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March 23, 2013

Blogging: Honesty is the Best Policy

This post is mainly aimed at our readers who are also fellow bloggers. If you have no interest in a non-beauty post, no worries, we'll be back to usual beauty content on Monday. However, even if you're not a blogger but, are interested in what goes on behind the scenes and in our heads, feel free to stick around and have a read!

So we've done a few posts at this stage about blogging - what works for us, our tips and our thoughts on the community. We are both quite opinionated people, but there is no place for negativity or bashing on this site. It's a fun space for chatting about products and pampering, and it's rare that we deviate from that theme.

Nevertheless, we can't always keep our mouths shut! This post is just going to be some of our thoughts on the subject of honesty and disclosure in the blogging world. We've touched on this before in You Blog and You Learn, but we both wanted to emphasise and expound our feelings on this issue by giving it its own post.



Role Reversal

When considering what to write about a product, and especially in terms of disclosure, we both try to put ourselves in the reader's shoes. We both appreciate honesty when reading blogs ourselves, and feel that we have  a duty of care to readers to tell them all the facts and let them make their own fully informed decisions.

We feel that it is unfair to trick a reader into ever possibly thinking that we buy everything that makes it onto this blog. We don't, and if we did, we would be broke. The amount of products we feature is not a realistic representation of a normal person's stash, and we would never want anyone to feel somehow inadequate or inferior, even just for a second, simply because they can't afford to run out and buy the latest collection of pastel nail polishes. There are any number of methods of disclosing free products; you can write it in the body of the text "We were sent a few bits from X to try...", mark it with an asterisk* as we do now or highlight/bold the products which were sent for consideration. Just find a method that works for you, explain it, and stick to it - your readers will thank you!

Money Talks...Or Does It?

We've been blogging for the best part of three years now. What once started as a project between ourselves soon blossomed into a full-time hobby and it became our passion. Recently, we have begun to monetize the blog through accepting Sponsored Posts and adverts. We are also looking into the possibility of using affiliate links. However, our primary objective is not to make money. Rather it is to be honest and transparent. Sponsored posts are always marked as such and we never accept anything, money or product-wise, that doesn't fit in with the tone and ethos of our site.

As any blogger will tell you, writing and maintaining a blog is no easy task. It takes time, hours usually, and if if monetization becomes an option for you, seize it with both hands. Think about it, would you put in 5,6,7,8 hours of work a day as a photographer or as a journalist and not expected to be compensated somewhat for your hard work, research and dedication? But, for God's sake, disclose when you have been paid for something or when using an affiliate link. Similarly, don't sellout for the sake of a few quid; your reputation is worth more than that. For instance, we were recently in talks with a brand to write a Sponsored Post. It is our belief that these should not be peppered with opinion but, the brand rep tried to railroad us into linking to a product within the brand that we would not have organically chosen. We politely told her as much and she eventually relented. Similarly, we have been offered money to write posts on various cosmetic procedures. Not only would that contravene our policy of only reviewing products we have tried firsthand but, it is also against our blog ethos to promote surgical beauty and/or invasive procedures as something that is an easy decision. We're not against it but, it's not for us to tell you if it's good or bad, right or wrong.

In truth, omitting the fact that you have been sent something/have been paid to write a certain post/failing to label affiliate links is bad news. As a community, the blogosphere needs a good reputation in order to be taken seriously as a form of credible media. Making money online is possible and, as a relatively new form of employment, has come down for a lot of criticism of late, possibly due to the suspect actions of a minority. As one of our favourite bloggers Ree put it, ''This is the kind of behaviour that will exacerbate the stigma around monetising blogs.'' Put simply, if we are all honest and upfront about what we're doing and how we do it, there is no shadiness or secrecy surrounding the issue, and everyone is happy.

Reputation & Credibility

How would you feel if someone lied to you, or omitted some necessary truth - a bit hard done by, right?

The bottom line is that, in our opinion, bloggers in every field have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain from being 100% open, transparent and honest. If you're publishing a sponsored post, label it clearly. Been sent some goodies? Disclose that fact. Whilst blogging is far from a perfect science and our opinions can all differ enormously, good morals never go astray. Honesty really is the best policy, and it doesn't cost a cent to be transparent!

So, that was another long one! We'd love to hear your thoughts on this one. Understandably, some of you might think we are being a bit particular but, to us, this is an important issue that causes much annoyance. Do you guys feel the same?! Let us know in the comments!

21 comments:

  1. Agree 100% and I am diligent about disclosing sponsored post or products... it's only fair to everybody

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    1. Absolutely Aoife. I don't even bat an eyelid at a disclosure but, I definitely sit up and take notice when one is missing!

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  2. I've only just started blogging but i've updated my posts because of this! Thank you so much!!

    To celebrate the start of my new blog i'm giving away Roberto Cavalli's latest perfume, i'd love if you could enter :)
http://talisatalksbeauty.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/roberto-cavalli-eau-de-parfum-giveaway.html
    

talisa xx

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    1. Thanks for the feedback and welcome to the community! x

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  3. Completely agree. Nobody has the right to get angry about a product being sent to a blogger, as long as that blogger is honest and upfront about it! I also make sure that if I review a product that has been sent to me, that I make it very clear to my readers as I would hate to come across in any way sneaky about it.

    As always, a great post. X

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  4. Completely agree with everything you said above, the dishonesty & the 'hunt' for PR samples, only ruins the blogging community's reputation, and most of all it's ethically and morally WRONG! I honestly respect your views and always take note of your reviews because I know (and let's face it- it's pretty much obvious) that you girls are honest and are not afraid to tell it like it is. So hats off to you for being true to yourselves and your readers :).


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    1. Thank you so much Andreea, I really appreciate you saying that as it's what we really try to do. xx

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  5. I was only thinking about this yesterday, I feel as if (some) blogs are becoming what they were trying to replace. Traditionally blogs were supposed to a non-biased alternative to magazines, which seemed to have their editorial driven by advertisers. Nowadays, it seems that (some) blogs are no better. At least with a magazine you can flip through the pages and see who's advertising. Some blogs are actively not marking sponsored posts because the brand has asked them not to, that is shady and underhand in my opinion.

    (As an aside, bloggers would really want to be careful about that carry on because Google can delist them)

    Just to add I in no way think that all bloggers are guilty of the above and maybe wonder if the ones (and the brands) that are should be called out on it more frequently (and I really don't mean bullying the bloggers here!), because it will start to dilute the impact that all blogs have and maybe if bloggers don't regulate themselves and the brands calling for this kind of behavior , no one will. I personally don't want to buy from brands who are actively encouraging that sponsored posts aren't labelled as such.

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    1. I wasn't aware that brands were asking for posts to have hidden conditions. That is seriously shady and won't destroy the brand but, will possibly destroy the reputation of anyone who agrees to it.

      I think that there are many ways to run a blog which makes the community so great and so diverse but, ethically, all bloggers should work with the basic principles of honesty, integrity and having a duty of care to readers so that (a) there is no room for them to get taken advantage of by unscrupulous brands and (b) their entire blog and all their hard work isn't called into question over the possibility of making a few quid (which, in the grand scheme of things, is all it really is.)

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  6. Great Post girls, completely agree

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  7. Hear hear! I've always disclosed when I product was sent! Although rare enough for me, I think it's so so important! x

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    1. Thanks Orla, it's so bloody basic and very important! X

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  8. Great post. Honesty will make people trust you more and it pays to be honest as readers will trust your blog enough to follow and take your advice!

    Of course I think that it's important to emphasise that if something may not suit the blogger for whatever reason, skin type etc to mention it in the post.

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    1. Thanks Celeste! I totally agree about skin types and so on, it's in our disclaimer. Although I still buy dud products from time to time, I think I hit on quality more often these days by reading blogs of people who have a similar colouring and skin type to myself!

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  9. Great post, totally agree. There's nothing worse than a shady blogger who is clearly just doing it for the money or whatever, I always feel like I can tell when there's an undisclosed sponsorship on a blog I read and it just turns me off completely.. It's unfair on the readers and completely unnecessary in my opinion! I've only been blogging for a short while and it makes me sad to see new bloggers who are just doing it for money or PR samples. That never even crossed my mind when I thought about starting! Gives us newbies a bad name! xx Serena

    PS I've had a change of blog name! :) would love it if you could check it out guys :) redlipstickteaparties.blogspot.ie

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  10. Great post ladies. I feel like some of the blogs I have followed for a long time have changed of late, and not always for the better. The blog world is so saturated at the minute, but good honest content will always win out. I think it's absolutely ridiculous when bloggers don't disclose a PR sample - rarely are they the only one to receive that sample so it's blatantly obvious when you're reading ten different posts about the same thing within the space of a week and one out of the ten doesn't disclose. Puts me right off reading. I had a bit of bother with a brand who wanted me to do a blog post about a product, but they didn't want to send me the product until after I'd done the post? It went back & forth for ages until I politely told them once & for all that I wasn't going to do that. I later saw the item reviewed on another blog, with content ripped straight from the source they'd given me initially. It put me off that blog straight away. I just think if you blog for the love of it, it'll come through. If you are sneaky, or do what brands tell you just for the publicity or product, what's the point in doing it at all?!?! Sorry for the essay!

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  11. Brilliant post. I'm pretty new to reading blogs but have already been turned off a couple because of this. There really is no good reason why someone should keep being sent products a secret, it just makes the blogger seem dishonest and makes the reader question whether they're giving honest reviews.

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  12. Fantastic post and a must read for all bloggers, well said girls as always:)

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