How Does The Modest Man Make Money?

Have you ever wondered how a blog like The Modest Man makes money?

TMM Income

TMM Income and Expenses

I get lots of questions about this. People want to know if I make money from this blog (and how much).

These are good questions, and I love talking about the business of blogging. But this topic has nothing to do with style for short men, so I've been hesitant to talk about it here.

But… I recently created a survey to gauge your interest in learning about how I monetize this site and the business of blogging, in general.

Much to my surprise, over 60% of you said you were interested.

So, this is the first ever TMM income report. Since it's already April, this report will cover the first quarter of 2015 (January, February and March).

Quick side note: This isn't the new norm. If you guys like this income report and want to see more, I'll publish one per month. The Modest Man will always focus primarily on style advice for short men.

How a Style Blog Makes Money

Like most blogs, The Modest Man has multiple sources of income. They can be grouped into three basic categories:

  1. Affiliate commissions
  2. Ad revenue
  3. Product sales

Let's take a closer look at each of these categories.

Affiliate Commissions

You earn affiliate commissions by referring people to other company's products. For example, if I publish an outfit post featuring a jacket from Banana Republic, I will link to that jacket using a special referral link.

RewardStyle Dashboard

My analytics dashboard in rStyle, a popular affiliate platform for style bloggers.

If someone clicks that link and ends up buying the jacket, I'll get a small portion of the sale. It doesn't cost you, the customer, anything extra. The seller just gives me, the affiliate, a little reward for telling you about their product.

These commission are typically very low (like 5%), so it takes a lot of traffic/links/sales to make serious revenue from affiliate marketing, at least in the apparel industry.

To get access to these special links, you have to join affiliate programs. I'm part of several big programs (like Amazon), as well as some smaller ones (like Modern Tailor). Of course, I also write about and link to lots of products that aren't part of any affiliate programs.

For me, affiliate earnings are a nice little bonus for sending potential customers to my favorite companies. So if you click on an affiliate link and end up buying something, you're helping keep the lights on at The Modest Man headquarters.

Much appreciated!

Ad Revenue

Advertising on this site falls into three buckets:

  1. Direct Ads
  2. Google AdSense
  3. Sponsored Posts

Direct ads can be purchased by companies that I really believe in and support (i.e., not just anyone).

Google AdSenseThese are pretty straightforward – a company writes me a check, and I place their banner on the site for a specific period of time (usually 1-6 months).

Google Adsense ads are lower down on the page. Google controls these, and they have all sorts of complicated targeting going on. These ads change often, but they will likely be very relevant to you (sometimes a little too relevant… GET OUT OF MY HEAD GOOGLE).

I also count sponsored posts as ad revenue, although they're really not ads in a traditional sense. You'll always know when a post is sponsored because it will say something at the top of the article like:

“This post was made possible by…”

Some months have one or two sponsored posts, while others don't have any. I turn down most sponsored post opportunities down because they're not a good fit for TMM readers, literally.

Product Sales

Right now, my only product is the Short Man Style ebook. I'm working on some other stuff (no spoilers), but the ebook is it for now. It's not a huge source of revenue, but it is consistent.

Q1 2015 Income Summary

Ok, now that we've covered all of the different revenue streams, let's look at the actual numbers:

Ad Revenue

  • Direct/Sponsored – $2,950.00
  • Google AdSense – $163.03 (just started in March)

Affiliate Commissions

Product Sales

TOTAL = $5,831.69

Keep in mind, this is total for Q1 2015 (three months total). This comes out to $1,943.90 per month. Not exactly retirement money, but it's a start.

UPDATE: Check out the Q2 2015 Income Report

TMM Expenses

Some recent expenses

I invest almost all of this money right back into The Modest Man. It costs money to try out new brands, go to conferences, buy photo and video equipment, host this site, etc.

I work as a freelance digital marketing consultant to pay the bills, at least until this blog gets big enough to support me full time.

To that end, I have some cool stuff planned. I'm working on an online course that will help short men step up their style. It's kind of like the ebook, but higher quality and way more in depth.

Of course, anyone who bought the ebook will get a sweet discount when the course launches!

I'm also working on another product for you, but it's top secret. Stay tuned…

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  1. Cool. Very interesting.

  2. From the looks of it your UMVs are pretty high up there, congrats buddy 😉

    Josh – The Kentucky Gent

  3. Alexander Cruz says:

    I’m not so much interested in this specific type of post from TMM (as I suppose you aren’t either). However, I did find this post to be among the most interesting pieces of blogging I’ve read this year. I thank you for sharing this info with us, I believe it gives us (the followers) a greater sense of respect towards your work and a bit more sense of “responsibility” towards the site, at least in my case. Thank you again for this exclusive view into your business.

  4. I love the look inside Brock. It’s fascinating to see how things work for others. I spend all my time thinking about product and how to reach our customers and serve them Understanding how life works for the bloggers that those of us on the product side depend on to get the word out brings some new perspective to the process. I’m happy to be factored into that accounting list. Keep up the great work and you’ve got my vote to keep up this segment. I want to see how the site grows and what works/doesn’t work for you.


  5. You demonstrate the essential inspiration that is disappointingly generally missing all around. Keep up the good work mate!

    Lee (Grantham, England)

  6. I have often wondered how bloggers make money. Fascinating to see the breakdown of your revenue streams. I assume most of your costs are fixed so your sites profitability can scale nicely with increased readership (assuming readership increases revenue.)

  7. Thanks for your inside post. I always wondered how a blogger can make money with a site.
    Greeting from the flower fields in the netherlands.

  8. So glad to see that you are having success and being rewarded for your good work, Brock! It is really interesting to hear the details, so thanks for sharing. Keep up the good work!!!

  9. Thank you for this! I’ve always wondered if and how much awesome sites like this can make. Hope you can be fully supported from this blog and do more!

  10. Gene Yee says:

    This business model reminds me of Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Work Week. Revenue is one thing, but what interests me is your freedom to be anywhere your want and work at much or little to maintain your success as you desire. Much better than being tied to a desk. Wish you continued success and stay creative in finding that niche market.

    • 4HWW is probably the one book that I can say actually changed my life. I read it a couple of years before starting this blog, but I can say with confidence that The Modest Man exists because of that book.

      And you’re right, it’s about freedom, not money. Everyone has the ability to make money, but no one (even the richest person) can make more time.

      Thanks for your comment!

  11. says:

    Good read. Very interesting. Thanks for posting!

  12. unrelated to the article, but did you ever do a Modern Tailor review? one of your older articles said “review coming soon” but I can’t find it

    • Hey Anthony,

      I haven’t done a full review on them, although I’ve worn their shirts in some outfit posts. In my opinion, they’re the best budget MTM brand.

      Will try and get a detailed review out soon.


  13. Malaquias says:

    I appreciate this

  14. via Reddit/r/entrepreneur – Great job, nice write up. I would love to to know more about how long you’d been working on the blog, content, and building the audience before September… I mean, it’s possible, but unlikely that you just built a blog and started to monetize right away, right?

  15. Super cool! Thanks for sharing. Love when blogs are open and honest about what they are about and how they make money.

  16. wanderoke says:

    Thank you for the openness of your financials

  17. Whoa. Very cool of you to do this, Brock. Respect!

  18. Wishing you all the best, Brock.

  19. I would love for you to keep doing this segment! It’s really interesting and I love that you’re transparent about all this!

  20. I appreciate the transparency, Brock! I saw how sincere and authentic you were at StyleCon and through your YouTube videos, and I now see those same qualities in your writing! It’s very clear that you are really committed to serving your audience.

  21. I wish my blog can as big as yours brock

  22. Hey, what a great read – love the insights.

    Can i ask how long you’ve been blogging and how long it took for you to start earning a modest amount?


  23. Brock, Thanks for referring me to TMM. You’ve now got me interested in blogging! So cool of you to share tips on style and success! That’s what most people are after.


  24. This info is amazing. Thanks for sharing. Great motivation for my own sites.

  25. Thanks for sharing this as I’m also running my own men’s style blog and have no idea how to monetize it. I may just consider keeping it ad-free and figure monetization out later on once I can build a bigger audience/following.

  26. Michael Shemer says:

    Do you use a service such as blogspot or wordpress for your blog? Or did you have the website created by a programmer?

  27. Love your style, Brock! I’m of average height but found your site through a mention by Peter Nguyen on his site. Anyway, like the way you break things down in easy to read fashion. And thanks for including marketing how-to info in your Resource Page. Well done!

  28. Thanks for sharing. You are very detailed and helpful with what you share.

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