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.
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.
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.”
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.
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 🙂