How to Deal with Brands that Take Advantage of Bloggers

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Not long ago, I wrote a post about a brand that offered to “collaborate” with me–but in a way that didn’t benefit me at all.  They wanted me to put together a post to promote their product, but they wouldn’t give me anything in return.  It’s not fair, and it’s so frustrating when this happens.  Us bloggers pour our hearts and souls into this work, and it’s not right for a company to try to take advantage of our drive and passion.

So what should you do when this happens?  Well, there are a few options.  Let’s dive in.

  1. Ignore it or say no.  If a brand reaches out to you with a collaboration proposal but doesn’t include any mention of compensation or a gift, there’s nothing wrong with deleting that email or responding with a polite “No.”  Write a template so you can have it readily available for this kind of thing.  All you need to say is something like, “Hi, Brand.  Thanks so much for reaching out.  Unfortunately, I don’t think this would be a good fit for me.”  Fluff it up however you want, but keep the sentiment the same.
  2. Explain how it’s unfair.  You can also choose to explain further about why you’re declining the brand’s collaboration.  This is the route I normally take because I want to inform brands that their practice harms bloggers.  Be tactful!  You never know when this brand could become a good partner, and you don’t want to burn any bridges.  If you go this route, you can say, “I’d love a chance to work with you, but since putting together this post requires a bit of work on my end, I would ask that I’m compensated in some way.”  It’s polite, but it’s assertive.
  3. Ask to get in touch with the sponsorship team.  Something I learned about the bra company (referenced in this post) is that their marketing department–the folks who sent the original collab proposal–is separate from their sponsorship department.  The marketing team may have no control over your compensation or freebies, so see if you can get in touch with the right people!  In this case, you can build off of step 2 and ask for some contacts on the brand’s sponsorship team.  You also might want to link to your media kit if you have one.

The only thing I’d strongly caution against is actually taking up the brand’s offer.  Doing so means you will be putting in hard work and getting absolutely no payout.

What do you guys think?  How do you respond to uncompensated collaboration proposals?

Outfit: Blush Ankle Straps

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dsc_0056dsc_0075dsc_0076dsc_0069dsc_0062Here come the spring rains.

Poor Moxie is currently hiding out under the bed.  There’s a storm blustering outside, and she’s terrified of rain.  It’s weird; she loves it when I turn on the shower, but if that water comes from the sky instead of a faucet, there’s no getting through to her.  As soon as she hears the first patters fall, she stops whatever she’s doing to crawl under the bed.

Even today, she was in the middle of her “dessert” bone when she perceived a thunderclap and had to run for the hills.  There’s no getting her out once she’s there.  I’ve tried the Thundershirt, tranquil music, and even my mom’s voice on speakphone, but nothing would calm her down.

There are going to be more nights like this, I know, but at least it means spring is on its way.  As far as winters go, this one was remarkably mild.  I’m normally superstitious about that kind of thing, thinking that it’ll mean a poor summer.  But maybe it’s just making up for the last couple of years of nasty winters and chilly summers?  One can dream.

In any case, I just want to get outside and do the things I love: hike, run, and take pictures.  I’ve already started running after work, and it makes me feel so happy and energetic!  Even when I’m walking Moxie, we sometimes break into a little trot, and she loves it as much as I do.

What are you most excited for this spring?

What’s in My February Ipsy Bag?

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I know, I know.  A few months ago I went on a long rant about how I was never going to do Ipsy posts again, yet here I am, unzipping a fresh new one.  Well, I’m doing it for you.  I’m not paid to review this stuff, so think of me as your brutally honest friend who’s brutally honest because she loves you.  We all need that friend.

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SOO AE

Sheet Mask Duo – Purifying Black Charcoal Mask and Nature Green Tea Collagen Essence Mask

I’m still trying to get into sheet masks.  They’re slimy and hard to unfold, and then it’s a challenge to align them with your eyes, nose, and mouth.  And for what?  I’ve never really noticed a difference in my skin after using a mask, and these were no exception.  Let’s be real: the only reason my skin looks so good right here is because Snapseed is a gift from God.

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JAPONESQUE

Coconut Solid Brush Cleaner

As someone who regularly cleans her makeup brushes with dish soap, this was a foreign concept to me.  Now that I’ve been civilized, though, there’s no going back.  This cleaner smells really good, but what’s more important is that it does a great job getting all the gunk off my foundation and blush brushes–and it leaves them softer than a baby’s butt afterward.

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NYX Professional Makeup

Butter Lipstick in Ripe Berry

This lipstick, guys.  The color exactly matches its name, and that pretty raspberry tint lasts a long time (it was even there after my daily McMuffin!).  The best part is that it’s so jam-packed full of hydration that I don’t have to reach for my Chapstick when I have it on.

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Absolute New York

Nano Liner Ultra Fine Precision Liquid Liner in Black

Whenever I try to wing out my eyeliner, it usually takes me about five or six tries and ends with me sadly tossing a used makeup wipe in the trash along with the remains of my dignity.  You know how many tries it took me with this liner?  ONE.  The tip is so precise that it’s almost impossible to screw up.  And it lasts all day!

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Marsk

Mineral Eye Shadow in You’re Toast

Dear Lord, I hate loose eye shadows.  The tiniest breath of air will send shimmers through the air, and not in a cute way.  In a “crap, now I have to clean the sink again” kind of way.  I also didn’t really like the color (too orangey/peachy for my skin).

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So that’s it!  Have you guys tried any of these products?  What do you think?

 

Links a la Mode, February 23

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I’ve been featured on Independent Fashion Bloggers’ Links a la Mode again!  My post on how to get more comments on your next blog post was included with 8 others by some really talented bloggers.

If you’d like to get featured as well, here’s how it works: submit your post to the IFB Facebook page by Tuesday of each week.  The top posts will be chosen and rounded up on Thursday.  If you were picked, paste in the roundup on your blog (like I did below).  This means that not only are you featured on the IFB website, but you’re also featured on lots of other blogs!

Here’s this week’s list!

Links à la Mode, February 23rd

Outfit: The Rose Sweater

DSC_0015.jpgHaving blogged for a couple of years now, I’d like to think I’m a little seasoned.  Sure, I’m not a pro, but I’ve got some things under my belt, like working with brands.

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A lot of the time, it’s a little thrill when I get an email from a brand saying they want to work with me.  It feels good to be recognized for something I put my heart and soul into.  Most brands operate on the same game plan–they send me something for free, I wear it on the blog, and we both go home happy.

But then there are the sneaky brands.  They, too, send an email saying they want to “work with me.”  As I read further into the email, though, it becomes clear that they want something for nothing.

Here’s an example.  A bra company recently contacted me and asked me to do a blog post for them.  I was to include a little quiz they made up and put in a promo code for 30% off one of their products.  I told them that before I could promote their brand, I’d like to receive a free bra–after all, I have to know what I’m talking about!  They said sure.

Kind of.

The company told me I could do a “free trial” and if I liked the bra, I would have to pay for it.

Um, are you kidding?

I sent them back an email politely declining the offer, and I explained that it’s not fair to ask a blogger to take the time to put together a post in return for nothing.  A loss, even, if I decided to purchase the bra after the “free” trial.

How do these brands justify this kind of thing?  Sometimes I imagine they must be thinking, “This blogger should be SO FLATTERED that we reached out to her!”  Maybe they really don’t understand how much work goes into a blog post, or that we totally deserve to be compensated for it.

Clearly, I find this practice super annoying.  Has this ever happened to you?

I’m thinking of putting together a blog post next week that explains how you can politely decline something like this but leave the door open to the brand.  What do you think?

Two Ways to Wear a Red Striped Sweater

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I’ll ‘fess up: I have a severe stripes addiction.  I have striped sweaters, tees, shirts, and shoes up the wazoo.  Out of all of them, though, this red one wins.  I can never wait for it to dry when it comes out of the washing machine, so sometimes it’s even a little damp when I put it on.  This thing is just so freaking soft and cozy!

A sweater like this can’t be worn just one way.  It deserves more than that.  Here’s a couple of my favorite ways to style my red sweater–and keep an eye out for more someday soon!

Look One

I’ve dressed it up a little bit by pairing it with a simple black skater skirt, tights, and pointed-toe flats.  My leather bag does a nice job of keeping the outfit from looking tooooo sweet and balances out my (frankly, quite) adorable Book of Deer hat.

Look Two

This one’s a much more casual look.  I’ve swapped out the skirt and tights for jeans and duck boots, and I’m wearing my wool toggle coat for just a little extra coziness (and by a little, I mean a lot).  Still gotta have that hat on, though!

How would you guys style this sweater?

How to Get More Comments on Your Next Post

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I was going through some of my old blog posts, and I discovered something quite unexpected: my personal favorite posts were not the most popular.  It seemed so weird at first.  I started questioning myself–didn’t anyone like what I liked?  Was I doing something wrong?

I did some digging, and I noticed a pattern.  The posts that got the most engagement were the ones that gave something of value to the readers.  Things like tips, tutorials, and how-tos.  It totally explains why my post about curating your closet got a lot of comments while my last one was, well, pretty silent.

Now I want to share a little bit about what I learned with you!  Here are a few ways you can get some more comments on your next post:

  1. Come up with a catchy title. Most of the time, when I write up an outfit post, I’ll title it something like this: “Outfit: Obscure 1980s Song Lyrics.”  That’s not really enticing, is it?  Not to mention it’s almost completely unsearchable.  Instead, a great blog post title offers something to the reader–maybe a how-to or a list of tips.  For my last blog post, instead of “Outfit: Blending In,” I bet something like “How to Wear an All-Neutral Outfit” would have gotten a little more noise.
  2. Find a way to help.  Going off the last point, posts that help the reader are the ones that get the most love.  If you can put together a hair tutorial or a review of your favorite (and not-so-favorite) beauty products, I can almost guarantee you’ll see positive results.  Of course, there’s also nothing wrong with some good old-fashioned inspiration.  Showing off an outfit with amazing pics is also an excellent way to attract readers–just make sure you don’t scare them off with a weird title.
  3. Ask questions.  Don’t just leave your reader hanging at the end of a post!  You’ve just spent a ton of time talking, so let them get a chance to weigh in.  If you’re posting an outfit, ask them what they think or how they’d style the dress you’re wearing.  Make it a conversation–and always try to respond to your comments.
  4. Leave comments of your own.  Nothing brightens my day more than a thoughtful comment.  When a person takes the time to write something nice to me, I always check out their blog, and if I have time, I like to return the favor.  The more you get out and engage with other people, the more likely you’ll see them reciprocating.

So what about you?  What strategies do you use to get more comments?