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Are Bloggers Selling Out?

Nothing Clothing Company Poncho

It is no news that bloggers make money through a variety of ways, with sponsored posts and product reviews, being a very popular way of making money in the blogging world. I for one, make majority of my blog income through sponsored posts, with product reviews coming close behind. So it comes as no surprise that there is a lot of huffing and puffing about bloggers selling out; publishing everything and anything, regardless of whether it is beneficial to their blog readers, as long as there is some money involved.

The truth of the matter is, many pro bloggers depend solely on their blog’s income, and they work tirelessly to earn it. I am not talking about a regular 9 – 5 weekly job. Pro bloggers work crazy hours everyday, including weekends and evenings, to keep the blog and their social media profiles active. There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes you don’t get to see. I know I am always working on my blog whenever I have a moment, and when I am not working on Fashion and Style Police, I am thinking of working on it. In any other job, this would be pathetic, but it is not for me because I genuinely enjoy what I do, and I will keep doing it even if I no longer get press samples or sponsored post opportunities. But then again, Fashion and Style Police is more than a job for me, it is part of who I am.

Many bloggers publish multiple quality posts a day, with amazing photography shared on social media. Many of these blog posts are informative, engaging and entertaining, so it is only fair for us to be paid for our time and effort in publishing these posts. Having said that, I do believe many bloggers have sold out and I will tell you why.

 

OOTD A Tartan Dress

 

It is so hard to reject unrelated sponsored post opportunities these days because great opportunities that do come are few and far between. So many bloggers will grab almost anything offered. So if you are reading a beauty post, and the blogger is all of sudden blogging about life insurance or pets, now you know why. Does it make the blogger a sell out? Yes kind of, but if beauty brands are not interested in collaborating with this blogger, but pet brands are, I won’t blame or judge her for accepting such offers. A girl has to eat…

However if you want to make money blogging, and not look like a sell out, follow these 5 tips:

 

Focus on More Than 1 Niche

Sticking to 1 niche may do you more harm than good. Instead, go for related niches to open more doors of opportunity. Related niches like fashion and beauty, health and beauty, pets and lifestyle, fashion, beauty and lifestyle, are all good examples of how you could position your blog for a variety of sponsored posts and product review opportunities.

 

Always Disclose

I see a lot of bloggers not disclosing press samples and sponsored posts and they wonder why no one is reading their blogs. Transparency and honesty will attract blog fans, so you not disclosing is killing your blog. I know some of the famous and hugely successful bloggers do not disclose, but you have to remember they started their blogs back in the day, when blogs were few. They have established their blogs already so they can kind of get away with not disclosing. Their readers may not know any better or may still idolise them regardless. But as for you that started a year or so ago, think twice before you decide not to disclose.

 

Outfit Post OOTD 1

 

Limit your Sponsored Posts

I sometimes struggle with this as I usually have loads of sponsored posts request at the same time, but when you can, try not to have your sponsored/collaborated posts back to back. So maybe out of 10 posts, you can have 2 or 3 sponsored, but published days apart. I see a lot of bloggers publishing sponsored posts (even when some are not disclosed) day after day, and I wonder what they are thinking.

 

Review Products Honestly

Now this is a very important tip, so I need you all to take notes.

Regardless of whether I am paid for a review or not, or whether I am sent press samples, or they are products I bought, I always write my product review posts in the same style. So short introduction, product description, pros, cons, and if I would recommend said product or not. You won’t know the difference between a review that is paid for and 1 that is not on this blog because they are ALL written honestly, and that is what my readers really care about. However I had to work to earn my readers’ trust, and I did so by reviewing products I bought with my own money as well as press samples. So every week I review a press sample sent, may be paid or unpaid, and then I review a product I bought myself, to balance out. And I still do this.

The main reason why I review press samples and products I buy, is just so my blog is not all about press samples, but products I buy myself because I have interest in them. For instance, I bought these Boots No 7 Quick Thinking Wipes and Oil-Abosorbing wipes with my money, I was sent this Premae Face Wash to review, and I was paid to review this VITASTIK Vitamin Vaporisers. As you can see, my review style is the same, I always list the pros and cons for each product, and I make sure I state any negative or cons in the most polite way possible. I don’t believe in slating brands, so I check the tone of my review, but I make sure I don’t mislead my readers in thinking a product is great if it’s not.

I see many bloggers reviewing only press samples and I wonder what they are thinking. Don’t you buy products? Why don’t you review them as well? I realised I can’t trust a blogger that reviews only press samples because I am not sure how you will review products you buy yourself, and I also cannot trust a blogger that writes only glowing reviews, with no cons whatsoever. All products cannot be that great. For instance, here is a positive product review of 2 Acquablend Bottles I was sent some weeks ago, this review had no cons. Now, here is a not so positive review of MeMeMe Cosmetics I was also sent.

Blogs are not magazines, our readers expect to read real life reviews and posts, they can relate to, so having only positive glowing reviews will bore your readers. There is a very thin line between positive every time, and being a liar.

 

Be a Story Teller

If you are strapped for cash and you are keep getting offers unrelated to your blog, you may still be able to accept them if you have your story telling cap on. Think outside the box, and develop stories that can incorporate the brand in question. So if you blog about parenting and fitness, and you get an offer to write about a fashion brand for example, create an outfit post, and show off your style, or include the brand in a mummy outfit wishlist. There are many ways to include slightly unrelated niches if you think outside the box and let your creative juice flow.

May the forces be with you.

 

 

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62 responses

  1. i agree ! but not even blogging – all social mediums, people are going really far! and it sucks because you just want honest thoughts and words from your favourite people online β™‘ dynamicbohemian.com

  2. Working in blogger outreach and being a blogger myself, I honestly couldn’t agree more. Sometimes I want to work with a blogger on a campaign, but their blog is littered with unrelated infographics and guest posts. I understand that it can be hard to turn down work, but there’s nothing wrong with a little freelancing on the side to preserve your blog’s content, whilst making money.
    Unfortunately, I feel like sometimes it’s the beginning of the end for blogger outreach. The ROI just often isn’t there and the amount of press packs I receive with highly exaggerated stats can be so off putting to my clients. I just want to hunt down blogs with chunky long-form content to dig my teeth into and collaborate in a way that makes good, evergreen content.
    Having said that, your blog of course doesn’t come into this category! I’m so happy that there are bloggers like you still dedicated to creating good content.

  3. I agree with all of your points except “Always Disclose”. There is no need for a Blogger to disclose a sponsored post if it is beneficial to his/her readers and is in line with their blog. Disclosing it has a negative effect. The only advice I would give is only blog about things you are passionate about. If you are a Beauty blogger but receiving only pet sponsors, then maybe the problem is deeper and you need to re-evaluate your entire blog strategy, branding and niche? Great post!

  4. Great post, I always work on my blog ad even take products out and about with me to photograph them. I like tofeature a range of items as I think it is more interesting personally.

  5. I agree I believe that many bloggers have sold out and will accept anything if its paid. I am very selective about sponsored posts and didn’t start accepting sponsored posts until Jan this year when I decided to add lifestyle to my genre list. Being limited to just fashion and social issues is too restrictive and lifestyle covers some of my other loves such as food, travel and music among more.

  6. Arghhh this is something that drives me up the wall. “sold out” is not code for “making more money than me” yet a lot of bloggers get very catty and bitchy about others. I agree with you totally that there are some bloggers who are just asking for stuff or taking on sponsored posts for cash when they aren’t relevant and it does tarnish other bloggers. I think you are right that “sponsored posts” are not automatically selling out.

  7. Found this really thought provoking Stella. Our blog has got to the stage where we are starting to get some offers, but nothing that I have wanted to accept. I do worry each time that I turn something down, but tell myself that I should be true to myself, keep doing what we enjoy doing and that the rest will come. I think the most important lesson I have learned in a year of blogging is to not worry about what other people are doing/achieving on their blogs and just concentrate on enjoying our own!

  8. I always disclose (I’m only sent products to review on my blog and SM) but it is so dishonest not to. Readers aren’t stupid and quite often you will see different bloggers reviewing the same product so we know that it’s been sent to you!

  9. Not a blogger as you know. I found you cos I am a comper. I enjoyed the read. I always enjoy reading your blogs. I am signed up to a few blogs. I do like yours over alot of others. No offence to any other bloggers posting. I like your style of writing and how inclusive you are. I also like the fact you take time to reply to everyone.

    Bitching between bloggers and selling out, so to speak, isn’t just confined to the blogging world. I see alot of it in the comping world too. Hence why I tend to stay quiet about wins and don’t share too much about me. I haven’t the time and I can’t ado with it. When anyone is having problems cos of I advise them the same as I do and to ignore and stay out of drama’s. Touch wood. I have never had any problems and long may that continue.

    I think how you handle yourself is very important as it makes life easier. I also sign up for reviewing products when companies offer them in the comping world and know you have to be honest. It is what the company wants too. If any company didn’t want cons then that company shouldn’t be dealt with. It means they are not open to improvement and can’t be worked with

  10. I so agree with this. Sometimes I get crazy unrelated offers in my inbox, but I always try and tell them in a related way to my niche, finding ways to connect them to my blog, because you’re so right, you don’t always get offers from your own niche. Great post. xx

  11. No offers from anyone yet. I basically review recommendations by magazines that l buy and use. I value honesty and when the time comes to review products for companies, be rest assured reviews will be rendered honestly. Nice post.

    I’m yet to see all these drama I’ve been reading about in Bloggersville. I need to expand my followings.

  12. I think a lot of bloggers are selling out but I know for me I only accept things that are relevant to my life and my blog and that I actually want it. I do plenty of reviews of clothes that I have bought myself but definetly understand the point you are making x

  13. Excellent advice here for me, as a one of the new kids on the block. Thanks for this, I found it a really interesting read and food for thought πŸ™‚ xxx

  14. I limit my sponsored posts so there are three or four natural and organic posts to every one sponsored. Some of my readers really appreciate the sponsored ones too as they can be a great source of information – its the way you write them that makes them personal to you

  15. I like throwing the odd off topic onto my blog every now and again to shake it up a bit, I don’t think that is me selling out though. Interesting post x

  16. I agree with most of the points in the post, I think it’s important to review products honestly and not just the samples and I think sponsored posts should be declared and not done back to back but I also no sometimes you get offers that match your blog and due to other commitments you end up putting the posts back to back.

  17. The honest reviews – good and bad – and the full disclosure is so, so important. Not just for legal reasons (though that’s definitely important) but in just general respect for your readers – they come for genuine content, not press releases. It does seem to be a thing that sponsored offers are like buses, none for ages and then a few at the same time – it’s just important as you say to space them out as to not alienate your readers. Some great points in this post, important for all bloggers and content creators.

  18. I agree that some bloggers might be over-using their blog to get just any freebies, resulting in their blog being clogged and too spammy! But most of bloggers out there don’t, we blog to interact with a community, and I think that’s the most important in blogging.

  19. Ugh you’re so right, I spend every waking minute on my blog or thinking about it. It’s exausting! πŸ™‚

  20. That’s a great blog post and I agree with you. I understand when bloggers accept sponsored posts even if they might not be perfect for the blog, but if you rely on your blog’s income every single penny counts. I get that.

    I follow some two ‘big’ bloggers out there and as they both don’t disclose anything, so for me everything is sponsored or gifted to them etc.

  21. Fully agree with you, and I find it interesting that you say not to restrict yourself to one niche – most of the advice I’ve has is to stick to one niche (which I’ve always resisted) so it’s nice to hear someone saying the opposite. Thanks πŸ™‚

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