Do you remember my first post on fashion blogging? I answered 10 questions about why fashion bloggers do the things that they do.
And despite being over a year old, it’s one of my most popular posts. It turns out, people are really curious about fashion bloggers!
I get it. Influencers, particularly in the fashion industry, are taking over the world by storm. It seems like they are living a dream of making money wearing pretty clothes, and for people used to a traditional work environment it’s hard to understand. I still don’t understand everything.
But it’s not all that it seems, and I’m going to try and answer some questions about this weird and wonderful little part of the internet that is fashion blogging.
We’ll start with the first question that I get asked the most:
1. How do fashion bloggers make money?
There are several ways that fashion bloggers make money— get ready for a long answer!
The first one I’ll talk about is affiliate links. What are these?
If you’ve ever read a fashion blogger’s post, you’ll see that they will hyperlink text about certain items they are wearing to the website where you can buy it at. But this isn’t just a normal hyperlink. This is a special link that tells a company that a consumer was directed to their site via this specific blogger’s link. And the company gives credit to the blogger for doing so. With money!
See my post featuring the outfit above to see how I use affiliate links.
These affiliate links can work in different ways. A company can give a blogger money based on how many times a link is clicked (cost per click), or a company can give a blogger money based on a percentage of sales (commission). With commission, generally the consumer doesn’t even have to buy the initial product they clicked on. For example, if they click on a link on a blog to a shirt at Nordstrom, but end up actually buying a pair of shoes, the blogger can still get a commission. The company is reimbursing the blogger for leading the consumer to that sale. Depending on how long cookies remain on your computer tracking this affiliate link, the blogger can get reimbursed even if you buy something several days later.
Typically if a consumer ends up returning an item the blogger does not receive commission.
Common examples of affiliate networks include RewardStyle (including Like to Know It), Shopstyle, Amazon, and Booking.
P.S. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that bloggers inform consumers that links on their blogs are affiliate links. You can see my disclosure in the sidebar of my blog. You can read more about FTC guidelines here.
Another way that bloggers make money is through sponsorships or campaigns. Here’s an example: Let’s say a popular shoe company is coming out with a new line of vegan leather shoes. As a way to reach their target audience, they might work with some ‘on brand’ vegan fashion bloggers to promote the shoes. Often they will send a free product to the blogger and pay them in exchange for certain deliverables: a blog post with so many words, Instagram posts on specific days, or a Youtube video speaking to certain aspects of the shoes.
Creating the content (the blog post, Instagram post, and video), takes a lot of time and effort on behalf of the blogger to produce, so it’s necessary for them to be paid for their work.
P.S. Just like with affiliate links, bloggers are required by the FTC to tell their audience that they have a relationship with the company they are working with. I received a discounted rate at a hotel due to do being a blogger, so I disclosed that in my post on a spa weekend at a castle hotel in Austria.
Another way that bloggers make money is through advertisements on their site. I don’t think this one takes too much explanation. There are companies like Mediavine, AdThrive, and Google Adsense that automatically place the ads on the site. Depending on how many people see the ads or click on them, the blogger will be compensated.
You may be annoyed by ads, but keep in mind that it costs money to have a website, and ads help bloggers cancel out costs and maybe even work full time to create great content.
The last way I can think of that bloggers make money is through selling a product. Some bloggers, but not usually fashion bloggers, will make a product such as an online course, checklist, or guide. And consumers pay for this product just the same as buying a book in a bookstore or a soda at a restaurant. I don’t normally see this with fashion bloggers, but one example is capsule wardrobe guides for sale on some blogs, like Leanne’s Classy Yet Trendy.
Phew! I’m surprised you’re still reading after all of that. It’s just a complex answer and some bloggers may use all or none of these methods.
2. Who takes fashion blogger’s photos and how many do they take?
There is no fashion blogger bible with the answer to this question. But I can tell you the different ways that bloggers get photos done. Some bloggers meet with photographers to have their outfit photos taken. This is great because the photographs look professional, but photographers cost money, you have to work out a time in both schedules to meet, and you have to wait for them to send you the photos once complete (which hopefully isn’t too long!).
Some bloggers have their family/friends/significant other take photos of them. This is free, but depending on the skill level of this person, the photos may not be so high quality. And these people also have lives where they don’t want to just be at your beck and call for photos! Usually this one works best if two blogger friends help each other out. They usually each know a little bit about photography, will know what photos you’re trying to get, and will have some patience!
You can also use a tripod and remote to take photos of yourself. This one can be super embarassing when there are people around and it takes a lot longer to get through the shoot. But on the plus side, you don’t have anyone rushing you! I will say it is a huge confidence boost to know that you can control the photos for your blog by being able to take them yourself when needed.
The pictures above are with all three methods: the first with a photographer (thanks Nathan Rolls Photography!), the second one taken by my husband, and the third taken by me.
If you’re looking to start a fashion blog I would experiment with all three!
As far as the amount of photos, that varies depending on the method you’re using to take the photos. A professional has to take far less photos to get a good shot, because, well, they’re a professional. A friend will probably take a good amount, but they may not be the quality you’d like. And then when I use the remote and tripod I take A LOT to try and have variety when I look them up later. You never know what you’re going to like!
3. Why are some people soley Instabloggers and why don’t they have an actual blog?
Have you noticed that some Instagram fashionistas don’t actually have a blog? They do, however, use affiliate links like I mentioned above and can generate income from their RewardStyle profiles linked to their Instagram.
I also mentioned that creating a blog costs money. You have to pay for hosting, get a theme, keep it updated, and most likely work on it from either a desktop or laptop.
Running a fashion profile on Instagram requires a lot less hassle than running a blog: you can manage it from your mobile device, it’s free, and sometimes it’s easier to be found in the world of Instagram with hashtags and locations than it is for your blog to be found on the GINORMOUS world wide web.
But you also have a lot less customization. You’re limited to your captions and stories to communicate, and you’re at the whim of Instagram’s algorithm and policy changes at every turn. And guess what: even though instabloggers still own their content, their photos can be used by anyone at anytime and that’s legal. Have you heard about the artist who enlarged Instagram posts and sold them for thousands at an art auction? Yea.
By comparison, if an original photo was taken from my blog and used without my permission, it’s against the law and I could take legal action to remedy it.
Overall there are significant differences between being a fashion Instablogger and internet blogger, and I’ll let you decide why people choose either one.
4. Why does everyone complain about the Instagram algorithm?
Talking about Instabloggers leads really well into this question…almost every big blogger I know has been venting about the Instagram algorithm lately. And sometimes it’s annoying. I mean, why do they care if they get 1,000 less likes on a photo than normal!? It seems like they just want to win a popularity contest or something!
But think of it like this: if your full time job was selling tickets to football games, and the program you used to sell tickets suddenly changed their policies so that less people saw the game was available and you were selling less tickets, would you be upset? Probably. Your job depends on selling tickets and now due to something out of your control you’re less successful! And it’s your job!
My Instagram profile on the left, and exploring hashtags on the right.
That’s sort of like engagement on Instagram. Getting more likes and follows on Instagram for a blogger means they have a bigger audience, or reach. This translates to sponsorships with better payouts, more people to see their outfits and use their affiliate links, and possibly more people referred to their blog to make money off of ads. When your income depends on this Instagram engagement it seems a lot more serious, right?
Sometimes it is still annoying to hear all the complaints. If you really like a blogger and want to support them, turn on post notifications for them (hit the three buttons in the top right of their profile to find the menu option) and like their content. If you don’t care about the blogger, you don’t have to do anything! Let the algorithm work its magic and you probably won’t see their content in your feed much, and you can unfollow if you’re really over it.
5. How can I trust a fashion blogger if they’re just trying to make money?
This is a tough one. Fashion bloggers are generally trying to run a successful business. There are some who just blog for fun, but overall I think they’d like to turn a profit. And in order to make money they need to convince you to use their affiliate links, trust their recommendations, and be interested in their content.
If a fashion blogger tells you how much they just love a certain top because it’s great quality, and then you order it and it turns out to be pretty crappy, they’ve just ruined your trust. While they may have made a commission off of your one purchase, you’re not going to be a repeat customer. And that’s not a good thing.
A fashion blogger who is honest about loving something but being concerned about it’s longevity might not get as many clicks on that affiliate link, but they’ve set the right expectations for their readers. And will probably lose less readers overall.
Even though bloggers are trying to make money it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re dishonest.
I talk about where I found some cheap yet trendy items in the post about the above outfit.
That being said, I do find some bloggers saying they are OMG OBSESSED with an item, and then I see it listed on their Poshmark closet later that month. It makes me think that they’re just trying to showcase as many items as possible in the hopes of turning a profit.
Another red flag might be a blogger who continues to do sponsorships that seem off brand. If you’re a vegan blogger and you partner with a makeup company that is not cruelty free for a few posts, that makes me think that you’re just trying to make money off the sponsorship instead of being honest with who you are.
Lastly, if every post on a blog is sponsored, you’ve probably lost me. I want to see original content about 66-75% of the time, and sponsored content less so.
It’s all about balance. We like to follow bloggers for their personalities and because we admire their style, but we don’t want to be treated simply like an income source. Bloggers who know how to balance this are the best, in my opinion.
6. How much time do fashion bloggers spend on their blogs per week?
Some fashion bloggers work full-time, meaning their blog is a source of income and their primary job. Other bloggers maintain ‘normal’ full time jobs and blog on the side. Depending on whether you’re full or part time, or how many times you post new content, you probably spend a different amount of time working on your blog per week.
When I worked a full time 40 hour per week job, I generally spent a minimum of an hour to max of 3 hours a day on my blog after work or on weekends. Of course there were days when I was on vacation or just was busy with life that I didn’t work on the blog at all, and other days where I spent a lot of time doing outfit shoots and editing photos and working on posts. That’s just my experience!
Photo by Kayla Williams of Heart and Soul Photography
I’ve never been a full time blogger, so I don’t know how much time they spend on their blogs per week. But I do enjoy reading what it’s like to be a full time blogger. You can check out a day in the life of Audree here, or read some interesting points about full time fashion blogging here. All in all, it probably takes a lot more time and work than it might appear, even if it is a cool lifestyle.
7. Why do some fashion bloggers say that they work on their blogs full time?
Similar to the last question, some bloggers say they work full time on their blog because they consider it their full time job— it’s a primary source of income and they perform various tasks that are ‘work.’ For example, a fashion blogger is a social media strategist, creative planner, photographer, writer, and editor all in one. Some people get paid to do just one of those things, and a blogger does them all!
Now is that a full time job in the traditional sense of 40 hours per week? Who knows. For some I’m sure it’s more, for some it’s less. Either way, successful blogs don’t just happen overnight. A full time blogger has probably spent more time than you realize getting their blog to the point that it can be a source of income.
8. How does a fashion blogger keep buying clothes and manage their wardrobe?
It seems that fashion bloggers really do just wear a lot of different clothes all the time. How do they do it? What about what must be an exorbitant cost AND storage?!
Unfortunately, some bloggers buy items from a store, leave the tag on, take styled photos in the item, and then return it after they post it on their blog and social media. My personal opinion is that it’s a really shady way to keep costs down on clothes and your closet from bursting since you’re being dishonest with your audience.
What’s becoming more popular are ‘try on hauls’ where a blogger might order a bunch of clothes, try them on in Instagram stories or for a blog post to talk about fit, quality, style, etc., and then return the items they don’t want to keep. This lets a blogger showcase more items without incurring costs, and they can be honest about what they don’t keep.
The ‘keeps’ from my try on haul of last year’s Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales.
Some bloggers who buy a lot of items utilize Poshmark or Ebay to re-sell their gently used items. In fact, on Instagram they usually post about when they are selling stuff so that you can take a look. I haven’t used these options before, but even non-bloggers do this so it makes sense.
And like I mentioned earlier in the post with capsule wardrobes, not all fashion bloggers are about buying a lot of stuff. Some fashion bloggers are more into DIYing your own pieces, some have minimalist wardrobes, and some have even documented their journey to buying less.
9. What does #Ad or #Partner mean?
Way back in the beginning of this post (can you even remember that far back!?), I talked about the FTC or Federal Trade Commission. It’s the FTC’s job to protect consumers. They make a lot of the rules that govern fashion blogging as an industry. If a fashion blogger is working with a company on a campaign (a sponsorship), the FTC says that the relationship must be clear with the audience.
For example, if a blogger was given a product for free, say a makeup palette, by a company in exchange for a review on their blog, that blog post would have to specify that they blogger had a relationship with the company. They have to disclose in the beginning of the post that they received the product for free.
That way the reader can determine whether or not they want to take the blogger’s opinion as 100% true and honest or possibly biased due to receiving a free makeup palette.
Now, if a company would like a blogger to post on their Instagram or Twitter, it becomes harder to include a full disclosure in a caption or tweet. So the FTC has made rules about using certain hashtags or words in the caption to go along with the post.
Generally, the rule is that #ad or #sponsored or #promotion need to be effectively communicated to the consumer. Certain words like #ambassador (and possibly even #partner) are not as clear to the reader. Additionally, while it is not mandated that the hashtag be at the beginning of a post or tweet, it must be “easily noticed and understood,” which kinda sorta translates to being up front, not buried in hashtags at the end.
These disclosures apply to Instagram stories, as well.
To summarize, these hashtags are meant to create clarity between the consumer and the blogger about the relationship the blogger may have with the product/company.
Read more about FTC endorsements.
10. Won’t fashion blogging eventually go away?
Well I can’t see the future, but looking at trends I’m going to try and answer this as best as possible.
The way that people shop in general has shifted. Instead of going to brick and mortar stores to buy what you need, whether that’s an apple or a pair of sandals, people are opting to shop online. I mean, you can get groceries, medicine, furniture, and of course, clothes online. Think of how many retailers that are SOLELY internet based. Like Amazon, Wayfair, Overstock, 6pm.
People are also increasingly on their mobile devices. They’re browsing the internet, using social media apps, watching videos, and generally having too much screen time. I am SOO guilty of this!
So while people aren’t necessarily on their desktops reading fashion web logs (where the word ‘blog’ comes from) all the time, they are still engaging with influencers via other methods on their mobile devices, and following up with purchases.
My completely biased opinion is that fashion blogging is not dead, but is changing. The actual blog, the base of the influencer’s brand, is still the most important thing because it’s where they own their content and have full creative control. But influencers have to adapt to the ever changing environment by interacting with their audience on new platforms, in different ways, and faster than before. You always have to be on your toes!
Did that answer all your questions on fashion blogging? Probably not.
But I hope it helped you understand a little bit more about it! I’d love to hear your thoughts on fashion blogging. Let me know what you think in the comments!
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