How do bloggers make money? It’s probably the number one question on the tongue of everyone inquiring about the industry.
My first paycheck came from the wildly successful affiliate network called rewardStyle, which began garnering success in 2011. The company has grown significantly over the past several years and provides bloggers with special tracking links so that every time someone clicks on their site, they earn a commission. However, rewardStyle and LIKEtoKNOW.it are so, so much more. In 2017 the monetization program sparked over $1 billion through its global network of 16,000+ influencers.
I borrowed the Co-founder and President of rewardStyle & LIKEtoKNOW.it and recent inductee to Forbes 30 under 30, Amber Venz Box, to pick her brain about blogging “do’s and don’ts” and what the #1 tip is for growing your audience.
Co-founder and President of rewardStyle & LIKEtoKNOW.it (@rewardStyleHQ, @LIKEtoKNOW.it, @venzedits)
In one sentence, what is rewardStyle?
rewardStyle is an invitation-only monetization platform for premium lifestyle influencers and brands; the backbone of the global influencer industry.
When did you start rewardStyle?
I launched my blog, venzedits.com, in the spring of 2010 and by the fall, it had become tough for me to maintain such a high level of investment in the daily content when there was no real way for me to monetize. At that time, Baxter (my then-boyfriend, now-husband) and I began to think seriously about how to turn my blog into a revenue-generating business and in early 2011 we released a solution: rewardStyle. The idea was to take a traditional retail commission model and create the digital version- a platform that tracked online sales generated through the original content created by bloggers and compensated them in-step with their online retail influence. I began to invite my blogger friends to use the platform and by the summer, nearly all of us were able to move out of our parents houses and pay rent based on our rewardStyle earnings.
The “when” is an important part of this question. If you think back to 2010/2011, this was a period when we were watching reality shows on Bravo and E!, reading about celebrities from Hearst and Conde, and “blogger” was a pejorative term. The cameras in our phones took super-grainey, very low-res photos and the primary social networks were facebook and twitter. The App store was a brand new concept and as a society, we still used our phones for calling people. E-commerce was an afterthought for most major department stores and consumers were still talking about how scary it was to give someone your credit card information online.
rewardStyle was revolutionary and poured gas on the fire of the rise of the influencer.
What is your #1 tip for growing a small business into a large one?
Solve a real problem that a lot of people share and move fast.
Top 3 favorite Instagram accounts to follow?
@jaceyduprie is a given 😉
What’s your favorite cuss word?
Shit. I blame my grandmother for teaching me that one at an early age.
Last photograph you took?
Do my screenshots count? If not, the last real one was Birdie in Santa’s lap screaming (lol).
Support your peers.
Take outfit photos in an alley. (Yes, at one time I totally did this.)
What is the most common retailer linked to by bloggers on RewardStyle?
Keep your eyes out for the 2017 LIKEtoKNOW.it Awards where we give LOTS away!
Favorite happy hour drink?
Aperol Spritz – I’m obsessed!
“love your neighbor as yourself”
If you could give your 16 year old self advice, what would that be?
Right now, your character is the only thing that matters. No one will remember anything else.
What is the #1 way that bloggers can grow a larger following?
This is a tricky one because large does not always mean profitable or built to last, so number of followers may not be the right goal.
First, consider what you want to be known for (your outfits? Your interior POV? Your travel calendar? Your approach to a family lifestyle?) and your long-term monetization strategy. If you want to be an infinite player in the influencer industry, you are going to need true influence, not just followers.
If you want to build ongoing relationships with brands, you are going to need to bring them positive ROI (sales). If you want to start a clothing line, you are going to need buying followers.
The best way to attract the right kind of followers is to use LIKEtoKNOW.it so you can have retail analytics on your audience and learn their buying habits, budgets and brand preferences.
We see that some of the most economically successful influencers in the world have 50,000 followers or less, and they are able to earn millions in annual rewardStyle commission from their blog and LIKEtoKNOW.it content.
The more LIKEtoKNOW.it content you create, the more feedback you get through analytics, and the better you become at creating content that attracts a buying audience.
What is the easiest way for bloggers to make money?
As an influencer, you are going to create content daily, regardless of whether it is paid or not, so it is hard to say that anything is easier than just tracking the content that you do create and getting paid in-step with your retail conversions.
Healthy influencer businesses earn a commission on sales, they earn on on “collaborations” or paid content, through product lines, through content licensing, through traffic, appearances and more.
Thank you so much Amber for shedding light on to what trends you see working for your top influencers!