07.09.15

SO, WHAT DO YOU DO FOR WORK AGAIN?

vday07

i’ve been contemplating for a while the topic of sponsored posts and how to explain it more clearly. i get asked quite often by a stranger on a plane or in a taxi, “what do you do?” and if i say “i run a lifestyle blog,” a lot of the times people are confused as to how that could actually be a JOB. especially one that makes enough money to live…

i’d like to think of my blog as a resource for people. much like a magazine would be. what hotel to stay in when they travel. what rug to buy. what healthy snack to make. what project to make for your next birthday party. what cute dresses are on sale. with that responsibility, comes research, teamwork and costs. blogs used to be a place (at least mine sure was 5 years ago) where i would just post tons of inspirational photos i found while searching the web, and barely credit them because i found them on tumblr and crediting wasn’t as big of a thing back then. but now pinterest exists and as bloggers it’s our job to create NEW content, so we aren’t just recycling the same old photos over and over. it’s our time to show people what we can create from nothing. even if you are using other people’s photos, new content can mean how you’ve paired them or the story you are trying to say with them. it’s a mix.

when i first started, it was just me. it was actually just me for years. slowly, i began adding contributors to the site that brought a new voice and perspective. and an assistant to help me manage the daily content and projects. i remember that was a scary jump for me, because blogs weren’t known back in the day as highly profitable. in more recent years i think brands have started to realize that bloggers have a trusted following and looking to them as the way to advertise.

so then we are put in a tricky position. we need to be putting a lot of money out the door to pay for expenses to run a blog with photoshoots, props, employees, equipment, and hosting fees. i would like to be very transparent and say that sponsors are the main way that i can make a living to cover those costs and provide daily content for you out of my pocket. each day i get emails from people wanting to work together to promote their products (and believe me, i’ve seen it all…sex toys, underwear, refrigerators, cleanses, insurance, dating sites etc.) then it’s up to me to decide what i feel comfortable with and what i feel like i would genuinely feel good about promoting. i’ll be honest that sometimes it’s hard to turn down money, but i know that trust is all i have from you guys and i think it’s very obvious when bloggers just take jobs for that reason only.

then once we are in the process of working with a sponsor on a project there is a whole other negotiation about what language i will use. i have never thought of myself as someone who is over the top salesy. i speak in a very conversational tone, that’s just me. a lot of the times sponsors want you to say exact words or hashtags or language that i just don’t feel comfortable with to sell their products. i truly believe that if people trust me, the post or instagram will be more effective if a company just lets me speak how i would normally speak. these days you will start to see on instagram #ad or #sponsored, because of federal laws and requirements to be transparent. i’ve seen a lot of pushback on words like that, and i get it. people don’t want to be sold to constantly. what i do wish people would see is that at least 75% of most blogger’s content is not sponsored and there has to be a way for those people to support themselves. i think the transparency is a good thing, really. i think it’s just going to take a little bit of time for people to adjust to.

i just wanted to touch base with you guys on the topic, because i think it’s really important to. i mostly just want to let you know about the process and how it all works in this blog world. when i get a new job of course the income is a perk, but mostly i get excited to stretch my creativity and the ability to pay the talented people i work with what they deserve. and just know that i will always go above and beyond to try to create something unique and interesting for you whether there is a budget for it or not.

anyway, thanks for hearing me out. lots of love. –bri

vday25

oh and here are 10 sponsored posts around the web that i can really say “kudos!” to. honest, beautiful, and well done…

1. holiday dinner party with mini food
2. 1 lamp 3 ways DIY
3. spring forward
4. photographing children
5. a garden party
6. quick bedroom makeover
7. halloween hair
8. rose spritzer

and a few of my favorite sponsored projects where i felt like i could truly be myself and create something i was proud of…

1. moon party
2. backyard mixology party
3. wrapping paper party
4. flower bomb
5. DIY painted shelves
6. new orleans travel guide
7. mint mocha shake
8. women & whiskies party
9. amsterdam airbnb
10. my patio makeover

what do you think about the topic? i’d love your thoughts.

48 COMMENTS

Add your own

    I love the articles you listed at the bottom! It’s really great to see how bloggers use sponsorships to their advantage and get creative with it to fit their blog. It’s frustrating to see bloggers that constantly publish sponsored content that doesn’t help readers. Or just feels out of place. Or is just sponsored after sponsored after sponsored. I’ve unfollowed many a blogs for that reason. It’s sad to see them go down that path. I appreciate the time and energy you put in to every post here, especially the sponsored ones. You can really tell that you’re working hard to make sure it’s a good fit for the blog. Kudos!

    bri says:

    thank you so much, i really appreciate that you notice that!!

    Amanda says:

    Thanks for sharing Bri. I don’t mind sponsored posts at all when I feel the brand is a genuine fit with the blogger. It’s obvious when it’s not, and I find it disappointing, but realize that everyone’s got to make money, and that 1 post is not going to turn me off of the blog for good. However if I continue to sense the blogger is taking random products and using their platform to promote things constantly, I’ll probably unsubscribe. And since I’m still here, it’s obvious I think you do a pretty great job at this. :]

    I’ve been seeing this more and more on Instagram and for some reason it doesn’t sit as well with me on there. I guess it’s all evolving.

    Trina says:

    I love your honesty! It’s totally understandable that you have to make money somewhere! But I really enjoy all your content. Keep up the good work!

    Lisa says:

    Bri, I have always admired the way you handle sponsored content. I think you do an amazing job of including sponsors in a very natural way, and I like that I can always enjoy your sponsored posts whether or not the product is something I’m interested in because you always add value and tell a story. Thanks for sharing a peek behind the scenes!

    Danielle says:

    I don’t think the idea is as bizarre to people as a few years ago. With most magazines going digital, people understand that content online can be more interesting and current. So, it makes sense that someone is making money off of it.

    Kaitlyn says:

    I love reading this. As a starting out blogger, it’s such a world to learn and understand and hearing about these kind of “behind the scenes” things is so helpful. I like the honesty of your post a lot, and reading through posts you’ve done as sponsored posts seem sincere and legitimate. Thanks for sharing!!!

    – Kaitlyn | http://www.TheCrownFox.com

    Varsha says:

    loved reading this article Bri! You are doing a brilliant job with the sponsored posts.. being a blogger I can completely understand how frustrating it can be when not given the opportunity to write in your own voice.. But I have never felt that in any of your posts.. I love the way you seamlessly blend the product or website into your content. Just shows how talented and creative you are.. as always very inspiring 🙂

    Alyssa says:

    Bri,

    You do lovely work and I never once question your sincerity in posts–sponsored or not. We all must pay our bills somehow and it is admirable that you are one of the few who take a leap to do something they truly love. Transparency shines through and there is nothing more refreshing than to read content from someone who is so honest about everything. Bravo to you, truly!

    chloe says:

    Well written article! Personally, I love the Target sponsored posts because unless you go to their site specifically to see the Nate Berkus and Threshold lines, you can never find the treasure trove of good stuff that professional bloggers can find! (esp. Emily Henderson!)

    Ju says:

    So so well communicated Bri. Thanks for leading from the front in an industry that is so new and allows for a ton of innovation.
    🙂

    Stacy says:

    I love your transparency here, especially for those who would love to be doing the same thing! I feel like in our daily lives, and on blogs, we would be essentially “selling” things to our listeners/readers anyway. We’re always telling people about the products we use, sponsored posts are just more formal. I think if it’s something you would use anyway, then no one feels like you’re just pushing product.

    Max says:

    Do you give away the pictures that you create and post on your blog to your sponsors?

    I encountered situations like that and would like to hear how it’s handled by others.

    Lauren says:

    I think these types of posts are so needed! It’s not fair to expect bloggers not to want to make money to live. If we could all work full time & run a super creative and beautiful blog on the side and have energy to spare, I’m pretty sure we all WOULD. Everybody works, yours just looks like more fun 🙂

    dominique says:

    I’ve never thought you were being overly “sales-y”. I’m inspired by the fact you’ve been able to make a living doing what you love. I have a teeny-tiny little blog so I don’t charge for features but I’m kind of surprised at times what brands ask for/expect without anything in exchange. I’m happy that successful bloggers like you are sharing about this topic and getting everyone talking about it. I LOVE YOUR BLOG!

    Ariana says:

    Sharing sponsored posts with readers is a double-edged sword. On one side, you’re sharing cool, new products or services with an audience that wouldn’t normally read about it otherwise. On the other hand, you’re essentially being paid to say you like something which seems a bit wrong. That being said, I think you’re doing a great job of not compromising the integrity of DLF by being selective with what sponsors you choose to feature. Also, you never fail to mention if and when a post is sponsored. In that sense, honesty is the best policy.

    Fran says:

    It’s so fantastic to see bloggers like yourself paving the way, working on sponsored posts with integrity. Not to mention inspiring so many creative ideas! It really goes to show that you can make a living blogging and at the same time still create a wonderful free resource for your readers. Thanks for being such an inspiration! x

    Anna says:

    i just loved your words; so honest and transparent… i totally agree with you and i must say i like when i see #sponsored or #ad in an instagram photo, for example, because i don’t feel deceived; honesty is key and if i like what you usually post on your blog, when i see some sponsored content on it, i’ll trust that it is about a brand that you believe in and you like. anyway, i just wanted to say that i really liked reading your thoughts about this

    Maria says:

    so good to read! of course i’ve known that all of my fave blogs use sponsors, how else would you make a living? it’s good to see you address it head on. I am an avid blog reader and am a loyal follower of quite a few i read daily. it saddens me that a few of my faves i’ve stopped reading because of their very obvious sponsored posts that i think reflect very poorly on them as a brand and/or something i want to support. seeing sponsors such as wal-mart, clorox, etc. definitely is a negative for me – and thus does convince me to walk away from certain blogs. we all have to make a living, but we all choose who and how we go about it. thanks for such clarity on your way going about it!

    Samm says:

    LOVE this.

    you were one of the 2 bloggers that inspired me to start my own a year ago and as you can imagine, it hasn’t been easy. i’m basically running it out of my bedroom – but posts like this, where you give a little insight and advice is definitely appreciated! i’ve never questioned your integrity as a blogger because i feel like you always keep it 100% real with your readers.

    thanks for continuing to be such an inspiration in the vast world of blogging!

    xx

    Em says:

    Hey Bri, I think this is a really thoughtful + honest post. I notice your sponsored content, but I really appreciate that you always try to indicate that it is a sponsored post. You go above + beyond to share companies that deserve some spotlight, but in a completely natural + beautiful way. I think what bugs most people is pondering the HOW. Many people think blogging is all macaroons and glitter, but it’s hard, hard work. You show both sides of the coin, so much appreciated! Where I think things get iffy is when sponsorships bleed onto other platforms, especially social platforms. I might not have seen you are doing a sponsorship with Company XYZ, so seeing a Instagram promoting them does come off as sale-sy. Sharing with your audience why this company could matter to them, that’s the bomb!

    Ashley says:

    From reading your posts, both sponsored and un-sponsored, I think your choices in what you choose to advertise for are always thoughtful and fitting with what I associate with DLF. You’re doing a great job, thanks for the honesty and continued inspiration 🙂

    Christine says:

    I appreciate the transparency in this. However, I think where a lot of readers feel deceived is that for a long time (and still now) there was not that transparency, and a lot of times, I’m reading the post or looking at an instagram and thinking, “is this or is this not an ad?” Like someone mentioned above, if I see the word or hashtag “ad” or “sponsored” I trust that I will enjoy what the blogger is putting out. However, if I find out after the fact that it was a sponsored piece of content, it feels deceiving, and like the blogger didn’t trust their reader to like it. If a blogger is being sneaky about disclosing that stuff, they clearly don’t feel like they are being sincere in their endorsement, right?

    That said, I still don’t quite grasp why something that was a low-cost hobby is now required to be a full time job which needs sponsors in order to get paid. I understand that providing the content is a full time job, but I don’t understand why so many think that it should be one, when for many years it was not.

    That is not to say that I don’t appreciate what you do, it’s just a thought that I have with all blogs in general.

    Megan says:

    To be honest, I actually usually really like sponsored posts. I feel like you, and my other favorite bloggers, find creative ways to incorporate the sponsors products, while still remaining interesting to read, beautiful and authentic. The only times I don’t appreciate sponsored posts is when the products don’t match the blogger’s style or when every post seems to be a sponsored without many original content posts put in between to break it up-but you are totally not guilty of either! (It’s just something I’ve noticed on some other blogs.)

    Danielle says:

    I still remember when you teamed up with scotch blue for those series of projects and thinking “now this is how you do a sponsored post!”. I’ve always loved your sponsored posts and I’ve never felt deceived by you in any way! Fact is I want you to pay your bills too so that I can keep coming back here everyday for inspiration.

    Danielle | D is for Dreamer

    Ari says:

    Thanks for the perspective of sorts. You are one of few bloggers that I enjoy following anymore. I find that following most bloggers anymore is quite a turn-off. The onslaught of sponsored posts, and most especially the picture-perfect portrayed lifestyle of so many. I look to strong, intelligent woman for inspiration… and it seems as though the blogger culture has taken a turn immensely towards narcissism, status and money. It’s all so very superficial at the end of the day, and rather unfortunate that girls/women look up to folks that have to document every single meal, shoe, coffee, lipstick, etc.

    Rita says:

    I don’t know any other blogger that is so creative, personal and aunthentic with their sponsored content, you didn’t need to write that post but I’m glad you did!

    Anonymous says:

    I adore your transparency, it’s a blessing and a curse but I think that if you are that way from the beginning, those #Ad or #sponsored disappear and people only see your content, as it should be. I have been a follower of your blog of a while now and every time there is sponsored content, I just say bravo, you have bills to pay and your content is always there so who cares!

    -Liz http://www.nestingzone.com

    Tiffany says:

    I admire how effortless it seems you are with writing and how you naturally combine your lifestyle and a sponsored post. It takes a creative mind to think of new ways to promote a product and integrate helpful advice. I think most people think of blogging as something that’s easy to do and therefore it should not be paid, so when they see something that’s sponsored, they’re quick to judge. I’m more like, if someone if offering you money in exchange for advertisement, what’s wrong with it? Just as long as the information is honest and informative, why would it matter? Also, we all have to make a living in this world, plain and simple. Why not have fun doing it?

    Althea M says:

    Ive got to say I have been reading DLF for years now and when you first started to make the transition to sponsored posts you did it so well that I didn’t care! I had a split second thought of ‘ oh that sucks now there is going to be ads everywhere’ but of course that isn’t what you did and today you bring me amazing content that just happens to be sponsored!

    Janel Afjari says:

    I work in marketing so trust me when I say I get it, and Im selling services and products all day long. BUT in my opinion, its not the BLOGGER that is “annoying” consumers with sponsored posts its the BRANDS! I cannot tell you how many times I’ve gone to multiple blogs and the same brand is on EVERY ONE with the same product being “sold”. That is what can be frustrating. Although I do understand we all need to make money and I would agree with the other commenters that are saying you do a nice job with integrating these sponsored posts with your unique style I still miss the blogging about YOU. I think your “fans” or “followers” are less interested in being “sold” and more interested in what BRI is doing. I’m sure most people would agree that we like your sponsored posts about your house remodel (most recent), or your travel tips and what YOU are doing rather than how you’re using a product. SNORE. There is enough of that everywhere we look. You gotta do what you gotta do, just remember that sometimes its important to go back to your roots and do what got you where you are at in the first place and that was YOU not the sponsors. My suggestion = for every sponsored post, do a personal post (like this one). We are here for Bri, not almond breeze 😉 LOVE YA

    kimmie says:

    I have to say, you are one the of FEW bloggers that’s been able to integrate sponsored posts into their regular content and it not seem shady or weird. SO many bloggers completely change their style up when it’s sponsored, but yours always seem natural and make sense on DLF. It’s hard to turn down product and money, and I am NOWHERE near where you are, but when I started to get an onslaught of pitches from brands I had to turn so many down bc it was clear that they had never read my blog and the post wouldn’t make sense. I’d never stop reading a blog because they have sponsored posts-I’d stop reading bc the content became boring. DLF hasn’t done that for me.

    Laura says:

    i really appreciate the honesty of this post. I hate reading blogs that try to disguise sponsored posts because it creates an atmosphere of mistrust. Good for you for being so candid.

    Lisa O. says:

    You have inspired me! What a lovely way to be a resource and share beautiful products/companies along the way. Thanks for sharing this with us!

    Kaela says:

    This is a really helpful explanation and the integrity of your blog’s content reflects your words here. Thanks for sharing!

    Roza says:

    Thanks for sharing the process, Bri.

    Elle says:

    your content has always been the perfect balance, in my opinion. you’ve always been honest about your sponsorships and you’re never too overtly “salesey” which I’m also not a big fan of. I think you do a beautiful job of combining your passion for making/admiring beautiful things with a realistic way of making money.

    keep at it, girl. you be killing’ it.

    Lydia Guanga says:

    Thanks for this post. It helps to show what the worth-following bloggers are really trying to do, and gives me hope for my still growing blog (only 7 months in right now!) I’ll be reading this again in the future.

    Sarah C says:

    If you want to make a living Bri, make a living! Your blog is gorgeous and inspirational, and if you’re able to make a living off it then kudos to you. You should never be made to feel guilty about it! xx

    Writing a shelter blog, I agree that it is important, or at least to me, to take sponsors that reflect your blog and your readership. Thanks for sharing.

    mary says:

    Not gonna lie- I always want to hint to my boyfriend to look at your blog for gift inspirations for me every time Christmas or my birthday rolls around hahaha. I think lots of ladies read your blog and trust your judgement. Kudos to you for making a living doing what you love! <3

    catherine says:

    You are wonderful and inspiring. You really are. So just keep doing what you’re doing. You’re making the world happier and prettier exactly because of it:)

    Bri, thanks so much for the transparency 🙂 You are so incredibly talented when it comes to producing sponsored content that is original and engaging and really provides something to your readers – that moon party still blows my mind!!!

    But it’s always good to get a reminder of all of the work and thought and tightrope-walking that is behind it!

    Alexis says:

    I’ve followed blogs for a lot of years and definitely noticed this trend towards more sponsored posts recently. I think it’s great that people who are good at blogging can make a living doing something they love, and I think it has created a divide in the blogging world that has allowed people who are really creative to flourish and show what they can do, while people who are just in it for the money are floundering a bit. Even though sponsored posts are technically an ad (which seems like such a nasty word), the way you curate and use it as an addition to your work is always beautiful, inspiring, and leaves me wanting more. I feel that you are one of the most transparent and relatable bloggers out there. Keep doing what you’re doing!

    Also, I’ve always wondered how exactly the sponsored deals work for bloggers like you. I’m not sure if you would be interested in writing more about this topic, but I think its fascinating, and something most successful lifestyle bloggers are very secretive about. No one really ever writes about their process working with sponsors and the mystery leaves me curious. A post about your process would be very insightful, and I feel you would a good person to write about it because you are so honest!

    Megan says:

    I would love to hear more about how you secure sponsorships. as a fellow blogger, i’m at the point where i’d like to start this next step, but am not really clear on how to get there. would love to hear more!

    Megan says:

    Girl, you keep doing what your doing because YOU’RE KILLING IT. You deliver great content, and have done so since the start. I appreciate and admire your willingness to discuss this subject which some find “touchy”. The truth is that life costs money. I think most creative business ladies (and fellas) know exactly where you are coming from with this~ and are (energetically) high fiving you for having accomplished so much with grace, style and panache. I second (or third) several others who have mentioned a desire to know how you approach companies/secure sponsorships. As a creative director for a boutique photography studio, we do a lot of styled shoots – then submit to blogs (rather than writing and managing our own). We have monetized this to a certain extent, but generally it is simply a bunch of creatives puling together to make something beautiful. We’ve been approached by companies, national and international ones who wish to work with us, but don’t want to invest…Would love any advice you can shed on how to move in a more lucrative direction- at least to cover costs to start.

    Sara says:

    I loved the makeup sponsored posts you did a while back. Sometimes I think that having a brand behind a post really helps to give it continuity and a strong voice. Plus, having a budget allows you to push the content to places you might not have been able to go otherwise. As long as you’re transparent about what you’re doing, readers should adapt, especially if they want to continue to get great content from you.

    Mickelle says:

    I love the transparency! I understand you got to make a living to put as much effort into a blog as you do, but i think the people who tend to be upfront about it are almost more trustworthy that they only promote stuff they believe it. You do a fantastic job! Keep the good content coming!

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