*Updated as of July 2016 (look for the ♥ to see updated sections!)
One of the most talked about topics amongst bloggers revolves around affiliate links. The same questions consistently come up: What affiliate network do you use? How does it work? How do I get my products linked to my Instagram via @ShopStyle.It? Is it worth it?
Well, a few months ago I was asking those exact questions and unfortunately, had to peruse through blogs upon blogs in order to find all of the information I was looking for. I wanted to create a single post for bloggers who want all of the above questions answered in one place; everything you need to know about using ShopStyle Collective. ♥ For those of you inquiring about RewardStyle, I am currently working on a post similar to this one so be on the lookout! If you’re trying to weigh your options between RewardStyle and ShopStyle Collective, check out this informative case study written by Taylor Davies of ifb here.
♥ What affiliate network do you use?
I currently use RewardStyle. The main reason I chose to switch from SS to RS as my primary affiliate network is because my commission is calculated per-sale rather than per-click. I personally believe that SS is great for bloggers who are just starting out, however, as my readers increased, so did my product sales! At this time, RS is the most viable option for me.
How does it work?
ShopStyle Collective is a free service operated by ShopStyle that allows participants to earn money by featuring links from ShopStyle’s retail partners on their blogs, websites, and other applications. All product links are “ShopStyle Collective-enabled.” ShopStyle Collective keeps track of the clicks that go to retailers and calculates a revenue share based on the volume and quality of the traffic. (via SS)
Unlike RewardStyle, which is an invite only network, it is 100% free to sign-up for ShopStyle. Here’s a comprehensive break down of what you need to know once you’ve created your account:
HOMEPAGE & GENERAL INFORMATION:
Your homepage will look exactly like what you see below (I have blocked out my statistics for privacy reasons).
1 & 2- Analytics can sometimes be confusing, but this is a great resource that SS provides for its users! Here you can view everything from your earnings to you clicks, orders and more.
Earnings – are how much you have earned for the selected time frame. If you look in the top right corner, you can see that “Last 30 Days” is pre-selected for me. You can change this option to daily, weekly, etc.
Clicks – are exactly what they sound like – how many times a user has clicked on an affiliate link on your blog. Bloggers can earn anywhere from 0.3 – 0.5 cents per click, which doesn’t seem like much, but can definitely add up! 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.
Orders – are how many times a user has clicked on a link from your blog and actually ordered that item from your link. You do not get a higher commission for items that have been ordered, however, as noted above, the more clicks that result in orders (sales), the higher you may get paid per click.
Conversion Rate – This one took me a second to figure out. Conversion rate is simply how many of your clicks result in sales. It’s important to keep an eye on this, as you want your numbers to stay in the green. That means you have a high conversion rate, and thus you get paid a better rate per click.
Lower down on your page you will find other important information such as your balance and your data graphs.
1 – Your balance is your total earned commission. Keep in mind that ShopStyle will not release your funds to you until your balance reaches $100.00.
2 – Your main graph shows trended data per date. There are a lot of options here that you can edit and play around with. You can view clicks only, clicks and orders, orders only, clicks from different social media outlets that your affiliate links are posted on, etc.
My favorite part of the analytics page is the merchandising insights:
1 – Here you will see a list of the top brands, retailers, products and categories. You can tab over to each one to see how your clicks vary. For example, right now, the “Top Brands” category is highlighted. For this week, H&M is my top earning brand with 12 clicks and 1 order.
2, 3, 4, 5 – As you tab over to other selections, you will see that your data varies. Use this as a tool to help you develop site content that your readers want to see!
♥ CREATING WIDGETS, LOOKS COLLECTIONS AND MORE FOR YOUR BLOG:
In the create tab, you will see five options:
1 – Product Widget. Your “Product Widget” tab will likely be your most-used tab, as this section allows you to make your links and widgets. A widget is a code that you can embed into your sidebar or your blog post linking to pieces you want to feature, that looks like this:
2 – Text Link. Your “Text Link” tab is most useful when you need to link a single product in a blog post. After searching for a product (more info. on how to to that below), SS will generate a product link to paste into your blog.
3 – Video. If you are a vlogger, this link will be most helpful to you. The “Video” tab allows you to link your products directly into your YouTube videos! Pretty cool, right?
♥ 4 – Look. A Look is a shoppable image that allows a shopper to view a photograph and to shop the products that are linked within it. When you create a Look, you’ll need to assign it to at least one Collection for it to appear on your blog or website (via SS). What’s great is that you can assign your Looks to as many of your Collections as you’d like (more info. below)
♥ 5 – Collection. A Collection is a themed set of your Looks housed in a dynamically-updated container, which you can embed on any page or post on your blog or website. You must first create and embed a Collection on your blog or website to publish a Look (more info. below) (via SS).
MORE ABOUT PROJECT WIDGETS
Let’s jump back to “Product Widget”. In order to create a new widget, you will have to follow a few steps to add your items to the SS-generated html code:
1 – In “Create a Widget” mode SS will guide you through all the necessary steps to do so (only 3, phew).
2 – You can search for a specific product using the search bar (as I did above) or do a general search like “silver mirrored sunglasses”.
3 – ShopStyle Collective also allows you to filter your results. High-Commission Retailers are exactly as they sound – retailers that afford you a higher commission when clicked. You can also filter by brand, category, price and color. I often use the price filter when I’m doing a splurge vs. steal type of post.
4 – Simply stated, your search results.
When you click on the item you wish to add, a larger screen will open with some options:
1 – Copy link. If you are duel editing your blog post while you’re creating your widget and want to add both physical links within your post AND a widget at the end, this button is useful. It simply copies your SS link for you to paste wherever needed.
2 – When you’ve found the right product and are ready to add it to your widget, simply click “Add to Widget”. After you do so, SS will jump back to the search page so you can continue to add more products.
3 – If you wish to favorite an item for later use, simply click the favorite button
4 – If you intend to share a single product via any of your social media platforms, you can do so directly from the single item screen. If I’m sharing individual items, I usually do my social sharing once my entire widget is created.
Once you’ve added your product to your widget, you can search for the remaining products you wish to add.
1 – You can view your added items here and move them around or delete them as needed.
2 – Once you have added all of your items, click build to finish up!
Don’t be overwhelmed by all the options here! Once you figure out what works best for your blog, selecting your specifics will be a piece of cake.
1 – Here you can choose what information you’d like to be displayed under your products. Perhaps you want your readers to see the sale price (if there is one), or maybe you want to only display pictures and information on hover.
2 – Play around with your rows and columns depending on how you want your widget to appear in your blog. I tend to keep my widgets as pictured above and reduce the image size to 150 for a simple, clean look.
3 – What’s great is that your view of the widget will adjust as you play with its display and size, so you will see exactly what you’re creating in real-time.
4 – Naming your widget is helpful! SS will automatically pre-fill this box with the date. Be sure to change this to keep your widgets organized.
5 – If you find that you want to add/delete an item, or switch around the order in which your items appear, simply click the edit button and go from there.
When you’re ready to publish, click on the Publish icon at the top of the page (pictured above). SS will generate your widget in seconds, and it will look like this:
Simply click “Copy Embed Code” and paste it into the html box of your website. How to do this will depend on your blogging platform, however most platforms will have a simple Insert > Html command.
Last but not least, further down on your publish page, you will see additional publishing options:
1 – Here you’ll find Html text for (a) individual links or (b) blogging platforms that do not support embed codes.
2 – You can sort your text to display product names, brand names, prices, or none of the above.
3, 4, 5 – SS will also generate a list of all individual items in your widget. This comes in handy for individual links embedded within the blog post or social sharing!
6 – DON’T FORGET to save when you’re all done! Just because you’ve copied your widget and embedded it into your blog, doesn’t mean your widget will be saved incase you need access to it later. This is an imperative step (that I have forgotten many times)!
Voila! Your widget is created. Though it seems like a copious amount of steps, once you learn it, you’ll whiz through the process. I now create my widgets in minutes thanks to ShopStyle Collective’s ease of use.
♥ MORE ABOUT COLLECTIONS
Collections are one of two fairly new features on SS. FYI, we’re going to talk about Collections first for one very important reason: you cannot create a Look until you have created a Collection. A Collection is a themed set of your Looks housed in a dynamically-updated container, which you can embed on any page or post on your blog or website. Let’s think of a Collection as a department store and Looks as all of the different styles of clothing you will find throughout.
For all of your visual learners (cue elementary school teacher voice), see below:
1 – This is where you name your collection. Think of a collection name that all of your looks you intend to include will align with. For example, if your Collection is “Summer Faves”, don’t include any Fall looks (duh). You can go back and edit this name later if need be. SS first showed us collections as a way to share our Instagram photos. Many bloggers create an “Insta Looks” collection and post all of their outfits as Looks on their blog.
2 & 3 – Don’t forget to save your Collection! Once you’ve done so, your embed code will generate. This is the code you will copy and paste on to a section of your blog. SS suggests having your collections live off your main page for extra visibility. Personally, I have a “Shop” section on my main page with different collections* to choose from underneath (see it here!).
*The “collections” you see on my blog are not ShopStyle collections. I have since switched to RewardStyle, so what you see are all reward style boutique widgets.
♥ MORE ABOUT LOOKS
A Look is a shoppable image that allows a shopper to view a photograph and to shop the products that are linked within it. If you know Widgets, Looks are going to be a breeze! To avoid a ton of redundancy, I recommend that you refer back to the “More About Product Widgets” section to review how to search and select items for your Look.
Here’s where things change a bit…
Once you’ve searched for and added all of the products you would like to include in your Look, instead of clicking Publish (as you would when creating a Widget), you will click BUILD:
1 – Upload the photo you would like to represent your Look. If you are building Looks from your “Insta Looks” collection, use your Instagram photo. Otherwise, simply use an image of one of the items in your look, or find a related image on Pinterest (make sure to give credit if it’s from someone else’s blog!).
2 – Caption and tag your look. Again, if you’re building Looks from your “Insta Looks” collection, use your Instagram caption and take to keep it consistent. Otherwise, create your own.
3 – Select a Collection to publish to. In playing around with SS’s new features, I created 3 sample collections, “Summer Faves”, “2016” and “Summer 2016”, all of which you see above.
It should look something like this once you’ve completed steps 1-3…
DON’T FORGET TO PUBLISH YOUR LOOK!
Once you’ve published your Look, you will be taken to a final viewing screen where you see a breakdown of everything you’ve just created.
1 – View your picture and the items you’ve dropped into your look (mine are not accurate since this was a sample Look)
2 – See your Look analytics
3 – Favorite, edit or delete your look. Note that if you edit your look, you can change your photo, caption, tags, and even press the back button (top left corner) to edit the items in your Look!
*Tip: If you edit a look, your Collection will automatically update too! No need to re-embed.
4 – See what collection the Look is a part of
For any additional questions about Looks & Collections, check out SS’s FAQ here.
♥ WTF IS EMOTICODE? 🤔
Emoticode is SS’s newest feature that allows you to share your in-the-moment Snapchat photos or Instagram posts like your outfit of the day or your favorite beauty products with your followers. With a few simple steps, your followers can shop your posts, making monetization even simpler!
To start, in addition to Snapchat and/or Instagram, you’ll need two apps:
2. Shopstyle Collective* (note: this is different from the ShopStyle app!)
Once you’ve downloaded your apps, launch your SS Collective app.
(psst: wanna shop this outfit? hover over the image above & click on the icons for deets!)
1 – Search for your product (right now, you can only link ONE product per code) and select “Copy Emoticode”. Once you’ve done this, your emoticode will be saved to your clipboard, so make sure not to copy anything else before you make your post.
2 – For Snapchat: open Snapchat and take your photo! Select on the “T” text tool at the top of the screen and click to paste your emoticode. Edit your text as you wish but be sure not to delete the emojis or the 3-digit code following them!
For Instagram: open Instagram and upload your photo. In your caption, add your emoticode!
*Note: Before posting your first emoticode Snap, it’s a good idea to build a short story for your followers to let them know how everything works (if you’re on Instagram think about doing a temporary post or even a blog post announcement that you link in your bio!)
♥ HOW DO I GET MY PRODUCTS LINKED TO INSTAGRAM VIA @SHOPSTYLE.IT?
*Due to SS’s recent addition of Looks & Collections, ShopStyle.It is no longer operational. My guess is that SS is in a transition period and working on an app update or an entirely new app. Either way, I’m going to leave the directions up for now!
Many of you are probably familiar with Liketoknow.It, which is RewardStyle’s social media affiliate link up. ShopStyle.It is exactly the same thing for ShopStyle Collective. Very similar to creating a widget, you create a list using the ShopStyle app to link the products seen in your Instagram post. Followers who have signed up for ShopStyle will then receive an e-mail of any liked photos containing your generated Shopstyle.It link and can directly shop your posts. All clicks and sales are routed over to your main account. This is a great option for bloggers who have a large following on Instagram, and an additional way to monetize your blog!
There is literally NO information out there on how to actually create a post using the Shopstyle.It link! It took me lots of troubleshooting in order to figure out the most efficient method, but alas, I’m here to share it with you:
1 – Since Instagram’s main home is on your smartphone, you must download the ShopStyle app in order to begin the process. Note: all instructions to come are for iPhone users.
2 – When you open the app, you will have the option to personalize your ShopStyle homepage. If you plan to use this app to shop in addition to monetizing, you can certainly take a minute to complete this step. However, if you’re solely looking to use the app for monetization, navigate over to the “more” tab on the bottom of your screen:
1 – Log in using your same ShopStyle Collective account credentials.
2 – Once you do so, you should see your e-mail. You can edit all of your preferences for the app on the more tab as well.
1 – Similar to creating a widget, you will be adding the products you want featured to a list. To begin, navigate to the search tab at the bottom of your screen.
2 – Once you have found your desired item, click on it to add it to a list. You can choose to add it to an existing list, or create a new list. Most times you will be creating a new list, unless you have recently composed a similar post with the same items. (I will be adding this item to my “Spring Florals” list.)
1 – If you’re sure that you want to add your item to a list, and don’t feel the need to click on it to view individually, you can press and hold on top of the item. Three buttons will pop that allow you to (a) add to a list, (b) set an alert when the product goes on sale or (c) export the item.
2 – If adding to a list, you will see the same familiar screen as pictured in the last step. Simply find the list you want to add the product to or create a new list.
Once you have finished adding all items to your list, you will need to navigate over to your favorites tab on the bottom of your screen:
1 – SS will automatically show a view of all of your favorited items.
2 – Navigate to the lists tab at the top to see/export the list you just created.
1 – You will know that you’re in the right place when you see the specific title of your list displayed at the top of your screen.
2 – Click the export button to get your Instagram link ready.
3 – Scroll until you find the Instagram logo, and select it.
1 – You will see a pop up that asks you to copy your code. Once you click this, it will open the Instagram app.
2 – Insert your desired photo and edit your caption as you wish. Then, paste the link!
Note: You can play around with the text that is displayed here. I usually delete everything except the @shopstyle tag & hashtags, and my generated link. Make sure not to delete your link, as it won’t work if you do! It’s a good idea to leave up the directions (like photos with a shopstyle.it link and get shoppable emails) if this is a new feature that you’re adding to your posts, so that you’re followers will know how to sign up.
1 – In order for your followers to receive an email with shoppable links from SS, your followers must be signed up. This is what the e-mail will look like once they like a post.
2 – As they scroll down, they will see all of the items you linked in the post and can click on them individually to shop. Remember, each click earns you money!
1 & 2- When a product is clicked, SS will record data as it would from a desktop and lead your followers to the retailer’s site. Their shopping cart will do the rest!
That is ALL the information I could possibly give you about ShopStyle Collective!
Is it worth it?
It totally depends on your blog and your content! If you’re a style or beauty blogger who posts consistently and has readers that engage often, YES! Don’t be discouraged if it seems like forever before your balance reaches that $100.00 mark. It will take time but you will get there. If you have the extra few minutes to hop on SS Collective and create a widget, or open your SS app and post to Instagram, why not try it out? You might be surprised with how fast you start monetizing. Plus, viewers get the added perk of a visually organized graphic on your blog that allows them to make direct purchases. How many times have you seen an outfit on a blogger and thought, “where is that from? I want that!” ShopStyle Collective allows you to give your readers exactly what they’re looking for.
So, what do you think? If you haven’t yet tried out ShopStyle Collective, are you eager to try it now? And if you already use it, how has it benefitted you thus far? Looking forward to hearing your feedback!
PS – Have you signed up for Pineapple & Prosecco’s Blogging Resource Library? Upon sign-up, you’ll have access to a free library of exclusive content just for bloggers!