I’ve heard it often. More and more these days. From my girlfriends’ friends, even a few of my husband’s colleagues had made these questions or comments regarding what I do.
From the least harmful to the one with a certain insinuation such as:
“It is true that your wife is sponsored the brands?”
“How does it work, really? Do you get paid and then promote the products?”
“Must be nice to get free products all the time!”
“And got paid too!”
“Trying out beauty products, sounds easy!”
I’m aware, in general, many people out there are questioning the work of bloggers and influencers (a term I personally don’t call myself with), especially with the rise of numbers. I get it, it’s a question out of curiosity. But some actually think that we’re just in it for the freebies, or for the money; that brands paid us to say good things about the products.
Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you but it’s not as simple as black and white. Not for me, anyway. Sometimes I feel sad and offended when I’m being passed with that kind of generalization and judgment. That is not fair.
ABOUT THE OPPORTUNITIES.
Truth is, people don’t know that I often don’t accept offers that come in my way. What happens is, I have to wrap my head around what to say when replying to emails because I don’t want to hurt their feelings or sound like a complete snob. I still want to be on good terms. I am, however, also guilty of not replying to emails. Sometimes it gets overwhelming and I slipped. My sincere apologies!
That being said, I mostly don’t reply to emails that simply ask my rate and fees without any other introduction. Any badly written emails will probably get set aside. I am human and not just a commodity.
As I said, I don’t always accept offers. That’s because, after all this time, I’m still very picky! I have to be personally interested in the products first. If I don’t want to try them, why bother? I’d rather give the opportunity to other people who will probably benefit more from the products than receive it just for the sake of freebies and/or get paid. And I could only hope that brands could understand that view and respect my decision. But if that makes me get cut off from the PR contact list, then it’s OK too.
It’s not seldom when brands or agencies approached me and asked for a (skincare) review within a very short period of time. We’re talking like 2 weeks. Mm OK, that’s like a first impression. Barely a mini review. It’s impossible for me to talk in-depth about a skincare product because I simply have not tried and tested it long enough! Makeup or body care, maybe, sure. Not skincare though!
There were also the ones with a very detailed brief, with certain fixed keywords that must be used in the caption. Certain vibes. Certain poses. Other T&Cs include not allowed to say anything negative or bad. So what happens when my skin doesn’t suit the product? Do I have to lie? Sometimes, there are pros and cons too. Should I take out the cons part? I thought the idea of having bloggers or influencers are to bring in opinions based on a personal experience. Maybe I was wrong. Too naive?
WHERE’S THE MONEY?
Do I always get paid? Do brands pay me every time I feature a product? Heck, no. Actually, I do this for free without any monetary compensation 90% of the time. Out of goodwill.
First and foremost, I do this as a hobby. I love skincare, makeup and beauty products. It’s a hobby that apparently makes money here and there. In case you’re wondering, I don’t even make much because I say “no” more often than I say “yes”. I suppose I can if I want to. Taking more endorsements and sponsored posts. But that’s not the case. I have my hard-to-shake principles and I respect my audience. Yes, you 🙂 I’d like to think that I can be a bridge between people and products. Sharing my thoughts based on my own experiences. I would never misuse the trust and moreover, I want to feel comfortable and do this my way.
So, what does it mean? Did they give me products for free? Yes, without obligation. A lot of the times, brands just send out products for me to try. If I like it, I give them feedback and possibly share it on my social media. I admit that I don’t always try everything they sent me. I pick the ones that interest me the most and might suit my routine and preference. I usually give out the unused products to my husband, mom, sister, cousins and friends, or put it on a giveaway. Sometimes I get to choose which ones I want to try too, that’s actually preferable on some cases.
Whether it’s a complete review or a first impression, I just want to spread the awareness of a certain brand or product to my audience. Because I know many people need more options! And I’m giving them a reference or product idea. From there, people can continue their research and make a decision on their own accord.
THE REALITY FOR ME.
Many times, they didn’t reply anything back once I sent them the details. Maybe, my rate is too expensive. Maybe, my number of followers isn’t as spectacular to ask that kind of rate. Maybe, I take too long to make a proper review. Too much of an investment. Maybe, I don’t have a commercial face. Who knows. I don’t know, I wished they gave me a response.
Not many people have the slightest idea how I do it and what it takes for me to share those reviews. A quick example, preparing an Instagram post or a series of Instagram stories could take hours, even days. Taking photographs sounds easy but then there’s an editing part involved. Then I have to write the captions, reread several times before hitting the button. Perhaps, people also forget or choose to omit the trivial, time and energy-consuming trial and error period into consideration. Not to mention the risk I’m taking. My husband is probably the only one who understands the intricacies.
Yes, for me, testing products takes time. There are a lot of variables and factors that I need to go through before I can write a detailed opinion about it. I am that strict about this because I want to make sure that whatever I put out there comes from my heart. I just don’t want to say “this product is good” for the sake of it. “Good” for whom?
Maybe, they’re too scared of my transparency policy, the fact that I can’t guarantee a 100% positive review that I stated in my T&C. Maybe, to them paying equals buying out my opinions.
Just because a product didn’t work on me doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s just not for me. Maybe I couldn’t make it work even though I’ve tested it with numerous combinations. Even if the outcome is great, I might still find a certain aspect that is less than pleasant and I want to share that. Good reviews are never a guarantee that it will work on your skin. And I’m trying so hard to educate other people about this. That’s why I keep reminding, take it with a grain of salt. Not just brands, we as consumers should be smarter.
A negative review doesn’t equal to a bad product, or brand even – now, this is unfair to the brand. I’m personally annoyed when people dismissed a brand completely just because a product didn’t work for them. Blaming the product is just silly! In this case, I would in a heartbeat come to the defense and feed them some common sense.
Thing is, even if I do get paid or get the products for free, it doesn’t change the fact that I will share my thoughts in complete transparency. It just feels wrong to me to do the opposite. My opinions are still mine, regardless what the circumstance is.
I don’t want to go against my values and principles just because there’s cash involved.
I hope more brands can customize the project/collaboration based on each individual’s personality and content instead of putting a cookie-cutter on everyone. It’s the diversity that we should all appreciate. Otherwise, that preach of “beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and colors” would be all for nothing.
That being said, I know that not all brands are like that. Some of the people I know have their hands tied because of the management. They had plans but at the end of the day, when the boss said no, then there’s not a lot they can do.
THE SHORT HISTORY.
I started blogging because I was so stressed at work and I needed something else to do. When I fully took over my late dad’s business, let’s just say I realized I still had a lot of free time. Writing became a viable activity for me to do. I can do it mobile. It offers flexibility. I can do it anytime, anywhere.
The idea of sharing about beauty came naturally because that’s a subject that I’m into. It dawned on me, what’s the point of keeping all of this information to myself? Wouldn’t it be nice to jot it down somewhere instead of letting it perished away? Someone else might find it useful.
Never in my mind have I ever dreamt about this little hobby of mine becoming what it is now. I am incredibly grateful and humbled by what this journey has evolved to. Not because I get to receive freebies or get paid, err. My greatest reward is that I get to meet and touch people’s lives. Able to help a small part of their lives that some might say is superficial, yet it could be life-changing. Moreover, some of these people turn into real-life friends!
I’m also thankful that I get to build relationships with brands, retailers, online shops, and media. I’ve learned quite a bit about the business, industry and understand some of the hardships they’re facing too. I appreciate all of it, truly.
Yes, this is personal to me.
So you see, I am offended when strangers say uneducated or mindless comments about what I do. Things they don’t understand yet they act like they know. Well, they’re strangers so what do they know anyway? LOL!
I don’t know why I’m writing this. But it’s a relief that I did. It’s been in the back of my mind lately and I feel I have to say something. Because, whether I like it or not, I am in this industry. Hopefully, some of you get to understand a glimpse about my behind-the-scenes before making quick assumptions about this whole blogging and influencer thing. That it’s easy and simple. That it’s money-oriented. There’s so much more to it. And mostly it’s fun, because I enjoy it, a lot!
And I still don’t see myself as an influencer. I’m just a beauty enthusiast 😀