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?
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂 Talk Soon! x