Where do content and commerce collide? “In a beautiful space,” said Amazon Fashion Director Kate Dimmock to a crowd of hundreds of women at Create & Cultivate NYC at the Knockdown Center in Brooklyn. “What’s important for you to know is that every piece of content that you create is shoppable and able to be linked to affiliate links,” she added.
And then the influencers took to Amazon Fashion’s "Content Meets Commerce" panel to share their tips on affiliate linking, how to navigate the content world, and what it means to be a successful blogger.
First they broke down some myths. The blogging world is “overcrowded.”
Or is it?
This is something we hear time and again, and what many members of our audience ask-- how do they break into an overcrowded market? How do they stand out from the pack?
Mary Orton, creator of Memorandum and co-founder and CEO of Trove, took a moment to break down the “so crowded” myth of the blogger world. “There are a lot of bloggers and content creators,” she shared, but then mentioned how many new restaurants open up in Manhattan. “Every time a restaurant opens on your block, you don’t say, oh no annoooother new restaurant. If you are being yourself. If you are presenting a unique POV, people will find it compelling. There is room for everybody. That’s important to keep in mind and don’t be discouraged by.”
Cynthia Andrew of SimplyCyn added, “Content is king. It’s really about what you bring to the conversation. “Every day I’m finding someone new and I’m following them and adding them. I wouldn’t say that it’s too saturated. But you have to understand that there is competition and it is harder to get eyes. Which is why you have to be consistent. You have to care about quality, more than quantity. There are people who post four times a day who aren’t adding anything to the conversation.”
Courtney of Color Me Courtney got her MBA young, at 21, but says she looked like “a numbers nerd on paper.” So she started her blog to break into the fashion industry in a less nerdy way. She told the audience, “Have true intent. The blogging game has changed in the last two years-- it has become a major monetization opportunity. But you shouldn’t start out to hit a bottom line. You should start to create content and to create community.”
"Have true intent. The blogging game has changed in the last two years-- but you shouldn’t start out to hit a bottom line."
Lauryn Evarts of The Skinny Confidential advised the audience to “Think of a niche. I see a lot of girls get into blogging and they’ll email me and say, ‘I wanna be a lifestyle blogger.’ But that’s not where I would start. It’s so broad. Lifestyle blogger is the long-term play. Start niche. Like farming sea-monkey niche. And expand from there. You need to think about your niche as an upside-down triangle. The tip is your niche and the wide-part that you grow to is ‘lifestyle blogger.’ I think that is the trick to being a successful blogger.”
Content meets commerce-- it’s a relationship that goes hand-in-hand, but how do you do it?
This was the main question of the day: How do platforms work together to drive sales and earnings?
Mary Orton took on the big picture. “A lot of social platforms started out as a place that allowed quality content to thrive and content creators to be discovered. We’re seeing a lot of people struggling with that because these social platforms follow a similar life cycle. So ownership of your content is critically important,” she shared. “Be smart about where your content lives and that your business is diversified. You don’t want to become too dependent on a social media platform whose algorithm can change on a dime.”
So while you can make $ on sponsored IG posts, monetizing content on your platform with affiliate links and programs like Amazon Fashion’s are vital to the longevity and success of your business.
“My Instagram can go away tomorrow,” Evarts noted. Which is why she continually works on growing her audience on channels that aren’t beholden to someone else’s platform. “I didn’t go into blogging solely to monetize,” the outspoken blogger explained. “I went in to provide value. That’s one of the most important things. You need to establish value and trust with your readership before you think about money.” Orton echoed this sentiment saying, “Monetization opportunities will come. Any time you focus on monetization opportunities only, that’s when it comes across as commercial. It’s not only important to know this in the beginning, but throughout your journey.””
It was three years into blogging for Cynthia Andrew, who is attorney by day, blogger by night, when someone mentioned to her, “You should be using affiliate linking.” Andrew said it sounded like a “headache,” but then realized how much earning potential there is. Today she tries “not to overlink. I link to things I like. But I use it as an additional tool because brands want to see the information.”
“No one knows if you’re actually able to drive sales,” said Courtney, “but with affiliate linking you can show proof of concept to brands who want to see those numbers.” The colorful blogger also shared, “Now if I wear anything over a hundred dollars, I also link to something similar that is under a hundred dollars.”
It all ties back to providing the most value and creating community among your followers. It’s not about selling out. “No one wants to be sold to,” said Lauryn. “Talking about something organically on your platform is so powerful.” Don’t forget it.
photo credit: Becki Smith/ Smith House Photography