Everyone knows that style blogging comes with tons of perks. Designers send bloggers clothing freebies and front-row seats to their shows. They’re comped for travel to all sorts of exotic locales, plus they’re invited to tons of fabulous parties, events and store openings. But were you aware that they’re making millions—yes, millions—of dollars on top of all that?
This morning’s issue of Women’s Wear Daily revealed that it’s not uncommon for top fashion bloggers to command upwards of $50,000 for a single appearance. Couple that with the hundreds of thousands of dollars streaming in from ad sales, design collaborations and affiliate commissions, and we’re talking a major chunk of change here. Rachel Parcell of Pink Peonies, for instance, reportedly made over $960,000 this year in click-through sales alone.
Another internet star raking in the cash is Bryan Grey-Yambao of Bryanboy, who’s gone from making $100,000 in 2010 to being so financially comfortable he can pick and choose only the top gigs. In an effort to preserve his carefully crafted personal brand, he’s turned down an six-figure salary editorship at a major magazine and a $75,000 handbag deal. “Now, $100,000 is not enough,” he said in the piece. “For a young, upstart blogger, $100,000 may seem like a lot of money. [But] as a business, a legit business, $100,000 won’t really bring you that far. You have a lot of expenses.”
Shocking as some of these numbers are, Grey-Yambao makes an excellent point. The most successful bloggers out there right now aren’t well, bloggers anymore. Many of them, such as The Man Repeller‘s Leandra Medine and Emily Weiss of Into The Gloss, have parlayed what started as a personal website into a full-fledged online publication. That means a good portion of their profits are more likely to go toward renting an office space and paying employees than toward Prada heels and PS1 bags. Because they’re essentially mini start-ups, reinvesting is essential to growth.
Even still, it can be frustrating to feel like a blogger is plugging something just for the paycheck—it doesn’t seem genuine. That’s one of the reasons why Rebecca Minkoff has cooled off on paying internet influencers for their support. This spring, she chose to gift a select few her new Perry Satchel instead, in hopes they’d post some pictures on Instagram. Calvin Klein, too, took this approach by launching its #mycalvins campaign by sending some of the biggest names in fashion some old-school CK undies.
Whether the blogosphere’s major players are being compensated in money, free clothing or trips, though, one thing’s for certain: Instagramming, tweeting and posting outfit pictures has become a legitimate career. And as for whether that’s worth paying someone nearly $1,000,000 to do? That’s completely up to you. So long as you want what these bloggers are wearing, brands will keep vying to get into their closets.