, body products, fashion lines, cosmetics brands, supplements, fitness accessories, and so much more! Currently, I have a fashion subscription service, online academy, and book for sale! I say currently, because I have another fun little invention in the works. As soon as the patent is approved, you know I will be sharing!
Related Post: How to Start a Blog and Make Money
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