A lifestyle brand or business or blog or whatever is a company that creates a culture by creating content and then monetizes the audience in some way.
Apparel companies have been the most common lifestyle brands in recent years.
You could even say that Nike is a lifestyle brand all the way back to its founding. It was founded on the passion of running. Long distance running with the product being footwear the runners could purchase.
Then it evolved into other sports. The Jordan brand really became the basketball brand in the late ’80s and into the ’90s. I remember playing basketball as a kid in the ’90s and it wasn’t really Nike that we wanted, but Jordans.
Lifestyle bloggers started popping up as soon as blogging picked up steam in the mid 2000s. People would write about their lives and their experiences. Others with similar experiences and aspirations would follow and through the content cultures were created.
Now it’s been happening with social media especially on Instagram, Snapchat, etc. Even on more traditional sites like Twitter and Facebook.
Definitely YouTube and Podcasting as well.
But here’s a question…let’s say you have a lifestyle brand or you want to build one by creating content like a blog. How do you monetize it?
Advertising & Affiliates…Probably Not
Advertising and affiliate marketing has been the traditional way that lifestyle bloggers have made money. And I don’t think these methods are going away, but I don’t think they’ll see huge growth other than the occasional mega celebrity blogger.
There are so many people creating content that content has to be ten or even a hundred times better than anything else out there for people to put up with advertising of any kind and that includes affiliate advertising.
Ads are annoying, but the key thing with ads is that they rob people of their time.
When you open a website and you see this:
You can skip this ad in 5 secs…4 secs…3 secs…
Doesn’t it feel like it’s taking forever?
People don’t like when you take up their time. They’re going to go somewhere else. They have options.
Gated Content…Probably Not
This is another one that pops up.
Making the audience pay to see the content.
Nothing new here. Up until the Internet came along this was a standard. But it wasn’t really people paying for the content it was more of people paying for a way to consume the content.
They didn’t have options. In order to read a newspaper they had to buy it the physical copy. In order to listen to music they had to buy the CD. In order to watch a movie they had to buy the DVD.
I get it. It’s difficult to put in the work to create content and then feel like people aren’t willing to pay for the content. You see artists struggling with it in the music world. And I feel for them.
Streaming services seem to have found a nice little niche. Either advertising or a small fee. I use Spotify and Netflix. Small fee. No ads. But yet I’m not really paying for the content. I’m paying for a way to consume the content.
Only very large services can seemingly charge for gated content. Or very niche content creators.
Anyone in the middle will struggle with the gated approach. You’ll limit your audience and that’s your biggest asset. It’s happened to Nascar. They sold out to the highest bidder and now most of their content is gated behind Fox Sports 1 and NBC Sports Network. It’s just not worth it to even diehard fans to pay for cable to watch races. They’ll watch other content they can get for free or next to free.
I think this is where things are going. A lot of it is already there and it’s the one thing that makes the most sense for lifestyle bloggers or anyone that creates content, builds an audience and is looking to monetize that attention.
Branded content comes in a few different forms. It could be like an advertising situation. Or a sponsorship situation. Maybe an affiliate situation.
I wrote about the future of branded content here.
I also wrote about how music could be run by brands in the future.
So as a lifestyle blogger you might:
Get sponsorship from a brand: “Here is Lucy’s Travel Blog brought to you by Visit Michigan”
That relationship could be for cash or it could be an affiliate situation where every referral brings cash.
The brand could hire the lifestyle blogger as a full-time employee and pay them salary to continue doing what they’ve been doing.
It could be for equity. The blogger becomes an owner in the brand.
It could be a situation where the blogger creates a product or service and that’s the driver of monetization.
There are lots of ways within that setup, but the money flows from the attention the blogger has with the audience to what a brand is selling.
But here is the key for you, the blogger. Your job is to earn the attention of the audience. And to keep that attention. You can’t take the audience for granted. You can’t bombard them with ads or gated content and things like that.
Well, you can, but you’ll risk losing them.
Find a situation where you can focus on the content. Content that educates and entertains. Then look for a brand to connect with or partner with or whatever. Even if it’s your own brand where you sell things.
That’s the future of how lifestyle brands will make money.