Sometimes I read something so many times that I just can’t keep my mouth shut any more. I need to respond, I need to talk about it, I need to put across my side of the story. Too many times over the past few months I have seen people slate others for posting #ads. For promoting brands or products, for posting sponsored or advertorial content, for what is effectively doing their job and putting food on the table for their kids. So here’s a few points I’d like to make, from my perspective, and then maybe we can quit the #ad bashing – once and for all.
This blog is how I make money
Firstly I think it’s important to say that like many bloggers and digital influencers, this is now my job. My blog, my social media, my online presence – that’s how I pay my bills. I’m self employed and it’s my sole source of income, so it’s the only way I bring in regular money. As a single parent the pressure is fully on me to provide, so I have to make it work.
I work really hard at this constantly, and I’m determined to be successful. In order to bring in paid work I have spent a long time building a website that offers helpful information and relatable content, and I spend a long time nurturing the community I’m trying to build. Lots of my friends previously thought that blogging was really easy, and they have since seen the sheer amount of time and effort I put in to it every single day. I absolutely love what I do, and when I started a year ago I had no idea that I’d be able to make money doing it – so it is really amazing and not something I’ll ever take for granted. But that does mean that my brand is my business now, and part of that business is working with brands to create sponsored or advertorial content. It upsets me that people would look down on me, or doubt my integrity, because I’m out there working hard to support myself and my child. We all talk lots about flexible working for parents, and I’m lucky enough to be making a living from something that I am truly able to fit around my life and my little one. And yet sometimes I’m made to feel bad about that.
So, in the interest of ending the #ad bashing, let’s bust some myths.
Nothing is “free”
“Oh all they care about is getting FREE stuff” – um nope. Firstly FREE is defined as “given or available without charge”. A synonym for FREE is “for nothing”. So let me explain that nothing I nor any other blogger/influencer/Instagrammer/whatever you’re comfortable calling them has been given was ever “for nothing”.
If a brand decides to send me a product you can be absolutely sure that they expect something in return. They expect me to stage, take and edit high quality photos. They expect access to the engaged audience I have spent hours and hours (and hours and hours) building. They expect a feature on the website I have painstakingly designed and poured my heart into writing for. They expect a review, promotion, or numerous mentions across my social media feeds. That means hours of work for me, which is definitely not “nothing”.
Not everything I promote is paid for
“Everything on Instagram is sponsored or paid for” – well no not really. Most people’s feeds largely consist of their own life. Of themselves, their children, their home. Their days out, their holidays, their memories and their thoughts and feelings. Mine certainly is. I love sharing my life on there, and I have made so many genuine friends and connections through social media. I would hate for someone to assume that everything I post has been paid for, or given to me to promote. That’s why I, and 99% of other bloggers, will always clearly disclose paid for product placement or items I’ve been sent. If I’ve recommended something and the post is not clearly marked as an ad/review, or I don’t mention being sent it by the brand then you can be totally sure that I have paid for that item myself and I am mentioning it purely because I think its great, or it may be useful to someone else.
Legally speaking – sponsored or advertorial content has to be disclosed, and the guidelines are toughening up to ensure social media users know when they are looking at paid content. I have no interest in breaking the law, and maintaining honesty and integrity are absolute priorities to me, so I will always ensure it’s crystal clear.
I don’t promote products I don’t believe in
“They promote anything as long as they get paid” – well I don’t. I can’t speak for everyone on this but here’s something that’s really important to me – I don’t and will never promote or recommend a product, brand or attraction if I don’t believe what I’m saying. If I’m reviewing something I will absolutely be honest about its good and its bad points, and I will never tell you something is awesome if actually it sucks. I work hard to attract and pitch to brands that I feel will be a good fit for my readers, to bring you helpful reviews and introduce you to new products and companies that you’ll actually want to hear about and use, so I’ve got no reason to push things that wouldn’t be of interest to you all.
Turning down work is hard when money is tight, but if something is a bad fit for my brand, if it’s something that won’t interest the people reading my blog/following my Instagram, or the product doesn’t fit with my core values then you absolutely won’t see it on my feed. If I say I think something is great, if I say it’s worth buying or it’s worth visiting – I’m saying it because I mean it, and not just because money has changed hands.
Let’s think differently about #ads
My main hope from this post is this – the next time you see #ad, or the next time you see your favourite blogger or Instagrammer discussing a review or posting sponsored content, please try thinking about it differently.
Instead of thinking things like the above, instead of considering them a ‘sell out’ and questioning their integrity, can we try to look at it with a different spin? Can we try to see it for what it is – a hard working person doing their job. Bringing money into their household, putting food on the table for their kids. Creating a credible brand, a successful business, collaborating with like minded brands and companies to create quality content for their readers and followers.
Raise each other up
Every time I post an #ad on Instagram I feel nervous. I worry that people will think badly of me, I worry that they’ll turn off and not want to engage. I worry that they’ll question how genuine the post it, or whether I’ve compromised my values and beliefs. I know people who will deliberately avoid liking or commenting on a #ad, in some kind of silent protest about the whole thing, and I totally understand why you may have those feelings.
But the thing is, my values and beliefs are strongly based around supporting other people. I believe in being kind, being genuine, giving people a boost and raising them up to help them meet their true potential and reach their goals and dreams. Helping people to be successful and strong. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone shared those motives? So what about instead of actively avoiding a #ad or feeling a bit pissed off that it’s found its way on to your feed you keep this in mind. Next time imagine liking it as a way of saying “yes, you go girl!”, imagine commenting something positive as a way of saying “it’s so good to watch your success”. Imagine sharing, supporting, following and engaging as a way of saying “you’re awesome for carving out a successful career and doing this to support your family, and I support you in doing that” – because seriously, that’s exactly what it means to me.