A few weeks ago I popped along to another edition of Blog Club up on the super glamourous Clifton Triangle. The host was a company which I had (shamefully!) never heard of before, the delightful Bath & Unwind, who specialise in luxury beauty products. Their offices were perhaps some of the funnest I have ever been in, with a fully stocked bar (!!!) and of course more delicious cake than you can shake a stick at!
The topic for the evening was sponsorship, payment, and disclosure… enough to make any blogger break out into a cold sweat. It’s a hot topic at the moment, with the ASA finally cracking down on some dodgy dealings, some of which have made headline news.
It’s definitely something which I knew a very minimal amount about, and definitely needed some clarification on. I’m always so hyper aware of getting something wrong and being penalised by the Googles that I’ve always been massively open about whether anything has been gifted or compensated for in any way.
I think the big thing is trust. As a blogger, your readers trust you enough to not fob them off or lie to them in any way, which is why I try to be as honest as I can. I admit that I struggle to be negative about things, which is why I sound like I’m gushing about everything all the time, but really, if I like a product enough to feature it on the blog, I’m more than likely going to be nice about it.
It’s a weird one. Bloggers have such a huge amount of influence nowadays that it’s easy to be cynical about how truthful they are. Granted, I’ve read blogs whose content is made up entirely of sponsored posts, which begs the question “Do you really care about that product, or have you just been told to do so?”. Having said that, for every one blogger I distrust there is a whole army of blogs I read whom I would wholeheartedly place my faith in, and whose passion for the product really shines through in their post.
You’ve got to remember that blogging is pretty much a full time job (and it is full time for some people!). Writing content, taking and editing photos and promoting the crap out of yourself on social media all takes time, and I think that it’s easy to dismiss bloggers because there are so many of us. But these things take time, and time needs to be compensated.
Much like working on anything in a freelance capacity, I am very much of the mindset that bloggers need to be compensated for their work. Whether that’s in the form of a free product, dinner or cold hard cash, we need something for all the passion we pour into a post.
Which leads me neatly back to the disclosure issue. There was a lot of chat around the issue on the evening, but the main point to emerge was that the most important thing is to be completely explicit with your readers. If you’re going to promote something in a blog post, make sure your readers know it’s sponsored. If you’re going to tweet about something and you’ve been influenced to do so, you need to have #ad in the tweet somewhere.
It all sounds a bit serious, but as the blogging industry continues to grow and evolve it’s something we need to adapt to.
I’m just pleased that there are awesome people like Hayley and Sophie to talk me through it!
Heavy blogging-babble aside, we had an awesome evening, as we always do. There was cake (obvs), beer, and we got chatting to the lovely ladies who work at Bath & Unwind. I had shamefully never heard of these guys before, but it’s always lovely to find other Bristol based businesses who are doing so well. They stock a beautiful range of products, of which I was very kindly given a bottle of the beautiful Korres Water Lily shower gel to take home.
I can’t quite believe that it’s been nearly two years since I trotted off to the very first Blog Club on King St! If you are a blogger in the Bristol area and you want to come along to Blog Club, then come and chat to Hayley or Sophie. It’s always nice to meet new faces 🙂