In this confusing age of sponsorships, endorsements and affiliate marketing it’s really important that I just take a bit of time to explain how I got here and my stance because let’s face it, you probably wouldn’t be on this site unless you thought I was honest with you. I think it’s really important to be transparent and given that I’m not only a blog writer but a reader too, I want to treat you all exactly as I’d want to be treated by a site I took the time to read. I started writing about beauty and fashion and chatting to a camera because I loved it, and that’s really the bottom line. It was refreshing to me to be able to log onto YouTube and see girls and women of all ages being brutally honest about products, at a time when magazines were dominant. I relied on it for honesty and as an advertising free zone I knew if I wanted honesty about a topic or product, I would get it. There were no PR opportunities, no freebies, and there was certainly no money. Things are definitely different now, but the reason I blog remains the same, I absolutely love it.
I have been incredibly fortunate to have some great opportunities, to meet people within the industry, to attend launches as press, to try out products and also make a bit of money along the way. Yes, I put work into my content, but I am under no illusion that any of that would be possible without you sitting reading, watching, commenting, encouraging and interacting. I’m really grateful, don’t worry, I’m not going to get all Oscar speech on you, but suffice to say I properly appreciate all of you and want to treat you with the respect you treat me with. I do make money from my blog, not buckets, but still, the reason I’m sat typing this is the same reason I pressed record on my camera in 2008. I like it. Believe me when I say that for the hours you put in, the thick skin you need to develop and the uncertainty you can sometimes face, if I didn’t love blogging, I wouldn’t be sitting here just for the money. Besides, you guys would be able to tell, you’re not daft, and most of you have known me for quite a while now. Do some people start channels and sites simply to earn a living? Of course they do, and good luck to them, there isn’t any harm in that, it just isn’t how my story unfolded.
The products that I feature on this blog are very often sent to me by companies I have built a relationship with for me to give my feedback on. It’s how it works in print media and it’s the same for bloggers. I know it seems quite an exciting prospect, to get ‘freebies’ and whilst I am fortunate, they aren’t entirely ‘freebies’ – the feedback a brand can get often mean they don’t have to spend money on focus groups and surveys, and essentially they are sending the product hoping for exposure and a valuable bit of pimping on my website or channel. Sometimes they get it, a lot of the time they don’t. A significant amount of products I test monthly don’t make it to these pages or a video, simply because in my eyes they aren’t really good enough. I also make a point only to accept products that I would be interested in buying with my own money – there isn’t really much point in accepting a set of monogrammed golf clubs just because they are free when you’re never going to set foot on a golf course. If it’s not something I am interested in, it won’t be accepted and it definitely won’t make it to the blog, that’s a certainty.
A lot of bloggers have different techniques for marking out samples and items bought with gift cards, adding an asterisk, or writing ‘press sample’ in italics underneath and they are methods that work for them. Personally, I’ve tried different approaches over the years, and not really found a fit that works perfectly for me. I think the best way to look at it is that asterisks and italics aside, you guys need to be reading these posts because you trust me and my honesty. When I write a post and asterisk an item, I know instantly that a percentage of my readers will form an opinion knowing that I didn’t buy it and what is originally put in place to get rid of positive bias ends up becoming negative bias. A lot of people think that if I’ve paid for something with my own money I’m likely to be more honest and can review an item more fairly, but a good reviewer gives their truthful opinion no matter what and doesn’t bow to pressure from PR’s looking for good coverage.
If you know that what I blog about is a mixture of my own money and samples, but that I only ever show you items I love, then this will work. Frankly, even if I wanted to lie about products, there really is no motivation or reason for me to do that. The good brands will accept that it’s unnatural to love everything and the bad brands, well they aren’t really ones you want to align yourself with. I have plenty of things to post about, there is no pressure to only include certain ones, and the day you don’t trust me is the day I shoot myself in the foot and lose all the respect I’ve worked so hard for. It’s not in my interest to lie to you and in all honestly, there are ways around it. I could run out to the supermarket and buy another £4 nailpolish to replace the one I was sent so that I don’t have to say it was a sample, but it can all get a little silly and futile if you just don’t really trust me. If you follow me on twitter you will know that if I have a bad experience with a brand, I have and will continue to let you guys know.
It’s quite rare that I do sponsored posts, but they do happen, so know that they will always be disclosed. It will always say ‘sponsored post’ next to any kind of sponsored content and it will always be extremely clear to you. Sponsored posts happen when a brand want to guarantee coverage of their items rather than just hoping it makes its way onto the blog. Whilst that is fine, I want to make it really clear that they do not have the right to ensure I only post positive things about those products, or to dictate what I say. If they want to do that, they can send me an image and put it in the sidebar where I put the rest of my adverts, that isn’t what I’m here to do and again, it really wouldn’t be in my best interests. They get guaranteed coverage, but not lies. Most of the time, they are just neutral “news-bulletin” style announcements and photos of new ranges, not reviews, but it’s important to note that they are paying for space, not positive opinions. Again, these will only be accepted when they are relevant. I have been offered several opportunities to blog and tweet about things for money but really guys, if you know I’m an Apple fangirl and hate PC’s, would it really be cool for me to start tweeting about Microsoft for a quick buck? Nope. You weren’t born yesterday and I’m not about to sell my soul for a quick buck.
You might notice that I have some adverts on my site, those mostly come from an organisation called Glam Media, which I am part of. I chose to be a part of Glam because they take care of adverts for your blog, they are fair, and they treat bloggers well. If you are a blogger, I would definitely recommend them as a collective to be a part of. They are #1 for Women’s Lifestyle and are part of a worldwide group with branches in the US, France, Germany, Japan and of course the UK. I like their adverts because they are usually brands I am familiar with and their adverts are high quality and look good. I want my blog to be a safe and friendly place, I don’t really want to have adverts for sex shops and herbal weight loss pills popping up alongside the content I’ve worked hard to create and Glam are highly respectable and a great fit for my site. Some people feel strongly about adverts, I have worked hard on having adverts without them making my site look ugly or dominating the content of the blog, and of course you are always welcome to install some kind of adblocking software, but if you do love my site and what I do, then I would encourage you to view my site with the ads. It supports my blog and makes it possible for me to keep putting the time into it that I do. If you have minors using the computer and are worried about them seeing unsolicited adverts, you can rest assured you won’t have any issues with the kind of adverts and brands Glam works with. I also accept adverts outside of the Glam ones and give reasonable rates to independent retailers like etsy or bigcartel stores and also to other bloggers. I know how hard it can be to get your foot on the ladder and I’m all for supporting creative talent. More info can be found on my advertising page.
Affiliate links are another thing that can cause mystery, gossip and confusion. Put simply, affiliate links are special links with a unique code in them so the website can track who sent you or referred you to buy something. Some of my links are affiliate links and some aren’t. If I buy a £30 top from a retailer and link you to it, the retailer might pay me 3-5% commission for directing you to their site. You still pay £30, nothing extra is added on top, but the retailer decides to give me a small (and I mean pennies) cut of the sale. Truthfully, affiliate links can be a bit fiddly and time consuming (especially for something like a video where you mention 20 products) and you don’t make a great deal of money, but obviously a bit of money here and there doesn’t hurt. I would always take the time to link you guys to something, affiliate or not, and of course if you do feel very strongly about me making 50p or so from the retailers you shop at, you can always type their address into your browser independently or google things yourself, there is no pressure.
I’ve learned over the years that I’m not really comfortable taking every opportunity and bit of money that is offered to me. That might be seen as foolish to some, but blogging and the opportunities it brings can very easily make you a little bit greedy. If you don’t love what you do, it’s all a little empty, and I don’t really do empty. Or, as one of my favourite quotes puts it: “Some people are so poor – the only thing they have is money”
On the subject of transparency and honesty, you will never see photoshopping or airbrushing on any of my images. My site is a place where you’ll see a true reflection of how clothing and makeup look, trust me, I’d love to airbrush a lot of my flaws away, but we all have them, and we see enough ‘perfection’ in the glossy magazines. I do edit the light/colour levels of my images and resize them, but only to present the images in the best way possible and to make sure things show true to life.
Thankyou for reading, interacting and supporting me for as long as you have, whether or not you found me years ago or yesterday. This page wasn’t obligatory, but I think it’s important.