Here's the thing about advice: you can listen to it, read it, and agree with it – but actually putting it into action? That's something totally different, isn't it?
As an editor at IFB and a personal style blogger myself, I have the interesting dual role of being both a student and a teacher in many of the aspects of blogging that we discuss. Storytelling techniques? Tried em. Widgets to keep readers on your site? I'm using them, too.
This brings me to monetization. We all write about it for you, using a combination of our own experience, research and interviews with the companies and brands that make it possible. Because we're all pretty close by now, and I feel like I can tell you things, I'll be very honest with you right now: I have been so lazy with my affiliate network links.
Are you disappointed? I know I am. But here's the thing: recently, I've gotten increasingly curious and motivated to see just how successful I could be in trying to monetize my style. The good news? It's working. Without a huge readership or tens of thousands of followers, I am making money with my affiliate links. Am I making tons of money? No, but I thought I'd share a little of my experience with you, because I know many of you, like me, are blogging on a smaller scale and wondering if there's any chance for you to actually make money.
Start at the beginning.
Personally, I use both RewardStyle and ShopSense links, but mostly RewardStyle. While there is value in using different networks to see which have the best commission rates, I have found with sticking with one keeps all my income coming to one source, which gives me the greatest chance of reaching the payment threshold necessary to actually get a check in the mail.
First, I spent some time exploring the RewardStyle site. I looked at who the advertisers were, and which ones might appeal to my readers. I know they have great taste, but like me, they don't consistently spend money on big-ticket items. While I love Alexander Wang as a designer, I can't afford his pieces. So using a Saks Fifth Avenue ad might make sense, but a Saks Fifth Avenue ad featuring Alexander Wang? Probably not. The more honest and close-to-your-style the better, so think not only about where you (online or in-person) window shop, but where you actually make purchases regularly.
Your readers want your style.
You know that saying, “You've gotta spend money to make money?” I have found this to be true with my blog, especially when it comes to my affiliate links. When I buy something new, from a store or brand that is represented within RewardStyle and ShopSense, I post about it as soon as I can. For example, about a month ago, I purchased a coat from Gap that I absolutely love. The next day, I made a Polyvore set that included the jacket, and in the copy below, I wrote a bit of anecdotal copy about it. I sold three in the next two days, with a commission totaling about $13. I also did the same thing with a pair of J Brand twill pants that I have that had recently been marked down. I wore them to an event, mentioned them with a link in the copy, and sold three pairs.
If you dream, your readers will dream with you.
Here's my next tip: Don't be afraid to dream. If there are things you want but haven't bought, a trend you have you eye on, pieces you're coveting, share those too! Daydream with your readers, share your style crushes. You never know what mood your readers might be in and what they might be looking to buy at that moment. My most recent example? I am currently obsessed with these Rag & Bone booties. At the moment I can't afford them, but one of my readers could and I made a sale, with a commission of nearly $40.
I have noticed that my readers are reading not only my newest content, but scrolling back into my archives. When I've had a minute to spare, I've gone back to those posts (from my lazy days) when I wasn't using links, and have added them in. To get started with this, I look at my analytics and see which posts from the past are still getting traffic. I revisit them first, adding in links to the text where it makes sense.
My quickest tips:
- I sell more when my links are embedded in copy, rather than listed below a collage
- The more I like something (and I say so) the more inclined my readers are to at least click through
- Sell it! Put on your marketing hat and vocalize as best you can why your readers should be motivated to make a purchase
- Keep. Up. With. It. You have to be diligent about using your links or nothing will happen.
- Be patient with your readers and your sales. For the first year I used affiliate links, I made a whopping $33. In the last two months, I've made $100.
- I know other bloggers have had a lot of success with affiliate links placed in tweets and Pinterest pins, but I have yet to make a sale from either of those channels, so I can't share any good tips on those!
Am I going to able to live off of my sales any time soon? No way. But if I keep at it the way I am right now, I should be able to use the money from my sales to treat myself to some shopping, and keep the cycle of sharing what I love and making smart connections for my readers going.