Remaining Authentic as an Influencer

Remaining Authentic as an Influencer

Hey beauties! Today’s post is a little different. Instead of makeup talk we’re going to get real about being an influencer in 2019. I ran a poll on my instagram stories asking if you guys were interested in a post like this and 90% of the people who replied said yes. So here we are.

As most of you guys know Always, Cleia is still a hobby for me. I am grateful for everyone who checks in with my blog and comments on my posts but sometimes the thoughts of “Why aren’t I growing as fast as I should be?” and the toxic comparison of myself to other bloggers are still there. In this market where success as a blogger is judged by follower & view counts and how many PR lists you’ve been added to it’s hard to navigate the waters of being an “influencer”.

I’ll be honest, I don’t really see myself as an Influencer. I know that technically I am one, but since it’s not a paid job I don’t really feel like I’ve gone beyond blogger to influencer. Know what I mean?

numbers & blogging

The Numbers Game

Focusing on the numbers can take a huge hit on your mental health. I used to have the WordPress widget on my phone and every time I looked at my home screen immediately saw how many views I had earned that day. After months of this I realized that those numbers weren’t making me feel positive. It was in fact the opposite. These days I allow myself to check stats a few times a week to see which posts are performing well but I don’t dwell on the daily stats.

As an influencer there’s so much pressure to grow and we aren’t helped by things like changing algorithms and shadow bans. Shadow bans of course apply to instagram and not the blogging world, but I think that most of us bloggers are also trying to grow an instagram following. So many accounts take spammy approaches to growing a following. Are you familiar with generic comments with a tag asking you to “check out their latest post?” UGH.

You know that the sad thing is? It works. Especially on brand new bloggers who might think that it was really nice of this person to leave a comment. Of course they will return the view & follow! The even sadder thing is that once the follow has been reciprocated the original commenter will often unfollow with no real intent to build a relationship. Chances are they didn’t even like the content they originally commented on. They might not have even read it if they were using a bot.

Have you guys noticed any of this activity on your blogs or instagram? It’s downright frustrating isn’t it!? I’m so sick of bot comments that say things like “Yes I like that!” on my posts. It doesn’t even make sense! And from what I’ve heard deleting these comments kills your engagement reach on IG. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it’s unfortunate if it is.

I immediately delete comments like this on my blog. I want to connect with genuine people, not spammers fishing for followers!

Money

Collaborations & Paid Sponsorships

I have no problem with influencers accepting PR and sponsored post deals; However, I think the content needs to be relevant. I see so many micro-influencers accepting brand deals with random ass brands because they’re so thrilled to be sent something for free. Many of these accounts die out quickly because the audience is just confused as to why on earth a beauty blogger thinks people want to read about a mouthwash. Like, is that the sort of product that people actually search for reviews on!? Accepting a product for review/testing purposes when it doesn’t really fit into your niche is bizarre.

I thoroughly sift through product review requests to find the ones that I sincerely believe will resonate with my audience (you guys!). For example, I’ve accepted products for review from B.Liv, Aveeno, and Esqido which are all brands that make beauty products. Not dental hygiene!

I’ve turned down dozens of sponsored content requests and product reviews because I felt that accepting them wouldn’t be true to my vision. I recently turned down a free eye cream that cost over $100 because frankly I would never spend that kind of money on a single skincare product myself. Even if it was amazing I knew I’d be telling you guys to save your cash and spend it elsewhere. I regularly turn down advertising space and pre-written content from other sources because I believe part of Always, Cleia is my voice. My voice gets drowned out if I start accepting content from marketing companies. I want to be able to say “This blog is mine”, not “This is mine but other people post here too”.

Of course everyone will feel differently about collaborations/sponsorships and there is no one size fit all approach here. What do you guys think about paid posts & free products in exchange for review?

Blogging

And about Free Products…

I want to go into a liiitle bit more detail about free products. I’ve spent the last year doing some serious research on SEO optimization and blog maintenance and I wanted to mention something quickly that you may or may not know.

One of the main reasons a brand may be willing to send you a free product is for the link back to their site. Their link profile is EVERYTHING. The link back is what’s actually valuable to the brand if you’re a small influencer. On some level they may actually be interested in what you have to say, but more than anything they want links back to their site because It boosts their DA score.

If you don’t know what a DA score it stands for Domain Authority and is a measure of how well your site will rank in search engines. DA is made up of the links to & from your site and tells google how reliable your content is.

If you EVER get a brand asking you to format your links a certain way.. they are likely asking you to use a followed link which equates to link value. If you’re receiving a product for free you’re supposed to use a non-followed link. Google will penalize you if you’re posting a ton of reviews with followed links back to brands that have either paid you for a post or given you a product for free. If a brand is specifically requesting that you use a followed link back to them be aware that it may not be in your best interests to work with them. Do your own research and decide what’s best for you.

Blogging Computer & Tea

Can you be Authentic and use Affiliate Links?

Affiliate linking is tricky. This is another area where I think authenticity comes into question when bloggers are recommending things and specifically using links that enable them to make a profit off of their recommendation. I see this a lot on YouTube with giant description boxes full of affiliate links.

I don’t think it’s wrong to use affiliate links but I can see how an influencer’s integrity can come into question when they do. The question of “Are they just saying they like this product so that they’ll get a commission?” comes up a lot.

Additionally some affiliate links will direct to stores that you’ve never even heard of for a product that can be found at Sephora or Ulta. Many smaller chains will offer a higher commission for using their links in the hopes that that influencers will link to them and not a bigger chain. Now I’m not sure if this is really shady, because if they liked the product then does it really matter which store they link to? I don’t know. It’s up to you to decide if that matters to you and choose accordingly whether or not to purchase through the link.

I personally do use affiliate links on my blog though not very successfully… To date I have made $3USD off my links! I don’t use affiliate links exclusively though. My policy is that if absolutely love something and truly recommend the product then I will use an affiliate link. But if I didn’t love it then it will get a regular link!

Influencers should ALWAYS disclose when they use affiliate links. I won’t click links from people that I know are using affiliate links but don’t disclose it. If you watch the URL in your browser you can usually tell if a link is affiliated if it redirects to shopstyle or another marketing program before taking you to the product site.

Blogging & Coffee

Proper Disclosure

Have you guys ever seen a post on the gram that was very obviously created with the intention of being an advertisement but doesn’t disclose itself as one? There are specific guidelines that need to be followed when accepting a sponsored post, but it gets tricky when you’re using an international platform. Many countries have strict influencer rules and other seem to be lacking them. At the very least paid posts should contain the hashtags #sponsored and #ad to avoid confusion!

The lines are getting blurred between influencers genuinely sharing what they love and blatantly advertising on their accounts.

I’m always going to be open about if I have been sent a product for free OR if I have been paid for a post. The two are very different. When you’re sent a product for free you can say whatever you want about it but a sponsored post is an entirely different matter. Sponsored posts often involve signed agreements or contracts and an influencer may be given specific copy to include in their caption. When influencers accept a sponsored post they had better be damn sure they love the product, or else risk lying to their audience.

I think the key to everything here is disclose, disclose, disclose. I’m okay with sponsored posts, affiliate links and free products as long as it’s been disclosed properly. Then I can indicate any bias that the influencer might have and decide for myself if the information in the post is valid for me.

Blogging Authentic

What’s your biggest struggle with remaining authentic as an influencer?

I hope you guys enjoyed reading my thoughts on Influencer Authenticity. I believe it’s something that we should always be conscious of as bloggers & as influencer. Although many of us begin blogs for our own personal enjoyment and to share our interests & passions online it’s important to remember that we are influencers and the way that we’re sharing our information matters. Please let me know if you agreed with or disagreed with any of my points! I love talking with you guys, it’s one of the things that I look the most forward to during the day ๐Ÿ™‚ Talk Soon! x

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50 Comments

  1. withloveelaine
    March 21, 2019 / 8:42 am

    This is such a good read! I JUST started blogging so it’s really interesting to read posts like these. Receiving PR packages or collaborating sounds really cool to a new blogger like me! But I will definitely do my due diligence and only accept the offers that are relevant to my “brand” or “identity”.

    • AlwaysCleia
      Author
      March 25, 2019 / 7:15 pm

      Thank you for reading, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! As long as you do that I’m sure relevant opportunities will come. Good luck! x

  2. March 1, 2019 / 9:30 pm

    This was a great post, Cleia! I was nodding my head in agreement with literally every point lol! I recently have been doing more research about websites and visibility, and have learned about followed links. Gosh, some companies can just be so sketchy. I’ve gotten emails from a couple of companies about random products, like this weird shopping video game lol! Also, last summer I got an email from someone that wanted me to promote an event. I can’t remember what exactly the event was about, but the person who emailed me even offered to write the entire post FOR ME! I thought that was absolutely bizarre.

    I’ve been super picky when it comes to working with companies and can get a little nervous when it comes to that stuff. At the end of the day, like you were saying in this post, l only want to promote something if I 100% believe in the product. I don’t consider myself an influencer by any means cause my blog is still pretty small, but I just would feel so guilty about promoting stuff I don’t like!

    I love your approach in terms of remaining authentic. I know that when I visit your site, I can find quality content and trust your opinions about makeup and beauty. I’ve learned a lot from your reviews and tutorials!

    When it comes to bot comments and spam in general, I just can’t stand that crap! I get more of that on Instagram, though. It’s really annoying.

    I don’t mind at all if people make a profit off of their blog. If the content is great, the sponsorship or affiliate link is relevant/related to their blog, and they’re being genuine, they deserve it! To be honest, It kind of grinds my gears when people say that artists in general should feel guilty about making an income. Blogging is a very real job for a lot of people and I think that’s a wonderful thing! I wish their were more opportunities out there for bloggers, writers, artists, etc.

    There’s definitely a responsibility that comes with being an influencer. I just don’t understand why someone wouldn’t disclose their affiliate links. That’s really bad and unethical–a lot of YouTubers have been doing this as well and getting into trouble.

    I loved hearing your take on all this, Cleia. By the way, I’m sorry if this comment was super ranty lol just passionate about this topic too!! x

    • AlwaysCleia
      Author
      March 4, 2019 / 12:32 am

      I guess shopping and fashion go hand in hand most of the time but a shopping video games? That’s so odd! And also very strange about being asked to post about their event but not even write the post. They just wanted free advertising probably ๐Ÿ™

      I’m glad you agree! I’m so tired of being asked to promote books that I would never read or sketchy makeup brands. I’m also so happy to hear that you’ve learned a lot from my blog posts!

      Absolutely! And that applies to all creative industries. It’s amazing that people can make a living off of their content if it’s good and they shouldn’t be pressured not to make money for their art. When I was in university for music we were warned about people who would expect us to play gigs for “exposure” which is a joke. It’s not entirely the same thing but I think it’s related. There’s nothing wrong with getting paid for creating good content/music/whatever!

      It baffles me too, and yet time and time again we’re seeing people who just don’t disclose. Maybe they don’t know that they have to, or maybe they just don’t think people want to purchase through affiliate links but they still want a commission? It’s so bad!

      I appreciate your thoughtful comments! Thank you so much for stopping by Nunzia x

  3. February 23, 2019 / 9:07 pm

    Iโ€™ve occasionally started blocking people that do the follow/unfollow thing and then sending them a DM telling them how much it sucks to do so. It sounds petty but it kind of makes me feel better. Lol

    This is a great post and I learned a few things like the followed links thing. Pretty sure Iโ€™ve done that without even realizing it – it annoys me that brands try to take advantage of bloggers like that. ๐Ÿ˜

    • February 23, 2019 / 9:28 pm

      I do that too sometimes! If I recognize the username as one that has followed and unfollowed multiple times then I block them.

      I actually sent someone a message once because it was a blogger that I had been following and engaging with since day 1 of her blog. She followed me and when I followed back on IG I was instantly unfollowed. Normally I wouldn’t message someone who I didn’t sort of know but I was really mad because I had been supporting her for so long!

      I’m glad this post was informative! I only learned that about links in the last few months, I hate that brands will do that!

  4. February 23, 2019 / 3:43 pm

    Great post, Cleia! I had no idea that people could use bots to write comments for them, that’s crazy. I have also turned down people who wanted me to routinely write posts for them & publish them on my blog, because it’s mine– not theirs & another company who wanted me to write one post about their product but they didn’t even require I actually use it?! I would be more willing to accept free things for review but I never get those offers. ๐Ÿ˜› I think I would’ve tried the $100 eye cream if I were you because even though it’s expensive, they just want you to review it– not rebuy it & some of your readers may be able to afford it, y’know? Unless of course they were a brand that asked you to do that sketchy ‘followed link.’ I don’t see myself as anything close to an influencer, my blog is purely for connection & enjoyment but this was all still useful info to learn. Thanks for sharing!

    • AlwaysCleia
      Author
      February 27, 2019 / 12:58 am

      It’s awful! There are these services you can sign up for that promise new followers & engagement and they automate your account posting generic comments all over the place. It’s so annoying!
      Omg what a sketchy company wanting you to review something without actually using it!! I’m glad you turned that down lol
      Yes that’s a good point, maybe it would have been an amazing eye cream. No they weren’t lol! That was a different brand.
      I think I prefer reading blogs from non-professional bloggers anyways! Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ™‚

      • February 27, 2019 / 5:31 pm

        What the heck?! That’s so weird!! I mean I do notice a lot of generic comments but I had no idea that they were left by a bot that real people hired?!

        YEAH I e-mailed them back like… “are you going to send me the product??” & they were basically like “we don’t require you to use it, we just want your readers to know about it.” They even offered a nice amount of compensation but, I just didn’t want a spammy post on my blog like that. ๐Ÿ˜› I saw a few other bloggers actually post it about though…

        & I agree. “Professional” bloggers are so boring to read.

        • AlwaysCleia
          Author
          February 27, 2019 / 10:34 pm

          There’s a chance that some of them are actually from the person themselves, normally if the account has 15k+ followers and they’re leaving a generic comment then I assume it’s a bot.
          You never know though! I think that’s how all those annoying sunglass companies leave their comments asking people to be part of their influencer team.

          WHAT that’s awful!! What a stupid company lol. I’m glad you didn’t work with them!

  5. February 22, 2019 / 7:57 am

    Sameeee… I dont consider myself an influencer either. I call myself a blogger. Until I make money off blogging THEN I think I can move to “influencer” but who knows lol.
    I do hate how everything is a numbers game. But omg YES! those generic comments are the worst and I usually just ignore them. The whole unfollow thing is incredibly frustrating, especially on IG. I end up unfollowing people who unfollow me. I’ve been stuck on 450 for months and I dont think I’ll be moving past that anytime soon. Oh well..
    When I was a new blogger and barely started to find my own voice I did accept some “sponsored” posts which really weren’t anything. I was promoting a brand with nothing in return. I’m one of those people that accepted that expensive eye cream because I thought it would be good for my blog and for me, I dont think it did much LOL. Honestly, even though I’ve been blogging for almost four years it has taken me a while to learn a lot of things and at this point, I’m barely starting to improve on lots of things and figuring out exactly what I want to put out in my blog, etc. My blog wasnt a beauty blog at the beginning either which some might find funny. But I feel the same way, I expect big influencers to remain honest and even though I’m not big, I feel like I have a responsibility as a blogger to do the same. Getting products in the past seemed harmless because I didn’t know what I was doing but we learn and we grow. ๐Ÿ˜
    And I learned about those follow links about a year or two ago and decided I wouldn’t do that. I remember one brand who emailed me back saying they needed me to change those links and that was a major red flag instantly to me. That post no longer exists on my blog lol. I dont even remember what it was but the experience of them making me change it was…ugh.
    I’m not too sure about how I feel about affiliate links yet. At first it starts off harmless, but I’ve seen lots of bloggers using them almost exclusively to the point where it became really spammy and almost throwing it in your face. It’s great that people want to make money, I get it. It seems that at this point in time anyone can make money off YouTube or IG, heck even blogging, but I think some people go overboard with it and eventually that’s what they rely on? Idk if that makes sense. It can make it really hard to trust them when I know they’re doing it to make money, it doesn’t seem genuine anymore.
    anyway. I’ve never done paid posts, I only get free product and always disclose even on IG. I feel like a lot of people still don’t know how to disclose or they refuse to because of how that might seem to their followers. Rawbeautykristi has talked a lot about that and it’s a problem even with big influencers apparently.
    The only thing I hope for in my blogging career is that I stay true to myself. Lol. I hope I’ve been doing that well ๐Ÿคฃ

    • AlwaysCleia
      Author
      February 27, 2019 / 12:53 am

      That makes a lot of sense. Polished & Inspired said that she sees herself as a Content Creator, which is a term I like much more!
      I’m very glad that I don’t really get follow-unfollwed on my blog, but on instagram it’s the worst! I’m so glad that there are apps out there that can track it so you can just unfollow back the pesky unfollowers lol. Otherwise I think I would have quite Instagram a long time ago!

      I think it’s hard when you’re first starting out a blog and those opportunity requests come in, especially if you don’t know what your blog is all about yet. I didn’t get asked to do any reviews until I was self hosted so I luckily didn’t have to worry about it lol But we can always learn, and sometimes those $100 eye creams actually do fit in. Every opportunity is different!

      Did that brand ask you to format your links as followed before sending you the product? If they didn’t then you are under no obligation to change it! They can’t make demands after the agreement is made :S I would have deleted the post too.
      Affiliate links are tricky! I almost never purchase products through influencer’s links unless I reaally like the person lol

      I think that if people think their followers wouldn’t like knowing that a post is sponsored then they just shouldn’t do it. But sponsorships are everywhere, especially on tv so I think the general viewer understands that paid deals will exist :S I’m glad IG is starting to crack down on people failing to disclose that they’re posting ads.

      For what it’s worth I love reading your blog and I always trust your recommendations! I don’t always buy them because I’m on a budget of course lol Thanks for reading! x

      • February 28, 2019 / 11:01 am

        I like the sound of content creator. ๐Ÿ™‚
        I dont think I get unfollows from my blog. And if I do, I haven’t noticed haha.
        No see, the weird thing was, they never sent me anything but they were like “it would be great if you wrote about us”. Of course back then I didn’t know either.. so I wrote content for them without anything in return. They said they would feature me on their site but I ended up deleting the post a few days later after they asked me to change the link. I thought about it for a bit and decided I wouldn’t do those kinds of posts ever again lol. But no they hadn’t said anything prior to it. That was a lesson I learned haha.
        Awh thanks! I love reading your blog too!!!

        • AlwaysCleia
          Author
          March 1, 2019 / 6:27 pm

          Me too!
          Wow that’s awful! I hate how some brands take advantage of newer bloggers, that’s really low. I hope it wasn’t a brand that I use now ๐Ÿ˜•
          We should do a blog collab sometime after I move! I think that could be fun ๐Ÿ˜Š

          • March 4, 2019 / 8:44 am

            No kidding! Pissed me off so much lol. And no, it wasnt a makeup brand, if it was I would have remembered and dragged their ass LMFAO! I’m sure if I see their name again I’ll remember lol.
            Omg yeah! That would be awesome!! You could always email me when you’re ready and bounce off ideas lol.

          • AlwaysCleia
            Author
            March 6, 2019 / 12:44 pm

            I got a request today from some random brand wanting to send me a free product but I “Had to pay shipping” and give them a shout out on instagram. Like, um. NO! I will not pay money to promote your product random lady…

            Sounds good! Maybe at the End of March, beginning of April. I’m not sure how long it will take us to settle into the new place.

          • March 12, 2019 / 1:53 am

            Lol I’d skip on that offer too. I think I’ve had people approach me the same way too, one time it was a brand from Amazon giving me a “discount” to try their product, so I was basically gonna buy it.. I was like….no? Lol.

          • AlwaysCleia
            Author
            March 18, 2019 / 5:58 pm

            That’s ridiculous! I hate how they think giving us a discount code is good enough incentive for us to buy it and promote it. That’s literally free advertising.

  6. S | VividlyLovely
    February 20, 2019 / 10:52 am

    Very interesting post, Cleia! I really appreciate the effort you put into posts like these that really help other fellow bloggers like myself! ๐Ÿ’•

    • AlwaysCleia
      Author
      February 23, 2019 / 9:20 pm

      Thank you! I hope some of this info helps you!

  7. February 19, 2019 / 7:09 pm

    This was such a great post! As a fellow blogger, I like seeing your opinion on things. I’ve been asked to review so many products, and I have said no to so many! I don’t really want to talk about teeth whitening, because my teeth are too sensitive for it! Since I don’t really have a “niche”, it’s a little different than you, because I review/talk about whatever I really want to, and so I have multiple different types of reviews. It’s not often that I use affiliate links, I honestly have only made $1-4 on affiliate links. I literally only add it to the books I read, and the makeup products I use! I don’t like the idea of adding affiliate links all over the place. I want people to know that I genuinely liked the product itself. Great great great post! xxx

    Melina | http://www.melinaelisa.com

    • February 23, 2019 / 9:12 pm

      Thanks Melina! I’m glad that this post has resonated with so many people!

      It’s definitely a little different for you because your content doesn’t have as much of a niche as someone who is just a beauty blogger! You have a lot more variety in what you talk about on your blog and so I think your readers are more willing to accept different types of reviews/sponsorships. I read all of your lifestyle/beauty/book content so this is a perfect example of how there is no universal rule of how to go about working with brands.

      It’s hard to make a ton of money on affiliate links for smaller influencers. Especially if you’re doing it right and not throwing affiliate links everywhere. I know I appreciate when there are regular links in the mix too!

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts! x

  8. February 19, 2019 / 1:42 pm

    Me again LOL … shortly after reading this post, another blogger I follow posted about cheap but quality makeup brushes on Ebay. I was like, Ooooh yes, I need to send this link to my girlfriend. She is just starting to really get into makeup and has been looking for inexpensive makeup brushes. She asked about Wish and Aliexpress, and I advised against those. However, after looking at that post, she mentions like 10 brush packs/individual brushes, that are all ridiculously cheap and ALL have affiliate links! UGH … come on, how is that even possible. Like, I’m so sure that you really recommend ALL of these brushes. And let me be clear, the most expensive set was $10 for 12 brushes (the cheapest is $5 for a set!). Ummm … just, NO. The worst part … I see that her post has a lot of loves on bloglovin and social media. So, you’re absolutely right. It’s just a money making scheme, I see nothing sincere about her post. She doesn’t even go into detail about the brushes! Just a basic sentence that I could find on the listing itself. SHAME! Your blog post has definitely alerted me to the fakeness of that post. I have lost immense respect for her. I know that these brushes are crap, yet she’s endorsing them, and she has a huge following. Ugh. Anyways, appreciate it!

    • February 23, 2019 / 9:05 pm

      Hello again!

      Oh no that’s so annoying! Like does she actually think the brushes are good or is she just trying to make that commission? It’s rather suspicious that she doesn’t go into detail about each brush.

      I’m also always skeptical about cheap brush sets, my first set I bought off amazon because it claimed to be Urban decay for $25. Now I know that it was clearly a knock off and using the label to make a sale. The brushes broke within a few months. Good brushes are rarely that cheap!

      I’m sorry that there are people out there like that ๐Ÿ™

  9. February 19, 2019 / 12:12 pm

    That was a great post! I tire fast of irresponsible beauty bloggers, and prefer to keep my follows dedicated to those who are honest and mature. You seem to have a lot of integrity, good on ya! I’m a recent follower, but I’m definitely enjoying your content. I’m amazed that you have actually turned down some products, respect! You are a solid, genuine person. I can honestly see how it would be harder for you to ahead being that you’re sticking true to yourself and aren’t selling out. But, that also makes it easier to keep the hobby enjoyable and help you feel good about what you do! You’ve earned a follower for life in me. ๐Ÿ˜

    • February 23, 2019 / 9:02 pm

      Thank you so much, that means a lot to me. I’m glad you’ve been enjoying my content so far!

      I think that part of what makes it easier to be honest as an influencer is not relying on it as a paid job. Currently I make no money off my blog, and if I ever do reach the threshold to be paid by google adsense it’s not going to be a huge amount. Because this isn’t my paid job I do have another revenue source from my real career so I can go and purchase my own products without worrying too much about if brands will still send products or want to work with me.

      Being paid/sponsored doesn’t mean that you can’t remain impartial, but it’s definitely easier when you’re just a person sharing what you love on the internet for fun as opposed to doing it to make a living!

  10. February 19, 2019 / 9:14 am

    I loved this blog post, I found it so insightful. I think itโ€™s so important to stay authentic and I always ask myself โ€˜would I spend my own money on thisโ€™ if working with a brand x

    • AlwaysCleia
      Author
      February 23, 2019 / 8:48 pm

      Thanks Rebecca! I wish more influencers would ask themselves that when promoting products! x

  11. February 18, 2019 / 11:38 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I donโ€™t intend on ever making my blog anything more than a casual hobby, but I still love hearing about the challenges people face when taking the next step forward. I agree with you about disclosure; I think itโ€™s important to allow readers to make educated decisions on how to weigh your opinions on a product, and I have nothing against bloggers/influencers who accept free products, etc.

    • AlwaysCleia
      Author
      February 19, 2019 / 12:50 am

      Thank you for reading! I’m always curious about the business side of social media/blogging, I find it fascinating to hear about people building a career off of it!
      Even if a blogger thinks that they are unbiased/impartial to a product it’s so important to let people know if the product was free or if your review is paid for. But I don’t begrudge anyone the opportunity to work with a brand as long as it’s disclosed!
      Thanks for reading & sharing your thoughts xx

  12. February 18, 2019 / 10:51 pm

    Great post! I totally agree that using any affiliate links, sponsorships, etc. must be disclosed…I mean, that seriously should just be a basic requirement and I don’t really understand why people don’t get it.

    It’s obvious when a blogger accepts random brand deals that they’re just doing it for free stuff, but I think what I struggle with the most in terms of social media is figuring out whether someone is really being authentic in a review of products sent to them (that’s related to their main blogging topic). There’s nothing wrong with getting PR and I think most people try to be impartial, but wanting to continue having a relationship with the brand could entice people to give good reviews regardless of what they actually think.

    Interesting, I knew about DA but didn’t know about the whole followed/non-followed link! Very interesting, thanks!

    Off topic (ish), but I don’t know why but I hate the word “influencer”…it just sounds so…snobbish? Or fake? I don’t even know how to describe it haha, but maybe it’s because I don’t really think I influence anyone! I much prefer the term “content creator”, but I know in general those two terms get used interchangeably.

    • AlwaysCleia
      Author
      February 19, 2019 / 12:40 am

      Totally! Even when most people are disclosing there’s always that one person who doesn’t think they need to.

      Yes that’s very true. I think it’s helpful to be really familiar with the person’s review style to be able to compare between their sponsored & unsponsored content, but there is no real way to tell unless you hook up a lie detector!

      I’m glad my info about DA was helpful! I still recommend you do your own research on that as there are sooo many different sources that give info on DA scores and the proper way to link. Some SEO blogs are very contradictory about when and when not to use followed vs unfollowed links. It’s a rabbit hole…

      haha it totally does! I have a ton of friends who roll their eyes every time someone mentions the word “influencer”. I much prefer content creator as well!

      • February 19, 2019 / 7:41 pm

        I don’t understand why! Like it doesn’t hurt you to disclose that you’re using affiliate links. I guess you could lose out on that $0.60 from that one person who does not want to use your link…

        I feel like SEO in general is a rabbit hole! I only know bits and pieces but it’s definitely something I want to learn about more this year.

        Hahaha my friends are like that too!

        • AlwaysCleia
          Author
          February 23, 2019 / 9:16 pm

          If you think that someone might not want to use an affiliate link you should at least give them the option, (I’m using the word “you” in general lol) otherwise it feels like trickery to find out I just clicked an undisclosed link.

          There are full courses that teach about SEO these days! I feel like every source says something different, but it’s good to learn about.

  13. February 18, 2019 / 7:48 pm

    Such a good, well-written and considered post! I feel similarly to you; I have absolutely no problem with bloggers and influencers making a living through sponsorships or receiving free products for review, but they must be upfront and honest about it. Theyโ€™re legally required to! Itโ€™s been very frustrating to see some influencers flout the rules, but I do hear the FTC is starting to crack down more on undisclosed sponsorships.

    I tried doing affiliate marketing on my site last year, but to be honest it was probably too soon. I made absolutely nothing and Amazon then kicked me out of their program! Oh well ๐Ÿ˜†.

    • AlwaysCleia
      Author
      February 19, 2019 / 12:32 am

      Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I was on the fence about whether or not to publish it but I’m glad I did!
      I wonder how they’ll be able to tell if someone actually has a sponsorship or not though? There are so many people posting product reviews & photos in instagram that it must be difficult to distinguish who isn’t disclosing properly :S
      The EXACT same thing happed to me with amazing LOL! I switched to shopstyle collective. They won’t pay you out until you reach $100 in earnings but they also won’t kick you out of the program!

      • February 19, 2019 / 9:08 am

        I think the tactic is to start with big names to make everyone else scared. It was just recently in the news over in the UK. A government agency over there made a list calling out celebs like Alexa Chung, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and big YouTubers like Zoella for undisclosed Instagram ads. The example they used on Zoella was this photo where it was obviously professionally shot and meant to promote a watch, but yet nowhere in her description did she call out that it was an ad.

        Oh, maybe I’ll look into shopstyle then! But honestly, it’s really hard to make any money of consequence through affiliate links at my size. So it seems like a lot of effort for nothing.

        • AlwaysCleia
          Author
          February 23, 2019 / 8:47 pm

          Well I hope that they’re able to crack down on it a bit more! I don’t know why larger YouTubers wouldn’t disclose their sponsorships, especially Zoella. She makes so much money off of her content anyways!

          I understand completely, it’s really hard to make any money off of affiliate links of even placing adds on your site in the beginning.

  14. February 18, 2019 / 7:22 pm

    I think this is so important, I’ve become really disengaged from the beauty community as of late due to extremely inauthentic blogs and bloggers who are either engaging in fishy strategies (if you have 18k Instagram followers and can’t get more than 100 likes on a post, you’re fake AF) or blogs where every other post is a sponsored post for like, insurance or dental implants. Your blog is one I’ve really been excited to follow with every post you put out and maybe if I find more bloggers on the same wavelength, I’ll get out of this funk ๐Ÿ™‚

    • AlwaysCleia
      Author
      February 19, 2019 / 12:27 am

      It’s so weird when I see those IG accounts with huge follower counts and no engagement! Like are they using bots? Paying for followers? Or has IG just shadow banned their posts for some stupid reason? It’s very odd!
      I HATE irrelevant sponsorships! I get that people have to make money but If I wanted to see content on those types of things I would follow accounts devoted to them.

      Thank you so much! That means a lot to me. If you’re looking for new blogs to read I recommend Polishedandinspired and Supernovabeautyblog! Both of these ladies are super down to earth and write really informative reviews. xx

  15. xosammtastic
    February 18, 2019 / 4:29 pm

    Thanks for sharing this! I’m obviously very new to the blogging thing, but spent a lot of time researching things before I started. My goal on both my blog and my future YouTube videos is to be someone that my readers/viewers can trust. I know that people do use these things to make a living, but I think there is a way you can do it without seeming sketchy. Rawbeautykristi is really good at disclosing, she recently did a video like this post, and she is always really honest about stuff she talks about (if it’s worth it, if SHE would buy the thing, etc.). I don’t know that I’ll ever be “big” enough to have anyone offer me anything, that has never been the main focus for me, but I’m going to write down the things you mentioned to look out for in case it does!

    • AlwaysCleia
      Author
      February 19, 2019 / 12:20 am

      That’s the best goal! It makes me sad when people sell out along the way. But clearly it is possible to make blogging/influencing a paid gig without losing your credibility!
      Never say never! I hope this post has helped you a little in case those opportunities ever do come your way! xx

  16. beautybyraji
    February 18, 2019 / 1:20 pm

    Love this. I agree that thereโ€™s. Itching wrong with working with a brand you genuinely
    Would wear and use. Whatโ€™s disappointing to me is when people obviously plug a product because they have a paid partnership with them and I question whether they would use this product if this agreement wasnโ€™t in place. Looking at numbers can again be w bit of win/lose battle but as long as you enjoy what your doing then stick with it ๐Ÿ™‚

    • AlwaysCleia
      Author
      February 19, 2019 / 12:18 am

      yes exactly! I love when bloggers & youtubers I follow get collaborations with brands that they have been saying is great all along. When it’s something they’ve never really used on their platform it’s weird to me.
      I’ve been really happy with my stats lately but I’m still trying not to dwell on them. I’d rather have more engagement than views!
      Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comment xx

  17. February 18, 2019 / 10:06 am

    this is really a wonderful topic, I have also seen so many brands connecting bloggers and miss-utilising their work for just free products. I dont know whats the basic reason behind it but it does hamper all the bloggers in the blogging world.

    • AlwaysCleia
      Author
      February 19, 2019 / 12:16 am

      Thank you for reading! Yes definitely, it’s important not to sell out just for something free. x

  18. February 18, 2019 / 8:48 am

    Awesome post! As a newer blogger, this is incredibly insightful. I knew spam accounts existed, but I did not realize how prevalent they are. How irritating!

    Personally, I do not have a problem with bloggers or YouTube influencers doing sponsored posts or using affiliate links as long as they are authentic (or at least come off as authentic…I guess you can never really know for sure, right?). Like you, I think the most important thing is that these partnerships are fully disclosed. That’s what instills trust, in my opinion.

    Anyway, a lot of interesting things to think about! Thanks for sharing!

    • AlwaysCleia
      Author
      February 18, 2019 / 12:15 pm

      Thank you for reading!
      There are so many people who do this! I used to follow them back but then I realized that they would never ever engage with my content after I had followed back ๐Ÿ˜• I was just a number to them. I don’t mind if People leave a link back to their blog if they leave a genuine comment though.

      Yes! There are a few YouTubers who are really good at this, Thatgirlshae on YouTube always mentions in the video that her links are affiliated and she will make a small commission if the links are used. She also tells people that if they aren’t okay with that to just google the brand site. I wish everyone disclosed properly like this!

      Thank you so much for reading!

      • February 26, 2019 / 9:03 am

        I’ll have to check out Thatgirlshae–I don’t believe I’ve watched her videos before. I have seen some people say similar things where they let people know an affiliate code is available but suggest that their viewers purchase items in whatever way they choose. I really appreciate that.

        This is a really interesting topic, though, and one that will probably only become more important now that so many influencers are partnering with brands. Thanks for starting the conversation! ๐Ÿ™‚

        • AlwaysCleia
          Author
          February 27, 2019 / 1:11 am

          She’s great! I lover her swatching videos.

          And thank you for adding to the conversation! I appreciate it ๐Ÿ™‚

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