I just got off the phone with my friend and what started as an invite to shop together turned into a conversation about how LIKEtoKNOW.it works and how bloggers make money through affiliate links. She found it very interesting and thought others would want to hear about how affiliate commission works, too! In this post, I hope to answer all of your questions about affiliate income, LIKEtoKNOW.it and how bloggers earn money through affiliate links.
What is an affiliate link?
In a nutshell, it is a tracking code in a link. With affiliate links, the person sharing is getting credit, either by referral credits to a site or by making a commission from a product or service.
You actually may be surprised how common affiliate links are or that only think bloggers use them. Did you know that most online publishers have been using affiliate links for years? Even your everyday news sites! Every time you search for an item and click through one of the images Google provides, they are affiliate links and Google is getting a cut of your purchase? The items that are shown first are also selected based on your browsing history and may potentially be sponsored or paid placement as well. They don’t openly disclose this, but if you look thoroughly for more details about Google Shopping links you can find information on it. See the little sponsored notification on the right side??
Another example of companies using affiliate links is coupon sites or cashback sites like Ebates. They tell you to click here to receive the coupon, and it redirects you to the site to shop. Did you know they were getting a cut of your sale, then sharing a small portion of that commission with you?
What is Reward Style?
In 2021, Reward Style (rS) changed its name to LTK. LTK is the middleman between bloggers and a brand using affiliate incentives in their marketing. Some retailers offer their own affiliate partnerships where people work directly with their company (ex: Amazon Affiliates). LTK offers multiple retailers on their site, allowing bloggers to sign up for one platform to share affiliate links from multiple retailers. Unlike most affiliate platforms, LTK is somewhat exclusive because you have to get accepted into the program based on your content.
You can read the rewardStyle private policy here
What is LIKEtoKNOW.it and how do I use it?
LIKEtoKNOW.it is the app Reward Style created to allow people to shop Instagram photos, but it’s turned into its own shoppable app outside of the Instagram platform. As mentioned earlier, Reward Style rebranded its name to LTK for both the app (formerly LIKEtoKNOW.it) and the technology platform (rewardStyle). Users can search and follow their favorite bloggers, search for shoppable inspiration and save items to their wishlist all within the LTK app.
How to use LTK to shop
- Download the LTK app and follow the people you want to shop. The app is like its own shoppable Instagram feed. In the app, you can click a photo and directly get all the links. If you come across a photo on Instagram you want to shop, you can take a screenshot of the post and it will show up at the top of your LTK feed. This way you don’t have to scroll through the feed searching for what you’re looking for!
- The app is the most user-friendly experience, but if you are still unsure you can Click SHOP MY INSTAGRAM at the top of my blog or under the shop menu (no app or sign-up required). This page shows the most recent photos uploaded in the LTK app. Clicking the image will pull up all the items linked in the photo. But with this, you can’t save items to a shopping wishlist or browse for inspiration, which are my two favorite features!
- Click LTK and go directly to my shoppable LTK website. Again, the desktop version doesn’t have the features that are offered inside the app.
- You can now search within the mobile LTK app for inspiration or within your favorite creators’ feeds. Looking for a rug you see in their living room? Just search rug and it should pull up all the posts with rugs linked!
You can find me in the app by searching: strawberrychicxo (it’s usually the same as the users Instagram handle)
Learn how to use LTK as an influencer here.
How do I make sure a blogger gets credit for my purchase?
To put it simply, the blogger should get credit if you click on a link and purchase from that retailer on the same device. Affiliate links can be embedded in a blog post, like this, shared in a shopping widget, as seen here, shared in a swipe up or link sticker on Instagram stories or posted in the LTK app.
So if you’re shopping and want to give a blogger credit for the purchase, you can click on any link to that retailer to give them credit and support them.
Do I have to buy the exact item?
A lot of my friends thought they had to buy the exact item from affiliate links, but that isn’t the case! Say you click on my link and you see the top is sold out in your size. While you’re there, you start browsing the new arrivals and you see another top you like. If you buy that top or anything else after that click, the blogger will still earn a commission for that sale. So no, it doesn’t have to be the same item!
Why do bloggers use LTK and not just tell me where things are from?
I can’t speak for all bloggers out there, but obviously, affiliate sales help support their time making free content. Many bloggers prefer to use the LTK app because it gives the user a direct way to find what they’re looking for, instead of answering multiple DM’s or comments about where something is from. Plus, it allows the entire photo to be linked in one swipe up, versus having to share multiple stories like – swipe up here for shoes, swipe up here for the top, etc.
Using affiliate links also allows the blogger to see what their audience is interested in and what products to promote more frequently, so they can continue creating content that resonates with their audience. Most bloggers, myself included, use affiliate income as a revenue stream for their business.
Does it cost me to shop through a blogger’s link?
You’ll pay the same price whether you shop through an affiliate link or not. You can also use whatever coupons you have for your purchase, but using sites like Ebates or clicking on other affiliate links (knowingly or unknowingly) will cancel out the commission of the sale.
How much do bloggers make with each sale?
I can’t disclose exact amounts due to rS terms of service, but commission can range anywhere from 0%-50%, with the majority of big-name retailers being under 10%. Commission can also vary a lot based on the category of the items at each retailer. I included 0% in the range because certain items at retailers can be non-commissionable. For example, women’s clothing can be one percentage, and furniture can be another, and tech could be 0%. These percentages can change often, too (like conveniently right before the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and Black Friday). Most bloggers using LTK affiliate links don’t earn a full-time salary from affiliate commission alone, but it’s a piece of their income streams.
Can the blogger see who is supporting them and who purchases through their links?
No, on the analytics side of things, the only thing the blogger can see is what affiliate product link was clicked on, how many items were purchased, and the commission. So if you click on a link to a top but end up buying shoes, it shows up as a sale for the top, even though that wasn’t the purchased item. Bloggers can tell who is supporting their content via comments and engagement on their content, though! They know who their close supporters are 🙂
If I follow a lot of bloggers, who gets the commission for the sale?
If you follow multiple bloggers and click on a lot of different links to the same retailer, the last link you click will override the previous links to the same store. The blogger or company that gets credit for the entire sale is the one whose link was clicked last.
For example, if you’re watching one of my try-on hauls and you add five items to your cart. Then say you watch another try-on haul and click on someone else’s link to the same retailer but the item is sold out. If you check out, the second blogger would get the commission from the sale, even though you didn’t want the item they shared.
What happens if I return something?
The commission is subtracted from the blogger for any returns. And sometimes, unfortunately, the entire sale will be deducted even though you only returned one thing. That isn’t always the case, but I’ve heard of it happening. And honestly, there’s no way to track this anyway.
This is why retailers have a set time period before they pay out commissions, and it can be anywhere from 2-6 months after the initial sale. So if you purchased something over the holidays through one of my links, I likely won’t be paid the commission until spring or summer the next year. I don’t mind this though, because it gives some security to my future income.
Can I click a link on my phone and then checkout on desktop (or vice cersa)?
No, the affiliate links aren’t transferable between your devices. If you swipe up on your phone and add it to your cart, but end up checking out on your computer, the creator won’t make a commission from the sale unless you click the link again on your computer. And It can be any link to that retailer!
Do I have to buy right after clicking to give the blogger credit for the sale?
Yes and no. The affiliate links don’t work the same on your phone as they do on a desktop.
If you’re shopping on your phone on Instagram and swipe up directly on a link, Instagram typically opens the page inside the Instagram app. You have to check out while in this original swipe up in order for a commission to count. You can still browse the website if you want more items, but if you click out of the Instagram browser you clicked on, the affiliate link won’t store on your phone. You have to swipe up again for the blogger to make the commission. That’s another reason why bloggers link to the LTK app instead of each item directly, to try and avoid links opening in the Instagram browser.
- If you swipe up and your phone automatically opens an app on your phone (if you have the Amazon, Target, and Nordstrom apps on your phone for example), the blogger should still get credit for the sale. That wasn’t always the case, though.
If you’re shopping on a computer, you don’t have to buy immediately for the blogger to get the commission. Clicking the link will create a cookie on your computer that remains active for a certain time frame set by the retailer. Some retailers have a cookie window of 24 hours, while others can last up to 30 days, so that blogger still has the opportunity to receive a commission from your purchase.
Do bloggers get everything for free?
No, I think this is a funny rumor to be honest. Yes, creators do get free items in PR. If they were gifted something or paid to talk about it they legally should disclose that to you. If a blogger is working with a brand, it depends. Some brands will have the creator choose the items they want to shoot for the collaboration and gift it to them. Other brands factor this into the rate the creator is being paid and the creator purchases the items they plan to share.
What is #ad? Why would bloggers want to say it’s an ad?
FTC guidelines require all influencers to show if they were gifted an item for free or if they’re being paid to talk about it. Disclosure should be very clear and not hidden towards the end of a post or in the middle of busy hashtags. Some bloggers are really good at disclosing this, but a lot of them still need to work on it. There are some celebrities and larger bloggers who have had to pay millions to the FTC for not disclosing properly, but overall this is not the easiest to regulate on the internet, so it’s up to the creator/celebrity/publisher to be honest and transparent with their audience.
You have the right as a viewer to know if the blogger is being paid to share it with you. Sure, most bloggers, especially those who either just do it for fun or do it full-time, are very selective when it comes to sponsorships. If the blogger is embarrassed to say it’s an ad that’s probably a good indication they shouldn’t have taken on the partnership.
Sometimes, you may also hear a blogger say #notsponsored, but that’s not how it’s supposed to work. If a blogger does a good job disclosing paid partnerships, they shouldn’t have to disclose every time something isn’t. You definitely want to trust the influencers you follow, and proper disclosure is a big part of that!
Do bloggers get paid for clicks?
No, a commission is earned from a purchase and based on the number of clicks. But clicks do help from an analytics standpoint because it lets the blogger know what their viewers are interested in.
Are all links affiliate links?
Not all links are, at least on my site or social media accounts. Some products I use aren’t on the LTK platform, but I still share them here if I like them. You can tell if you clicked an affiliate link if you look at the URL bar when you click a link. If it goes directly to a retailer, it wasn’t an affiliate link. If you see the link go through a link before going to the website, it’s an affiliate link (it will look something like this in the URL – RSTYLE.ME or BIT.LY). If you click images in widgets like the one below, the links are affiliate links.