The TRUTH About Sponsored Content

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetCollageProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetI think the question I get asked the most now is: how does blogging work? Which is usually followed by any number of these questions:

Do you buy your own clothes? How do you get noticed by brands? Do they tell you what to write? How much do you get paid? How many followers do you need to have before you can work with brands? Is it hard work? How do I know when a blogger has been sponsored to post something? Have you turned down sponsored posts? How much of other bloggers content is sponsored? And the list goes on..

If you have ever wondered about any of these questions then this post is for you! I’m aiming to answer as many questions as possible (apart from how much do you get paid because that’s a whole other post!) and be as truthful as I can be because I know this is an area of interest for a lot of people. Before I started blogging I had no idea how sponsored content worked, I’m not sure I was even aware that such a thing existed. I assumed that bloggers were sometimes paid to post about a certain products or brands but sponsored content is a lot more than just one simple transaction.

Why Do Brands Sponsor Content?Β 

The blogging world is going through a rapid evolution. In recent years we have seen some of our favourite internet influencers move in to mainstream media, write best selling books and become multi-millionaire business people. The reason they have been able to achieve these incredible things is down their ability to attract, engage and grow their online following. If you think about your favourite top three influencers, the chances are that together they have a combined reach of millions across all their platforms. These followers are people that have actively chosen to follow them because they like the content the influencer is putting out. And there lies the answer as to why brands want to work with bloggers. Bloggers have a unique reach and influence over a large audience which is every marketing departments dream. Using bloggers to promote products ensures that their product is being seen by x amount of people with similar styles and interests. What a genius way to specifically target a demographic! It is a direct method of marketing and can generate sales almost instantly so why would any brand hesitate to take advantage of this.Β No matter whether the influencer uses Youtube, a blog, social media or all three, there is no doubt that their content grabs our attention and makes us want to join them and brands want a slice of that.

So that answers why the biggest bloggers attract sponsored content, but what about all the other bloggers. I would consider myself to have a modest following now but the opportunity to collaborate with brands came to me when I had no blog and as little as 2000 followers across my social media. How did that happen? Well it can be down to a number of things. Of course brands primarily want to sell their products but they also need to develop their own identity online. This is a difficult thing to do for individuals, but for bands it can be even more challenging. So, a way to do this is to collaborate with bloggers who share the same image the brand has or wants to achieve. Basically, if you fit their look they probably want to work with you. Not all brands follow this thinking but there are some that do. There is also an argument that bloggers with a small following have a higher level of engagement with their followers meaning their influence is greater. It’s debatable, but it could explain why smaller bloggers attract brand collaborations.

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What is Sponsored Content?

To put it simply, sponsored content is when a brand or company pays a blogger to post about their product but the blogger is free to give their own opinions. If a blogger is paid to post content which can ONLY convey a positive messages about the brand or product then it is an advertisement. Sponsored content can be relayed in many forms such as a blog post, youtube video, social media posts, giveaways and competitions etc. Payment is typically a monetary sum but can also be paid in exchange for vouchers, products, trips and so on. For example, a fashion brand may ask a blogger to create a blog post featuring their clothes. They might send the blogger clothes to wear and then pay them for the post. Or they could provide the blogger with a certain amount of vouchers for their store as a form of payment. It really depends on the brand and the opportunity.

The main reason why bloggers accept some form of sponsored content is because it is a way for them to monetise their blogs. Why shouldn’t bloggers be paid for their hard work, and yes it is hard work. Blogging is not a 9-5 job. Most bloggers will be answering emails, taking pictures or writing posts almost 24/7. Blogging is a lifestyle which doesn’t switch off

How Does It Work?

I’ve had lots of people ask me how working with brands actually works. And the honest answer is it really depends. You can collaborate on a sponsored post with a brand who is happy to let you have free reign and create what you want as long as they are mentioned. Or you can be working with a brand who want to micro-manage every aspect of a post despite agreeing to let you write your honest opinions. This is understandable as brands are taking a risk with sponsored content. You could be paid to review a product and completely slate it, essentially the brand has then paid you to damage their reputation. That is why it’s really important to work with brands that suit your style because being constructive creates better content than just criticism.

Whichever way the brand works there are some simple expectations. For example the brand needs to be mentioned by name and links to the product you are being sponsored to promote need to be clear and easily accessible to readers. Some kind of imagery is also typically required which needs to be good quality. Increasingly brands will also require direct mentions on social media too.

How Do I Know When Content Is Sponsored?

There has been some debate as to whether bloggers need to be more open and honest about what is sponsored and what is not. Some bloggers do it so well you might never notice until you squint at the small print at the bottom of their post. Luckily there are some easy ways to spot whether a post has been sponsored.

The first thing to clarify is that there is a difference between a sponsored post and an advertisement. An advertisement is when a blogger is paid to give a positive review on a product they have been sent. In this instance you will see a lot of bloggers using the word ‘ad’ in their post titles or social media captions. They are obliged to state that it is an ad in a clear way that is understandable to their audience. There is no strict wording to comply with so the blogger can articulate that it is an ad in whichever way they choose but the message must be clear.

Where it becomes murkier is when bloggers are gifted something to review but not expected to say all positive things. There isn’t a legal need to declare it as the blogger is still open to give an honest review. However, a lot of bloggers do use disclaimers to let their readers know when they have been sent an item for review so look out for that in a blog post. The same applies to sponsored posts, the blogger is still free to say what they like about the product, but it is the brands hope that the review will be positive!

In short, look out for the wording of the content you’re reading. If you clearly see the word ‘ad’, you’re being marketed too. If you see the words ‘collaboration’ or ‘sponsor’ then the content is likely to be honest, or as honest as it can be after money or free items have changed hands.

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I really hope this post has answered any questions you might have. If you want to know anything else or suggest a question for another blog post leave a comment below πŸ™‚

 

 

These items were kindly sent to me.Β 

 

5 Comments

  • Eve
    1 year ago

    I love your photos, but I’d appreciated a more personal blog post. This post focus on sponsored content in general, I’d prefer to read about how it all started for you personally. For example, do you approach brands or do they approach you? Must I have a blog to get to try new brands for free? My instagram account has a very high engagement rate and I have about 50k followers yet not a single brand has DMed me. I havent reached out either cause I always thought you had to have at least 100.000 followers for any brand to want to work with you, but youve inspired me so much seeing as, just as you put it, you have a moderate following yet you seem to get sent items everyday.

    I also wanted to take the opportunity to ask you if the items you wear in your instagram posts are items that have been sent to you (you usually tag the brands in your posts). I also wonder if you get a payment in monetary sum in addition to the items? I’ve asked loads of other, bigger bloggers but fame seems to have risen to their heads so they never reply … ! I’ve been hesitant to ask you as I just assumed you would ignore, but seeing as you now have written a few blog posts about the matter it seems as if you’re open for follow up questions.

    • Anika
      1 year ago

      Hi Eve, I’m glad you like my photos! I get approached by brands, as I talked about in the post that is how blogging started for me. You don’t have to have a blog to work with brands. There are plenty of people who just use Instagram as a way of blogging. I wouldn’t go in to it with the mindset that you want to try things for free. If you love a brand and buy from them regularly and post about it then they’ll start to notice you. I can’t say why you’ve not had brands approach you but if you want to work with one in particular then absolutely contact them and ask if they would be interested!

      As for my Instagram, yes most of the items featured are sent to me, certainly the ones that are tagged and some of them are paid for in addition. Feel free to ask πŸ™‚ hope this helps!

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