In June, an elite group of style bloggers made headlines for bringing in around $1 million a year. But compared to Chiara Ferragni of the Blonde Salad, they're small time—Ferragni has turned her blog into a full-fledged business, on track to earn almost $8 million in revenues, Women's Wear Daily reports (subscription required).
Since the Blonde Salad’s launch in 2009 (while Ferragni was a law student at Milan’s Bocconi University), she’s evolved into an it girl who has been Simpsonized by Matt Groening, served as a guest judge on Project Runway, and worked as a model and spokesperson for Guess. Business of Fashion, the influential fashion site, called her one of the most influential personalities in the international fashion world.
Perhaps more than any of her competitors, Ferragni has turned her blog into a full-fledged brand and global business—she used its popularity as a means of launching a career as a shoe designer and model. Ferragni's website only accounts for 30% of her revenue (including advertising and brand partnerships, which account for 20%, and collaborations with designers, which bring in 10%). Chiara Ferragni Collection, a footwear line, accounts for the other 70%, WWD reports. Launched in fall 2013 with 1 million Euros from an Italian investor, her $220 to $500 shoes are now carried in almost 200 stores in 25 countries. A collaboration she did with Steve Madden sold 16,000 pairs in the first two weeks after its February launch. She's now more of a business woman than she is a blogger.
While her blog still drives steady traffic, she's become less concerned with using it as a moneymaker, and now uses it more as a marketing and branding tool. It's Ferragni’s social media presence—most notably, her Instagram, with nearly 2.8 million followers and gaining thousands more daily—that continues to boost her fame, and, in many cases, brings in extra cash. She posts her daily looks on the social media channel, along with some personal dramas (her Instagram announcement of her breakup with her boyfriend last June tipped the account over one million followers), letting people follow her "almost in real time," as she tells WWD.
Brands will partner with Ferragni to host events, and pay her to post a certain number of Instagram photos promoting their goods. As of last year, though, she has stopped posting sponsored editorial content on the Blonde Salad itself, to avoid blurring the line between paid and original content.
Despite her successes, aspiring style bloggers looking to follow Ferragni's lead would be wise not to drop out of law school just yet—she's the anomaly, not the norm.