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Startup Fancy on How They're Getting Bloggers Paid

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Image via The Coveteur
Image via The Coveteur

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Blogging isn't exactly a cash cow, but you wouldn't know it from reports like this one from the Sartorialist or this one from Song of Style's Aimee Song. While top bloggers pull in thousands of dollars from appearances, ad campaigns and brand collabs, the rest of the heap is struggling to make it with other revenue sources like affiliate links. For those not in the business, an affiliate link is a URL that contains a code that lets a retailer know which blog is driving traffic to its site. Typically, the blog is then paid by click and/or gets a commission on sales.

There's a whole host of options out there in the affiliate link world, but upstart Fancy thinks it can unseat them with its easy-to-use Fancy Anwhere program.

Image via The Coveteur

Fancy launched in 2011 as a socially-curated content discovery site, aggregating the most compelling and popular finds uploaded by its users. "If you need to buy a commoditized item—toilet paper, dish soap—you'd go to CVS or Amazon.com," says Rory Golod, Fancy's VP of biz dev. "But if you want to find something really unique or special, you'd walk down Madison Avenue. We are the digital equivalent of that." In short, Fancy's after brands that are chic-er, higher-end and cooler than its competitors.

A year or so into Fancy's existence, Golod and team realized that the site was turning into a resource for bloggers. "Images are the driving force of Fancy. Everything on the site is driven by beautiful images—bloggers feel the same way," he said. "We noticed that a lot of them were sharing our content anyway so we developed Fancy Anywhere to provide their users with purchasing."

Fancy Anywhere officially launched about a month ago with partners such as The Coveteur, which powers its on-site shopping with Fancy Anywhere's tech. Golod says that other clients include Snob Essentials (formerly Bag Snob), style blogger We Wore What and Olivia Palermo's blog, though a quick search of their sites reveals that they don't use it exclusively. "Because of our relationship with merchants, we're able to offer the best rev share of all affiliates," says Golod. "We're able to be incredibly competitive...By the fall, we foresee 50 to 75 of the bigger fashion blogs using [Fancy Anywhere]."

Image via We Wore What

Janet Bannister, CEO of The Coveteur, said that Fancy's audience and tech prowess make it a perfect match for the blog's readership. "Our readers are very passionate and knowledgable about fashion. They love to shop online," she said. "Fancy provides the tech and the backend and has 8 million subscribers."

Golod cites ease of use and reader retention as two of Fancy Anywhere's key selling points. Instead of traditional affiliate links, which drive readers from a blog off to another point of sale (like a department store's site), his service allows readers to shop while remaining on the site they were reading. In other words, it's a universal shopping cart for your blog.

Potential drawbacks include limitations on what you can find and sell through Fancy Anywhere, though Golod assures that the product offering is vast: "we work with over 6,000 brands and retail partners across the world. Every day we are signing new and up-and-coming brands." There's also the matter of transacting: as a consumer, you are purchasing those boots from Fancy, not from Rag & Bone. If there's an issue with your order, Fancy does have a customer service team in place. Still, the fact that shoppers are yet another step removed from retailers could prove disconcerting.

If you're a discount hunter, buying through affiliates might not be for you either as this is not the place for comparison shopping. "We allow our merchant partners to set the prices for their items," says Golod. "We're not a discount site but we make sure that every item is priced competitively."

What consumers get out of the equation is ease of usage (click to see an item and then click to buy it) and the "discovery" factor of shopping what their favorite bloggers and tastemakers are highlighting. So, would you shop this way or do you enjoy hunting around online before making a purchase? And if you're a blogger, would you utilize a service such as this?
· The Coveteur x Fancy [The Coveteur]
· Fancy Anywhere [Fancy]
· Holy Heck: The Sartorialist Blog Rakes in a 'Seven Figure' Sum [Racked]