Yesterday a story came out concerning a row between a small baking business and a lifestyle blogger. The row itself touched a nerve that both brands and bloggers have often spoken of but never fully discussed. Namely, the relationship between bloggers and brands who collaborate and how they value each other’s work.
I’d like to add, at this point, that I believe the entire matter wasn’t handled well by either party throughout the initial row and during the fallout that followed. As a blogger, there is a certain part of me that wants to show solidarity with someone else who does this. However, I can also empathise with a small business trying to find its feet. If nothing else, a blog is something of a business project for many bloggers and writers.
My first thought, when reading about this entire issue, was that there was clearly a fundamental lack of communication from both parties. Both parties felt like what they were asking for was reasonable and then felt they were short-changed in what they were actually given/offered. As a result, feelings of disappointment and being under-valued were shared and were soon replaced by anger.
I should say at this point, for full disclosure, that I do work with brands in a variety of ways. I’ve written style articles for online/print magazines, I’ve helped brands launch new collections and reviewed product ranges when asked. I do have some rules for this though, namely that I only work with brands that I like to work with and that I won’t accept cash payment for the posting of content on my site. I give deadlines of when I can fit in reviews and deliver articles as well as communicate any issues or problems I have if it will affect the content in some way.
Both brands and bloggers have been tarred by #bloggerblackmail but there is an opportunity here for us to learn some lessons from the mistakes made by others:
- We need to make sure that we are communicating with anyone we work with. For the people at the brand, a blogger collab can be a chunk of budget and/or a risk for them. Keeping people informed is the best way to keep relationships strong.
- If you’re not happy with the way a brand is structuring a project, walk away. You don’t need everything that is offered to you. For every brand that I have worked with there have been 30 others trying to get me to write about mattresses, bathroom taps or snap back caps (that’s just in the last two weeks). All of them offered me free products but I didn’t want them because I didn’t want to be a part of the project.
- Don’t be vindictive for the sake of it. I’ve given the odd one or two bad reviews, but that’s mainly because I review products I would advise my followers to buy. Be honest but don’t be cruel.
- If you reach out to bloggers, understand that it is you who is making the request and that gives the blogger the right to negotiate (politely). You are employing our creativity and our domain for your own purposes, so understand that (just like you) this is a risk for us and we want to be sure we can trust you and the brand.
- Labelling a blogger as “less well known” shows a lack of respect. Treat us like business colleagues or suppliers and we will treat you with the same respect.
- Understand that, for the majority of us, this is not our primary job or income earner. For many of us, this is something that we have created and hope to build into something bigger. However, we also have limited time and resources so projects take longer than they would if this was our sole occupation.
Blogger collaborations require an element of good-will and faith from both parties, without this the process simply becomes cold and ruthless. I love the blogger/brand community because it forces individuals to interact who may not have known each other if circumstances were different. I’ve made friends who work for brands/PR companies and strengthened bonds with fellow bloggers through campaigns. If we take away one thing from this entire incident, it’s that respect and trust, from both blogger and brand, is a necessity in the success of blogger/brand collaborations.
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