Fashion comes and goes, causing us to raise our eyebrows in despair when certain trends (yes shoulder pads and leggings – I mean you) resurface. Shopping is deemed a national pastime by many and we’re often judged and admired by what we wear. The British fashion industry is worth more than £21bn to the economy, so no matter what people claim, fashion does matter.

There are hundreds of fashion bloggers on the internet, ranging from whose owner is just 13 years old, to that features the fashion choices of the over 60s. Each blogger has a different style (of both fashion and writing), yet some of them receive thousands of readers each month.

Are content site users ready to transact?

Obviously blog readers may not be looking to purchase anything and are just doing research or enjoying a bit of light reading. However, if a product takes their fancy, is described favourably, or endorsed by a celebrity, then they might decide to buy it. With one click they are taken to the retailer’s site where their chosen item is often already in their basket – it’s almost too easy to hit the buy button.

The main advantage of content sites is that they don’t tend to focus on promoting discounts or being just another advertising platform; they are there to share information and opinion about a topic they find interesting.

But if these fashion bloggers want to maintain reader interest and keep them coming back for more, they need to offer something the retailer does not – reviews of fashion items, celebrity favourites or competitions. These entice readers to visit the blog regularly for advice, gossip and news. Blog content is fresh and frequently updated, with no specific sales focus, meaning that any promotions are discreet.

How can retailers utilise this trend?

The online shopping process offers countless possible customer journeys and several fashion bloggers have realised that they can use their large readership to earn money by participating in an affiliate programme.

Although the use of voucher codes and cashback sites is on the rise with shoppers seeking a bargain, high-quality content sites do provide certain advantages, as they offer consumers useful and impartial information.

Voucher codes might very well be enticing for customers looking for white goods like a dishwasher or fridge, but with fashion products these sites can be a disadvantage. Fashion consumers are often searching for something specific – if you desperately want the red DKNY handbag you saw Emma Watson carrying, will you settle for a black Burberry one just because there’s cashback available?

What do bloggers think?

Honor Clement-Hayes, Fashion Editor for HOWL, explains how their site uses affiliate marketing without intruding on the user experience:

HOWL is a place for music, fashion and culture news but doesn’t subscribe to the prescriptivist attitude most editors have. I promote a ‘do what you like’ approach to fashion; if you don’t have much money and you don’t care what Kate Middleton’s wearing, does that exclude you from ‘fashion’?

“We don’t want to bombard our readers with garish banner ads everywhere so Skimlinks allows us to cover our overheads with affiliate links – without disturbing our readers.

“The great thing about Skimlinks is we can just write our copy without having to think about the money side of things, which helps us put out good content that’s free of marketing rubbish. I like that if I want to remove an affiliate link because I actually wanted to link that word or phrase to something else, it’s no problem.”

Fashion site Style in View, showcases the latest fashions from a variety of retailers, including Oasis, ASOS and New Look, offering features such as ‘Get the Look’ as well as regular blog pieces.

Co-Founder Dexter Grima explains how important high-quality data feeds are for their website.

“There is a significant difference between almost all merchant data feeds, as they each use different names to describe the same product category or colour. It’s also complicated when there are sizes from multiple different countries instead of just the UK or when retailers’ data feeds continue to display products that have sold out. Naturally, some feeds are better than others, especially those which are updated more regularly and manage to extract the most information.”

The future is mobile

Skimlinks and Reward Style (an invite only fashion affiliate programme) have both launched apps to make affiliate marketing even easier for fashion bloggers.

The Reward Style app lets bloggers generate affiliate links which they can tweet directly from their phone and their Link Ninja tool is a bookmarklet for your browser tool bar, which makes it easy to add new retailers’ links to your site.

The Skimlinks app meanwhile makes it easy to link products, brands, colours and clothing types to relevant affiliate links in real-time.

End of the season

A well-maintained content affiliate site can really make a difference to retailers, especially if the site is offering something unusual, or includes a variety of topics that appeals to internet users without being salesy or intrusive.

Traffic from affiliate sites is often highly qualified as readers are already engaged with the content and therefore the products.

Plus, if people are interacting with your website, they are likely to recommend it to their friends and family via social media etc.