How many times do you check social media and come across a friend, colleague, or “someone you may know” who makes money working from her phone? Maybe she promotes and sells beauty products. Maybe she works in network marketing. Maybe she’s a fashion blogger. These ladies are a regular sight on my Instagram/Facebook feeds. I always think to myself, “Does she do this full time or as a side hustle? If she does do this full time, how does she make it work financially?” (It’s the budgeting fanatic in me, I can’t help it.)
Now that I blog about fashion myself, I’m realizing two things: 1) This type of blogging can easily become wildly expensive, and 2) There ARE ways to create and publish meaningful, high-quality content and avoid a debt trap along the way.
I’ve elaborated on EIGHT key methods to follow if you want to pursue fashion blogging and wish to follow a tighter budget.
1. Look at what you already have.
When I started fashion blogging within Beautiful Budget, I got carried away and did a Target haul to the tune of about $250. I took my pics, grabbed my affiliate links (I wasn’t on LTKit yet), and was over-the-moon excited for my one week of content. ONE WEEK. I started to see red flags as I peeked at my budget’s depleted “wifey” fund…How was I going to be able to sustain this? I came to the realization that pushing out content frequently (a must in order to grow your following) wasn’t going to be so easy. Posting daily wasn’t an option. Posting every other day also wasn’t an option – not if it was going to require this amount of shopping for new items.
After a few weeks, I came to my senses and realized “old” clothes could still mean new content for my audience.
So before you go “adding to cart,” look at the cart that’s already been paid off – your closet. Look for items that you purchased from Amazon, Target, or any other place that doesn’t rotate a seasonal catalog. Also look for items you’ve purchased THIS season. Set these aside or give them their own corner of your closet so they’re easy to find. Once you’re finished, go item by item to ensure everything you’ve found still mirrors your current style and what you’d like to offer your audience (stay tuned for a blog post on this very topic). Now go visit those retailers’ websites. If you can find these clothes listed, favorite the links or start a new Word doc. You’re well on your way to new content that you didn’t have to spend new money on! Atta girl.
Note: I wanted to include a snippet regarding affiliate programs for those who may be just starting out as bloggers. Feel free to skip ahead if you’re already a pro in this area!
I’m sure you know by now that you earn money by promoting your favorite brands/retailers. Otherwise, fashion blogging wouldn’t be your potential full-time job! If you’ve built a website and have begun to use social media as a vehicle to market your brand (you), you’re an excellent candidate for affiliate marketing.
Go ahead and do a Google search for “<insert favorite brand or retailer here> affiliate program>.” Within seconds, you can start filling in applications for big-name retailers: Amazon, Target, Walmart, SHEIN, Lulus, to name a few. In some cases, you must join an affiliate network to partner with the vendor you desire (e.g. I joined “ShareASale” to work with SHEIN and Lulus). Once your application is submitted, monitor your email to see whether you were accepted or denied. And don’t be discouraged by denials! Building a following large enough to please some retailers takes time, and for every brand that denies you, there’ll be a brand that takes you in. Keep your options open and remain optimistic. When it comes to affiliate programs, vendors just want to ensure you have a professional mechanism to promote their products/services – website, blog, Instagram, Facebook, etc. I wouldn’t recommend applying until your website is up and running.
Once you’re accepted, you can start snagging links and adding them to your blog posts, or in the captions of your photos. Don’t forget to add your disclosure statements! If you’d like to know more about affiliate marketing and how to make money doing it, I highly recommend checking out this blog post from Making Sense of Cents.
2. Rent the Runway.
Name a vendor you regularly shop with, and tell me precisely the amount you spend on that vendor each month. You can’t, can you?
What if I told you there’s a way you can promote and sell designer attire at a non-designer price (for you AND your audience), and you have unlimited access to the catalog, all at a fixed price each month? Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Let me explain further.
Rent the Runway is all about making high-end clothing and accessories more affordable for the everyday woman. I will say, much of their inventory would appeal to a corporate audience (think midi dresses, thick coats, modest blouses). If you take the time, however, you’ll find that there is a good selection of everyday attire – crop tops, jeans, rompers, etc. An unlimited subscription currently costs $159/month, and you can rent as many times as you want, 4 items at a time. I’ve placed two orders so far, and both shipped in 2 days. My grand total if I had purchased all the items from a retailer would be $2,794. That’s my monthly subscription cost 17 times over. It’s pretty obvious the cost savings is the greatest perk, but there are others:
– the eco-friendly nature of renting rather than buying
– the fact that I no longer have to worry about where I’ll shop for occasion items
– the user-friendly app/website
– fast shipping
– free to ship the items back to RTR HQ (return label is provided)
– no need to wash before returning
– the variety of options (not just clothes, there are handbags, sunglasses, and jewelry too)
Okay, so what are the downsides then? Well, I touched on the inventory a bit – it will take you longer to find items for everyday wear (I recommend using the “Weekend Edit” filter to get started). Additionally, once RTR has received your return and you now have 4 slots open, items that you previously saved for later are likely not available anymore. Even if they are available and you start to load your cart, items aren’t guaranteed until you hit “Place Order.” I had to modify my second order twice, because I lost items as I added new ones to the cart. You’ve got to be quick. Lastly, keep in mind that your audience is likely NOT going to pursue an unlimited subscription, so take note of what a regular RTR customer would pay for what you’re promoting. That Kendall & Kylie blouse that retails for $128 might be available to rent for 4 days for $30. Is that still deemed affordable for your audience? Take a moment to assess that as you are placing your orders.
3. Staple items are the way to go.
If you continuously purchase dresses, jumpsuits, and other standalone items that function as an entire outfit, you’ll find yourself in financial trouble faster than you can say, “Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.” Look for items that can be reused in multiple looks: bralettes, cardigans, jeans, shorts, tanks. Mixing and matching/promoting versatile styles will excite the ladies who follow you because you’re helping them see that THEIR dollar can go farther too! Shop smarter!
4. Multiple pics in the same look.
I know you’re enamored by the bloggers who have a different outfit (and a different background, how Sway) for every single Instagram post, but if you’re just starting out as a fashion blogger or are working to build your following, know that it’s okay to have two or three posts in the same outfit. I follow several bloggers who stay true to this practice, even after surpassing 30K followers. One girl posts 3 pics per outfit, offering a cute and unique pose for each to keep her audience intrigued. It keeps her grid looking incredible due to color consistencies. It allows her to post almost daily. This brings me to my next point…
5. Don’t post daily if you can’t afford to.
Similar to point #4, don’t hold yourself to a standard that doesn’t fit your budget/lifestyle. You’ve probably been reading about how to get more traffic to your blog (I spent hours buried in these guides), and I know the common theme is to post top-notch content OFTEN. I’ll admit that posting daily helped me gain traction on Instagram, but I didn’t commit to this frequency until it was financially realistic for me. And even once it was, I would still devote occasional posts to handbags, jewelry, shoes, sunglasses, etc. via flat lays. Flat lays are a great way to break up the monotony of your full body posts; you could even incorporate “bringing flat lays to life” into your blog, YouTube, etc. They’re a hit on Pinterest!
6. It’s not all about the clothes.
Although fashion is your niche (or so I’m assuming since you’re reading this post), don’t let that be all that you offer your online tribe. Engaging captions, humorous Insta stories, commenting back to anyone who comments on your posts – these are all ways to build and maintain your following. One of my favorite bloggers is @daniaustin, and the primary reason I love her is the fact that her platform is collaborative – she asks questions in her captions and draws me in by being entertaining in her stories. It’s less about her outfit (but I do still love her style) and more about getting to know her personality and continuing to be amazed by how relatable she is. Consider this approach as you get started or find yourself in a financial pinch.
7. Don’t be duped, get the dupe.
If that Louis Vuitton bag isn’t yet in your budget, that’s okay! Go for what our community calls “dupes,” aka duplicates or similar items at a more affordable price. Here’s an example:
Once you purchase a dupe, receive it, and can provide an honest review of it, SHARE IT! Bloggers know the power of a good, duplicate product and we’re always on the hunt for new ones to offer our followers. Your saving money isn’t going to turn people off, it’s going to draw more people in. Trust me on this one. 🙂
8. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
Okay now this one only works if you network and don’t mind sharing your clothes! If you manage to find a fellow blogger who is similar to you in size and style, you might consider reaching out to see if she’d be willing to split the cost of an upcoming purchase, so long as you agreed to both be able to promote it. (I discourage this if your follower lists severely overlap. You don’t want your audience receiving the same content twice.) I admit I have yet to try this method myself, but it would be a brilliant option during the start of a new season/mass inventory turnover (think Pink Lily Boutique launching their new fall line). If you have tried this out, please share your experience in the comments!
Throughout this entire journey, stay true to yourself, your style, AND your budget. Pretending to be able to afford certain brands isn’t going to help you connect with your audience, especially since blogging is about letting walls down and being genuine in a news feed best known as a “highlight reel.” Keep in mind that as you promote more and earn more commissions, your funds will open up and you can start exploring the more expensive vendors if you want to. If not, there’s nothing wrong with a closet full of SHEIN (seriously my favorite retailer EVER) and dupes!