Ever since Suzy Menke’s story, “The Circus of Fashion”, came out in T Magazine, there’s been a lot of chatter in the blogosophere. Leandra Medine of the Man Repeller posted her own thoughtful response and there have been a million others since then. Many of them quite thought-provoking on the continuing commentary of, “What the heck is a fashion blogger anyway?”.
A lot of these articles attack bloggers for accepting freebies. The rationale being, why would we want to look at someone post pretty pictures of themselves with the expensive clothes they were gifted and call that their honest opinion? Well, I can’t speak for every blogger out there but I can speak for my own experience, both in the editorial world and in the blogosphere.
Bloggers are not journalists and not all journalists are bloggers. But bloggers, unlike journalists, are typically running their own publication. Unfortunately, that costs money. It costs me money to run this site, to run giveaways and plenty of time (which is plenty of money not earned elsewhere) to keep this blog alive. So how can someone (who isn’t rich) spend hours producing all of this content for free? Well, they can’t. Unless of course they’re personally making a financial investment that never makes a return and that, my friends, is just not good business sense.
So just like magazines, bloggers have acquired advertisers and sponsors. Magazines pay for their writers and editors from advertisers and despite what many around the web are saying, it is quite naiive to assume that these advertisers do not influence the magazine’s content from time to time. Open up an issue of Allure, ladies, and I guarantee you the entire editorial staff received boatloads of free beauty products to test out, review and then write about for their readers. The difference is the FTC has now regulated that bloggers be transparent about these free gifts, and many are still drawing up their own lines of what to accept and what not to. So it unfortunately becomes up to you, the reader, to decide who is sharing a genuine opinion based on a gift and who is just repeating what they were paid to say.
Sponsorships are in no way as evil as everyone makes them out to be. This morning, I read a post on Refinery 29 about how Tiffany & Co. dropped $750,000 last year for Anne Hathaway to wear their jewels at the Oscars. OK, this may seem a bit over-the-top for the rest of us. And rightfully so. Maybe, after all, such a giant brand doesn’t really need the additional exposure? But what about the little guy?
I, for one, can say that not only do I never work with a brand I wouldn’t personally go out and pay for, but I also never, ever would recommend something here I didn’t truly believe in. And a lot of the times, what I try and give the spotlight to is the little guy. Yes, we all know if you buy the latest Marc Jacobs bag or Christian Louboutin shoes you’re super stylish. But what about that unknown boutique around the corner hiding some seriously stylish threads? Where do people go for local info on the hottest things in town that are from a real person’s perspective, not just a magazine? I love it when a local, or even national brand, reaches out with a cool pitch that deserves to be featured, why not? That was the point of publishing to begin with; to show people all of the cool things happening. It’s really that simple.
Last year, I was lucky enough to have parts of my wedding sponsored. And aside from the obvious perks which I will not deny and am not ashamed of, the primary reason I did it was to showcase all of these amazing, talented, local people that just needed a bit of the spotlight. When it comes to weddings or fashion, I know what it’s like to be seduced by The Big Guy; the ultra-glamorous over-the-top booth at the bridal show just must be the people with the best goods, right? But you know what? That’s not always the case. The florist I worked with for my wedding, Community Florist, did not have a crazy-sexy booth at the bridal show. She also doesn’t have the fanciest of websites and as a smaller, local store, may have been overlooked by myself or other Arizona brides. But you know what? The blooms she put together for my wedding were fantastic! I’ve written about her First Friday DIY workshops and her talent in creating gorgeous wedding floral arrangements not because of an agreement, but because she deserves it. And that, my friends, has always been what publishing is about; showing something new and exciting to your readers, whenever possible.
What do you think?? Sound off below!