“A blogger with a bigger audience, and prominent persona, she’ll make the bulk of her income from brand partnerships,” says Vanessa Flaherty, Vice President of Brand Development at DBA.
According to Flaherty, a blogger could be paid anywhere between $2,000 for a small-scale one-off gig (like hosting a party, or writing advertorial) to “six figures” for a longer partnership, like “a year-long ambassadorship or major full-scale advertising campaign.”
Of course, not every blogger can command that kind of money. “The six figure deals are more rare but they’re definitely happening,” Flaherty says. She estimates that about one-third of DBA’s clients pull that kind of cash. “I can’t speak about industry standard,” Flaherty says–but it’s safe to guess that DBA’s clients (they rep Kelly Framel of the Glamourai, Aimee Song of Song of Style, and many more) are making much more than the average blogger.
“It would have to be someone [whose site] gets loads of page views per month,” to command six figures for a partnership, says Flaherty.
Though she adds, it’s not a “simple conversion of lots of traffic equalling dollar signs.”
“Some people have a larger profile and a greater influence in certain spheres and can just demand higher rates than someone who [gets less] traffic,” Flaherty says. And for brands that are hoping to drive sales–rather than just raise brand awareness–it can be more beneficial to partner with a blogger who has a smaller, but super active, following.
Even if it’s only the cream of the crop of the industry making those kinds of deals right now, the opportunity for them is growing–and fast. Flaherty says she is contacted hundreds of times of day by brands hoping to partner with a blogger. As the power of bloggers grows, that number will no doubt increase.
“I think that things are definitely going to compound exponentially,” says Flaherty. “I don’t think that any of this is going to go away.”
That being said, Flaherty agrees the blogging industry is over-saturated right now. There are hundreds of thousands (millions?) of bloggers out there–the majority of which probably won’t make a living off their sites. But, Flaherty says, “some people are going to rise to the top.”
And for those who continue to rise, more riches await. On top of robust rewards from affiliate link programs and lucrative brand partnerships, Flaherty thinks the next level of blogging will be that “bloggers are going to evolve into their own full-scale brand, whether that means products on the shelves, or a television series, or books.” These won’t be design collaborations or partnerships–these will be licensing deals in the style of celebrity clothing lines. And it’s already kind of happening. Three of DBA’s clients have struck lucrative licensing deals: Both Bag Snob (rebranded as Snob Essentials) and Mrs. Lilien have partnered with Beanstalk Group (the gold standard in licensing agencies–they work with the Olsens, Salma Hayek, Jaguar) and food blog Spoon Fork Bacon has a deal with Brand Central LLC.
DBA will soon be unveiling a “new licensing model” that will help facilitate even more blogger/brand deals like this. “It’s really more a brand partnership/venture than a traditional licensing model, with major manufacturing channels involved,” Flaherty says.
And we can’t forget about the original source of income for all bloggers: Advertising. Craig says that when she and business partner Kelly Cook first began their blog as a sort of online journal in which the two bag-obsessed women could share their musings on purses, they “put up a few Google ads” with the hopes of “breaking even” on their new hobby. Now, the two (mostly Cook) sell their own ad space to luxury brands like Net-a-Porter, generating significant profit.
If a top blogger is pulling $50K a month, plus a handful of brand partnerships–some in the six digits–and thousands of dollars in ads, you could easily be looking at yearly revenue of about a million dollars a year, with the potential to make even more. What’s more, unlike most businesses, bloggers have virtually no overhead.
Craig, who founded her site on just $20 (for a domain name), explains: “In business school at USC, we learned that an ideal business should be one with low overhead, no inventory, minimal labor requirements, not limited by personal output (we make affiliate sales when we are sleeping), is portable (we can work from anywhere) and has an unlimited global market. I believe blogging is the perfect business!”
Even though Craig’s costs have increased from that $20, she says that thanks to her’s and Cook’s hands on approach, their “costs are still very low compared to most businesses.”
Having such low costs means that most of that potential $1 million revenue goes straight into a blogger’s pocket.
So…are you ready to start your blog, sit back, and and watch the money roll in? Not so fast.
Yes, there’s a lot of money to be made in blogging. But while it may look easy being a successful blogger (I know, how hard could it be to take a few well-lit pictures of yourself, right?) it’s actually pretty arduous. Brands aren’t actually after bloggers–they’re after their readers. If you don’t have a sizeable base of dedicated, active and engaged readers, well then, don’t expect to monetize soon. And getting readers’ attention–especially in this over-crowded market–is no easy feat.
“If you want people to take notice, you’re going to have to have a really unique and concise point of view,” says Flaherty. “Even if it’s niche.”
A small but engaged audience can be a powerful thing. “We’ve seen that niche bloggers with small and loyal audiences can earn more than a blogger with higher pageviews and a larger social media following,” says Cain. Having a focused niche is also appealing to advertisers, who are trying to reach a specific demo.
“My number one piece of advice to aspiring bloggers is: Don’t start a blog to make money at it or become famous, because then your goals are different,” says Craig. “[Cook and I] always say, if it’s not teenage love–if it doesn’t make you crazy, happy, giddy–then don’t blog about it. Because if it’s boring to you, it’s going to be boring to your reader.”
Once you’ve got your burgeoning blog, Craig “highly recommends” you take a business course. “It’ll really help you to understand the marketing of your business,” she says. “The best blogs, the blogs that have been around the longest, are run like any good business.”
If you dream of being the next Leandra or Bryan or Susie, pick a topic you feel passionate about, hone your point of view, share it in the most genuine, original way you can think of and then…wait.