Thursday, May 7, 2015

Commercial Style Blogging

I'm not really into fashion blogging.  I follow a few lifestyle bloggers who regularly publish sponsored (and non-sponsored!) outfit posts and I love them, but I've never been invested in straight style blogging or style bloggers.  Maybe it's because, despite the range of style bloggers, I couldn't find one whose body looks like mine.  Maybe it's because, despite the range of style bloggers, I couldn't find one whose office dress code mirrored my own.  Maybe it's because, despite the range of style bloggers, I couldn't find one whose way of mixing high and low budget pieces matched my financial reality.  Whatever the reason, I just haven't followed fashion bloggers' blogs.

I have followed some style bloggers on Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter, though, which has opened my eyes again and again to how phenomenally naive I am about the ways that blogging - and bloggers themselves - can be monetized.  I remember being shocked when I realized that the majority of the pins I clicked on were affiliate links.  I was confused by at first, and then, once I understood how it worked, disappointed by the blatant commerciality as it completely removes any personal interaction between blogger as advisor and reader as student (for lack of a better word).  The straw on this camel's back, though, when it comes to style blogging, was when I clicked on a link in an otherwise innocuous tweet that, based on the language used, I thought would lead me to a blog post and therefore a personal story from the blogger.

Nope.  The link was a address disguising an rstyle link that led me to an affiliate-tagged shopping website, put cookies on my browser, and made me feel totally used by the tweeter/blogger.  And - pardon my French - I thought, "This is bullshit."

I've written about this before, most specifically here and here, but I hate being manipulated by bloggers.  There is almost nothing on the internet that make me as angry as when I realize that someone with whom I thought I'd built a relationship is mostly interested in the clicks I give her and the cookies she gives me.

Don't get me wrong; I'm all for bloggers earning an income from something about which they're passionate, but I don't want to be tricked into a commercial transaction with someone who is, essentially, selling herself as a brand.

Am I overreacting, dear readers?  Is this just the way it is and always shall be, world without end amen?  I hope not, because I do get style ideas from these women - and, shockingly enough, I do sometimes buy things they recommend and I am happy for them to get commissions from those purchases!  But if this is the relationship they want... well, count me out.


  1. I totally agree but this line "mostly interested in the clicks I give her and the cookies she gives me." I could not help be like yeah no oatmeal raisin for me chocolate chip all the way!

  2. I have followed very few TRUE fashion blogs. As you said, it's hard to find someone with a similar to shape as mine, and even harder to find someone whose style can fit my lifestyle and work environment. I'm 100% with you about the clickbait though. I find it to be incredibly frustrating. I've seen plenty of bloggers who are completely upfront about it, and I appreciate their honesty.

    I'm also not afraid to admit that when I DO see something I like on a blog, I almost never click the link in the post. I got directly to the website and try to search for the item on my own. It's not that I necessarily think the poster is wrong for wanting revenue, but it's also not something I want to be providing for them.

  3. haha I would totally give bloggers chocolate chip cookies if they wanted them :P

  4. Honestly, as far as shape is concerned, I think the differences are more in my head than anything else. ("Hm... we have the same hip/waist ratio, I think, but her tummy is flatter than mine so that dress wouldn't work on me...") And I could probably - and do sometimes - adapt bloggers' suggestions to my lifestyle and work environment! I guess I just don't care enough about having new clothes or about making my old clothes feel fresh to follow style blogs REGULARLY, you know? But I get that a lot of people do and that's why these bloggers are able to earn a living from their blogs! I really don't mind giving them a commission on THE ONE PIECE I BOUGHT THAT THEY RECOMMENDED. I do mind them getting a commission off of anything else I buy on the Nordstrom website until I click on someone else's affiliate link.

  5. I 100000% agree with you on the affiliate links! I remember being absolutely floored the first time I clicked on a disguised affiliate link-like you, I truly thought the blogger had tried to build a relationship with her readers, and it was so disappointing to realize that wasn't the case-it was all about cookies and clicks. I am especially frustrated with bloggers who don't follow the FTC requirements on affiliate links-I do realize they are not super well-known and not enforced a ton, but what they require is really the right thing to do: give your readers the fact by disclosing the links! I am surprised at how many bloggers don't stop to think that they are deceiving their readers when they don't explain that they are using affiliate links and how affiliate links really work. I know when I'm in a retail store and a sales associate helps me that they get a commission, and I'm fine with it! But online when it's not so clear it feels very deceptive. I have unfollowed several bloggers who are deceptive about this. I have a feeling the law will catch up to this technology eventually though-until then I just use ebates when I shop online so that any cookies in my browser get overridden and I get the cash back instead! :)

  6. This phenomena doesn't seem to bother me as much as it seems to bother you. It is not that I condone supporting brands or products that aren't of genuine interest to the blogger. If you accept a sponsored item, it should be because you have genuine interest in trying it and will provide an unbiased review. Or, because you sincerely favored the product prior to the brand relationship. That may not be the case for all bloggers, and that type of poor behavior has the potential to poison all blogger's reputations.

    But, when you reference "selling herself as a brand" - what's wrong with that? Cannot an individual be a tastemaker, have a unique selling position and garner followership that aligns with her style? I see no wrong in developing a personal brand, and if that also leads to profitable clicks then I say "good for you!"

    It honestly doesn't bother me if someone gets a bump from my online purchase. Amazon Smile does this for good causes. I would have made the purchase regardless. So what do I care if some 3rd party also benefits?

  7. It doesn't bother me, but does at the same time. If that makes sense, it really depends on the blogger too, I guess. I'm a blogger and I've been approached to do sponsored posting a few times (I'm still quite small so I don't get much at the moment) and it had to be something I thought my readers would benefit from knowing about. I feel like it's definitely tricky with fashion moreso than healthy living items (what I do). I get what you're saying, though.

    Also, I found your blog through an expat blogging site. I just moved to Glasgow from the US to live with my husband so I'm so excited whenever I find other expats. It makes the process less scary! :)

  8. Many thoughts on this since I recently stumbled across some crazy numbers related to Reward Style earnings that I just could not comprehend and learned that one of the first people I ever followed on Pinterest (recommended to me by Pinterest itself!) is one of their top 5 earners (despite not having that great of an aesthetic on her blog, just a TON of affiliate pins) - which is basically just an example of figuring out how to game the system early on and hard-core financially benefitting from that... anyway, I digress....

    I think you're making a few important points here - first, the fact that the cookies last as long as they do and go toward products that bloggers don't directly endorse (i.e. everything at Nordstrom or Amazon that I just happen to click on for 30 days after clicking through on their site) and secondly, the fact that it's so stinkin' hard to TELL that they're even trying to make money on it. The fashion bloggers that seem to be making the most money almost never disclose when they're using the affiliate links (on all channels - blog and social) and frankly, the average run-of-the-mill person that isn't a blogger has NO IDEA that bloggers are making bank from their clicks. No frickin' clue. Like I told my roommates how it all worked and they couldn't believe it.

    I'm still in the camp of being pro-monetization, but there are so many layers to it and different ways to go about it that posts like these will always keep me reading and re-evaluating and thinking about it.

    Though, P.S. - I think you would make a fantastic fashion blogger, I love seeing your outfits on Instagram and have totally searched for various items that you tag/link to! I've felt the same way as you mentioned about fashion blogging for a long time!

  9. I admit that I have no idea how all of that works. I don't follow any fashion blogs because, well, I just don't care about clothes that much. I really could do a better job monetizing my blog. But I find it too much of a pain to go through the process of linking every single piece of clothing or whatever as I'm writing the post to care. Plus I don't totally know how to get affiliate links anyway. Basically I suck at being a blogger who makes any money off my fabulous recommendations ;)

  10. My sister and I do a lot of research on communication, and the one thing we found overwhelmingly was that people hate feeling like they've been lied to. We found that the largest scandals and personal crises rose from occasions where there was the strongest rating of what we called "Reputation Dissonance" - how contrary the action was to our perception of that person's values, principles, and all the other components of reputation. If someone's a scumbag and acts like a scumbag, we shrug, roll our eyes, and ignore them. But when someone who's been held up as a good person with values acts like a scumbag, we're outraged.

    I think this is the major factor in the relationship capitol of blogging. If someone whose writing you enjoy all of a sudden starts sharing affiliate links everywhere and BUY THIS BUY THIS posts, it's jarring. Or if they've passed themselves off as a blogger who writes honest reviews and is objective all the time and all of a sudden takes sponsored or promotional posts. The fact that you don't want to be "tricked into a commercial transaction" just reinforces that. We want honesty in our relationships and blogging is no exception.

  11. I'm adding my vote to Erika's PS. I would totally shop a Betsy Transatlantically recommended fashion collection!


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