Why I Generally Don’t Recommend RewardStyle

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Why I don't recommend RewardStyle as the best monetization option for bloggers | Oh, She Blogs!

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.

[clickToTweet tweet=”If blogging is your business, always have a back-up plan. And then a back-up plan to the back-up plan.” quote=”If blogging is your business, always have a back-up plan. And then a back-up plan to the back-up plan.”]

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.

*Other examples of subaffiliate networks include Shopstyle Collective, Skimlinks and Viglink.

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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Lisa Koivu

Founder at Oh, She Blogs!
Lisa Koivu is the founder of Oh, She Blogs! A seven year blogging veteran, Lisa can also be found posting shopping deals and steals at ShopGirlDaily.com . In her free time (ha!) she is also a freelance writer who has written for About.com and U.S. News.
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  • Hi there,
    Thank you! Interesting read!
    My question is do you have to have a web based blog in order to be accepted in RewardStyle or being an Instagram blogger with about 200k followers would do?

  • Lisa, great post!! I had no idea there were options for bloggers to monetize other than LTK. I had a few questions, first, how did you begin reaching out to brands to work with them, and second, when should a new blogger first consider applying to RewardStyle? Do you need to have a certain number of followers/monthly views? Thanks so much for all the helpful info 🙂

    • Hi Emily! I feel strongly that bloggers should start trying to implement affiliate links on their blogs from the beginning. More on that here: https://ohsheblogs.com/start-adding-affiliate-links-to-your-blog-on-day-1/

      Unfortunately, I don’t know RewardStyle’s exact criteria for accepting new bloggers but this is what they say on the website:
      Please keep in mind, when accepting publishers to our platform rewardStyle considers applications with at least 4 months of consistent content that contains the following attributes: Engaged and Growing Audience, Consistency, Quality and Original Content, Clean Editorial Design

      • The attributes rewardStyle is asking for is so subjective. For example, I dare you to get a room full of graphic artists to agree on what is clean editorial design!

        Their methods for selecting and “rewarding” invitees to their conferences don’t sit right with me either. This seems to be the way it goes, “We think you are a top performer so we are extending to you the great honor of being invited to our conference. That honor includes paying all of your own travel/lodging expenses, and a large conference fee.” There is no financial incentive to attend. They may or may not give you a lousy trophy or plaque. I don’t know about that part.

        Are you going to hear anything at the sessions that will help you? Maybe, if you are fairly new to blogging.

        You mentioned cliquishness in even being accepted into the network. By that, do you mean that rewardStyle prefers bloggers who are under 30, tall, thin, and white? If so, that leave an awful lot of women even out of the running.

        What finished off rewardStyle for me is something that is on their Facebook page. Her majesty Amber Venz is graciously consenting to share her morning routine with all of us peasants. I think most of us master washing our faces early in elementary school if not before. What an ego on that woman!

  • They dont kick people out. For the first year I made less than $50.

    You are reaching to get clicks and views.

    STOP IT!

    • Hi Jackie! Just because you didn’t get kicked out doesn’t mean that they don’t kick people out. There are plenty of reports online (look in blogging forums) of people not making money and getting kicked out of the network – if they’re even let into the network to begin with. I’m glad you enjoy RewardStyle, but my job here is to provide honest feedback to bloggers who want to make money from their blogs and I recommend that they use other affiliate networks (perhaps alongside RewardStyle) because diversification is key to success. Best of luck to you!

  • I am a new blogger and was just told about RewardStyle by someone I follow. Thank you for this info as it felt a bit deflating to think that was the only way to go to be successful. Great read!

  • I was approved by RewardStyle just over a month ago. Today I got an email telling me my content wasn’t up to their standards. Nothing about my content has changed in the month since they approved me. My earnings are just under their $100 payment threshold, so they told me they aren’t paying me the money I’ve earned.

    They basically used me for a month to make some money, and now I have the job of going through my site and switching out their links. I am furious!

    I wonder how many bloggers they’ve done this to.

    I did reply to their email to give them a piece of my mind, and I will be warning other bloggers, but I don’t know how many will listen to the warning.

    • I’m so sorry this happened to you.

      I’m really impressed you were able to earn nearly $100 in a month – that’s amazing! I hope you continue using affiliate links, since they’re obviously working, but apply to the programs directly. Were there any specific brands you were successfully promoting? If you want, I can help you find their individual programs.

  • Yes, I totally agree. I have a great content and I post 7x a week. They totally discriminated me and denied me, and I personally noticed that there some terrible accounts with very little content and bad quality and they are accepted to RS. It feels like if you are from the South and have very plain and horrible content, you are accepted. I’m not sure who is in charge of the selection process but obviously racist person that only respects country southern style. On a top of that I have a good amount of followers, almost 50k. I’m very upset with RS and I’ve put so much hard work into my account, but it’s pure discrimination going on in their acceptance process!

    • I’m so sorry they didn’t accept your site! 🙁 Luckily, there are so many other affiliate options out there that they aren’t necessary. I hope you check out the other ways to monetize!