IFB’s Ultimate Guide For Choosing An Affiliate Network
By: Taylor Davies

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When we talk about monetizing our fashion and style blogs, we come back to affiliate links and advertisements over and over again. It’s not because it’s the only way, but because it’s one of the easiest. Affiliate programs let you earn commission off of sales from thousands of different merchants and retailers, and track them all in one place.

One hurdle that faces many new bloggers when they consider using affiliate programs is the belief that they won’t actually make any money. The truth is that any blogger can make money using affiliate links and ads, it just takes time, practice and dedication. At the bottom of this post you’ll find links to more of our detailed posts on how to use affiliates, what they are and even some tips from the networks themselves.

One thing we think it’s extremely important to note is that there are many, many affiliate networks available to you for use on your blog. Depending on your style, your budget and your readers – one program may not have as many useful merchants as another. They also have different payment thresholds (how much you have to earn before you get a check) as well as different methods of earning. To prevent spamming and keep their merchants and advertisers happy, virtually all networks and programs have an application process – do not let this deter you!

Here are 4 popular affiliate networks used by fashion and style bloggers. They have a lot of similarities, but varying commission rates, payment thresholds and ways you can use their links.

rewardStyle:

  • Commission rates: 7% – 30%
  • Membership: You can apply here.
  • Merchants include: Shopbop, Madewell, Nordstrom, Target, Club Monaco, YOOX, Old Navy
  • Payout: Once you earn $100 in commissions
  • Links and ads? Yes
  • Post links with social media: Yes

 

Fashion Traffic:

  • Commission rates: Up to 20%
  • Membership: Find information about applying here.
  • Merchants include: ASOS.com, YOOX, Farfetch.com, Forever 21, Rebecca Minkoff
  • Payout: Once you earn $100 in commissions
  • Links and ads: Just links
  • Post links with social media: Yes

 

Rakuten LinkShare:

  • Commission rates: 8% – 25%
  • Membership: Apply here.
  • Merchants include: Barnes & Noble, Delias.com, Macy’s, Sephora, Foot Locker, 7 For All Mankind
  • Payout: Once you earn $1 in commissions (however advertisers have the option of creating a customized payment threshold)
  • Links and ads: Yes
  • Post links with social media: Tumblr & Twitter

 

PepperJam Exchange:

  • Commission rates: 8% and up
  • Membership: You can apply here.
  • Merchants include: Toys ‘R’ Us Levi’s, Kate Spade, Juicy Couture, Anthropologie, Hudson Jeans
  • Payout: Once you earn $25 in commissions
  • Links and ads: Yes
  • Post links with social media: Yes

 

Here’s the great thing about affiliate networks: there’s no harm in applying to more than one (or quite a few). Apply to all of them! Test them out! See which ones work for your audience and have the merchants and commission rates with which you want to work. You will want to note if your network or program uses Cost Per Sale which means you make a commission off any product sold through a link on your site, or Cost Per Click, which means the network pays you for each click on an advertisement or link, even if a purchase isn’t made. (Some do both!)

*Updated! More options include Beso and Shopsense, and affiliate networks to look into that are not as apparel-based include Google Affiliate Network and Commission Junction, as well as Amazon. Bloggers in the United Kingdom may also want to look into Affiliate Window (and more, here).

 

For more affiliate network info from IFB:

 

Do you use affiliate networks on your blog? Which ones have you found to be the most effective, easy to use and lucrative? Share your experience in the comments.

 

Comments

  1. You guys left out Beso + Shopstyle! I think these are actually really, really underrated… bloggers can earn a lot of money from these two.

    I personally use a mix of Shopstyle + Rewardstyle links. A lot of times I write about expensive pieces that I know my readers are probably going to click on but not actually be able to afford. In that case, I use Shopstyle. Conversely, I’ve noticed that for certain retailers, my readers seem to almost always purchase – in that case, I use RewardStyle.

    My earnings on Shopstyle recently surpassed my Rewardstyle earnings… I still earn a good amount from RewardStyle, but it seems like lately, my readers are doing more clicking than purchasing. I think it’s important to really pay attention to your readers’ habits, and then use that information to make a decision as to which links you are going to use.

    I am a member of all the other guys (Pepperjam, Commission Junction, etc.) but don’t see the point in using them as RewardStyle now pretty much has everyone and in a lot of cases pays a higher commission rate.

    • Kalyca Romeo says:

      Grace, thank you for that useful piece of information. I’ve also noticed the same when it comes to clicks compared to actual purchases, but now with Shopstyle, there should be an increase in earnings!
      Kalyca
      http://romeostyle.com

    • Ana Jacobs says:

      The only issue I have with Shopstyle is that their dashboards don’t provide any information about what link was clicked on, so I don’t have a good way to know which links are working well and which ones aren’t

    • Avatar of i2f
      i2f says:

      Hi Grace,

      I completely agree with you about RewardStyle. It’s so much easier to just use their links then have to jump btwn CJ, LS, etc. Rewardstyle also has advertiser links for merchants that probably wouldn’t approve my application. And by probably I mean they did not approve my application and ignored my emails. Also, thanks for the tip on when to use Shopstyle vs. RS. It makes complete sense!

  2. Jill says:

    Shopstyle/shopsense all the way! I have been using them for years and make (in my opinion) good money with them. I love their option to create looks, it’s much easier than importing everything into photoshop.

    Also amazon has had a surprising success on my blog. I link to books a lot of the time, but amazon has great fashion-y products and beauty products as well.

  3. Lauren says:

    I love being a part of the rewardStyle family and the easy to use web tools make my blog visually appealing without a long list of what each item is or listing numbers next to products!

    Simply with the “shop my post” widget I can incorporate thumbnails of all of my “pictured” items into my post – making it really easy for my readers to click – (my click rates have gone up too!) Easy = Engagement!

  4. I use a combination of Shopstyle/Shopsense and RewardStyle very similar to what Grace explained above. I always find my products organically (as opposed to searching on RewardStyle first) then I will do a quick search to see if they are carried by either affiliate network.
    I have experienced the most earning success on Shopstyle and use it for items that I know readers would want to explore further (since it is a pay-by-click). RewardStyle is fantastic for affordable must-own items that I know my readers will really want to buy as opposed to just browse…

    Another great article IFB!
    Marion

  5. Avatar of Sarah's Real Life

    I’m glad you guys posted this article (and I’m finding the comments pretty helpful too) because I just started using RewardStyle about a week ago. I’ve yet to get any commission, but obviously it hasn’t been very long. I’ve been linking to products within my outfit posts, and also pinning various (usually more expensive) items to a sort of wish list board on Pinterest. I’m not sure how long I should wait before evaluating whether the extra work is really worth it to me. I didn’t start my blog to make money in the first place, and all the linking takes more time than what I’m used to.

    It might be cool to do an article at some point where different bloggers (not “big timers” but some hobby bloggers) who have been around long enough to have some advice can share what affiliate programs worked for them and how they used them. I would also be curious to know how long it took them to make their first “sale” and how much they make a month (if they’re willing to share that info…maybe anonymously). Just an idea!

    Thanks,
    Sarah

    Sarah’s Real Life

  6. I’d also add ShareASale! It’s not so large, but I’ve found with the smaller brands I use it for (City Chic, Monif C, eShakti) and the $50 payout, I get more commissions more often…

    The hardest (most annoying?) thing about RewardStyle is that commissions are based on a brand’s return policy- so if they have 90 days or longer (+ the $100 minimum), you can be stuck waiting a long, long time for a payout.

    • Mallory says:

      I agree about Shareasale! There are actually a number of good fashion brands on there, including ModCloth. Their minimum payout is $50, and they don’t start penalizing you if you don’t make any sales for awhile the way CJ does. (I used to use CJ and stopped for that reason.)

      I like a lot of things about rewardStyle, but if you’re trying to create evergreen pages that you hope people will keep finding through search traffic for a long time after the original post, it sucks because so many of the product links expire / sell out quickly. So I think it’s more useful for people who are focusing on immediate sales / gratification.

  7. Anna says:

    I am based in the UK and find Linkshare the easiest to use. I find it the most simple platform, and their reporting is very handy for you to gauge what sells through your blog.

    I am with Reward Style, but gave a real pet hate when bloggers tweet out r.style links – for me it screams ‘I’m trying to make a quick buck’ rather than genuinely feeling that a product is worth a peek…

    Anna

  8. Rachel says:

    Readers in the UK should really look at Skimlinks, which is amazing, it automatically turns any product link that is not an affiliate link already into one, meaning that as I run it alongside rewardStyle nothing ever slips through the net! I’ve been making steady commission off of it since March, and the payout is only £7 minimum.

  9. Avatar of Sheryl Blasnik

    I use both Reward Style and Shopstyle/Shopsense. I use RewardStyle for my links in my posts and use Shopstyle/Shopsense as a widget that remains in my sidebar as they have the flexibility to build your own widget.

    The biggest difference being that I get paid $0.05 for every click with Shopstyle. With Reward Style clicks do not count, only sales.

    As far as success since my blog is not a “style/outfit post type” blog I have not made a lot with Reward Style thus far. I do find it to be helpful with SALE posts (Private Sales, Friends & Family Sales, etc….).

    Reward Style just added a new app called BOUTIQUE. It is where you can add a page to your blog with a tab and all of your favorite items can be placed on your SHOP page with social media sharing icons and details of your choosing. It is like opening a boutique right on your existing blog. I am hoping this will increase my revenue.

    HERE IS AN EXAMPLE OF HOW IT LOOKS ON A WORDPRESS BLOG:

    http://fashiondevelopmentgroup.com/shop

    I am also a member of Fashion Traffic but do not like the links only idea and I did create an account on Rakuten Link Share but have not done anything yet, same with Commission Junction. Never heard of PepperJam, will check it out.

    Sheryl Blasnik

    http://fashiondevelopmentgroup.com/

  10. Avatar of Jee
    Jee says:

    Loving the comments on this article. Thanks for sharing your experience. Through you guys, I found about about ShopStyle/ShopSense and Reward Style’s Boutique.

    Thanks!

  11. Carole Baker says:

    Hey y’all — thrilled to see this thread! I am on the hunt (on behalf of CenterPoint Media) for fashion bloggers who already work with affiliates…here is link to apply! http://centerpointnetwork.com/affiliate_signup.aspx?r=538

  12. Avatar of Tali
    Tali says:

    Great article and special thanks for all the bloggers who commented!
    I found a lot of useful info. Now to work! :)

  13. Meghan says:

    One way to integrate affiliate marketing into your existing site with no added effort is through Skimlinks. As Rachel said, we automatically affiliate your links (and don’t overwrite your existing links, so we can work alongside your other affiliate tools). Its a great way to make sure that nothing slips through the cracks and we also provide insightful data via a streamlined dashboard- all of your merchants and networks in one place! We work with over 18,000 merchants and tens of thousands of publishers. Check out The Skimlinks Advantage for more info and drop any questions you have in the comments section: http://blog.skimlinks.com/2012/10/24/the-skimlinks-advantage/

    Have a great day,
    Meghan
    Skimlinks

  14. Sephie says:

    Is ShareASale included in these Affiliate Programs?

  15. Avatar of ModaVracha
    ModaVracha says:

    How about fashion traffic? anyone using them?

  16. Hi

    Before you start working with Shopsense I think you might want to read this forun thread
    http://www.abestweb.com/forums/midnight-cafe-11/anyone-have-experience-shopstyle-shopsense-119828.html

    We all excited about Shopsense/Shopstyle , but this program tend to be evasive and shady when it comes to several of their practices. While their program is easy to use , it comes at an extremely high price- by messing up SEO rank and extremely low pay out rates.

  17. Avatar of Wat2Dress
    Wat2Dress says:

    Thank you for the “Ultimate Guide For Choosing An Affiliate Network”. I am a new blogger and the guide, along with all the comments, was a very helpful. I will defiantly use ShopSense – is this what you mean by ShopStyle? I just need to figure out how does this work. Please let me know if you have any tutorials on the topic.

  18. Tims says:

    I used shopsense for a while on a betsy johnson campaign and found to to be a good little widget for accessories.

  19. busniness12 says:

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