Sponsored posts: When bloggers are compensated by free products, monetary payment or both in exchange for a blog post that contains photos/links to the product or business.
It contributes to how a lot of big time bloggers these days earn a decent enough income to live off, and it’s what most of us small time bloggers hope to achieve one day.
It’s a controversial topic though, and after witnessing a recent big debacle with a blogger not declaring when some posts were sponsored/paid for, I thought it would be a good chance to address the topic and share my opinion as both a blogger and a reader.
What I don’t like is when a blogger doesn’t disclose that the post is sponsored, or that they were somehow compensated for the post. It really grinds my gears, as both a reader and a blogger. As a reader, it feels like you’re lied to. It’s like your friend giving you advice on something, recommending a product to you and raving on about how great it is, and then you finding out later that she makes a commission for it and didn’t tell you. Annoying, right?
A blogger should always be completely upfront about it and disclose that they are being sponsored for their time at the very start. It’s generally easy to tell whether a post is sponsored or not, but a reader shouldn’t have to guess.
As a blogger myself, when I first started receiving invites to try out restaurants/cafes or review products, I did have a moment where I thought “oh, but it doesn’t sound good for the company if I tell people I got it for free…” but that was soon followed by the thought “well, it sounds even worse to my readers if I don’t say so and they find out.” It’s just not good business to not disclose sponsorships, loyal readers deserve better than that.
Honesty is key
“I love this product, it’s the best I’ve ever tried!”
“I use this every day and recommend it to everyone!”
“This is the only brand I trust!”
How many times have you read the above statements and notice that the blogger has never mentioned the product before on their blog, and will never mention it again? As a reader, it makes me cringe when I see things like that, especially on blogs that I otherwise really enjoy. It makes them look disingenuous and fake. It’s ok to write “[company name] sent me this product to review, and this is how I found it!” There’s no need to pretend it’s oh-my-god-the-best-thing-ever (unless of course it is, and in that case please rave on some more about it because I just might love it too), just be honest and and give us a proper review and time frame of how long you actually had it and how many times you actually used it so we know you’re being genuine with us.
As a blogger, I get approached every now and then to review both cafes/restaurants and also products. I have never been paid for them but I do get to eat at the venue/receive the product for free (and honestly guys, I’m just happy for now to receive free food and I’m not complaining at all about it!). I always disclose if my meals or products were free, and my honest opinion about them. I’ve been lucky with venue reviews that the service and food have always been really great!
I haven’t been so lucky with products though. I had a period earlier this year where I was reviewing products monthly for a company and I was honest about what I liked and what I didn’t like in my reviews, and eventually I wasn’t asked to review any more products from them. I don’t know if that was because I didn’t pretend to love everything, or if it was something else entirely. At first I was disappointed, but I reminded myself that they probably weren’t a right fit for me and didn’t align with my core values. Plus, I would rather get no deals while staying honest, then get all of the deals by lying to my readers.
How many is too many?
I’m in the middle with this one. I can see where readers are coming from when I see them complain on other blogs when there is too much sponsored content, and not enough of the other stuff they love to read. I get that, it can get annoying to see them all the time. Especially when brands reach out to lots of bloggers and they all post at the same time.
But I can also understand it from the bloggers point of view – at the end of the day, this is their sole income for a lot of the bigger blogs. Some weeks might be slow, some might be great, and sometimes they just need to do it to keep things afloat. So it’s tough – I don’t know where I stand on this one. Maybe bloggers could space them out more? Maybe readers could scroll past if it bothers them? I don’t know the answer to this one and have mixed feelings about it all.
Is One Dish Away headed that way?
As mentioned above, I do get things sent to me occasionally and every so often I get invited to try out a cafe/restaurant, but honestly, about 90% of the time I’m “reviewing” a place I’ve eaten/stayed at, or new product I’ve discovered, it isn’t actually compensated or sponsored and any links that I share in my posts are just there for your convenience so you don’t have to google it yourselves and are not affiliate links. And any time it is compensated, I pop it in the first line of my posts so you know before reading. (You can trust that all opinions are still my own though!)
That’s not to say I wouldn’t love more opportunities to collaborate with great brands, companies or businesses with similar values to me and this little blog of mine. Of course that would be great! My goal is to one day earn enough money from One Dish Away to be able to support myself, to buy things to help continuing to create useful and interesting content to share with you and to have enough left over to live off so I can fulfill my dream of working from home surrounded by 10 adopted cats (don’t tell Jared that part, we’ll surprise him one day with the cats – he’ll be fine with it I’m sure!).
Until then, please enjoy my content that is brought to you by my own back pocket (and sometimes Jared’s).
What are your thoughts on sponsored posts as a reader/blogger?
What’s your opinion of it all? Are you for them or against them? Comment and let me know!