As you peruse through your favorite blogs, how many times do you see the words ‘courtesy of’ or ‘item given by’ or some variation thereof? Since brands have begun to realize that bloggers have super powers, or dedicated readers/followers, they’ve begun gifting products to these bloggers in the hopes that they’ll wear, photograph and blog about it. In turn, readers are exposed to the brand and best case scenario, even buy that item. This is pretty much a tried and true technique here, one that benefits both the blogger and the brand.
But when does it become too much?
I’m going to get real and say, when I first started blogging, I did it completely for fun with no thought about anyone reading it. After gaining a few readers, and putting so much time into it, I began looking into the idea of sponsors. I began to do tons of research and looked at other big name bloggers for inspiration. I didn’t care about how much time I put into my blog. I could, and do, spend hours and hours working on it, researching, writing, editing, organizing, etc. but I don’t mind, I don’t expect to be paid for that, I’d still be doing it for free anyway. since buying my own domain, and now that my blog is self-hosted, a LOT of money actually goes into keeping it up. Way more than I actually thought I’d be paying. And now when I work with brands or get paid, every single penny goes back into blog maintenance!
Transparency is a must, and not just because legally bloggers must inform readers when they receive a courtesy item. I was recently reading an IFB article discussing blogger integrity, and was appalled at the thought that some bloggers may be faking swag to look more important. It really compromises what the rest of us are doing, and doing honestly.
Personally, I don’t think it always needs to be so deep. Basic rules we need to follow:
If you get a product or item for free- TELL YOUR READERS. Make that clear. It’s not fair to your readers if you don’t. And it’s illegal.
And what about reviews? (A review is when a company sends an item, usually free of charge, to a blogger to review and blog about.) When I come to a blog to read a review, I actually want to hear the pros and cons. I don’t want to hear that every item ever in the history of ever is always perfect. Because that’s not actually the case. Me, I don’t do reviews very often as they’re so time consuming. I do a few here and there, but I’ve since realized I’m more interested in the editorial aspect. I love looking at, and creating, photos and styling of a product. I don’t love going through every piece of the garment looking for the pros and cons to tell you. And honestly, I don’t have the time anymore. And most of the time, I can tell just by looking at the product photos on a blog whether I would like the item or not, before even reading. Now that’s not to say I don’t read or watch review, but only if I’m already interested in a particular item already and I’m trying to find out more information about it.
So fame. Big name bloggers, you know who they are, are getting to the point where they’re almost like a celebrity. People, including me, get excited to meet their favorite bloggers and get to know them. I’m slightly anonymous here on Haute Muslimah so fame is obviously not what I’m after. But I’m not gonna lie, I got really excited to meet The Man Repeller and The Glamourai. Do you enjoy reading bigger blogs or do the smaller ones seem more personal?
As for me, yes I do get free clothes/items, and no it’s not nearly as often as you would think or as often as some other bloggers do. I always always tell you when a brand sends me something. I do reviews, just not that often. I have no urge to be famous. duh. if you haven’t met me, then you’ve never seen me so obviously I’m not in it for the fame, or the fortune for that matter. I do what I do because I love it! And I love my readers for being so individual, never being afraid to speak their mind, and for always being so supportive. So thank YOU!
What are your thoughts on bloggers receiving free products? What about reviews on blogs, love em or hate em? This post was just a collection of thoughts that have been circling my brain, so I’d love to hear yours- whatever they may be!
Note: Yes those are my clothes and no they weren’t all sent to me by companies/brands. Except for one- can you spot the Zeena shirtdress?