There's been a lot of talk recently that the golden age of fashion blogging is over.
The theory goes that as traditional print media editors have caught up with the pioneer bloggers who started reporting live using only their iPhones and their 'outsider' view of things, the power of fringe fashion bloggers is waning. But there's one person who would very much beg to differ: Texan founder of rewardStyle, Amber Venz.
The 26-year-old is widely credited as the woman who enabled bloggers to actually make a living from their site by launching rewardStyle in 2011, a platform which helps them monetize the merchandise they feature. Say a fashion blogger wears a blouse from Topshop in a blog post - she hyperlinks that blouse in her blog post, using the rewardStyle bookmark and then she (or he) will receive a cut from every reader who then clicks through and makes a purchase. For all full-time, successful fashion bloggers (and trust us, there are a* lot* of those), this programme supplies their basic income; fashion campaigns and consultancy act as a bonus.
From her Cabo vacation, sharp as a tack Amber explained how rewardStyle has turned fashion blogging from a niche hobby into a hugely lucrative business. Yes, that's right - a very serious business. Because for anyone who thinks that fashion blogging just consists of posting a pretty picture of your new shoes; you are seriously wrong. These girls are relentlessly hard-working business-savvy pros; and some are making over $1,000,000. Yup - we knew that'd hook you.
The Debrief: Where did the idea for rewardStyle come from, then?
AV: I started my personal blog, VENZEDITS.com, in 2010. It was initially developed as a marketing tool and portfolio for my offline businesses: my jewellery company and personal shopping/styling services. I launched the blog with a clear business plan and was posting three times daily. I quickly realized that the site was more than a marketing tool for my other businesses, it was a business of its own and needed a revenue stream of its own. So my business partner, Baxter (now fiancé) and I started brainstorming in our local coffee shop. I wanted to be able to earn money online in the same manner that I had offline with my personal shopping business: if I drive a sale for a retailer, I get paid a commission on the sale. We decided to take that offline model online. We came up with the very literal name, rewardStyle and purchased the domain!
**DB: And now you've built a huge business.. **
AV: Since we launched in 2011, we have not slept! When rewardStyle launched, we worked with about 12 retailers; we now work with 3,500 retailers and 13,000 publishers, across 72 countries. Our publishers and retailers span across fashion, beauty, lifestyle, home, mommy and mens and they aren't just bloggers; we also work with traditional style publishers like Hearst, Conde Nast, YouTubers, celebrity social media accounts and Instagrammers. We now have offices in Dallas, New York and London.
DV: Why do you think fashion blogging has become so phenomenally successful then?
**AV: **I think it is because consumers love following a person, not a brand. When a person tells you they like something or they endorse it by wearing it, there is an authenticity that a brand could never produce. Consuming style content from these new digital personalities is like watching a silent reality show. There is a storyline and a personality. Even better than a reality show, these personalities tell you what they are wearing, what they are eating and where they are travelling... and then, you can immediately act on the inspiration.
DB: And you have to be invited into rewardStyle, right?
AV: We receive hundreds of applications per day and each is considered, although very few are approved. It has to makes sense for us from a business perspective.
**DB: I recently read that top tier fashion bloggers can make 6 figure yearly salaries, which is incredible; it's aligned with what business executives earn. **
**AV: **I am very happy to say that some rewardStyle bloggers actually now pull in 7 figure salaries (USD). Our ecosystem of publisher tools coupled with our intensive, results-driven consulting services have successfully groomed these top performers into true wealth.
_DB: Wow. Over a million_ dollars. That's going to blow some minds. How do you celebrate such success?**
**DB: Which country do most of your bloggers come from? **
AV: The US is still our largest market (which makes sense, as it is the world’s second largest e-commerce economy, second to China).
DB: And do you have many men in there?
AV: We do have strong male accounts. As a percentage of our network, mens is small; but that figure is aligned to the percentage of mens publishers in the market, i.e. not nearly as many as female.
DB: Can you give our readers and new bloggers some tips?
AV: Of course! So, successful bloggers are committed in every sense - they spend all of their time creating content, staying up late to edit and post it. Do not get frustrated if you do not become a highly-successful blogger in a few months, or even a year. Respect in the industry requires longevity and consistency. There are so many “trendy bloggers,” ones that start a blog and then drop off a few months later - giving up. Also, remember that reputation is everything. Meet people in your industry, make friends and help people. Herer are some things that we look out for, at rewardStyle:
• Large and growing audiences on social networking sites like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. We also look for indicators of engagement, like comments on blog posts.
• Consistent posting at least 3 times a week - with mention of monetize-able products.
• Quality imagery and original content that is both creative and aesthetically pleasing to readers.
• Linking all linkable content, so that readers will be directed to retailers' sites.
• Consistent, clean and editorial design that pervades the whole blog.
So go forth and blog. And become a millionaire. Maaaaybe.
Follow Pandora on Twitter @pinsykes
This article originally appeared on The Debrief.