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Helping social influencers make money

In the last five years, rewardStyle has fueled the arrival of a new influence on the retail industry: professional content creators. By providing the technical tools and education necessary to empower a global army of 9,000 premium content creators, it is now making a tangible impact on global e-commerce sales. In 2015, their publishers drove over $475 million in retail sales. It has redirected the style publishing industry and contributed to the professionalization and financial independence of thousands of publishers worldwide, enabling them to earn meaningful revenue on their digital content, ultimately empowering them to create and grow small businesses into international brands. Today, it is a global business. Nearly 200 team members work from offices in Dallas, San Francisco, New York, Shanghai and London.

Amber Venz Box just wanted to make more money as a fashion blogger when she and her husband started RewardStyle in 2011.

The Dallas-based company quickly grew to be the premier platform for retailers to reach social media influencers and their audiences, and for those influencers to increase their earnings through affiliate links. ShopBop, Neiman Marcus, and Net-a-Porter were among the first retailers to work with RewardStyle. By 2016, more than 4,000 stores were working with the company to reach 11,000 social influencers posting original content about 30,000 pieces each day.

RewardStyle’s most well known product is, an online content management system that allows influencers on Instagram to determine what products sell best with their followers, and track those sales and the resulting commissions. RewardStyle vets influencers before releasing its suite of tools to them—more than 100,000 have applied to work with the company, according to Venz Box. The company negotiates commissions on their behalf and provides tools to help them track the impact of their posts. In that way, she’s an advocate for the nascent influencer industry.

RewardStyle’s footprint is growing beyond the influencer community. When Google launched its Shop the Look functionality in September 2016, it used to surface the content and affiliate links. In 2016, RewardStyle drove more than $700 million in sales. Up next for the company: refining its digital offerings to help retailers more accurately target their ideal customers, and launching a style-centric search engine.

TechCrunch takes up the story in this extract from 2016:

These days, you can’t swing a bag of cats around without hitting some sort of social influencer. But how do these people make money from their content?

RewardStyle is a Dallas-based startup, provides a platform for influencers and bloggers to get paid for all the sales they inspire out of consumers. Though the company has been operating under the radar, it has grown to generate more than $1 billion in sales for its 4,000 retailers and 575,000 brands worldwide since launching in 2011.

It all started when founder Amber Venz Box, personal shopper and jewelry maker, was running her own style blog. She started seeing loads of sales going through from her content but wasn’t getting any payout from the retailers. Effectively, she had cut herself out of her own business.

She decided to build something, with the help of her boyfriend (now husband) Baxter Box, that eventually turned into RewardStyle.

Here’s how it works:

Bloggers can create clickable links from their content (pictures, text, etc.) that lead directly to retailers and brands. When a reader clicks through and makes a purchase, both the blogger and the retailer can track that purchase and send a commission to the blogger for the lead.

For a long while, this system worked out just fine, and RewardStyle continued to grow in both influencers and retailers. Then Instagram came along.

As Instagram picked up steam as a major platform for influencers, RewardStyle was left with the challenge of connecting sales from influencers to retailers without the ability to track links — as you know, Instagram doesn’t allow links on pictures.

To overcome this obstacle, RewardStyle launched LikeToKnowIt, a platform built specifically for Instagram. Bloggers signed on to the LikeToKnowIt platform have a specific link for their profile (the only link allowed on Instagram) that takes their followers to a unique web page.

This page lists each item that appears in every image of the influencer’s Instagram feed, complete with shoppable, trackable links so that the influencer gets paid out.

LikeToKnowIt also lets users sign up for a newsletter, which pushes every photo they like on Instagram directly to their inbox.

In the past two years since launch, LikeToKnowIt has generated more than $100 million in revenue, with 1.5 million users subscribed to the system and more than 1,000 LTKI posts created every day.

With the fashion space relatively conquered, RewardStyle has now launched other verticals, partnering with home decor influencers and retailers like West Elm.

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