How Bloggers Make Money

I try to keep it real with yall, so today’s post is about something I get asked about a TON. “Do you actually get paid?” (Thankfully yes) “What do you ACTUALLY do? Does someone pay you per word in every blog post?” (I wish) “How do you make a living from just posting on IG?” (HAAAAA)

So today I am answering the question of how bloggers make money. The easy answer – multiple streams of income, because this industry is ever-changing and no two months are alike!


Sponsored Posts

I would say sponsored posts are the bread and butter of bloggers’ incomes. These are posts on their blogs or social media that are paid advertisements to brands. Here are some examples from my IG feed:

Bloggers work directly with brands on these projects, or they can work through agencies who serve as the middle man between the content creators and the brand itself. I have found that working directly with brands ends up being more profitable, but I really do love building a relationship with agencies. Agencies know my quality of work, my photo styles, my interests – they know ME. I am not just another Instagram handle to agencies! They also work out a lot of the kinks in partnerships that sometimes drive you crazy when you’re negotiating with brands yourself.

I really love sponsored posts not only because they are a great source of income, but these let my creative spirit take flight. I get to pitch shoot ideas to brands and it is SO EXCITING. There is nothing better than getting *the shot*!

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is different from LipSense, ItWorks and those kind of marketing companies. Those work because people sign up to be direct sales representative, whereas affiliate marketing is kind of the opposite. Bloggers can sign up for affiliate networks to make money if someone buys a product from any retailer through their link. is probably the most well-known affiliate marketing out there. When you buy clothes, makeup, etc. from a blogger’s LTK, they make a small commission. This is similar to when a salesperson at a retailer makes a commission from helping get the sale – would you really have bought that lipstick had your favorite blogger not posted it on LTK?

To be completely honest, I make a steady income from my affiliate networks, but each individual sale usually makes me around $1-3. It’s not like I make 40% commission on everything – but I wish 😉 It’s sheer quantity of sales that makes this a viable income stream for bloggers.

Ad Space

Just like VOGUE can sell ad space to Chanel, bloggers can sell ad space to brands… but maybe not Chanel 😉 I think the two most common ad spaces are on blogs in the sidebar. You can also see video ads on some monetized YouTube videos. The income from these is definitely dependent on how many people view the ads – logical, I suppose, but hard to guesstimate your monthly income from! Some months, I make a decent amount from ads, but some months are just cents. Very hit or miss for me, but I know the huuuuuge bloggers make 5 figures a month from ad space alone.

Photo Rights

Sometimes brands may approach bloggers to purchase photo rights, or buy the right to use the photos bloggers took for advertisements. I would say 90% of these requests come after I partner with a brand for a sponsored post, but I have gotten a few out of the blue asking to buy rights to photos I took promoting brands or products because I genuinely love them and wanted my readers to know about them! Photo rights can be a HUUUUGE paycheck, depending on what the brand wants to do with your photos.

Selling Products or Services

A lot of bloggers end up selling something for another way to monetize their brand and platform. Sometimes it is something for other bloggers, like Lightroom presets or media kit templates, but a lot of the products end up being clothes, accessories or home goods. The Gal Meets Glam line is a great example of Julia monetizing her blog through products – or even Amber with Barefoot Blonde Hair. Some bloggers offer services, such as virtual assistants, social media management, or coaching (like me!) which is another income stream still technically tied to their brand.

Side Hustles

Freelance life is not stable. Anyone in this industry can tell you that! A lot of bloggers have “side hustles” just like many 9-5ers do to help bring in some extra cash. Working retail, driving for ride share services, freelance writing for magazines, teaching barre… I have heard of sooooo many part-time jobs that bloggers have! A lot of the time, this isn’t even purely for money. Blogging can leave you lacking in routine, and it really is nice to have something defining a “structure.”


I hope this helps to explain how bloggers make money! Always feel free to leave questions about blogging, monetization, etc. below or email them to me 🙂

hi! my name is Caitlin, and I am a Midwest twenty-something, agency owner, thrifting pro and blogger who shares outfits, wellness, good books and so much more. I am so glad you are here - welcome to my corner of the internet!

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  1. Kate wrote:

    Great post! Hopefully it helps people understand what we’re doing, as so many are confused by the fact that we make money, let alone how we make it.

    Posted 8.3.18

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