luvocracy : recommended with taste


I've been sitting here the past hour trying to figure out what Luvocracy is after receiving an email from them saying that "one of their members wanted to have the Riley tote in dots" and "would I have any available or would I know a vendor who would have one". After sifting through their terms and conditions, faqs, and website, this is what I found.  They just launched recently so you have to request an invite, so I haven't been able to view all the features of the site.

This is what I found out:

 -Luvocracy is like pinterest, except you can buy the things through the website directly. Essentially, it's a personal shopping service. You have your own page on their site, have boards, and recommend things for people to buy. You can also follow people, etc.

 -Right now it is unclear to me how much Luvocracy charges for their services by ordering through their site, but their faq implies there is a fee/shipping charge/ tax which is undisclosed prior to entering your CC information, or maybe you see it if you have an account.

 -When you have your own board on the site, you make a 2% commission if someone buys something as a result of your pin. Even if it's a repin I think you still get a commission. If you are a super-star pinner and a big name blogger you can make as much as 10%. These commissions can either be used as a shopping discount on the site, or your can get a check once a month.

 -Like pinterest, svpply, etc. - Luvocracy takes a bookmarklet and harvests information from the actual shop's website. (Though the buyer is never informed what that shop is). This includes the description, cost, etc. To my knowledge, it doesn't harvest information about items being sold out, from another season, or stock inventory.

 Luvocracy can: 

-Sell your work.
-Charge a fee which they make money from. **Correction on this point, please see below**
-Use your images, text, etc and not link back to your website (though they tell the brand).
-Provide a commission to the blogger who pinned your item.
-Sell an item that doesn't exist anymore.
-But, you, the vendor, get a sale, so hey, it's okay, right?

I'm SO grateful every time someone blogs/pins/posts/talks/etc about anything I make, I really couldn't do it without you guys. I am thankful for that everyday because I've been lucky to make this my living. But, the whole thing about a blogger making money off of my work really turns me off. I think eCommerce has gone too far.  I'm aware that things like making blog posts and finding new exciting things to post isn't always a straightforward task, and it does take time (I've been working on some holiday gift guides, and all the photoshopping takes a while!)  But I wouldn't expect to make a profit off that.  I know this isn't the first website like this, but this is the first one I've seen that works this way with the commissions that go to a pinner.  Of course there's also the question of how can someone else be purchasing my products through a site that isn't mine, that's definitely baffling to say the least.  Maybe I'm just a big stick in the mud and not savvy to all these new platforms. What do you guys think?


 I wanted to add an additional note to this post because I felt there were a few questions posed that needed clarification. I had someone at Luvocracy reach out to me since I posted this and talked with them about some of these concerns. We had a really good conversation and there are two things I want to mention:

 **Luvocracy does not charge a fee. They only charge for shipping and any applicable taxes. They understand that this is a bit confusing from their site and will be working on the copy in the next few weeks. They don't have any plans to charge fees in the future either. They have a lot of financial backing and right now all the commissions are being paid from that.

 Luvocracy will not make/manufacture items that are not available for purchase. They will try to search for different vendors who may carry it, but if they can't get it, they will not make it themselves.

I hope this helps clears up these two points!


Anonymous said...

julia, I see what you mean. it seems a bit odd to make money simply for having 'good taste' & posting online. but, that's pretty much how popular blogs work, up to a point. I think this is simply a straightforward instance of much of what goes on circuitously all the time online. separate of justification or explanation, I find it kind of nauseating myself.

joyce said...

I don't think you're a stick in the mud at all -- the fact that you don't have 100% control over sales from your own store doesn't seem right at all.

jensen said...

I just signed up for this a few days ago, and it seems strange to me. I don't feel like other people should be able to make commission off of referring your products unless you set up a deal with them directly. I mean, if that's how you wanted your business to work then you would set it up that way.

I was also reading something about if they sell something that is out of stock and they can't find it anywhere else online that they will make it themselves for the customer and I think that's going too far as well.

anja said...

Seems like a complicated system that has some flaws. Selling something that's sold out is extra weird! Whenever new sites that are like pinterest/svpply/etc. pop up, I just feel so overwhelmed. I haven't joined a new site in forever, because why bother spending the time to figure out one site if another one is going to pop up a month later that's basically the same? I have my limits, and also who has time for all of this?

Every single money aspect for this site seems super confusing. Are they paying the commission or does it come out of your money? Weird. I'm not really against bloggers making commissions, but overall this whole thing seems like a mess. We have our shops already. We have other retails that carry our products. People blog/pin/tweet/etc links to the products in all sorts of places. It seems like this is more than enough!

Anonymous said...

I've also been secretly wondering about the Riley tote in dots... I missed them before they sold out. Please bring them back!

- Len

julia said...

caitlin - Yes, it does seem like a continuous trend, just a bigger version of what's already going on. It makes me nauseous too.

joyce - yeah, that really bothers me. it doesn't even make sense, i'm still kind of puzzled how you can do it and somehow it's legal?

jensen - yes, exactly! it would be one thing if you were asked about being on there or if you wanted to take part in some kind of drop/ship thing, but it seems like you're just automatically part of it, along with the whole internet. i'll be curios to check it out myself when more invites come out. that's so crazy about them trying to get it made, i really hope that that's not true!!

anja- yes, i get so overwhelmed too! it's hard to know which ones are going to be the new "it" ones and which ones will just fall by the wayside. and too true, how many of these sites do i actually have time to manage in a day?

i'm also really confused about how the the money works out. i'm assuming one of their employees places an order through you then and checks out like normal on your shop - but that they tack on some kind of fee, etc. which is weird because why would any customer want to pay more than they have too?

len - So glad you like them! I'm trying my hardest to track down more fabric but I'm afraid I've been unlucky in my hunt :p

vanessa said...

This is interesting... It sounds like it could be a much better platform if there was more transparency. As the seller of the item it would only seem fair that they notify you when your product is pinned or shared, inform you about the price it's sold at, and let you opt in or out. Not being transparent about this makes it seem like they are hiding something. Yes, a sale is always great, but control over your brand and relationships with your customer is also important to many small businesses. Do your customers on this site even know what they are buying? Where it's coming from? Do they care? And do you?

Mallory said...

(Sorry this is so long, I didn't intend for it to be when I started!)

I don't have any advertising on my blog anymore (at the moment I'm just too lazy to deal with it), though I used to - so I guess I'm someone who - as metrode put it - makes (or made) "money simply for having 'good taste' & posting online". I don't think there's anything wrong with that to an extent. I do spend HOURS putting together posts compiling illustrations and items and the such and if my blog is popular enough that someone would want to pay to advertise on it, I don't think that's strange or that I'd be unjustified in earning some money for my work... because it IS work - but that being said, I rolled my eyes at the creation of this new site... and after reading your post about it I'm rolling my eyes AND shaking my head. I've seen bloggers doing posts "You should use Luvocracy" and it's SO blatant that they only really want you to use the site to make money for themselves! Come on! Pinterest is an overwhelmingly huge success, and Luvocracy just seems like they want to cash in on that. Reading everything you said, I just don't see the benefit in joining the site for anyone but the bloggers pinning (or whatever) the items. If you're someone looking to buy something, there are already so many other outlets to find goods - blogs, pinterest, etc. - why do you need something else?

Honestly - who thought of this?!? Is it really THAT hard to just click a link on pinterest or a blog and buy the item? I normally don't join in with the people bemoaning how lazy everyone is nowadays, but in this case I agree.

And while pinterest has issues with attribution and images being pinned without any mention or an accurate link back to the actual source, this is shady in a whole different way. I don't have a shop filled with handmade goods of my own right now, but I help out my mother with her Etsy shop and I'm imagining if she got something pinned and sold off Luvocracy - yes it would be an order, but I just don't think that it's right that some blogger would make money off of that too. And I say this as a blogger! It's so different than signing up to be an affiliate for a big company or something. I've done that - signed up to be an affiliate and make a commission from companies big enough to do so (on my blog and on pinterest). But in that case both the vendor and the blogger are choosing that - luvocracy sort of gives you affiliates you don't chose to have. Only not, because you're not paying them yourself. But..... this is so long, but can be summarized by just saying - I don't like the site & I agree with all the thoughts you expressed in your post.

(and if jensen is right about the fact that they'll make something if it's sold out - I don't even know where to BEGIN on that)

erica-knits said...

This is eye-opening! I had no idea they filtered all the purchases, that's incredibly inconvenient for the purchaser. Seems to benefit only the pinner, not the seller or the buyer. I look forward to learning more.

Belinda said...

I can't see any benefit to a seller, buyer or 'amateur curator' (ie. one who is not a professional blogger who earns a living from curating/styling products online) for using this site. Honestly, it is not any less convenient to click one more time and go to the seller's website.

I don't see any issue with bloggers making money from blogging about other people's products - its no different to a printed magazine making money from advertisers for having interesting content in their publications. But only if it's transparent - which many are not. I suppose many writers for magazines also get kick backs and freebies that we never hear about, too.

Personally, I prefer not to read the social media of people who receive money for posting - i want to read the genuine opinion of someone whose style I admire and I don't think that anyone who is being paid to post something is immune to being swayed by the lure of $$ for something the don't truly love.

julia said...

Vanessa- Yes, I'm hoping as more invites are released there will be more transparency. I bet that if your product is sold through them it would be kind of a drop/ship deal, I think you send the products to them and then they package your package, or something like that. Right now it looks like they say the name of the company it's from, but not the retail store.

Mallory & Belinda - You both addressed this so I hope you don't mind me combining my response, actually, I wish I had mentioned this in my post, but I always seem to forget something. I'm definitely A-okay with bloggers having sponsors, advertising, etc. I think it's a normal way for a blog to grow and makes sense if it's part of running your business/hobby/what-have-you because it does take a lot of time to maintain a readership.

Mallory- Yes! I think the main thing that struck a cord with me was going around and seeing the bajillion posts released within a small time frame saying how great it was and why you should use it, I was like huh?! I also find it's pretty easy to locate an item I'm interested in via pinterest, and I kind of enjoy the hunt sometimes :p Yes, exactly, I think it's totally fine to be an affiliate and make commissions, all parties are in the know in that situation. Like you said, this seems to be something where you aren't really in the know, which I think is the part that bothered me.

Erica- Me too! Haha, I probably spent waaaay too much time reading their terms of service....very typical me :p

Belinda - Yes, I agree. Some of my favorite blogs are ones that I can tell the person just has a really great sense of style and it just feels very "them" for lack of a better way to say it. I really trust those people and have found pretty cool stuff that way.

Debbie Carlos said...

I've actually recently had issues with this kind of thing too. Not with luvocracy but with and specifically a user/merchant on the site I found it so confusing because it doesn't seem like they actually made any money off of it and every order I got was always to the same address in Ohio but to different people, and then to the same name at a NY address. My item on their site didn't mention me as the maker at all either.

I mean I got my money which, I guess, is fine. But the whole thing seems so shady. I emailed the user with a cease and desist but I still worry that something bad might happen in the future.

eri said...

i had not yet heard of this site and i have to say i agree with you that it sounds weird. i find myself more and more being a 'stick in the mud' as you say when it comes to new online platforms etc.

i also don't really see how this makes things any easier for the buyer. as others have mentioned, what's so hard about following a link on pinterest (or elsewhere) to the shop?

this leads me again to contemplate the issues that i have with pinterest. i do use it, and enjoy it. but i never post things that i don't have the actual source for and i rarely re-pin things. only doing so if the original pinner links to the source. it makes me crazy when people post things from tumblr with no credits. (but i am also a librarian and have strong feelings about proper citations! haha)

point being, this Luvocracy site seems like just another way to further distance people from the source/maker of the products they are buying. when really we should all be working to do just the opposite. and i see you and your work as doing that! i (and i'm sure others) love knowing that the little leather pouch i use everyday was made by a person who cares about what they do and puts so much care into their craft.

this is already long so i won't go into the whole idea of people making a commission off of recommending your products... but, suffice to say i do not read blogs that are thinly veiled advertisements.

Denise said...

I just came across your blog, and I love the beautiful work you do. I found the policies on Luvocracy disturbing on so many levels. After reading this, I went and read their terms..I also have a blog, where I promote my work. After I read the terms, I went and checked, as I am pretty sure all the pictures that somebody has on their personal blog, and they took, are protected by that. So I am not sure what shady business Luvocracy is conducting, but using somebodies pictures and not linking back to their website, is totally illegal. It is not the same thing as going to a shop and buying a Prada bag for example. It is different than Pinterest, where I do found a lot of inspiration and product that I ended up buying, that I would probably not found otherwise. But this site, is not right. I see lawsuits coming their way. When it comes to unique handmade items, things are different. There are pattents, and copyright laws that need to be followed. When they are selling items that are sold out, they commit of making it for you?.that is illegal..does the customer even know that he is not buying an original work? A lot of artist have their work in limited editions, and that is for a reason. What happen if somebody buys a painting? Are they going to go around and make a fraudulent copy? Sorry for my long disertation, I am so angry about all of this..


Kelly said...

While this post is older I did come across it looking for info about Luvocracy.

Ive had a purchase through them recently, they purchased from a Lovocracy handle on Etsy and I shipped directly to the buyer. They gave the buyers address.

Its new to me and I dont know about all this other stuff but I wanted to mention for future readers thats how the purchase was handled. :)