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The Blogger and The Brand

25 10 2011 / BY Brunette Blogging

The blogger and the brand, it almost sounds like the title of some kind of Disney movie. A happy fairy tale where you know that all will end well. Is that the same for bloggers and brands? I guess that’s less predictable than the Disney movie. Collaborations between these two have been going on for a while, but it remains new and it all seems to be quite “hush hush” in the sense of what both parties are getting out of it. The fact is: there are bloggers out there who have learned and experienced how to deal with brands and how to get a fair deal out of it. The other fact is: there are still a lot of brands who are trying to “abuse” bloggers. No, I’m not going to be all whiny and cry about that, but open discussions about this matter might help us learn something along the way. Even though I’m the first to admit that I don’t own “the truth” (if there even is one) about this subject, there are some general ideas circulating about the topic. Let’s discuss, shall we?


“My blog is worth nothing to brands”

Fact: a lot of bloggers sell themselves short. Maybe your blog can not be compared yet with the super bloggers out there and maybe you haven’t reached those million hits per month just yet. What you have to realize is that the numbers that you do have also matter and have a certain value. For instance, do you have 10 000 readers every month? That’s really not that bad. There are magazines out there who sell the same amount of copies. They are also getting paid for advertisements, why shouldn’t you? Be proud of what you create, if you talk about your blog as if it’s worth nothing, others are likely to feel the same way.


“A blogger is a brand”

If you’re really serious about making something out of your blog, start thinking of yourself as a brand. I know that may sound very arrogant, but it’s not (unless you’re being all cocky about it and refuse to respond to any other name than “Empress” or something). If you start thinking of your blog as a “brand”, you’ll probably brainstorm more about your content or the niche you’re working in and it can help you to create even better content. Thinking of your blog as a brand helps you define the ideas behind it. Most importantly, it will give you a better vision of the brands you want to work with, since it will become easier to determine if they fit your “brand”.


“Brands destroy creativity and freedom of speech, what a blog is all about”

I guess most of us have experienced those pushy PR people who try to force you into writing something about a certain brand. That trick doesn’t work on me, and I can imagine that a lot of people feel the same way. There is the dark side of advertising and collaborating where the other party doesn’t even seem to know or care what you are doing or what your blog is all about. They offer you advertorials that they’ve written themselves, with brands that couldn’t be further away from your target audience. Just a piece of advice: run, run, as fast as you can and let them know that you’re not their (wo)man. The money or goodies that are being offered can be tempting (I’ll admit I have gone over to the dark side myself, we all have to learn & make mistakes) but if it doesn’t feel right – don’t do it. Now let’s put that frown upside down and talk about the sunny side of this story. There are brands who really do know what you are about (they even look at your blog before they email you, shocking!) and they want to create a partnership where you actually can debate about the collaboration and the content. That my friend, is a story of the blogger and the brand gone good.

 
 

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  • http://thinkincognito-eng.blogspot.com Absolute B.

    Very interesting post indeed. Bloggers sometimes forget to take some time to reflect on ethical blogging matters.
    I would tend to think ““Brands destroy creativity and freedom of speech, what a blog is all about”. But as you’ve said, one just have to figure out what feels right and what doesn’t.
    With my co-bloggers we do try to think of our blog as a ‘brand” in the sense that it is a creation that we have to publicize and expend in order to have more people reading, viewing and debating.

    By the way we recently wrote a post about Chiara Ferragni and how brands kind of denatured her style. As some readers commented on our post, styling a Dior dress with Miu Miu shoes is not what readers should expect of a blogger, even though I’m not at all against brands. I just think that wearing a total brand look cannot be called style, I feel like one have to find the right balance between personnal style, vintage, basics and brands.

    Absolute B. of Incognito

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  • http://thecurvestyle.com Carol

    Excellent topic, I”m a newbie to the fashion blogging world so I appreciate this post. I have a lot to learn. I came in via the IFB links a la mode.

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  • http://missviki.at/ Miss Viki

    I think it is important to set up your own guidelines on how to deal with ad requests. Think about which kind of advertisement is acceptable and what is not and how much to charge for a text ad, banner or an advertorial. Also keep in mind that it is not only the working hours you are selling (putting an ad is usually done in a few minutes) but you are actually selling your reputation, community exposure and the time you put into building your site in the first place. Do not underestimate yourself and your value!

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  • http://www.blondevivant.com Blonde Vivant

    Great post, we are a new blog and still learning the ropes. Really appreciate your advice although we are no where near having brands be interested in us :)

    <3 Blonde Vivant

    http://www.blondevivant.com

  • http://www.fiercebeautyandfashion.wordpress.com MJ

    I couldn’t agree more! This was a well thought out post and very spot on. In my two years of experience dealing with brands I had to take the approach of thinking of myself as a brand in order to weed out what brand relationships work and what don’t. And you are so right about this – if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t!

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  • angie

    Great post! I hope the brands will understand the real job of the good fashion bloggers!I’m convinced this will pay off at long term. Very good article!

  • http://badjoan.blogspot.com Bad Joan

    great post! this is really good advice!

    GTBB,
    http://badjoan.blogspot.com
    http://cookingjoan.blogspot.com

  • http://stylingdutchman.blogspot.com annebeth

    leuk artikel :-) ’tis allemaal nie simpel newoar. Ik denk dat de echt vruchtbare blog-brand samenwerkingen niet zo veelvuldig voorkomen eigenlijk, ik vind het ook al irritant als ik ineens op ALLE blogs iets lees over product x dat net nieuw gereleased is omdat het dan zo geforceerd overkomt, ookal past het bij de blog, maar ik ben wel een moeilijke :D

  • http://www.tantrumsandtomatoes.com Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes

    What gets my goat are the brands who will assume that you poor little blogger dying for exposure will be sooooo glad to review their product that you’ll do it for free.
    Since I write a mommy/cooking blog I sometimes get pitches for baby products, the email usually begins with ‘dear mom (eh, nice but I’m not your mother, you PR-person) we now how precious your time is (it is thankyouverymuch) and how much you care for your children (again I do) so that is why we are honoured to assign you a place on our test-team, please give us your adress so that we can send our samples. Love brand X signed abc.’
    Standard answer : ‘Dear abc, Thank your for the opportunity. My time is indeed precious, which is why I would like to discuss my product-review fee with you beforehand so as to avoid any unpleasantness later’
    Never hear from them again….

    • http://www.tantrumsandtomatoes.com Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes

      ‘know’ ofcourse not ‘now’ , apologies for the typo

  • http://twowondergirls.blogspot.com Siel

    Wauw, jij hebt er goed over nagedacht :)

  • http://www.mesvoyagesaparis.com/ Mónica-Mes Voyages à Paris

    Hi! I totally agree with you, it is a complicated relation, but well, with the time I hope the brands will understand the real job of the good fashion bloggers! I have just discovered your blog and I follow you!

    xoxo
    Mónica

  • http://www.walkinwonderland.com Sheryl

    What a great post!! I love that you have a voice of your own. Following your blog because I like it…

    I am doing a Jeffrey Campbell giveaway on my blog and I’d love for you to enter. http://www.walkinwonderland.com/2011/10/purple-blazerjeffrey-campbell-giveaway.html

    xoxo!
    Sheryl

    http://www.walkinwonderland.com

  • http://tha-darlinh.blogspot.com Anh

    Thank you for this very inspiring and informative blog post! It of course doesn’t reveal all things yet but maybe you should go on with writing about such topics now and then. Maybe you can share your personal experience if you have some. If yes how did you approach them? How much worth is actually such advertisment. Just for us all to know what is “abuse” and what is a “fair deal”. That would be great! Anyway I added your blog to my bloglovin so that I can keep track on your posting!

    loves from tha.Darlinh

    • http://brunetteblogging.com Brunette Blogging

      Hello! I’ve actually written quite a few articles about these blogging subjects so far, you can find all of them here http://brunetteblogging.com/articles/ :) It’s difficult to say what a fair deal is, since it all depends on the amount of readers that you have and how engaged they are. Every brand/partnership is different, and they all have different needs or requirements. It all depends on what they are looking for and what you consider as a fair deal. For the most part, I have been contacted by brands or companies myself to be honest. If I would contact them, I’d try to make a personal approach, that shows creativity and a strong interest in their brand. Basically combine a professional attitude with a genuine interest in their brand :)
      I would classify abuse as paying 5 dollars for an advertorial :) or forcing you to write stuff (not that they can really do that (unless you signed something), you just have to be strong and say no ;))

  • http://tessvdm.wordpress.com Tess

    Really nice post and so true!

  • http://www.dsd-marketing.com Iain

    Interesting blog post, I represent a few fashion brands online and have to say I agree with what you say if all you ever receive is promises or suggestions from the dark side. On the other hand you will find brands like ours that invest a huge amount of time and money in the blogosphere reading and communicating with bloggers that may or may not work together on a collaboration in the future. Personally we look for people that fit our brand with whom we think we can offer value to their readers, be that by giveaways and discounts or by quality product reviews or advice. We do not approach bloggers to post something on a one off situation whether paid with cash or products as we believe that is counter productive and to be honest there is rather a lot of mediocrity in the fashion blogging world that I would not associate our brands with, the blogger has to fit the brand as well as the other way round, we do find bloggers we can work with ongoing like mentioned above.
    We do not feel we own a blogger and every blogger we work with writes about competing brands as well, however when we can help them or their readership we do so.

    No we are not angels, we have products to promote and websites to promote but we do feel that being active in the blogosphere and working symbiotically with bloggers (and their readers) that suit our brands we can achieve that aim while everyone wins. I have followed your blog for a long time now and read what you write, I do this because i find your work interesting and thought provoking, yes we have a brand that would fit with you perfectly, however we like to make sure everything is good before we initiate contact, for some of us brands we care about our image and do not just send multiple random requests.

    There is two sides to every coin – just sayin

    • http://brunetteblogging.com Brunette Blogging

      Thanks for your comment and for reading of course :) I didn’t mean to make it sound that I only ever receive negative proposals, because I don’t. I just feel that the bad versus the good has about a 60-40 % ratio, which makes me feel that some of the PRs/brands/companies either don’t really know how to deal with these kind of collaborations yet or they just simply want to take advantage of the blogger (who usually has less experience in this field and will be easier to abuse) That’s why I want to write articles like this, to create the open discussion and hopefully help people along the way :)

  • http://givemetruthloveandfreedom.blogspot.com/ Tine

    Zeer interessant artikel!
    Je vat steeds weer de koe bij de horens!!
    x
    http://www.givemetruthloveandfreedom.blogspot.com/

  • http://rosalovesdc.tumblr.com/ RosaLovesDC

    Very interesting post girl. I agree with you on most of these points. I have gotten requests from brands that are completely not suitable with my blog and I had to turned them down as I just don’t want to get a dress for free. I had decided to stay away from advertising when I started my blog and while sometimes I do think that it might be a good idea to get paid for what I do, I just don’t think it is for me. I am always afraid that working with brands will take away a bit of my creative freedom. However, I do think it is fantastic that other bloggers get paid for what they do and I admire the ones who are able to keep their blog focused on things that they truly love and stand for while working for brands. I think that it’s incredible hard and because of that, those bloggers get all my respect.
    Sorry for the rant, I love when you write about these blogging topics, it really gets me thinking…

  • http://alertealiege.wordpress.com Sophie/Alerte à Liège

    Very intersting blogpost! Great idea to open a discussion about what every blogger might feel! I totally agree with you and with the comment of Toni…

  • http://www.twitter.com/#!/Adgenius Rob van Alphen

    Great post, Kim. And you are absolutely right, even though for many the Dark Side can be hard to say no to.
    Being from the other-side (I do not want to use the word ‘Advertiser’ :D), I know how some companies just want the ‘free publicity’. Luckily I am there to counter such thoughts :). For me it is all about establishing a long-term relationship, which goes beyond a one-time shot. That is why we prefer not to buy blogger-lists and ‘spam’ them all with the same commercial message. Instead, it is about in-depth research into the lives of the blogger whether it’s fashion or politics. This can go far (you know :D) and could take weeks, but ultimately it is all about making sure you have the best people reflecting your brand (and campaign) values.

    I have to be honest, in the end there has to be a win-win for both parties, but this does not mean that there can’t be random acts of kindness in the process.

    Have a lovely day!

  • http://www.shoesandjules.com Jules

    I totally agree with everything you said! As for the last part, so many brands do try to push products and articles on bloggers. I have received some of the strangest requests! Some of them have nothing to do with shoes or fashion! I would only take an offer from a company that fits ME. It has to be a product or brand I totally love, purchase, and stand by. I would not blog about something just because.

  • http://www.peggytimmermans.be/blog Peggy Timmermans Visagie

    I agree on the part of ‘don’t sell what you’re not’ If a car company asks me about their new launch of a new type…well…no, I’m sorry. I’ll send them a polite answer that it’s nothing for my blogger range. Although money or gifst can be tempting, I try to stick to my business an I’m convinced this will pay off at long term. Very good article!

  • http://www.thefashioncloud.com FashionCloud

    I love your article this is exactly what i preach, I have no problem with collaborations as long as they are transparent and both sides are open and honest about the collaboration and the partnership itself. More so, I think brands are using and abusing of rising bloggers and their blogs, so indeed you should never sell yourself short. i would say, don’t collaborate with a brand if you are not a 100% committed to the brand and would no go out and buy the stuff yourself . Otherwise go for it

    xx

    TFC

  • http://www.glamour-blog.com Cindy

    Oke, eerst en vooral ben ik er stil van van hoe mooi je dit hebt neergeschreven; dus bij deze nogmaals mijn complimenten. En daarnaast heb je helemaal gelijk. Na die 2jaar, in mijn geval, leer je steeds meer bij van al die mensen die je contacteren en ik ben er zeker van, dat dankzij jou post, beginnende blogs heel veel hulp zullen krijgen, en die ze soms ook nodig hebben!

    Ben alvast benieuwd naar de berichten die eruit gaan komen maar volgens mij wordt het een interessant onderwerp!
    & ik wens je nog een hele fijne dag! xx

  • http://www.absolutelymrsk.blogspot.com Absolutely Mrs. K

    I cannot imagine what kind of presents top bloggers get! A online store gave the blonde salad a clutch and glitter heels by Miu Miu, you can do the math!!!! I have absolutely no problem they gave that to her, but I think it is just the tip of the iceberg! So many brands give presents to celebs, so why not give them to people who are actually dealing with fashion everyday!
    Designers will never see me as a brand because I am too confusing! I don’t represent a certain style or trend, so it is hard to figure out what my fashion identity is! Yep feeling the same way about those PR mails! Please PR, know your bloggers and match them with brands you represent! But there are some PR agencies who definitely know what you are standing for!!