As we've discussed at our IFB conferences over the past year, the landscape of fashion blogging has come a long way from the self-publication-for-the-people days of yore. Today, personal style blogs have incredible potential as businesses and drivers of consumer trends. We all know of the mega-popular blogs who regularly receive gifted product and collaborate on design projects and promotions with big-name brands and designers, but what about the rest of us?
Reward Style has emerged as a cool and lucrative tool both for top-tier bloggers as well as up-and-comers who are not necessarily household names, but fast becoming influencers among their readers and peers. Reward Style allows it's members to link out to shopping sites from their blog, and earn a commission if readers purchase items through their links. To maintain a standard for their clients, rS is not available to everyone. Though some might view this as alienating, I think it's a wonderful motivator for those who are serious about taking their personal blog to the next level. To get the inside scoop on Reward Style, I interviewed their president, Amber Venz.
How was the concept of Reward Style born?
I started my fashion blog, VENZedits.com, in April 2010 as an extension of my personal shopping business – I wanted it to be my fashion diary and styling portfolio. I started out posting 3 times a day and I was telling all of my secrets to my readers. I quickly realized that I had cut myself out of my own business- my clients were now buying the products I suggested off of my blog and not booking appointments with me anymore.
I decided to monetize my blog so I did what any blogger would do- I went to every blog I knew and snooped around to see how they were making money. I ended up becoming a member of about eight ad networks. I had a spreadsheet with the logins, passwords, which ads were where; it was an administrative nightmare and a total time-suck.
After about seven months of that, I teamed up with a technology company and explained to them what I was dealing with and we developed rewardStyle.com.
This site was built around what I needed as a blogger: I wanted all my advertisers in one place, one login, one reporting system, one check. I wanted to get paid like I used to as a personal shopper, the ability to compare commissions between stores on a single product, a way to track my click-to-sale conversion so I could see what all of these links were worth to me.
As a small start-up, we listen to what our users need. You want to be able to link to ASOS? Let me call them. You wear a ton of J.Crew? Good news, they called us. You do not want to have to bit.ly your links to see what is working? We will build you an analytics page right into our site.
Who is reward style available to?
rS is an invitation-only monetization tool for fashion, lifestyle and beauty bloggers around the globe. We work with bloggers who are looking to make money on their content and are blogging at a professional level, meaning their content is original, gramaticaly correct, visually pleasing and consistent. We consider a number of factors in our decision process including reader engagement through social networks like twitter and facebook, number of posts per week, and if the content is a good match for what rewardStyle has to offer.
In what ways can bloggers use Reward Style to monetize their blog / social media outlets?
We provide fashion, beauty and lifestyle bloggers with relevant product links for whatever products they have decided to talk about, feature or wear. These links allow bloggers to get paid online the same way personal shoppers do offline. My background is in personal shopping and if I took a client into a boutique, I would get a commission on whatever that client purchased. This is the concept we have taken online. If you direct a reader to a retailers site, we allow you to get paid a commission on whatever that reader purchases at that site for a pre-determined number of days (generally 30 days, although this term varies by store).
Bloggers are working as personal shoppers by styling and suggesting products and we, as bloggers, are keeping the masses shopping by creating a desire for products. (You are welcome, retailers.)
Everything about rewardStyle is performance based; we allow bloggers to get paid exactly what they are worth to these brands and retailers.
Who are your top e-tailers using Reward Style?
We are currently working with about 300 fashion and beauty advertisers- here are a few of our top performers:
- Neiman Marcus
What advice would you give to bloggers who want to step up their game?
- Purchase a unique URL (get off .blogspot, .wordpress, .tumblr)
- Set up google analytics and track your progress.
- Set up a Twitter and Facebook account for your blog and be active on both to grow your audience.
- Post at least four times a week (but always remember, quality over quantity- four times is not mandatory). This will help with your analytics and it will establish some consistency so your readers know what to expect.
- Show original content- re-posting a magazine spread does not show talent and can not be monetized.
What do you guys think? Do you use Reward Style already? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.