bloggers, brands and selling out.
Let me preface this by first saying I realize this blog post may piss off and/or offend a few people, especially those bloggers who I know personally or those who are acquaintances (and yes, I follow them). But I felt this has to be said (and off my chest).
I can't help but notice that more and more bloggers these days and how a majority of their posts are always sponsored by or promoting a brand. AKA - I was paid to post this and I have a partnership with XX company, therefore, I need to post XX amount of blogs per month to fulfill my contract worth $XX. Oh and part of that deal is I get loads of free (expensive) products to fill up my house with. Hell, even reality "celebs" are pimping out these brands for a quick buck (BravoTV & E! Network stars are the WORST!).
Ouch. Did I hit a sore spot by saying that? Of course I did. It's my brutal honest self, but you can also blame it on my big mouth:)
I'll be the first to admit, this comment is a little hypocritical (after all, if you can't take it, don't dish it out, right?) and I'm not NOT supporting the idea of brand/blogger collaboration. I'm just feeling like its become beyond excessive and oh so frequent these days. Its an everyday occurrence and when I scroll through my news feeds on a daily basis, I can easily find at least a few dozen of these posts. So yes, personally, it looses a bit of its appeal to me, because it just doesn't come across as authentic. What was a personal endeavour & passion seems to be all about how much money & free swag I can get.
So back to my hypocritical mention. When we were involved with Smart Cookies, we had partnerships with various companies including Proctor & Gamble, AMEX and the BCSC (BC Securities Commission). But here's what I believe the difference was (and you can agree with me or not): those partnerships were definitely not social media based or promoted (this was 2008 after all) where we had to promote the heck out of them online in order to fulfill our contract. In fact, we were extremely careful as to who we brought on board when it came to suitable brands that we felt fit our brand. This was one of the reasons we had a Board of Advisors - to keep us on track with our vision & goals and to not lose sight of this mission, while obtaining business advice from seasoned professionals. Oh, and not to sell out just because they dangled a big fat cheque in our faces. Trust me, it's easy to get distracted and caught up by the money.
We had a simple mission and message: to share our stories (as scary, yet honest as they were) while educating kids, adults, families and students about financial literacy so they too could live a rich life, in every sense of the word. Sharing our stories and experiences of how we were all financial disasters, how we came out of the dark, supported each other, held each other accountable while not depriving ourselves financially, was empowering for us all and if we impacted a single person, then we knew we had done our job.
I follow a lot of these bloggers for the same reason most people did at the beginning: for inspiration & I loved how they brought their skill & passion to the masses (decorating, finances, styling, cooking etc). Although I would LOVE to receive a fraction of the amount of freebies they get to deck my house out with over-priced furniture and decorative accessories, its become extremely frustrating as well. We all (likely) wouldn't be able to afford this stuff if we were paying for it out of our pocket, so no, you've already killed the inspiration part. Sorry people, but no a $10,000 couch is just not in our budget (nor, would it be Smart Cookie approved). Not to mention the stylists and (amazingly talented) photographers they have at their disposal taking staged photos of them doing EVERYTHING (yes, I still use my iPhone and take my photos myself. Good or bad, it's what I have available to me and I'm ok with that....for now). Between posts that promote clothing lines, cleaning products, home decor stores, jewelry, baby food, tea that makes you less bloated, teeth-whitening products, heck even LED light bulbs! It's a bit much, no?
Fast forward to 2016...I now consider myself a part time blogger. An unexperienced novice of a blogger because starting it was a personal project simply due to the fact that I was going through a significant change in my life and I wanted to document it. I've always been open, candid and brutally honest about my life, my struggles, and my successes. I realize most of those bloggers out there have a similar story, and kudos to them for turning this into a profession and money-maker for them. I get it - they have to make money somehow, right? Maybe its jealousy, maybe I wish I could build my dream home and decorate every room with high-end materials right down to the gold-platted spoons. But I can't and personally, it just seems unreachable to the average person trying to just get by. Sure I can get inspiration from them, but Home Sense will only sell so many comprobable's in a price range I can afford.
But I ask myself this question a lot and maybe someone out there has the answer: Is there not a better, less obvious, more authentic way of making money on your blog or is this the only option? And if not, are we all doomed to have our Instagram feed clogged with promoted item after promoted item?
I'm a seasoned marketer and strategic professional and I get why brands want to collaborate with bloggers & influencers to help promote their product(s). Mostly based on bloggers popularity, # of followers, reach and influence, this is a rather new direction both local, regional and even global brands have taken in the past 5+ years since social media took off, and they started to see the real advantage influencers have with their audience. It was a way to connect their brand(s) to "real people" who used their product and allowed an alternative to traditional advertising and media. The end result typically being that these brands sell out of these heavily promoted products, thanks to the person with 1M Instagram followers who was seen wearing their new article of clothing.
I completely understand this and to be honest, I've done this for companies in the past (full disclosure). There's a laundry list of what to do and what not to do when it comes to how these relationships should be approached. I've read all about them and there's people that agree with doing it and others that advise to 'proceed with caution' and 'what not to do'.
Heck, even I've talked to A brand to collaborate with as a one-off. But my ultimate goal with Lemonsforlove.com is to post interesting, thought-provoking, educational, personal and meaningful content. Highlighting stories of men, women, couples and friends who I find fascinating because they are on their own journey whatever that may be, or making a difference in this world by pursuing something of passion. You also get to enjoy posts about my life - whether you choose to follow me or not - showcasing my journey, how I stumble and succeed along the way. Wins and losses, you will get it all. One mac and cheese dish at a time.
And to that, I will forever be brutally honest (and open) with you. You can guarantee that. And if I don't please feel free to call me out on it.
(ps - this post was not sponsored by anyone or anything. These are my words only and no my bank account is still not rich because of it.)