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How This Financial Planner Built a Six-Figure Blog

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How This Financial Planner Built a Six-Figure Blog

Starting a blog or content-based website is an excellent way to monetize your expertise. R.J. Weiss leveraged his career in finance by starting and growing a personal finance blog, The Ways to Wealth.

In this interview, R.J. shares how he used Pinterest to begin making money with the site and how he’s used search engine optimization (SEO) to grow it to $20,000 per month in revenue.

Overview

Business Name: The Ways To Wealth
Website URL: thewaystowealth.com
Founder: R.J. Weiss
Business Location: Online (US)
Year Started: 2016
Number of Employees/Contractors/Freelancers: 5

Tell us about yourself and your business.

My background has been primarily in financial services, where I’ve held various roles, from insurance planning to financial planning. I am a Certified Financial Planner and have always been passionate about helping people with their finances.

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In 2016, I decided to start something outside of my job. The idea of an SEO-based content site resonated with me, so I created The Ways To Wealth

Initially, I had no plans for it to become a main source of income. I simply wanted to post various reading lists from famous investors as I was collecting them independently.  However, as I continued to work on the site, I saw the opportunity to turn it into a successful business.

Today, The Ways To Wealth is a financial content site that generates most of its revenue from search. We write content such as best-of lists, reviews, and general personal finance advice. 

Our revenue model is split about 50/50 between advertising and affiliate partnerships. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished so far and look forward to continuing to grow and help people with their finances.

The Ways to Wealth

How much revenue does the business generate?

On average, the revenue generated is over $20,000 per month. However, the amount may vary depending on the seasonality of the business. During Q4, the advertising revenue is at its peak, but the affiliate revenue may not be as high. On the other hand, Q1 is great for affiliate revenue but not so much for advertising revenue. 

How much profit does the business earn?

Averages above $15,000/month net profit. 

How does your business make money?

The Ways To Wealth generates revenue through affiliate marketing and advertising. Currently, the revenue is pretty evenly split between the two. In the past, the revenue was more heavily reliant on affiliate marketing, but this year, RPMs have been high, so it’s fairly split. 

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We also create a lot of supporting content around our affiliate posts, much of which doesn’t include affiliate links but is monetized with ads. The objective is to help people make wise decisions when they’re making any type of financial decision, and often, that requires a lot of supporting content.

What was your inspiration for starting the business?

The initial drive was another source of income. The financial services firm I was at when I started was in the initial stages of being acquired. So, the idea was that if I could diversify my income, I’d have more options. I highly value being in control over my time, which I had at the time, so the idea of working full-time for another company was what motivated me.

But, why I chose to create a personal finance site, was that I worked with a lot of high-net-worth individuals. I wanted to bring this knowledge I was learning to everyday people to help them improve their lives.

How and when did you launch the business?

I registered the domain in August of 2016. At first, it was just a side project that I worked on for a few hours a week. However, the reading lists started gaining traction and even got some links from bigger-name sites.

In December 2016, while doing freelance work as a copywriter, I had a terrible experience with a client who was overly demanding and showed little sympathy when my entire family got sick with the flu. This was my ‘aha’ moment when I realized I didn’t want my time to be controlled by someone else ever again.

After that experience, I decided to go all in on The Ways To Wealth. I started waking up early every morning and treating it like a real business that I wanted to earn a full-time income from.

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How much money did you invest to start the business?

Initially, I started with very little start-up capital. It purchased a domain name and hosting (around $100). I spent around $100 to buy a solid WordPress theme shortly after. After a few months, I also invested in a keyword research tool as well for under $50/month. 

How did you find your first few clients or customers?

I don’t have clients, but as far as traffic, the site’s first visitors came from search. I did some very light link-building at the time and landed some links on sites that curate personal finance content. 

What was your first year in business like?

For the first six months, it was just a casual side project. But around the sixth month, I decided to go all-in and try to earn a full-time income before the firm I was working for was acquired in October 2017. 

Although I had a job, I used to work on the website early in the morning for a few hours before work and tried to squeeze in some time at lunch and on weekends. Thankfully, I never had trouble waking up early, and I still do to this day to get some work done before my kids leave for school. 

What really inspired me to take the leap was reading income reports from other bloggers. At that time, people like Pat Flynn were posting income reports that motivated me greatly. 

In the personal finance space, I saw bloggers posting income reports and getting hundreds of thousands of page views from Pinterest, which surprised me. But I had the attitude of “If they can, why can’t I?” so I started building up the site on Pinterest. 

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While Pinterest has changed a lot since then, what was unique about Pinterest traffic was that I was able to drive a significant amount of traffic from Pinterest in a short period for a new site. While Google was and is a slog, Pinterest was like a rocket ship. 

By committing to the platform and learning everything I could, by the middle of 2017, I was consistently driving over 100,000 visitors to the platform and reached my goal of earning enough to run the business full-time once I left my job.

What strategies did you use to grow the business?

I started to figure out long-term that the best strategy to grow was organic search. However, I knew that would take some time to build. So, I started to build a profile on Pinterest to get traffic. 

In addition, I saw how other sites used Facebook advertising to drive traffic. So, I leveraged that as well to start growing my audience, with the benefit that these didn’t take as long as organic search did to scale up. In the background, I had my eyes set on long-term organic search as the main revenue driver, which we eventually achieved in 2019. 

Tell us about your team.

I have a managing editor and four writers contributing articles. Additionally, I recently hired a virtual assistant to help with data organization, among other various tasks. 

What are your future plans for the business?

I really enjoy my work of creating content and learning about cutting-edge FinTech products, and I plan to continue doing so for a long time. While I fully expect AI to impact my business and the world of search in general, I’m a bit more bullish than most on independent sites that have something meaningful and valuable to say. 

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Do you target organic search traffic? 

Yes, as it accounts for the majority of the site’s revenue. 

We use many forms of keyword research. There’s the typical approach with Ahrefs of finding high-volume but low-competition keywords. However, we’ve recently tried to take that a step further with efforts to be the first to an emerging trend. 

New trends may not always show up in keyword tools, but we’re betting on future growth. With a lot of domain expertise on the team, we’ve gotten better at spotting these trends, but we’re by no means batting 1,000%. 

We then try to cover the entire topical map of many subjects. For example, the reward site Swagbucks is one of our top affiliate partners. So, we’ve written a review of Swagbucks, an article on the best ways to earn on Swagbucks, a list of top alternatives to Swagbucks, and much more around the topic. 

In addition, we’ve been publishing a lot of what we call our promo vertical, which talks about deals and offers. These often get the last click in terms of affiliate revenue. So, instead of someone coming to our site, reading a Swagbucks review, and then going back to Google to search for the Swagbucks bonus, we have a page all about the Swagbucks sign-up bonus

The whole idea is to anticipate the next search so they never have to click back to Google, and of course, provide them with a great experience while on our site so they trust us enough not to have to click away.

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How did you make the transition from side hustle to full-time?

I had the forcing function of the firm I worked at was selling and not wanting to go work for someone else, so I made every decision I could to get to a full-time income by that certain date. I also had to get my finances in order as much as I could, so I prioritized saving instead of investing for the year or so leading up to the sale.  I had about six months of living expenses saved.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned growing the business?

It’s always better to make decisions based on hands-on experience rather than just theorizing about something without actually trying it yourself. 

Personally, I never would have thought that using Pinterest for my personal finance blog would be the key to feeling comfortable enough to quit my job and support my family, but that’s exactly what happened. Of course, it wasn’t an overnight success – I had to commit myself to it and try out different marketing strategies to see what worked and what didn’t. 

There are many ways to grow your business, but often the best way to make an educated decision is to give your ideas a good test, commit to them, and see what happens.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome?

The most significant challenge I faced was getting hit by multiple Google updates. The first one came in late 2019, and the second one in early 2020. Unfortunately, this happened as the pandemic started, making it even more difficult to navigate. 

However, looking back, I realize that the challenges helped me build a stronger business. I had the opportunity to rethink my approach and focus on building a brand that stood for something. I realized that I was too focused on short-term goals and needed to build something that had real durability.

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What are some of your favorite books, blogs, podcasts, or YouTube channels?

I’m a big fan of the books Traction and Profit First. They helped me answer the question of how you actually operate a business and manage its cash flow. 

One of my favorite podcasts is Founders. I’m actually going through the entire archive right now, starting with episode #1. It’s so good, and it’s eye-opening to see what someone who is at the top of the podcast game right now, sounded like in episode #1.

I love to travel, and one podcast I make sure to catch every episode of Frequent Miler. 

The Clearscope webinars, which are also available as podcasts, are a valuable resource for SEO marketing.

What is your favorite quote?

Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.

Jerzy Gregorek

I first heard this on Tim Ferriss’ podcast years ago, and it really resonated with me. 

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What really hit home was the idea of making a few good decisions, which may seem hard on the onset, but how do these have such a profound impact on your life. 

For me, it’s staying off of social media/email, until I get my creative work in. While these things contain short-term dopamine hits, e.g. someone just shared my post or a commission just posted, it’s the deep creative work that allowed me to earn these things in the first place. 

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Learn to Play Guitar Even if You Have No Previous Training for Just $20

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Learn to Play Guitar Even if You Have No Previous Training for Just $20

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

Moe than 700 million people worldwide play the guitar, and there are numerous enterprises associated with the skill. Of course, it’s also one of the most fun instruments to play and not very difficult to learn. If you’d like to have a business, or even a hobby, related to playing guitar then the 2024 Guitar Lessons Training Bundle can help you quickly learn to play guitar even if you are a complete novice.

You need no experience whatsoever to start with the Beginner Guitar Lessons Crash Course, a student favorite with an average rating of 4.6 stars out of 5. It assumes you know nothing at all about guitar, but you’ll get quickly up-to-speed without skipping anything important.

You can then follow up with Guitar Technique, another highly-rated course. It will teach you the most important techniques for playing guitar. This course is actually for students at any level because the lessons are easy to start off with, then become more difficult as you gradually advance. You’ll begin to develop your own style in this class.

Blues lovers will thoroughly enjoy the Easy Blues Guitar Crash Course. It’s another beginner course, but you’ll quickly learn to play real blues guitar and the basic terms used in this genre. One of the best, easiest and most fun ways of improving your soloing is to play children’s songs. So you should love the Children’s Songs for the Guitar course, in which you’ll learn 20 children’s songs.

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Once you’re done with the previous courses, or if you’re already at an advanced skill level on guitar, then you’ll be ready to take the Guitar Jam Method course.

It’s for just the intermediate and advanced guitar students, focusing on teaching you how to jam without needing to play a specific song. Creative guitarists can really improve their jamming and soloing skills in this class.

The course also contains seven modules “…for the Curious Guitarist”. These are Fingerstyle, Ear Training, Songwriting, Guitar Lessons, Jazz, Blues and Christmas Songs.

All of the courses are presented by Dan Dresnok, who has taught guitar to tens of thousands of students online and in-person. He’s also been a performer and recording studio session guitarist, specializing in music theory, guitar, blues, jazz, rock and bluegrass.

Get The 2024 Guitar Lessons Training Bundle while it’s available for only $19.99 (reg. $480).

StackSocial prices subject to change.

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Inflation Not Fading Fast Enough for Stock Investors

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Inflation Not Fading Fast Enough for Stock Investors

Investors may have celebrated the end of high inflation too soon. The CPI report shows inflation bouncing higher and thus pushing back the start date for Fed rate cuts. This has the S&P 500 (SPY) coming off recent highs. This begs questions like how much more downside could we see? And when will the bull market get back on track? 44 year investment veteran Steve Reitmeister shares his answers to these questions in this timely commentary including a preview of his top picks to stay ahead of the pack. Read on below for more.

High inflation refuses to “go quietly into the night“.

Instead, the most recent CPI report was too hot which greatly downgraded the odds of a rate cut coming in June or July. With that bond rates went higher on Wednesday and stock prices went lower.

Thursday’s PPI report was a bit tamer helping to ease the mood. But it does cloud the outlook for the market.

So, we will do our best to shine some light on our path forward from here in today’s commentary.

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Market Commentary

April started with a very mild sell off which seems quite natural given then rapid pace of gains in Q1. Then just as stocks were bouncing back towards the highs we got served up a unwelcome CPI report on Wednesday that had investors hitting the sell button once again.

Unfortunately, year over year inflation increased from a 3.2% reading last month to 3.5% this time around. Yes, that is the wrong direction as we want to continue on our glide path towards the Fed’s target of 2%.

We all know that inflation rarely moves in a straight line. But this was not the first inflation report above expectations…but it certainly was the most resounding negative that investors could not dismiss.

The nerds out there (like myself) will note that the Sticky Inflation readings got even worse. That reading went up to 5% based upon the month to month change from the previous 4%. There is simply no way the Fed can look at this recent data and decide to lower rates in May…June…and probably not July.

The world of investors most certainly agreed with this notion given the seismic moves in the bond market. Most notable was the 10 year Treasury rate spiking to nearly 4.6% on Wednesday. That cooled down a notch on Thursday given the “slightly” better than expected reading for PPI.

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This greatly changes expectations for the timing of the first Fed rate cut. A month ago there was 72% probability of that taking place in June. That is now down to 22%.

Moving out to July that was considered a near slam dunk at 90% odds of lower rates. That is now a coin toss at just 49% likelihood.

Finally, we see the September meeting coming in at 70% odds of lower rates. This all points to investors going over the May 1st Fed testimony with a microscope looking for even the smallest clues of what comes next.

Long story short, I think it is borderline insane for investors to expect new highs for stocks until inflation is better under wraps and certainty increases on the timing of the first rate cut. That points to the recent high of 5,265 for the S&P 500 (SPY) as being the top end of current trading range.

The bottom of that range is a bit less clear. Will investors do more of a consolidation slightly under recent levels? The hearty bounce on Thursday seems to point in that direction. But the longer things go on without a resolution to the matter, the more we could break below the 50 day moving average at 5,105 and perhaps give 5,000 a serious test.

If that scares you, then might I recommend you put your money in the bank rather than the stock market.

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The only way you can enjoy the reward of a 27% gain for the S&P 500 since late October is by taking the risk that comes with mild pullbacks and tougher corrections from time to time. Meaning that testing 5,000 or even lower would be a yawn in the history of stock market movements which has improved our net worth considerably over the past few months…years…decades…generations…and so on.

My trading plan is to remain bullish. Just have a better eye towards the value of your positions. If you wouldn’t buy more shares of those stocks today…then perhaps time to sell and add new stocks that you feel have better upside potential.

That also calls for a “buy the dip” mentality as there likely will be more volatility and rough sessions ahead. Those are the times to step in and add shares of your favorite stocks.

All in all, we are moving back to a more normal bull market. Where 2 steps forward and 1 step back is just part of the dance. So, all the more reason to find the beat and dance right along.

What To Do Next?

Discover my current portfolio of 12 stocks packed to the brim with the outperforming benefits found in our exclusive POWR Ratings model. (Nearly 4X better than the S&P 500 going back to 1999)

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This includes 5 under the radar small caps recently added with tremendous upside potential.

Plus I have 1 special ETF that is incredibly well positioned to outpace the market in the weeks and months ahead.

This is all based on my 43 years of investing experience seeing bull markets…bear markets…and everything between.

If you are curious to learn more, and want to see these lucky 13 hand selected trades, then please click the link below to get started now.

Steve Reitmeister’s Trading Plan & Top Picks >

Wishing you a world of investment success!

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Steve Reitmeister…but everyone calls me Reity (pronounced “Righty”)
CEO, StockNews.com and Editor, Reitmeister Total Return


SPY shares were trading at $515.01 per share on Friday morning, down $2.99 (-0.58%). Year-to-date, SPY has gained 8.69%, versus a % rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.


About the Author: Steve Reitmeister

Inflation Not Fading Fast Enough for Stock Investors

Steve is better known to the StockNews audience as “Reity”. Not only is he the CEO of the firm, but he also shares his 40 years of investment experience in the Reitmeister Total Return portfolio. Learn more about Reity’s background, along with links to his most recent articles and stock picks.

More…

The post Inflation Not Fading Fast Enough for Stock Investors appeared first on StockNews.com

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High Sport Skeptics Have Entered the Chat

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High Sport Skeptics Have Entered the Chat

If you are plugged into fashion discourse, you’ve probably heard about High Sport Kick Pant by now (perhaps against your will). They are stretch ponte trousers with a cropped flare above the ankle and pleats down the center of the legs. Sturdier than leggings and distinctly more polished. The intrigue around these pants reached a fever pitch on Substack in late 2023 – early 2024. The Kick Pant has developed a cult following, but skepticism has started to mount.

Substack, the newsletter platform, is integral to the phenomenon of High Sport. It’s where fashion influencers and ex-editors with large followings raved about the pants to their readers. Several glowing endorsements were published within a short time span. Word spread like wildfire within the platform’s ecosystem. Substack writer Rachel Solomon of Hey Mrs. Solomon describes the High Sport pants as a “fireball” item that seemed to “materialize out of nowhere.” She believes the hype is tied to the inherent “miracle potential” of pants, which are extra compelling because “the ass/thigh area is so important when it comes to fit and use case.” People will pay a lot for pants that make their butt look good.

“The chatter about these pants on Substack chat was non-stop,” says the writer of Totally Recommend, a self-described “recovering marketing CEO” who goes by Rufina. Her assessment of the situation? It seemed like no one beyond fashion writers and influencers actually owned the High Sport pants, yet everyone was hunting for alternatives. “I realized we were all searching for dupes without even knowing what the originals were truly like. That’s when my curiosity really kicked in. I knew I had to get my hands on these pants,” Rufina states.

Vi Huynh wears a thrifted version of the High Sport pants;

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Courtesy of Vi Huynh

1712933763 594 High Sport Skeptics Have Entered the Chat

Vi Huynh wears a thrifted version of the High Sport pants;

Courtesy of Vi Huynh

Solomon and Rufina both bought the pants and wrote about them on their Substacks. Both writers gave their honest opinions on everyone’s burning question: are they worth it? And, of course, where can one find a good dupe? Rufina’s review series, “The Scoop On The High Sport Dupe,” made the Substack rounds for its thorough list of dupes from Ann Mashburn, Donni, and Spanx to Banana Republic, Old Navy, and J.Crew. More chatter ensued.

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Then, The Cut published a High Sport piece last month that laid bare the financial incentives for Substack writers recommending the High Sport pants with affiliate links. The public reception of the article drove the discourse around these pants towards suspicion. It reminded people of the importance of taking product recommendations with a grain of salt when someone stands to make a hefty commission.

High Sport skepticism has kindled on Substack—the same place where the fanfare began. This time, discourse around the pants are tinged with mixed feelings around the gray area of affiliate marketing and fashion writing. Kickbacks on the Kick Pant have soured the hype for many.

In her latest High Sport dupe post, Rufina ponders if we should aspire towards these pants in the first place: “Are they an unspoken application to an elite club, where the entry fee is a slim waist, a fat bank account, and a life elegantly soaring above the mundane irritations familiar to the rest of us?” Readers resonated with this perspective. The comment section contemplated the writers’ ability to make $135 per sale via affiliate links on a rave review. “For some people, these pants might still be their top pick, fitt ing their style and budget. But knowing about the commission thing bursts the bubble,” Rufina continues. Solomon reflects on how the High Sport hype has played out. “I have noticed a little more skepticism, almost like we can all suddenly breathe a sigh of relief and go…wait, aren’t these just thick, hot pants that have a cute length?”

1712933763 870 High Sport Skeptics Have Entered the Chat

Vi Huynh wears a thrifted version of the High Sport pants;

Courtesy of Vi Huynh

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1712933763 528 High Sport Skeptics Have Entered the Chat

Rachel Solomon wears the High Sport Kick pants;

Courtesy of Rachel Solomon

Some have held a critical eye towards High Sport pants from the start. Em Seely Katz, news editor of Magasin and writer of Human Repeller, knows the nitty-gritty economics of luxury clothing production and marketing. “I know a pair of stretch pants should not cost nearly a grand without a 1000% or so markup,” Seely-Katz reveals.

When vintage seller Vi Huynh first saw the High Sport pants, the “egregious price point” stopped her from what would have been an immediate purchase otherwise. Huynh keeps up with niche fashion discourse and believes that High Sport’s brand strategy relies on the appeal of “quiet luxury” rather than a truly superior material product. “They don’t need regular people buying their pants. They’re saying: we’re the Loro Piana of stretch pants,” she continues.

Despite the skepticism around price point and kickbacks, the appetite for High Sport dupes has not waned. Seely-Katz has been diligently researching mid-price-range dupes in response to the Magasin readership’s interest. For example, they say that Sézane’s new gingham pants (around $200) are just as worthy of wear as the originals. Huynh maintains that the High Sport look is easy to find at thrift stores due to the popularity of ponte pants during the 90s and 2000s. Her advice? Focus on material—while rayon, polyester, and spandex blends are common, the better quality ones feel thick to the touch and retain shape when stretched.

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However, High Sport diehards maintain that the dupes are incomparable to the original. Writer Jess Graves of The Love List reports that the material from Old Navy and Donni versions were “flimsy and thin,” a far cry from High Sport’s “thick Italian knit that holds you in.” Graves, who purchased the High Sports with her own money, wears the pants “so often the cost per wear is probably around a dollar at this point.”

High Sport Skeptics Have Entered the Chat

Ruffina wears a dupe of the High Sport pants;

Courtesy of Rufina

1712933763 874 High Sport Skeptics Have Entered the Chat

Vi Huynh wears a thrifted version of the High Sport pants;

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Courtesy of Vi Huynh

Unlike Instagram, Substack is still a relatively new space where the norms of affiliate marketing—and how consumers can expect to engage with it—are still taking shape. One can find a broad mix of fashion content, from personal essays and styling tips to shopping-driven posts heavy on affiliate links. Perhaps it is due to this broad spectrum of how and when writers participate in affiliate marketing that pinpointed skepticism towards High Sport pants in a way that may not have materialized on, say, Instagram.

Seely-Katz, who does use affiliate links on Human Repeller, emphasizes that they have built trust with their readers in terms of how they disclose commissions. “People who read my newsletter know that I emphatically don’t go out of my way to center affiliate links, many of my posts having none at all […] I am thoughtful about what products I endorse, no matter the price point,” they state. Graves echoes this sentiment. She views affiliate income as compensation for the work of content creation. In regards to her Substack, “my readers get that if I am publishing something without a paywall, affiliate links are a way to help me accrue some payment for that time spent. I don’t let it sway my editorial decisions though,” Graves notes. Rufina does not use affiliate links but acknowledges that with the instability of the media landscape, “It’s really tricky for me to say how writers should be making their money.” As a former advertising professional, her main concern was seeing High Sport purchase links posted without an affiliate disclaimer.

Ultimately, the story of High Sport reveals how Substack is becoming an increasingly robust ecosystem for launching status-y products that go viral within a subset of fashion consumers. Seely-Katz describes the phenomenon as a “self-fulfilling prophecy,” where people who buy such items are more likely to broadcast them in their publications, “creating an illusion that literally everyone is buying this stuff.”

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