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.
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.