Readers, sponsors, friends,
A note on sponsorship.
Something is happening in the world of blogging. Whether you’re an avid-reader or a fair-weather browser, whether you follow 101 blogs or just the one, I’m sure you’ve noticed it.
Blogging has become an industry.
Over the past few years, we have been exploring new territory. An exciting new avenue has arisen, whereby bloggers are now able to scratch out a modest living (with the exception of the top few bloggers who are doing exceptionally well). To do so, we have incorporated sponsorship into our portfolio.
In order to achieve any sort of success, we work hard. Ask any of us who do this job full time – we work very hard. It may not seem like it when we’re posting pictures eating pain-au-chocolat in this season’s Isabel Marant dicker boots, but believe me when I say we grind. It is a 24/7 job (and not for a second do I resent that). I work around the clock in part because I am lucky enough to have enthusiastic and eager fans from all over the world who don’t interact with the blog in a 9-to-5 way. My daylight hours are for shooting looks and meetings; evening hours are for publishing content and scheduling posts; nighttime hours are for creative brainstorming, interacting with readers, and doing market research. Weekends are for publishing more – because no one goes on social media during work days, right? 😉
In order to publish the best possible content, I need to be on top of my game. I am obsessed with quality. Firstly, because the reader deserves it. Secondly, because I demand it from myself.
Blogging, like any industry, has a bottom line. Part of being a businesswoman, I am quickly learning, is being constantly aware of that bottom line… always watching it out of the corner of my mascara’d eye. As such, sponsorship has become a necessary part of my job.
But, as an industry, I can’t say we bloggers have fully figured out how to mediate the relationship between the sponsor and the reader. We haven’t figured out how to navigate this dynamic smoothly. At times, there can be a palpable insecurity, a reluctance, a shadiness to this aspect of our jobs, and I want to clear the air.
Here are the four pillars of sponsorship at The August Diaries:
1. What we do is not cheap – nor is it free.
That said, I badly wish it were both! Cameras, clothes, and beauty products are what fuel the content we deliver, and the reality is that these indispensables are becoming increasingly (ridiculously) expensive. In order to bring the reader the best possible experience, the newest look, and the best products, the expenses have to be covered somehow. Sometimes, I go looking for spare change in the couch and save my pennies to buy the hot-ticket for myself, other times I work with sponsors and bring you their products. If I were to do too much of the former, I would go broke. Too much of the latter, and I might as well be a billboard. In this, I am striving to find a balance, and I hope you can accept that. You don’t watch TV without commercials, don’t cruise Facebook without ads, and don’t binge-watch Netflix without paying a subscription. The difference is, what I try to do is bring to you the equivalent of an ‘ad’, but I add to it a personal touch, a helpful tip, or an honest review. I will always add my two-cents (more often than not it’ll be at least a nickel, actually), and I hope you benefit from my added perspective on the products you interact with anyway. Sure, you are exposed to a sponsored campaign, but I will always, always bring to you personalized added value.
2. I will continue to support brands that reflect me.
When approached by a brand, the very first question I ask myself is this: do I believe in this product? If the answer is no, the conversation is immediately over. I have sworn to myself not to compromise my artistic integrity; to never promote a product I don’t use myself. I recognize that sponsorship is a necessary part of this industry, and can actually be a massive boon to it, but the moment I feel a conflict of interest is the moment I reject the offer. You, as my reader, have a no-expiry, no-blackout-dates, non-qualified guarantee that if you read something on this blog, I believe in this product. Nine times out of ten the product is fashion/lifestyle/beauty/
3. As with anything, transparency is king.
I respect each and every one of my readers (yes, you!) far too much to lie to you. You are owed transparency, and I will do my absolute best not to let you down. I will happily divulge when things are sponsored – I know that conflicts of interest and backdoor deals are what sour relationships. When readers feel they’ve been cheated into reading an ad, they feel just that… cheated. I would (and sometimes do) feel the same way, and it is important to me that every August Diaries reader feel not that they themselves are the product.
4. I welcome feedback.
Feedback is one of the cornerstones of any successful business. The day I stop listening to you is the day I would never expect you to read another word I write. This is a symbiotic relationship, not a top-down propaganda campaign. Email, text, Instagram, Facebook, snapchat, smoke signal, or carrier-pigeon me. You have no shortage of ways to be in contact with me, and I will always welcome your feedback (on these matters or on any others).
One of the biggest reasons people turn to bloggers rather than magazines for next season’s look is because the reader can get to know the blogger. You know me far, far better than you do the editor of a magazine or the director of a commercial. This is the very best part of my job. I have formed a fantastic relationship with so many of you, and it means the world to me that you trust me to help you navigate the tumultuous world of fashion.
I hear you. Tacky sponsorship is the worst. At very best, poorly-done sponsorship is a necessary evil. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I write to you today to show you that with a little transparency, with a little faith, and with a lot of care on my end, sponsorship can be done well. Most importantly, it allows me to bring to you The August Diaries, which from Day 1 has been about helping the reader to be the happiest, most confident, most empowered version of themselves.
I really do love you guys,
PS This post was brought to you in part by Apple, Facebook, TELUS, Google, and my neighbor Sally’s lemonade stand #sponsored