31.7.17

Why We Should All Be Supporting & Celebrating Our Fave Bloggers Sponsored Content

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 

1. 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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27 comments

  1. The only reason I can think of for the verbal abuse is that people are jealous and maybe insecure! I don't mean the sort of envy we all have at times, but the jealousy that is destructive. Criticism is okay, as long as it's done in a positive way. It isn't okay to be rude and offensive, and often these people would never say it to your face. A good rule of thumb, is that if you wouldn't say it in person, don't post it online!
    I personally have no problem with bloggers endorsing products, because as you say, most do not endorse anything they wouldn't buy themselves. I don't have a problem with a blogger earning a small amount if I click on a link, or buy a product via a link.
    It is so like the magazines advertising as you mention. And how many of us can honestly say we've never bought a product seen in a magazine? And how many of us have tried to buy a product seen in magazine, only to find it's not available in our part of the world, or has been sold out for ages. The world of blogging is more immediate, more relevant, and there quite often featured alternatives at different price points, different brands within the type.

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    1. You've hit the nail on the head with this comment, so thank you! And you're right - it's about celebrating people, not destructively criticising them. People are open to constructive criticism or questioning, it's all about the tone; I had a genuine question on Twitter this week about sponsored work and if I get an input into the live dates (sometimes yes, sometimes no) as a lot had landed at once. I didn't mind at all given the chance to reassure and explain!

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  2. I seriously don't understand why the community is dragging each other down over this. I think It's fantastic when brands actually notice all the hours of hard work that goes into a blog post and want to work with an amazing blogger. The community should be celebrating when bloggers are given these opportunities to work with brands, not tearing each other down!

    Ali x
    www.beautybooksandbeyond.com

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  3. It really irritates me when you see all these celebrities being paid to advertise slimming teas and similar products - all they seem to care about it is the money. Like you say, we as bloggers are putting out all of our posts for free and we need to get help towards the running costs of our blogs. It doesn't come cheap to pay for good equipment etc x

    Jenny | LuxeStyle

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  4. Anonymous1.8.17

    I personally hate ads, I have stopped watching tv because I hate ads and I aim to stop watching YouTube because I hate ads.. I think that's why people have started complaining about seeing ads from their favourite bloggers or seeing their fb and instagram being flooded by ads.. it's getting too much and I'm sorry you don't like it but many people do not appreciate seeing ads in what was up until now an oasis from escaping those! I'm really sorry that you feel this way bit maybe bloggers should try and find others ways to make money through their blogs instead of trying to school their readers on how they should behave (!)??
    It's a shame because I really liked your posts up until now...

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    1. You need to stop seeing sponsored content as a straight up ad - it's a collaboration that's (more often than not) been well thought through. Our content is absolutely free for you to enjoy, so why should we be made to feel bad or 'find an alternative way' of making money because a handful don't like it? It's a bad attitude to have; my sole purpose is not to provide you with escapism from ads, it's to educate and inform while making a living.

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    2. I don't find a collaboration in any way akin to an ad (and I do not watch adverts on the tv, and skip the ones on you tube). As for schooling readers, isn't that why we read a blog? Schooling wouldn't be my choice of word, but I read blogs to be inspired, and get an insight into products I haven't tried and in some cases haven't considered previously. Of the blogs I read on a regular basis (and this one is a fairly new addition for me), I haven't detected anything other than 100% commitment from the bloggers, and the products reviewed fit in with their overall style and ethos.

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    3. Thanks for your comment and support Ms Pastry! ;)

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    4. How else could bloggers make money from their blogs? Whether display ads or collaboration/sponsored post, that's the go-to for any online media. Would you rather pay a fee to read them?

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    5. YES TO ALL OF THIS HAYLES. YES YES YES ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘Š๐Ÿผ♥️

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  5. I wrote a post some time ago how I'm baffled by people, especially fellow bloggers being so unsupportive of sponsored content - especially when they think nothing of sharing an instagram post of their Starbucks Latte which is essentially the same thing but unpaid!

    As you say you're not throwing out sponsored content or adds for the slew of tummy teas or teeth whiteners that are shared by reality stars and the content you provide is relevant to your audience!

    As I say I'm baffled when 'everyone' wants to be a 'full time blogger' but when they see others achieving those goals they're unsupportive.

    Victoria x
    FlorenceandMary.com

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    1. I really try to ensure all my sponsored content is just as good and even more interesting than my non sponsored, as I don't want to short change readers or feel like they're reading an ad. It's so important to me and always will be.

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  6. It's such a horrible thing to see when people slate bloggers for earning money! I think it mainly comes from non-bloggers, and is even more prevalent on YouTube. I can understand to a certain extent, if someone is promoting a shitty service and it doesn't feel genuine, but people see AD and automatically think people are lying, which is such a shame!

    Kirstie | www.behindthescent.co.uk

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    1. Yes, absolutely! I don't understand why an AD declaration makes people so angry - 9 times out of 10 the sponsored content I see (and write) is just as good as the non spon, and opens my eyes to new brands. We need to look at it differently and more openly.

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  7. Like many people have said, I think a huge percentage of the negative comments sterns from a place of jealousy. People assume blogging is so easy and why should bloggers be getting paid to do nothing. Little do they know that blogging is a rough tough job! And it takes a lot of effort to keep a blog running! I do my best to support blogs and bloggers I love. If I need to make a purchase, I seek out affiliate links from my favourite bloggers. It's only fair.

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  8. This post says it all perfectly Hayley! In a world where we should be celebrating and empowering each other, people are too quick to judge and knock someone down. We should all be encouraging each other and supporting this movement. Xxx

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  9. I can always trust your content, sponsored or not it's obvious how much time and effort went into your posts~ Keep going, negative energy has no space in what you're doing!

    Vivian | LIVE . IN . LOVE
    IG | @viviyunn_

    ~

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  10. Thank you for writing this! As a fellow blogger, I try and do collaborations with companies my readers may not have heard of, and I really try to small up-coming businesses who need the support. It's a bonus if they send me a free product to try or decide to pay me. At the end of the day, for me Blogging is about new discoveries and making friends I would talk to in real life.

    Think of it as real life Avon sprinkled in with the usual natter.

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  11. I have no problem at all when blogs or vlogs have ad's or sponsored items. I am more likely to buy something off of the back of that then I am some IG post from a TOWIE cast member sorry but I refuse to call them 'stars'!).

    I know that long standing and established bloggers and vloggers are not going to ruin there reputations by promoting a brand or product that they do not use or believe in. Its no different to an article in a magazine or an advert on tv, its just a different platform for promoting and advertising. I think a lot of the negativity is just plain old jealousy from people who thing blogging is just sitting at a PC typing up an article.

    Keep up the good work Hayley, I love your blog although my bank balance doesn't! lol

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    1. Thanks Jane - and sorry about the bank balance ;)

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  12. To me part of the negativity stems from the fact that there are more 'hollow' praise posts than actual pieces worth considering. Yes, good bloggers won't ruin their reputation with a false endorsement, but sadly there are more bad bloggers than good ones and you start taking everything with a grain of salt... I think many people didn't understand the paid part until more bloggers started adding #ad, though - and this helped escalate the negativity recently.

    For me, blogs are not an ordinary platform and I don't want to ever compare them to tv and magazines. The difference is simple - a paid mag editorial is a lifeless opinionless PR statement. A blog is based on opinions. I've lived long enough as a blogger to say that there is rarely a perfect product so I see fit to mention the negative sides even in a paid article. But most bloggers don't include this negative side - why, when even if it's a minor flaw people need to know, that's why they're reading blogs. This is a reason why I don't like many paid blog posts, but I'm definitely not going to shame bloggers for doing this. It's just that I'm afraid they will turn into opinionless mouthpieces rewording product descriptions, just as brand managers and pr want them to..

    Anyways, thanks for bringing up the topic, brave as always :)

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    1. I always say to people, if you think "they will turn into opinionless mouthpieces rewording product descriptions, just as brand managers and pr want them to..." then you need to stop reading that site! You need to find sites you trust and bloggers that have a strict endorsement policy.

      I work on both sides of the sponsored post fence and I can reassure you that brands tend to give a very open brief and that bloggers are free to share their own opinions; obviously if they hate it they won't work on the campaign!

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    2. I totally agree with your reply here Hayley, if you dont trust a bloggers sponsored post then you dont trust the blogger and you should stop reading/following them.

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  13. Amen sister! I have no problem with sponsored posts and dont see them as any different to normal posts. After all i wouldnt work for free so why should a blogger. A girls gota eat... and buy the other products and services to review normally. xx

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  14. I'm fairly new to the blogging world and I can honestly say I've bought more products than ever because of being part of a community that I trust. Maybe people outside the blogging community view it all differently but I suppose it's an education. I think traditional PR sources stir up a lot of envy too. Some don't like that bloggers have the power that traditional means had not too long ago. They feel threatened and stir the pot. Bloggers for the most part are very transparent and that's what I prefer and love. I've followed you for years btw xx

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  15. YES! It's so important to do this, why should we resent bloggers that have made enough of their blog to warrant a. Rand wanting to work with them for money? It's something to celebrate and I don't really care if a post is sponsored or not, I generally trust the blogs I read, and the bloggers behind them to give their honest opinion when it comes to sponsored content. It's always a like from me if I find that content relevant to me ๐Ÿ˜Š

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