Style Coalition bridges between fashion bloggers and brands

By Erin Griffith , written on January 16, 2013

From The News Desk

Fashion bloggers have slowly but surely taken a real chunk of ad revenue from the glossy magazines. As I wrote in 2011, young fashionistas don't want to be Anna Wintour anymore -- they are their own brand and publisher, and they'll broker sponsorship deals with apparel companies just fine on their own, thankyouverymuch.

Their blogs don't often look like much -- it's typically just a bunch of photos of outfits they've worn -- but they've got rabid, loyal followings, and they drive sales. I know of one instance where a $5,000 month-long deal with a blogger led to $200,000 in direct sales. That's the sort of thing that makes these influencers very attractive to brands, and for them to make blogging their full-time job.

Deals include anything from the blogger wearing the brand's clothing, creating custom blog posts, organizing and promoting events, or simply linking in a post. Coach had bloggers design a line of handbags for the brand, for example. As the deals become pricier and more complex, they also become trickier. Many of the biggest bloggers like BryanBoy or The Glamourai have their own agents and lawyers. Others use blog networks like Glam or BlogHer for banner ads and sponsored posts.

But for that in-between kind of deal -- where brands want to work with a blogger directly -- the industry is new and murky enough that it's inefficient. Style Coalition has been helping to manually broker these deals since 2010. Today the site soft-launched a platform to automate that process.

SCX Influencer Exchange allows brands to easily search through a database of influencers by parameters like readership, categories covered (home decor, health and beauty are included, as well as specific types of apparel) state, audience age, marital/child status. Bloggers join the network and plug in their social media accounts so that audience and engagement on each can be tracked in realtime.

Fifty bloggers have been beta testing the network now, Style Coalition founder Yuli Ziv says. The company will take a 20 percent commission and 5 percent processing fee on deals brokered, which Ziv says is "industry standard." Style Coalition is network agnostic, meaning there's no contracts requiring exclusivity as many blog networks do.

I asked Ziv about the term "influencer." It rode the hype cycle and it is now languishing in the backlash trough of death, having been tainted by the likes of Klout and its many, many peers.

"The term influencer got stretched to include people that have huge followings but aren't necessarily valuable for many brands,' she says. "I wish I was smart enough to come up with a better word for it," she added. Style Coalition's "influencers" are professionals.

[Image courtesy thefoxling]