These Instagram Swim Trends Are 20% Off This Weekend

February 18
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President’s Day sales are never terribly impressive, but with Spring Break coming up, I was happy to see 20% off on my favorite beach trends. Since I was already planning on trying out these trends for the ‘gram, it doesn’t hurt that I’ll be saving some money by ordering them this weekend!

Asos bardot ruffle one piece swim suit

This swimsuit has been making the rounds on IG. That’s not surprising considering that it hits all the checkmarks for ruffles, polka dots, and the off-the-shoulder trend. You can get this exact swimsuit for 20% off, now (and it comes in a two-piece version too: see below)

The gingham print one above is actually my favorite; it’s cute without looking too much like a picnic tablecloth.

Next up on the list of instagram-worthy swim trends are….

Do not disturb script beach hat

I read somewhere that the famous “do not disturb” sun hat has actually been trademarked, but you can still find beach hats that feature other phrases written in a cursive script, or another trendy sunhat tied back with a bow.

I’m actually tempted to make my own script sunhat. All I would need is string and a wide-brim hat, right? How cool/narcissistic would it be to have my blog handle on my sunhat?

Pom pom swim coverups

You can’t scroll past 5 instagram pics without seeing the ubiquitous off-the-shoulder pom pom cover up, so it’s time to admit defeat and try out the trend at last. You can actually get the pink one on the right from Amazon, plus it’s available with Prime shipping!

Why Bloggers Should Never Use Shopstyle as an Affiliate Network

February 17
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There are some things that I wish I had known before I started blogging. I never thought my blog would earn money, but now that it does, I sometimes wish a more experienced blogger would have told me to avoid using Shopstyle as one of my affiliate networks.

Shopsense/Shopstyle Collective (I use the names interchangeably) is a network that pays you for each click that your blog generates, regardless of whether that click leads to a purchase. In contrast, I use another affiliate network called Rewardstyle that only compensates me if a reader makes a purchase after clicking my link; with Rewardstyle, I don’t get paid if the reader clicks the link but decides not to buy.

I used both networks for a long time, and I’m here to tell you that I wish I hadn’t touched Shopstyle at all.

Shopstyle affiliate network hides how much you earn from each click

If you’re curious how much each Shopsense click is worth, they will literally never tell you. On the Shopsense FAQ, it states vaguely that:

You earn a set amount for every valid click that goes from your site . . . The rate you are paid per click depends on a number of factors, including how often clicks result in sales for the retailer, the amount of each sale, and whether those products are returned for a refund. As a result, the rate you are paid can vary over time.

And, boy, does the rate vary! Shopstyle enticed me by initially granting me 5 cents per click: with 20 clicks, I was already making a full dollar! In contrast to my other affiliate networks like Rewardstyle, which only paid me if I make a sale, Shopstyle promised to guarantee income even if my readers didn’t make a purchase.

But the goods times didn’t last. Within a year I found that my rate per click was dropping to 3 cents. This doesn’t sound like a big difference, but it’s a 40% decrease in my earning potential.

And how much is my rate today?

Half a cent per click. Half of a penny. It would take 200 clicks for me to make a single dollar from Shopstyle. Shopstyle has effectively gutted my earning potential by 90%.

And look closer at my earnings:

Shopstyle does not pay bloggers for every click

I had linked an ASOS item that earned 3 clickthroughs, and a Talbots item that was clicked on, yet I received ZERO cents for those clicks. Why am I not being compensated for certain clicks? I will never know. There is no transparency for what you can expect to earn from each item that you have worked hard to link.

In contrast, Rewardstyle tells me upfront what I will earn from each purchase. Sure, my readers might not buy anything and I would not be rewarded solely for the click, but when they do make a purchase, I can count on a specific amount in my account.

Shopstyle vs Rewardstyle as an affiliate network for fashion bloggers

Today, I looked up how much I made in Shopsense recently. $9. In the same amount of time on Rewardstyle, I’ve made $125.

“But Brittney,” you might be saying to yourself, “Maybe you’re just using Rewardstyle more than Shopstyle! And didn’t Shopstyle say that the payment rate depends on the quality of your traffic? Maybe your readers aren’t buying anything from the Shopstyle links, so your traffic quality is low.”

Good points. Luckily, Shopsense actually helped me conduct an experiment that demonstrates how both of these assumptions are false.

Shopstyle does not pay bloggers as well as Rewardstyle

The Experiment

In November 2016, Shopstyle told me that if I used Shopstyle exclusively on my blog for the entire month, they would reward me by giving me an additional 20% of my November earnings. I decided to take them up on the offer. For November, all my new links would come from Shopstyle only.

My old Rewardstyle links were still active, but I predicted a decrease in my Rewardstyle earnings because all my Rewardstyle traffic should now go to Shopstyle, since I would only be using Shopstyle links.

My blog traffic was normal in November and I posted regularly. If my traffic was good enough to make good money on Rewardstyle, then I should see a bump in my Shopstyle earnings given the same traffic. Plus Shopstyle had promised to add 20% on top of any amount I earned!

The Results

I made a little over $1 on Shopstyle that month. In contrast, my existing Rewardstyle links from October and before still earned me $38. So without even trying to use Rewardstyle in November, Rewardstyle still earned me more money.

And that’s how I learned that Shopstyle’s compensation system is a scam. All my traffic was diverted from Rewardstyle to Shopstyle. If I had the same number of readers, and my readers clicked at the same rate they usually did, and they bought things at the average rate, then why didn’t my Shopstyle click rate increase?

Shopstyle analytics are terrible compared to Rewardstyle's affiliate links

This is a slightly less important concern, but the lack of reliable analytics is another downside of the Shopstyle system.

  • When a reader clicks a Rewardstyle link, my dashboard immediately shows me what link was clicked and how many times.
  • Shopsense, on the other hand, only updates once a day, usually at midnight.
    • This means that I can’t track how well a link is doing during the day to determine whether my readers like what I’m showcasing.
    • I also can’t see how much I am making so far that day, whereas I can easily track my Rewardstyle commissions by the minute.

Another downside is that Shopstyle only lets you see the top ten most clicked items.

  • So if your readers click more than 10 items (which they should be doing, if you want to make money), there is no option to expand the list to show more.
  • You also can’t tell which items are unpopular, because the analytics just stop reporting after the top 10 links.

This is one of those cases where it’s useful to compare a simple screenshot of Shopstyle vs. Rewardstyle. See how simplistic Shopstyle looks next to Rewardstyle’s data breakdown?

Shopstyle vs Rewardstyle for bloggers

In Rewardstyle, you can expand the list and see every last link that was clicked, and how many times it was clicked. You can even see when the clicks occurred, and what platform your readers are engaging with the most, whether it’s blog or instagram.

Blogging is all about analytics, and it’s no wonder that I slowly turned over to Rewardstyle to better track how my links were doing on an hour-by-hour basis.

Fashion bloggers should avoid using Shopstyle

“But Brittney, all the major bloggers use Shopstyle now! Barefoot Blonde and Gal Meets Glam and Pink Peonies!” It’s true; these bloggers all use Shopstyle even though they used to be featured on the Rewardstyle page. But those major bloggers are rumored to have gotten a huge payout to use Shopstyle. They might also have been promised higher commission rates if they switch to Shopstyle.

Ultimately, these larger blogs are fundamentally different from mine. I don’t have a large readership that generates a lot of clicks that can add up. Instead, I have a smaller readership, but one that seems to trust my recommendations; I have more long-time readers whose clicks are likely to lead to a purchase. Rewardstyle makes more sense if I want to maximize my close audience.

P.S. Oh btw, if you feel sorry for me, you can click this Shopstyle link. I might not even earn any money from it! Who knows! And if I do earn money, it will probably be a half of a penny. I hope none of you make the same mistake I do.There are too many affiliate network options out there for you to settle for Shopstyle’s vague nonsense.

To conclude: 

If you have a large following, you might be tempted to use Shopstyle because you get money for each click. But let me warn you: just like how Shopstyle stopped paying me 5 cents a click, your rate could get slashed as well. You’re still getting screwed if you have 5,000 clicks a day but each one is only worth half a cent. Unless you can get a guaranteed flat rate from Shopstyle, or unless your blog is big enough to support a higher rate, it’s not worth your time to earn pennies a week.

And although there are fundamental problems with Rewardstyle as well, I find it to be the better alternative so far. You can see my blog’s growth reflected in my Rewardstyle earnings, but as my readers grew, my earnings in Shopstyle paradoxically went down.

 

Leopard Fur Coat – OTK Boots

February 14
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Leopard coat and black leather over the knee bootsLeopard print furry coatOversized cable knit sweater winter outfitHot pink pom pom glovesGivenchy Le Rouge Hibiscus Exclusif 302 lipstick

The best thing that can be said about this time of year is that winter clothes are on sale, which is perfect if you live in the North (where winter lasts until April!)

Coat: Forever21, exact dupe here from Rosegal ($43) // Sweater: H&M (last season), similar here // Over-the-knee boots: Franco Sarto, similar here (on sale for $30) // Gloves: love this hot pink one from Etsy ($7)// Lipstick: Givenchy 302 “Hibiscus Exclusif”

This is also great news for me because I learned today the hard way that you shouldn’t wear leather over-the-knee boots on an icy, salty sidewalk. Not only did I nearly fall twice, but the heels of my boots are irreparably damaged. That’s what I get for trying to wear something more fashionable than duck boots :(

If you’re also on the hunt for some new leather boots to replace yours, Aldo’s leather OTK boots are now on sale, and these DSW ones are now $55! Conversely, if you’re someone who can’t wait for spring to get here, Forever 21 is giving 20% off their dresses through today. Happy shopping!

Velvet Military Jacket

February 11
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Ralph Lauren velvet military button blazerSheer tier ruffle polka dot dressRalph Lauren military gold button jacketLace up ankle stiletto bootsSheer ruffle tiered lace dress with necktie

This past week, Boston was dunked with 14 inches of snow this past week and I stupidly tried to take an Uber during the blizzard.

Dress: Dillard’s, almost exact same copy here from Shein // Jacket: Ralph Lauren, red version here // Purse: F21, similar style here // Boots: Vince Camuto //

I shall forever remember the storm that hit this past weekend as the Inconvenient Blizzard of 2017. It was scheduled to arrive Wednesday night and bring a foot of snow, so my classmates and I giddily waited for the law school administration to cancel classes.

10PM came and went, and while BU and Harvard Med had canceled, the Law School remained steadfast. My friends and I debated whether class would be cancelled for longer than we would have prepared for class. To add fuel to our frustrations, the administrations would send multiple emails teasing us with “we do not anticipate FOR NOW that the school will close.”

The winds had started swirling by the time I went to my morning class, but it was in the middle of my professor’s lecture that I saw the snow outside falling SIDEWAYS because of how hard it was being blown by the wind. The administration could no longer deny the evidence of a forceful storm brewing, so by noon all our classes were cancelled.

Because the weather app told me that the snow was about to get exponentially worse in the next hour, I immediately decided to take an Uber to my bf’s (because his apartment is much swankier and I would rather have a snow day off campus). I figured it was my last chance to get anywhere before we were all iced-in.

There were only 2 Ubers on the entire map of Cambridge when I called for a car and I was picked up by an old Ukranian/Russian lady that did not speak more than 5 words of English. I foolishly also chose UberPOOL, which meant that we picked up more passengers along the way, but since the driver couldn’t communicate with them, I ended up calling the passengers’ numbers to confirm where they wanted to be picked up.

Getting to my boyfriend’s took nearly an hour because the streets hadn’t been iced properly and we couldn’t drive more than 15 miles an hour. The wind also froze the windshield wipers outside and this crazy Ukranian/Russian lady would go outside (in her little scarf and skirt!) to wipe the windshield with her bare hands. I honestly thought I would never make it across the river and we would have to hole up in this van for the night.

Looking back, sure, the experience was a little exciting, like I was trying to catch the last train out of the storm, but mostly it was inconvenient–from the timing of the administration’s emails denying the growing blizzard, to my bizarre Uber ride. Now there are 4-foot snowdrifts outside to contend with. Spring can’t come soon enough!

What I Bought at 4AM Last Night – Shop With Me

February 8
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Every year, our law school puts on a Parody musical theater show to poke fun at our professors. We write the show ourselves (last year’s theme was Law Wars, a play on Star Wars), and hire a lighting crew and soundstage for our dancing and singing.

I’m a director for the show again this year, and in addition to managing 70+ actors, I’m also singing and dancing in the show (!). Add to that my course load reading and I’m often up until 3 or 4 AM, bored and browsing the internet before I finish for the night.

These morning hours are usually when I create my blog content (and when I make most of my purchases), so I thought I’d put both together to make this post. Hopefully it doesn’t become a regular series and I get some more sleep!

Red bow back dress and palm print halter bikini

1: Bow dress ($18)// 2: Colourpop matte lip color  // 3: scallop swim set ($25)// 4: Nude Colourpop lip color // 5: Pink camera bag //6: pink sheer bell sleeve top ($16) // 7: palm tree halter swimsuit ($17)// 8: white embroidered tassel top ($42)

The red bow dress above is a dead ringer for Kate Spade’s $200 version; I’ll be wearing this for our Formal!

I also went a little crazy on the spring break shopping: Zaful’s scallop bikini is also a dupe for Marysia’s high-end set. Zaful has the cutest swimsuit but the size charts are different for every item…I had to squint at the sizing options for far too long and my 3AM brain eventually bought two swimsuits to justify my trouble.

Also my favorite white embroidered top finally came back into stock so I quickly scooped it up for $42; I sound like a loser but I’ve been stalking this top for 2 weeks now.

I also bought a bunch of utilitarian stuff like toothbrushes, but I deemed those items too mundane for a collage. I will mention that I will soon be carting around a cute pink camera bag, so if you ever want to catch me in Boston taking photos, you’ll know what to look for.