Today I want to discuss a topic that is and has been top of everybody’s mind for several years.
As blogs picked up in popularity and brands noticed, sponsored content and paid partnerships have become commonplace. Scroll through Instagram and you’ll see several instances. Browse the archives of Daisybutter and you’ll also see a couple. Wander down the High Street and you’ll see oh so many billboards. Where does it end?!
I wanted to speak candidly about how I fit into the mould too, when it comes to sponsorships, monetising my content and my general thoughts about where the industry is headed.
Daisybutter was founded from my bedroom at University halls back in 2009.
I’d get home from a day of lectures and seminars, do my required reading (because I was a huge nerd!) and then write, publish and share a blog post about my day, what I wore, what I bought and how I felt, instead of going out-out. I’d include helpful links to all of the random things I featured, simply because I could. What else would the Internet be for, if not linking to things, a tool that isn’t available in any offline medium?
Back in 2009, the handful of bloggers that I ‘knew’ via Twitter barely knew what a dofollow link was, much less an affiliate link or a sponsorship disclaimer! We were attending events from names including The Body Shop, Barry M and Eyeko, getting exclusive previews of new launches so we could share them with our devoted followings. Because they were (and are). Devoted. Passionately reading each post, after school, work, Uni. We were able to provide them with an exclusive first-look of new launches from a truly unique perspective.
One day, I received an invitation from Skimlinks inviting me to a real, grown-up meeting to meet their team and learn more about monetising the links that I was already building. I remember shaking with nerves and excitement as I hopped on a train to London after my News Journalism lecture, heading into their office and discovering the world of affiliate marketing. I zoomed straight back to Southampton by train and made it just in time for my Fashion History lecture.
From then, I integrated affiliate links to Daisybutter.
I’d already link to the new dress I’d picked up, where I’d discovered a new hair oil, that café I’d visited in between lectures… It just made so much sense that in return for recommending a dress to a devoted reader, I could earn a few pennies. And, as it still stands true today, it literally was pennies made.
Soon after, brands began asking if they could gift me pieces from their new collections for my consideration.
I of course jumped at the chance to discover new brands and new clothing, who wouldn’t?! Sometimes these would be featured on my blog, and more often than not, they’d be returned to the brand (I hated waste back then too) or would be shared with my flatmates. To me, it felt like a great way to discover new brands, style outfits I wouldn’t be able to (as a student on a very tight budget) and share them with my ever-growing audience. I was reaching weekly hits of 10,000 and it was mind-blowing to think I had real people logging on to read my words.
Next came lucrative opportunities to have posts sponsored by brands. My first ever sponsored post paid me £30 and I remember excitingly receiving it by PayPal and treating myself to a few pieces in H&M. Back then, sponsored posts were incredibly few and far between but I’d pour all of my creative energy into producing beautiful content that stayed true to my diary-like posts. They were certainly not editorial-quality by any stretch of the imagination.
And my final ‘origins’ story in the world of sponsorship was Glam/Mode Media, my advertising agency. There’s a tumultuous story behind this company as they eventually went under and owed hundreds of bloggers thousands of pounds, including me. But in its infancy, it was how I generated the most income from Daisybutter. I’d run takeover ads, sidebar ads and create complete sponsored content (Tweets and blog posts, as Instagram didn’t exist then).
How Daisybutter Monetises Content Now
Over time, monetising content has shifted drastically.
Affiliate links are still somewhat important, as evidenced by the surge in rewardStyle and Like To Know It links littered all over the Internet. But they’re certainly not my largest source of income by a long stretch. In fact, affiliate marketing has made a huge difference not only in the way content is monetised, but in the way content is created.
Content creators are now far more likely to share new outfits and fresh buys, so that they can readily monetise their content. The outfits I wear feature old items and, essentially, are no longer monetisable, for instance. But it doesn’t mean you can’t share similar pieces, of course.
Daisybutter makes money through sponsored posts, sponsored Instagram posts and affiliate links. I also have an e-book sharing my freelancer tips (I was spending about an hour or two each day sharing my tips for free by email to SO many readers!). And, I also continue to accept gifted items that I share for free on my platforms.
Sponsored posts are, still, few and far between. I would estimate that I accept about 15-20% of the sponsorship opportunities that I’m offered, because I genuinely do believe in keeping this space authentic and ensuring my individual posts work together to create a cohesive experience. I’m also conscious of only sharing a maximum of three (of around twenty posts per month) sponsored blog posts each month.
Sponsored Instagram posts are a little different: they definitely feel more ‘ad’ than a sponsored blog post. But there’s no denying that they’re super lucrative in terms of money at the moment. Affiliate links are my lowest performing, bringing in around £100-200 per month.
I’ve felt for a while that it’s absolutely amazing that I can earn money from what was once my hobby and is now a bit of a side hustle. Of course it’s ultimately still a hobby for me, but I want to be upfront and share just how much of a financial impact the blog has. Some months (around August and right before Christmas), I earn more than I did in my last full-time job!
I’d love to know your thoughts on monetising content. Has this honest peek into the financial side of Daisybutter changed how you may consume my posts?