The age of Instagram has saturated the way our world thinks (in captions), categorizes (with hashtags), creates (photo staging) and even shops (bloggers). Of the 20 billion photos shared daily and 1.6 billion “likes” on these photos, the likes that lead to links are turning the double-tap heart into dollar signs.

A few distant years ago, blogs were merely online journals. Starting a blog for most was a simple hobby to keep up but now, it is a land of opportunity to be much more than a hobby. A blog is a business.

To succeed these days, one could assume all it takes is a smart phone and some passion. A good grasp of photography techniques and a knack for social media engagement also helps. Even with millions of blogs on the web, many have found ways to stand out and make theirs a full time career. For those top bloggers who find success comes followers, and not just a few loyal readers – hundreds of thousands of link sharing, photo liking, book buying fans.

Keeping in tune with the times, brands are taking advantage of the opportunity to be what bloggers are advertising. Whether the niche is fashion, food, design, interiors, travel or anything else, getting a product in a top blogger’s hand means grand scale social media exposure.

It’s a big business and everyone wants a piece of the pie. Services have launched to help connect bloggers with brands to work with. Sites like Brand Backer, Sverve and Brand Meets Blog (not to be confused with Blog Meets Brand) all promise to help companies create marketing campaigns, design collaborations, branded content and special events led by the best blogger for them.

Of course, brands and bloggers working together translates to, “You help me make money, and I’ll help you make money.” Blog followers ask, “What brand are you wearing?” Bloggers and brands collectively respond, “Well, wouldn’t you like to know…”

With the intelligent design of and Reward Style, follower purchases have become sales commission for bloggers from the brands they wear and use. Links are generated to shop your favorite blogger’s lifestyle simply by clicking the special link to the product page or by liking their Instagram posts.

It seems to be a smooth path to help everyone get what they want, but the continuous reign of bloggers and their business practices has not come without controversy. Some industry insiders don’t want bloggers at what used to be events for the elite. Concerns have surfaced over bloggers losing their personal brand voice in trade for a percentage of sales. Readers have called them “sell outs” for turning their blogs into profit centers. With some visitors feeling that they’re being used for clicks, will we all soon have blog burnout?

The facts suggest that it’s not likely. This new shopping system’s criticisms don’t stand up to its success. Through this innovative arrangement, brands have found a new way to stay in the consumer’s sphere and the underdog is on top. It works. It’s too smart not to.