Hello friend! After almost three years on Instagram and now blogging, I have a good idea of how things operate. For the most part, I truly enjoy what I’m doing. However, there are some negatives that I would like to address. Hence the reason I am starting this series! Please understand, this is not an “air out dirty laundry” type post/series. I am hoping for it to simply be an informative post for other bloggers and readers alike!

For today’s installment, I would like to discuss the different ways bloggers/influencers can get paid (with money or product). This includes sponsorship and affiliate marketing. Please also note, this is not an exhaustive research paper nor a how-to post! It is however a quick and (hopefully) helpful synopsis!

Sponsorship

One way to get paid or free items is to get a sponsorship. This is when an influencer collaborates with a company. The company provides product (and sometimes payment) for an influencer to post the item. This can occur on any platform (blog, YouTube, Instagram, etc.).  To keep things clear to the consumer, the influencer is supposed to use the hashtags “ad” and/or “sponsored.”

So the rules are pretty clear, but whether or not everyone follows the rules, that is not clear. For my part, I assure you I do and will follow the rules. More importantly, I promise that I don’t take sponsorship or products that I wouldn’t honestly use/wear. Because I am a fashion and beauty blog, I concentrate on clothing and makeup items. However, I get offers for all sorts of products. If it’s not in line with my blog, I say no. I blog to share my passion, not to stock my house with free products.

I have yet to get paid for any collaborations so I cannot speak to that from personal experience. However, I do not see anything wrong with it, as long as the same above principles hold. After I started blogging, I realized how much time goes into a good post. A blogger is a one person stylist, model, photographer, editor, writer, and web designer. So to get paid for a good post is not an unreasonable thing to expect.

Affiliate Marketing

Another way a blogger can earn some income is through affiliate marketing. This is when a blogger joins in a partnership with a company. The company usually provides a code or a link for each blogger. The blogger in turn uses that code/link when they post about the company’s product. If a reader uses that code or link, the blogger gets commission (some in actual money, others in store credit).

In the past few years, we have also seen the emergence of Shop Style, Reward Style and Like to Know it. These companies are a way of uniting many brands under one affiliate linking group. So the influencer signs up with Shop Style or Reward Style and uses their methods to link the items. This can simply be a link on a blog post or other (such as Like to Know it on Instagram).

I remember when I first started seeing Like to Know it posts. It was on the mega blogger’s Instagram posts. Then slowly it started trickling down to the smaller bloggers. Admittedly I was late to join the party. But when I saw influencers with my size following get admitted to Reward Style, I decided to try. I applied without fully understanding what it was. At that time it seemed more like a badge of honor to gain.

My Experience With Affiliate Marketing

Now I am a member and I do like and appreciate what it does for my blog. With Reward Style I can use a variety of tools to link items to my blog. I like doing this not to make people buy things, but to have the options available if they are interested.

Furthermore, I don’t let the desire for sales fuel my posts. For example, when I wrote my Fall lipsticks post, I knew full well that nobody would purchase a lipstick from my post. I don’t blame them. People like to try on lipsticks in person. But that didn’t stop me. I decide my content based on what’s inspiring me and on what I feel will be helpful for my readers.

Besides Reward Style, I am also an affiliate with Gray Monroe. I was happy to join their program because I honestly like and wear their clothing. To me being a blogger comes with responsibility. I do not want to hawk any item that comes my way in hopes of a sale. I do however, like to share stores and items that I believe are good quality and well priced, stores where I have spent my own money! Gray Monroe is one of those stores.

Like to Know it

Once I became a member, I realized how much extra work came with the program. I had to learn multiple new technologies. Then I had to spend time finding the exact product to link. Then I make a post in the Reward Style app, then transfer it to Instagram, and then I can finally post. Sometimes it can take up to 30 minutes to put together one little Instagram post. All of that work for (maybe) some commission…

In my experience, it is a lot more work than compensation. Of course, I am a small blogger in a sea of gorgeous girls who are all doing the same thing. So, I can honestly say I don’t feel like the money I may make from affiliate marketing and Like to Know it sales is all that much. However, it may add up and help offset other costs of maintaining my blog, so I will keep it up.

The most difficult part for me is managing the constant push for a sale. I understand from their perspective… it’s a business. Reward Style makes money when I “sell” something. However, I don’t want to transfer that push on my readers. I try hard to balance giving you options to purchase without shoving it down your throat. I limit the “here’s a sale, go buy stuff” posts. Instead I offer true content with the option to buy.

An example of the above are my Spring trends posts. Instead of pulling together cute new items to buy and just putting photos and a link, I did research. I looked through multiple fashion websites and magazines to gather all of the actual trends. Then I analyzed them and chose the ones that I thought would be most interesting to my followers. Finally, after writing the post, I found items to link.

Others’ Perception of Like to Know it

I’ve had Instagram followers both like and hate Like to Know it. Again, it’s a balance of directing people to Like to Know it without upsetting them by withholding the brands of the items you are wearing. For my part, I try to still tag the item in my Instagram photo with the brand. That way if someone wants to shop in store, they can go directly there. And those who prefer to shop online, hopefully will use my link!

Final Thoughts

I have shared this information in hopes of allowing things to be transparent on my blog. Most importantly, I want you (my readers) to know that I am not here to make money off of you! I have a career that I love which pays the bills. However, blogging is an expensive hobby. Any money (so far very little!) I make from affiliate marketing goes into developing new content for the blog or for website maintenance.

In conclusion, the choice is yours. If you choose to support me through my affiliate marketing, I appreciate it. If you don’t, no worries. I’d rather you come here for the outfit inspiration! Because truly, in the end, that’s why I started this blog…to share my style and love for fashion.

Stay tuned for more posts in this series. I hope to tackle topics such as buying likes/followers, follow/unfollow and difficult brand partnerships. If you have anything else you’d like me to discuss, please let me know in the comments!

12 comments on “The Ugly Side of Blogging: The Hard Sell”

  1. Thanks so much for your honesty and for sharing. I have been very hesitant to join Like To Know it because it seems like such a huge amount of extra work for little compensation. Plus I’d rather people head to my blog to view where I got my items from because it boosts my web traffic and Google ranking which in turn gets me more sponsored posts. Thanks again for the great info!

  2. Love your post, it brings inspiration on what I should add to my little “how to blog” series. I am new to the Reward Style program and like you said, we have to be “photographers, editors, …. web designer” I am having a hard time trying to get those widgets into my blog post, do you have any ideas for me? I have my own WordPress account powered by go daddy. You are right, it is a lot of hard work, I since I got into the program, I realized I am becoming more spammy, I need to work on a balance. Thanks for the post!

    -Brandi Kimberly
    http://www.cutebrandik.com

  3. So informative! thank you for taking the time to write this post! I didn’t know all the ins and outs and I appreciate you breaking it down. Ps, this post just adds to why I enjoy following you on Instagram!

    • Thanks so much for reading Victoria! I didn’t know how well this would be received, being that it was all text and no photos, lol! I am glad it was informative and that you understand it all better!

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