Brand Collaborations: Money vs Integrity

Brand Collaborations: Money vs Integrity

Going into the blogging world I genuinely didn’t even know about money and get brand deals.  I wasn’t completely oblivious; I knew about the world of Youtube and sponsorships.  However, I didn’t realise blogging could be the same, I just wanted a place to write.  Now here I am, a year and a half later, interacting with different brands a minimum of once a week.

 

Getting PR Hungry

My journey into the PR and the brand side of blogging was somewhat of a snowball effect.  In fact, I actually explain it in a video here.  Before I knew it, I was no longer writing just for me. I had brands to answer to as well.

Through my own experiences and watching others, I get how easy it to get sucked into the glitz and glamour of PR.  It’s attractive, it makes you feel special, and for some, this quickly transforms it from a luxury to an entitlement.  However, this entitlement can quickly turn your blog into something incredibly disingenuine.  Before you know it, you’re a sellout.

On getting my first (Non-scammy/advantage taking) brand deal, I was ridiculously excited.  I was lucky enough that it fit with my blog, and ended up being a post that I liked…  But I probably would have said yes to anything.  After the excitement wore off and I started getting approached more, I realised that this isn’t and will never be about the PR for me.  Everyone likes money and “free” products, but this blog is my baby.  And I’m not sacrificing that for anything.

 

Staying True to You

Everytime I accept a collaboration, I get this sudden wave of worry that I’m coming across disingenuine.  It feels like the second you mention you were paid/gifted a product, your integrity is scrutinised and noone believes what you’re saying.  I can see why.  There are some people that will accept anything they can and say whatever they need to, to get paid.  In some ways, I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that… I’m sure people say what they need to say to get paid in more conventional jobs too.  However, a bad bunch make it harder for the rest of us.

Being genuine matters more to me than an opportunity, and if it doesn’t fit with my blog/my personality, I won’t take it.  For example, I’ve been offered the opportunity to work with a certain watch brand 3/4 times now, and everytime they contact me the offer gets better.  I could so easily take it, and it actually wouldn’t be that far from my other content.  However, I know I’d be lying, because I’ve never worn analogue watches.  I used to wear a digital, and now all I wear is my Fitbit, so I’d feel like a fake.  I don’t want to ever feel like a fake.

I feel like the more brand collabs I take the more I seem like a sell out.  But, I wanted to make it clear that there are many other collabs I get offered that I turn down.  Everyone I work with has been chosen because I’m passionate or excited to produce challenging content.  There are so many other bloggers that are the same, and we shouldn’t assume that everyone’s in it for the money/gifts.

 

Dodgy Brand Collabs

Whilst most brands obey the rules, some make it difficult to remain genuine.  I remember a brand approaching me last year, offering me £170 for a post, but telling me that it wasn’t an AD and I shouldn’t mark it as one.  I was still relatively new to blogging, but I knew enough to know that AD meant paid post.  After emailing back saying that to them, they replied with a bunch of complicated jargon trying to justify that it wasn’t.  Luckily, I’d read up on the rules myself and turned it down.  However, I’m sure I wasn’t the first person they’ve tried that with.  In fact, I saw some others come out with undeclared AD posts with that brand in the following months.

Do I blame the bloggers here?  Not entirely.  Of course, if they knew what they were doing was wrong, then they do take some responsibility.  However, I felt how much pressure the brand put on me.  If I was unaware of the rules, I probably would have listened to the complicated explanations they threw at me.

Similarly, I’ve had a brand email me after my post was out telling me to be more discreet.  “Can you not declare that you were paid?  According to the rules, you don’t have to.”  For me, this made me feel uncomfortable.  I like to be honest and genuine with my readers, and there’s nothing wrong with being paid for a post.  It immediately makes me distrust a brand if they’re trying to hide the fact that they paid me.

 

So… Just Don’t Take Brand Collabs?

I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking them!  In fact, I still find it absolutely crazy that brands want to work with me.  Some of them find me and seek me out, and that’s insane to me, because I’m nobody.

However, I feel like they require a massive amount of trust on all levels.  I need to trust that the brand will respect my integrity, and my audience needs to trust that I respect theirs.  If that isn’t there, then there’s no point in the post.  No amount of money or product will make it seem worth it for me.

 

Hope you enjoyed this!  Been thinking about it a lot recently and wanted to get it off my chest.  Let me know what you think in the comments, as I’d love to hear others’ opinions.

Lots of love,

Jas xx

 

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56 Comments

  1. August 6, 2018 / 8:27 am

    This was so helpful! Thank you for sharing this

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 6, 2018 / 7:43 pm

      Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      Jas xx

  2. August 6, 2018 / 9:49 am

    You are so right – it’s wonderful to have these kind of opportunities but you do have to be true to yourself, your blog and to your readers.

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 6, 2018 / 7:43 pm

      Yeah, it’s all about staying true!

      Jas xx

  3. August 7, 2018 / 11:10 am

    We struggled with this matter at the beginning, but then we realize that we have to value ourselves and put our worth on the line. We refused so many brand collaborations, not only gift basis but good money paid ones, because it went against our beliefs, and that is more than fine 🙂 Above all things is our integrity and that we have to preserve all times!
    With love and sunshine ☀

    Patricia & Miguel
    http://www.freeoversea.com

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 12, 2018 / 7:57 pm

      (Sorry I never replied to this, for some reason it ended up in my spam folder!) It’s good to see that you waited around for those that were best for you! Staying true to who you are is what’s most important <3

      Jas xx

  4. August 7, 2018 / 3:23 pm

    You are so honest and I LOVE that.You’ve come so far with your blogging journey and I’m so happy for you!Cant wait till you hit 500 followers!

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 8, 2018 / 12:19 pm

      Aww you’re so sweet, thank you!

      Jas xx

  5. Creative Nails
    August 8, 2018 / 9:05 pm

    It’s great that you have written this and are being so honest with your readers. This just shows how honest you are about it all and people can trust your opinion! I understand though, it’s tricky – it’s great that the opportunities come up but it is important to stay true to yourself and what you are trying to do. Will definitely take note of what you’ve said for the future with getting any possible collaborations etc with brands!

    Amy,
    https://creativenails.uk

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 8, 2018 / 9:15 pm

      Thank you so much, I’m glad that my honesty shines through as I really try to make sure that it does! I’m glad this post could help!

      Jas xx

  6. mkvadnais
    August 8, 2018 / 9:13 pm

    I so agree! Don’t compromise your blog if you don’t feel strongly about the product!

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 8, 2018 / 9:15 pm

      Glad you agree!

      Jas xx

  7. August 8, 2018 / 9:22 pm

    I can totally relate with a lot of this, it’s sad because I got my first brand collab just over a year ago now and I remember how ridiculously excited I was about it and how crazy I went when the little parcel dropped through the door. It’s quite rare that I get that same buzz now, it just seems like a part of every day life! I went through a phase of feeling incredibly guilty when turning down a collab because it didn’t fit with my blog, like I was turning down potential growth for me. But I soon came to realise that better opportunities would come along that I DID feel passionately about and that you really don’t need to accept every offer. I’ve also had some of THE weirdest collaboration offers that there’s no way would ever make it onto my blog so I had to learn to politely say no thank you, haha! (One of them was a guest post about artificial LED plants? Sure that’d do SO well on black tulip BEAUTY). Saying all this, I’m so happy to have seen my own growth within the past year and I think I deserve all the opportunities I’ve gotten! But I also don’t get how people can ONLY write about gifted items, there are so many things I want to discuss on my blog!
    Alice Xx

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 8, 2018 / 9:26 pm

      I’m glad that you could relate Alice! I used to feel so ridiculously guilty too but it’s better to turn them down that to take things that don’t fit! Also congrats on your amazing growth and opportunities, you deserve every bit of it 🙂

      Jas xx

  8. August 8, 2018 / 10:34 pm

    One of the first brands that contacted me was a company that I knew for making granola bars and they wanted me to purchase them & talk about them on my blog. However, I’m more of a fruit person and I don’t really eat granola bars, which is why I ended up turning it down.

    I’d rather stay true to myself than accept every offer that comes in! I haven’t had a lot of brands contact me but the few that have I always have to ask myself would I use this if I wasn’t approached, and if the answer is no, then nope not taking the brand collaboration!

    Great post!

    Also, there’s an tag at the very end of your post, I think maybe you might have been in the text area not the html one when you were putting the link in, just thought to point that out in case you missed it!

    
Sahara

  9. August 8, 2018 / 10:50 pm

    This was such an interesting post! I’m beginning to get more into the world of PR and I love to hear everyone’s experiences! http://www.shivsblog.com xx

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 8, 2018 / 10:54 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed this!

      Jas xx

  10. August 8, 2018 / 10:50 pm

    I love this post! It’s so important to only try and review products that fit with your brand. I feel ridiculous even calling myself a brand, but you know…. You can always tell when a sponsorship doesn’t feel genuine. Getting paid for a post is great but it’s totally not worth it if you feel like you’re lying to your readers! x

    Sophie
    http://www.glowsteady.co.uk

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 8, 2018 / 10:51 pm

      Exactly! Sometimes it can be hard to turn down the money, but it’s better in the long run. I’m so happy that you liked this!

      Jas xx

  11. August 9, 2018 / 12:07 am

    This post is really helpful Jasmine!!! Thank you so much for this insider on working with brands… I haven’t start working with any brand or company as yet but this is truly helpful for future references!! 💚💚💚💚👌🏾

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 12, 2018 / 7:58 pm

      So glad that you found it helpful!

      Jas xx

  12. Lea
    August 9, 2018 / 12:08 am

    I think it’s easy to get sucked in when a brand wants to collab with you but as long as it suits you and it’s not just for the money/product you are doing it go for it. Only when one sells out their integrety then I see problems. Really loved your thoughts on it. Lea xx

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 12, 2018 / 7:58 pm

      Yeah I agree, if it suits you then you should 100% go for it!

      Jas xx

  13. August 9, 2018 / 12:11 am

    Absolutely love this post! I can totally relate to what you said about feeling ingenuine when you do a collaboration or brand deal. Every time I’ve done one, I’ve had to remind myself that as long as I’m being honest and upfront that there’s nothing wrong with it. Thank you for sharing!

  14. August 9, 2018 / 1:55 am

    I really appreciated reading this, shared some beautiful insights.

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 12, 2018 / 7:59 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed it, thank you for reading!

      Jas xx

  15. August 9, 2018 / 6:42 am

    Thank you for posting this. As a newbie in blogging I found this a good outline as how to go about brand collaborations. 🙂

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 12, 2018 / 8:00 pm

      Awww I’m so glad you found this helpful!

      Jas xx

  16. August 10, 2018 / 8:16 pm

    I think it can be so hard as a blogger. Like by law you are required to disclose ads so why are brands asking you not to… but it it all down to staying true to you and being able to look at you in them mirror in the morning. As a lawyers’ daughter, i don’t do anything illegal ahah

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 10, 2018 / 9:53 pm

      I honestly find it so unfair when a brand asks you not to disclose. We’re right for staying on the side of the law!

      Jas xx

  17. August 10, 2018 / 8:32 pm

    I agree with everything said! Brand collabs might be easy money but in the long run it isnt gonna benefit you if its a product that doesnt fir your brand!x

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 10, 2018 / 9:53 pm

      Exactly!

      Jas xx

  18. August 10, 2018 / 8:40 pm

    This is such a great post Jas and so glad you are talking openly and honestly about the subject. I totally agree, we should only accept the collabs that fit with our blogs as it’s impossible to write a decent post about something we are not really passionate about. I’ve politely turned down opportunities as I didn’t think they would work well, so it’s nice when something comes along that I am genuinely excited about. Fab post girl 💖 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 10, 2018 / 10:00 pm

      Awww thank you so much Bexa I’m glad that you liked it!

      Jas xx

  19. August 10, 2018 / 9:12 pm

    I do get what you are saying regarding being sell out, so to speak and not being genuine to your brand and audience. For that reason I haven’t accepted the only 3 brands that have contacted me so far. I believe that others who are in alignment with my brand and niche will eventually find me or I’ll find them. Thanks for this.

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 10, 2018 / 10:06 pm

      That’s a great belief to have. Make sure that you do what is best for you!

      Jas xx

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 10, 2018 / 10:09 pm

      Yeah, You’ll definitely find the ones that are good for you!

      Jas xx

  20. August 10, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    This was such an interesting post! I’m a relatively new blogger so I haven’t had any legit paid opportunities yet but I’ll have to look into the legal side of things if I do (AD, etc). Thanks for sharing!
    http://www.theordinaryblogger.com

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 10, 2018 / 10:10 pm

      I’m glad that you could find this helpful for future reference!

      Jas xx

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 10, 2018 / 10:16 pm

      Awww good! I’m glad that I could help in that way

      Jas xx

  21. August 10, 2018 / 11:16 pm

    I love this post and completely agree with you! I really enjoy working with brands I love and at the end of the day us bloggers have to shell out our own money for hosting and plenty of other things so why should we not gain from it too? I’m the same and never accept collaborations unless they’re genuine, I think it’s a case of a few ruining it for the many sometimes.

    Soph – https://sophhearts.com x

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 11, 2018 / 1:30 pm

      Yeah, I agree! It’s only a few ruining it for the many.

      Jas xx

  22. Julia
    August 10, 2018 / 11:35 pm

    Such a great post! It’s good to see someone talking so honestly and openly about the topic of brand deals and opportunities! I’m not new to blogging per say but I am still trying to grow my brand to get to the point of hopefully working with others. I feel like it must be impossible to write a post about something you don’t feel passionate about or don’t believe in. You should never force your work and for that I think it’s good to be picky about brand deals, great post x

    Beesytimes.co.uk

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 11, 2018 / 1:40 pm

      Yeah, I personally find it impossible to write about things I don’t believe in! I’m so glad that you enjoyed this!

      Jas xx

  23. August 11, 2018 / 12:28 am

    Oh my goodness yes! I’m too small to truly get approached right now, but I’ve been looking and yes, you’re right! It’s so hard to stay genuine and not end up just being a run of the mill paid blog without any heart and soul! I appreciate your committment! You’re an inspiration.

  24. August 11, 2018 / 1:37 pm

    Love the honesty in this post! I haven’t done many brand collaborations and when I look at bloggers taking them up I feel a bit small. I feel that I am not ‘blogger-enough’ because I see brand posts all around me. Who doesn’t like to earn through blogging and I think it is a great opportunity id and only if it suits your brand and ethics!
    Lovely post!

    – Aditi
    http://www.aditispen.com

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 11, 2018 / 2:00 pm

      Never feel small for not having loads – blogging isn’t all about brands and you should believe in your work! I’m sure that you’re doing amazingly, brand deals or not!

      Jas xx

  25. August 11, 2018 / 2:16 pm

    Great article! I feel like I really needed this.

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 11, 2018 / 2:17 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it!
      Jas xx

  26. August 11, 2018 / 2:35 pm

    I love blog posts like this! Transparent, honest and helpful. I am new to blogging and I haven’t built up enough of a following to be approached by brands. I don’t think my content is PR friendly just yet. Because like you stated, I am writing for me right now and it’s my baby! But this is good to know, when and if I reach the point where I am approached by brands xxx

    https://insidethethoughtsoflia.wordpress.com

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 11, 2018 / 11:29 pm

      Awwww I’m so glad that you found this helpful!

      Jas xx

  27. August 12, 2018 / 9:34 am

    I found this post so interesting! I’ve never worked with a brand but it seems like they can be quite sneaky. I’m glad you have found a way of working with them and remaining true to yourself.

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 12, 2018 / 7:35 pm

      Not all of them are sneaky, don’t worry! But yes, the odd one or two can be!

      Jas xx

  28. August 12, 2018 / 11:46 am

    Great post! I’ve added a few things to my blog that offer the potential for a small kickback but I’ve been making sure that it fits in with the niche of my blog. Recently, I was offered a free copy of a book in return for an honest book review. I was excited and it fits by blog. Though I haven’t made any money yet (it’s not my ultimate goal) I will keep your advice in mind. Thanks for sharing!

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 12, 2018 / 7:37 pm

      No problem, glad that you enjoyed it and felt that this was able to help!

      Jas xx

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