I was feeling like having another little Sunday ramble again about the world of blogging. Honestly, sticking my head above the parapet and saying something about blogging ‘issues’ isn’t my thing usually. Not because I’m scared or wimpy or whatever. More just because I generally like to do things how I like to do them – without necessarily feeling the need to state what is ‘right and wrong’ for others to read. It’s always been said that in blogging there are no rules – and to a point, that’s true but also now with all the ASA rulings, there are some rules but I guess as with any rule it’s a the blogger’s discretion on how or even if they follow them. Hence why more rules are being brought in on top of old rules…where people perhaps aren’t following them they’re adding more to make it more and more explicit. Yet I still see people deciding that the rules don’t apply to them and ignoring them… Then I’ve read a few posts recently from other bloggers and in particular ones who perhaps are quite open in stating the fact that disclosure can impact on their enjoyment of a blog or that they perhaps don’t read blogs they used to for this sort of reason (eg: That Grace Girl & From Roses).
Having said that, this post isn’t necessarily about others, this is about my blog and how I do things and why. But the thoughts and words of these other bloggers are ones that got me thinking a bit more about something that always crops up over the years in blogging. As regular readers will know, I’ve been doing a fair amount of soul-searching (blog-wise…so not exactly hunting for the meaning of life) over the past few months and the one thing that comes back to me time and time again is that as much as it’s ‘my blog, my rules’, the number one thing I need and want to listen to is readers. What readers like, what they want more or less of and how they appreciate getting information. As a result of THIS post a couple of months back I’m making a few changes. I’ll keep doing as many beauty reviews, will be doing more home and lifestyle things, trying to throw some more London and personal stuff in there too, and will no longer bother with celebrity stuff really (this 100% topped out as the thing people couldn’t care less about). Unless it’s a chance to meet Chris Pine or something, then that might sway things… so I’m hoping that content wise will be a nice mix of the stuff you folks love to read and the stuff I love to write about.
But one thing I’ve never really brought up too explicitly on the blog is disclosure (well, it’s explicit in my ‘blogging policy’ but I’ve never really talked about it in a post) – mainly because it’s something I’ve always disclosed since the very early days. As soon as the whole idea of making it clear samples were mentioned in a post became a thing, I have included a disclaimer in some shape or form. From early days when it was basically a mini-essay at the bottom of the post, to the past couple of years or so when I always mark a sample with a *, or if it’s some sort of experience then I include a little disclaimer note at the bottom. This is just talking samples/experiences by the way – I’m not talking sponsored posts – which again is always something I feel I make clear via an explicit disclosure note. Sponsored posts side of things is probably a whole other post in the making. So I’ll stick to the things I had in mind for today…
What I would like to know is does this disclosure ‘work’ for you as a reader. Does the ‘*’ next to a product feel familiar enough or would you prefer something more obvious perhaps? I could always do the * and then add a note at the bottom of each post stating ‘Products marked with a * indicate PR sample’. This again is something I used to do but then added to my ‘blogging policy’ page so it was all in one place. I’d always felt the * was indication enough, but perhaps that’s just because I’m in the blogging bubble so much that assume this? Basically, what I’m trying to say is – I have absolutely zero issues with being totally explicit on samples, I have and always will disclose – but what I’d like to know is how you like to see it as a reader?
The thing I don’t really get though (talking overall blogging now), is why is it an issue TO disclose?! It’s hardly a big hardship to do?! The reasoning I’ve heard before can be things like ‘magazines don’t disclose samples’ – I guess fair enough. But a blog isn’t a magazine. No matter how glossy their photos are. I tend to just think – if you’re being honest then why is it an issue to be totally transparent with it? One of the things I personally like about disclosing is actually when I write about the things I’ve bought. I LIKE that there’s a mix in there – granted, the samples probably do outweigh the ones I buy now. But the ones I buy are still in there and always will be (as I talked about HERE) and I like to think it’s good to see that for myself and for readers.
Honesty in reviews:
On the whole ‘blogging/honesty’ situation. Personally, I feel I’ve been doing this for long enough that it’s not an issue for me. I don’t feel the pressure to write a glowing review for risk of being taken ‘off list’ by a brand or agency. But I can understand that feeling for others. The blogging pool is so huge now, if a brand wanted to scrap their ‘list’ and start a new one there’s always a load of bloggers just ready to jump into the places. I get that the competitive nature of where blogging has gone means this is a definite downside – and by downside I mean for all. For the bloggers who feel that way, for the readers who maybe feel they can’t trust and the brands who aren’t open to the feedback that true blogging can bring.
But when I review something or feature it in a round-up, I am always honest – if I include something in a post it’s because I’ve tried it and I like it. Hence sometimes why I’m not the quickest off the mark on the blog front – I’m spending my time really trying something before it makes it into a post as I feel this makes for my post being more interesting and hopefully useful to people considering a purchase. Having said that, it’s not my style to totally just slate a product either. If there’s something I really don’t like then I will either just move on and not review it – or if I have mixed feelings about it then the review will be mixed. I always remember that a product experience I have is very much unique to me – I might hate the smell of a face cream, someone else might love it. It totally varies. When it comes to my approach to blogging I like to remember that my words are not the gospel, just one girls opinion.
In my view it all connects back – especially now that the blog is part of my job. I’m not really the thing that makes the money (as in me as the ‘face’ of the blog) – it’s the audience. Without an audience that reads (and trusts) my posts, then I don’t offer any value to a brand or company who wants to work with me. So being honest, open and transparent has to come as number one – especially if I want to keep being lucky enough to keep calling this my job. As that’s why the audience reads and (hopefully) keeps coming back.
Lastly on this epic Sunday ramble… which is turning into quite the super-long essay. I totally welcome readers feedback on the blog. Of course it would be really lovely if this feedback could be constructive and positive… but even if not. Feedback is feedback – I would love to hear your thoughts, as a reader or as fellow blogger. What do you like to see in terms of disclosure? Does disclosure even matter to you? Do you still read the same blogs or has it changed over the years? Just let me know your thoughts – either in the comments below or drop me a tweet (@beautyjunkieldn)
Otherwise…if you made it right to the end of reading this. Then well done! Hope you’re having a lovely Sunday evening!