How Much Do Bloggers Make? Influencer Secrets, Part 1

how much do bloggers make

When I decided to leave my corporate job last year to pursue blogging full-time, I made a promise to you guys that I would remain transparent throughout the entire process. For some reason, I feel like bloggers/influencers rarely share what goes on “behind the scenes” in this line of work—and before I got into the business myself, I was obsessed with understanding everything about it and what it was really like for the people who do this full-time.

So now that I’m officially on the “inside”… I’m excited to give you the SCOOP.

A few months ago I posted on IG and asked you to submit your questions about influencers/bloggers, because I intended to do one massive blog post explaining everything. But I ended up getting so many responses, I decided to turn it into a full-blown series that I’ll be rolling out over the next few months.

Welcome to “Influencer Secrets.”

Each installment in this multi-part series will center around a specific topic—from “free stuff” to “traveling as an influencer” and so much more. Below, I’m excited to kick things off with some of the most common questions I received. I hope you enjoy it!


Part 1: How Much Do Bloggers Make?


Q: Do you clearly disclose if you’re being paid for a post?

A: Always. First of all because I’m not tryna be a shady bitch. Second of all because it’s the law (FTC regulations are no joke.) And third/most importantly because there’s no reason for me to not disclose it. Any brand that I do an #ad #sponsored #partnership with is a brand I’ve already vetted as being worthy of my endorsement, so putting the disclosure on the post is kind of beside the point. It just means that they believe in me enough to put money behind my platform, which is pretty fucking awesome.

instagram sponspored post example

Q: Would you turn down a brand if you didn’t believe in it/trust their products?

A: 1000%. I turn down brands all the time. Even the ones that are offering me a lot of money. Because if I were to partner with a brand that had shitty products, what would happen when all of my followers bought said product and were disappointed? They would immediately lose trust in me—which is what my entire livelihood, brand, and reputation is based on.

So for me, it’s not worthwhile to endorse something I don’t genuinely believe is cool or worth spending money on. I think there are a lot of influencers who don’t really give a shit and are blinded by dollar signs, and maybe they’ll make more money in the short-term. I just don’t think it’s a great long-term strategy.

Q: What do you charge per post?

A: I truly want to answer this question because I’m an open book, and I know how curious everyone is. BUT…it’s really in my best interest to not discuss what I charge publicly. Here’s why: every partnership is different, and if I state a specific number on my blog, I’ll never be able to negotiate more money for myself because I’ll be locked in to that specific rate. (I feel strongly about women advocating for themselves by negotiating, and I highly recommend reading Lean In if you haven’t already.)

However, if you want a bit more insight, the chart created by USA Today below gives a very broad range for each platform. Note that it primarily focuses on macro influencers—people with 500K+ followers.

what do influencers charge

Q: How do you decide whether to collaborate with a brand or not?

A: There are a number of factors, but the most important factor is whether or not I believe it’s a good product or a cool company/service I think my followers should know about. I test everything before I agree to sign a contract, unless it’s something intangible, like an event or a philanthropic campaign. Then I just go based on my gut and the reputation of the brand.

The second factor is whether it’s on brand for me. This is a tough one, because there are some products I think are amazing, but if their packaging is cheesy, or their website sucks, or their Instagram account is kind of embarrassing…I can’t associate with that, even if the thing they’re producing is good. Optics are so important in this business and unfortunately a good product sometimes isn’t enough. Branding is crucial.

If a brand passes the first two factors, then it comes down to what they’re asking for vs. what they’re willing to pay: if you’re trying to get me to do a sponsored post in exchange for, say, a free razor and some shaving cream…BYE FELICIA. (This actually just happened to me a few days ago.) It all comes back to knowing your worth, knowing how much time and effort you put into a sponsored post, and ultimately all the years you’ve spent growing an audience that trusts you.

Q: How much do you get per swipe up on a sponsored product?

A: It all depends! For those who aren’t familiar: some retailers offer an affiliate commission to influencers for purchases made on their website that were generated by the influencer through Swipe Ups or blog links. It doesn’t cost the buyer anything additional—it’s just a retailer’s way of saying “thank you for directing your audience to this product. If they buy it, we’ll give you a percentage.”

Many retailers pay a commission for sales made via ‘Swipe Ups.’ 

Not all retailers pay, and truthfully, many of the ones that do aren’t paying THAT much. (Or I should say, not enough to encourage me to post a swipe up to something that’s not good.) For ex: I posted a link to the Canon camera I use, which retails for $588 on Amazon. A few people ended up buying it from the Swipe Up link—a $588 camera!—and my “commission” was $7.22. LOL. In general though, commission rates from retailers range from 5% – 15%. For my business, affiliate income isn’t lucrative enough to rely on entirely, but it’s a nice additional revenue stream.

affiliate commission

Q: How many units of different products do you actually sell/receive commissions on?

A: It honestly depends. For instance, the white shirt that I don’t shut up about—more than 150 people bought it within 24 hours of me posting the link. And that’s JUST the people who used my link; it doesn’t take into account anyone who bought it later, or maybe went to the store and bought it there. But not every product resonates in that same way. There have definitely been things I’ve posted that not a single person buys. I try to take every swipe up/link as a learning about what my audience likes and responds to.

Q: What is the average income for influencers?

A: I know this is question that everyone wants to know, but the truth is, it’s almost impossible to generalize because the field is so vast. There are influencers who bring in millions of dollars a year, and there are others who live paycheck to paycheck. It also depends what your revenue streams are. For example, big YouTubers can demand anywhere from $20,000 to six figures for one sponsored video. There are bloggers who make thousands of dollars a month from advertising on their websites; while there are others that don’t make shit. As for me personally: what I can say is that if my earnings stay on the same track as they’ve been for Q1, I will end the year making more money as an influencer than I did in my corporate job. Of course, anything could happen…but at this point I’m cautiously optimistic 🙂

Hope you guys enjoyed Part 1 of my Influencer Secrets series! If you’d like to be the first to find out when Part 2 goes live, click here to subscribe to my newsletter.

And if you have questions that you want me to answer in future installments, leave them in the comments below.

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20 Comments

  1. May 6, 2019 / 11:47 pm

    I love this! Thanks for being so honest and also sharing how it all works. I love how you choose brands that align with you and your brand. Love you girl and keep smashing it!

  2. Courtney
    May 7, 2019 / 1:39 pm

    Love this! (can I be you?!)

  3. May 7, 2019 / 7:59 pm

    Loved loved loved loved loved. Thank you for being real.

  4. May 8, 2019 / 3:30 pm

    Thank you so much!!! Can’t wait for the next installment!

    Have you considered hosting any meetups or live sessions in the NYC area?

  5. Lisa
    May 9, 2019 / 1:11 pm

    Great content! Love your keeping it real and sharing❤️

  6. Selema
    May 9, 2019 / 1:56 pm

    Lindsay this is great stuff!!! I’m on a hiatus from social media (just a healthy 30 days) and I’ve been missing your posts so getting this newsletter and these juicy influencer secrets is the best! I still want to meet you someday so do let me know when you visit Chicago!
    <3 Your always fan!

  7. Jenni
    May 9, 2019 / 2:00 pm

    Thanks for all the information and for being honest – it’s very interesting!

  8. Abigail
    May 9, 2019 / 3:27 pm

    This is why you are the BEST! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Beth
    May 10, 2019 / 3:46 am

    Enjoyed reading this so much, and really found out tons of information I never knew. Looking forward to part 2!

  10. Carson Feld
    May 21, 2019 / 1:08 pm

    Hi, I’m new here but saw your Insta this AM and followed to this post as it piqued my interest. I’d love if you pushed the envelope further – a lot of this I already knew, and the topics I was excited for someone to finally dig into where the ones where the answers were kinda vague. (Tho from reading comments, it does sound like it was informative for some!) Some questions I have:

    1) Do you typically approach brands for partnerships or do they approach you?

    2) I see you have 150k Insta followers, a blog, probably a YT/Twitter…do you employ any assistants/freelance help at this scale, or is it possible to manage by yourself? If you have help, at what # followers approx. did you need to hire?

    3) You said you’re earning more in Q1’19 than Q1’18bin your corp job, is this after whatever it costs you to produce each post etc.? Or not taking that into account?

    4) Would you say you work more hours as a full time influencer than a typical corp worker in NYC (9-7, 5 days a week)?

    5) How do you pitch/differentiate yourself from all the other influencers? And is it a lonely place, at times, because of all the competition?

    6) I get you don’t want to divulge cost/post, but maybe you could speak to 5 friends in the space who all have around 150k followers too, and have them give you pricing anonymously and you give a range to us or avg. It could help YOU guys to expose payment inequality within your peer group and know which brands are underpaying you!

    • May 21, 2019 / 5:40 pm

      Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to post more questions! The series has 7 parts so I’ll actually be addressing ALL of these things in my upcoming posts 🙂 Stay tuned!

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