Co.Design

How Top Style Bloggers Are Earning $1 Million A Year

Perhaps consider quitting your day job to write about shoes.

Writing headlines like "All Aboard the Brooklyn Bound Christian Dior Ferry" and posting photos of yourself in cute designer clothes can now earn you up to $1 million a year. Top style bloggers are joining the 1%, reports Women's Wear Daily, with some earning as much as, say, neurosurgeons might hope to make after years of medical school.

Eager to drive sales, luxury brands and retailers are offering outsize appearance fees to Internet-famous trendsetters. Fees have gone up from a minimum of $5,000 five years ago to $10,000 to $15,000 today, WWD reports. On top of that, bloggers earn money from affiliate sales (essentially, commissions from retailers for online customer referrals); brand collaborations (which usually involve teaming up with designers on capsule collections); launching their own clothing collections; and ad revenue from their sites. All that can add up to seven-figure annual incomes, WWD says. Bloggers are becoming brands in themselves, turning their musings on fashion—often born as personal hobbies—into businesses.

One of the most charismatic of these bloggers is 32-year-old Bryan Grey-Yambao, of Bryanboy. Though he's not a millionaire just yet, he says he makes enough to "live comfortably and be able to not wear samples and buy my clothes retail." Comfortably enough, in fact, to have been able to turn down a six-figure editorial job offer from a major publication, as well as an offer from a major brand to design three bags for $75,000. Last year, he was paid $40,000 to show up at the ribbon cutting ceremony at Bangkok’s Siam Center.

Image: Chiara Ferragni via The Blonde Salad

RewardStyle, an invite-only affiliate marketing network that helps bloggers (as well as YouTube stars, magazines, and websites) monetize their content by making commissions off the items they write about, keeps tabs on top performers, who they say can make more than $80,000 a month from affiliate sales alone.* Based on RewardStyle's data, these top bloggers (most of whom declined to discuss specific income figures) include Chiara Ferragni of The Blonde Salad (pictured above), Nashville-based Mary Seng of Happily Grey, Chrissy Ott of The Perfect Palette and Erin Gates of Elements of Style.* Other bloggers turning their personal sites into lucrative businesses include Bag Snob, a blog started in 2005 by Tina Craig and Kelly Cook. This year, the blog spawned a handbag line, Snob Essentials. According to WWD, industry sources projected their business will soon tip into seven-figure territory. 25-year-old Leandra Medine has made her name with the hilarious, self-deprecating Man Repeller, which landed her a book deal. Then there’s Salt Lake City-based Rachel Parcell, 23, of Pink Peonies, who started her blog two years ago as a personal online journal. It was intended to be more private than Facebook, a way to keep family and friends updated on what she’s doing. Now, she’s estimated to be making at least $960,000 from affiliate programs alone in a year, based on RewardStyle's data—with added income from partnerships with the likes of TRESemmé and J.Crew.

Increasingly, it’s these bloggers' social platforms—especially their Instagrams—that boost their followings into the millions. In January, to capitalize on these followings, RewardStyle launched LikeToKnow:It, an tool that lets bloggers make their Instagram posts shoppable. Users sign up to receive emails with direct links to where to buy that cute skirt they saw in their favorite blogger's Instagram post. Since March, it's driven $1 million in sales. Perhaps consider quitting your day job to write about shoes.

*Erin Gates is disputing the claim about her income. We've reached out for comment and will update the post when we know more. This article has also been updated to clarify the definition of "top bloggers," a classification based on data from RewardStyle.

[via WWD]

[Image: Shoes via Shutterstock]

Add New Comment

56 Comments

  • I think here we read about people that had a goal in life, worked hard to achieve it, and finally made it. There is nothing wrong that people that spend most of their day creating new styles and writing about fashion earn a top-dollar. Contrarily, I believe that it is good that they are capable to support themselves without working on two jobs in order to survive -- as many creative people in the United States are forced to do. Talented creative people should be paid for doing their (not that easy) job! I really enjoyed reading about these success stories -- good luck, guys!

  • Two minds - firstly , good for them for making a living out of something then love, and secondly how are people so easily sucked into advice from complete strangers?! I love clothes and fashion, but surely it's nicer to take inspiration from art, culture, your own likes and creativity than mindlessly following some blogger who is just like you anyway? And helping them get rich while you're at it.

  • This reminds me of the whole Kardashian lunacy. I cannot understand why people pay so much more because something has a label on it, otherwise to show off, or boost their ego. My message is positive: if people listen they would save a fortune, and the planet's efforts could be better spent elsewhere. Sadly I don't think most of mankind is ready to listen now. In the future maybe society will evolve and get over it. Kardashian for example gets her designer gear given to her free, as she promotes it using her "star"dom. There are plenty of brands that functional, high quality and last a long while, but are not expensive. But that's not where the money is. Money is where people are getting ripped off. Fools part with their money too easily.

  • johnboy.teague

    ...and a smart individual will make it a point to be around as many "fools" as possible.

  • Ulrik Neumann

    Beautiful . I think it just shows how powerful the written word can be . If it's clever , informative , uplifting and offers insight and solutions , I am all for it . I feel bloggers are basically self employed journalists writing about commercial topics . Modern day sales people . Why not?

  • Yes they are sales people, but they are ripping people off, people fooled by image and marketing. The margins on these products is crazy. And that's even after all the amount they spend on marketing and endorsements. You can get quality, long lasting, good looking items elsewhere for a fraction of the cost, just drop the label. See my other comment above. If these products make them feel so good, why do they keep needed to buy the next latest over-priced clothes. Many of these people barely afford it. Too much pressure is put on young people of modest income to have these clothes to appear cool. I know young ladies who have got in debt because of this habit. It's more widespread than you may think.

  • hecticophilia

    Surely, a site like Fastcodesign has a thorough understanding of how much work it represents to create a constant stream of interesting engaging content, support it visually with photography, creatives etc , market oneself successfully, network around the clock, make interesting collaborations go through and succeed, connect and lock in advertisers, meet with the right audience of readers and sustain a great relationship with them. So I really don't understand the bashing of these top bloggers, for a handful who makes one million a year, there are years of hard work and creativity and commitment to one's blog and millions of bloggers who do not make $100 a year. If you title an article "How etc." I feel like it would be much more interesting to actually look at what it takes for a blogger to make that million. What's their day to day like, and prove that top bloggers are highly successful businessmen and women.

  • Sing it sister!

    In a world where click-baiting out performs all other forms of internet content, it is fantastic to hear about people making a successful go doing what they love

    I resent, a little, the assumption that these bloggers post a few photos on instagram and become insta-millionaires, and agree that in order to earn the monies quoted above, these people must work incredibly hard, and would also like to know more about these successful entrepreneurs.

  • I agree it's not as easy as posting a few pics up. I think their sales / presentation talents would be better put elsewhere.

  • I would love to one day combine my passions for writing and fashion in this way. I find it can be hard to start a unique blog however, perhaps because of the sheer amount of fashion bloggers these days. I guess I'll keep persevering!