Monday, December 3, 2012

my thoughts on c/o's, sponsored posts and blogging for money









My crazy family- by Tim

I've been meaning to publish this post for quite some time.

Weeks ago I asked you how you felt about seeing Courtesy Of's (c/o) and Sponsored Posts on blogs. Most of you suggested that while it wasn't your favourite part of the blogs you read, you would't stop reading because of them.

For a little while now I've been lucky enough to find the occasional parcel on my door step from small brands and PR companies. It's a really nice treat and one I'd suggest i'm rather undeserving of.

In the past I've added links to those products in posts without declaring that the goods were gifted to me. I never really thought too much of it to be honest, I didn't even consider that it may have been deceptive. It was out of gratitude, not obligation that I shared the goodies. In more recent times, I've changed my views.

Lately, 'gifts' have been arriving with more frequency and I've had to make a decision about my approach. This decision is largely based on you, the people who generously visit this silly little blog on a regular basis.

I've given it much thought and consideration over the past month or so and have had some fabulous email conversations with some lovely people that have helped refine my views. Some were critical (and yes, still totally lovely) and some were encouraging. Most importantly, all were willing to engage in dialogue and that's something I really value.

I decided that I would move forward in 'working with brands'* and continue to accept great stuff for free. I also decided that I would write 'sponsored posts' for people/brands I'm interested in and hope that they would be of interest to you too. I made these decisions based on a number of factors including my desire to have nice things that I can't necessarily afford. But more so, I concluded that if I could alleviate some of our financial pressures (baby number 3 on the way and over 4 years on a single income isn't easy) by writing the odd post for money, that it would be a positive thing for my family, and my family is always my first priority.

Additionally, behind most of the brands I've promoted are real people. Typically stay-at-home-mum-trying-to-earn-some-coin people. Mostly people that I really like and am eager to support like Em from Little Tienda, Pip from Fillyboo, Tess from DTLL, Sally from Fawn and Fox and Alison from Bayside Vintage. My prices are teeny tiny and most certainly aren't aimed at big business ( and they do not line my pockets with wads of cash!)

Yes, IKEA have sent me some things before; yes I love it when they do. No, it is not run by a stay at home mum but I do genuinely like IKEA and am a regular customer. I would write about their stuff even if they didn't give it to me (don't tell them that). Other large brands have also sent product my way, brands who's ideals don't align with mine but you wouldn't know about it because I don't share them here.

I will be completely upfront and honest about sponsored content. If something is given to me by a brand, you'll know about it. It will have a c/o and a link back. Not because i'm a total wanker and I want you to think i'm awesome for getting free stuff, more because I think you are highly intelligent and deserve to know when something is being promoted.

If I am writing a sponsored post, it will be labeled as such at the top of the page.

I really love writing this blog, thats why I do it. As a stay at home mum, it's given me a connection to an amazing community that I wouldn't have had otherwise. You, my friends, have provided me with words of wisdom, encouragement and support during some of my darkest days as a mother. I've written openly about my struggles with my spirited child, my experience with postnatal depression and the hum drum monotony of being a house wife. You've also patted me on the back when things are going brilliantly. In the future, you might even congratulate me on the birth of a little baby boy or girl.

For now, i'll keep going in the same way I have been for the past 18 months- to write daily about our daily life. Sometimes amongst that, you'll see 'sponsored post' at the top of a page- it'll still be me though. My thoughts, my words, my ideas. My blog.

As always, I welcome your thoughts on this. Feel free to share your ideas openly and under your real name.



* wanker alert

There is so much more I could say here on this issue, like my thoughts on consumerism and being apart of the 'machine' that drives people to spend money on unnecessary stuff that they don't need and that truly won't make them happy. This is something that makes me uncomfortable and something I am conscious of  in my own spending/consuming life- i hope in being selective (working with cottage brands and other mums) in products/ brands that i'm promoting AND being completely overt in doing so that I aleviate any confusion in what i'm doing.

EDIT- I received an email reminding me that I neglected to address one little issue in this mammoth post- that being 'how this free stuff actually finds it's way to my door step'. In the past I used to contact brands that I loved regularly asking them if they'd be interested in being featured on The Beetle Shack. It's amazing how many people are willing to send things to bloggers in exchange for free promotion- try it (i'm happy to write more about my approach if you're interested)! These days, I find myself contacting brands much less frequently- I would never ask for 'cash' payment from a brand I had approached. So any content that is 'sponsored' is because a brand/individual has contacted me asking for a feature post, we then talk payment. Often, crazily enough, products so simply 'turn up' on my door step accompanied by a press release. If you'd like to learn more about how I approach brands, feel free to emial me, or maybe i'll pull a post together in the future. Please be aware, 'free stuff' has not always just arrived without me having to ask for it. 


68 comments:

  1. What a great, intelligent and honest post :) I think what you do is wonderful and I love reading beetleshack every day. I am glad that your blog has provided you and your family with so much. Thank you for your honesty! xox

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bec, thats truly lovely of you to say, i'm honoured to hear that you enjoy visiting here :)

      xo em

      Delete
  2. Well said Em. Love your work. xo

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Emily!
    I've only just started reading your blog ( which I am loving!)so I wanted to say hi *waves* & that I think your spot on with your approach. I read lots of blogs & so many are doing sponsered posts now. I agree with your other readers, it's not my favourite thing to read but if I find a new product or company that I like then BONUS, otherwise I'm not too fussed. I think your lucky to be able to do something you love & get some extra cash for it.

    Thanks for the good reads :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hi!! *arms waving wildly above my head*

      thanks so much for your support here, It's so lovely to have you :)

      xo em

      Delete
  4. Very well written Emily...and I agree with most of the points you address.

    My blog is too teeny tiny to attract much in the way of sponsors or people sending me things but I always think that if I was asked to write about a product and it was a product that I believed in and would write about anyway, then why not be rewarded for my efforts?

    I do appreciate when blogs I read label sponsored posts as such...I think I just like the honesty!

    I for one will read each and every post you write...because I like you and your blog!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think it's great that you can earn a little bit of money for you and your family from your gorgeous blog. It takes time and care to write thoughtful and interesting posts and if you're able to gain some kind of small reward ( or large for that matter) then why shouldn't you? I usually love the products that appear in your sponsored posts and am always to see who / what is appearing in your "sponsors" sidebar. Keep em coming I say :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great post Emily. I've really noticed in the last couple of months the amount of Sponsored posts there are. Some days it is the same company on 2 or 3 different blogs. I like that you choose to be selective and in particular support cottage brands. It must be a great feeling that you still get to stay home with your family and earn an income by doing something you love. Have a lovely week! xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ive noticed the same thing (same product on multiple blogs) I personally don't like this...I feel like it's ambush marketing and would avoid it if I was fortunate enough to have a blog that attracted sponsored posts...the most recent one (ie multiple blogs on same day

      Delete
    2. Fat finger alert...
      Same day) felt insincere and wasn't my cup of tea
      Great post Emly:) good luck to you!!

      Delete
    3. Yeah I agree, I just don't read it when it's that obvious!

      Delete
  7. Well written......
    Go nuts, I don't mind at all. In fact I think it's great ;O)
    Tania (that's my real name) xx

    ReplyDelete
  8. You go girl! As a stay at home mum who takes the time to write such engaging posts on such a frequent basis you should absolutely make the most of the opportunity to earn an income from this. I think if you are true to your ideals and are upfront about sponsored posts there is no issue at all. mel x

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think the beauty of being an independent publisher (apparently that's what we bloggers are) is that you have the option to choose. We aren't obligated to advertisers in the way that magazines are and so our views and our editorial choices are based on genuine interest and a desire to share with our readers. It's lovely to be offered freebies and I think there are benefits to everyone in that relationship (including readers) but I know what you mean about it not being your favourite posts. Interesting that. Wonder how to address that (if it's even necessary to do so)...

    ReplyDelete
  10. It's a hard one eh.
    I think you've got a good balance. Just as long as you keep it real.
    I must admit I get tres jealous at all the lovely things you get but then hey I won your lovely competition. It's a win for everyone.

    Keep up the lovely blight work. I only wish one day I could compliment our family income with my blog too.

    xx

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for the mention and kind words :) It's an interesting topic. I've come across blogs where I think the marketing of products is too heavy-handed..there's a sense that the blog is more about generating income, rather than sharing stories and personal thoughts. As a business owner wanting to promote myself a bit, I steer clear of those sorts of blogs (even if they do have thousands of followers!). I don't feel yours has that feeling about it at all - it's a warm and honest space you have created, and that really does come through in your posts. I think you've got the balance right (oh and the giveaways are great! ;) ) x

    ReplyDelete
  12. I totally get it em, and I really appreciate your honesty. your description of what blogging has given you over the last 18mths rang true for me, every word. I have made SO many wonderful connections I never would have made in the 'real' world as a SAHM who has VERY minimal contact with actual adults aside from a handful of close kindy mum friends. the opportunity just isn't there. and the single income for 4 years I hear too.. we stepped over to 5yrs back in september. so I say go for it, every little bit helps and you're doing the sponsored posts for all the right reasons, I totally support *your* support of the small businesses and SAHMs just trying to make a difference and enjoy the best of both worlds, taking charge and taking a leap to find a great life balance. which in itself is very inspiring stuff, something I too am working toward in the coming year. and who doesn't love IKEA?!! ;) x

    ReplyDelete
  13. I think there should be more of it actually. This is work, albeit fun work, and you deserve to be paid. I wish Ikea would send me free stuff. I spend way too much money in that store.
    Carolyn

    ReplyDelete
  14. I love the honesty of your blog.. I also love the sponsored posts as I find some really good shops/ pages I never knew of! And there is also lots of giveaways too which as u would know from comment numbers people obviously like them too! So if anyone whinges ask if they commented on a giveaway... I bet they did :) Sam xx

    ReplyDelete
  15. I've changed my views lately too (although my poor blog has been quite neglected lately)....at first, I was so flattered to get anything/email 'wow, someone contacted me about my little blog' I would put links etc up. Now, I feel it has to be worth my time...time taken out of working on a clients room or spending with my boys and totally have/will be doing clear sponspored posts.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I'm really proud of you Em. Since I've found you, near the beginning of your blogging journey you've been NOTHING but honest. And I've been captivated the entire time. You inspire and are just so relatable (I'm sure that's a word!). Through your sponsored or promoted posts, whatever you want to call them, I've found so many wonderful small businesses. Good on you for supporting them. You've got a wonderful platform to do so, and your integrity has always rung true.
    Keep doing what you're doing!
    xo

    ReplyDelete
  17. Really well said. I think as long as you are upfront about it, as you say you will be, it is not an issue. We can always skip that post and come back the next day. I think most of us have similar tastes here so it's usually of interest anyway! Good luck with it. Sar x

    ReplyDelete
  18. Em, it sounds like you've got yourself a wonderful opportunity - take it and run!!! this is fabulous that your blog can also earn you money! do it! I love your blog and i love coming here and if you have the benefit of giving us your opinion on a product or whatever then great! win/win for all of us!!! I also think it will be nice to have you point out all the "cottage" cuteness that is out there is this mass produced material world we live in. find us the good stuff Em!!!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I'll read every Ikea post you write and would not care if it were a sponsored post! Thanks for the honesty and I really don't think less of anyone who does make the decision to promote brands or products as long as you stand by them and not talk EVERYTHING that comes your way up for the money - but hey on the flip side if you can make a few extra dollars then why not!

    Well done Em and your post hit the nail on the head for many :)

    Sophie xo

    ReplyDelete
  20. If they are things/ideas that you value and want to share then, no doubt, we your readers would be interested too! :)

    ReplyDelete
  21. I applaud your honesty and appreciate that you are free to manage your blog as you see fit..each to his own.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Well you already know my thoughts on this, but I just thought I'd pop back and say that despite said thoughts I'm still here because of what you have just written. It makes complete sense and you have managed the balance well and your honesty is refreshing and bla bla bla. xx

    ReplyDelete
  23. love yer guts lady. as you were.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Love your honesty Em. It's your blog and I say you do what works for you. I will still be popping over for my daily visit.
    Natalie x

    ReplyDelete
  25. Totally agree with Pippa up there. I love discovering new beautiful products, and I'm more than happy for you to share them here. I also think its awesome that you earn some cash from this space, because you have poured some of your heart and heaps of your time into it.

    Im x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ps cute photo. I have a similar (albeit much dorkier) one of Rodge and I our children and my parents.

      Delete
  26. The themes in this post have been written about quite a lot lately but none written as well and as honest as this! It's a no brainer that companies and brands want to form a relationship with you and your blog :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. I personally think it is your blog therefore it is your right to write whatever you want. Your readers clearly love your little space. If you can make a buck or two and get some good products along the way, kudos to you!

    I have just ended 23 years of full time employment to be seriously part time and the bonus of this is I have more time at home than I have ever had. The downside is my funds are a fraction of what they were. And although in the past I didn't want (or need) to monetize my blog it is something I might consider down the track.

    Good on you for doing what your soul wants.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Em, this is an awesome honest and out there post! Well done:) I will be honest with you, there have been times you've posted about your sponsors products and links to the products you have got (purchased?) for you're home... not all those products are very affordable or necessary for the average young family/stay-at-home-mum styled family...but no doubt they are artisan and worth every penny:) I love how you mention consumerism and how you are aware of not wanting to be a part of the manipulating machine, I totally respect you for being aware of this and wanting to turn your focus to the cottage/indi sellers, well done styley lady!! x

    ReplyDelete
  29. Beautifully written and very sensible approach. X

    ReplyDelete
  30. Don't worry/feel bad about it. Your blog has something of the 'it' factor, thus the approaches from advertisers. You seem to have integrity but besides that, you deserve it! Personally, I usually skim over any of your promotions/giveaways/sponsored posts. But I wouldn't stop reading your blog because of them. And I understand why your blog is a desirable outlet. My two cents worth is "go for it"!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Beautifully done, Em - honest and opinionated, with the usual Emily flare.

    I personally enjoy 'sponsored' posts on blogs, especially ones by you. I find that the businesses you support and work with are true to your brand, have quality and thoughtful products, and you write truthfully about your experience with them. Many of my favourite brands and products I have discovered through your blog!

    In the end, if you can earn some extra money for your lovely little family (and look good doing it ;)) whilst supporting small businesses and brands, then it's all good.
    Anyway that's my two-cents worth.

    Sar xx

    ReplyDelete
  32. I completely understand and agree as a fellow blogger. I am loving your blog since I found it recently due to the Soon Maternity gig we shared and I love the way you are approaching the future, kudos!

    ReplyDelete
  33. It seems I love hearing your opinions on just about any topic. Love your blog, very happy for you that it is bringing in some money and free stuff!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Em, I've always loved you- but I love you even more for this. Sometimes people can be so crass when judging other bloggers for how they write, what they share, and unfortunately even if they make money from doing so. If your blog is successful enough to provide a small income, yet still aligns with your values.. more power to you! I think it's fabulous. I've learned there will always be naysayers, but if you're writing from your heart, and sharing what's important to you and your family you will never be in the wrong. xo

    Lots of love.

    ReplyDelete
  35. While sponsored posts aren't my favorite (and sometimes I end up not reading those particular entries), it never turns me off from a blog when i enjoy the content generally. I completely understand the need or desire to make some money from blogging, it takes a tremendous amount of time and I do sometimes have the thought that I wish someone was paying me to do it... It's a fine balance, but your honesty is appreciated and you seem to have found that balance for yourself.

    xox Lilly

    ReplyDelete
  36. I read this post, thought very deep thoughts, then opened my email, and voila! My very first offer of a free product. I felt very special indeed!

    I was thinking, it's amazing how, at this point in time, we are more in control of our advertising consumption than ever before, although there does seem to be more of it! I think your honesty about the slight unease that comes with advertising on your blog, and commitment to disclosing where a post is sponsored is bang-on. People will tune into a product they are interested in, in the same way that they notice TV ads and billboards for products that hit their need. Good on you for building up your space to this point, and i'm looking forward to reading on! (and advertising my little cottage industry, one day) :)sarah

    ReplyDelete
  37. i'm very glad you shared your thoughts on this (esp since they align w mine and i felt much affirmation!). transparency is key. as well as discretion. you're doing a great job on both fronts.

    and i like how you mentioned how nice it is to receive nice things you wouldn't be able to afford for yourself. it's getting a gift and gifts are so much fun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Im with you on that last comment. I would be taking it all as a gift as well! Elisha.

      Delete
  38. I love your balance you've achieved in your posts... it doesn't feel like I'm reading an advertorial everytime I click on a post!!

    ReplyDelete
  39. I think if you have the opportunity to make a little money for your family, while still staying true to your heart, it is a wonderful thing. proud of you Em!

    ReplyDelete
  40. I love your style- both, you know, in "stuff" and "substance". Your honesty and humility smooths over any concerns anyone could have I think. I personally don't mind bloggers getting gifts for promo- I think blogging is hard work for lots of reasons (mine has sat dormant for much of the last 2 years and I have always been too shy to post too much heart there,) so it's a nice treat. In terms of consumerism etc, I do find I need to take a break from blogs and pinterest every so often when I find myself getting too wanty, or wishing for a perfectly styled life (and we both know that doesn't exist!)

    ReplyDelete
  41. Very interesting - I just love how you shone a light on the mysterious world of blogging freebies and sponsorship. And that is one of the reasons I love your blog, for it's frankness and honesty. Good on you for turning your blog into a business, I salute you! x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. By using the word "business" I don't mean you've stopped engaging with it emotionally - of course you haven't! That came out wrong! I just mean you seem to have found a way to ease financial pressures by doing something you love and something you are good at - just wanted to clarify that in case it sounded a bit odd. x

      Delete
  42. What a lovely, well written post. I appreciate your honesty. Also, just quietly, I'm a little bit chuffed that I found your blog and started reading long before there were any c/o's or hints of free stuff - almost if I was part of the cool club before it was even recognised as cool. haha.

    ReplyDelete
  43. good on you I reckon. You've got a great thing happening on this blog and why not use it to tell your readers about great products! We know you will give an honest opinion. Would love to read a post about your approach to collaborating with brands!

    ReplyDelete
  44. Thank you, I love how honest you are. I don't get much sponsored posts any more but its okay because I do this for my girls.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Well done to you - all the above comments are so positive and you obviously have a very loyal following. Essentially your sponsored posts are just like 'word of mouth' when you converse with friends as you are selective about the products you promote. Sunshine Art blog is just in its infancy but I would love the opportunity to try new art supplies in our activities with kids. Good Luck

    ReplyDelete
  46. I like it when I know you have the item, you have tested it you liked it and then you share it.... much better then fake photo shoot ads in magazines trying to sell me a "feeling" or a "moment in time"... give me Emily and spilt milk on the floor and lively ragamauffins anyday...!

    ReplyDelete
  47. Finally someone talks about it. Thank you
    www.mygotwos.com

    ReplyDelete
  48. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Em, I always find your honesty so refreshing and this post is no different. This is a wonderful opportunity for you and your family so good for you!
    x

    ReplyDelete
  50. I've always just assumed most of the entries showing products were sponsored posts. Not just on your blog but blogs in general. It's never bothered me in the slightest, i'd rather you do that & make a bit of money along the way than to have your beautiful little blog disappear. As a fellow stay at home Mum (so far for only a couple of months but i'm starting to feel the pinch already!)you gotta do what you gotta do :)

    ReplyDelete
  51. I'm a proud beetleshack follower and this post confirms my belief in you, your honesty and your valuable contribution to the blogging world.

    ReplyDelete
  52. hi em, i'm generally really against hard sell advertising on blogs in general - i like to read blogs to relax and be inspired, not to feel like I'm being seen as a profit centre and a potential customer. and i do find often feel that your blog is out there trying hard to make a profit and sell, and i do find that offputting. HOWEVER, having read the comments above I feel more sympathy towards women with small businesses and I understand that a blog can indeed be a small business. So, I guess what I'm saying is that while I find myself reading your blog less and less because of the advertising/sponsoring, I feel confident that lots of other people won't, and that your blog with thrive and prosper. And I am happy for you and wish you all the best, even while I migrate off to blogs that aren't trying to sell me anything at all :) best of luck!

    ReplyDelete
  53. Em - you write with integrity and honesty, including sponsored posts and that's a bucketload more than we get in the mainstream media. I for one, love your approach to this issue. xx

    ReplyDelete
  54. Gday there. I hadnt really thought much into it really. Its never changed the way I view the blog or my enjoyment of reading it. The giveaways that come with are always a bonus for us. (I need to win one! haha).. Definetely interested in a blog about how you do 'all of the above'..This blog business is making me want to create 1 more and more......hhhmmmmm!! Elisha

    ReplyDelete

Thanks so much for your words of encouragement, advice and solidarity.

xo em