*This is an opinion piece. I have a very strong opinion but unfortunately on some things I'm not as educated as I would like to be. I simply just wanted to share some of my personal thoughts on the ethics of blogging. Feel free to not read if you'd like.*
I want to come clean about something. You, my readers who don't personally know me, should know that I work for a company that specializes in software for online marketing and PR. I have never tried to hide this, and to be honest just google my full name and you can see where I work. That's my day job and in no way is my blog affiliated with my day job. In fact my day job merely gives me the opportunity to put what I'm learning and doing at work, into what I'm doing personally with this blog. This being said, and being a "blogger", I wanted to respond to the article "Devil's Advocate" that Jennine posted on The Coveted as well as Independent Fashion Bloggers.
There is a line when it comes to ethics and blogging. However, since this transformation of the medium of blogging, this line has only become fuzzier. As a blogger you have to ask yourself a few questions:
1. Why am I doing this?
2. What do I hope to get out of this?
3. How transparent am I willing to be with my readers?
4. Should I accept money or free stuff?
To be honest, I have not really had to deal with "sponsored content" on here. Let's be honest, I am encouraging my readers to not go shopping and instead shop within their own closets... not exactly an ideal place for so and so online store to be advertising. I am still purchasing shoes, tights, bags and other accessories because I can't make shoes, tights, bags (well kinda) and other accessories. But even then its been of ebay and in thrift stores.
"But what about those icons over in your sponsors area?" Been meaning to address this one, those are affiliate links. Basically, if you happen to be on my site, and click on those, I get a percentage of the sale... nothing huge. Also, I don't overtly promote those two companies on my blog.
As a blog "reader", if I was given content to read that was sponsored content, I would want to know about it. Unfortunately there are bloggers out there that are perfectly okay with not saying, "Today's content is sponsored by so and so company." By the way, the FCC has said this isn't allowed anymore. As a blog writer, say a company approaches me about sponsored content, up front, the article has to say that its sponsored. If a company gives me something so that I will write a blog post for them, I will say that I accepted a free gift in exchange for content, and report it where necessary.
Today, Jennine also posted a tweet that bloggers were being sent invitations to fashion week in exchange for posting pre-written content from that company. This makes me a little sick to my stomach. Yes, going to fashion week would be a DREAM, but damnit, I will not be told what to write and what to say in exchange for an invitation, and these bloggers that are being given this... they need to fess up. (Just my opinion)
I think magazines and bloggers are in the same boat here. No one can give an honest assessment of a trend, a line, a designer, if that trend, line, store, designer has their hand in that blogger or journalists cookie jar. Magazines and editorials receive invitations, gifts, clothing, and goodie bags in hopes that they will write about it in their magazine (come on we've seen in on The Devil Wear's Prada and Kell on Earth). I think it is unfair for magazines to get their panties in a bunch because fashion bloggers happen to be making a splash in the fashion world. But to make it completely fair, it is the opinion of myself that bloggers should be transparent with their readers regarding sponsored content. The good thing, is that from what I can tell, all the ones in my blog roll are transparent.
What I think is so beautiful about the fashion blogger phenom is that these are real women, real consumers, real customers, hopefully writing about what they love to wear, how they love to wear, who they love to wear because they enjoy it and not just because they are getting paid to do it. Instead of the Ana Wintour's of the world telling designers what to do, fashion blogging gives designers direct access to their target market. When its done right and when its done honestly, I believe that we as fashion bloggers can change the way the fashion world is. Maybe one day we won't be seeing these 5'11" little sticks of girls and men prancing down a catwalk, but we may actually see a real woman wearing these clothes.
I think we have a rare oppurtunity in this day and age to directly influence a medium that's still operating on the age old traditions that have been around for centuries. Although some designers would argue, fashion is for the people and not just for those who have the money and the job in order to flaunt it.
Jennine, your post was wonderfully written and I agree with you. I hope that comes across in this post.
Soap box surrendered.