2016 Year in Review + the difference between ShopStyle and rewardStyle

Lulu's Navy Sequin Dress

January - Well kind of January! Nick performed the wedding ceremony for 2 of our friends on NYE 2015, which was where we were when the clock struck midnight and we entered into 2016 with a bang!

Navy Gingham Scarf | Burgundy Dress | Cream Sweater

February - We went to Seattle to take our engagement photos! I also got to meet Nick's extended family for the first time! We are hoping to go back sometime in 2017. You can see all of my engagement photos in part 1, part 2, and part 3!

Show me your Mumu Wanderlust Tee (s/o, similar here) | One Teaspoon Shorts | Kendra Scott Earrings | Felt Hat

March - Went to Fredericksburg with my friends - My friend Heather got married in April and we all went to Texas wine country to celebrate! You can see our trip here.

Cream Waist Coat (s/o, similar option) | Jeans | Ankle Strap Heels

April - After applying several times, I finally got accepted to RewardStyle! More on this later, so if you want to know more, scroll down :) Previously I used ShopStyle. I wrote a blog post on it here.

Free People Dress

May - My sister from graduated from Texas A&M! She is now in grad school at TWU for counseling. To see a travel guide to College Station, click here!

JETS bikini top and bottom | Out of Office Hat

June - Nick and I went to Cayman Brac! It was amazing and I highly recommend it over the other Cayman Islands. You can see my travel guide for the island here!

Olive Tunic | One Teaspoon Shorts | Seychelles Booties

July - I moved into my first 2 bedroom apartment! We also went to San Francisco to hang out with Nick's family. We also got to go to Napa, while we were there. See my San Francisco in a Weekend Guide here and my Napa guide here! Last but not least, I had my lingerie shower - see the cutest theme here!

White Romper

August - I got a kitten and had my 25th birthday! This month was especially good, because I also had my bachelorette party in Austin. See my birthday post and my Austin Bachelorette Party Guide here!

BB Dakota Dress | BaubleBar Earrings | Nude Ankle Strap Heels

September - This was the month before the wedding, so not much happened! I had my bridal shower (see my shower here) I took my bridal portraits (see part 1 and part 2 of my photos). We also went to San Antonio which was a fun getaway!  See my travel guide here.

Blue Willow by Anne Barge Dress | Menguin Tuxedo

October - Wedding month!! We got married - see our wedding video here!

American Eagle bikini top and bottom | Sequin hat

November - Honeymoon bound! We went to Saint Lucia - here is my travel guide! Nick also officially moved in and we got to go to Northern California to see Nick's family for Thanksgiving! Blog posts to come for that, soon!

Sweater  | Faux Fur Snood | Plaid Shirt

December - Nick and I celebrated our first married Christmas, but also our first Christmas ever!! Also, it was a sweet ending to the Cowboy's in-season games! We also get to attend a party with our besties, which was the perfect ending to a pretty great year!

Obviously this was a highlight reel. I know that some no so great things happened this year,  but life is what you make it, so at least try to end on a positive note! This has been my best year yet blogging because of readers like you, an increase in sponsorships, and getting accepted by rewardStyle. If you don't know what rewardStyle is, it's a company that works with brands to get bloggers and influencers commission for sales. Their most popular feature is Like to Know it, which is a service where the influencer can link items on Instagram and receive a 'shoppable' email. In a sense, it allows people to work for themselves and create their own small business based on personal style and sales! The only catch is that you have to be accepted into their program. It took me 4 times to get chosen!  It's actually really funny, because the day I posted about shopstyle and how to make money with it, I actually was accepted. How ironic! This was definitely in the top 3 moments for my blog this year!

Okay so, how are they different and which is right for you? Let's dig in!

Where did they come from? ShopStyle was created by PopSugar - a well known brand and lifestyle website, which delivers news, trends, and tips. rewardStyle was created by Amber Venz Box and her husband, from the view of a personal stylist! Here in Dallas, no less! RewardStyle has gained high praise and fast fame, but ShopStyle has PopSugar backing it, which is kind of a big deal!

How does it work? Both ShopStyle and rewardStyle grant commission. ShopStyle is a pay per click commission - if someone clicks on your link, you get paid! RewardStyle is a pay per purchase commission - if someone clicks on your link and doesn't buy it, you will not receive credit. Both services have good benefits. The downside of ShopStyle is that if you link a designer handbag and someone buys it, your commission will not increase. On the flip side for RewardStyle, if you get a bagillion clicks and drive traffic to a website,  you will not get commission unless someone purchases it. HOWEVER, let's say someone clicks through your Louis Vuitton Neverfull bag and doesn't buy it, but does buy a key chain in the same website visit. You'll get commission on that piece. With ShopStyle, your commission starts and stops at the click through. With RewardStyle, you commission is on any purchase made in the same website visit. (meaning no other clicks were made - if they click on someone else's affiliate link to the same website, their cookies will override yours and they will get the sale).

How do I become a part of one? With ShopStyle you simply sign up. Anyone can do it! With rewardStyle, they base acceptance on quality of content, frequency of posting, and stats. You have to be invited to join the program once you apply, otherwise you are unable to use the service. The only notable change I noticed when I got accepted, was that I had increased my posting to 4 times a week, and in turn my stats went up.

How do I link items? SS and RS both have desktop sites and apps. Let me start with SS. I believe their app and interface is easier to use and prettier. They have only had one hiccup (I have noticed) and that was when Instagram began changes with other apps that use it.  Their site is user friendly, as is their app. RS has made great strides, but I don't think their website and app are as easy to use. Their app search feature used to not work at all. It has gotten a lot better, but I think SS is still better in the search factor. If you don't link your outfit beforehand, good luck finding the items. There are also a lot of bugs in RS's app and site, which have gotten a lot better, but still evident that it could be better. Where RS shines is their Link Ninja feature on desktop. It is FAR SUPERIOR to SS's version and is my favorite feature!! I can go to any supported website and 'ninja' the sweater I just bought and get the link with ease! I prefer this over the search feature anyway. That's probably why it is patent pending;)

Can I use them both on Instagram? Well...yes and no. You can use them both on Instagram, but ShopStyle doesn't really work. They advertise that they send emails, but I was never able to get them to work and I never made commission on my Instagram. SS succeeds at desktop, but the world is going more and more mobile, which is why RS is the best for Instagram. They are like the "Kleenex" "(meaning brand name) for Instagram marketing. People don't call it facial tissue...they call it Kleenex. Catch my drift? Everything else is trying to be just like it. I don't think any other feature on Instagram will be as powerful, because it is hard enough to get people to sign up for like to know it and register, why would they do something else?! I think SS knows this, as they have tried to launch other things, like shopping snap chat, and direct link pages, buuuuut like Regina George says "Stop trying to make fetch happen!" RewardStyle's LTKI feature is also patent pending. In addition to that, rS has employed fixes to driving sales from Instagram, even when followers aren't signed up for LTKI, via blogs. I have not implemented this yet, but will on my new website!

What is my commission? In regard to SS, it lists the commission amount under each item in their website, which is usually cents on the dollar. In RS, every store has a different commission structure, but as you would guess, you make more on an RS sale, because you get a commission of the price. Both sites are really good about flagging high commission items.

How often do I get paid? For SS, you get paid once you hit at least $100, through PayPal, once a month. For RS, you get paid once you hit at least $100, through PayPal, twice a month. The main difference is that since RS is based on pay per purchase, you have to let the return window close, before receiving payment. So, I'm just now receiving some commission, for as long as 3 months ago! SS doesn't have a waiting period, because you automatically receive commission, as returns don't affect the click; however, it does take longer to hit the $100 mark.

Do they have perks? My favorite thing that SS did was give us cool opportunities. They would do things like "double your commission if you post X amount of times". I liked that, but I love that RS gives us helpful tips and tools, like meetings, emails, webinars, and conferences. They also have good ties with brands and such, which can land you some cool gigs. It was nice to double commission, but I'd much rather learn things to make my blog the best it could be, which would also increase my earnings naturally!

Do I have help with the service? Again, yes, and no. I was with ShopStyle for a little over a year. They had a help desk email, but they were just a random person, not someone assigned to you. Whereas with RS, I have a rewardStyle rep that is specifically assigned to my account! The yes and no part stems from the fact that ShopStyle has tried to poach people from rewardStyle, promising more commission (that they guarantee out of their pocketbooks) and a personal rep. If you're average like me, sorry you don't get a rep. Personally, I prefer a rep that knows my account, that I can go to with anything. 

I was with ShopStyle from February 2015 - April 2016. I was accepted into rewardStyle mid April 2016 and have been with them since. In the beginning of my time with RS, I was just figuring out what was best for me to use it with and didn't put it on my blog until July 2016. (I thought ShopStyle would be better for my blog). For these reasons, I didn't hit a pay mark / didn't have any return windows close until September. I got my first payment for ShopStyle in June 2015 (4 months after I began with SS) and got my first payment for RewardStyle in September 2016 (5 months after I began with RS). It may have taken me longer to get my first RS payment, but I have been paid every month since, whereas my SS payments were always 2-4 months apart. Plus, in the 4 months I have been receiving RS payments, I have made DOUBLE what I made with SS the entire time I was with them!! (and that doesn't include the amount I have made and haven't received yet due to return windows!)

So what is right for you? Only you can decide that! Honestly, both are good companies. They have their pros and cons, but being able to monetize your blog at all, is a gift! I would say if you're just starting out and/or your following is small, go with ShopStyle. You can start making money immediately and apply for rewardStyle when your stats go up. If you're anything else, I would say apply for RS and if you can't get in, join ShopStyle and keep applying until you get in! Your passion deserves to be rewarded. I do know some people who do their blog all ShopStyle and their Instagram rewardStyle. I thought that was best for me, but it ended up not holding true. Just know your audience and do what's right for you. All in all, for me personally, rewardStyle is all it's cracked up to be and was worth my time to get accepted. If you are a follower reading this, just remember that bloggers are small businesses, along with your favorite boutique! Think of us as a boutique and you might start to understand the work behind the computer.

If you made it this far, thank you for reading! I can't wait to launch some exciting things for Southern Elle Style in 2017 and most of all, thank YOU for being a part of it!

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