Whether you just started blogging or have been blogging for a while, you might be wanting to use (or already using) an affiliate network. The two biggest affiliate networks in the lifestyle and fashion blogging arena are RewardStyle & ShopStyle Collective.
Both of these networks allow you to make affiliate commission by adding links and widgets to your site and give you access to thousands of retailers around the world. This is great because it saves you from having to sign up for a different affiliate network with each individual brand. It keeps things streamlined and makes creating your content quick and easy and getting paid is easier too!
Both affiliate networks are great and there’s not a simple answer for the question, “which one is better?”, because it really depends on your needs and your audience.
So, below, I’m breaking down the differences between the two to help you decide what’s best for you and your blog.
- You’re paid a commission on completed sales, not clicks
- You must apply to join
- Access to the LikeToKnow.it platform (allows you to monetize your Instagram account)
- Opportunities for brand partnerships
How It Works
RewardStyle (the platform we both use!) pays you a commission, typically ranging from 5-20% depending on the retailer (they’re all different), when a user clicks on a link from your site and completes a sale on the retailers’ site.
For example, you might get 100 clicks on a link, but if no one actually purchases anything, but you won’t make any money unless they buy. It sounds a little bit discouraging, but for a lot of bloggers, the percentage from one sale is almost always more than what you’d make per click. If your readers are buyers (vs. browsers), RewardStyle is probably a better option for you!
RewardStyle also has an in-house team that pairs bloggers and brands for sponsored content projects. The downside is that most of these partnerships go to bloggers with bigger audiences and followings, so it may be a while before they come knocking on your door with collaboration deals.
We’ve found that the best way to up your affiliate earnings with RewardStyle is to use affiliate links strategically (we’ve got a post about that here) and make sure you’re linking to brands or retailers with high-paying commission rates. You should also get a good feel for what your audience typically spends so that you feature products within that price point to encourage sales.
The application process is different for RewardStyle than some other affiliate networks. Instead of just being able to sign up, you actually have to apply.
Who Rewardstyle is good for: Fashion, beauty, home decor or other lifestyle bloggers who frequently review or discuss current products that people can buy online at large retailers. Bloggers whose sites serve as a destination for people looking to purchase. Smaller bloggers who don’t have a giant readership but have a loyal following can still do really well on RewardStyle!
Who Rewardstyle is NOT good for: Bloggers who frequently blog about items that are not available online at large retailers, such as vintage clothing, local brands, etc. Bloggers whose audience comes to their site to browse and be inspired, not to buy.
Things to keep in mind when applying:
- Before you blindly apply, do note that they typically like to see that you’ve been blogging consistently (three times per week) for about six months. Being able to show them that you’re serious about your blog will give you a far better chance of being accepted.
- They like to see that you’re already linking out to brands that are apart of RewardStyle on a frequent basis.
- If you have blogger friends that feel comfortable asking, they can refer you, which might speed up the process a bit.
Another HUGE perk to RewardStyle is that you can use LikeToKnow.it to monetize your Instagram platform. LikeToKnow.it is RewardStyle’s app that lets content creators build shortlinks and codes that they add to their Instagram posts to make it possible for other users to ‘Like’ or screenshot and image for details. All your user has to do is sign up for the LikeToKnow.it email or download their new iPhone app.
- Paid per click, not a commission on a sale
- Anyone can sign up (Yay!)
- Opportunities for brand partnerships
How it works:
ShopStyle pays you by the click, which sounds great, but don’t forget that one click is a very small amount. The good news is that you can literally start making money from day one. You don’t get paid a commission when you make a sale, but if you are making sales, your click rate percentage will go up over time, so there’s still a good incentive to feature products your readers will actually buy.
The biggest perk to ShopStyle is that ANYONE can sign up. It only takes a few minutes to get started and you access to almost all the same types of tools that RewardStyle offers like links, shop the post carousels, widgets and boutique shops that you can add to a page on your site. ShopStyle did have a similar tool to LikeToKnow.it, but as far as we can see it didn’t catch on and isn’t being actively used or promoted.
Again, with collaborations, you may not be asked to be a part of these until you’ve grown your audience considerably, but it’s exciting to know that the opportunity is there!
The best way to use your ShopStyle affiliate links is to always give readers lots of options to choose from so there’s lots of links within your posts! The more you link, the more they’ll click, and the more money you’ll make!
If you’re just getting started and aren’t ready to apply for RewardStyle, we highly recommend signing up for ShopStyle right now. You can start making money immediately, though it might not be a lot, it’s exciting to see a little progress right at the beginning, isn’t it? Plus, this is great because it gets readers used to shopping your site!
Who ShopStyle is best for: Bloggers who are just starting out and are looking to join their first affiliate network. Those who frequently blog about items that are not available online at large retailers, such as vintage clothing, local brands, etc. Bloggers whose audience comes to their site to browse and be inspired, not to buy. Bloggers who have a ton of traffic. (There’s a reason why a lot of huge bloggers primarily use ShopStyle–more on that below!)
You can always switch networks later if you decide to, but this is a great place for new bloggers to get started!
Which Should I Use?
If you’re just getting started, we recommend ShopStyle. RewardStyle’s application process takes a while longer and is not guaranteed, especially if you’ve only been on the scene for a couple of months. Take the time to build your audience, traffic and content implementing ShopStyle links until you feel that you’re ready to apply to RewardStyle.
Of course, you might not want to apply to RewardStyle. Plenty of bloggers prefer ShopStyle over RewardStyle because of several reasons: Their readers might be browsers, not buyers, which makes the pay per click formula a better one. They may have a very large audience and actually make more with clicks than they would with sales alone (many really big bloggers we know use ShopStyle for this reason) or maybe they feature really expensive products that don’t result in a lot of sales. If this is the case, you’re more likely to make money from people clicking on that link vs. hoping they actually buy that pricey piece!
Contrary to the past, you can now use links from both networks on Pinterest as well. Pinterest used to not allow for affiliate links to be used, but now you can again! Peppering in some affiliate links into your pins is a nice way to gain a little extra commission. Just make sure you’re not going crazy with your links!
How You Get Paid
One other thing to mention is payments. Both networks pay their content creators through PayPal and typically won’t send your payment until you’ve hit the $100 threshold. So, even if you make $50 this month, you won’t see that cash until you hit at least $100. Payments are also not typically made the same month you get them. Since every retailer has different return policies, you may get paid out for some retailers earlier than others, but typically it’s 60-90 days after a sale that you’ll see the payment.
Lastly, these are my no means the only two affiliate networks out there! There are so many other big ones like Commission Junction and Amazon Associates, but these are the two we get the most questions about so we wanted to clear up the differences.
We’d love to hear your experience with affiliate networks below! Feel free to ask any questions that we didn’t clear up too!3