Have you ever wondered how a blog like The Modest Man makes money?
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).
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:
- Affiliate commissions
- Ad revenue
- Product sales
Let’s take a closer look at each of these categories.
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.
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. 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.
Advertising on this site falls into three buckets:
- Direct Ads
- Google AdSense
- Sponsored Posts
Direct ads can be purchased by companies that I really believe in and support (i.e., not just anyone).
These 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.
Right now, my only product is the TMM Style Guide. 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:
- Direct/Sponsored – $2,950.00
- Google AdSense – $163.03 (just started in March)
- TMM Style Guide – $1,098
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: You can find all of my income reports at brockmcgoff.com.
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.