Thursday Thoughts: Blogs, Brands, and Bad Business

As the blogosphere has grown, more and more companies are recognising that they can advertise with us, just as we are aware that we can use their brand and social media to advertise our blog. At first it appears fun but since I started this blog, I'm noticing a discerning trend from some brands. A lack of respect, poor communication and exploitation. (This might be a bit ranty, brace yourself.)

First, I need to talk about the communication skills, or lack of which is what made me write this post in the first place. Communication is key! Some brands emailed me offering to work together and after I reply accepting the offer, I don't receive a reply. Luxemme, you may have seen them as they work with A LOT of bloggers. They offered to send me an item of clothing to style and in return they would give me exposure and possibilities of working with them again. Now, I love doing outfit photos so with the dress I chose, I already had accessories planned and a photographer in mind. However, after ordering it, there was no delivery. I waited a month, they work with a lot of people and probably processing my 1 item order, and then I emailed their customer service. No reply. I then sent them a message on twitter. No reply. I them emailed the woman who was the last person from Luxemme, I had been emailing and guess what? That's right. No reply. So I messaged the CEO because he was the very first person to contact me (probably on an automated thing) and tumbleweed. The funny thing is, is that they have since followed me on twitter and instagram. Odd.
Now, this isn't about the dress, it's about good work ethics. I don't need another dress and I wasn't in love with it but the fact that the company was just ignoring me? That's not right. And they are not the first company and brand to have done this. I am ready to draw the line and be more selective.

For someone who isn't well established in the blogging world, I find it flattering when a brand wants to work with me and as long as I agree with the product and their ethics, I usually say yes. However, brands are noticing that smaller blogs are really aiming for more followers and hits and so they email you luring you in with, "We'll give you great exposure on our website and social media" and "You will be part of a buzzing blogging community". Truth of the matter is, that some brands will share your post once. Along with the other 80 bloggers they have been working with. And as for that "buzzing community" can sometimes just involve in a measly hashtag for the brand to follow you. I strongly suggest you find other communities that aren't based on a brand. Here we have the Edinburgh Bloggers, Scottish Bloggers and excitingly, The Girl Gang. All based on our love for blogging, not because we have all been asked to review a lipstick or style a top.

Don't get me wrong, when companies keep interacting with you after you've blogged for them, it works. Coconut Lane keeps their bloggers in the loop with frequent emails and support over social media. They ask for our input and wants to work in unison with us. So I have a growing respect for them.

However, this leads me to the loss of respect for brands who are now exploiting bloggers. Keeping in mind, only a selected lucky few can blog for a living. The rest of us have jobs, school, uni and a life. Since I started this blog 2 years ago (2 fricking years!)  I am noticing this trend more as more brands are contacting me. To begin with, all I wanted to was to get my little blog out there. I wanted people to read my little thoughts on the events or the fashion. More exposure on a twitter feed with 2k followers? How could I refuse? And that's what brands see. How can we refuse? So they give you a time limit to post your blog and expect to get traffic because you've posted a link. They might give you something for free...but then they might only give you £20% off and they expect you to pay £40 for a necklace just to blog and be one out of 200+ "Brand Ambassadors". I politely refused this offer and the bombardment of emails after was actually overwhelming. I was getting 2 emails a week from the company until I eventually just blocked the email address.
Well let's get one thing straight-we don't need brands to keep blogging. For the majority of us, we started the blog as a hobby. If blogs are going to become the new magazines, and high street shops are on their way out, brands are going to rely on us a lot more. It's time for them to treat us with respect.

Respect. R. E. S. P. E. C.T. Something so many brands are forgetting to do. They forget that there are people behind the blogs. We certainly don't live to serve their company.

We are expected to write for free. That is something I am getting a lot of. Probably because I have publicised my interest in journalism and writing in general. It comes back to the exposure thing. But I recently read a status on facebook that we shouldn't be exploited like this. It is our time and effort that we are putting in. Should we be charging a fee? Is this the way forward for brands to know our value? Can we put a price on our blogs? This is something I'm thinking more and more of. As you can see, I don't have ads on my blog-my blog was never made to be monetised but if I'm going to be spending time writing for someone instead of my own thoughts or work...then maybe we are worth a price. I'd be really interested to know your thoughts on this.

And breathe... I just wanted to let people know the truth behind some of the blogs and brands in a classic Katie ranty way. Thanks for sticking around!

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