As a blogger, hell, as a person, I’ll gladly admit that I’m not opposed to people receiving free product, sponsored posts or brand partnerships, in moderation.
With a background in marketing, I can definitely see the value of working with ‘influencers’ (I seriously hate that term, but for lack of a better one, I’ll use it) from a brand’s perspective; it gets their products in front of a highly targeted audience, in a fairly measurable way, for far less budget than using traditional marketing mediums. If I ran a small business and I found some people who were loyal to my brand and had a good community and like-minded friends and followers, I’d use them too.
And with the rise online shopping, there are a lot of great designers, brands and small businesses out there competing for your dollar which means getting a brand or business noticed isn’t always an easy task—and that’s coming from someone who has worked in some form of Marketing for seven years.
I’ve been very fortunate because this blog, and now What Brooke Wore, has afforded me the opportunity to work with and give exposure to some very amazing people and brands who you may not have otherwise discovered.
Through these partnerships, most of which have involved gifted product, as well as a few small paid sponsorships (I’m definitely not making hundreds of dollars a post, let alone thousands, despite what 60 Minutes might have you believe), I’ve made meaningful connections with a wide variety of women running small businesses who I truly admire and feel honoured to support and work with. Women like Caitlin Taylor, Hayley Bracewell, Alessandra Brand, Natalie Tink, Anna Ross and Patrice Gibbons to name a few. Head over to my Five on Friday series to meet more of these great women.
Many of the pieces I’ve acquired through my collaborations have become personal favourites that I wear or use repeatedly, so I don’t believe it’s false advertising to be showing off these products to the awesome women and men who follow my blog and social media accounts. Nor do I feel that my integrity, or that of the brands I’m working with, has been compromised. In fact, I feel the opposite!
I’ve always had a love of fashion and for years I’ve been the girl in the office in comes back from lunch and shows off her purchases to her colleagues; or email friends with links to clothes and accessories I think they’d love; or hotels and bars to check out when on vacation. So this really isn’t any different.
If I love it, of course I’m going to tell you about it however, I’ll always make a note when an item has been gifted to me, or if a blog post has been sponsored and will continue to do so.
Why? It comes down to transparency and integrity.
I value you and am so thankful that you take a little time out of your busy day to drop by my world, whether it’s liking or commenting on a photo on Instagram or stopping to read a blog post.
I want you to be able to trust me; to know that if you’ve seen me promoting something it is because I’ve tried it, worn it, ate it or did it. I’m not just going to regurgitate a media release because a PR company is chasing some publicity or has offered me money or free stuff.
Also, I absolutely do not take everything I’m offered. I am extremely selective about the brands I do work with and probably turn down 80 per cent of invitations and offers that I receive. If I don’t think I will wear what’s being offered or if that brand or item isn’t my style, I will decline the offer.
The same goes if something arrives and it’s not quite me, or doesn’t fit how I thought it would, I don’t try and photograph it creatively to make it look like something it’s not; I just package it back up, write a little thank you note explaining my reasons and send it back to the brand at my cost.
While disclosing gifted product (#gifted) or sponsored posts (#sponsored, #ad or #collab) isn’t a legal requirement in Australia (it is in the US and, to be honest, I’m in favour of the idea), I think it’s best to be upfront about the items I’m gifted, or the commercial or personal relationship I have with brands. This shouldn’t change the way you feel about the brands I’m working with; it’s just me letting you know that we’ve got a thing going on.
And, for the sake of transparency, when it comes time for a wardrobe clean out (like that which is happening this Thursday night at 6pm over on my Facebook page), any gifted items I have loved but will no longer wear are passed on to local charities including Suited to Success, the Women’s Legal Service Queensland and the Salvation Army, or they’re sold in my online clothing sale with all monies donated to my charity of choice, Smiling for Smiddy.
If you’ve got any questions about the world of ‘influencers’ (or why I dislike that term), disclosure, or the gifted products I’ve received, drop me a line in the comments below and I’ll get back to you.