What is LTK? How It Works From Instagram Shopping to Creator Guide

LTK – also known as liketoknowit or reward style – is part affiliate network, part easy shopping experience.

On a high level LTK is an affiliate marketing network with tons of retailers. Meaning brands pay to be on the platform, and then creators can get affiliate links to share their favorite products with their audience, while earning a small commission at NO cost to the shopper (the brand pays the commission). Click here to check it out!

Meaning if I shared a link to a $10 item on Target, and you looked that exact same item up on your own, it’d still be $10. But in one case, Target pays me a small commission for sharing, and the other I get paid nothing.

This is a great way to support small businesses (like your favorite creators), while still shopping major retailers.

Beyond that, they have an incredibly easy shopping experience for users…

LTK On Instagram: 

LTK’s app is basically a curated digital shopping experience for the average person.

You’ve likely seen people post on Instagram a link that looks something like: liketk.@#@# followed by a series of hashtags like: #liketkit #ltk in the caption.

Basically that just means the post is shoppable through the LTK app

How the LTK App Works For Shoppers:

Imagine if your favorite creator curated an e-magazine with styled photos, collages, and videos of their favorite products; AND it tracks/highlights sales – sounds pretty awesome right? Well that's LTK.

Unlike other social networks, there's no ads and you primarily ONLY see content from people you choose to follow (they do have some suggestions for trending posts though). You can still search by interest, their suggestions, or keywords, but it's a throwback to simpler times of finding what you are actually looking for.

Creators can leave their feed like a normal feed, or curate “collections” to help you find what you're looking for on their shop.

How to get the LTK app:

  1. Download the LTK app here
  2. Create an account
  3. Follow your favorite creators (like me!)
  4. Shop!

My thoughts on the app as a user:

I’ve been in this blogging/Instagram space for 7+ years and honestly refused to download the app until recently. 

You’ve probably seen people on instagram post “shop my LTK” or something to that effect and basically all that means is following them on the LTK app.

I used to roll my eyes and cringe whenever I saw people do this years ago. Maybe because I felt sad (LTK is pretty hard to get into) or maybe because it felt like people were always pushing it and it was just annoying.

But once I downloaded it, I was shocked at how nice the layout was, how easy it was to save products, navigate, and watch deals. I wish I’d gotten it sooner.

The cons of LTK for app users:

Honestly there aren’t any! It costs you literally nothing to use and shop via the app and you get to curate your own shopping experience that notifies you of sales and deals.

Plus, when using the LTK app, even when you shop at major retailers you’re still supporting a small business (the creators) so it really is a nice way to give back without doing anything other than clicking a link!

LTK for Creators:

While anyone can use the LTK app to shop, not everyone can get commissionable links as a creator.

I’m in a ton of different affiliate networks, but LTK is my most used one. 

It has the most retailers, with the easiest process at grabbing a link, and the most features for creating an excellent shopping experience for your audience.

I primarily blog, so I love that I can use the shop widgets in my posts too.

You have access to analytics that show your commissions, clicks, orders, conversion rates, engagements, and more.

One of the biggest benefits of LTK is that it's a one-stop hub for almost everything you'd need.

Additionally, if a retailer switches affiliate networks, your links should switch with them without needing to go back and re-do them. Or if a retailer deactivates, the link “breaks” meaning the person won’t be able to shop the item still from that retailer unless they go to it directly – which I kind of like.

LTK Creator Cons:

While LTK is my most used platform, it’s definitely has its issues:

First, they make it pretty hard to figure out your actual commission structure.

Lots of brands say “up to X%” which leaves a big question: how much is LTK really taking? 

Generally speaking: LTK historically takes a moderately large percentage from creators.

For instance, one brand I work with directly, I get $15 more per sale compared to using the link to that retailer through LTK. Meaning they are taking a whopping $15 commission! 

That’s on the extreme end, in most cases it’s 1-4% commission I’ve noticed using LTK instead of working with brands directly.

PRO TIP: If a brand reaches out to you directly asking to join their affiliate network, this is a good time to negotiate a higher commission rate by cross checking your rate via LTK or other networks!

For many LTK's cut isn't a big deal as it’s a one stop shop for links, a storefront, and so many retailers. For others, they may prefer setting up with brands individually. 

Personally I take a hybrid approach, I have my brands I link to regularly and work with outside of LTK, and just use the LTK shop widget for the visuals in a post.

The list of brands is also just that: a list with a *rough* commission rate.

There’s not detailed breakdown of cookies or if the retailers has different categories.

With MagicLinks or Howl, I can easily click onto any retailer and get the nitty-gritty details on cookie time, commissions, return policies, etc. 

LTK also does not show you analytics on Amazon anymore

For that you’ll need to use direct Amazon links or an Amazon storefront.

Lastly, LTK is a mobile first platform, so if you’re a grandma like me, who prefers working from their computer, you’ll likely have some issues with the widgets or pulling links taking forever and a day. These never persist, but I run into them far more than any other network. 

How do you join LTK as a creator?

LTK has specific requirements that aren’t published anywhere and seem to change over the years. I found the best way to get into LTK is through a referral (feel free to email me with the subject line: LTK referral and I'd be happy to help!)

Generally it takes applying a few times to get in.

If you don't get in, I'd suggest joining Howl – which is quickly becoming a top competitor to LTK with amazing bonuses, a storefront, higher commissions, and clearer insights to retailers. The platform also have dynamic linking, meaning when checked, it automatically pulls the product from the highest commission retailer for you. They just don't have as many brands yet.

Another one to consider is MagicLinks – it has more retailers than Howl currently (it's been around longer), but less than LTK.

You can set up a storefront of sorts, and see details on the retailers, but the commissions are typically better in LTK, so I suspect Magic Links takes an even higher cut from the creator which is why I don't use it as much (and the fewer retailers).

How much does LTK Cost?

For app users, the average shopper, and creators LTK costs nothing.

(well Creators technically give a percentage of the commission to LTK)

For brands/retailers wanting in on the platform, there is a fee.

Is LTK A legit site?

Yes! LTK (formerly known as rewardstyle or LikeToKnow.It) was founded in 2011 and is completely legitimate. I've both shopped through it as a regular person and been paid through it as an affiliate marketer with zero issues. It's one of the largest and most trusted influencer marketing networks.

Final thoughts

Using the LTK app to shop is a no brainer in my book. It's simple, clean, and where they've put so much of their love and effort.

It also costs users nothing, while they still get to support their favorite creators small business.

As a creator, despite the shortcomings of LTK, it's still one of my favorite networks. They have the most features and retailers to create the best shopping experience for my audience, which at the end of the day is what matters most.