Perennially a hot topic for fashion/style bloggers is ethics and disclosure of compensation received for blog content. Most recently IFB brought up how to write a disclosure statement. Brands, designers, online commerce sites, brick and mortar stores, hell even companies like AAA regularly tap bloggers to hawk their wares in posts or advertise on their dash. The compensation could be in the form of free products, gift cards, commission on sales, reciprocal exposure or y’know, actual money.
Being new to the blogging world (Malcriada is just over a year old), for a long time I only had to think about such dilemmas theoretically. I knew it bugged me when I would read posts where it appeared the blogger was obviously gifted a bunch of free shit and nary a “c/o” was to be found (meaning the clothing was not labeled “courtesy of” whatever label provided it). It still bugs me. But the only part that bothers me is the not disclosing it. I don’t mind that you got that stuff in the first place.
I am all for bloggers monetizing their sites. You will never catch me espousing some purist philosophy about journalistic objectivity requiring complete freedom from any sort of compensation or else the blogger is a sellout, a shill. If that’s how you feel, then by all means, go read you some Mother Jones or something; somehow I doubt “OMG gorgeous platforms!” is your jam in the first place. And that’s what we do, ladies (and all you 12 gentlemen out there): we go, “OMG gorgeous platforms!” with varying degrees of professionalism/seriousness/linguistic dexterity. At least that’s what I do. No curing cancer here.
Now, do I go “WTF?!” when I see a AAA ad on a fashion blog? Yes I do. I don’t know what one has got to do with the other. But ain’t no shame in my game when I say that I would have to think twice if AAA hit me up for ad space. I’m a single mom with 2 kids, one of whom might be needing some private school education pretty soon. I don’t have the luxury of dismissing any comer out of hand. Do I roll my eyes whenever I see that certain handbag designer who apparently shot her wares out of a T-shirt cannon to the entire fashion blogosphere at some point circa 2010? Hell yeah…but you know I would be ecstatic if one of those bags showed up on my doorstep tomorrow. I’m not gonna lie and say that a lot of these “ethical issues” don’t boil down to straight-up envy for me.
But then again, I recently had an offer to collaborate with a company that I did not feel enthusiastic about or like the majority of their product. I would have been able to find something I liked if pressed; but I wasn’t feeling it and I kind of let the discussion die without pursuing it. I got into blogging because I only want to write about stuff I love. It would have been a chore to do otherwise. Contrast that with House of Fraser hitting me up to write a post for them. I am already a big HoF fan! I pick their stuff out on Polyvore all the damn time! It’s like a DREAM that these people want to compensate me for saying things I am already happy to say about them.
Now what about this scenario: Ann Taylor invited me to the launch party for their new store in a local mall, and plied me with tiny and beautiful hors d’oeuvres. (There was also champagne, and if I still drank, that would have amounted to several hundred dollars’ worth of “compensation” right there.) They gave us cute tote bags with pretty bracelets inside. Now, after all of that niceness, wouldn’t I naturally feel more positive toward Ann Taylor in general? Wouldn’t it be rude to say disparaging things about them when I tote that bag around every weekend and wear that black enamel cuff on the regular? And it is true: I DO like Ann Taylor a whole lot more since that event. I pay attention to their ads and keep up with their product in a way that I never did before. So they have truly influenced me in that way.
Does that make me a sellout? Probably. Lucky for me, I cannot be bothered. DGAF. To me, as long as you say it loud say it proud, and don’t try to hide it, I say GIT THAT MONEY GURL (or that handbag or that gift card)! I love blogging and hate being a proper journo precisely because I do not want to be balanced and objective and show all sides of a story. I want to wax poetic about shit I love and completely ignore shit I don’t care about. If someone wants to pay me for that, you better believe I will have zero existential qualms about it.
And you know what? I wouldn’t stop reading that blog with the random AAA and Expedia and whatever ads on it, if I already love their stuff. I also keep reading Sincerely, Jules and many other blogs that are sponsored up to the eyeballs; it does not turn me off that they are crazy successful because they are up-front about it.
So now I need to write a disclosure statement for Malcriada. I will have to make it “me”; something canned won’t work and would be the most un-authentic thing on my blog! Maybe I’ll just cut and paste from this very post. Stay tuned, you will see it soon.
(Other things that bloggers are supposed to do in addition to having disclosure statements: keep posts short and snappy. See how much I pay attention? This shit turned all Brothers Karamazov-length and I still couldn’t shut my yap…)
*From the song “Let It Die” by Ozzy Osbourne