The next time you open a magazine or newspaper, watch your favourite television programme or sit down to immerse yourself in the newest Hollywood blockbuster, count how many advertisements you have to pass before you get to the bit you actually want to digest. Maybe it’s a handful, maybe it’s more like twenty, but I guarantee you they’ll be there loud and proud supporting the media agencies that bring us our favourite pieces of escapism. Sponsorship, advertising and partnerships provide the financial backing to make these things possible, but they rarely come up against much scrutiny or complaint because we’re so accustomed to them being there. However, within the digital space it’s a different story entirely; bloggers and vloggers are experiencing increasing negativity when it comes to sponsored or collaborative content, with a minority of their audience feeling the need to complain or express their disgust that they dare scatter a few promotional pieces of content within their otherwise free to digest channels.
Over the last seven years I’ve been incredibly lucky to have experienced nothing but overwhelming support and positivity from my audience, but I’ve noticed the tide turning in the last few months and for the first time have experienced a handful of complaints or objections. Whether it’s unfollowing me on Instagram because a picture has #ad next to it, or leaving anonymous comments about my integrity, it seems there’s a self-entitled attitude brewing where a fraction of readers seem to feel like they should continue to get all the content they desire while we do it purely for the passion – because how dare we make an income or be able to pay our bills as a bi-product of the process!
So where is this attitude coming from? We’re currently in a reality television moment, where every extra from TOWIE, Love Island or Made In Chelsea is paid to pose with a teeth whitening kit or tummy tea; this insincere form of promotion certainly has a shelf life and it certainly riles many of us up the wrong way (mainly due to the fact they rarely actually do anything other than hold up a product and paste pre-written text,) but I believe it’s also having a negative impact on the bloggersphere. When we’re surrounded by constant unnatural and falsified endorsement, it makes us wary of every kind or partnership or collaboration. “Are they really using that face cream?” “Do they really thing this lipstick is the best thing ever?” “Will that bag really change my life?”
We’re also currently seeing a surge in paid for advertorials, collaborative content and sponsored instagram features thanks to the novelty of working with influencers, which will take time for readers and followers to get their heads around; we can only be patient and explain why they’re seeing advertising scattered amongst so much free inspiration, what goes on behind the scenes and how these brand partnerships are born. I completely understand the uncertainty and questions that arise, but influencers worth their
salt make every concerted effort to ensure every collaboration they
agree to is one they’re 100% invested in.
I can tell you that every sponsored feature you see on this site is well thought through and agreed upon only when the product is a natural fit, the campaign is something I really believe in, or it’s a brand I use or have featured already. This year I’ve worked with brands that have included Boots, TK Maxx, Dove, Daniel Sandler, Urban Decay, Links Of London, Wilkinson Sword, Yes To, Femfresh and Senecalm – all of which I have bought from myself, have used for years on end or have nothing but good things to report back. There’s no teeth whitening kit or tummy tea in sight (despite the fact that I get approached to promote them on a weekly basis,) because I’ve worked too long and too hard to throw my reputation away for a few hundred quid. And I know the majority of bloggers are the same. Sure, like with any industry, there are some bad eggs; but they shouldn’t be able to ruin it for the rest of us.
Young men and women who have strived hard, often for years on end, to
create something they’re entirely responsible for and incredibly
passionate about should be applauded – not vilified. I worked
relentlessly for years during my free time, on top of a full time and
rather stressful job, to create content before there was even a sniff of
money (and then it was practically pittance.) When I was finally able
to jump into blogging with both feet, it was a gamble I had to work my
backside off to make work; over four years later and I’ve hustled enough
to have a steady source of income and an audience that, generally
speaking, appreciates my content whether it’s sponsored or not.
If you can’t support your favourite bloggers making a living from what they love doing, when the content you read or watch is provided to you absolutely free of charge, then you need to have a word with yourself. Bloggers being paid to recommend, endorse or talk about something are doing so because they’ve worked hard to build up a trusted and expansive audience; it’s something to celebrate when a brand takes money away from magazines and television and invests it within the digital space. These bloggers that are often labelled as frivolous, vacuous and all about the freebies, have changed the way we consume information; they’ve been the catalyst for the biggest change in media since the launch of the television. They’ve created something from nothing and have invested hugely in bringing that to life (via their time, energy and equipment – because believe me, laptops and cameras do not come cheap.)
Our sites tend to be run single-handily and provide a huge amount of inspiration and education that you’d otherwise have to pay for – whether that’s the price of a magazine or cost of a television license, or even the opportunity cost of having to sit through thirty adverts during a singular episode of Game Of Thrones. It may appear that blogging can be done with very little investment and should be run only as a hobby, but many of these sites are glossier than glossy magazines or have more industry news than a scientific paper; it’s not just about swatching a lipstick or showing off new shoes. (Although that’s cool too.) Hours upon hours of skill is poured into every blog post or video, while the expenses associated with running a site build up.
To put it into context, my expenses last financial year totaled over £10,000 – which included laptop and camera equipment, travel to get to meetings and events, website hosting and design, subscriptions to Microsoft Office and newsletter platforms, online courses and so much more. I simply couldn’t afford to provide the level and frequency of content without the support of brands, so thank you: both to you readers that keep coming back and offering your continual support, and to the brands that help keep my bills paid and my makeup bag overflowing.
I adore the bloggersphere and everything it has to offer and will always support the successes we collectively experience, but I do wish that more of the general public (and the mainstream media) would do the same. Bloggers have opened up conversations on mental health, championed
charitable causes and encouraged women to book in their smear; they’ve
shown that you don’t have to look like a supermodel to be fabulous, how to create a smokey eye in thirty seconds flat and
that having a kid isn’t as easy as it looks in the movies. They’ve democratized beauty, fashion, interiors and travel, and have allowed us
to know what ‘real’ women think of everything from a new foundation to
the latest H&M designer collaboration. We should be applauding these incredible individuals, rather than complaining as soon as they’re finally reaping the rewards.
What we’ve all achieved is incredible and will change the face of the media forever.
Remember: everyone is entitled to make a living; why should doing it in a creative and passionate way be any different?
THREE WAYS TO SUPPORT YOUR FAVOURITE BLOGGER’S SPONSORED CONTENT
Leave them a comment. Let them know you’ve enjoyed their content and if
you’ll be making a purchase off the back of the recommendation.
2. Share the post on your own feeds, because every little helps. We love to see you recommending our posts or sharing them with your friends more than you’ll ever know.
3. Like that picture, retweet that tweet and thumbs up that video – don’t be put off by the #ad declaration, but say a little ‘thank you’ for all the free stuff you get by clicking that button.
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