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Pretty early on in my blogging career, someone started a thread about me on GOMI. If you don’t know what GOMI is, it’s a forum where anonymous users can start threads about a particular blogger and let out all of their feelings and criticisms. I never finished reading my thread before it got deleted because most of the comments were harsh (ex. “she’s not even that pretty,” and to that I say: I didn’t realize that I was entering a beauty pageant when I started a blog). However, I did spot one pretty valid criticism: I took on a blog sponsorships campaign that wasn’t a fit, and I did a horrible job trying to integrate the product into a blog post.
I started my blog eight years ago, purely as a hobby. I honestly had no idea that I could make money off of it, let alone that it would end up becoming my full-time gig. Overall, I began doing this because I liked writing, I loved photography, and I liked fashion. A hobby that combined all three of my passions? Sold!
Naturally, once I started getting sponsored campaign offers early on into my blogging career (2014-15), I took on a few projects that were, unfortunately, off-brand. It’s tempting to have a brand email you and say, “Hey, we want to pay you to promote XYZ.” Back in 2014, I had a job that didn’t pay that well, a mountain of student loan debt, and I was was pretty eager to earn some extra cash.
Since then, I’ve learned from my mistakes and am picky about the partnerships that I take on. I want any sponsored project that I accept to be an organic fit. I’m at the point in my career where I decline about 80-90% of the offers that hit my inbox. Heck, last summer I was pretty broke to be honest because I wasn’t offered any projects that were on-brand for a little over a month, and I just had to suck it up, decline those projects, dip into my savings, and stick to my guns.
I watched this video from one of my favorite YouTubers, Jackie Aina, and it got me thinking: what are the campaign offers that I always say no to? Here are five types of blog sponsorships campaigns that I’d never do!
Blog Sponsorships I’d Never Do
Do you know what’s the weirdest thing about being a blogger based in the Washington, D.C. Metro area? Some people assume that you want to talk about politics.
Don’t get me wrong: in true D.C. fashion, I am interested in politics. I listen to NPR every day, and my mom and I like to talk about current issues on the regular. And if I really have an opinion about something, I’ll share it on my own channels. However, I am not interested in accepting money for any sort of political endorsement.
Last year, I had a few bizarre offers hit my inbox during election season. Including one to promote someone running for D.C. City Council. I don’t think it’s super ethical to accept payment in exchange for endorsing a political candidate. Also, I think that everyone should do their own research and vote for the candidates that have the same values as them.
I will organically encourage and remind everyone to vote every election season, but it’s not my job to tell you who to vote for. The two biggest verticals for my blog are style and travel. I’ll use my platform for politics whenever needed, but it’s not something I’m interested in doing on a regular basis.
If I had a dime for every diet/detox tea I was offered to promote, my student loans would be paid off by now!
In all seriousness: diet teas are absolute garbage, and I’m not interested in promoting them. They might help you lose water and fecal weight (TMI, but it’s the truth!). But in the long run, it’s not an effective way to lose weight.
Please, don’t bother spending your money on products like these. If you really want to lose a few pounds, consider working with a personal trainer and/or a registered dietician. Don’t give into silly fads like this!
Amazon Boutique Reviews
Unfortunately, you can’t always trust the Amazon reviews that come out!
For some reason, a lot of retailers on Amazon will email bloggers/influencers and either offer product or payment in exchange for an Amazon review. Not only is this against Amazon’s Terms of Service, but it’s also somewhat unethical. I generally don’t guarantee any sort of product reviews in general, because to be perfectly honest: I haven’t loved every single product I’ve been gifted over the last eight years. I’d rather share no review than a bad review!
At this point in my career, I receive PR packages with products to try on a regular basis from reputable brands that I love. But I’m not obligated to post about them if I don’t like it. If a brand wants to work together for a blog sponsorships post and I’m not familiar with the product being promoted, I’ll ask if I can try out the product for a few weeks before committing to a partnership. I try to only share items that I love on here, whether it’s organically or through a sponsored post.
With Amazon’s TOS, however, I flat out decline all of these types of partnerships outright. While a product review on my blog/social outlets is perfectly ok, I’m not really trying to get my Amazon account deleted for participating in these kinds of projects!
Let’s face it: I’m almost 30. My audience is mostly females between the ages of 25-34. I understand that I have the perfect audience to promote fertility testing products. One small problem: I’m not interested in having kids for the foreseeable future.
I’ve had companies go back and forth with me a lot about this. But this is another situation where I have to stick to my guns. If its a product that I wouldn’t use and I can’t organically integrate it in a post, it’s not something that I would accept a paid sponsorship for.
I cover a lot of topics. Just because I’m a female of a certain age, that doesn’t mean I have to talk about fertility. There are plenty of other bloggers who cover parenting topics. I’m more than happy to send a list of influencers who write about their experiences with motherhood to any reader who asks!
Brands That Have a Diversity Problem
Ahhh, let’s talk about my favorite subject: diversity in the influencer industry!
ICYMI, a couple of months ago, I had a tweet go viral. I noticed that a lot of the influencers who were selected to go on press trips looked the same. Lighter-skinned women sized 2-4 that embodied the western standard of beauty. I was getting frustrated that I was rarely ever spotted women of color on these trips, especially dark-skinned influencers.
Representation matters and I’ll use my platform to advocate for it as much as possible. And that’s why I’ve also decided to stop doing blog sponsorships with brands who aren’t inclusive. If I scroll through a brand’s social media networks, and I don’t see any women of color or size diversity on their feed, I won’t partner with them.
Big shoutout to brands like Aerie, DSW, and Olay. I’ve had partnerships with these brands for several years, and they do a phenomenal job at casting their influencer marketing campaigns!
Are you an influencer? What types of blog sponsorships or partnerships would you decline?
Photo by Tom McGovern