This has all been spurred by some blog post comments I was reading on a fellow bloggers blog. I was so stunned at what some of her readers were saying about her in her own space, not to mention a bit disgusted, so I immediately turned to my blog and needed to get some words out. Just to give you the gist, a very small number of her readers were stating that they believed that products should be disclaimed much more prominently within blog posts and that they no longer believed her credibility due to this. I literally read from comment to comment unable to look away, some of the comments were harsh, rude and in some cases absolutely out of order. This particular lady is an incredible blogger and an even more incredible person. She writes, wonderfully, about the products she loves and uses and she will not speak about products she dislikes. Whether she has been paid for it or not. And that’s where I stand on the topic.
As a blogger, you create a space for readers to come along and gather information about products you want to inform them about. The space is yours to do what you will and you can make it entirely unique, if you can. Due to that, there are a lot of PR companies out there who look after clothing, beauty, travel and other, brands, and who would like to have you review their products. It means that some bloggers do get sent a lot of products free of charge, which is an amazing thing that of course I am grateful for every day, as are all of the bloggers I know. A blogger can not be expected to go and spend hundreds and thousands of pounds on products, to then review on their blog to promote to readers. The only people that benefit are the brand (primarily) and the readers, and the blogger has then worked and promoted a brand for no real incentive. That is why products are gifted to bloggers, so they have the tools they need to review a product. It is amazing to be in that position, but it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get to the point of being sent product samples. It is not just a given. I leave a note on the bottom of every blog post that states that there is a possibility the product has been sent to me, with a link to my disclaimer where you can read more on my policies. I made this a generic note on every blog post, as some items are bought and some are gifted, but I only include the products I love to wear or love to use. So regardless of whether they were sent or not, they’re on Inthefrow because I want to tell you about them and therefore they are just as valid as the products I bought and modelled alongside them. By the way, Im referring to products that are just sent to me here. Not sponsored posts – Im referring to gifts that I can either choose to review or choose not to. Why would I review a product and lie about it in this case? But rest assured, even if a post is sponsored, I would only speak of a product if I loved it to pieces. Otherwise, it gets put into the deleted pile.
Then it comes to what you do with these products that are gifted. There was one girl in particular on this comment feed who was rudely stating that she thought bloggers were paid to speak about products positively, ultimately losing their credibility and just publishing any old content in return for a buck. That they are sent products and they have to be positive about them, “because the brand would want them to, after sending them such expensive products”. I’m going to label this immediately as entirely false. There have been a number of products that I have been sent to review, they have not worked for me, I did not like them, I did not want to write about them and therefore they never made it onto my blog. If the brand had paid me to write the review, and I still didn’t like it, then no way would it go onto my blog. I’m not that desperate for cash. I have said from the beginning, this blog is a collection of the things I love and in some cases, the things I actually really hated, although the negativity I like to keep to a minimum. I don’t want to waste my breath telling you about a product you will probably dislike when I can be telling you about an alternative that you will love. Yet in some cases, products are so bad that I need to tell you all about it and quick. I will only speak about products in a truthful and honest way. My mum, my aunty, my cousins, my friends and my friends of friends read this blog and I would never lie to any of them about loving a product for them to go out and buy, and absolutely hate.
There were also comments referring to affiliate links in posts. At the end of the day, blogging is about reviewing products or talking about products, so that a reader knows whether or not its worth taking the plunge. That is generally the point, unless you’re reading an entirely lifestyle based blog and even then, you will be told about places to visit and things to see. I purposely link you guys to products and items that you can buy right after I have reviewed a product. Why would I talk about a product and then not tell you exactly where you can buy it with a direct link to it? Thats the way I love to read blogs, with a simple click-through link, so thats what I offer my own readers. I do make a small amount of commission on it, generally around 2-5% of the price depending on the brand, but that doesn’t cost you guys anything, if anything, its just the brands way of saying thank you for talking about our product and letting a reader come straight to it and buy it. You guys are happy with your new product and I see a small amount of commission from sales, so Im pleased you’ve loved the review enough to go and buy one yourself. Whenever I hear readers telling me they bought something I reviewed or spoke of in a video, Im elated. Its a great feeling to recommend something and lots of people buy it and love it too. If we didn’t use affiliate links, then you’d only find an affiliate link on the next website. Everyone has them and its just the way the web works. And I guess if you’re one of my lovely readers who have bought a product Ive recommended, then thank you so much for enjoying that post and I hope you loved the product too!
I’ll finish this post with a little something on the ASA, since were talking about disclaiming and the knitty gritty. I’ve been asked about how I feel towards it on twitter, and I feel its a positive move, although in its very early and clunky stages. In the description box of my videos, I have always stated whether I have been paid to promote a product. Just to reiterate, products I promote are products I use and like a lot; enough to recommend them. I wont be paid to speak about a product that doesn’t work. But unfortunately there are bloggers and youtubers out there who never disclaimed their videos, either they didn’t want to or didn’t realise they needed to, so it got to the point where some people were being paid to promote products without letting the audience know that it was a paid advertisement. This is unfair and misleading. This has meant that the ASA has had to enforce a new process of clear disclaiming, whereby the viewer should know, before they choose to watch a video, whether its going to include a paid advert. This term makes it all sound so seedy though I feel. A ‘paid for advert’ or ‘paid for advertorial.’ It sounds so clinical and alien. It doesn’t sounds like the friendly, carefree faces you’re used to, filming away in their bedrooms with bad lighting and motorbike noises outside. Its a shame when only maybe 30 seconds of a 10 minute video have been paid for, whereby a brand has asked if you’d like to talk about their products, you’ve tried it, loved it and said “Yes, I’d be happy to speak about that as I really enjoy using it.” And why shouldn’t a blogger or youtuber be able to do that? Regardless of what people think of blogger or youtubers, that they get sent products and go out for coffee all the time, believe me, thats not all of us. I’ve spoken in depth before about how much time and effort I put into this blog and how much I absolutely love every second. So in honesty, if Im asked to speak of a product I love (this is seldom by the way), with a little incentive to boot, I have to pay my bills, I have to keep writing and I have to make ends meet. So that little extra incentive is wonderful and something I am incredibly grateful for.
So, my videos in future, due to the new regulations, will be even clearer. No longer will I disclaim at the bottom of my video description box, but at the very top. Titles of videos will now include the word Ad, so you know there is some sponsored content included, and annotations will flag up over the videos for a few seconds stating that there is paid content included. Its a lot of disclaiming, almost too intrusive if you ask me, but if thats what it takes to make the viewer feel more secure, then so be it. I just hope that it doesn’t stop my viewers from watching me, and thats why I wanted to have this heart to heart with you. Please know, that even if a video of mine includes paid for content, I have selected the collaboration with you guys in mind, because I enjoy the product and because I think you will enjoy it too.
And that is where I stand on it all. Expect to see videos disclaimed even clearer and explicitly, but the content is still going to be exactly the same. Upbeat, happy, positive (mostly) and telling you about the products I’m loving, whether I’ve been incentivised or not. Blog posts will still remain to be disclaimed as potentially including gifted items, but again, the reviews are 100% truthful from me to you. The whole truth and nothing but. And I will still aim to bring you new product reviews, lifestyle posts and outfit shots so that hopefully a product will start on me and end on you.
I hope you’re down with all of this, but if not I’d love to know your thoughts, but please guys, lets keep this positive. Hope you’re all well and thank you for reading. Love you all for your support, always.
Some of these items may have been sent to me for review. Please see my disclaimer for more information