Sponsored content…Wait, don’t close this tab or window. I’m know you’re fed up with seeing the negative comments about it under your uploads, probably as much as you’re fed up of reading blog posts that explain why people shouldn’t be anti us bloggers doing paid-for videos and blog posts. I know, it’s been spoken about by all of us at some point or another, but today I wanted to focus on a particular intricacy that makes it less of a black and white issue. I hope I’ll be able to explain why your personal views on it should take into account the position/situation/size of each particular blogger.
When the full time/established bloggers talk sponsored work they’ll of course, quite rightly, explain that this is their livelihood and like any other career they deserve to make some money for the hours of work they put in to create this otherwise free content. They’ll attempt to silence many of their detractors and doubters by assuring them that they will only work with brands or products that they believe in or love – or have used naturally before they were approached for a collaboration.
They’ll promise to always be truthful, and confirm that they’ll make sure the AD videos are clearly marked, and that everything they say within them will be true and honest. Transparency is the buzz word. Whether the readers/subscribers believe this to be the way that the specific blogger genuinely function when it comes to paid work, will probably depend on the sponsored work they’ve done previously, and whether they can see clear synergy between the brand and the blogger. Regular viewers/readers tend to be able to gauge whether that blogger tends to fall in to the honest bracket – it only takes one glowing review of a product known to be below par to eradicate faith.
So I think this is a very sensible/correct approach for successful bloggers/vloggers who make regular and substantial money from blogging. To handpick the most suitable from the plethora offers they receive, and decline the ones that don’t feel a good fit or don’t align with their ethics, style or beliefs, seems the obvious and moral method for handling sponsored opportunities.
There are numerous benefits to this approach too. Videos will be more enjoyable to watch because their words will be genuine and hopefully passionate, or the collaboration will have fuelled a creative visual that sits well on the channel and showcases their skill set. All these elements will make it enjoyable for the creator to make too,
and more importantly won’t risk the bond of trust between them and the
viewers/readers. They’ll be protecting their business and it’s
reputation, which we know is very important.
And I think ideally most of us would like to take this staunch approach to keep our integrity completely in tact. After-all no one wants to be associated with lies or deception, and we would all rather not be associated with brands or products that aren’t respected or considered cool within the community.
However, smaller influencers, the ones who are also relying on this as their sole income, don’t always have the luxury of choice. We’ll be watching our inbox like hawks just hoping a legit sponsorship opportunity will land and diminish our money worries for a bit. Once we’ve wasted a frustrating amount of time with numerous to’s and fro’s, with companies that don’t understand that a sponsored post requires them to pay us money, any money, we may be left with one or two to consider. BTW anyone else tired of the emails asking us for our ‘cooperation’.
The opportunities that remain may not be hugely exciting, or a perfect and obvious match for what we do, but we are aware that if we accept the opportunity the financial reward would give us the ability to then go on to make the work we really want to make for our blog or channel. Perhaps the money we make will mean we can update our equipment and deliver a higher standard of work we know our readers and viewers would appreciate, and enjoy even more. It may help us afford to travel to blog events and create useful contacts. Perhaps it could mean we don’t have to be in a constant state of stress, which inevitably effects the work we put out, as well as our health, and the enjoyment of being a creator. Perhaps the same PR company works with lots of brand we do love, and we see this one as a foot in the door to future work which would sit perfectly on our platforms.
I don’t think this mean’s we sacrifice our morals or integrity. Just because the partnership isn’t perhaps the most obvious, perfect, or isn’t quite the achingly cool match we wish it was, it doesn’t mean it has to be riddled with dishonesty either.
It may be a brand you’ve not heard of till then, but when you look at the site you think it looks right up your alley, and they seem to be doing a good job at what they do, so you don’t see any harm at raising awareness of their brand. It may be that it’s not really your kinda thing but you know for a fact that a lot of your subscribers would like to hear about it. Perhaps the company has allowed for a lot of creative freedom with the project so that you can promote the product in a way that befits your ethos and your visual style. Of course the last point is only possible if the brand understands the importance of this…..(that points deserves it’s own post)
For me the key to working round this issue is using the video or blog post to inform people about it so they can make up their own mind. I personally don’t really look to reviews anymore, music or beauty, because I know everything is so subjective and we’re all coming from different standpoints, tastes…and skin types. I seek out information, test for myself, and form my own opinion.
A good example would be that I have attended lots of screenings/premieres over the years. I am required to do social media on the carpet and maybe Vlog about my time on the carpet. I will never say I think a films amazing if it is not (in my opinion), but I will tell you what kinda of film it is, who’s in it , and also tell you about my experience of being at the premiere. I don’t want to encourage people to go and see a film that I don’t believe is worth watching by spouting hyperbolic statements or flat-out lies, but I do want to let you know what’s out in the cinema at the moment so that you can make a choice about whether it looks like something you’d like. There’s plenty of films I’ve not made no comment on in regards to the quality of the film or whether I enjoyed watching it, and instead focused on how fun the event was. I think this is totally fine, particularly when you consider that most people are tuning it to see you get ready, your outfit choice, which celebs are on the carpet etc. If I was asked to do a review and didn’t like the film I would tell the PR that I’d have to be honest.
This year I’ve turned down quite a few interview opportunities and events, for two main reasons.
As I’ve banged on about numerous times, it costs me £20 a pop to go to London (where all these things take place). If they’re not paid opportunities and if I don’t have money coming in, I’m essentially losing money every-time I do this kinda work (which is soul destroying). And although it can be fun, it is still work, because it’s content for my channel/blog which is my only source of income till I get my Etsy store rockin’ and rolling. Sometimes it’s worth it for the investment, it may be a bit hitter views wise and bring more subscribers, which will then put you in a better bargaining position for future sponsored work, or just be good for the illusion of blogger status.
But with my finances as they are I generally can’t think that way right now.
You aren’t paid to attend or carry out these interviews because as a creator you have often taken the place of slot which would be filled by a journalist, and they would have been paid by the publication for the content. We don’t have a publication to invoice, because we are the publication. So sadly I simply can’t ask for my expenses to be covered,
As I’m uploading less while focusing on my art shop, I am also trying to consider each upload a bit more carefully, and trying to offer content that genuinely will appeal to the tastes and interests of my particular subscribers. So the last few weeks I’ve been weighing up suitability to my channel, the cost to my energy levels and health, but also it’s effect on my bank bank balance. Sadly not all of us are in the position to say yes to all the fun stuff that comes our way, and we may also have to say yes to the not so fun opportunities that come our way. In my current position I would say yes to a sponsored post if I thought I could make it work morally and stylistically and if I could be honest, even if it wasn’t exactly the dreamiest of collabs at first sight.
I guess what I’m saying is we’d all love to be the teachers pet, the angelic beacons of morality of the blogging community, and only work with brands and products that are seamlessly connected us and our personal brand, but the fact is they’re not always the brands that want to work with us, and we need to eat, pay the bills…survive. If I hadn’t been so worried about being seen as a sell out in the past, maybe I wouldn’t still be living with my parents at this embarrassingly old age.
Obviously my situation is a bit different. At my level of subs you may not usually think you’re in a position to go full time. You wouldn’t have to say yes to a sponsored post that doesn’t get you giddy with excitement because you’d be making money from your other job.. But I’ve turned to YouTube as a salvation of sorts. I wanted to see if it was possible for me to earn money, even when largely in bed, without having to rely on benefits. Just to reassure smaller bloggers, there really are plenty of opportunities for our size too, but they’re just not necessarily the big or recognisable brands that instantly inject a stamp of credibility to your personal brand.
So, in summary, I’ll never work with a brand or promote a product I think is bad, and I’ll never say something positive which I don’t believe to be true, but you may see me do some collabs that might be random, obscure, or a yard or too from sponsorship ‘goals’. But they’ll still be transparent and honest. Promise.
You wan’t me to eat, right?
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