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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
Hey, I'm Jasmine Burke. A girl in her twenties fresh out of Uni that's trying to write in any way that she can. I go under the branch of "lifestyle" but honestly, you can find pretty much anything on here.
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