How Blogging Is Far From Freeloading // Beige Sweater Dress + White Booties
It seems like every other day I have to defend my job and the validity of the blogging industry, but as it’s a relatively new industry, I completely understand why people have their reservations. I guess before I jump into how blogging is far from freeloading, I should acknowledge how I know for a fact that influencer marketing is a very real and effective marketing method. How am I so sure? Because it even works on me.
It’s hard to track the success of an influencer campaign because most people don’t shop directly from a blogger’s link and many screenshot the post to shop it later, maybe even a few months from the time they originally saw the photo. My camera roll is cluttered with screenshots of outfits that inspire me, hair accessories I plan to buy, and even the types of plants I intend to bring into my home. Because of Jules from Om & The City, I’ve sent my husband to Home Depot 5 times already this winter to look for a Snake Plant. Because of Sabrina from Gypsy Tan, I bought a circle bar cart that I now use as my coffee station. Because of Elifnaz from Belmelange, I bought the H&M Frenchie sweater you may have seen me wearing on Instagram. Those bloggers 100% influenced my buying decisions, but no company will ever be able to track that. That’s why I absolutely love receiving messages from people who tell me they purchased an item they saw me wearing. Even if I don’t receive commission on the purchase, it gives me validation that I have a voice and this industry isn’t going anywhere.
Now back to the crux of this post: how blogging is far from freeloading. There are still a lot of people out there who believe that bloggers are just spoiled brats who ask brands not only to send them free clothes, but demand payment as well. I’ve heard every argument, starting with the basic question of, “You’re already getting free product, why should a brand pay you?”
When I first started blogging, I didn’t know my page even had earning potential. I just wanted to go to NYFW and I knew that somehow a blog would be my ticket inside. It was, but then I started receiving emails from companies that wanted to send me products to feature. At the time, I wasn’t paying for photography, I wasn’t blogging to earn any sort of income, I wasn’t even intending on turning my page into a business, so whenever I was offered free stuff, I said, “Sure!” I would photograph the pieces in my free time and write whole blog posts about the clothes because it was fun! But then it started getting exhausting. How many things could I say about a skirt? How many Sundays did I really want to dedicate to doing my hair and makeup and taking pictures? I also started hearing of people who charged for posts, so I decided to give it a try. I responded to the next company that reached out that I had a $40 fee per blog post. The brand agreed to my rate and we’ve actually been working together since, although my rate has definitely changed.
I’m sure there are many bloggers that just do it for the free stuff, but not me and not any of the bloggers I know. Why? Because it’s A LOT of work. Imagine every time you got a t-shirt, you had to do your hair, do your makeup, style the shirt, hire a photographer, scout a location, spend time taking pictures, edit the photos, write a blog post and Instagram caption about the product, publish the content, and then promote it because the brand has expectations from you. It would get old, fast. Because at the end of the day, the effort is just not worth it. Maybe if you replaced the t-shirt with a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes, I would consider doing the work in exchange, but at the end of the day, the trade just needs to be fair. What constitutes as fair will vary for every brand and blogger.
For the most part, I don’t accept any unpaid collaborations because while free product is fun, blogging is my full time job, good photography is expensive, and as much as I wish they would, clothes just don’t pay the rent. Also, if a brand is reaching out to me, it’s because they see value in getting featured on my page. They want to speak to the audience I’ve been building for the past 6 years and convert them into their customers. Sounds like an advertising job to me and since when is that free?
I’ve definitely heard of bloggers starting their pages because they wanted to get in on all the free product, but it doesn’t take long to see how hard it is to run a blog and that’s when they usually stop or decide to start charging. With all that said, a blogger can only be a freeloader if a brand allows them to be one. It’s the brand that decides if they want to gift a blogger repeatedly or set her up in a fancy hotel suite. And it’s the brand that determines which bloggers they want to partner with and the deliverables they expect in return. All we can do is ask.
Beige Turtleneck Sweater Dress: Mango
Calf Hair Leopard Belt: Jcrew
Waldorf Chain Party Bag: Henri Bendel (c/o)
White Pointy Toe Heels: Alias Mae (c/o)
Photography: Laurel Creative