I often get the question “But… how do you make money?” because a lot of people genuinely have NO idea how I manage to support my family and a team through a career as an “influencer”! And that’s fair! I don’t know how you’d know or be able to comprehend it without being in this industry yourself. So, I’m here to change that! We work with brands, we travel, we sell products, we have ads on our site… so. many. things. Today I’m breaking down the major categories in which we make our money and a bit about what that means. Hope it’s helpful!
Brand sponsorships make up for about 70% of our income. We have a management team who handles all of our sponsorships. They act as a liaison between us and the brand and handle all of the contracts and negotiating. We connect with sponsors in a few different ways. First, they may come directly to us, via email, asking to work together. In that instance, assuming it is a brand we want to work with, we connect them with our management team to take it from there. Our management team also is actively pitching us for campaigns they feel we might be a great fit for and will bring us offers from their efforts. And lastly, we email brands ourselves and pitch them if it’s someone we genuinely want to work with. Here’s a few different ways we work with brands once we connect with them:
Sponsored Blog Posts + Social Campaigns
Sponsored blog and social campaigns are the most common form of sponsorship we work in and what makes up the bulk of our income in this category. When we connect with the brands about a campaign, they typically have a specific product or message they are looking to promote. They then ask us to create content around that product/message. We will generally receive a brief from the brand outlining the messaging, product incorporation requirements, timeline, links, tags and other expectations. The creative flexibility we have varies greatly between brands. Some have a loose idea of what they want and look to us to conceptualize everything from top to bottom. Other brands have very specific guidelines for what they want incorporated in the content and we have to work within those parameters. When it comes to the blog, typically the product has to be incorporated into at least a certain number of images and we have a certain number of times we are required to mention it in the text as well. We take all of the information we’re given and then pitch them a concept that feels authentic to us while also achieving their goals for the campaign.
Almost all brands also pay for a round of social posts promoting the blog post. That includes a share on all (or some of, depending on what they choose) our social platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and occasionally YouTube).
These days, many brands want to focus solely on social posts and only want to contract us for a partnership there. The process looks very similar as it does for a blog post, but instead of the blog post being the “hero” content, typically the “hero” content will live on Instagram and be promoted to other social media platforms from there.
Events + Appearances
Brands will often throw large scale events surrounding a product launch, holiday or other major event/milestone. They may contract me to do an “appearance” at the event where I will attend the event and promote it on my social media channels. If it’s a public event, they may ask me to promote it ahead of time and then again from the event and if it’s a private event, they may just ask me to do the latter. For this type of partnership, I’m usually required to capture a certain element of the event, showcase a certain product at the event or get across another specific message.
I have also hosted workshops for brands or acted as co-host of events if they are looking to incorporate Studio DIY deeper into the messaging of the event itself. These typically involve more hands-on time for me because I will usually contribute creatively to the event instead of just attending.
Brand Ambassadorship/Long Term Partnerships
Sometimes brands are looking to partner with bloggers or influencers on a larger, more long-term basis. This can often be called a “brand ambassadorship” and will generally include several blog posts, social posts and events. But they can also include attending meetings at the brand’s headquarters, doing media interviews on behalf of the brand or giving creative input as they develop a new product or design.
These partnerships are great because they allow both myself and you guys to get to know the brand over a long period of time. But with these partnerships also comes a lot of risks as you are often required to be exclusive with that brand in their category for a long period of time which could mean losing out on other campaigns. But in this industry where it’s not very easy to “guarantee” income, these partnerships are one of the few instances that allow you to do just that and that (combined with higher rates) typically makes it worth the exclusivity.
Our products that we design and sell account for about 15% of our income. Similar to our management team that negotiates our sponsorship deals, we have a separate team that exclusively negotiates our product deals as well. We also currently work with a product company who facilitates the sourcing, manufacturing, distribution and advertising of all our products so we get to focus strictly on the conceptualization and social marketing aspects. I’m not at liberty to discuss how exactly we make money from our products, but here’s a few common ways influencers make money from the products they sell through a 3rd party company or license: receiving a guarantee (a sum of money paid out to the influencer no matter how many sales are made) and then a royalty (a percentage of each sale AFTER exceeding your guarantee) or receiving strictly a royalty (i.e. no guarantee up front or over time, only making money off of what is sold), profit sharing (sharing the profit after all the costs are subtracted).
Affiliate links are links that I share in blog posts or on Instagram where I receive a percentage if you click or make a purchase via that link. This makes up about 8% of our income. It’s essentially a “commission.” Similarly to who a real estate agent would get a percentage if they found you a home, if you purchase a pair of shoes I recommend or a mirror from my home, I may make a small commission off of that purchase.
You’ll notice there are several ads that pop up on my site (at the bottom, in the sidebar, within posts, etc.) and this accounts for the remaining 7% of our income. This is one of the only true passive income streams we are able to make. We get paid a certain rate based on how many people see or click the ads on the site. The rates vary depending on season and depending on the prioritization of the ad. We work with a third party company who manages all of our ad spots on our site.
And there you have it! Myself, like a lot of influencers, are currently working to make their profit pie chart a little more evenly split and not so heavily weighted in sponsorships. It’s never good to have all (or most) of your eggs in one basket so we work every day to make our ratios balance out a little more! But that’s my reality today so I wanted to share it! Feel free to leave any more questions you have below, who knows, maybe it’ll spark another post!