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Over the past couple of years, RewardStyle has become the go-to site for new fashion and lifestyle bloggers wanting to make money from their sites. I am obviously a big fan of bloggers making money, so you may be surprised to learn that I generally don’t recommend RewardStyle. In fact, part of the reason I started this site is because I want to help empower bloggers so that they don’t need to rely on networks like RewardStyle to earn income. With a little bit of hard work you can do it on your own, while possibly making more money and and also building relationships with brands that can benefit you for years to come.
Don’t get me wrong: There are many pros to using RewardStyle for monetization.
Pros to Using RewardStyle
- It’s incredibly easy to find and link to products
- Hundreds of advertisers are listed in one easy-to-use interface
- You don’t need to wait to get accepted into each advertisers affiliate program before you can promote them, since you will immediately have access to all advertisers partnered with RewardStyle
- Various widgets make it easy to create visually appealing images that will earn you money
- Tweet or post your favorite items to Facebook (with affiliate links attached) at the click of a button
- LIKEtoKNOW.it has become one of the prime ways bloggers make money from Instagram and you have to be a RewardStyle member to use the service
While there are quite a few pros to RewardStyle, there are quite a few negatives too (and I say this as a RewardStyle publisher myself).
Cons to Using RewardStyle
- They are cliquish and don’t accept everyone into the network
- This cliquishness extends to events, like their yearly conference, which is only for “top” performers (when in theory you would think that a conference would most benefit those that could use a boost and additional education…)
- Once you apply, their approval process can take months
- They kick people out of the network if they are underperforming
- The network frequently touts “best” practices, which can lead to homogenization of blog content (for example: this is why there are so many posts about every Nordstrom sale… RewardStyle sends out multiple emails telling bloggers why, how and when to promote Nordstrom)
- Commission earned from each brand is unclear and varies
- The most attention is paid to the highest-earning publishers
- The best collaborations are given to the highest-earning publishers
While RewardStyle is usually one of the first ways that new bloggers learn they can make money from their blogs (and the only way that some bloggers use to monetize), I encourage you to think of RewardStyle as just ONE of the options and use it to supplement your other affiliate marketing efforts.
Personally, I use RewardStyle sparingly. I use it primarily when I want to talk about brands I don’t have other affiliate relationships with, like Kate Spade and J.Crew. However, if the brand has an affiliate program through any of the affiliate networks, then 9 times out of 10 I will choose to work directly with the brand and do not go through RewardStyle. I don’t depend on RewardStyle to be my sole source of affiliate income and you don’t have to either!
As with most things, it’s best to diversify. What if RewardStyle shut its doors tomorrow? I’m certainly not saying that’s going to happen but it’s not outside the realm of possibility and I’d hate for anyone to suddenly be unable to make money from their blogs! If blogging is your business, always have a back-up plan. And then a back-up plan to the back-up plan because this is a constantly evolving business.
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When you become a RewardStyle publisher you have access to every advertiser they work with and the reason for this is because RewardStyle is a subaffiliate network*. This means that RewardStyle has the relationship with the advertiser… not you. RewardStyle is like a middle man. The benefit to this is that they can sometimes negotiate higher commission rates because of the sheer number of sales they send to advertisers, but the downside is that they make all of the rules and all you can do is play by them.
With traditional affiliate marketing, YOU build the relationship with the advertiser and advocate on behalf of yourself. For instance, let’s say that you have a technology-focused blog and you are considered a Windows expert. As a result, you sell a lot of Windows-based computers. With a subaffiliate network you would need to accept whatever their commission rate is, so let’s say you make 5 percent when you sell a product from the Microsoft Store. But, if you join the Microsoft affiliate program directly in Rakuten Linkshare, you might be able to reach out to your affiliate manager to request a commission increase based on your sales volume. You might even be able to request samples to help facilitate your reviews. Or, Microsoft may reach out to you to place traditional ads on your site because they know your readers love their products.
The ability to work directly with and build relationships with brands is the number one reason why I don’t recommend RewardStyle to bloggers. When you work directly with a brand you can do things like:
- Request commission increases
- Request better terms in general (perhaps a longer cookie length or a custom discount code)
- Request samples for review
- Sponsored posts (Yes! Advertisers frequently reach out to people in their affiliate networks about doing sponsored posts. This is IN ADDITION to any affiliate income you may earn from your post!)
None of these are options when you rely solely on RewardStyle for your blogging income. Instead, RewardStyle, as the actual “person” working with advertisers, gets opportunities for things like samples and sponsored posts that they pass along to their top performers.
While I’m a member of the network, I still don’t generally recommend RewardStyle. I do applaud them for making it easier for bloggers to make money. BUT I also promise that the rewards can be greater for you if you take the time to learn all that you can about affiliate marketing because then you are the one fully in control and reaping all of the benefits of your hard work. If you want to make a serious income from blogging, you should take the time to learn all that you can about affiliate marketing and diversify the networks that you work with.
If you’re ready to learn more about affiliate marketing but you’re not sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place! You can read through the posts on this blog, register for our free six-day e-course, Affiliate Marketing 101.
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