Category: blogging

Why Bloggers Should Never Use Shopstyle vs Rewardstyle

February 17
2 Comments

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?

1/2 of a cent per click. 1/2 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%.

(Update: At the end of this post, I asked you to click a Shopstyle link to test my payment rate (thanks for clicking guys!). I found out that my rate just dropped to 0.4 cents a click.)

And look closely at my earnings:

Shopstyle does not pay bloggers for every click

I had linked an ASOS item that earned 2 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 1/2 of a penny. Update: I have earned 2 cents from 5 clicks. I thought my rate was 0.5 cent a click, now it’s apparently changed to 0.4 cents.

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.

 

It’s Still Summer, People

August 31
2 Comments

Michael Kors Gabriella bag and off the shoulder white topOff the shoulder white blouse and ripped jeansWhite off the shoulder top and purple Sam Edelman flatsBow tie faux leather chokerMichael Kors straw picnic basket bag and roses

Top: Lulu’s, similar here from Urban Outfitters // Jeans: Charlotte Russe // Shoes: Sam Edelman // Bag: Michael Kors // Necklacehere from Asos

Youth is wasted on the young, they say. In the same way, the end of summer is wasted on the fashion industry and the blogosphere. In the past week (mind I remind you that we are still in August?), I have seen countless blog outfits featuring boots and scarves. Retailers are pushing thigh-high boots while I am still by the pool, tanning my thighs in the sun.

Let us enjoy the last of warm weather, I say; summer does last 3 more weeks. Why are we in such a hurry to rush through life? We as a society make Pinterest boards for weddings when we are years away from being married, start making pumpkin spice products earlier and earlier each year, and take Instagram shots of sweaters and booties in 80 degree weather. Autumn will come, as will all things: age and time and death claims us all in the end (*dramatic music*).

I’m being hyperbolic, of course, but there is more to existence than pre-shopping for the next season. This outfit is a perfect example of how I’m soaking in the warm summer sun in preparation for being buried alive in scarves until next May. Now, join me outside by the pool!

My Perfect Fashion Blogger Life

April 1
8 Comments

Perfect fashion blogger life morning teaLast weekend was one of the best I’ve had in a long time. It’s always a treat to wake up to a cup of tea but even more so when there are fresh blooms in the room.

Gold diamond hoop earrings pink turtleneck sweater NYX Istanbul lip cream

Easter weekend was absolutely amazing!!! We had lots of Easter festivities and everything felt happy. It was kind of a stressful and really busy few days leading up to the weekend so I was really excited to escape a couple hours with friends. We had so many laughs, yummy food and rosé while out in the spring sunshine all day. White hollister off the shoulder dress This white dress is an absolute favorite of mine. I think everyone needs a classic white for spring and summer! Also I love this dress from Nordstrom here. And here. And this dress. And here, here, or here. I also found a similar one here, or one for $30 here, or one with a v-neck here and here and here. Momoya sushi lunch special Friday & Saturday nights are our date nights. We tried to take advantage of our time together this weekend! It’s cheesy but one of my favorite things to do is go to dinner! And get a smoothie. For dessert, macarons are the way to go. Along with a plate of donuts and cupcakes arranged artfully around my shoes on the table. This nail polish is one of my faves – I love the way it looks. It’s so stunning and will go with so much of my wardrobe!

Here’s to a smooth-ie start for the day. #smoothie #strawberrysmoothie #strawberries #tropical A photo posted by Brittney (@beautyvbrainsblog) on

After a long, hard day of running errands and brunch meetings, I love to relax with a spa day and a face mask. I put on The Bachelor and do my nails.

Gosh, I’m so relatable, with my life of leisure. I can’t wait to take pictures while twirling in a flower field, before getting some avocado toast. Thank you so much for stopping by!! <3

 

 

 

 

Ok, so this is pretty obviously an April Fool’s post making fun of how bloggers write and showcase their lives. In case you thought I was being over-the-top when I wrote this post, I mostly just copied and pasted from blogs like Gal Meets Glam, Barefoot Blonde, and The Sweetest Thing.

The best satire is the truth, usually. Us bloggers sound like a superficial and insipid bunch.

This April Fool’s, I wanted to pull the curtain back on blogger behaviors so that we aren’t fooling anyone. Sure, bloggers portray an aspirational lifestyle where apartments are bright, and where desserts are colorful yet doesn’t make anyone fat.

The reality is a little muddier. Bloggers work with affiliate programs that teach us how to take the perfect Instagram shot (so we can sell more products). Instead of presenting original content, often bloggers are tempted to sell out and became mouthpieces for established clothing brands. When readers get tired of the sponsored content, bloggers often censor comments and ignore “haters.”

How fashion bloggers take Instagram pictures

Today, I’ll show you some of my reality. This is how many shots it takes to get the perfect Instagram picture to show off the flowers that I bought. I kept the flowers alive for a record 9 days (so I could reuse them in more photos).

IMG_8329

Brittney, in real life, doesn’t pose perfectly with one hand in her windblown hair, looking off to the side. The real Brittney smiles like an idiot for an outfit photo (without realizing I still had the tag on my sweater) (and completely oblivious to the child face-planting in the background).

Labbit birthday cake

What’s real-life Brittney’s most treasured possession? It’s not shoes or bags. Instead, it’s this stuffed rabbit with a mustache on its face (seen here attending my little sister’s birthday party). Sure, these styrofoam plates aren’t Insta-worthy, but this day was surely more memorable than some picture of latte foam art and my #bagoftheday.

IMG_8333

The real Brittney sends tons of weird selfies on Snapchat (follow me 👻: beautyvbrains). My Instagram and blog are “curated” to present a clean, streamlined image to the world. But I’m never as well-dressed or as pensive as I might come across on social media.

The truth is that I oversleep for class, I stress-eat entire chocolate bars and then skip breakfast to make up the calories, and I have had to crop my blog photos because I still have pasta residue on my face in some pictures.

I’m a mess, I laugh at Vine videos in the middle of class, and I listen to old Jonas Brothers songs when I’m at the gym.

I think I’ve had enough of the year-round April Fool’s joke that the fashion blogging industry has perpetuated: no blogger goes to brunch every day (always ordering the same boring mimosas and avocado toast) or come out of Pilates class with dewy makeup on. No blogger maintains their size 2 figure by eating all the macarons and donuts and ramen on their Instagrams. Some bloggers aren’t even size 2 to begin with, but we photoshop so well that you can’t tell the difference.

So I’m going to continue being the snarky jokester, exposing the fashion blogging stereotypes that have become a tired riff, and I hope more bloggers will join me. After all, it’s not hard to laugh at bloggers when we are constantly writing the jokes about ourselves.

 

This Fashion Blogger Tried to Profit from 9/11

January 14
9 Comments

Stylish Petite blogger tries to profit off of September 11th anniversary instagram post

There are a few things you should know about Annie Mai Thai Seuss, the fashion blogger who tried to profit off of 9/11. The first thing is that she is a serial copycat: she has copied outfits and photos from Extra Petite for years. There is no debate about this. Smart people have reached a consensus. Annie has plagiarized outfits for so long that there is a photo gallery of her outfit plagiarism, which I found on GOMI.

Here are some examples (the original outfit from ExtraPetite is on the left, the copycat from Annie is on the right):

Annie from Stylish Petite copies Extra Petite Annie from Stylish Petite copies Extra Petite Annie from Stylish Petite copies Extra Petite Annie from Stylish Petite copies Extra Petite

(Outfit plagiarism, by the way, is the lamest form of plagiarism. You might plagiarize an essay to meet a tight deadline. But copying other people’s blog outfits and then posting the same outfits on your own blog just days later? Can you even call yourself a fashion blogger at that point?)

(Annie’s blog name used to be “ReallyPetite”–which was suspiciously similar to Extra Petite–but she has since changed it to StylishPetite after backlash).

Another thing that you need to know about Annie, and her blog StylishPetite, is that she really, really love affiliate links. When you visit Annie’s fashion blog and click on a link, her links are actually “special” tracking links that embed cookies in your browser. If you click on a link to a retailer’s website and buy something from that website, Annie receives commission for directing you to the retailer.

Annie Mai Thai Seuss Stylish Petite gomi affiliate links

I’m fine with bloggers using special links that generate commission when readers buy items from a blog post. I use affiliate links in my own posts. Affiliate links are highly rewarding, enabling some bloggers to earn income just by showcasing their outfits and linking to the retailer.

Annie takes this practice to a new level. On the front page of her blog she has one hundred and thirty affiliate links. She basically affiliate links every other word in the sentence. If you find a full, coherent sentence on that blog that isn’t an affiliate link, let me know. And if you click on one of her links, you can generate $$$ for her blog.

Even the pictures on Annie’s blogs are affiliate linked! See the screenshot below, where Annie has written “Click on ANY item that you like!”, without revealing that you will be redirected to purchase an item once you click on the picture.

Annie Mai Thai Seuss Stylish Petite affiliate links gomi

This is probably against government policy, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which requires bloggers to disclose when they are using affiliate links!

But using shady business practices hasn’t stopped Annie. She even affiliate links her instagram pictures. In fact, Annie’s entire Instagram feed, like her blog, is filled with affiliate links. Almost every picture has something called LiketoKnowIt.

Annie from Stylish Petite affiliate links everything using LiketoKnowIt including her socks

LikeToKnowIt allows people to “shop” Instagrams. See the “www.liketk.it” link at the end of her photo description? You can sign up for LiketoKnowIt with your email, and every time you see an Instagram pic with a “liketoknow.it” link, you can double-tap the picture to receive an email telling you where to purchase the items in the Instagram pic.

Of course, the email is full of affiliate links that will reward the blogger whose Instagram picture you “liked.” In the above example, if you had “liked” Annie’s photo, you would have been sent an email telling you where you can buy her mug and her socks. If you end up clicking on anything in the email, your purchase generates commission for Annie.

Annie abuses LikeToKnowIt like no one I’ve ever seen. She affiliate links her nightstand:

Annie from Stylish Petite affiliate links everything using LiketoKnowIt including her nightstand

She affiliate links her kitchen (?) (Because her instagram fans totally want to know where she bought her refrigerator).

Annie from Stylish Petite affiliate links everything using LiketoKnowIt including her kitchen

So Annie affiliate links the flowers on her kitchen counter, and copies other bloggers. But maybe I’m being too hard on her? Maybe she’s just trying to maximize her blog earnings and needs outfit inspiration. I had decided to give her the benefit of the doubt, and I followed her on Instagram so I could occasionally shake my head at her greedy affiliate links.

This is where my post really begins. On a warm, solemn day (9/11/15 to be precise), I scrolled through Instagram, admiring people’s heartfelt memorial posts about 9/11.

Then I saw this:

Annie Mai Thai affiliate link 9 11 September 11 anniversary instagram never forget

To be honest, I stared at the picture for a full 2 minutes. It felt surreal to me. Annie had posted about 9/11 by affiliate linking her sofa.

I couldn’t believe what I saw, so I “liked” the picture and received the email linked to Annie’s 9/11 instagram picture. The email was full of affiliate links for Annie’s table, the gold spikey thing, and the lamp.

On 9/11, a day of national mourning for a tragic terrorist attack that killed thousands, Annie tried to use affiliate links to sell her fans some furniture.

Let’s break this down. Here’s the instagram picture again:

Annie Mai Thai affiliate link 9 11 September 11 anniversary instagram never forget

Don’t try to tell me that Annie wasn’t trying to profit off of September 11th:

  1. She used liketoknow.it on the picture. If she had really wanted a touching tribute to 9/11, she could have taken a picture of anything else in the world and chosen not to use affiliate links. Instead, if you “like” her picture and sign up for emails, you will get a lovely shopping email showing you where to get the items in the picture.
  2. She used the #neverforget, the top hashtag that day. This hastag is used for the specific purpose of recognizing 9/11’s anniversary. She probably used this hashtag to generate more views for her picture. This way, she broadens the reach of her links.
  3. She used emojis to convey her sadness about 9/11. Oh, a (sad face) and (American flag emoji) shows how much you care, when you’re trying to get people to sign up for LiketoKnow.it and click your links.
  4. Also, when people asked where the items were from in the comments, Annie did not respond directly. Instead, she asked them to “click the link in my profile for details.” The link in her profile takes you to her blog. Which is crammed full of affiliate links. She wanted you to mourn 9/11 by going to her blog and buying some Ann Taylor sweaters.

I’m not sure who I’m angrier at, Annie or the commenters on her Instagram pic who were too focused on Annie’s lamp to realize that she had just affiliate linked 9/11. Seriously, no one commented on how crass Annie was being?

Stylish Petite blogger Annie affiliate links 9 11 anniversary to profitStylish Petite Annie can GOMI for trying to profit off of September 11 anniversary

Businesses have been criticized and received flack for offering 9/11 discounts for mattresses and golf courses, or for trying to profit from 9/11. How is Annie acting any differently than Macy’s sending you a 9/11 promotional email with the title “Today we mourn (sad face emoji) (American flag emoji) BECAUSE THESE LOW PRICES ARE ABOUT TO COME TUMBLING DOWN!”

Yet Annie is so proud of her 9/11 Instagram picture that–as of Jan. 10—the picture is still up for everyone to see.

I had tried my hardest not to judge as Annie copied other bloggers.

I rolled my eyes when she affiliate linked her home decor.

But now I realize that Annie is not just a shady, greedy, copycat blogger. She’s also a despicable human being.

I want Annie to know that I once interviewed a lady who had been in the World Trade Center towers when the plane hit. The lady told me how she was one of the lucky ones, who managed to find an exit door after running down hundreds of stairs through the smoke and fire. She had barely left the building before the rubble began raining down on her.

Had this lady gone out the other side of the building, she would have died instantly, because the tower would have collapsed on top of her. She was one of the last ones to leave. There may have been other people in the stairwell. She was not sure if everyone got out.

There are people on 9/11 who didn’t die from the fire, smoke, or impact of the plane. They were stuck on the floors too high up to be rescued. Many of them chose to jump to their deaths rather than burn slowly in the flames.

Firefighters who were not on-call that day still volunteered to help rescue people from the rubble. They chose to stay, some of them perishing during their rescue efforts.

I don’t care what you think about the Iraq War, 9/11, or U.S. policy. When I visited the 9/11 memorial last year, I could barely imagine 2,900 people slammed against the floor, screaming, burning, fleeing, as the towers came crumbling down. I can’t imagine anyone’s family members being there, struggling to breath, wondering if they should jump because help was too far away, praying they’d see their family again.

Most of all, I weep. I weep for how a community came together on 9/11, how brave the first-responders were, how even today, we honor the dead through sincere tributes.

I also weep for a petty blogger who cannot understand the power and significance of a national tragedy, a blogger who chooses to use the 9/11 date to affiliate link her furniture and knick-knacks, to sell us items from her living room.

It’s ironic that Annie used the #neverforget hashtag so she might gain some commission revenue off a 9/11 anniversary picture. Because now I’m writing this post—so that the Internet can #neverforget one of the worst fashion bloggers I’ve ever had the displeasure of eviscerating on my website.

Annie can earn her commission, and copy whoever she wants, but I have burned through the thesaurus looking for the right words to describe the pity, disgust, and disdain I feel for this narcissistic woman who will try to sell you the vase on her table before acknowledging the tragedy in a world outside of her commercialized bubble.

Oh, and if you disagree with me or disagree with my post, feel free to send me an email with your IP address so I can ban you from ever accessing my blog again. I’ll be so sad that you won’t be clicking my affiliate links and helping me make more money! (sad face emoji) #neverforget