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Some thoughts on sponsored posts

"present moment, wonderful moment"

I don’t know if this post is necessary and it might come across as weirdly defensive but I’ve been thinking about this for ages so here goes… It’s about how I feel about sponsored posts, or being given free stuff as a blogger. I never used to be offered anything good and so it wasn’t something I really needed to worry about but while the volume of collaboration requests has stayed about the same, they’ve been much better quality and so I’ve said yes to a few things. I’ve done six posts about things I was given in 2014: Joules, Great Plains, Braintree, Uncommon Goods, Gudrun Sjoden and the juicer from Currys. So not really that much in compared to some other bloggers, but it still seems a fair amount to me, particularly given that mine’s not a shopping blog. The opposite in fact.

I used to write a lot about ethical fashion and I’ve never been quite convinced by ethical fashion blogs which are basically all about shopping, because while it’s clearly better to buy something organic/fair trade/whatever than the equivalent fast fashion thing, it’s still the best not to buy anything at all. On the other hand, I’m not a saint, and I do get new clothes every now and then, even if technically I still have other things I could wear. But I do think if I am going to get new things, I will make sure that they are good quality things I actually want and that I am going to use lots. And if they have some ethical aspect to them as well then obviously that’s ideal.

And I’m pretty satisfied that the things I have been given fit those rules. The Great Plains blazer and the Joules jacket became my main summer/autumn and winter jackets, so I’ve worn then daily. The Braintree and Gudrun Sjoden dresses have both gone into work rotation and will keep staying there for a while yet as they’re both totally maternity appropriate. Uncommon goods was a new discovery for me and I was really impressed with their ethical approach. The most surprising thing has been the juicer, which I would never in a million years have bought myself but actually use regularly! I went for this more in terms of it being an experience than a thing (it was originally meant to go along with a free gym class which didn’t happen due to the uselessness of a certain national gym chain), but I’m pleased it’s worked as a thing as well.

The other thing about sponsored posts I want to talk about is their format. I have pretty strong views about this, which I’m not actually sure other share, so I’d like to hear views! Anyway, I think sponsored posts should be identified as such right from the start, and should be clear that that’s what they are. That’s why I always start them off with ‘I was sent xxxx by xxxxx’.

What I hate more than anything is posts that purport to be about something else and actually turn out sponsored. Like posts that are about children’s sleep but are advertising for a furniture shop, or ones about the persons thought on buying their first home to advertise home insurance. I kind of understand why people might think this is a good idea, as it allows the blogger to write something that’s not to do with the advertised product and still get paid (and there’s decent money in it even for small bloggers), but I just feel so incredibly cheated when I get to the bit with the link in. I have unfollowed blogs over posts like this on several occasions.

The other thing is the disclaimer statement ‘I was given this thing, but all words are my own’. I think this is meant to mean that the post is objective, but all it means really is that the blogger has written the post themselves rather than pasted what the advertiser have them. If I have a load of good thoughts and a load of bad thoughts on a thing, and I only write about the good ones, or if I straight out just lie, the words are still my own, are they not?

Plus in all honesty, I don’t really expect blog posts to be scientifically objective coming at it from all angles unless it’s a review site. I talk about doing reviews in my sponsor information myself, but really I don’t want to write a rigorous balanced pro and con review, and I don’t want to read one either. I see sponsored posts more about making me aware of products, and their general properties. I can then make the decision of whether that’s something I actually want to buy myself, drawing on more balanced sources than sponsored posts. I mean obviously you’re going to be positive about a thing you got for free, it’s only natural, and I think it’s perfectly fine. If there are some major flaws of drawbacks I’d want that to be mentioned, but I kind of take the fact that the blogger is talking about a product as an endorsement (again, unless it’s specifically a review site). As long as I know that they were given it for free, and this information is clear from the start, I can judge for myself.

I think that’s enough rambling from me for one post! What do you think about sponsored posts? Do they bother you in general? Do you feel I’ve got the balance right on here?

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Gracey the Giant 12 January 2015, 5:26 pm

    Very interesting post. I do sponsored posts and I think maybe my first sentence isn’t always “I was given this by so-and-so” not because I’m trying to hide anything but because I’m trying to be naturally conversational in my writing. I honestly didn’t ever think that if I didn’t write that first thing that it could look like I’m hiding something. It’s definitely something to think about.

    As for honesty, I do try to be honest in my reviews of items I’ve been given. So far, I have been lucky in that the pieces I’ve received have been pretty great. I will say though that I was given a book to review once and it was so terrible, that I gave the publisher a kill option on the post I wrote. I told them I had nothing good to say about it and if I published my review it would be negative and did they still want me to move forward. They didn’t. I guess that could be considered dishonest to my readers because I didn’t warn them away from that horrible, horrible novel. But I looked at it as I didn’t tell them it was great either.

    I guess we all just do what we’re comfortable with and I definitely agree that if you don’t like how a blogger handles their sponsored posts, you should just stop reading them.
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    • Franca 14 January 2015, 4:20 pm

      I didn’t mean like right as the opening sentence, but I do think you should mention the thing was free before you start talking about how awesome it is. Just my opinion!

      And I would do the same if I was ever sent something I didn’t like. Notice how I don’t mention the name of the gym chain that offered a free class, then didn’t deliver than and instead spent two weeks phoning me twice a day getting me to join their gym!

  • Helen 12 January 2015, 9:15 pm

    I think you’ve probably summed up how I think about sponsored posts pretty accurately. I don’t generally mind them, unless, as you say, the sponsored bit is suddenly “sprung” on you half way through the post. Personally I’d love to be offered free stuff, I’ve only been offered something free once – some fabric, in exchange for me making something and blogging about it – but I have yet to use it, never mind write a post, so I doubt that particular company will be in touch again! Ah well.

    • Franca 14 January 2015, 4:23 pm

      H, that’s why I would never agree to test a pattern or review a fabric, because I know it’s going to take me forever! The one pattern review I’ve done the SoZo Dolores I won in a giveaway and I said when I entered that if there was a deadline to make it by, I would withdraw my entry!