Case Study: Affiliate Earnings With Rewardstyle vs. ShopSense
By: Taylor Davies

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Are you struggling to make money with affiliate links on your blog?

I was too. (Even though this happened.) Let me explain:

I’ve been a part of the Rewardstyle affiliate program for years, but only started really using it in the summer of 2012. As I mentioned in the post linked above, when I started trying, I started seeing results. Small results for sure, but actual sales! I was thrilled, and felt I was definitely on the path to finally making those blogging bucks.

Then I hit a wall. The payment threshold for many affiliate networks (including Rs and SS) is $100, meaning until you hit that earnings mark, you get nada. Well, even though I had garnered more than $300 worth of commissions between July and December, I had been sitting on $97 for months. Waiting for more sales to close (which they often didn’t!) was discouraging.

The payment threshold for many affiliate networks is $100, meaning until you hit that earnings mark, you get nada.

Fresh off my blogging New Year’s resolutions, in mid-January I decided to try an experiment. I reopened my ShopSense program account, and started using their affiliate links in my content consistently. (I felt inspired after reading Grace‘s comment on this post.)

Here’s what you need to know:

 

Rewardstyle is a commission-based program. This means you only earn money on sales that close. The commission rates are included with individual item listing (and differ by retailer), so you know exactly how much earning potential there is with each link from each retailer.

ShopSense is a pay-per-click program, meaning you earn a (slightly varying) amount from (quality) clicks on the links you provide. (Read more about that here.) The rate you are paid per click will vary between the retailers, and there’s no way to know which ones pay more other than educated guessing from your analytics.

Note: There are lots of affiliate programs out there with different payment structures and different sign-up criteria, including ones outside the United States – so don’t limit yourself to only the ones I’m mentioning.

Let’s look at the numbers:

 

Here’s where I’m going to be extremely transparent with you guys, and show you exactly what’s been happening with my links. Keep in mind that my unique monthly views have been pretty consistent this whole time (around 6,000), so the data is applicable from month to month. First, let’s look at November 2012, a month when I was using Rewardstyle links frequently:

Screen shot 2013-02-15 at 10.53.01 AM

The blue represents the clicks, and the pink shows my sales. In 30 days, I had 766 clicks, but only 6 sales, resulting in a commission total of about $49. So, my readers were really interested in what I was wearing or shopping for at the time, but not necessarily motivated to purchase the items for themselves.

Now let’s look at my first month using ShopSense links, from mid-January to today:

Screen shot 2013-02-15 at 9.44.31 AM

I know this isn’t a lot of money, and my little chart here is pretty inconsistent – but the results are clear and extremely positive. On days I posted links the lines went up, and when I didn’t, they went down – simple as that. The same behavior from my readers resulted in dramatically different earnings for me. I hit the $100 threshold in about two weeks and my first check is already on it’s way. The second isn’t far behind.

What I’ve learned:

 

The key to hitting your stride with an affiliate program is to know your audience. Based on my analytics, I know that my readers are very inclined to click on the links I provide, but that hardly ever results in a sale, no matter the price point of the item. This tells me that my readers come to me for inspiration, but that’s pretty much it.

What I don’t have that some of the bigger bloggers do is the “hero worship” factor. Meaning, the traffic to their site is high enough and their influence is powerful enough to inspire a lot of sales, not just clicks. People want exactly what they have. For these bloggers, commission-based affiliate programs are really smart. (However, Some big blogs like Cupcakes & Cashmere use PPC as well or exclusively!)

I can’t say for sure just yet, but I think that a PPC structure is a very smart strategy for us bloggers with small-to-medium followings who are still building up traffic as well as a trust level with our readers. For some, it may also be smart to incorporate a mix of both structures, like PPC for higher-price items less likely to be sold, and commission-based for more budget friendly items.

What’s next?

 

I’m not done experimenting. Since I am almost completely convinced that pay-per-click is the best strategy for my blog, I want to try a different PPC program – like Beso for a month to compare. Different programs have different payouts, from 10 cents per click up to 90 cents. Can you imagine if I had earned nearly a dollar per click in November? I could have made almost $700…

Any questions? I’m an open book! Share your thoughts, questions and experiences with affiliate programs in the comments!

 

*This post is not a guarantee of results for anyone, or a guarantee of success using any one particular program. Every individual is responsible for researching and figuring out a strategy or a program that works best for their business.

Comments

  1. Avatar of bestofbklyn
    bestofbklyn says:

    I mainly use rewardStyle, but mostly because I understand how it works and like the link ninja tool. Two questions that I have that I haven’t been able to figure out with ShopStyle/Sense…can you use their links on Pinterest? And secondly, do they have banner ad options like rStyle does? Obviously, using a mix of both is totally good, too, but with that $100 payout rule, sometimes I wonder if I’m better off using one and one alone, you know?

    • Taylordavies says:

      Hi Best of Brooklyn – good questions!! So, I don’t think you can use their links on Pinterest (and if you can it’s not very easy) so I still use Rs for those. Same goes for banners. The $100 payout thing is tough on both sides – so I think a mix is great. I find that if I’m diligent with my SS links the earnings come in quickly, and with the Rs ones through ads and social media, I’ve gotta be more patient.

      Pros & cons to both. Thanks so much for your input.

      • Avatar of bestofbklyn
        bestofbklyn says:

        Thanks for the answer and the info, Taylor! Appreciate it.

        • christine ng says:

          Hi everyone!

          You can use our links on Pinterest, but as Taylor has noted, it’s not that easy just yet! I’m looking forward to making this easier for all users, so it’s definitely something we’re working on, so stay tuned! :)

          Christine
          Director of Shopsense

      • Lady you are rockin m’world! As a fellow data nerd I am just eating this up. And I am bowing at your feet for the total usefulness & transparency of this (& the previous/linked) posts. Talk about being of service & truly helping the community. Such a fab example of how to lead with grace & smarts. ;)

        with grace & gumption, Hilary

  2. Jenny says:

    Wow Taylor, as a frequent reader of IFB and of your blog, I really appreciate your openness in this article. While I do learn a lot from IFB, it is so great to see specific and actual measurements and metrics…something I would love to see more of in future articles. It’s really great to get a sense of actual numbers, even if mine are not comparable.

    I use a mix of RewardStyle and ShopSense, but have yet to see any significant results. I’ve always linked items I think readers will purchase to Reward Style, and bigger ticket items to ShopSense, which I think it a pretty good strategy for me. The problem is that I wear a lot of items from retailers like Zara and H&M which don’t use these programs, but I always link to their sites regardless. I’m not a huge fan of when bloggers won’t link to non-affiliate sites…it comes across as greedy.

    Thanks for the suggestion of Beso. I’ll definitely look into that also.

    xo Jenny

    • Avatar of taylordavies
      taylordavies says:

      Hi Jenny! I hear you, loud and clear. The waiting and trying and trying something else and waiting some more when it comes to affiliate links can drive you bonkers. My only advice is to keep at it. The links you leave throughout your content archives as you build a base of content will matter as your audience grows and they start to explore your older content. What I mean is – don’t wait for a larger audience to use them whenever possible – which it sounds like you’re not doing so that’s good. Keep at it, be authentic & definitely keep linking to non-affiliate shops. I do it too and I think it’s important. Thanks so much for your comment!

    • Rachel says:

      Hi Jenny! I totally agree with you. I also hate it when bloggers (a lot of the big bloggers do this) don’t link to items they won’t make any money off of. I also wear a ton of Zara (and always link to it), it’s too bad they don’t have affiliates :(

      To Hell In A Handbag

  3. Emily Jenny says:

    Truly enjoyed all the insight this post gave me! I have never been a fan of Reward Style mainly because my followers are not one to necessarily purchase online. The ShopSense route is a better alternative for my blog! Thanks for the honesty in the post and I learned SO much.

    xo
    Emily
    http://www.stilettobeats.com

  4. Avatar of Ashley Robison

    Taylor! This is so timely. I’ve been wondering about the comparison between the two lately, and this is so perfect. I’ve had 2 payouts from RW in the life, but am sitting on another $400 in pending commissions (another issue I dislike about RW– how long things take to clear!). I’ve seen a LOT of bloggers using ShopSense, and I think your tips on balancing the two seems ideal.

    • Avatar of taylordavies
      taylordavies says:

      Hey girl! Believe it or not, I just checked on my Rs account this afternoon and FINALLY kicked over a few sales to get my first payout in 2 years… Crazy, right? The waiting is really frustrating, but I imagine that if you’re doing really well with it, after a while it becomes a snowball effect where the amounts just keep rolling over and into your pocket without much delay. I have not had such luck – hence my LOVE for ShopSense at the moment. So far the mix is working out really well, and I’m excited to keep experimenting & reporting back!

  5. I find that, similar to you, my readers typically click through but don’t purchase items. I just don’t have that many unique pageviews (hovering between 150 and 200 a day) so I usually only get between 2 and 4 dollars a week in PPC from SS. I guess my question is that if a reader does click through using SS and decides to purchase the item do I get a bigger payout? It doesn’t sound like it. Also, I think sometimes my readers click through, see the item, and then come back later and purchase it which doesn’t get me my commission on either site.

    • Avatar of taylordavies
      taylordavies says:

      Hi Erin! Good question. The thing with PPC that makes it a gamble is that if your readers for some reason click & purchase everything you post, you’re going to miss out on that commission. It’s one or the other, as near as I can tell. While you’re building up your audience, use social media as well to put your links in more places – and don’t stop using them! We can’t control what our readers to, but we can make the best guesses at how they behave and what they want, and then try to tap into it. Does that help?

  6. Maree Sye says:

    Taylor – this is such a fantastic post!!! I am like you in the way that I receive tons of clicks on products I feature (with rewardstyle) and am about at 255 clicks for Feb thus far, however only 4 of those clicks resulted in sales at a whopping total of about $6.00! :) I had debated possibly going to shopstyle and doing the PPC option and after reading this, I think I will try it. I do use RS for pinterest which I think is genius and often on FB and Twitter, I will use RS as well affiliating an entire site I may be loving or that is having a sale. But I am going to follow your lead and give it a go for a bit.

    Thanks again for such an insightful and HELPFUL article. The team at IFB produces such amazing and informative articles – my blog may still be small but with all of the advice I have received from IFB, it has started to really blossom in the past 6 months!!! Great job IFB!!!! :)

    • Avatar of taylordavies
      taylordavies says:

      Hi Maree! Thank you so much for your VERY kind words, I so appreciate them (as does the whole IFB team). What you’ve said about using Rs for Pinterest and other social media platforms is really important – I do the same. I didn’t mention it in the post for fear of running on and on too long – but using more than one program can be a really effective if you do it right! Sure, the payouts may take a bit longer if you diversify where you’re sending your readers, but I think the quality of the experience for them is important, so if it’s better to use one type of link for social media and one for your content – why not?

  7. Avatar of Ashley Randall

    After reading this I tried to familiarize myself with shopsense. I already had an account, but wasn’t using it. Maybe i’m crazy, but it’s pretty confusing. When I tried to link directly from my post the image was completely pixelated, I found other things a bit difficult to figure out as well. It would be cool if IFB did a user’s guide or tips for navigating and using Shop Sense. This article has great info regardless, though!
    Thanks!
    Ashley
    http://www.thephotogramps.blogspot.com

    • Carol Li says:

      Hi Ashley

      I had the same problem with Shopstyle. I can’t work it out either and I couldn’t find any tutorials on the net :-(

      http://www.petitestyleonline.com

    • Avatar of Bostonista
      Bostonista says:

      I agree! I signed up with them at a booth during fashion week in September but I haven’t really used it. They gave a $50 credit to entice us but every time I look at it I just get annoyed at how complicated it is! RewardStyle is SO intuitive and easy that I almost don’t mind that I have a lot of clicks and not so many sales!

  8. Avatar of Kholá
    Kholá says:

    Personally I think ShopSense works better than the Amazon links. I finally started using SS and had much better results than anything else.

    http://www.kholaskloset.blogspot.com

  9. Avatar of Katherine
    Katherine says:

    Thanks for your transparency :) So many bloggers are very secretive about page views, clicks, and money (I mean it does make sense, since income is a very personal thing). I appreciate being able to see how a successful blogger is doing in terms of blog monetization. Your information helped confirm some of my thoughts about clicks vs commission for sales. Personally, I don’t really expect to be getting people to buy what I’m wearing, etc., but maybe they’ll check it out. Not to mention, a person might end up buying the item that you wear, but may not buy it immediately and later on visit the site again to make the purchase. Thus, you may be the reason for someone buying that item, but you wouldn’t get the credit for it. Anyway, this is helpful good information for when I move my blog off of wordpress.com some day. Thanks again!

    http://justabirdonawire.wordpress.com/

  10. Avatar of Onyinye Ibeagi
    ModaVracha says:

    Thanks for this post,i’m a new blogger so rewardstyle wont accept me,i’m using fasshiontraffic which is similar to rewadstyle but i get lots of clicks on my links and shopsense is’nt available for non-Us residents,any other pay-per click similar to shopsense for non-Us residents?

    • christine says:

      hi ModaVracha,

      We actually do accept non-US residents, if you are able to select your country from the dropdown, we will accept you into the program! let me know if you have questions! cng@popsugar.com

      Christine

      • Avatar of Onyinye Ibeagi
        ModaVracha says:

        Thanks for the reply,i checked but my country is not on the drop down menu.

        • Avatar of Dosta Radnjanska

          Hi ModaVracha I also tried to connect on ShopSence but my country was also not listed. I choose a different country only to see what it has, but it can’t be changed. I’m from Macedonia, if you found any programs that works for us please do tell

      • Avatar of Stephanie
        Steph says:

        Hi Christine from popSugar I am a blogger living in Switzerland and it’s also not on your list of countries. It’s a pity because I have many readers who click links…

        • christine says:

          Hi everyone,

          we really appreciate some of the feedback we see, specifically around countries we accept. I’d love to really extend this to more countries as we know this is a largely international community. Please stay tuned! We’d love to work with everyone!

          Cheers,
          christine cng@popsugar.com

  11. Avatar of Tara
    Tara says:

    Interesting. Thanks for sharing

  12. Avatar of Magnolia Reverie

    Really interesting insights here, and this definitely inspires me to be more strategic in how I use links. Thanks!

    Bevin
    http://magnoliareverie.blogspot.com

  13. Debs says:

    this is really interesting, I use shopsense and adsense but haven’t yet had great sucess :(

    http://www.elegantlyfashionable.com/

  14. Sami says:

    Hi Taylor!

    Thanks so much for the insight. I’ve been using RewardStyle for a few months now, and I’ve made (but have yet to receive) around $60 in commission.

    Because my readership is very small, and I don’t often blog about high-end fashion brands, a pay-per-click affiliate program may work better for my blog. However, I really like that RewardStyle tells me which items were clicked on, which gives me a better idea of the types of clothing & content my readers respond to. Does ShopSense tell you which items were clicked on? Thanks in advance!

    • Avatar of taylordavies
      taylordavies says:

      Hi Sami – good question. As near as I can tell from my account, you can’t see specifically which links were clicked on, and I agree that’s a brilliant feature of Rs. The pros and cons for both are definitely worth weighing out, and I’m still taking note of my analytics with both programs to get the most out of each one.

  15. Amber says:

    I have had accounts with both sites, but have never actually used either because (and this is embarrassing) I couldn’t quite figure out how to use the services. I finally just added my first ShopSense link into my most recent post, but I’m still a little lost as to if I’ve done it correctly. Taylor, hopefully you made a little bit of income off of my visiting you blog and clicking on nearly every link you’ve posted in the last three posts! My new ShopSense link mimics what yours do on your blog, so hopefully I’m doing this correctly!

    • Avatar of taylordavies
      taylordavies says:

      Hi Amber, you’re so sweet! And let me tell you, I’ve been blogging for almost four years and only doing this affilate program thing for a little over a year, so I’m by no means an expert in personal experience. It can be tough to figure out, but once you do it’s great! Rewardstyle will actually get you on the phone with someone if you have questions, and when I began they walked me through everything in conversation which was a big help. Additionally, Sugar Inc’s customer service via email is also really prompt & helpful in my experience. Good luck!

  16. Thank you SO much for this post! Really great to see actual analytics. It’s true, without “worship mode”, PPC is probably the best way to go.

  17. Avatar of fashionofphilly

    Thanks for this post! I just signed by for ShopSense right after I read this. The site is really easy to use and I’m loving all the different layout and widgets. Hopefully it’s goes well. : )

  18. Avatar of Sheryl Blasnik

    I have been using Reward Style for over a year now. I also had signed up for a Shop Sense account but have NOT used it because I simply do not know how to use it.

    Reward Style is so user-friendly. Go to a list of Retailers and grab a link. Place that link on your blog and on ALL your social media accounts. You are done – Simple and quick.

    Can someone tell me how I do that with my WordPress blog and ALL my social media accounts using Shop Sense? Can you get a link to a specific retailer and not to a specific product using Shop Sense???

    Thanks

    Sheryl
    Fashion Development Group
    http://fashiondevelopmentgroup.com

    • Avatar of taylordavies
      taylordavies says:

      Hi Sheryl, I hear you! As I’ve mentioned there are some serious benefits to the way Rs has structured their program, and I have definitely benefitted from it. Especially social media integration. To post a SS link to your social media, you would just copy it and drop it in the body of your tweet (Twitter has it’s own link shorteners). I don’t think you can post them to Pinterest. For WordPress.org sites you would just create a hyperlink in your body text, the same as you would on any other platform. Is that what you mean? Let me know if that’s helpful. (To link to a specific retailer, I always test the SS link first to see which retailer it goes to before I post it.)

      • Avatar of Sheryl Blasnik

        Thank Taylor for responding but I still do not see a link to a specific retailer. I placed a widget in my sidebar but it is not taking my readers directly to the online retailer. It takes them to POPSUGAR for some unknown reason. That makes it look like I am spamming my readers.

        How do I link directly to the retailer like I would using Rs?

        Thanks!!!

        Sheryl

  19. Franziska says:

    Thank you for writing this. I’ve always wondered which program you can earn more with, but like you said, I think it really depends on your audience. I feel my readers are budget conscious like I am, and so therefore are more likely to window-shop (through clicks) than to actually purchase something. I make enough through shopstyle that blogging makes me more money than a part time job would, but it’s a lot more fun. I think being a part of both networks is great though – for example, SS doesn’t have any factory stores (like J. Crew factory) while RS does. While I’m still trying to get a grasp on everything that both programs offer, I have enjoyed how easy they are to use, especially when I’m on the hunt for something specific for myself!

    I think thinking about your readers, and what kind of shoppers they are, probably determines what affiliate links will earn you more money.

    Oh, and maybe a blogger can try using bit.ly links to see how many clicks people are making? I always find it interesting what people tend to click on more!

  20. Michelle says:

    Taylor, thanks so much for your insight on both RS and SS. I have to admit I never used SS because I found it so confusing, but the potential looks much better! I wonder if you might be able to do a little “how-to” post for SS? I know how to get links, but it seems very cumbersome and I like how RS lets you “save” items to come back to in different groups. Perhaps there is that capability, but I just can’t quite figure it out!

  21. Avatar of Elena
    Elena says:

    Taylor,
    This is one these posts when I really want to save on my comp! Great to hear honest opinion and see real stats, I started using Reward Style and didn’t see results and I’ll definitely start the ShopSense now!! Thank you girl for this amazing post!!!
    Elena
    http://dcinstyle.com/

  22. Kate says:

    This is SUCH a fantastic post! Major props for being so honest & transparent! I have been a member of RS for over a year now, and generally reach my $100 payout every 2-3 months or so, but there’s definitely a lot of waiting.

    I recently joined Beso, and have earned $50 in less than two weeks so far – and that’s just with tweeting or pinning one thing a day. I wanted to ease into it & not get spammy, and I’m so impressed with the results with minimal effort. And I have IFB to thank for introducing me to Beso through another recent article! They payout every 2 weeks, so I *think* Friday will be my first payday… so as long as all goes through payment wise, I’ll be a total Beso convert!

    • Avatar of taylordavies
      taylordavies says:

      Hi Kate! I am so interested and intrigued by Beso – so it’s really good to hear that a personal style blogger like yourself has found it easy-to-use and lucrative! Thanks so much for sharing your experience (and glad IFB could give you a new resource to check out!).

  23. Avatar of Sheryl Blasnik

    This MIGHT have some of you thinking twice. Reward Style just sent out a memo that starting March 1 they will be paying TWICE a month if you can reach the $100 threshold. I am sure there are many happy bloggers out there today.

  24. Avatar of MC_Bennett
    MC_Bennett says:

    This article was really helpful. I found that a lot of people would click links on my blog or my pinterest, but didn’t really seem to be buying anything so RewardStyle wasn’t working out too well for me. So after reading this article I decided to set up shopsense and see how it worked for me. It’s only been a few days and I have a few dollars in my shopsense account.

    http://lavie-amonavis.blogspot.com

  25. Sophie Mae says:

    Hi Taylor,
    I’m so glad I stumbled upon this post! As people are saying, it’s awesome that you have been so honest here. I’ve been using ShopSense now for about two weeks and am liking it so far. I was wondering though, what your thoughts were on Google Adsense for fashion blogs?

  26. Geraldine says:

    I have tried all of these rewards programs, I have a very small blog with an average of 2,500 page views per month. With reward style it was very hard to move towards the 100$ line because I realize not all of my readers wanted to buy what I posted. On the other hand, I have been using Shopstyle for a while now and it’s much better (in my case) I realized that my readers clicked on my products an where interested in knowing more about where to buy them or at least look further. A week ago I joined Beso, and although they don’t have a wide variety of options they do have a very nice idea, if you create a collection with their theme of the week they’ll give you $1 so that’s at least $4 for sure each week in less than 5 minutes.
    I do encourage all bloggers to try different networks until you fin the one that works for your blog

  27. Jessy says:

    Sales don’t count when the clicker/buyer uses a coupon code, so you’re probably making more sales than you think, but they’ve been cancelled out due to discount codes. I’ve confirmed this with an associate from Reward Style. : )
    http://www.jessydust.com/

  28. Jessy says:

    Sales don’t count when the clicker/buyer uses a coupon code, so you’re probably making more sales than you think, but they’ve been cancelled out due to discount codes. I’ve confirmed this with an associate from Reward Style. : )

    http://www.jessydust.com/

  29. Jane says:

    I have to say similar to Kate (fellow cdn YEA!) that I hit the threshold every 2 months-ish with rewardstyle. I like that the comissions are a bit more substaintial than $.10 per click. But obviously not all clicks result in sales.

    I am intrigued in testing out the ppc programs, for the blog. I use google adsense almost exclusively for my website as it is a guide and not selling products so affiliate links DO NOT WORK. But I will say that just because 1000 clicks does not mean you are going to make $1000. Many times (at least with adsense) I earn well under $1. STill I would be interested to try out the ppc programs as we have more understanding who we are linking to and hopefully a better chance to earning $1 per click.

    Taylor/Kate have you found that these ppc programs proportionately pay higher rates (more $1 than 10 cents?)

  30. AfroMerry says:

    Wow, very interesting. Your article shows that it does pay off by experimenting with different adnetworks and also trying different ways to know which one fits your content best. I’m sure with time, the earning will even get better and better.

  31. Simon says:

    Selling online is easy to set-up but hard to cash.

    It’s definitely a fun experience but it takes so much dedication and commitment like any regular street store.

    Taylor, thank you for sharing your good advice and I wish us all full success in the upcoming season!

  32. Avatar of Emily
    Emily says:

    I love this! I’ve been struggling myself with Rewardstyle–most of my commission is through my own purchasing! My readers just aren’t apt to buy what they click. I think I’m going to try a per-click method, as well, and compare.

    http://hazylaughter.com

  33. Fascinating article. Thank you so much for your transparency. I have found my readers to be the exact opposite of yours- I had almost no success with Shop Sense but great success with RStyle. I get a sale for every 60 clicks, which I am happy with (for now). I have found your articles to be some of the most helpful here on IFB, which I read obsessively, so thank you for that.

    Thanks doll,
    The Glamorous Housewife

  34. Thank you so much for this article. I started experimenting with affiliate links through Lyst, also recommended by IFB, but got nowhere. Then someone turned me on the Reward Style, but like you said in your article after months of posting links on my blog I’ve sold exactly two items. Yes, it’s exciting to sell something through my blog, but on the other hand that form of monetization is going nowhere fast. I’m excited by this new affiliate link option and I went over to Shopsense and signed up. I know my readers do click on my links because I can see it in my stats, so maybe this will be a better use of my time.

  35. Avatar of foodfashionandfun

    I’m going to have to try out ShopSense again. Beso also sounds like a good option. I will have to try that out as well. Great article. Thanks!

  36. Jillian says:

    Great insights on Shopsense vs. RS as it comes to $, but what about quality and size of product catalog? I feel like I’m able to find more of the products I’m looking for in RS than SS — not to mention, RS is much easier to use. Who do you think has a better/bigger catalog?

  37. Avatar of Maggie A
    Maggie A says:

    This was definitely very helpful. I going to try this out.

    xo
    Maggie A
    Love Scrapbook

  38. Caitlin says:

    Thanks Taylor! This was actually really quite helpful and I appreciate the breakdown! Your articles are always awesome. Appreciate the help!

    Xo,
    Caitlin
    A Little Dash of Darling

  39. Your articles are very helpful!

  40. Teppo Hudson says:

    Great article, I have been looking for affiliate programs and thinking they might be good me as well. Will try out ShopSense I think.
    Hudson
    The Fashionmags

  41. Great article, thank you so much for this huge help, even $50 help when it comes to us bloggers, imo. I was never too sure of what was best for me but I think the PPC is the way to go. I am definitely going to try this.

    I mean it doesn’t hurt to try. Question though, does it take long to do the links and post?

    Erika
    http://www.lolabluethecloset.blogspot.com

    • Avatar of taylordavies
      taylordavies says:

      Hi Erika, your ease with the tools will depend on your familiarity with adding links to your content, but I don’t believe that any of the affiliat programs out there that I’ve looked into make it particularly difficutlt. In fact, Rs makes it very, very easy. Good luck with PPC, and don’t be afraid to try your own case study and use different programs to see which benefits you the most. Taylor

  42. I only joined REWARD STYLE this year, so I’m still working on it, but so far not many sales happening, so I put on my “to-do list” trying the ppc programs! I enjoy the site for being EXTRA USER FRIENDLY and super easy to navigate and incorporate!

    When I read this article I joined SHOPSENSE right away.However, it is SO NOT USER FRIENDLY! I’ve been trying to add links to my posts, and even though I think I’m doing it correctly, no earnings are happening (which cannot be, since I get to see the clicks on my Reward Style links and they are considerable!), so I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong!

    Two days ago, frustrated with ShopSense, I joined BESO, and it was peanuts! With only one or two links I start getting earnings!!! I’m really pleased with the program! Would love it to have more variety but I’m satisfied with seeing real results in such short time! I RECOMMEND IT TO EVERYONE!!! ;)

    • Avatar of taylordavies
      taylordavies says:

      Great tips Nadia – thank you for sharing. I know that many bloggers have expressed some frustration in using links from ShopSense, and we’re going to look into explaining their program better in the VERY near future on IFB. Good luck with Beso & so glad you’ve found something that works. – Taylor

  43. Belle says:

    Before you rush off to join Shopsense, you should know that it is easily the LEAST communicative or transparent service on Earth. You will never learn which links are being clicked, how much you make per click or whether that amount differs per retailer. You will also never learn what percentage Shopsense takes of the profits.

    Also, there have been times when I did not make any money because the site appeared to be down, for example, during Hurricane Sandy. Understandably a serious event but there was ZERO communication for Shopsense before, during, after the outage (which lasted for six days). I have no idea whether it was out because of the hurricane or some other reason (as the site reappeared completely redesigned on day seven, I’ve always wondered).

    If you are a person who likes to know how your revenue is calculated or have a company that tells you about policy changes, software alterations or outages, this is NOT the company for you. Their radio silence on these matters is almost criminal, no one else could run their business this way.

    • Sydney says:

      Belle – your comment could’ve been written by me as it was SO on the money!

      Shopstyle has no engagement with their user base at all, doesn’t update a lot of their merchants on a daily basis, has no transparency in reporting and oftentimes I’ve stumbled across “new tools” by exactly that: stumbling across them! You would think they would e-mail users to let them know about new features but no . . .

      Also do understand another reason that shopstyle is anxious for signups and will pretty much accept anybody is because they have links to their site at the bottom of almost all of their widgets which helps them big time in terms of SEO (seriously Google almost any designer and shopsense is on page one) – also the shortened URLs they offer for social media don’t go to the retailers website it goes to the shopstyle website! So they’re getting cheap views for the site.

      I make money from them but I don’t like them. I think they are shady and money hungry to the max.

  44. lynda says:

    Hey guys I’ve been using shop sense for a few weeks and I like it a lot but not really making much money yet. I noticed a lot of people were asking about using the links on pinterest and such. I found that you have an id with shop sense embedded in your html for the picture you are wanting to promote. If you copy and paste that html link into your note pad you can see the url link you can use to post to things like pinterest. Here is an example of what I mean.

    This is some html code you embed in your blog :

    <a

    this is the part you would copy and paste into pinterest

    http://www.shopstyle.com/action/apiVisitRetailer?id=362013768&pid=uid4481-9235441-13

    Make sure you start with http://www.shopstyle.com and copy untill the end of your id. you may have to mess with it a little bit but once you get used to what your looking for its quick and easy. hope this helps :)

  45. I’ve been going back and forth about ShopSense and rewardStyle as well, and I’m getting more and more sold on ShopSense. I had a rS representative email me hoping to sway me back to rS, but honestly it just confirmed even more that SS is more beneficial for me. The rS rep taught me to divide my earnings for the month by the number of clicks I received that month to come up with how much I earned per click through rS, which I thought was a fantastic way to compare SS and rS. Unfortunately for rS it just showed me that I am in fact earning way, way, WAY more with SS than with rS!

    I think it’s for the same reasons you mentioned about budget bloggers. Most of my items are from Target, Old Navy, Forever 21, etc. and the rS commission on sites like that is so low. I use rS for higher commission companies, like ModCloth, and that seems to be going well.

    Thanks for sharing your insight!

  46. I havent’ been making commission on shopsense for over two years. I inquired about why the commission was so low, this is the response that I received from Shopsense now Popsugar. I have never observed any links going to the link this person is claiming. Has anyone else heard of such a think? Please read the return email I received.

    Thanks for contacting us. This issue is due to wordpress which changes the links in your looks to point to this page: http://en.support.wordpress.com/affiliate-links/. So I’m afraid that pretty much none of your visitors generated a referral which is why you made very little earnings. There are other blogging platforms out there that don’t alter your blogs like WordPress does, among which is our own blogging Platform OnSugar . Let us know if you have additional questions regarding your ShopSense account.

    Best,

    P✪PSUGAR
    Gui Forget
    ShopSense Team
    shopsense@popsugar.com

  47. Joe Adolph says:

    Great article! I wanted to share with everyone that with Nordstrom’s affiliate program through LinkShare, payments are issued when your commission balance reaches $1! If you’re not already part of our program, please feel free to reach out. We’d love to talk about how we can help you earn meaningful commissions!

    Best regards,
    Joe Adolph
    Nordstrom Affiliate Program
    affiliates@nordstrom.com

  48. Beth P. says:

    These comments are great. I never knew that rstyle doesn’t pay if a discount code is used. For example, my friend just bought a $3,800 dresser from Horchow today and I was hoping for a nice commission however, she used a discount code. I do in fact see the clink on my report but it shows zero sale/zero commission even though I know she bought it. Needless to say, I am so bummed but glad to now be “in the know” about this aspect of rstyle. I signed up for beso and just got approved, I think that may be the way to go for me. I fall in to the group of many clicks and not many purchases like some others who have commented here. I saw Zara on their list when I quickly persused it. I will give it a try. Thanks for the scoop.

    • bcr8tive says:

      Hi Beth,

      You know, in my opinion, your commission shouldn’t be affected because the purchase was made with a coupon – the 2 are entirely different things.

      First has RS made anyone aware that this is a potential scenario when a sale is made? Not to my knowledge and second, think of it like this – a car salesman earns a pay based on the commissions earned from his/her sales – The dealer may run a special to get more customers in, or to get them to buy, however the salesman’s commission doesn’t change – he/she still has bills to pay and groceries to buy – one has nothing to do with the other and the same should apply here.

      You are an agent for them, trying to garner them sales – they shouldn’t pull the rug out from under you because they had another special running, to get customers. These are fishy tactics are reminiscent of shadow sales – (sales that go unreported to the contractor)

    • Syndey says:

      OMG! That is outrageous! Nowawadays pretty much EVERYTHING is purchased with a coupon!

      I have NEVER heard of an affiliate not getting a commission because a coupon is used. NEVER.

  49. Beth P. says:

    Update- my contact at rstyle said it can take up to 48 hours for a commission to populate so I may in fact make a commission, I guess it all depends on the merchant if they pay or not with a code. I am holding out hope! Fingers crossed!

  50. Beth P. says:

    Good news!:)

  51. bcr8tive says:

    Thank you so much for this article –

    I’m so glad that i found it. I’ve been testing the waters and have a bit of background dealing with several different ventures in my lifetime, like dealing with royalties, and learning about shadow sales, etc.

    I recently started to use RS and then even more recently, saw that I had a sale – then I learned something – I tend to blog about high priced items – this particular item cost close to $5k – and the commission (for that item) should have been $630 – the data on RS for this item said “0″ clicks “1″ sale and commission was $18!

    Long story short – my rep said that this is “most likely’ because the shopper bought a different item – and that the Retailers do NOT report what actually sold –

    Umm hello? So where is the transparency or proof of what sold? Am I to “trust” that though this item didn’t have a click in the data table – it DID say sale? – BUT the retailer is ‘claiming’ that ‘something else” was sold and only paid $18? What is that about?

    So needless to say I’m disappointed in this system – but knew going in – that I’d be watching to see how it all plays out and though my site is very, very new, it’s gaining traffic in leaps and bounds and generating income from other methods already – just for exposure – SO … I think I’m going to go with PPC more often than not – I believe that I am providing a service driving traffic to specific retailers (especially when there’s so man and a lot of competition) and I should be compensated for allowing them premium ‘realty’ on my site –

    According to the stats on RW as well as Google analytics – I am getting hundreds of clicks – I’m not about to rely on a retailers say-so on what actually sold versus what the table of data is displaying to me! I know how a data base works and that they can provide ALL of that info to their publishers. I expect nothing but statistical TRANSPARENCY.

    Those cookies record how they came in, what they looked at and what they purchased and in my opinion there is NO reason why they cannot provide that info to US – the publishers, unless they have something to hide.

    So for the NM rep, I’m very glad you directed me to Linkshare because up until now, I’ve been driving a lot of traffic to your site – for nothing. :(

    Thank you for the article too – and the referrals –

    bcr8tive ❤

  52. Adela says:

    Such useful article. Signing up to Shopsense as we speak :)
    Adela x

    misspinkstyle.net

  53. Raquel J says:

    Thank you for sharing this casestudy! I am new to blogging and have been using shopsense links for over a month, I have been wondering if it’s worth doing rstyle as well, so this helps tons.

    wehearttrends.com

  54. Uli Chan says:

    Hi Taylor, firstly I want to thank you for your blog post because it was actually through your recommendation that I started using Rewardstyle. I was on my halfway mark to my first payout but unfortunately a week ago, I couldn’t log into my account because it was ‘invalid’. I emailed them twice but there was no reply. I am so lost, what could the reason be? Do you know of anyone who have gone through the same issue? I’d greatly appreciate it anyone here could give me some advice!

    • Steph says:

      Hi Uli! The same happened to me. I happened to have an e-mail address from one of the members and was able to ask them directly and told me my account was flagged due to lack of sales. I had never heard from them before and they just said that they will get back to me in a few months. I’m deleting all my RS links because they are still able to profit from my links but I can’t anymore.

    • cc says:

      Uli- this also happened to me! I’ve been with reward style since they started (i think 2 years) and this month i tried to log in/use the linking program and it kept saying invalid. i finally emailed a reward style member (how do they not have any customer support email on their site?!?) and they told me my account was flagged/frozen due to me not making commission in a while so they deleted my account! i couldnt believe they did that, and deleted it without telling me! if i didnt email them- i would have had no idea!

  55. Hi Taylor,

    I enjoyed reading your article. It’s very insightful and well written. One point of clarity, I rarely use PPC based affiliate links, but rather focus more on commission based conversions. I’m my experience, whenever I’ve utilized a PPC link, the advertiser isn’t prepared for the sudden increase in overall traffic and will try to opt-out of paying for the referral traffic through the affiliate partner. I’m not saying this is a standard practice for most PPC programs, but it’s lead me to work more directly with retail partners, negotiate my own commission rate and develop programs that reward both traffic increases as well as final sales. Having used a number of programs, I’ve personally had the best experiences with Commission Junction (CJ.com) and Linkshare(.com), while RS’s lack of direct transparency, in their analytics, has always bothered me a little.

  56. Stephanie says:

    I just came across this information and I’m deciding to add affiliate links to my website as I expand. I’m a lifestyle coach and just trying to figure out how to incorporate products into my work. Thank you for the info and the inspiration!

  57. Steph says:

    Hi, for those looking at an alternative for ShopSense, I just came across http://www.beso.com , it seems there are no restrictions for non-US residents. I’m going to try it out :) Another option which is commission based is Lyst.com, I like how you can link to a designer and it shows many different shopping options for the readers.

    By the way, just had a very nasty experience with RS. They decided to flag my account because of lack of commissions without any previous notice! I hadn’t used it much and had just started adding links for the last couple of weeks and now I cannot access it anymore. I’m going to delete all the links I had published because now it seems they didn’t delete the account from their system, meaning they can still benefit from them. Talk about a lack of respect for publishers’ time!

    • cc says:

      steph- my account was also frozen and flagged because i haven’t made commission in a while and they didn’t tell me! i haven’t been able to log in or use the link ninja for a month and thought it was a glitch in the system.. then it said it didnt recognize my account! when i emailed Reward Style they said that they deleted my account and froze/flagged it without telling me! i’m PISSED! i made some commission but not to the $100 goal, and i got TONS of clicks. to delete my account and tell me that maybe they’ll consider me in a few months if they think i’m a right fit is a slap in the face!

      can anyone recommend a better affiliate linking program to join?? i’m OVER rewardstyle! this was a very helpful article!

  58. Fashion-isha says:

    I’m so glad I read this. Right now I’m pretty po’d at RewardStyle. They locked me out of my account and told me I wasn’t eligible to use them. I feel very snobbed out and this is really bad PR for them considering I have a pretty popular blog. I use Shopsense often and the clicks are great! Now I know to stick with Shopsense.
    Thank you!
    xo
    Sharon

  59. Katty says:

    Thank you for your great advice and shares.
    I created a fashion and trends blog and managed it in awhile. I will learn lot’s of things from your blog. I like your writing style by the way :)

    Best,

    Katty
    http://blog.pixiie.net
    http://fb.com/WorldsFashion

  60. Zoey says:

    Thank you for posting this informative article. I was wondering when you got approved for reward style and if you were using it along with shop sense? Please advice. Thanks so much and please follow me as well:
    http://Www.stylebyzoey.com

  61. Bonnie says:

    THANK YOU for this!! It is so helpful for us new bloggers. I’m definitely bookmarking your site and following you via social media. I look forward to more posts like this!

  62. Hunter Hart says:

    I’ve just started using ShopSense and this article has made it make a lot more sense! Thanks!

  63. Camille says:

    I am so glad I found this post. This has been such a huge help. It’s always encouraging to see other bloggers and how they have grown. I am currently using shopsense and sometimes it’s hard for me to understand the analytics so it’s great to be able to look at yours and have it explained. Thanks for your transparency it helps us smaller bloggers realize that consistent content and staying true to your voice is what will really give us success.

    Xo
    Camille
    Guilty of Glitz

  64. All of this really seems neat, there are probably a lot of online boutiques out there who would love to also use these services. It seems like a win-win situation for sure!

  65. Thanks for this post – it’s SUPER informative! I’ve been trying to do research, but not finding much, maybe you can help me :) I’ve noticed that the actual commission I receive from RS is significantly lower than estimated commission. I understand it’s not going to be exact, but I’m talking 2/3 less. Also, if more than one of the exact item is sold, on the same day, the commission isn’t the same. Any findings yourself?

    Thanks so much!

    • Em says:

      I’m finding the same thing. It is really beginning to make me wonder. I understand that Rewardstyle is commission based off of sales, and so if someone returns something that they purchased through your Rewardstyle link, of course you should lose that commission. But I’m suddenly finding that there are a LOT of returns. A lot a lot. I know people buy and return things, but it seems like nearly all of the commissions I made from the Nordstrom anniversary sale back in July and August, poof- it is all gone. I have a big blog and generated lots of sales, so I’m talking hundreds of dollars in commissions–did everybody seriously return *everything* they purchased through my links? I have a hard time believing that!

      I feel like something isn’t adding up. While I hope Rewardstyle is being honest, I don’t like the idea that I am relying solely 100% on them to be fair and honest with their reportings. And I feel weird that I spend the past few months feeling like the posts I did for Nordstrom’s anniversary sale were a success, only to find out now they weren’t at all – I lost hundreds of dollars in commission I can’t get back, because it looks like everybody returned everything they bought through my links. That is just really weird to me.

      So lesson learned–don’t put all of your eggs into one affiliate program basket, bloggers! I’m definitely going to go back and add more pay per click to my posts in the future using Shopstyle. Rewardstyle might seem like a great way to go when the commissions are initially rolling in, but the high amount of “returns” and lost commission down the road (and after the fact) is really, really, really alarming. I don’t like it, and I’m interested to see if anyone else has had this same issue!

  66. Lauren Parry says:

    Hi Taylor! I am in the process of launching a fashion blog. I have a lot of experience with online marketing and affiliate marketing, but can’t seem to find the answer to my question. Im hoping you might know! Do you know how much traffic or how many followers your blog needs before reward style will accept you?

    Thanks! :)

  67. Jen Yang says:

    I don’t think it’s wise to only focus on biggest players on the market – rStyle and ShopSense. I’ve just discovered a bunch of less known (and more profitable) affiliate programs, like picVpic or BeSo, for example. Why doesn’t anybody make a thorough research on all affiliates out there? So that we’re not missing the opportunities.
    Take a look at this program, i think it’s worth attention: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfxvWMOLVJU

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