This week in The Wall Street Journal, Elizabeth Holmes brought the colliding worlds of personal style bloggers, fashion week, and monetization mainstream in her feature, “How Style Bloggers Earn Sales Commissions, One Click at a Time; Blog Links That Redirect Readers to Retail Sites Are Expanding to Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.”
Here's an excerpt;
“Self-employed personal style bloggers have been embraced by the notoriously closed fashion industry, were the programs are a natural fit with the industry’s brand-centric, advice-heavy culture. Links are subtler than in-your-face display ads, and they are far simpler than the elaborate partnerships some brands have brokered with bloggers in exchange for sponsored posts, personal appearances and social-media mentions.
Acting as middlemen between retailers and bloggers, and helping attract more of each, are affiliate networks. In exchange for its own fee or percentage, a network provides the necessary technology to create links and track purchases, and writes commission checks. It verifies whether a blogger is worth doing business with, and brokers new relationships and deals”
For those unfamiliar with the blogging world, it certainly was well-researched and written, providing a solid insight into the general stream of revenue and sway that personal style bloggers capture and hold, however, I thought it would be helpful to IFB's community to further elaborate on some of the main points that this feature shares, and the video with the article is certainly worth a watch!
Here's what's important to consider from this piece:
You've Got to Have the Traffic Before You Start to See the Revenue
“A $40 trench coat Ms. Tanita linked to last fall sold out, she says, and hundreds of people bought a romper she posted,” reports Elizabeth Holmes. Just think about it for a minute; for a number in the hundreds of one item to be sold from a single blog link, first you have to have a high ratio of people reading your post, to then clicking through, having the item in their size, adding it to the cart, and buying it. There's no way around it, but you've really got to have incredible traffic before you're going to be making major bank off of your blog. I can't say of you get 100,000 unique visits in a month than you will be making a livable income off of your blog's affiliate links, but can say with certainty that this is the exception rather than the norm.
Don't Feel Bad If RewardStyle Didn't Accept You Into Its Program
According to the article, “The network accepts only about 10% of those who apply, says Amber Venz Box, RewardStyle’s co-founder and president.”
I know many bloggers who weren't accepted or shut out of the program after not meeting revenue minimums, which can really make you feel badly about yourself and your blog's position. Don't worry, they aren't the only option, and they may not be the best match for your blog anyways. Keep working on and perfecting your blog and it's branding, and apply for other programs; there are PLENTY of other ones out there, as well as those held with brands and retailers individually, with a few mentioned in the article for reference (ShopSense, Rakuten Affiliate Network).
Rule of Thumb: Post Current and Affordable Shopping Options
If you truly want to maximize your affiliate links, think from the consumer's perspective. The bloggers quoted in this piece offered up more affordable alternative when they featured designer luxury goods or items no longer available. The easier you make it for your reader, the more likely they will become a customer and purchase something that you linked to. Don't link to something that may be sold out, is one-of-a-kind, or only have one or two sizes options available, as this can be frustrating for the reader.
Your Photos REALLY Need to Be Good
It pains me to say this, but all of the top-grossing blogs may be varied in content, but unified in their image quality, and it is GOOD.
Even lesser known blogs have stellar photos, and in this day and age, you really need to carefully edit your photos to share just the best ones, and they need to be of professional quality. Times have changed and you can't just throw up any old photo any more, unfortunately, as the bar has certainly been raised to an almost unattainable standard. The good news? You CAN do it, and do it yourself! A simple search on Skillshare produced a ton of online courses you can take for photography, and sometimes it can be as simple as purchasing a remote and tripod for your camera or smartphone (yes, I said it – some of the newer phones have AWESOME photo quality!), finding a great spot, and knowing a bit about lighting.