Selling Out: My Views on Sponsorship

Monday, October 16, 2017

We all know those posts.  The ones where an influencer shares about a product that we can all tell she's used maybe once.  A makeup artist who goes crazy over a lip gloss that you never see appear in her posts again. Or a meaningful podcast interrupted with ads riddled with celebrity names.

I share the feelings you do when it's clear that someone I follow is "selling out:" the annoyance, the skepticism, the exasperation.

But here's the thing: I don't think sponsorship is bad.

I think there is a wrong way to do it, and a right way.  For me, I do believe these "influencers" work very hard.  They produce something for me to ingest everyday: from entertainment, to wisdom, to instruction and advice on fashion, makeup, books, fitness, food, and parenting.  Many of these influencers legitimately have changed my life (and my children's!) for the better.

Perhaps it's because I take special care to follow people who genuinely add to my life and do their best to promote goodness that I don't mind their occasional sponsored posts.  I do feel that I can trust these select few when they say they use a product or service because they have a reputation of being genuine and honest.  AND because I do think they deserve to get paid for the work they do so they can continue to add to my life in the way that they do.  I want them to be able to keep going and support them in return.

If someone is clearly "selling out" on a regular basis, I simply unfollow them.  I think we are all smart enough to tell the difference by now.

Now as a (small) producer of content that my (also small, but lovely!) community ingests, I am to that point where I am ready to start incorporating sponsorship.  This is something that is very complicated for me and that I've been mulling over for quite some time.

I work hard at what I do, spending 20-30 working hours a week to write posts and produce the podcast.  I spend my own money each month to host the podcast and blog, as well as on software and equipment.  I pay for babysitters occasionally to get things done.  I get up early, stay up late, stress out, and think about what I create constantly.

I have made less than $150 in two years of work via affiliate links to Amazon and ads on my site. I've paid way more than that to keep it up and running.

I also LOVE what I do and see great value in it.  I got into all of this for what I believe are the right reasons and I do my best to continue to align with those reasons every day, to stay on-point to who I am and what I want my public work to inspire and help in others.  And to do so with integrity.

But, I also started it all with the (realistic) hope that it would in time pay me in more than just satisfaction and joy.  My writing here, my Instagram, and my podcast have been undeniably what I NEEDED in my life, which was something to aspire to.  And I needed to share the messages that are near and dear to my heart.

I don't think it's wrong to also have the goal to get paid for what I contribute.

I knew from the beginning (almost two years ago, wow!) that I would be doing things differently.  There would be more heart; more real and less of the "highlight reel;" and that when the time came to do sponsorship, I would also do it my own way.

I have been offered sponsorship many, many times the past almost-two years and especially the last six months, whether it's to post for free products or money.  I HAVE TURNED EVERY SINGLE ONE DOWN.

They simply didn't feel right; I felt like if I took companies up on their offers, I would indeed be selling out because their products were things I either wouldn't use in real life OR pay for (especially because they were too expensive in my normal life).  So, I said no to the gorgeous boots, the tempting watches, and the high quality bras.  I said no to the random apps, the snacks for my kids, and the cookbooks.  I said no to people paying me to post on my site and insert ads on my podcast.  I paid for each book, lipstick (including Lipsense!), planner, and more that I have shared about even when it was offered to me for free. I also buy each product/service my podcast guests pitch, because I believe in them AND want to support them.

I have done all of this because I reminded myself that the TRUST I was creating with my little community was far more valuable than getting something awesome for free or a little money on the side, even if I needed it, quite frankly.  I reminded myself that incorporating sponsorship in the RIGHT way and right time was worth waiting for, so that my online friends could still trust me.

So with a bit of angst, I'm going to start sharing what things I ACTUALLY use and love in my life.  Things/services I have been loyal to long before getting paid for it, and will continue to adore even if I don't earn a cent.  And I plan on sharing these things in as genuine of a way as I can.  If I share a story about a product, you have to trust me that it's real.  If I get excited about a service, I truly do think it will add to your life.

I don't feel angst about what I'm planning on sharing--they feel right!--nor about the timing.  But I do  I feel worried about appearing to be a sell out, because it's been vital to my mission to be 100% real.

So, here's some transparency for you:

Initially, I plan on sharing about some products/services like Fabletics and Audible.  These are affiliate ads, meaning I only get paid if people buy the products or pay for the service vs. getting outright paid, which I get offers to.  It's not guaranteed money for me, but they are are least companies I can stand by because I've used and loved both for years.

In addition, I plan to share about hair products that have solved huge problems I've had with my hair (and scalp!) for years, and years.  Products I've paid for myself and used for 8 months without the intent to sell them.  And I plan on doing so minimally (primarily through one ad-slot on my weekly podcast, but perhaps 1-2 posts about it per month on the blog/Instagram) and WITH INTEGRITY.

I am now a market partner with Monat, so I will actually be adding more work to my load and help my future clients--but that feels right to me.  To be honest, sponsoring myself this way will entail far more time for me than working with the ad services I've been pitched numerous times; but I want to try it my way first.

Because I want to ensure that you understand who I'm going to be partnering with (again, on a minimal basis!) the why behind it, and how I plan on doing so, I created this video specifically about my partnership with Monat.  I also share a history of my hair/skin issues to build some understanding around my genuine love of Monat's products.  I hope you give it a chance, and give me the benefit of the doubt.

And even if you don't, just know that I haven't changed.  That I'll still be here, doing things my own way and in my own time, and for what I believe are the right reasons.  That I love you anyway.

Here's the video, friends.  Thanks for reading (and listening, and watching)!

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I admire this so much. It says a lot about you, to say no to very tempting offers if they weren't something you'd buy on your own. I don't know if I'd be as strong in that situation! I'm so happy for you and your success with your podcast, blog, and instagram. It's very clear that you are genuine and truly care about the community you are creating.
    And even despite your hair and skin struggles, you are gorgeous!


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