159 - Money Talk(s)

Guatemala shirt - vintage (boyfriend's), Belt - vintage (eBay), Boots - c/o Dolce Vita, Tank top - ASOS, Shorts - vintage, Long necklace - gift from Brit, Earrings & most bracelets & rings - Konstantino, Large cuff - c/o JFR

These are the boots the Dolce Vita sent me in an effort to coerce me into tell you about that crazy contest they are doing. I already mentioned it once, but they are giving away 50 pairs of shoes per day, every day, until March 1st over on their Facebook (Severine won a pair!).

So, you may not know this, but the "write up" portion of my blog isn't open to paid endorsement...which is strange, because up there I just told you that Dolce Vita sent me a free pair of shoes so that I'd tell you about their contest. I made the exception this time for two reasons:

1. Dolce Vita is a brand I personally love. Their shoes, in particular, kill me. I have some amazing Dolce Vita heels that I wear and love dearly, so I felt a-okay about reppin' their brand on my blog. It's just more of the same that I usually wear! Speaking of...I've been meaning to show you guys the amazing leopard print Dolce Vita shoes I bought a couple of months ago. I need to get on that; they are beyond amazing.

2. These shoes are so awesome that had I known they existed prior to DV emailing me, I would have just bought them for myself anyway (fact).

3. The contest is so awesome that I would have just shared it with you anyway, without prompting, because I quite like free shiz and I think you do, too.

So, there you go. I broke my own rule, just this once, but I feel okay about it.

Sponsorships and advertising is a rather touchy concept when talking about fashion bloggers. It's no secret that there is a sea of "courtesy of"s on nearly every fashion blog. As someone who attempts to live in accordance to at least a baseline modicum of ethics, I find it interesting to consider the different angles of fashion blogger morality.

I never once thought there was anything unethical about accepting clothing gratis to wear on my blog. My thought process was always this: if I like the product and I think you'd like it, too, what's the harm in showing you? Bloggers are inundated with multiple requests every single day from companies wanting to collaborate. Believe it or not, we do exercise restraint. My house is already overrun with amazing vintage garments and accessories of which I refuse to let go. The last thing I want to do is compromise precious closet space by bringing in piles of new clothes just because they are free. In fact, nothing irks me more than when a company offers to send me a piece, I select what I love, and then they send me a bunch of other stuff, too, unsolicited, that I don't love at all. I find it to be extremely wasteful. That is product the company could be selling to someone who WILL love it, that is product out the window that adds to the demand chain and causes more product to be manufactured, and that is one more trip I have to take to Goodwill to donate it. The free clothing I do accept is because I genuinely like it and think it adds something special to my wardrobe, and I don't accept anything beyond that.

My personal ethical boundary is the idea that someone might pay me to wear an item on my blog. That, to me, was always a very obvious "no-no". The addition of compensation into the equation might cloud my judgement. Instead of looking at a company and saying, "Oh! You have some great things, so I'd love to partner with you!",  I feared I might look at a company and say, "Well, I guess this is the least of the terrible, so I'll wear it once on my blog, take the money, and not worry about it again." That is why I, personally, will not accept cash compensation to wear an item. The only "compensation" that I will accept for wearing a piece in a blog post is the piece itself, but when you have a closet my size, that's hardly compensation at all usually, because I tend to wear different items every single day, so I don't get much use out of the piece after I wear it once on my blog! With the exception of staples like jackets, shoes, and denim shorts, I tend to wear a piece only once per year or so* (what can I say, I have a LOT of clothes, and I feel okay about that, because most of them are vintage, and when I get rid of old pieces, I just donate them back into the great life(re)cycle of thrift stores).

*Now, on a side note, I will say that I am still getting a lot of use out of my Wasteland X UNIF tee shirt. That is the one free item I have that somehow ends up on my body every day. It's what I wear in that awkward time when I am in between pajamas and real clothes, but need to step out of the house. I freaking love that shirt. 

So, if I'm not getting paid to wear anything on my blog, how the heck do I make money off of it? Should I even make money off of it? Is the idea of making money from your blog an unethical idea in itself? I would answer that last question with "no". Blogging takes a lot of work, and while most of us do it because it's fun (and some of us do it because we like to look at pictures of ourselves and feel important [I fall into the latter half of the latter half of those scenarios -- I personally hate being photographed and looking at photos of myself, but it's fun to trick yourself into thinking you're doing something with your life, even if, in reality, you're just posting pictures of your outfit to a website every day]), at the end of the day, bloggers provide a service. Whether you look at fashion blogs to gain inspiration or you look at fashion blogs to balk in horror, you are deriving some form of entertainment from what we put out there, and at the very least, there is nothing wrong with us being compensated as entertainers (though I would blog for free all day, every day, and still love it to pieces). However, it's not like we're going to charge you, the reader, just for reading. Instead, we charge companies who want to get you, our readers, over on their websites as shoppers.

So, how does the compensation structure work? Ideally, I post content that makes you want to come to my blog. Maybe you like what I wear, maybe you like the way I write, maybe you like being perplexed by my odd fashion choices. Whatever the case, my job is to post content to amuse you in some capacity. If I do it well, I have a lot of site traffic. If I have a lot of site traffic, companies begin taking interest in my blog as a source of advertisement. They may "advertise" by gifting me a piece to wear (which, again, I only accept if I truly love and would wear anyway), or they may advertise by putting a banner up on my sidebars. How do I make money off of my blog? From those sidebar banners. Look at 'em, over on the left there. Those are my advertisers. Advertisers work in different ways. The ads from Chicwish, LSD, and Telltale Hearts, for example, were put up gratis, because I really like those people. I try to offer something special to women-owned small businesses by doing free ads in that manner. 2020Ave, Wasteland, Blowfish, Lucky Vintage, James Rowland Shop, and Sunglasses Shop are all paid advertisers. They pay me a monthly fee to keep their ads up there, hoping that you'll click on them. A lot of those companies I truly, truly love to pieces (I promised Lucky Vintage a free ad, actually, but then turned into the worst blogger ever and slacked off for weeks on end and never put their free ad up, so they turned into a paid advertiser), and I am proud to have them as sponsors on my blog. For Nasty Gal, Free People, and Urban Outfitters, I am part of their Google Affiliate Network. That means that they don't pay me by the month; instead, they pay me based off of clicks, or based off of a commission on any sale generated from the ad on my blog. Each of those Google Affiliate Network ads have different terms, and I don't remember them off the top of my head.

Now, the big question: how much money do I make from blogging? It varies from month to month. I usually only make money when I bring on a new advertiser, because they tend to sign up for multiple months in bulk. So, some months, I'll make nothin', and some months I'll make around $500. Most months, it's around $100 or so. That's it. Not that much dough, is it? It's certainly not that much dough when you consider the amount of money that goes INTO blogging. I do buy more "wow" pieces of clothing now that I blog, because I'm excited to share them with my readers, and the cost of that alone far outweighs any income.

With the right mindset, blogging can be extremely lucrative, and I'm sure that a lot of bloggers with the same amount of followers as me make a lot more money than I do from their blog. However, I am not in that mindset right now. I have my job, which I love, and Tunnel Vision, which I love. Blogging truly is a hobby for me, so I offer very low advertising rates and I don't ever solicit advertisers. When I pick up an advertiser and make a little extra money, I high-five my dog and go spend it on household stuff. Glamorous.


  1. I love this outfit! *w*


  2. Very interesting read. Those shoes really are stunning

  3. I love your style and always look at your outfits on lookbook.. this post really made me think, and it's great that you're grounded enough to see how wasteful it can be and not just except tonnes of free stuff like other bloggers might. :) And, I really like your shirt in this haha :D

  4. Very insightful and eye-opening mini essay on sponsorship and blogging. I found it very enjoyable and informative.

    Also, I actually won a pair of shoe from DV a few days ago. I'm hoping I get the pair of booties you're wearing because they're fabulous - especially in orange.

  5. You look really great...I fell in love with your jacket! and what nice boots!


  6. Love your outfit so much and the shoes are gorgeous :)
    This post was really interesting to read. It's nice to see a blogger openly state if and how their blog generates any money and I really admire your outlook on what companies send to you/compensation for wearing it :)

  7. I love the Aztec print! The shots with the cat are lovely xxx

  8. amazing as always love the shirt it is perfection. I dont care if you make money or not your blog is amazing and your style even more amazing as long as you stay true to yourself that is the main thing and blogging can be expensive to so earning a little bit helps to cover the costs. I dont make much money but then my blog is not half as good as yours and that is why companies want to sponsor you xoxo

  9. i love your shose!
    cat so cute!

  10. I love reading your blog. I have do have one small comment to add: It may be good to chose a charity to donate to besides Goodwill. I think local small charities sometimes do a better job getting funding back into the IMMEDIATE community. Goodwill has grown into a corporate beast of sorts. I could go on and on :) but I'll stop there.

  11. Very interesting essay and as always love the outfit those shoes and shirt are super rad!



  12. This is a very interesting and informative post Madeline. I have only gotten a couple of gifted items from places. I love it and I love blogging. You're right--usually having a blog is much more expensive than what you are "compensated" for, but it sure is a lot of fun!

    You were so supportive and friendly when I emailed you several months ago when I started my own blog. That kind of sense of community is what is second best about blogging (only second to being inspired by different styles).

    I love these shoes and I am glad that you told us about the giveaway. I have entered about a bajillion giveaways and haven't won one yet, so maybe this will be my time!

    Thanks for this post Madeline.

  13. dude, i TOTALLY understand where you're coming from and i do the same. i only work with brands that fit my aesthetics. i get offers from the craziest brands and say no like everyday cause i wanna stay true to myself. idk, i wanna be successful in blogging but i don't wanna become someone's puppet or have my readers look at me and say "she used to be cool, until..."
    my biggest blog nightmare is to become something i'm not for the money! thanks for bringing this up, i always wanted to know you opinion on that.

  14. I have been following your blog in my reader for about a year and have never commented, but this post compelled me to thank you for demystifying the money aspect of blogging. I fall into the category of reading fashion blogs for entertainment over breakfast, and yours has truly been the most refreshing and enlightening because of your well-formed and well written insights on a variety of topics that fashion blog readers would contemplate. I've watched a lot of bloggers grow their brands over the years, and have been disappointed that they rarely mention much about the changes beyond vaguely acknowledging only the noticeable discrepancies. I happen to find blogs of individuals' fashion choices and musings more delightful than those of brands, so I feel that something is lost when bloggers cross that fuzzy line into brand...hood.

    Thanks for providing me with so many hours of entertainment, and kudos for being so tactfully transparent about your hobby!

    -a fan

  15. i love your belt and boots!


  16. so so beautiful!
    lovely legs!

    // take a look: *MICROPHONEHEART.

  17. this is easily the frankest posts i've ever read about the business of blogging. thanks for being so open.

  18. Thanks for posting this. I do always wonder, when I'm reading fashion blogs, which items that are 'courtesy of' are items that the person would have actually worn and gushed about if they weren't given them for free or for money.

  19. OMG i love this look! As well as the cat!! Im a cat lover!! obessed!! much love!
    Maritza M. http://vanityyouth.blogspot.com/

  20. Love your outfit! The DV shoes are such a gorgeous color. I really hope I can win a pair of free shoes from them, haha!

    xx maggie

  21. some of the most popular blogs started t get way too commercial for my taste- its like everything they wear is gifted and they lack of personality. basically they only wear the stuff they get free or try to fish more free stuff. kinda sad.

  22. That is main think about cloths. I found it very enjoyable and informative. Above everything is perfect. I like your red colour shoes. Thanks for share posting.

  23. love your pictures and your outfit! i'm your newest follower :)
    if you want to check out my fashion blog, here's a link:


  24. I love that you always make it clear to your readers how you feel and what your 'blogging ethics' are. You keep your blog wholly personal by doing stuff like you said, only accepting clothes you would wear yourself and supporting companies you shop in yourself, it makes your blog feel so much more genuine.

  25. Interesting post, I'd only accept items for free if I genuinely liked them too. I don't have any ads on my blog, I've never promoted about companies advertising my blog and no one has approached me. I don't really care =/

  26. Love the candid cat shot.
    Just so you know, one of the reasons I keep coming back to your blog is the fact that you actually write stuff - and what's more, stuff that I feel is right. So many fashion blogs are overly image heavy, and I like the self-reflexive approach you take.

  27. love your outfits, especially this one. xx

  28. Im loving thoguhts, thanks for sharing, And those shoes are amazing!


  29. this post is perfect. I feel like I've been reading so many articles lately where people are so butt-hurt over bloggers accepting c/o items or saying that having sponsor ads makes the blog less genuine etc. & what most people don't realize is that we don't work with every company that approaches us. I feel like the argument is always that "products that bloggers are gifted they wouldn't actually wear or buy for themselves in real life", which to me is total bullshit. WHY WOULD I ACCEPT AN ITEM IF IT DOESN'T FIT MY STYLE & I'M NOT ACTUALLY GOING TO WEAR IT?! I was actually just talking about this the other day, but a few months ago I was approached by a company who wanted to purchase a couple text links in my side bar for a few hundred per link. Except the links were to porn sites. I meannnnnn.. I write a blog about clothes, not nudity. & as nice as that money would be I wasn't about to sell out for it. Idk. I wish people would just realize all of this & stop bitching over bloggers accepting product etc.

  30. oh & I love that you support small businesses that you love with free banner ads up in your sidebar. that being said, make me one for tunnel vision?! I'd love times a million to support you guys in every way possible!

  31. great post, simply love it!!! I posted it in my "random things" part in my latest post. xxx
    Alice Barton ♥ The Mow Way

  32. I don't know how to send you this image, but I think you need it:

  33. You are probably one of the two most inspiring fashion bloggers who write extremely well about things like c/o's, running a vintage store, feminism, etc. Thanks for your ravishing words and those fabulous boots!!

    <3 Meghan

  34. Everything you said is always so true to how you do actually feel, and you aren't afraid to share it with your readers. Many other bloggers will write a few lines (myself included unfortunately) but seeing you write this much shows your love for what you do. Love your blog.

  35. You are the only blogger who I actually pay attention to the writing below the pictures. I love everything you write, such great personality. I wish you had a tv show. Cuz I would watch it for sures:)

  36. Wow, I needed to read this piece more than I need anything else in my life right now. Thank you for this. I love your genuine attitude for just providing useful information for people.

  37. Well said; I agree 100%

    xo Jennifer


  38. Hi! I'm Czarina and I just recently discovered your blog and even watched your latest video. Aside from your unique style (which I really love!), I like you even more because of your truthfulness and genuineness about blogging. I couldn't agree more of your writings which speak about the realities behind the wonders of fashion blogging. I admire your honesty when it comes to money, advertising and the like.
    So I followed your blog not just because of your awesome style (I'll say it again, I really love!) but I see a uniqueness in you that sets you apart from other fash bloggers out there. That's it!

    from Philippines (south east Asia) :)
    paint it stripes
    thanks much...

  39. I really loved what you said. nike zoom hyperfuse 2011 is also a good recommendation.Very much advocated.

  40. This cat is so cute. You are looking so pretty in this dress as well as your red colour's shoes really fantastic. Everything is perfect in this post. I impressed by that.